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Project Gutenberg's Mother Earth, Vol. 1 No. 1, March 1906, by Various
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Title: Mother Earth, Vol. 1 No. 1, March 1906
Editor: Emma Goldman
Release Date: September 12, 2008 [EBook #26600]
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Vol. I. MARCH, 1906 No. 1
P. O. Box EMMA GOLDMAN, Publisher 10c. a Copy
Madison Sq. Station, N. Y.
Mother Earth E. GOLDMAN and M. BAGINSKI 1
The Song of the Storm-Finch MAXIM GORKY 4
Observations and Comments 5
The Tragedy of Women's Emancipation E. GOLDMAN 9
Try Love GRACE POTTER 18
Without Government MAX BAGINSKI 20
Vive Le Roi FRANCES WAULS BJORKMAN 27
Reflections of a Rich Man 28
Comstockery JOHN R. CORYELL 30
Don Quixote and Hamlet TURGENIEFF 40
On the Banks of Acheron EDWIN BJORKMAN 42
The British Elections and the Labor Parties H. KELLY 44
And You? BOLTON HALL 48
National Atavism INTERNATIONALIST 49
Mine Owners' Revenge M. B. 56
International Review 58
Literary Notes 61
10c. A COPY $1.00 PER YEAR
EMMA GOLDMAN, PUBLISHER
P. O. BOX MADISON SQ. STATION, N. Y. CITY
Vol. I MARCH, 1906 No. 1
There was a time when men imagined the Earth as the center of the
universe. The stars, large and small, they believed were created merely
for their delectation. It was their vain conception that a supreme
being, weary of solitude, had manufactured a giant toy and put them into
possession of it.
When, however, the human mind was illumined by the torch-light of
science, it came to understand that the Earth was but one of a myriad of
stars floating in infinite space, a mere speck of dust.
Man issued from the womb of Mother Earth, but he knew it not, nor
recognized her, to whom he owed his life. In his egotism he sought an
explanation of himself in the infinite, and out of his efforts there
arose the dreary doctrine that he was not related to the Earth, that she
was but a temporary resting place for his scornful feet and that she
held nothing for him but temptation to degrade himself. Interpreters and
prophets of the infinite sprang into being, creating the "Great Beyond"
and proclaiming Heaven and Hell, between which stood the poor, trembling
human being, tormented by that priest-born monster, Conscience.
In this frightful scheme, gods and devils waged eternal war against
each other with wretched man as the prize of victory; and the priest,
self-constituted interpreter of the will of the gods, stood in front of
the only refuge from harm and demanded as the price of entrance that
ignorance, that asceticism, that self-abnegation which could but end in
the complete subjugation of man to superstition. He was taught that
Heaven, the refuge, was the very antithesis of Earth, which was the
source of sin. To gain for himself a seat in Heaven, man devastated the
Earth. Yet she renewed herself, the good mother, and came again each
Spring, radiant with youthful beauty, beckoning her children to come to
her bosom and partake of her bounty. But ever the air grew thick with
mephitic darkness, ever a hollow voice was heard calling: "Touch not the
beautiful form of the sorceress; she leads to sin!"
But if the priests decried the Earth, there were others who found in it
a source of power and who took possession of it. Then it happened that
the autocrats at the gates of Heaven joined forces with the powers that
had taken possession of the Earth; and humanity began its aimless,
monotonous march. But the good mother sees the bleeding feet of her
children, she hears their moans, and she is ever calling to them that
she is theirs.
To the contemporaries of George Washington, Thomas Paine and Thomas
Jefferson, America appeared vast, boundless, full of promise. Mother
Earth, with the sources of vast wealth hidden within the folds of her
ample bosom, extended her inviting and hospitable arms to all those who
came to her from arbitrary and despotic lands--Mother Earth ready to
give herself alike to all her children. But soon she was seized by the
few, stripped of her freedom, fenced in, a prey to those who were
endowed with cunning and unscrupulous shrewdness. They, who had fought
for independence from the British yoke, soon became dependent among
themselves; dependent on possessions, on wealth, on power. Liberty
escaped into the wilderness, and the old battle between the patrician
and the plebeian broke out in the new world, with greater bitterness and
vehemence. A period of but a hundred years had sufficed to turn a great
republic, once gloriously established, into an arbitrary state which
subdued a vast number of its people into material and intellectual
slavery, while enabling the privileged few to monopolize every material
and mental resource.
During the last few years, American journalists have had much to say
about the terrible conditions in Russia and the supremacy of the Russian
censor. Have they forgotten the censor here? a censor far more powerful
than him of Russia. Have they forgotten that every line they write is
dictated by the political color of the paper they write for; by the
advertising firms; by the money power; by the power of respectability;
by Comstock? Have they forgotten that the literary taste and critical
judgment of the mass of the people have been successfully moulded to
suit the will of these dictators, and to serve as a good business basis
for shrewd literary speculators? The number of Rip Van Winkles in life,
science, morality, art, and literature is very large. Innumerable
ghosts, such as Ibsen saw when he analyzed the moral and social
conditions of our life, still keep the majority of the human race in
MOTHER EARTH will endeavor to attract and appeal to all those who
oppose encroachment on public and individual life. It will appeal to
those who strive for something higher, weary of the commonplace; to
those who feel that stagnation is a deadweight on the firm and elastic
step of progress; to those who breathe freely only in limitless space;
to those who long for the tender shade of a new dawn for a humanity free
from the dread of want, the dread of starvation in the face of mountains
of riches. The Earth free for the free individual!
The Song of the Storm-Finch[A]
By MAXIM GORKY
The strong wind is gathering the storm-clouds together
Above the gray plain of the ocean so wide.
The storm-finch, the bird that resembles dark lightning,
Between clouds and ocean is soaring in pride.
Now skimming the waves with his wings, and now shooting
Up, arrow-like, into the dark clouds on high,
The storm-finch is clamoring loudly and shrilly;
The clouds can hear joy in the bird's fearless cry.
In that cry is the yearning, the thirst for the tempest,
And anger's hot might in its wild notes is heard;
The keen fire of passion, the faith in sure triumph--
All these the clouds hear in the voice of the bird....
The storm-wind is howling, the thunder is roaring;
With flame blue and lambent the cloud-masses glow
O'er the fathomless ocean; it catches the lightnings,
And quenches them deep in its whirlpool below.
Like serpents of fire in the dark ocean writhing,
The lightnings reflected there quiver and shake
As into the blackness they vanish forever.
The tempest! Now quickly the tempest will break!
The storm-finch soars fearless and proud 'mid the lightnings,
Above the wild waves that the roaring winds fret;
And what is the prophet of victory saying?
"Oh, let the storm burst! Fiercer yet--fiercer yet!"
[A] From "Songs of Russia," rendered into English by ALICE
To the Readers
The name "Open Road" had to be abandoned, owing to the existence of a
magazine by that name.
Observations and Comments
+The importance+ of written history for the people can easily be compared
with the importance of a diary for the individual. It furnishes data for
recollections, points of comparison between the Past and Present. But as
most diaries and auto-biographies show a lack of straight-forward, big,
simple, sincere self-analyses, so does history seldom prove a
representation of facts, of the truth, of reality.
The way history is written will depend altogether on whatever purpose
the writers have in view, and what they hope to achieve thereby. It will
altogether depend upon the sincerity or lack thereof, upon the broad or
narrow horizon of the historian. That which passes as history in our
schools, or governmentally fabricated books on history, is a forgery, a
misrepresentation of events. Like the old drama centering upon the
impossible figure of the hero, with a gesticulating crowd in the
background. Quacks of history speak only of "great men" like Bonapartes,
Bismarcks, Deweys, or Rough Riders as leaders of the people, while the
latter serve as a setting, a chorus, howling the praise of the heroes,
and also furnishing their blood money for the whims and extravagances of
their masters. Such history only tends to produce conceit, national
impudence, superciliousness and patriotic stupidity, all of which is in
full bloom in our great Republic.
Our aim is to teach a different conception of historical events. To
define them as an ever-recurring struggle for Freedom against every form
of Might. A struggle resultant from an innate yearning for
self-expression, and the recognition of one's own possibilities and
their attitude toward other human beings. History to us means a
compilation of experiences, out of which the individual, as well as the
race, will gain the right understanding how to shape and organize a mode
of life best suited to bring out the finest and strongest qualities of
the human race.
* * * * *
+The American Brutus+ is, of course, a business man and has no time to
overthrow Cæsar. Recently, however, the imperialistic stew became hot
and too much for him. The marriage of Miss Alice Roosevelt produced such
a bad odor of court gossip, as to make the poor American Brutus ill with
nausea. He grew indignant, draped his sleeve in mourning, and with
gloomy mien and clenched fists, went about prophesying the downfall of
Between ourselves, the number of those who still believe in the American
Republic can be counted on one's fingers. One has either pierced through
the lie, all for the people and by the people--in that case one must
become a Revolutionist; or, one has succeeded in putting one's bounty
in safety--then he is a conservative. "No disturbances, please. We are
about to close a profitable contract." Modern bourgeoisie is absolutely
indifferent as to who is to be their political boss, just so they are
given opportunity to store their profits, and accumulate great wealth.
Besides, the cry about the decline of the great Republic is really
meaningless. As far as it ever stood for liberty and well-being of the
people, it has long ceased to be. Therefore lamentations come too late.
True, the American Republic has not given birth to an aristocracy. It
has produced the power of the parvenu, not less brutal than European
aristocracy, only narrower in vision and not less vulgar in taste.
Instead of mourning one ought to rejoice that the latest display of
disgusting servility has completely thrown off the mantle of liberty and
independence of Dame Columbia, now exposed before the civilized world in
all her slavish submissiveness.
* * * * *
+The storm in Russia+ has frightened many out of their warm bed-clothes.
A real Revolution in these police-regulated times. More than one voice
was raised against the possibility of a Revolution, and they who dared
to predict it were considered fit for the lunatic asylum.
The workingmen, peasants and students of Russia, however, have proven
that the calculations of the "wise" contained a hitch somewhere. A
Revolution swept across the country and did not even stop to ask
permission of those in authority.
Authority and Power are now taking revenge on their daring sons and
daughters. The Cossacks, at the command of the "good Czar" are
celebrating a bloody feast--knouting, shooting, clubbing people to
death, dragging great masses to prisons and into exile, and it is not
the fault of that vicious idiot on the throne, nor that of his advisors,
Witte and the others, if the Revolution still marches on, head erect.
Were it in their power, they would break her proud neck with one
stroke, but they cannot put the heads of a hundred million people on the
block, they cannot deport eighty millions of Peasants to Siberia, nor
can they order all the workingmen in the industrial districts shot. Were
the working bees to be killed, the drones would perish of
starvation--that is why the Czar of the Peace Treaty still suffers some
of his people to live?----
* * * * *
+In Mayville, Wis.+, a transvaluation society has been formed, the purpose
of which is, to bring about the transvaluation of all values in matters
of love and the relations of the sexes. The members of this society are
to contribute by word and deed towards the breaking of all barriers that
prevent an ideal and healthy conception of love.
The president of this society, Emil Ruedebusch, known in this country
through his work, "The Old and New Ideal," which, by the way, was
confiscated upon the grounds of obscenity and the author put on trial.
It is an undisputed fact that robust, graft-greedy Columbia abhors every
free expression on love or marriage. Emil Ruedebusch, like many others
who have dared to lift the veil of hypocrisy, was condemned to a heavy
fine. A second work of the author, "Die Eigenen," was published in
His idea, that the relation of the sexes must be freed from the
oppressing fetters of a lame morality that degrades every human emotion
to the plane of utility and purpose, I heartily endorse. His method of
achieving the ideal seems to me too full of red tape. However, I welcome
every effort against the conspiracy of ignorance, hypocrisy and stupid
prudery, against the simplest manifestation of nature.
The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation
By EMMA GOLDMAN
I begin my article with an admission: Regardless of all political and
economic theories, treating of the fundamental differences between the
various groups within the human race, regardless of class and race
distinctions, regardless of all artificial boundary lines between
woman's rights and man's rights, I hold that there is a point where
these differentiations may meet and grow into one perfect whole.
With this I do not mean to propose a peace treaty. The general social
antagonism which has taken hold of our entire public life to-day,
brought about through the force of opposing and contradictory interests,
will crumble to pieces when the reorganization of our social life, based
upon the principles of economic justice, shall have become a reality.
Peace and harmony between the sexes and individuals does not necessarily
depend on a superficial equalization of human beings; nor does it call
for the elimination of individual traits or peculiarities. The problem
that confronts us to-day, and which the nearest future is to solve, is
how to be oneself, and yet in oneness with others, to feel deeply with
all human beings and still retain one's own innate qualities. This seems
to me the basis upon which the mass and the individual, the true
democrat and the true individuality, man and woman can meet without
antagonism and opposition. The motto should not be forgive one another;
it should be, understand one another. The oft-quoted sentence of Mme. de
Stael: "To understand everything means to forgive everything," has never
particularly appealed to me; it has the odor of the confessional; to
forgive one's fellow being conveys the idea of pharisaical superiority.
To understand one's fellow being suffices. This admission partly
represents the fundamental aspect of my views on the emancipation of
woman and its effect upon the entire sex.
Emancipation should make it possible for her to be human in the truest
sense. Everything within her that craves assertion and activity should
reach its fullest expression; and all artificial barriers should be
broken and the road towards greater freedom cleared of every trace of
centuries of submission and slavery.
This was the original aim of the movement for woman's emancipation. But
the results so far achieved have isolated woman and have robbed her of
the fountain springs of that happiness which is so essential to her.
Merely external emancipation has made of the modern woman an artificial
being who reminds one of the products of French arboriculture with its
arabesque trees and shrubs--pyramids, wheels and wreaths; anything
except the forms which would be reached by the expression of their own
inner qualities. Such artificially grown plants of the female sex are to
be found in large numbers, especially in the so-called intellectual
sphere of our life.
Liberty and equality for woman! What hopes and aspirations these words
awakened when they were first uttered by some of the noblest and bravest
souls of those days. The sun in all its light and glory was to rise upon
a new world; in this world woman was to be free to direct her own
destiny, an aim certainly worthy of the great enthusiasm, courage,
perseverance and ceaseless effort of the tremendous host of pioneer men
and women, who staked everything against a world of prejudice and
My hopes also move towards that goal, but I insist that the emancipation
of woman, as interpreted and practically applied to-day, has failed to
reach that great end. Now, woman is confronted with the necessity of
emancipating herself from emancipation, if she really desires to be
free. This may sound paradoxical, but is, nevertheless, only too true.
What has she achieved through her emancipation? Equal suffrage in a few
states. Has that purified our political life, as many well-meaning
advocates have predicted? Certainly not. Incidentally it is really time
that persons with plain, sound judgment should cease to talk about
corruption in politics in a boarding-school tone. Corruption of politics
has nothing to do with the morals or the laxity of morals of various
political personalities. Its cause is altogether a material one.
Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world, the mottoes
of which are: "to take is more blessed than to give"; "buy cheap and
sell dear"; "one soiled hand washes the other." There is no hope that
even woman, with her right to vote, will ever purify politics.
Emancipation has brought woman economic equality with man; that is, she
can choose her own profession and trade, but as her past and present
physical training have not equipped her with the necessary strength to
compete with man, she is often compelled to exhaust all her energy, use
up her vitality and strain every nerve in order to reach the market
value. Very few ever succeed, for it is a fact that women doctors,
lawyers, architects and engineers are neither met with the same
confidence, nor do they receive the same remuneration. And those that do
reach that enticing equality generally do so at the expense of their
physical and psychical well-being. As to the great mass of working girls
and women, how much independence is gained if the narrowness and lack of
freedom of the home is exchanged for the narrowness and lack of freedom
of the factory, sweat-shop, department store, or office? In addition is
the burden which is laid on many women of looking after a "home, sweet
home"--cold, dreary, disorderly, uninviting--after a day's hard work.
Glorious independence! No wonder that hundreds of girls are so willing
to accept the first offer of marriage, sick and tired of their
independence behind the counter, or at the sewing or typewriting
machine. They are just as ready to marry as girls of middle class people
who long to throw off the yoke of parental dependence. A so-called
independence which leads only to earning the merest subsistence is not
so enticing, not so ideal that one can expect woman to sacrifice
everything for it. Our highly praised independence is, after all, but a
slow process of dulling and stifling woman's nature, her love instinct
and her mother instinct.
Nevertheless, the position of the working girl is far more natural and
human than that of her seemingly more fortunate sister in the more
cultured professional walk of life. Teachers, physicians, lawyers,
engineers, etc., who have to make a dignified, straightened and proper
appearance, while the inner life is growing empty and dead.
The narrowness of the existing conception of woman's independence and
emancipation; the dread of love for a man who is not her social equal;
the fear that love will rob her of her freedom and independence; the
horror that love or the joy of motherhood will only hinder her in the
full exercise of her profession--all these together make of the
emancipated modern woman a compulsory vestal, before whom life, with its
great clarifying sorrows and its deep, entrancing joys, rolls on without
touching or gripping her soul.
Emancipation as understood by the majority of its adherents and
exponents, is of too narrow a scope to permit the boundless joy and
ecstasy contained in the deep emotion of the true woman, sweetheart,
mother, in freedom.
The tragic fate of the self-supporting or economically free woman does
not consist of too many, but of too few experiences. True, she surpasses
her sister of past generations in knowledge of the world and human
nature; and it is because of that that she feels deeply the lack of
life's essence, which alone can enrich the human soul and without which
the majority of women have become mere professional automatons.
That such a state of affairs was bound to come was foreseen by those who
realized that in the domain of ethics, there still remained many
decaying ruins of the time of the undisputed superiority of man; ruins
that are still considered useful. And, which is more important, a goodly
number of the emancipated are unable to get along without them. Every
movement that aims at the destruction of existing institutions and the
replacement thereof with such as are more advanced, more perfect, has
followers, who in theory stand for the most extreme radical ideas, and
who, nevertheless, in their every-day practice, are like the next best
Philistine, feigning respectability and clamoring for the good opinion
of their opponents. There are, for example, Socialists, and even
Anarchists, who stand for the idea that property is robbery, yet who
will grow indignant if anyone owe them the value of a half-dozen pins.
The same Philistine can be found in the movement for woman's
emancipation. Yellow journalists and milk and water literateurs have
painted pictures of the emancipated woman that make the hair of the good
citizen and his dull companion stand up on end. Every member of the
women's rights movement was pictured as a George Sand in her absolute
disregard of morality. Nothing was sacred to her. She had no respect for
the ideal relation between man and woman. In short, emancipation stood
only for a reckless life of lust and sin; regardless of society,
religion and morality. The exponents of woman's rights were highly
indignant at such a misrepresentation, and, lacking in humor, they
exerted all their energy to prove that they were not at all as bad as
they were painted, but the very reverse. Of course, as long as woman was
the slave of man, she could not be good and pure, but now that she was
free and independent she would prove how good she could be and how her
influence would have a purifying effect on all institutions in society.
True, the movement for woman's rights has broken many old fetters, but
it has also established new ones. The great movement of true
emancipation has not met with a great race of women, who could look
liberty in the face. Their narrow puritanical vision banished man as a
disturber and doubtful character out of their emotional life. Man was
not to be tolerated at any price, except perhaps as the father of a
child, since a child could not very well come to life without a father.
Fortunately, the most rigid puritanism never will be strong enough to
kill the innate craving for motherhood. But woman's freedom is closely
allied to man's freedom, and many of my so-called emancipated sisters
seem to overlook the fact that a child born in freedom needs the love
and devotion of each human being about him, man as well as woman.
Unfortunately, it is this narrow conception of human relations that has
brought about a great tragedy in the lives of the modern man and woman.
About fifteen years ago appeared a work from the pen of the brilliant
Norwegian writer, Laura Marholm, called "Woman, a Character Study." She
was one of the first to call attention to the emptiness and narrowness
of the existing conception of woman's emancipation and its tragic effect
upon the inner life of woman. In her work she speaks of the fate of
several gifted women of international fame: The genius, Eleanora Duse;
the great mathematician and writer, Sanja Kovalevskaja; the artist and
poet nature, Marie Bashkirzeff, who died so young. Through each
description of the lives of these women of such extraordinary mentality,
runs a marked trail of unsatisfied craving for a full, rounded, complete
and beautiful life, and the unrest and loneliness resulting from the
lack of it. Through these masterly psychological sketches, one cannot
help but see that the higher the mental development of woman, the less
possible it is for her to meet a congenial mate, who will see in her,
not only sex, but also the human being, the friend, comrade and strong
individuality, who cannot and ought not lose a single trait of her
The average man with his self-sufficiency, his ridiculously superior
airs of patronage towards the female sex, is an impossibility for woman,
as depicted in the "Character Study" by Laura Marholm. Equally
impossible for her is the man who can see in her nothing more than her
mentality and genius, and who fails to awaken her woman nature.
A rich intellect and a fine soul are usually considered necessary
attributes of a deep and beautiful personality. In the case of the
modern woman, these attributes serve as a hindrance to the complete
assertion of her being. For over a hundred years, the old form of
marriage, based on the Bible, "till death us do part" has been denounced
as an institution that stands for the sovereignty of the man over the
woman, of her complete submission to his whims and commands and the
absolute dependence upon his name and support. Time and again it has
been conclusively proven that the old matrimonial relation restricted
woman to the function of man's servant and the bearer of his children.
And yet we find many emancipated women who prefer marriage with all its
deficiencies to the narrowness of an unmarried life; narrow and
unendurable because of the chains of moral and social prejudice that
cramp and bind her nature.
The cause for such inconsistency on the part of many advanced women is
to be found in the fact that they never truly understood the meaning of
emancipation. They thought that all that was needed was independence
from external tyrannies; the internal tyrants, far more harmful to life
and growth, such as ethical and social conventions, were left to take
care of themselves; and they have taken care of themselves. They seem to
get along beautifully in the heads and hearts of the most active
exponents of woman's emancipation, as in the heads and hearts of our
These internal tyrants, whether they be in the form of public opinion or
what will mother say, or brother, father, aunt or relative of any sort;
what will Mrs. Grundy, Mr. Comstock, the employer, the Board of
Education say? All these busybodies, moral detectives, jailers of the
human spirit, what will they say? Until woman has learned to defy them
all, to stand firmly on her own ground and to insist upon her own
unrestricted freedom, to listen to the voice of her nature, whether it
call for life's greatest treasure, love for a man, or her most glorious
privilege, the right to give birth to a child, she cannot call herself
emancipated. How many emancipated women are brave enough to acknowledge
that the voice of love is calling, wildly beating against their breasts
demanding to be heard, to be satisfied.
The French novelist, Jean Reibrach, in one of his novels, "New Beauty,"
attempts to picture the ideal, beautiful, emancipated woman. This ideal
is embodied in a young girl, a physician. She talks very clearly and
wisely of how to feed infants, she is kind and administers medicines
free to poor mothers. She converses with a young man of her acquaintance
about the sanitary conditions of the future and how various bacilli and
germs shall be exterminated by the use of stone walls and floors, and
the doing away of rugs and hangings. She is, of course, very plainly and
practically dressed, mostly in black. The young man, who, at their first
meeting was overawed by the wisdom of his emancipated friend, gradually
learns to understand her, and recognizes one fine day that he loves her.
They are young and she is kind and beautiful, and though always in rigid
attire, her appearance is softened by spotlessly clean white collar and
cuffs. One would expect that he would tell her of his love, but he is
not one to commit romantic absurdities. Poetry and the enthusiasm of
love cover their blushing faces before the pure beauty of the lady. He
silences the voice of his nature and remains correct. She, too, is
always exact, always rational, always well behaved. I fear if they had
formed a union, the young man would have risked freezing to death. I
must confess that I can see nothing beautiful in this new beauty, who is
as cold as the stone walls and floors she dreams of. Rather would I have
the love songs of romantic ages, rather Don Juan and Madame Venus,
rather an elopement by ladder and rope on a moonlight night, followed by
a father's curse, mother's moans, and the moral comments of neighbors,
than correctness and propriety measured by yardsticks. If love does not
know how to give and take without restriction it is not love, but a
transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus.
The greatest shortcoming of the emancipation of the present day lies in
its artificial stiffness and its narrow respectabilities which produce
an emptiness in woman's soul that will not let her drink from the
fountain of life. I once remarked that there seemed to be a deeper
relationship between the old-fashioned mother and hostess, ever on the
alert for the happiness of her little ones and the comfort of those she
loved and the truly new woman, than between the latter and her average
emancipated sister. The disciples of emancipation pure and simple
declared me heathen, merely fit for the stake. Their blind zeal did not
let them see that my comparison between the old and the new was merely
to prove that a goodly number of our grandmothers had more blood in
their veins, far more humor and wit, and certainly a greater amount of
naturalness, kind-heartedness and simplicity than the majority of our
emancipated professional women who fill our colleges, halls of learning,
and various offices. This does not mean a wish to return to the past,
nor does it condemn woman to her old sphere, the kitchen and the
Salvation lies in an energetic march onward towards a brighter and
clearer future. We are in need of unhampered growth out of old
traditions and habits. The movement for woman's emancipation has so far
made but the first step in that direction. It is to be hoped that it
will gather strength to make another. The right to vote, equal civil
rights, are all very good demands, but true emancipation begins neither
at the polls nor in courts. It begins in woman's soul. History tells us
that every oppressed class gained its true liberation from its masters
through its own efforts. It is necessary that woman learn that lesson,
that she realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to
achieve her freedom reaches. It is therefore far more important for her
to begin with her inner regeneration, to cut loose from the weight of
prejudices, traditions, and customs. The demand for various equal rights
in every vocation in life is just and fair, but, after all, the most
vital right is the right to love and be loved. Indeed if the partial
emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it
will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be
sweetheart and mother, is synonomous with being slave or subordinate.
It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the
sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.
Pettiness separates, breadth unites. Let us be broad and big. Let us not
overlook vital things, because of the bulk of trifles confronting us. A
true conception of the relation of the sexes will not admit of conqueror
and conquered; it knows of but one great thing: to give of one's self
boundlessly in order to find oneself richer, deeper, better. That alone
can fill the emptiness and replace the tragedy of woman's emancipation
with joy, limitless joy.
By GRACE POTTER
In the human heart it lies. The key to happiness Men call the key love.
In the sweet time of youth, every man and every maid knows where lies
the key that will unlock happiness. Sometimes, they, laughing, hold the
key in eager, willing hands and will not put it in the door for very
bliss and waiting. Just outside they laugh and play and blow wild kisses
to the world. The whole world of men and women, who in their youth found
happiness in just that way, is gathered round to see it found again.
When at last the man and maid unlock the door and go in joy to find
their happiness, the men and women who have been watching them bury
their faces in their hands and weep. Why do they weep? Because they are
thinking that soon other doors in life will be met by this man and maid
and that there will be no keys to unlock them. They, themselves, could
find no key.
They never thought of trying the key of love in all the doors of life.
Long and wearily, eyes searching wide, hands eagerly groping, they have
spent their time trying to find other keys. They have looked for and
found knowledge. And tried that. Looked for and found fame. And tried
that. Looked for and found wealth. And tried that. Looked for and found
many, many other keys. And tried them all. And when at last they have
lain down on their deathbeds, they have turned gray hopeless faces to
the world and died saying, "We could not find the right key."
Some few, some very few, there are, who try the key of love in all
life's doors. Radiant, they turn to the men and women about and cry,
"Try love! It unlocks all other doors as surely as it does the first in
life. Try love!"
And though their fellow beings see that these are the only ones in all
the world who find happiness, they turn doubting from them. "It cannot
be," they say, "that the key we used in youth should be used again in
all the other doors of life." And so they keep on trying the keys that
every disappointed, dying man calls out in warning voice will fail.
Only a few there are who learn--a very few--that love unlocks all other
doors in life as surely as it does the first. Try love!
+Japan.+--A new civilization. The land of a new culture! was the cry of
every penny-a-liner at the time when she began to display her
battleships, cannon, and her accomplished method of drilling her
soldiers. They were mocking themselves and did not know how. They talk
of culture and civilization and their criterion thereof is the
development of the technique of murder. Again, Japan a modern state. She
can take her place in the ranks of other civilized countries. Rejoice!
and then learn that victorious Japan is on the threshold of a famine.
Nearly a million people, it is laconically reported, are in danger of
dying of starvation. Surely, no one will possibly doubt now that Japan
is a civilized country.
By MAX BAGINSKI
The gist of the anarchistic idea is this, that there are qualities
present in man, which permit the possibilities of social life,
organization, and co-operative work without the application of force.
Such qualities are solidarity, common action, and love of justice.
To-day they are either crippled or made ineffective through the
influence of compulsion; they can hardly be fully unfolded in a society
in which groups, classes, and individuals are placed in hostile,
irreconcilable opposition to one another. In human nature to-day such
traits are fostered and developed which separate instead of combining,
call forth hatred instead of a common feeling, destroy the humane
instead of building it up. The cultivation of these traits could not be
so successful if it did not find the best nourishment in the foundations
and institutions of the present social order.
On close inspection of these institutions, which are based upon the
power of the State that maintains them, mankind shows itself as a huge
menagerie, in which the captive beasts seek to tear the morsels from
each other's greedy jaws. The sharpest teeth, the strongest claws and
paws vanquish the weaker competitors. Malice and underhand dealing are
victorious over frankness and confidence. The struggle for the means of
existence and for the maintenance of achieved power fill the entire
space of the menagerie with an infernal noise. Among the methods which
are used to secure this organized bestiality the most prominent ones are
the hangman, the judge with his mechanical: "In the name of the king,"
or his more hypocritical: "In the name of the people I pass sentence";
the soldier with his training for murder, and the priest with his:
"Authority comes from God."
The exteriors of prisons, armories, and churches show that they are
institutions in which the body and soul are subdued. He whose thoughts
reach beyond this philosophy of the menagerie sees in them the
strongest expression of the view, that it is not possible to make life
worth living the more with the help of reason, love, justice,
solidarity. The family and school take care to prepare man for these
institutions. They deliver him up to the state, so to speak, blindfolded
and with fettered limbs. Force, force. It echoes through all history.
The first law which subjected man to man was based upon force. The
private right of the individual to land was built up by force; force
took way the claims upon homesteads from the majority and made them
unsettled and transitory. It was force that spoke to mankind thus: "Come
to me, humble yourself before me, serve me, bring the treasures and
riches of the earth under MY roof. You are destined by Providence to
always be in want. You shall be allowed just enough to maintain strength
with which to enrich me infinitely by your exertions and to load me down
with superfluity and luxury."
What maintains the material and intellectual slavery of the masses and
the insanity of the autocracy of the few? Force. Workingmen produce in
the factories and workshops the most varied things for the use of man.
What is it that drives them to yield up these products for speculation's
sake to those who produce nothing, and to content themselves with only a
fractional part of the values which they produce? It is force.
What is it that makes the brain-worker just as dependent in the
intellectual realm as the artisan in the material world? Force. The
artist and the writer being compelled to gain a livelihood dare not
dream of giving the best of their individuality. No, they must scan the
market in order to find out what is demanded just then. Not any
different than the dealer in clothes who must study the style of the
season before he places his merchandise before the public. Thus art and
literature sink to the level of bad taste and speculation. The artistic
individuality shrinks before the calculating reckoner. Not that which
moves the artist or the writer most receives expression; the
vacillating demands of mediocrity of every-day people must be satisfied.
The artist becomes the helper of the dealer and the average men, who
trot along in the tracks of dull habit.
The State Socialists love to assert that at present we live in the age
of individualism; the truth, however, is that individuality was never
valued at so low a rate as to-day. Individual thinking and feeling are
incumbrances and not recommendations on the paths of life. Wherever they
are found on the market they meet with the word "adaptation." Adapt
yourself to the demands of the reigning social powers, act the obedient
servant before them, and if you produce something be sure that it does
not run against the grain of your "superiors," or say adieu to success,
reputation and recompense. Amuse the people, be their clown, give them
platitudes about which they can laugh, prejudices which they hold as
righteousness and falsehoods which they hold as truths. Paint the whole,
crown it with regard for good manners, for society does not like to hear
the truth about itself. Praise the men in power as fathers of the
people, have the devourers of the common wealth parade along as
benefactors of mankind.
Of course, the force which humbles humanity in this manner is far from
openly declaring itself as force. It is masked, and in the course of
time it has learned to step forward with the least possible noise. That
diminishes the danger of being recognized.
The modern republic is a good example. In it tyranny is veiled so
correctly, that there are really great numbers of people who are
deceived by this masquerade, and who maintain that what they perceive is
a true face with honest eyes.
No czar, no king. But right in line with these are the landowners, the
merchants, manufacturers, landlords, monopolists. They all are in
possession, which is as strong a guarantee for the continuance of their
power, as a castle surrounded by thick walls. Whoever possesses can rob
him who possesses nothing of his independence. If I am dependent for a
living on work, for which I need contrivances and machines, which I my
self cannot procure, because I am without means, I must sacrifice my
independence to him who possesses these contrivances and machines. You
may work here, he will tell me, but only under the condition that you
will deliver up the products of your labor to me, that I may trade with
and make profit on them.
The one without possessions has no choice. He may appeal to the
declaration of human rights; he may point to his political rights, the
equality before the law, before God and the archangels--if he wants to
eat, drink, dress and have a home he must choose such work as the
conditions of the industrial mercantile or agricultural plants impose
Through organized opposition the workingmen can somewhat improve this
condition; by the help of trade unions they can regulate the hours of
work and hinder the reduction of wages to a level too low for mere
living. The trade unions are a necessity for the workingmen, a bulwark
against which the most unbearable demands of the class of possessors
rebound; but a complete freeing of labor--be it of an intellectual or of
a physical nature--can be brought about only through the abolition of
wage work and the right of private ownership of land and the sources of
maintenance and nourishment of mankind. There are heart-rending cries
over the blasphemous opinion that property is not as holy a thing as its
possessors would like to make it. They declare that possessions must not
be less protected than human life, for they are necessary foundations of
society. The case is represented as though everybody were highly
interested in the maintenance of the right of private property, whereas
conditions are such that non-possession is the normal condition of most
Because few possess everything, therefore the many possess nothing. So
far as possession can be considered as an oppressive measure in the
hands of a few, it is a monopoly. Set in a paradox it would read: The
abolition of property will free the people from homelessness and
non-possession. In fact, this will happen when the earth with its
treasures shall cease to be an object of trade for usurers; when it
shall vouchsafe to all a home and a livelihood. Then not only the bent
bodies will straighten; the intellect free itself as might the bound
Prometheus rid himself of his fetters and leave the rock to which he is
chained, but we shall look back on the institutions of force, the state,
the hangman, et al, as ghosts of an anxious fantasy.
In free unions the trades will organize themselves and will produce the
means of livelihood. Things will not be produced for profit's sake, but
for the sake of need. The profit-grabber has grown superfluous just as
his patron, the state, which at present serves by means of its taxes and
revenues, his anti-humanitarian purposes and hinders the reasonable
consumption of goods. From the governing mania the foundation will be
withdrawn; for those strata in society will be lacking which therefore
had grown rich and fat by monopolizing the earth and its production.
They alone needed legislatures to make laws against the disinherited.
They needed courts of justice to condemn; they needed the police to
carry out practically the terrible social injustice, the cause of which
lay in their existence and manner of living. And now the political
corruptionists are lacking who served the above-mentioned classes as
helpers, and therefore had to be supported as smaller drones.
What a pleasant surprise! We see now that the production and
distribution of means of livelihood are a much simpler matter without
government than with government. And people now realize that the
governments never promoted their welfare, but rather made it impossible,
since with the help of force they only allowed the right of possession
to the minority.
Life is really worth living now. It ceases to be an endless, mad
drudgery, a repugnant struggle for a mere existence.
Truth and beauty are enthroned upon the necessity of procuring the means
of existence in a co-operative organized manner. The social motives
which to-day make man ambitious, hypocritical, stealthy, are
ineffective. One need not sell his individuality for a mess of pottage,
as Esau sold his primogeniture.
At last the individuality of man has struck a solid social foundation on
which it can prosper. The individual originality in man is valued; it
fructifies art, literature, science, which now, in so far as they are
dependent upon the state and ownership--which is far-reaching--must take
the direction of prescribed models that are acknowledged, and must not
be directed against the continuance of the leisure classes.
Love will be free. Love's favor is a free granting, a giving and taking
without speculation. No prostitution; for the economic and social power
of one person over another exists no longer, and with the falling off of
external oppression many an internal serfdom of feeling will be done
away with, which often is only the reflex of hard external compulsion.
Then the longing of large hearts may take tangible shape. Utopias are
arrows aimed into the future, harbingers of a new reality.
Rabelais, in his description of life in the "Thelemite Abbey," wrote:
"All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according
to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when
they thought good; they did eat, drink, labor, sleep, when they had a
mind to it, and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did
offer to constrain them to eat, drink, nor do any other thing. In all
their rule and strictest tie of their order, there was but this one
clause to be observed: 'Do What Thou Wilt.'
"Because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in
honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth
them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is
called honor. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint
they are brought under and kept down, turn aside from that noble
disposition, by which they formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake
off that bond of servitude, wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved;
for it is agreeable to the nature of man to long after things forbidden,
and to desire what is denied us. By this liberty they entered into a
very laudable emulation, to do all of them what they saw did please one.
If any of the gallants or ladies should say, 'Let us drink,' they would
all drink. If any one of them said, 'Let us play,' they all played. If
one said, 'Let us go a walking into the fields,' they went all. If it
were to go a hawking, or a hunting, the ladies mounted upon dainty
well-paced nags, seated in a stately palfrey saddle, carried on their
lovely fists either a sparhawk, or a laneret, or a marlin, and the young
gallants carried the other kinds of hawks. So nobly were they taught,
that there was neither he nor she amongst them, but could read, write,
sing, play upon several musical instruments, speak five or six several
languages, and compose in them all very quaintly, both in verse and
prose. Never were seen so valiant knights, so noble and worthy, so
dexterous and skilful both on foot and horseback, more brisk and lively,
more nimble and quick, or better handling all manner of weapons, than
were there. Never were seen ladies so proper and handsome, so miniard
and dainty, less forward, or more ready with their hand, and with their
needle, in every honest and free action belonging to that sex, than were
+A few days ago+ the red ghost of revolution showed itself in the White
House. The President saw it and threatened it with his boxing fists:
"What are you looking for here, be off to Russia." "You are comical in
your excitement," answered Revolution. "You must know, I am not only
Russian, I am international, at home here as well as on the other side
of the great water."
+A Proposition.+--Would it not be wiser to explain theories out of life
and not life out of theories?
VIVE LE ROI
BY FRANCES MAULE BJORKMAN
Aye, vive le roi. The King is dead--
So move our lives from day to day.
The triumph of to-morrow's lord
Meets for our former chief's decay.
Then love and live and laugh and sing--
The world is good and life is free--
There's not a single care I know
That's worth a single tear from me.
What's love or fame or place or power?
What's wealth when we shall come to die?
What matters anything on earth
So long as only I am I?
The Joy or grief or love or shame
That holds its little hour of sway
Is only worth its destined time--
What use to try to make it stay?
Aye, let it go. The monarch dead,
A better king our shouts may hail
And if a worse--well, still be glad;
He too will pass behind the vail.
They all must pass--fame, joy and love,
The sting of grief, the blot of shame;
The only thing that really counts
Is how we bear the praise or blame.
I'll take the good the while it lasts
And when it goes I'll learn to sing,
All eager for the coming joy--
"The king is dead, long live the king."
Reflections of A Rich Man
+If God were not in existence+ we would have to order one from the
Professors of Theology.
The fear, instilled in the majority of the poor, with the God, Devil,
Heaven and Hell idea, is greater than their dread of a hundred thousand
policemen. Had we not given God the place of Chief Gendarme of the
Universe, we would need twice as many soldiers and police as we have
* * * * *
+A poor devil+ who owns but one million dollars said to me the other day:
"I, in your place, would rather contribute money towards art and
literature than to donate it to the Baptist Church." What an
impracticable fellow! Art and literature, among the common people, only
tends to cause mischief. They are to remain our privilege. We know the
demands of good taste and we can afford to pay for the æsthetic
pleasures of life. The majority is unable to do that; besides, to teach
them the beauty of art only means to make them discontented and
rebellious against our authority.
* * * * *
+I frankly admit+ I never had a great admiration for Jesus of Nazareth. A
man of disordered circumstances arouses my disgust. Jesus was neither
engaged in any kind of a business, nor did he possess as much as a bank
account, nor even a steady home. He preached to the poor. What for? The
poor should work and not philosophize. The Scriptures tell nowhere that
Jesus returned the mule, upon which he made his entry into Jerusalem, to
the owner, or that he paid him for it. I strongly suspect he did not do
it. One thing is certain, I never would have taken this dreamer of the
abolition of profits as my business partner.
* * * * *
+It was very hot+ yesterday. I walked through my park, intending to betake
myself to my favorite place for rest and reverie. Suddenly I stood
still, arrested by the sight of a man lying under a tree. In my park?
And how the fellow looked! In rags and dirty! I have been told I was
kind-hearted, and I realized this myself at the moment. I walked over to
the man and inquired interestedly: "Are you ill?" He grunted in reply.
The wretch must have thought, in his sleep, that I was one of his kind.
My generosity did not cease. "If you need money, do not feel shy about
telling me. How much do you need. I am the rich X Y Z, who has a
fabulous fortune, as you have undoubtedly heard." At this remark the
scoundrel turned on the other side, with his back toward me, and said,
while yawning: "What I want? I want to sleep. Will you be good enough to
keep the mosquitoes away for two hours?" Within five minutes I had my
servant kick this impertinent and ungrateful wretch out of my park. If
all of the low class think as this fellow, I fear our charitable efforts
in their behalf will accomplish little.
+Eleven million+, nine hundred and seventeen thousand, nine hundred and
forty-six dollars and fifty-eight cents is what the gallant Gen. Bingham
asks us for protecting us from each other for the ensuing year. With a
population of four million and 4.50 members to a family, we pay a
fraction less than $3 per head, and about $13.50 for a family, a year
for police protection in this enlightened Christian (750,000 of us are
Jews, but ours is a Christian city) city of ours. I'd give that silver
watch of mine away and mind my own business if I thought it would come
cheaper, but it won't do. H. H. Rogers is my brother and keeper, and he
insists he needs protection, and I must pay for it, so what can I do?
I've told him I'm a peaceful, propertyless man with no higher ambition
than to love my fellow-man--and woman, and mind my own business; but his
reply has invariably been, "I'm Dr. Tarr, and my system prevails in this
lunatic asylum!" I recognize the logic of his argument all right and
continue to pay for his protection and feel grateful for the privilege
of grumbling a little now and again.
By JOHN R. CORYELL
Be it understood that the shocking thing which we know as Comstockery,
goes back into the centuries for its origin; being, indeed, the perfect
flower of that asceticism, which was engrafted on the degraded
Christianity which took its name from Christ without in the least
comprehending the spirit of his lofty conception.
The man Comstock, who has the shameful distinction of having lent his
name to the idea of which he is the willing and probably the fit
exponent, may be dismissed without further consideration, since he is,
after all, only the inevitable as he is the deplorable result of that
for which he stands; seemingly without any sense of the shame and the
awfulness of it.
It may be said, too, in dismissing him, that it is of no consequence
whether the very unpleasant stories current concerning him are true or
not. It is altogether probable that a man who stands for what he does
and who glories in proclaiming the things he does, will also do things
for which he does not stand and which he does not proclaim. That is a
characteristic of most of us and only proves that, after all, he is not
less than human.
The only point that need be made in regard to the man who is proud of
representing Comstockery is, that if he had not done so, some other lost
soul would. In that sad stage of our social growth when death was the
penalty for most infractions of the law, an executioner could always be
found who took pride in his work and who seemed to be beyond the reach
of the scorn, the abhorrence and the contempt of his fellows.
Comstockery, as we know it, is apparently an organized effort to
regulate the morals of the people. If it were nothing more than this, it
would be absurd and negligible, because futile; for what we call morals
are only the observances which the conditions of life impose upon a
people; and an act depends, for its moral status, upon its relation to
those conditions. As, for example, horse-stealing in a closely settled
community, which has its railroads and other means of communication, is
a crime to be punished by a brief period of imprisonment; while in the
sparsely settled sections of a country, where the horse is an imperative
necessity of life, its theft becomes a hanging matter, whatever the
written law for that section of the country may be as to the punishment
of the crime. And men, brought up in law-abiding communities in the
deepest respect for the law, will, under the changed conditions of life,
not merely condone the infliction of a penalty in excess of that
provided by law, but will themselves assist, virtuously satisfied with
their conduct because the society of which they form a part has decided
that horse-stealing shall be so punished. On the other hand, there are
numerous laws on the statute books, still unrepealed and unenforceable
because the acts treated of are no longer held to be offences against
morality. In other words, the morals of a people can be regulated only
What Comstockery does is bad enough, but its real awfulness lies in the
fact that it seems to fairly enough represent us in our attitude toward
a certain class of ideas and things. It is the expression of our
essential immorality--using that word in its conventional sense--having
its roots deep down in pruriency, hypocrisy and ignorance. Like the
blush on the cheek of the courtesan, it deceives no one, but is none the
less a truthful expression, not of the thing it simulates, but of the
character of the simulator.
Comstockery was probably brought to this country by the first
Anglo-Saxon, whether pirate or minister of the gospel, who set foot on
this soil; certainly it was a finely blooming plant on the Mayflower,
and was soon blossoming here as never elsewhere in the world, giving out
such a fragrance that the peculiar odor of it has become a
characteristic of this land of liberty.
When the so-called Comstock laws were passed there was a real disease to
be treated: The symptoms of the disease were obscene books and pictures
which were being freely circulated among the children of the land,
boarding-schools, whether for girls or boys, being fairly flooded with
the pernicious literature. The work of confiscation, suppression and of
imprisonment was done thoroughly and conscientiously, so that in the
course of a comparatively short time it was difficult to find books or
pictures of the kind in question. It is said that the effectiveness of
the work done is best shown by the one or more libraries of obscene
books which the society, or some of its officers, have collected.
The value of the work done and the efficiency of the workers were
recognized in the passage from time to time of laws giving extraordinary
powers not alone to the popularly so-called "Comstock Society," but to
officers of the government. A perfect fury of purity took possession of
our legislators; they were determined to stamp out impurity. And perhaps
they were establishing reputations for themselves. It is recorded that
in the days of the Inquisition men established their orthodoxy by the
loudness of their cries against heresy; that in the times of the French
Revolution, men proved their patriotism by making charges of treason
against their neighbors; that practicing polygamists have purified
themselves by hounding a theoretical polygamist out of their legislative
body. Anyhow, the laws were passed, the thing was done.
And what was the thing that was done? A moral Inquisition had been
established. Arguing from a wrong premise a hideous conclusion had been
reached. It was voiced only a few weeks ago by an official of the
postoffice in Chicago, when confiscating a publication. He said in
substance, if not literally: "Any discussion of sex is obscene."
There it is in a few words--a complete and perfect treatise on
Comstockery! In the early days in some parts of New England, a man might
not kiss his wife on a Sunday. On common days, the filthy act was
permissible, but the Sabbath must not be so defiled. And now, any
discussion of sex is obscenity!
Pause a while and consider what this means and whither it will lead,
where it has already led. Discussion of sex is obscene; then sex,
itself, must be obscene; life and all that pertains to it must be
filthy. That is, providing it be the life of Man. The sex of flowers may
be discussed frankly and freely either for the pleasure of knowledge, or
in order to use knowledge for the purpose of improving the flower. The
sex of animals may be discussed; it is discussed in government
publications and in the many farm journals published throughout the
country, because it is necessary to improve the breed of our domestic
animals, because these animals are valuable. But discussion of the sex
of man is obscene!
There have been some changes in public sentiment, some changes, perhaps,
in the grey matter on the judicial bench, since the early days in New
York when Comstockery was most rampant: for what was tolerated then is
not tolerated now; some things that were judicially wrong then are
judicially right now. And in this change there is hope and the promise
of greater change.
In those early days a confectioner on Fulton street sought to attract
customers by exhibiting in his window a painting by a great artist. If
memory serves, it was "The Triumph of Charles V." by Hans Makart.
Figures of nude females were in the picture, and Comstockery established
in its censorship of art and solemnly unconscious of its appalling
ignorance, but true to its fundamental pruriency, ordered the picture
removed from the window. And it was removed. Just as Boston, finding its
bronze bacchante immodest, rejected the brazen hussey. And now she
stands on her pedestal in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, giving
joy to the beholder, and--not ordered down by Comstockery. Why? And why
is not the whole museum purged of its nude figures? It is a puzzle not
even to be solved by the theory of change in public sentiment; for it is
only a few months ago that the art censor in chief of Comstockery saw in
the window of an art dealer on Fifth Avenue a landscape in which
figured several nude children discreetly wandering away from the
beholder. The picture was ordered out of the window forthwith. And went.
A few blocks below, on Broadway, there were then and are now exhibited
in a window, numerous photographs of nude children, not all of them
discreet as to way of their going. Why? Has the art censor decided that
the photographs are innocuous, or that they are art?
But these instances and the amazing expeditions made by the censor into
the realm of literature are hardly more than ludicrous; and they can and
will correct themselves. But the frightful results of Comstockery, as
applied to life and to real purity, cannot be so lightly passed over.
And let it not be forgotten that an indictment of Comstockery is an
indictment of ourselves, for the prurient, hypocritical, degrading thing
can exist not one instant after we have declared that it shall perish.
It is no exaggeration to say that Comstockery is the arch enemy of
society. It seeks to make hypocrisy respectable; it would convert
impurity into a basic virtue; it labels ignorance, innocence; it has
legislated knowledge into a crime; and it seeks its perpetuation in the
degradation of an enfeebled human race. And that these are not
over-statements can easily be established to the satisfaction of any
The most creditable work ever done by Comstockery was the practical
suppression and elimination of the obscene book; but when that is said,
all is said. How worse than fatuous, how absolutely fiendish that
physician would be deemed who hid the signs of small-pox with paint and
powder and permitted his patient to roam at will among his fellows,
unwarned even of the nature of the fell disease that was devouring his
life. Nay, worse! What if the physician should have himself clothed with
plenary powers and should compel the poor wretch to refrain from making
his case known after he had discovered its nature? But this is precisely
what Comstockery does.
The obscene book was removed from circulation. In other words, the
symptom of the disease was hidden. But was anything done to eliminate
the disease, or to remove its cause? On the contrary, everything
possible was done to perpetuate the disease; everything possible was
done to prevent anyone who had suffered from the disease or who knew
anything about it, from imparting his knowledge. For the disease was
ignorance; ignorance of self, of life, of sex. And not only does
Comstockery strive to perpetuate ignorance, not only does it glorify
ignorance and miscall it innocence, not only does it elevate it into a
virtue, but it has legislated knowledge into a crime. The offence of the
book it had eliminated was not its vicious misinformation, but its use
of sex as a subject. The postoffice has said that any discussion of sex
is obscene and the courts have put one noble old man of over seventy
years into prison at hard labor, and have punished an aged woman
physician in some other way because they sought, in all purity and
right-mindedness, to help their brothers and sisters to a knowledge of
It is true that, at last, there is a rift within the lute; or would it
better be called a leak in the sewer? Comstockery has not quite the
standing that it once had. When it was made generally known that a
postoffice official had said that any discussion of sex was obscene,
there followed such a rattling fire of reprobation and condemnation even
from many startled conventionalists, who could support the thing but
could not look it in the face, that the maker of the now historic phrase
was moved to deny that he had said it officially. In fact, there are
many signs, most of them still small, on the distant horizon, it is
true, which indicate that we are becoming alive to the fact that it is
imperative that sex should be discussed.
This is an age of radical ideas. Radicalism in politics, in religion, in
ethics is ripe; which is only another way of saying that we are
beginning to dare to think. Probably the most apparent, if not the most
significant, sign of the general radicalism, is the tendency to exalt
the science of life to an even higher plane than that which it occupied
in the days of Hellenic supremacy. We are beginning to understand that
right living is a purely physical matter, and that morals are only laws
of health; and if there are yet but few who dare take so radical a view
of morals as that, still there are quite as few who will not admit
freely that nothing can be immoral which is beneficial to the human
Of course, it is unthinkable, even from the point of view of the most
conventional of orthodox Christians, that there can be any immorality in
sex, for sex in itself is absolutely a work of the deity, hence of the
highest morality, if it can have any such attribute at all. As well
might one give digestion a moral quality. Morality is surely a matter of
personal conduct. One may say that it is immoral to eat so much as to
injure one's health, but it is not a matter of record that any
considerable body of persons declares the stomach to be an immoral
organ, or the digestive function to be an immoral one, or any discussion
of digestion immoral. Then why sex or sex functions?
It is true that Comstockery has us to designate our legs, limbs, though
not at the present time with any legal penalty for not doing so; it
prescribes the word stomach for polite usage in describing that part of
the body which lies subjacent to the actual stomach, anterior to the
spinal column and posterior to the abdominal wall; it forbids a visible
bifurcated garment for the "limbs" of a female; and it does a variety of
other absurd things, all going to show that in some singular fashion it
has confounded acts with things; as one might call all knives immoral
because a few knives had been used to do murder with.
By what extraordinary process does Comstockery conjure decency into the
stomach and indecency into the bowels? But how rejoiced we should be
that it is no worse than indecent to speak of the receptacle of the
intestines by its common name. By some hocus pocus of which Comstockery
is easily capable it might have been obscene to speak of the digestive
process or of any of the digestive organs. We might easily have been
taught that digestion was a moral matter, not to be talked of, not to be
studied; ignorance of which was a virtue, knowledge of which a crime.
And then, under those conditions, if a person, possessed of a little
knowledge such as might have crept stealthily down the ages, were in a
fine humanitarian spirit to dare to publish some of the things he knew
in order to help dyspeptic humanity, he would have been robbed of his
worldly goods and clapped forthwith into jail. Fancy that under such
circumstances a man who had lived his three score and ten years and had
learned something from his own suffering and experience, something from
the secretly imparted information of others, might not say a word to
help his fellows. Is it not too absurd to contemplate without both tears
and laughter that that man who should plead with his fellow men to
abstain from habitually living on butter cakes and coffee, should be
charged with obscenity and imprisoned in consequence? And imagine some
sapient postoffice official solemnly declaring that any discussion of
digestion is obscene! Consider how the land would be flooded with
literature describing the pleasures of gluttony and depicting impossible
gastronomic feats! Consider, too, trying to cure indigestion and to
suppress the orgies of our children in pies, crullers, fritters and
butter cakes by the naïve device of forbidding all knowledge of the
digestive function and making the utterance of the name of a digestive
organ an obscenity punishable by fine and imprisonment!
Digestion is a matter to be considered in the light of hygiene. So is
sex. Digestion is not in itself either moral or immoral. Neither is sex.
But there is the most hideous immorality in the ascription of obscenity
to sex, sex function or any phase of sex life. And this is the crime of
Comstockery. It has reared an awful idol to which have been sacrificed
the best of our youth; with hypocrisy the high-priest, ignorance the
creed, and pruriency the detective.
Comstockery strikes at the very root of life. It forbids that we shall
know how to live our best; it forbids that we shall know how to save our
children from the perils we have so discreditably passed through; it
raises barriers of false modesty between parents and children by
branding the very science of life an obscenity. Owing to the shocking
suggestions of Comstockery all that relates to life is degraded into the
gutter; and that which would be pure and sweet and wholesome in the home
or in the school, becomes filthy Comstockery on the snickering lips of
The wonder is that we have endured the nasty thing for so long a time.
We have been boys and girls and have gone from our parents to our
school-mates and play-fellows for the information to which we are
entitled by very reason of living, but, more than all; because of our
need to live right. We all know the hideous untruths we were told
because of Comstockery; we all know how much we had to unlearn, and how
great the suffering mentally, how great the deterioration physically in
the unlearning; we all know our unfitness for parentage at the time we
entered it; every man knows how the brothels kept open doors and
beckoning inmates by the thousand for his undoing. And yet we endure
It is such a subtly pervasive thing, this Comstockery, it steals in
wherever it can and puts the taint of its own uncleanness on whatever it
touches. Clothing becomes a matter of Comstockery. We do not always see
it, but such is the fact. We do not wear clothing for convenience, but
to cover our nakedness. You see nakedness is obscene. Not in itself, but
only in man. You may take a naked dog on the street, but not a naked
human being. The summer previous to the last one was a very hot one in
New York, and a poor wretch of a boy of fourteen years of age, being on
the top floor of a crowded tenement was half crazed by the heat and the
lack of fresh air, of which there was absolutely none in the closet in
which he was trying to sleep. He ran down into the street nude at two
o'clock in the morning in the hope of finding a surcease of his
distress. A policeman saw him, remembered his blushing Comstockery in
time and haled the poor lad off to a cell. The next morning the
magistrate in tones of grimmest virtue sent the boy to the reformatory,
remarking with appropriate jest that the young scoundrel might have
seven years in which to learn to keep his clothes on.
Theodore Roosevelt, who is at once the greatest President and the wisest
man of whom we have any record, tells us that we must breed more
children. But how shall our women bear more children, or presently bear
any, if they are to be continually made more and more unfit for
motherhood by the pitfalls into which their ignorance of the science of
life leads them? Because of the Comstockery which has its felt grip upon
our throats we may not instruct the little child in the way of health;
or if it be said that there is nothing to prevent the parent from
instructing the child, yet it must be insisted that the parent has no
means of knowing since Comstockery prescribes ignorance as the only way
to innocence; and innocent our girls must be at any cost. Besides, the
average mother, if she will but admit the truth, is ashamed to talk with
her daughter about Comstockery things. We all know that this is so. Our
parents treated us in such fashion, and we are so treating our children.
The knowledge which each generation acquires at the cost of health, yes,
at the cost of life even, dies with it, for the most part. The one thing
we most need to know is how to live; the science of life begins with
sex, goes on with sex, ends with sex; but sex we may not discuss; thus
we go on in ignorance of life. Shall it remain so? Is Comstockery to be
our best expression of the most vital matter of existence? Life, sex,
should be and is when we recognize it, the purest, sweetest, simplest
subject of discussion; and we make of it a filthy jest. We will not tell
our sons the things we have learned through bitter experience, because
we cannot bear the shame of discussing sex subjects with them, because
of the accursed Comstockery that is within us; but we will go to the
club and the bar room, or anywhere behind locked doors in the select
company of our fellows, and there pour out the real essence of our
Comstockery in stories which make a filthy jest of sex. Every man knows
this is the truth. Perhaps women, in their Comstockery, know it too. As
has been already said, treat digestion as sex is treated, and it will be
sniggered over behind locked doors in precisely the same way.
Let us rid ourselves of the fatal, prurient restrictions on sex
discussion and in a marvellously short time we shall have a store of
sweet knowledge on the subject that will enable us to live well
ourselves and fit us to bring into the world such children as will amaze
us with their health of body and purity of mind. No alteration of the
facts of life is necessary, but only a change of attitude. Why, when
Trilby brought the bare foot into prominence, it was gravely debated
whether or not such an indecency should be permitted. It was assumed
that a naked foot was indecent. Why a foot more than a hand? Why any one
part of the body more than another? Comstockery! Comstockery!
DON QUIXOTE AND HAMLET
In Peter Kropotkin's Book: "Russian Literature" (published by McClure,
Phillips & Company), there is a quotation from Turgenieff's works, which
shows the Russian poet's genius and psychological insight in all its
wonderful depth. Here it is:
"Don Quixote is imbued with devotion towards his ideal, for which he is
ready to suffer all possible privations, to sacrifice his life; life
itself he values only so far as it can serve for the incarnation of the
ideal, for the promotion of truth, of justice on earth.... He lives for
his brothers, for opposing the forces hostile to mankind: the witches,
the giants--that is, the oppressors.... Therefore he is fearless,
patient; he is satisfied with the most modest food, the poorest cloth:
he has other things to think of. Humble in his heart, he is great and
daring in his mind.... And who is Hamlet? Analysis, first of all, and
egotism, and therefore no faith. He lives entirely for himself, he is
an egotist; but to believe in one' self--even an egotist cannot do that:
we can believe only in something which is outside us and above us.... As
he has doubts of everything, Hamlet evidently does not spare himself;
his intellect is too developed to remain satisfied with what he finds in
himself; he feels his weakness, but each self-consciousness is a force
where-from results his irony, the opposite of the enthusiasm of Don
Quixote.... Don Quixote, a poor man, almost a beggar, without means and
relations, old, isolated--undertakes to redress all the evils and to
protect oppressed strangers over the whole world. What does it matter to
him that his first attempt at freeing the innocent from his oppressor
falls twice as heavy upon the head of the innocent himself?... What does
it matter that, thinking that he has to deal with noxious giants, Don
Quixote attacks useful windmills?... Nothing of the sort can ever happen
with Hamlet: how could he, with his perspicacious, refined, sceptical
mind, ever commit such a mistake! No, he will not fight with windmills,
he does not believe in giants ... but he would not have attacked them
even if they did exist.... And he does not believe in evil. Evil and
deceit are his inveterate enemies. His scepticism is not
indifferentism.... But in negation, as in fire, there is a destructive
power, and how to keep it in bounds, how to tell it where to stop, when
that which it must destroy, and that which it must spare are often
inseparably welded together? Here it is that the often-noticed tragical
aspect of human life comes in: for action we require will, and for
action we require thought; but thought and will have parted from each
other, and separate every day more and more....
"And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sickled o'er by the pale cast of thought...."
ON THE BANKS OF ACHERON
By EDWIN BJORKMAN
The air was still and full of a gray melancholy light, yet the waters of
the river boiled angrily as if touched by a raging tempest. The billows
rose foaming above its surface, all white with the whiteness of fear.
When they sank back again, they were black--black as despair that knows
of no hope.
Steep hills mounted abruptly on either side of the river until they
touched the sullen, colorless cloud-banks overhead. Their sides were
seamed with numberless paths, running on narrow ledges, one above the
other, from the river's edge to the crest of the hill. Men were moving
along those paths: they swarmed like ants across the hillside, but I
could not see whence they were coming nor whither they were going. All
were pushing and jostling and scratching and howling and fighting. Every
one's object seemed to be to raise himself to the path above his own and
to prevent all others from doing the same.
Down at the water's edge, they moved in a solid mass, arms pinned down,
shoulder to shoulder and chest to back. At times a man got an arm out of
the press and began to claw the up-turned, tear-stained faces of his
neighbors in wild endeavors to lift his whole body. But soon his madness
subsided, the writhing arm sank back, and the man vanished out of sight.
The mass once more moved stolidly, solidly onward. Once in a great while
its surface of heads would begin to boil like the waters of the river
near by, and a man would be spouted into the air, landing on one of the
paths above. Then each face would be turned toward him for a breathless
moment, at the end of which the mass glided slowly onward as before.
The crush on the paths higher up on the hillside was not so great, but
the fighting of man against man was incessant and bitter. I could see
them clambering up the steep sides of the ledges, with bleeding nails,
distorted features and locked teeth. Waving arms and clutching fingers
pursued them from below; ironshod heels trampled them from above.
Ninety-nine out of the hundred ended their struggles with a fall, and in
their rapid descent they swept others with them. But rising or falling,
they all pushed onward, onward--from nowhere to nowhere, as it seemed to
me. I watched them for hours, for days, for years--always the same
wandering, the same scrambling, the same tumbling, without apparent
purpose or result. Then my blood rose hotly to my heart and head. A
scarlet mist floated before my eyes and my soul swelled within me almost
"Why?" I cried, and the word rolled back and forth between the hillsides
until its last echo was swallowed by the murmur that hovered over the
wrathful river. The strugglers on the hillside paths, each and all,
turned toward me. On every face I read astonishment.
"Why?" I yelled at them again, and the sound of my voice lingered above
the waters like a distant thunder. Gradually the expression on all those
staring faces changed from wonder to scorn. A man on one of the paths
near the crest of the hill laughed aloud. Two more joined him. It became
contagious and spread like wildfire. All those millions were laughing
into my face, laughing like demons rather than men.
My frown only increased the mirth of that grinning multitude. I shook my
clenched, up-stretched fists against them. And when at last their
ghastly merriment ceased, I raised my voice once more in defiance.
As when on a bleak winter day the black snow clouds suddenly begin to
darken the sky, so hatred and rage spread over their faces. Crooked,
bony fingers were pointed at me. Men leaned recklessly from their narrow
ledges to shout abuse at me. Stones and mud were flung at me. A hundred
arms seized me and tossed my body in a wide curve from the hillside out
over the river. For one long minute I struggled to keep myself above the
yawning waters. Then I sank. All grew dark about me. A strange fullness
in my chest seemed to rise up toward my head. There was a last moment
of consciousness in which I heard a single word uttered by a ringing,
bell-like voice that came from within myself. That last word was:
The British Elections and the Labor Parties
By H. KELLY
"We are a left-center country; we live by compromise."
The above statement was made by an aged member of Parliament to
Kropotkin some years ago, and the present elections testify strongly to
the truth of that remark. For a country which produced the father of
political economy, Adam Smith--for Scotland is included in our
generalization--Robert Owen, the father of libertarian Socialism, which
in the forties stood almost at the head of the Socialist movement in
Europe, which has been the scene of so many Socialist and workingmen's
congresses and has furnished a refuge for so many distinguished exiles,
it is passing strange, to say the least, that up to the present no one
has been elected to Parliament on a purely Socialist platform; this
notwithstanding that, in the elections just past, of forty-three labor
members elected nineteen are members of the Independent Labor Party and
one of the Social Democratic Federation. John Burns was elected to
Parliament just after the great Dock Strike on his trade-union record
and has been elected regularly ever since, although he has long since
ceased to be a Socialist. Keir Hardie was elected for West Ham as a
Radical, and when he stood for re-election as a Socialist was defeated.
In 1900 he was elected again as member for Merthyr Tydfill, a radical
mining district in Wales, on a trade union-Socialist platform, and
undoubtedly received a large number of votes on the ground of having
been a miner once himself. R. B. Cunningham-Graham, probably the ablest
Socialist who has yet sat in the British Parliament, was elected as a
Radical, announcing himself a Socialist some time after his election.
The British workman, true to his traditions, has consistently demanded
compromise before electing anyone, and where that has been refused, the
candidates have gone down to defeat. Hyndman, founder of the Social
Democratic Federation and the ablest Socialist in public life; Quelch,
editor of "Justice," the official organ of that party, for more than a
decade, and Geo. Lansbury, one of their oldest, ablest and most
respected members, refused to compromise in the recent election, and
paid the inevitable penalty. Hyndman's case was really remarkable, he is
a man of exceptional ability, has devoted himself for twenty-five years
to the Socialist and labor movement, was endorsed by all the labor
bodies of Burnley, and Mr. Phillip Stanhope, recently created a lord and
one of the ablest Liberal politicians in the country, did him the honor
of declining to stand against him. Still he was defeated--while
politicians of an inferior stamp like John Burns, Keir Hardie, J. R.
MacDonald and two score of others were triumphantly elected on a labor
platform. Therein lies the secret, they were elected on a "Labor
Platform!" Eight-hour day, trade-union rate of wages, better factory
legislation, secular education, annual sessions of Parliament, paid
members, one man, one vote, etc. All excellent things in themselves, but
not Socialism and in no way disputing the right of one man to exploit
another and leaving untouched the basic principle of Socialism, real
Socialism, the right of labor to the fruits of its toil.
Under conditions such as those described, is it to be wondered at that
many Anarchists are frankly cynical as to the benefits labor will derive
from the labor parties? There will be at least two, that have suddenly
forced the gilded doors of the "Mother of Parliaments" and about which
the guilty middle class grew nervous. We know that men like T. Burt, H.
Broadhurst, W. Abraham, F. Madison and a score of others are but
nominal labor men not having worked at their various trades for years
and are middle class by training and income, that others like Keir
Hardie, J. R. MacDonald, John Ward and many more are at best labor
politicians so steeped in political bargaining and compromising that the
net results to labor from them will be very small indeed. It is not
necessary nor would it be just to question the honesty or well-meaning
of many of the forty-three labor members, to prove that a distinct
disappointment awaits those who elected them. Past history foretells the
future clearly enough. We have seen John Burns, hero of the Dock Strike,
who entered Parliament as a Revolutionary Socialist, becoming in a few
short years as docile as a lamb to those above him in power and as
autocratic as a Russian provincial governor to those who needed his
assistance, finally enter a Liberal Cabinet with the "hero of
Featherstone," H. H. Asquith, by whose orders striking miners were shot
down in real American fashion, Sir Edward Grey, and other Jingo
Imperialists--and the end is not yet. There are our other friends (?).
H. Broadhurst, special favorite of the King; W. Abraham, ex-coal miner,
who so endeared himself to the coal operators of Wales in his capacity
as official of the Miners' Union and Scale Committee that when his
daughter was married several years ago she received a cheque for £100
from one of the aforesaid operators, and others whom space forbids
mentioning. Such is the material of which the labor parties now in the
House of Commons is formed, and it requires a violent stretch of
imagination to see any real, lasting benefit can accrue from the
forty-three men now sitting there as representatives of the oppressed
masses. An inability to see this, however, by no means implies a lack of
inherent good in the formation of the Labor Representation Committee and
the Miners' Federation, their fraternization with the Socialists and the
forces which impelled that organization and fraternization. It is the
agitation which preceded it, and we hope will continue, and the growing
desire on the part of the workers for a larger share of the product of
their toil and a part in the management of industry that we see hope.
The form that movement has taken or the beneficial results from the
efforts of the elected are details. It is scarcely five years since the
Labor Representation Committee sprang into existence, and it says much
for the solidarity of labor that over a million trade unionists,
thirteen thousand members of the Independent Labor Party and eight
hundred Fabians could be got together on a political program in so short
For good or ill the British workingman has gone in for political action
and will have a try at that before he listens to the Anarchists. Slow of
thought and used to compromise, he is a stern taskmaker and will exact a
rigid account of the stewardship entrusted to those who sought his
suffrage. When the disillusionment comes, as it surely will, real
progress may come. The process of disillusionment does not come with
geometrical precision. To some it comes over night, to others it is a
process of years, and to some it is denied altogether. For years the
Anarchists have been scoffed at as impossible dreamers for advocating
the General Strike as the only effective means of overthrowing the
present system. The glorious fight of the Russian people for freedom has
changed all this, and we find even Bebel threatening the German
Government with a general strike if they attempt to withdraw the
franchise; and Hyndman, who opposed it for years, has finally admitted
its effectiveness. The effect has been felt in Great Britain in the
shape of the unemployed agitations and demonstrations, and although
temporarily allayed by the elections, it will blossom forth again.
If the advent of the Liberal party to power, backed by the Home Rule and
Labor parties, causes an undoing of the harm of the Balfour-Chamberlain
government, it will be more than can reasonably be expected. The trade
unions can never be restored to quite the same legal immunity they had
previously. The forty thousand Chinese imported into South Africa to
take the places of white miners will remain even if no more are brought
in. The Education Act, passed with the assistance of the Irish
Archbishops and attacking secular education, will be amended and not
repealed. The endowment of the brewers will continue, and my Lords Bass,
Burton and the rest will merely await future opportunities to plunder
the British public. In short, little constructive legislation, even of
that mild and tentative character one might expect from a Liberal party,
made up of capitalistic units can be expected after the ten years of
corrupt and extravagant rule of this band of modern pirates.
They who advocate the complete reconstruction of society are under no
illusions as to the time and trouble required to overcome the
superstitions of the past. Being imbued, however, with the belief in
what Christians call "the eternal righteousness of their cause," they
meet the future with smiling face; and far from being downcast over the
turn of events in Great Britain, see hope in the formation of the Labor
"What would you do," asked the Idealist, "if you were Czar of Russia?"
"I would first abolish monopoly of land, for that is fundamental," said
the Reformer, "and then resign. What would you do?"
"I would first resign, and then teach the people to abolish monopoly of
land, the same as now," answered the Idealist. "But what would you do,
"I would teach the people from the throne that they were oppressed by
their system of monopoly--and by their Czar."
The Jewish circles in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities of
America are aroused over the visit of a spectre called Nationalism,
alias Territorialism. Like all spectres, it is doing a lot of mischief
and causing much confusion in the heads of the Jewish population.
The spirit of our ancestor, Abraham, has come to life again. Like
Abraham, when Jehovah commanded him to go in quest of the promised land,
the Jewish Nationalists make themselves and others believe that they
long for the moment, when with wife and child and all possessions, they
will migrate to that spot on earth, which will represent the Jewish
State, where Jewish traits will have a chance to develop in idyllic
Natural science calls retrogression of species, which shows signs of a
former state already overcome, atavism. The same term may be applied to
the advanced section of the Jewish population, which has listened to the
call of the Nationalists. They have retrogressed from a universal view
of things to a philosophy fenced in by boundary lines; from the glorious
conception that "the world is my country" to the conception of
exclusiveness. They have abridged their wide vision and have made it
narrow and superficial.
The Zionism of Max Nordau and his followers never was more than a
sentimental sport for the well-to-do in the ranks of the Jews. The
latter-day Nationalists, however, are bent on reaching those circles of
the Jewish race that have so far followed the banner of Internationalism
and Revolution; and this at a moment when revolutionists of all
nationalities and races are most in need of unity and solidarity.
Nothing could be more injurious to the Russian revolution, nothing prove
a lack of confidence in its success, so much as the present
The most encouraging and glorious feature of revolutions is that they
purify the atmosphere from the thick, poisonous vapors of prejudices and
From time immemorial revolutions have been the only hope and refuge of
all the oppressed from national and social yokes. The radical
nationalistic elements seem to have forgotten that all their enthusiasm,
their faith and hope in the power of a great social change, now falters
before the question: Will it give us our own territory where we can
surround ourselves with walls and watch-towers? Yes, the very people,
who once spoke with a divine fire of the beauty of the solidarity of all
individuals and all peoples, now indulge in the shallow phrases that the
Jew is powerless, that he is nowhere at home, and that he owns no place
on earth, where he can do justice to his nature, and that he must first
obtain national rights, like all nations, ere he can go further.
These lamentations contain more fiction than truth, more sentimentality
The Poles have their own territory; still this fact does not hinder
Russia from brutalizing Poland or from flogging and killing her
children; neither does it hinder the Prussian government from
maltreating her Polish subjects and forcibly obliterating the Polish
language. And of what avail is native territory to the small nations of
the Balkans, with Russian, Turkish and Austrian influences keeping them
in a helpless and dependent condition. Various raids and expeditions by
the powerful neighboring states forced on them, have proven what little
protection their territorial independence has given them against brutal
coercion. The independent existence of small peoples has ever served
powerful states as a pretext for venomous attacks, pillage and attempts
at annexation. Nothing is left them but to bow before the superior
powers, or to be ever prepared for bitter wars that might, in a measure,
temporarily loosen the tyrannical hold, but never end in a complete
overthrow of the powerful enemy.
Switzerland is often cited as an example of a united nation which is
able to maintain itself in peace and neutrality. It might be advisable
to consider what circumstances have made this possible.
It is an indisputable fact that Switzerland acts as the executive agent
of European powers, who consider her a foreign detective bureau which
watches over, annoys and persecutes refugees and the dissatisfied
Italian, Russian and German spies look upon Switzerland as a hunting
ground, and the Swiss police are never so happy, as when they can render
constable service to the governments of surrounding states. It is
nothing unusual for the Swiss police to carry out the order of Germany
or Italy to arrest political refugees and forcibly take them across the
frontier, where they are given over into the hands of the German or
Italian gendarmes. A very enticing national independence, is it not?
Is it possible that former revolutionists and enthusiastic fighters for
freedom, who are now in the nationalistic field, should long for similar
conditions? Those who refuse to be carried away by nationalistic phrases
and who would rather follow the broad path of Internationalism, are
accused of indifference to and lack of sympathy with the sufferings of
the Jewish race. Rather is it far more likely that those who stand for
the establishment of a Jewish nation show a serious lack of judgment.
Especially the radicals among the Nationalists seem to be altogether
lost in the thicket of phrases. They are ashamed of the label
"nationalist" because it stands for so much retrogression, for so many
memories of hatred, of savage wars and wild persecutions, that it is
difficult for one who claims to be advanced and modern to adorn himself
with the name. And who does not wish to appear advanced and modern?
Therefore the name of Nationalist is rejected, and the name of
territorialist taken instead, as if that were not the same thing. True,
the territorialists will have nothing to do with an organized Jewish
state; they aim for a free commune. But, if it is certain that small
states are subordinated to great powers and merely endured by them, it
is still more certain that free communes within powerful states, built
on coercion and land robbery, have even less chance for a free
existence. Such cuckoos' eggs the ruling powers will not have in their
nests. A community, in which exploitation and slavery do not reign,
would have the same effect on these powers, as a red rag to a bull. It
would stand an everlasting reproach, a nagging accusation, which would
have to be destroyed as quickly as possible. Or is the national glory of
the Jews to begin after the social revolution?
If we are to throw into the dust heap our hope that humanity will some
day reach a height from which difference of nationality and ancestry
will appear but an insignificant speck on earth, well and good! Then let
us be patriots and continue to nurse national characteristics; but we
ought, at least, not to clothe ourselves in the mantel of Faust, in our
pretentious sweep through space. We ought at least declare openly that
the life of all peoples is never to be anything else but an outrageous
mixture of stupid patriotism, national vanities, everlasting antagonism,
and a ravenous greed for wealth and supremacy.
Might it not be advisable to consider how the idea of a national unity
of the Jews can live in the face of the deep social abysses that exist
between the various ranks within the Jewish race?
It is not at all a mere accident that the Bund, the strongest
organization of the Jewish proletariat, will have nothing to do with the
nationalistic agitation. The social and economic motives for concerted
action or separation are of far more vital influence than the national.
The feeling of solidarity of the working-people is bound to prove
stronger than the nationalistic glue. As to the remainder of the
adherents of the nationalistic movement, they are recruited from the
ranks of the middle Jewish class.
The Jewish banker, for instance, feels much more drawn to the Christian
or Mohammedan banker than to his Jewish factory worker, or tenement
house dweller. Equally so will the Jewish workingman, conscious of the
revolutionizing effect of the daily struggle between labor and money
power, find his brother in a fellow worker, and not in a Jewish banker.
True, the Jewish worker suffers twofold: he is exploited, oppressed and
robbed as one of suffering humanity, and despised, hated, trampled upon,
because he is a Jew; but he would look in vain toward the wealthy Jews
for his friends and saviors. The latter have just as great an interest
in the maintenance of a system that stands for wage slavery, social
subordination, and the economic dependence of the great mass of mankind,
as the Christian employer and owner of wealth.
The Jewish population of the East Side has little in common with the
dweller of a Fifth Avenue mansion. He has much more in common with the
workingmen of other nationalities of the country--he has sorrows,
struggles, indignation and longings for freedom in common with them. His
hope is the social reconstruction of society and not nationalistic scene
shifting. His conditions can be ameliorated only through a union with
his fellow sufferers, through human brotherhood, and not by means of
separation and barriers. In his struggles against humiliating demands,
inhuman treatment, economic pressure, he can depend on help from his
non-Jewish comrades, and not on the assistance of Jewish manufacturers
and speculators. How then can he be expected to co-operate with them in
the building of a Jewish commonwealth?
Certain it is that the battle which is to bring liberty, peace and
well-being to humanity is of a mental, social, economic nature and not
of a nationalistic one. The former brightens and widens the horizon, the
latter stupefies the reasoning faculties, cripples and stifles the
emotions, and sows hatred and strife instead of love and tenderness in
the human soul. All that is big and beautiful in the world has been
created by thinkers and artists, whose vision was far beyond the
Lilliputian sphere of Nationalism. Only that which contains the life's
pulse of mankind expands and liberates. That is why every attempt to
establish a national art, a patriotic literature, a life's philosophy
with the seal of the government attached thereto is bound to fall flat
and to be insignificant.
It were well and wholesome if all works dealing with national glory and
victory, with national courage and patriotic songs could be used for
bonfires. In their place we could have the poems of Shelley and Whitman,
essays of Emerson or Thoreau, the Book of the Bees, by Maeterlink, the
music of Wagner, Beethoven and Tschaikovsky, the wonderful art of
I can deeply sympathize with the dread of massacres and persecutions of
the Jewish people; and I consider it just and fair that they should
strain every effort to put a stop to such atrocities as have been
witnessed by the civilized world within a few years. But it must be
borne in mind that it is the Russian government, the Russian reactionary
party, including the Russian Church, and not the Russian people, that
are responsible for the slaughter of the Jews.
Jewish Socialists and Anarchists, however, who have joined the ranks of
the Nationalists and who have forgotten to emphasize the fundamental
distinction between the people of Russia and the reactionary forces of
that country, who have fought and are still fighting so bravely for
their freedom and for the liberation of all who are oppressed, deserve
severe censure. They have thrown the responsibility of the massacres
upon the Russian people and have even blamed the Revolutionists for
them, whereas it is an undisputed fact that the agitation against the
Jews has been inaugurated and paid for by the ruling clique, in the hope
that the hatred and discontent of the Russian people would turn from
them, the real criminals, to the Jews. It is said, "we have no rights in
Russia, we are being robbed, hounded, killed, let the Russian people
take care of themselves, we will turn our backs on them."
Would it not show deeper insight into the condition of affairs if my
Jewish brethren were to say, "Our people are being abused, insulted,
ill-treated and killed by the hirelings of Russian despotism. Let us
strengthen our union with the Intellectuals, the peasants, the
rebellious elements of the people for the overthrow of the abominable
tyranny; and when we have accomplished that let us co-operate in the
great work of building a social structure upon which neither the nation
nor the race but Humanity can live and grow in beauty."
Prejudices are never overcome by one who shows himself equally narrow
and bigoted. To confront one brutal outbreak of national sentiment with
the demand for another form of national sentiment means only to lay the
foundation for a new persecution that is bound to come sooner or later.
Were the retrogressive ideas of the Jewish Nationalists ever to
materialize, the world would witness, after a few years, that one Jew is
being persecuted by another.
In one respect the Jews are really a "chosen people." Not chosen by the
grace of God, nor by their national peculiarities, which with every
people, as well as with the Jews, merely prove national narrowness. They
are "chosen" by a necessity, which has relieved them of many prejudices,
a necessity which has prevented the development of many of those
stupidities which have caused other nations great efforts to overcome.
Repeated persecution has put the stamp of sorrow on the Jews; they have
grown big in their endurance, in their comprehension of human suffering,
and in their sympathy with the struggles and longings of the human soul.
Driven from country to country, they avenged themselves by producing
great thinkers, able theoreticians, heroic leaders of progress. All
governments lament the fact that the Jewish people have contributed the
bravest fighters to the armies for every liberating war of mankind.
Owing to the lack of a country of their own, they developed,
crystallized and idealized their cosmopolitan reasoning faculty. True,
they have not their own empire, but many of them are working for the
great moment when the earth will become the home for all, without
distinction of ancestry or race. That is certainly a greater, nobler and
sounder ideal to strive for than a petty nationality.
It is this ideal that is daily attracting larger numbers of Jews, as
well as Gentiles; and all attempts to hinder the realization thereof,
like the present nationalistic movement, will be swept away by the storm
that precedes the birth of the new era--mankind clasped in universal
Mine Owners' Revenge
BY M. B.
+Charles H. Moyer+, President of the Western Federation of Miners, William
D. Haywood, Secretary of that organization, and G. A. Pettibone, former
member of the same, were arrested in Denver, February 17th.
They are accused of having participated in the murder of the ex-Governor
of Idaho, Mr. Steunenberg. Various other arrests have taken place in
Cripple Creek and Haines, Oregon.
The events during and after the arrest leave no doubt that the
authorities of Colorado and Idaho are in the most beautiful accord in
their attempt to kill the Miners' Union. This accord and harmony is so
apparent that thoughtful citizens cannot fail to see that the
governments of Colorado and Idaho are aiding in the conspiracy of the
mine owners against the miners.
Requisition papers and a special train seem to have been prepared in
advance, for immediately after the arrest they were expelled and taken
to Boise City, Idaho, and within a few moments the whole matter was
settled by the authorities of Colorado, not even pretending to show the
slightest fairness. Nor did they display the least desire to investigate
the grounds upon which requisition papers were granted. This process
usually takes several days. In the case of Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone
a few moments sufficed to close the whole proceedings.
Since the papers were issued before the arrest, it is not at all
unlikely that the death sentence has already been decided upon.
Optimists in the labor movement maintain that a repetition of the legal
murder of 1887, that has caused shame and horror even in the ranks of
the upper ten thousand, is impossible--that the authorities would shrink
from such an outrage, such an awful crime. That which has happened in
Colorado and Idaho warrants no such hope.
The evidence against the leaders of the Western Federation of Miners
consists largely of one individual, who is supposed to have known and
witnessed everything. The gentleman seems to fairly long for the moment
when he can take the witness stand and furnish the material that the
District Attorney needs to prove the guilt of the accused. An expert
perjurer, it seems.
The Governor of Idaho, Mr. Gooding, has already given him a good
character. The man acknowledged his firm belief in the existence of a
Supreme Being, which touched the governor's heart deeply. Does he not
know that it has ever been the mission of the Supreme Being to serve as
Impresario to Falsehood and Wretchedness?
The accusation against the three prisoners is the best affidavit of the
miner magnates of the courageous stand of the Western Federation of
Miners during the reign of terror of the money powers. For years
everything was done to disrupt them, but without results. The latest
outrage is a renewed and desperate attack on that labor organization.
Are the working people of America going to look on coolly at a
repetition of the Black Friday in Chicago? Perhaps there will also be a
labor leader, á la Powderly, who will be willing to carry faggots to the
stake? Or are they going to awaken from their lethargy, ere America
becomes thoroughly Russified?
+A painting+ from the "good old times" represents two peasants wrangling
about a cow. One holds on to the horns of the animal, the other tightly
clutches its tail, a third figure is in a crouched position underneath.
It is the lawyer milking the cow, while the other two are quarreling.
Here we have the beauty of the representative system. While groups are
bargaining about their rights, their official advisers and lawmakers are
skimming the cream off the milk. Not justice, but social injustice is
the incentive of these worthy gentlemen.
Human justice, and legal representation thereof, are two different
things. One who seeks for a representation places his rights in the
hands of another. He does not struggle for them himself, he must wait
for a decision thereupon from such quarters as are never inspired by
love for justice, but by personal gain and profit.
The working people are beginning to recognize this. It is also beginning
to dawn upon them that they will have to be their own liberators. They
have the power to refuse their material support to a society that
degrades them into a state of slavery. This power was already recognized
in 1789, when, at the French National Convention, Mirabeau thundered:
"Look out! Do not enrage the common people, who produce everything, who
only need to fold their arms to terrify you!"
The General Strike is still at the beginning of its activity. It has
gone through the fire in Russia. In Spain and Italy it has helped to
demolish the belief in the sovereignity of Property and the State.
Altogether the General Strike idea, though relatively young, has made a
deeper impression on friend and foe than several million votes of the
working people could have achieved. Indeed, it is no joke for the
pillars of society. What, if the workers, conscious of their economic
power, cease to store up great wealth in the warehouses of the
privileged? It was not difficult to get along with the would-be labor
leaders in the legislative bodies, these worthy ones, experienced
through the practice of manufacturing laws to maintain law and disorder,
rapidly develop into good supporters of the existing conditions.
Now, however, the workingmen have entered upon the battlefield
themselves, refusing their labor, which has always been the foundation
of the golden existence of the haute volée. They demand the possibility
to so organize production and distribution as to make it impossible for
the minority to accumulate outrageous wealth, and to guarantee to each
The expropriateurs are in danger of expropriation. Capitalism has
expropriated the human race, the General Strike aims to expropriate
A new and invigorating breath of life is also felt in this country,
through the formation of the "Industrial Workers of the World." It
awakens the hope of a transformation of the present trade-union methods.
In their present form they serve the money powers more than the working
* * * * *
+Robert Koch+, the world-renowned scientist, who was awarded the Nobel
prize in recognition of his work in the direction of exterminating
tuberculosis, delivered a lecture at Stockholm at the time of receiving
the mark of distinction. In the course of his speech he said: "We may
not conceal the fact, that the struggle against tuberculosis requires
considerable sums of money. It is really only a question of money. The
greater the number of free places for consumptives in well-equipped and
well-conducted hospitals, the better the families of these are
supported, so that the sick are not prevented from going to these
hospitals on account of the care of their relations; and the oftener
such places are established, the more rapidly tuberculosis will cease to
be a common disease."
Where are the governments which are supposed to serve as benefactors of
suffering mankind? They have milliards at their disposal, but use most
of it for the maintenance of armies, bureaucracies, police forces. With
these vast sums, which they extort from the people, they increase
instead of diminish suffering.
* * * * *
+On the 27th of January+ it was 150 years since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
was born. A grandmaster of music, a magician who leads the soul from the
depths of life to its sunary heights. Mozart transposed life into music,
Wagner and his pupils transposed problems of life. Wagner questions and
receives no answer. Mozart affirms life. His "Don Juan" liberates,
"Tannhäuser" leads into the labyrinth of bothersome renunciation.
The study of Mozart's biography may be recommended to those who believe
that the artistic individuality has freer scope to-day than it would
have with communism. Mozart was always forced to look about for patrons
of his art, for he lacked the means to put his works before the public.
A biographer says of him: "Mozart's life makes us feel the tragedy of an
artist's life most painfully. In his youth he was fondled and idealized
as a wonder child, but his circumstances deteriorated as he matured in
his art and the more accomplished the works of his fantasy grew. When he
died he left a wife and children behind in great poverty. There was not
enough money on hand to bury him. The corpse was placed in the potters'
field. When his wife, who had been sick at the time of the burial,
wanted to look up the grave, it could not be exactly designated." The
genius of the artist, however, permeates the world on waves of light.
* * * * *
+The Czar knows+ his mission. He addressed a deputation of peasants from
the Province of Kursk thus:
"My brothers, I am most glad to see you. You must know very well that
every right of property is sacred to the State. The owner has the same
right to his land as you peasants have to yours. Communicate this to
your fellows in the villages. In my solicitude for the country I do not
forget the peasants, whose needs are dear to me, and I will look after
them continually as did my late father. The National Assembly will soon
assemble and in co-operation with me discuss the best measures for your
relief. Have confidence in me, I will assist you. But I repeat, remember
always that right of property is holy and inviolable."
The commentaries to this fatherly address are furnished by the czaristic
Cossacks who hasten to the peasants' aid with the knout, sword and
"Letters of Henrik Ibsen," published by Fox Duffield & Co., New
York. Price, $2.50.
These letters do not belong among those of great men which prove to be
disappointments. In reading them one is not inclined to ask as of
Schopenhauer's letters, why a philosophic genius of such depth should be
laden with thousands of philistine trivialities.
Ibsen reaches far beyond his surroundings in his letters. What he writes
is a continual protest against shallowness and mediocrity. The misery of
petty state affairs, of patriotism with a board on the forehead bothered
him greatly. This is shown on every page. Whatever he expresses, he
always aims at expanding the horizon; as he himself once remarked: the
revolutionizing of brains. His sentiments are European, and he must
often hear that even the wish for combining the Scandinavian countries
borders on treason. Thus he becomes a "solitary soul." He has even
nothing in common with the radicals; he not only hates the state, the
enemy of individuality, but he is averse to all attempts which aim at
the drilling of the masses. He loves Björnson as a poet, but he wants to
have nothing to do with him as a politician. In a letter to Brandes he
"Björnson says: 'The majority is always right.' And as a practical
politician he is bound, I suppose, to say so. I, on the contrary, must
of necessity say: 'The minority is always right.' Naturally, I am not
thinking of that minority of stagnationists who are left behind by the
great middle party, but I mean that minority which leads the van, and
urges on to points which the majority has not yet reached. I mean that
man is right who has allied himself most closely with the future."
* * * * *
+"Under the Wheel"+ is the title of a German story by Hermann Hesse, in
which he severely criticizes the incompetency of the present school
system to fully develop the youth. The characterization of the teachers'
profession as Hesse puts it, does not only serve for Germany, but for
all modern states in which governments strive to train the young for the
purpose of making patient subjects and hurrah-screaming patriots of
them. The author says with fine irony of the teacher: "It is his duty
and vocation, entrusted to him by the state, to hinder and exterminate
the rough forces and passions of nature in the young people and to put
in place of them quiet moderation and ideals recognized by the state.
Many a one who at present is a contented citizen or an ambitious
official, would have become without these endeavors of the school an
unmanageable innovator or a hopeless dreamer. There was something in
him, something wild, lawless, which first had to be broken, a flame
which had to be extinguished. The school must break and forcibly
restrict the natural being; it is its duty to make a useful member of
society out of him, according to principles approved by the state's
authority. The wonderful work is crowned with the careful training in
* * * * *
We regret that several of the contributions, while having merits, were
not of the form to be used for a magazine.
* * * * *
Benj. R. Tucker
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ready soon of the greatest interest to all those in search of the
Which, in morals, leads away from superstition,
Which, in politics, leads away from government, and
Which, in art, leads away from Tradition.
* * * * *
BENJ. R. TUCKER, Editor
An Anarchistic journal, expounding the doctrine that in Equal Liberty is
to be found the most satisfactory solution of social questions, and that
majority rule, or democracy, equally with monarchical rule, is a denial
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* * * * *
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WILLIAM DOUGLAS O'CONNOR, author of "The Good Gray Poet": "The
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were not its Enjolras."
FRANK STEPHENS, well-known Single-Tax champion, Philadelphia:
"Liberty is a paper which reforms reformers."
BOLTON HALL, author of "Even As You and I": "Liberty shows us the
profit of Anarchy, and is the prophet of Anarchy."
ALLEN KELLY, formerly chief editorial writer on the Philadelphia
"North American": "Liberty is my philosophical Polaris. I ascertain
the variations of my economic compass by taking a sight at her
whenever she is visible."
SAMUEL W. COOPER, counsellor at law, Philadelphia: "Liberty is a
journal that Thomas Jefferson would have loved."
EDWARD OSGOOD BROWN, Judge of the Illinois Circuit Court: "I have
seen much in Liberty that I agreed with, and much that I disagreed
with, but I never saw any cant, hypocrisy, or insincerity in it,
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