Liberty Vol. I. No. 2.
Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
“Liberty is coming,” says the New York “Truth-Seeker.” A mistake; Liberty has come.
Hon Elizur Wright was among the callers at the “Index” office last week. — Free Religious Index. The time when this was an occurrence too common to be noted is not yet beyond the memory of man.
Ireland aside, but little is known in America, even among radicals, of the rapid strides and interesting phases of reform and revolution in Europe. As opportunity offers, Liberty’s crowded columns will be made a channel for the diffusion of this needed information.
“Bullion” thinks that “civilization consists in teaching men to govern themselves, and then letting them do it.” A very slight change suffices to make this stupid statement an entirely accurate one, after which it would read: “Civilization consists in touching men to govern themselves by letting them do it.”
Moneure D. Conway who has witnessed in Westminster Abbey the funerals of seven great men,— Palmerston, Faraday, Livingstone, Peabody, Lyell, Dickens, and Dean Stanley,— says they have all been painful to him by reason of the ceremony, representing ideas of death not believed by any one of those over whom he has heard it read.
The “land question” is loo big for Ireland. America must take a turn at it. And she probably will before many decades. And that’s what’s the matter — with Capital. It prefers to run the country for itself. But the consolation is that, the more it succeeds, the tighter will be its pinch of the people. There’s an end — even for landlords.
The Freethinkers’ Association, which will meet at Hornellsville, beginning August 31, announces that any orthodox minister of good standing in his denomination and of sufficient ability to fairly represent the Christian Church, will be welcome to the platform of the convention and granted the same privileges and hospitalities as the other speakers, besides having hit actual expenses paid.
Mr. Gladstone undoubtedly desires to get his “bill” properly constructed. But he can never do so. He has got a problem in hand much like that puzzling one of perpetual motion. It is not possible to set aside or act in defiance of the complete justice, if you wish your work to have a “perpetual motion.” Mr. Gladstone is not likely to prove himself an exception to the now long list of time-wasting inventors.
Jules Ferry, president of the French Cabinet, stated recently, in the chamber of deputies, that the government’s action in fixing so early a day as August 21 for the date of the elections was inspired by a desire to restrain electoral agitation as much as possible. It is a frank confession. In Germany, government, in order to maintain itself, suppresses electoral agitation by law; but Germany, as all know, is one of the “effete despotisms.” In France the same result is achieved by surprise. Free France is a republic, and her citizens govern themselves. O Liberty! how many people are bamboozled in thy name!
The elections for the German Reichstag are expected to begin early in October. The Conservative factions are uniting against the Progressists, who, notwithstanding their name, are not very far advanced. Still, they are so powerful in Berlin that the Social Democrats intend to contest but two seats for that city, where formerly the latter had great strength. We should feel a keener regret because of the socialists’ decline if their methods were those of Liberty. As it is, we are nearly as hostile to Bismarckian socialism as to Bismarck himself.
The crofters in the Isle of Skye (eleven families), who had been served with ejectment notices by their landlord for refusing to pay an increased rent, and to whom the Land League recently made a grant of fifty pounds, having declared their determination to “keep a firm grip of their homesteads,” and only to submit to eviction at the point of the bayonet, have had their ejectment notices withdrawn, and have received a reduction of 62 1/2 per cent, in their rents. The tenantry and peasantry of Ireland, if they choose, may profit more by the example of one such fact as this than by a century of electoral agitation, parliamentary struggle, home rule, and land legislation.
We see no further call for denominational activity or sectarian propagandists. Always expensive, they have now become useless. Souls can be saved without them. The disposition of the great and learned infidel recently deceased, M. Littre, appears to satisfy everybody. The Church is jubilant at having run him into the fold in season to train him for his celestial journey, while the infidels, at first not exactly reconciled to the capture, begin to appreciate the advantages of the situation, and are expressing their satisfaction in words like Rochefort’s: “Free-thinking France had his life, his brain, his thought, and his work The Church will have only his body. No, not even his body,— his carcass.” Henceforth let us save our money. No more Sunday schools; no more tract societies; no more home or foreign missions. Let us be infidels while we live, and we’ll agree to be Christians when we come to die. Thus all parties will be suited, none will be out of pocket, the devil will be discomfited, and heaven will run short of harps. Blessed be Compromise!
The Social Democrats of Europe are having a hard time of it. Forbidden to hold their proposed congress In Zurich, they have carried the question up from one authority to another only to be snubbed more ignominiously after each new appeal. They have even begged and attempted a compromise. They have agreed to ventilate no revolutionary ideas, to be more moderate in their demands than they were ten years ago, and to do nothing whatever to disturb the peace of Switzerland. But all to no purpose. To their touching appeal the federal tribunal turned a deaf ear. Liberty is always sorry to see free speech denied, no matter where or to whom, but it must be confessed that this outrage has its amusing aspect. We view with considerable satisfaction the wry faces made by these lovers of the State at having to swallow so bitter a dose of their own medicine. You wish the State, gentlemen. Well, you’ve got it,— a plenty of it. Tell us when you’ve had enough. Room can always be made for fresh recruits in the ranks of the army of Liberty.
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, not hindered or driven by oppression, not deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
Vive l’Association Internationale!
The late Col. William B. Greene, than whom no keener philosopher has yet been produced by America, speaking in 1873, in a pamphlet, of the International Working-People’s Association, of which he was a member, said: “No man can claim the merit of having made it; it came of itself. No man can destroy it. It may dissolve a hundred times; but, every time it dissolves, it will crystallize anew. Its soul is immortal, and its body can never be annihilated: it is fore-ordained that it shall live under a thousand successive names. Multitudes of labor-organizations which never heard of it, and of which it never heard, are natural, integral parts of it. It is vital in every member, and will live forever, or, at the least, until the wrongs of man upon this earth are righted.”
The truth of those memorable words was proved afresh on the 16th of July of this year, when the Revolutionary Congress, then in session in London, revived the famous international, which had then for some years lain dormant. To this momentous event, which marks an epoch in the progress of the great labor movement, and to the proceedings of the body entitled to the credit of it, Liberty, in the present issue, devotes a large portion of her space. From the letter of our correspondent, who was a delegate to the Congress, and whom we have engaged to write regularly to Liberty from Europe, and from the additional information gleaned from “Le Revolte,” a tolerably accurate idea may be formed of what was done at London. Beyond the meagre and unsatisfactory cable despatches received at the time, ours is the first report, we believe, to be published in America, and will be read with the more interest on that account.
A significant feature of this re-establishment of the International is the thorough accordance of its new plan of organization with strictly anarchistic principles. Every precaution has been taken to avoid even the show of authority and to secure the largest liberty to the component parts of the association. Good! In Liberty there is strength. Henceforth the International is secure against destruction from within by ambition or from without by malevolence.
Only the future can determine how far the Congress was wise in subordinating propagandism by voice and pen to what it calls “propagandism by fact.” It will not do, as Wendell Phillips says, to judge the methods of reformers 3,000 miles away. And yet we must affirm our conviction that no question is ever finally settled until it is settled peaceably and by consent. A revolution, to be permanent, must first be mental. Almost the only excuse for the use of force is the suppression of mental life, and its only legitimate function to remove, where absolutely necessary, the obstacles to peaceful agitation. That such a removal has become necessary in Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy we have little or no doubt; that it may be avoided in France, Belgium, and Switzerland is still within the limits of possibility; that a comparatively peaceful solution will be effected without it in Great Britain and the United States is more than probable. But, however this may be, all friends of labor must rejoice at seeing tho most effective instrumentality over in existence, for the advancement of labor’s claims, once more in full operation, taking up its work of justice where it was compelled to drop it several years ago. We hail its revival with delight and renewed hope. We predict for it a future even more glorious than its past. We trust that it has experienced its last dissolution, and wish that Col. Greene were here to shout with us: Vive l’Association Internationale!
Rise and Fall of “Free Religion.”
“Free Religion” is some fourteen years old. It leaped full-grown from the brains of a few cultured people who could no longer submit to the tyranny of Jesus Christ. “Let us come together,” said this goodly number of emancipated souls, “and rejoice over our deliverance. Let us seek the universal religion, in which shall appear no Lord or Master.” There were choice spirits in this new movement, of either sex. Even Orthodoxy treated them with respect. The first meetings at Horticultural Hall were enthusiastic. Emerson graced them with his presence. Lucretia Mott stood in the midst of them like a benediction. John Weiss, Frothingham, Wasson, Bartol, Higginson, Abbot, were there, and spoke with effect. The hall was filled at every occasion. The people came from the west and the east, were caught up by the new enthusiasm, and the evening festivals were love feasts. Many things were said good to bear. The key-note was “freedom.” The question uppermost was this: What emancipates human beings into the freedom of intelligence and love?
It was a new story, and every one was fitted with it. The spontaneity of the movement was a seeming guarantee of its genuineness. That is, no design upon the future appeared in view. The future, like the present, was to be left open and free. In plainer terms, no sect was to be founded. “Organization” was a word but little emphasized. Thus the matter lay in the popular mind.
But the plotters were there in masks which not only “deceived the elect,” but even themselves: men with a touch of poetry, but, for the most part, gifted with talents for mechanics, — the kind of men that, in all ages, have built the other sects. They were soon restive in the presence of mere sentiment, even though it possessed that virtue which uplifts and ennobles mankind. “Free Religion?” they began to murmur: “what is it good for, if it cannot be put through the world? Organize! organize! ye free men and women; enlist for the crusade!”
Year by year these words have fallen on Free Religious ears, and the temper of the meetings has much changed. The early, fresh, invigorating life is dead. Of all the choice spirits then leading the joyous throng into pastures new, scarce one is now to be seen. The faithful secretary sticks to his post, bound in sober duty to keep up his yearly report of a decided progress. But the others, where are they? New faces; new voices; new topics. The poetry, the inspiration all gone. The dead-level at last reached, — that awful desert-place where all other sects and churches have been built!
And yet, what do we hear?
It is the voice of the new president arguing against his own nature, — as we must think, — declaring that there has been a “new birth.”
“Birth?” cries the old voice heard at the beginning; “if this be birth, what is death?”
And it begins to appear plain to many eyes how there has been in reality only a slowly-dying cause.
“Lapse,” Dean Alcott might prefer to say. But his speech, like our own, would not be entirely accurate. There is neither lapse nor death. Little and great efforts have their day, raid cease to be; but the old spirit of freedom is from everlasting to everlasting, surviving all calamity, and will not succumb.
“Free Religion” is feebly trying to do over again much the same work that has so exercised the Unitarian brain for the last fifty years, and, curiously enough, even the name, which was thought to be original, if not consciously borrowed, is a Unitarian tradition. Fifty years ago, Mr Reed, announcing the platform of the “Christian Register,” declared that that then liberal movement was inspired by “free religious thought.”
But the mission of both movements is to die. Paralyzed already, demise is certain.
The future will compress the history of Free Religion into one short paragraph.
How do we know?
Can we gather grapes from thistles, or freedom from a machine?
Woe to all good souls whom the machine-spirit seizes!
The Root of Despotism.
The purpose of Liberty, boiled down to its ultimate essence, is the abolition of authority. But, until the reader has come into accord with our philosophy, he must not misunderstand what we mean by the abolition of authority. The reason of the writer of this article is (to him) authority; otherwise it would be foolishness for him to write.
But the writer of this article is an individual. He can set up whatever gods he chooses (for himself) as authority. Yea, he may offer whatever these gods dictate to him for the consideration of his fellow-men. If he makes a god of his reason, he may worship that god to his heart’s content, and submit to the letter to the authority of that god. And he may give that god a tongue through the press, the pulpit, and the rostrum. He may set him up on every corner, and call him holy, infallible, and all-wise.
Thus far he has violated no man’s liberty. He begins to be a despot and a public enemy only when he imposes that god upon others by force. See how it is under our advanced democratic institutions. A man starts out campaigning for his god. He convinces some, bribes others, and swindles enough more till he secures what he calls a majority. But, when he gets so far, he recollects that a certain fiction possesses the masses, viz., “the majority must rule.” He thereupon drops the methods of peace and persuasion, and proceeds to saddle his god upon the minority by force.
Now, what Liberty proposes to abolish is all these gratuitous fictions by which any and all gods, theological, political, and social, are saddled by force upon unwilling shoulders. That toppling theological colossus who has straddled humanity for centuries had first to he “boycotted” and unseated from those who are tired of his weight. Now that he feels the pillars giving way and begins to quake, a swarm of ecclesiastical parasites and priestly dead-beats, from the pope down, are beginning to dress their wings and look for new roosts. Not that Liberty has anything against the Christian God per se. It simply asks that Jewish usurper to stand on his own merits, pay his own bills, and stop sitting down on people who do not want his company.
The dangerous fiction, crowned God, which makes an authority out of the Jewish usurper theologically, has its exact counterpart in that fiction which sets up the State as an authority politically. God is the supreme being for the plundering purposes of the ecclesiastic. The State is the supreme being for the plundering purposes of the politician. The saving grace which perpetuates the whole swindle lies in the ability to keep the masses drugged with superstitious reverence for that fiction of authority which keeps the double-headed monster alive.
Liberty denies the authority of anybody’s god to bind those who do not accept it through persuasion and natural selection. Liberty denies tho authority of anybody’s State to bind those who do not lend voluntary allegiance to it. Liberty denies the authority of anybody’s “public opinion,” “social custom, “consensus of the competent,” and every other fashionable or scholarly despot, to step between the individual and his free option in all things. In short, it sets up the standard of uncompromising rebellion against authority, meaning by authority any coercive force not developed spontaneously and naturally out of the constitution of the individual himself or herself.
We of course believe in forces. Nature in made up of forces. But we want native, healthy, spontaneous forces in social life, not arbitrary, extraneous, usurping forces. And we believe in authority too, when authority is made to mean that which is sifted through reason and made welcome by choice. The thing that we have gone into defensive warfare with is that usurping aggressor which proposes to saddle its forms and fictions upon us without our consent, and make us its slaves under the many cunning guises which have made history a bloody record of the brutality practised by the few upon the ignorance and helplessness of the many.
The Concord School.
“To speak of mysteries and make them plain”
The Concord School of Philosophy is well reported by the press, and we judge its many professors have given some interesting and otherwise excellent essays. The celebration of the Kant centennial offered at least two such, one by Professor Hedge of Cambridge, the other by Professor Bascom of Michigan University. The paper by the latter, though upon that old and time-worn topic “the freedom of the will,” was fresh and original, coaling with the question of liberty in a practical way. It referred to the relation that belongs to “truth and liberty,” end we quote with pleasure the sentence which follows: “The movement of the mind toward truth must be flexible and spontaneous. Truth is the reward of this freedom wisely exercised.” Again, “The one condition of freedom is to maintain unimpaired intellectual activity in all directions of action. The condition of intellectual freedom is virtue —feelings that subordinate themselves to truth. If the intellectual movement is not honest, it fails of thoroughness.” Liberty, while asserting with even greater emphasis that the condition of virtue is freedom, takes the opportunity to add that this strata of philosophy from Concord is in perfect harmony with its own cherished thinking. To follow up and o’ertake truth, to know it and utilize it, is the very sum and purpose of its being.
Professor Bascom does well to consider as he does the limitations on man’s freedom, and he is fully justified, as we believe, in the heroic expectations with which his essay is brought to a conclusion. The indefiniteness that shrouds a single word gives rise to a slight regret, but the philosophic spirit will readily dispose of it and understand that the term “archangel” as here used, means simply, man raised to his supremest power. With this brief explanatory sentence we trust our readers with the full text. “There is no reason, in any limitation of liberty, why, under the laws of inheritance, man should not, in time, walk the earth with the bounding life of an archangel, govern it with the strength of an archangel, and take home his thoughts and feelings to the pure and serene experience of an archangel.”
And looking forward with Professor Bascom to the fulfilment of his high prophecy, Wordsworth’s lines come to mind, and Liberty, heeding them, will
“Learn to make Time the father of wise Hope,” trusting its cause to
“The light of Knowledge and the warmth of Love.”
Judging by the storm it has raised about our ears, the innocent paragraph in our previous issue noting the downward career of a Chicago siren who lately made common cause with the Chicago “saints,” was our trump editorial card. It seems to have given the nation at large, as well as some of our more sensitive friends, a very healthy shock. Saying nothing of the numerous newspapers that have quoted, attacked, and denounced it, we have been asked something less than a thousand times: “Would you rather see a sister of yours a prostitute than a church-member? “We are just beginning to appreciate the situation of the abolitionist, who used to be asked so often: “Would you like your daughter to marry a nigger?” Our answer has been: “Yes, if thereby she should escape becoming the embodiment of all the vices of the church; otherwise, no.” Of course there are very many worthy persons in the church whom it would be an insult to compare with the inmates of a brothel. Our comparison was of institutions, not of individuals. So heavy is the fog of respectability hovering over the church that it has veiled from the eyes of our critics the fact that an institution whose patrons are ministered unto by men who sell their brains, hearts, and souls ought to stand much lower in the social scale than one whose patrons are ministered unto by girls who sell merely their bodies. Nine-tenths of the occupants of Christian pulpits are prostitutes of a far worse order than the unfortunate women whom social conditions force into the service of the lusts of their male parishioners. To be obliged to choose between syphilitic poison and the poison of hypocrisy is not a desirable situation, but, once confronted with so unenviable an alternative, we can conceive of no reason for hesitation.
The London correspondent of the “Philadelphia Telegraph” thinks that Baker Pasha’s military exploits in Turkey largely compensate for the “grave indiscretion” of which, as Lieutenant Valentine Baker, he was guilty several years ago in endeavoring to violate the person of a young lady, his fellow-passenger in an English railway train. To this journalist we are indebted for the lesson that a man may retrieve a reputation lost in assaulting unarmed women by engaging in conflict with armed men. His reinstatement in the Army and Navy Club, says the same writer, shows that English gentlemen do not like to “kick a man when he’d down.” Indeed! But is it, then, characteristic of English gentlemen to prefer as companions men who outrage defenceless women? We would not depreciate any attempt to shield even Baker Pasha from vindictive ostracism, but, if we knew how many of his associates in the Army and Navy Club would be willing to accept a public introduction to the lady whom he assaulted, we should be in a better position to accurately judge the quality of their mercy.
A German scientist has just invented a machine calculated to replace all our charming methods of applying the death penalty. This interesting invention and the manner of using it are described as follows: In the middle of a hall specially designed for executions is erected a large allegorical statue of Justice, holding in one hand a sword and in the other a balance. In front of the statue is an arm-chair for the criminal. After pronouncing the sentence, the judge (the machine dispenses with the hangman) throws the baton of justice, which he has previously broken into two pieces, into one of the scales of the balance held by the statue; the scale falls and — human justice is satisfied. For the condemned dies, struck by lightning from a powerful electric battery placed within the statue and started into action by the fall of the scale. Is it the intention of advancing civilization to temper justice by science and the arts rather than by mercy?
The “Rensselaer County Gazette,” published at Greenbush, N. Y., remarked the other day that “communism and nihilism embrace nothing but the recrement of the life-blood and the scoria of the industry of the countries they infest.” After that we were not surprised to find in the next column the following terse but superfluous editorial confession; “We haven’t got much brains.”
Liberty lost one of her most cruel enemies by the death of M. Dufaure, the French senator, a few weeks ago, in his eighty-fourth year. As Rochefort wittily said when he died, “Buffon failed to tell us that crocodiles could live so long.” Though professedly progressive, he persistently fought every progressive measure, and in 1871 made himself conspicuous by the bitterness of his pursuit of the Paris Communists. He initiated also, we believe, the measure suppressive of the great International Working-People’s Association. Rochefort’s obituary of the deceased was entitled “One Less,” and concluded with these words: “The idea of seeing suffering was the sole delight of this wild beast who never sought satisfaction except in the sorrow of another. To the four horses employed for the quartering of Damiens, he with pleasure would have added two. Had he died expressing regret at not having witnessed the tortures of Hessy Helfmann, we should have been but little surprised. He appears to have died of hunger, his stomach no longer being able to bear food. It was just the opposite with the exiles whom he sent to New Caledonia, and who died likewise, but because they had no food, not because they had no more stomach.” We echo the wish of Paul Leconte, another French journalist: “May Liberty never meet upon her path any more such ‘Liberals’ as he!”
Has Boston at last found a successor to Theodore Parker? It really begins to look so. Not, however, in the hall that bears Parker’s name, but next door, in the Paine Memorial Hall. There for six months now, every Sunday afternoon, has been heard by a steadily growing audience a discourse from George Chainey, the infidel preacher. Before us, by his courtesy, lies a beautiful volume of 132 pages containing the first eighteen of these discourses, which he publishes weekly in a pamphlet called “The Infidel Pulpit.” Coming to Boston from the West full of enthusiasm for his work, he has imbued others with the same spirit, and has formed a society that is already a powerful and beneficent factor in the work of Liberalism. Each of these lectures shows vigor and breadth of intellect; each line of them breathes earnestness of purpose. They deserve to be read by all thinking people, who can order the volume and subscribe for subsequent issues by addressing Mr. Chainey at 51 Fort Avenue, Roxbury, Boston, Mass.
That staid London journal, the “Daily News,” was sadly upset by Hartmann’s letter to the “New York Herald.” It was actually forced to the conclusion that “it seems to be possible for an educated person to grow to man’s estate on the continent of Europe without the slightest notion that carefully prepared plans of murder, schemes which, if successful, must sacrifice the lives, not only of their objects, but of many other innocent people, are abhorrent to the vast majority of civilized men throughout the world.” The “News” did not lose its head entirely, however, but retained sufficient of its equanimity to “not undertake to account by any single fact or any simple explanation for this strange phenomenon of modern life and society.” This course speaks volumes for the editor’s prudence.
People taught to depend upon authority loss their self-reliance. To reassure a populace excited and bewildered by news of Lincoln’s assassination, Gen. Garfield could find no more effective words than those now famous: “God reigns and the government still lives.” Once satisfied that they still had masters in both worlds, their security seemed complete. To derive security from oppression is indeed to “pluck the flower, safety, from the nettle, danger.”
The third annual convention of the Union Reform League will be held in the town hall at Princeton, Mass., on the last Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of this month, and will be addressed by Stephen Pearl Andrews, Col. J. H. Blood, and numerous other speakers.
We suspect that Mrs. E. D. Cheney has hit upon the origin of “Me Too.” She writes in the “Free Religious Index:” “When Louis XIV. said, ‘L’etat, c’est moi,’ be obliged the sans-culottes of Paris to assert, ‘Et moi aussi.’”
The Revolutionary Congress, Held in London from July 14 to July 20. [From Liberty’s Special Correspondent.]
Amsterdam, Holland, July 28. — Though congresses are always a part of parliamentary traditions and therefore illogical as well as inconsistent with true revolutionary and anarchical principles, we may, by reviewing the work of the past International Revolutionary Congress, avow, with satisfaction and enthusiasm over the prospect of the future, that it had nothing in common with speech-congresses; that it was the manifestation of earnest men and women with earnest intentions; and that the one result attained,—the reconstitution of the International Association of Working People, which arose, like the Phoenix from its ashes, a thousand times stronger and better organized than before,—would alone have amply contested all expectations.
The Congress was opened on Thursday, July 14, at 2 p.m., in the exclusive presence of the fifty-four delegates, representing 320 federations of groups composed of 600,000 organized members. The countries represented were France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Turkey, Egypt, England, Mexico, and the United States (America was comparatively well represented, having as many as five delegates).
No presidents, no vice-presidents, etc. Three secretaries officiated: one for taking note of the numbers of those wishing to speak; one for translating speeches from foreign languages; one for the preparation of the minutes.
The strictest secrecy was maintained throughout, and the delegates were designated only by numbers, though of course many already knew each other personally. After the close of the Congress, a public meeting was held at Cleveland Hall, and only then did the easily-frightened bourgeoisie of London learn what a disagreeable guest they had harbored.
All the principal decisions of the Congress were taken unanimously, though no votes, in the common sense of the word, were cast, it being agreed that, not recognizing the right of a majority, only adhesions should be recorded, giving the different factions an opportunity to announce their particular notions on each question. The first two days were spent in listening to the reports of the different countries, giving their situations from the general and revolutionary standpoint, statistics of our forces and those of our adversary, etc. The third day was occupied in discussion of the principal object, the reconstitution of the old International, to which all, after a debate of fifteen consecutive hours (we worked each day from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.), agreed on the new basis of the autonomy of the groups and individuals composing the association, each country forming at the same time a complete, autonomous sub-organization, the only general connection of the parts being by an international information and statistical office at —————, conducted by three members, thus disabling individuals, through any centralization whatever, from attaining any undue influence or authority in the association, and, further, relieving the International of the danger incurred under the former constitution of being beheaded and disorganized by the arrest of a central authority.
No group or individual is bound to recognize the general information office, all having the right to correspond and federate for certain purposes among themselves directly, without the intermediation of the office. The only and all-absorbing object of the International will henceforth be the Social Revolution.
The following days were occupied with particular considerations in reference to this object, the means to employ, the modes of action, etc., for the different countries. You will appreciate my reasons for keeping silence on these points. The Congress, at its close, adopted a series of resolutions elaborated by delegates No. 9, No. 13, and No. 22, and embodying the work of the Congress laying particular stress on the agitation among the peasantry (an agitation to be adapted to their particular needs and requirements), the recommendation of the study of chemistry, electricity, and all the sciences offering the means of defence and destruction, the establishment of clandestine periodicals and literature for those countries where open agitation is impossible, etc.
I am sure that the London Congress will in future history mark the beginning of a new period, the period of the solution of the social question, the only question worthy of the attention of men, the only question truly existing, which, like the Gordian knot, admits no other resolution than the sword. The London Congress means the beginning of the Social Revolution, of that inevitable, sublime-terrible hurricane, purifying the present heavy-laden atmosphere and dispersing the clouds from that divine picture: Universal happiness and Universal freedom.
Delegate No. 22.
[Condensed from “Le Revolte.”]
The following is the federative compact prepared by the London Congress for submission to all socialistic-revolutionary organizations. It will be seen that it does not differ from that adopted by the Congresses of 1866 and 1873, except by some insignificant modifications of that portion of the statutes revised at the Congress of 1873, in consequence of the definitive abolition of the General Council. Whether to adopt or reject it the groups and federations will decide for themselves.
Whereas the emancipation of laborers must be the work of the laborers themselves, and
Whereas, the efforts of laborers to achieve their emancipation must not tend to the constitution of new privileges, but to establish for all the same rights and the same duties; and
Whereas, the subjection of the laborer to capital is the source of all political, moral, and material servitude; and
Whereas, for this reason, the economic emancipation of the working-people is the great object to which all political movements ought to be subordinated; and
Whereas, all previous efforts have failed for want of solidarity between workmen of different trades in the same country and of fraternal union between the working-people of different countries; and
Whereas, the emancipation of the working-people is not a mere local or national problem, but, on the contrary, one that interests all civilized nations, its solution being dependent necessarily on their co-operation in theory and practice; and
Whereas, the movement now in progress among the laborers of those countries farthest advanced industrially, in generating new hopes, gives a solemn warning against falling back into old errors, and advises a combination of all efforts still isolated;
For these reasons:
The Congress of the International Association of Working-People, held at Geneva, September 3, 1866, declares that this association recognizes Truth, Justice, Morality, as the proper rule of its own conduct, and that of all adherent societies or individuals, towards all human beings, without distinction of color, faith, or nationality.
The Congress considers it a duty to claim human and civil rights not only for its own members, but also for all persons who perform their duties. No duties without rights; no rights without duties.
The representatives of the revolutionary socialists of both worlds, assembled at London, July 14, 1881, unanimously favoring the total destruction, by force, of existing political and economic institutions, have accepted this declaration of principles.
They declare—in harmony, moreover, with the significance always given it by the International—that the word morality used in the preamble is not used in the sense, given it by the bourgeoisie, but in the sense that we can arrive at morality only by the abolition, by all methods, of the existing form of society, based on immorality.
Whereas, the time has arrived for passing from the period of affirmation to the period of action, and for adding to propagandism by voice and pen, which has been shown to be ineffective, propagandism by fact and insurrectional action.
They propose to adherent groups the following resolutions:
The International Association of Working-People declares itself an opponent of parliamentary politics.
Whoever adopts and defends the principles of the Association is eligible for membership.
Each adherent group shall have the right to correspond directly with all other groups and federations that may give it their addresses.
Nevertheless, to facilitate relations, an international bureau of information shall be established. This bureau shall be composed of three members.
General expenses shall be covered by voluntary assessments to be remitted to said bureau.
Adhesions shall be received at this bureau and communicated by it to all groups.
An international congress shall be held whenever adherent groups and federations may decide in favor thereof.
Of course the Congress could not declare publicly its full opinion regarding revolutionary methods of action, but in the following resolutions it expressed a few ideas on this point:
Whereas, the International Working-People’s Association has recognized the necessity of supplementing propagandism by voice and pen with propagandism by fact; and
Whereas, further, a general revolution is not far off, when the revolutionary elements will be called upon to show the extent of their devotion to the proletarian cause and of their power of action,—
The Congress expresses the desire that the organizations adherent to the International Working-People’s Association may consider carefully the following propositions:
It is strictly necessary to make all possible efforts to spread by action the revolutionary idea and spirit of revolt among that large portion of the popular masses which does not yet take an active part in the movement and cherishes illusions regarding the morality and effectiveness of legal methods.
In abandoning the legal ground on which we have generally stood hitherto to extend our action into the domain of illegality, which is the only road leading to revolution, it is necessary to resort to methods in conformity with this end.
The persecutions against which the revolutionary public press struggles in all countries make the organization of a clandestine press a necessity henceforth.
The great mass of laborers in the country still remaining outside of the socialistic-revolutionary movement, it is absolutely necessary to direct our efforts to that quarter, remembering that the simplest fact, aimed at existing institutions, speaks louder to the masses than thousands of printed papers an it floods of words, and that propagandism by fact in the country is of still more importance than in the cities.
The technical and chemical sciences having already done service in the revolutionary cause and being destined to do still greater service in the future, the Congress recommends organizations and individuals belonging to the International Working-People’s Association to give great weight to the study and application of these sciences as a method of defence and attack.
To the foregoing resolutions another was added as follows:
The Congress, recognizing that it has no other right than to indicate a general outline of what it considers the best form of revolutionary socialistic organization, leaves the groups to initiate such organizations, secret or not, as may seem to them useful in effecting the triumph of the Social Revolution.
In the list of delegates were to be found the following from the United States: No. 5, representing the German socialistic-revolutionary clubs of New York and Philadelphia; No. 7, representing the German section of the socialistic labor party of New York; No. 80, representing the Icarian community in Iowa; and No. 36, representing the revolutionists of Boston. The following are abstracts of the more important of the sectional reports submitted by the delegates.
America.—The industrial situation is the same in the New World as in the Old: the same divisions of rich and poor, idle and industrious. In spite of all the obstacles in the shape of political prejudices met in the propagation of socialism, perhaps in the United States, after all, the revolution is furthest advanced. The organizations represented by the present delegate agree in favoring violent revolution. The revolutionary groups are not yet as strong as they should be. Opportunities for overturning the government at Washington have not been taken advantage of. The great strike and the events of Pittsburgh made a great impression in the East. The late strike of the brewers did not tell in our favor, the revolutionary workers not being able to penetrate their councils, which is the more regrettable because the opportunity for revolutionary propagandism was a very good one. It is our opinion that we should join all labor organizations. We do not deny the necessity of open propagandism, since that must attract the masses still outside of the movement; but we do not forget the necessity of secret organization.
The Lower Rhine.—The situation in Germany is well known, repression being almost as violent as in Russia; the tendency then is absolutely revolutionary. We wish to make not only a defensive, but an offensive struggle. Formerly the socialistic party was very strong. We had over 600,000 voters, but now our strength is very much reduced. Therefore we are organizing on a new basis. The capital is really revolutionary. In the cities, where the moderate party is the strongest, the socialists abstain from voting, as will be clearly seen at the approaching elections. In the Rhenish provinces the revolutionary spirit is very strong, and in Bavaria we can count on the peasants. There can be no longer any doubt that the social democrats of Austria are now inspired with our ideas.
Switzerland.—In so-called free Switzerland the situation is the same as in monarchical States. The liberty granted to socialists is quite as illusory as in other countries. The socialistic-revolutionary movement gains ground, while the parliamentary socialists continually lose, their best elements coming to join us.
France.—The socialistic-revolutionary party of Lyons is absolutely inspired with anarchistic ideas. It seeks to act on the great mass of laborers. Recently established, it has already obtained a firm footing in Lyons, and foresees an increased rate of growth after the Congress. It expends some of its efforts in neighboring towns, and there is reason to believe that a Lyonese federation, revolutionary in fact as well as words, will soon be definitively organized.
Spain.—In spite of the persecutions of the International in Spain, the organization has maintained itself intact since 1873. It is purely economic, being made up of trades organizations and miscellaneous sections. Strikes are instituted, not as an end, but a means, with a view to organizing laborers. We do not expect to accomplish the revolution by a stroke, but we are sure that, unless the workingmen have some powerful organization of their own, the revolution can be easily defeated by the bourgeoisie. We have no continuous functions. Any one charged with a special duty returns to the ranks as soon as he has fulfilled it. By this means we have avoided individual ascendancy and kept the ambitious aloof. The regional bureaus of the seven organized regions are used only as a medium for correspondence; likewise, the federal bureau, which has so little authority and is so powerless to assume any that the federations could get along perfectly well without it. Finally, we have a journal of our own, which, as far as means are concerned, is sure of a continued existence.
Reports of a similar tenor were submitted from Italy, Belgium, and other countries.
Crumbs from Liberty’s Table.
Of all the cants that, are canted in this canting world, though the cant of piety may be the worst, the cant of Americans bewailing Russian Nihilism is the most disgusting. — Wendell Phillips.
You cannot get rid of the regicide by killing him. If the feeling against kings and presidents is strong enough, the individual murderer, actual or potential, will no sooner have been disposed of than a qualified successor will step into his place. — London World.
A minor French dramatist who had aided Scribe in many of the latter’s unsuccessful plays, passing by the residence of his wealthy colleague, said to a friend who accompanied him: “There stands a house to which I contributed many a stone.” “Yes, through the windows,” replied Scribe, who happened to be entering at the time.
David O. Jones, a street preacher, was arrested in New York on a recent Sunday for exercising too much lung force in trying to save souls. Jones asked the police judge, who was about to fine him five dollars, what he proposed to do if three or four souls were lost through his wickedness in suppressing him. This conundrum was too much for a New York judge, and he let Jonen go. — Providence Telegram.
The need of our day seems to me to be an increase of the number of citizens who neither obey nor defy public sentiment, but illustrate a polarity in righteousness; like the mariner’s needle—in tumult, darkness, and storm obeying its own mystic law, and by its silent fidelity to its pole enabling every observer to take knowledge of it, and by comparison name the winds and currents accurately. — Thomas K. Beecher