THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

TO ANALYZE the psychology of political violence is not only  extremely difficult, but also very dangerous. If such acts are treated  with understanding, one is immediately accused of eulogizing them. If,  on the other hand, human sympathy is expressed with the Attentäter, 1  one risks being considered a possible accomplice. Yet it is only  intelligence and sympathy that can bring us closer to the source of  human suffering, and teach us the ultimate way out of it.

The primitive man, ignorant of natural forces, dreaded their  approach, hiding from the perils they threatened. As man learned to  understand Nature's phenomena, he realized that though these may destroy  life and cause great loss, they also bring relief. To the earnest  student it must be apparent that the accumulated forces in our social  and economic life, culminating in a political act of violence, are  similar to the terrors of the atmosphere, manifested in storm and  lightning.

To thoroughly appreciate the truth of this view, one must feel  intensely the indignity of our social wrongs; one's very being must  throb with the pain, the sorrow, the despair millions of people are  daily made to endure. Indeed, unless we have become a part of humanity,  we cannot even faintly understand the just indignation that accumulates  in a human soul, the burning, surging passion that makes the storm  inevitable.

The ignorant mass looks upon the man who makes a violent  protest against our social and economic iniquities as upon a wild beast,  a cruel, heartless monster, whose joy it is to destroy life and bathe  in blood; or at best, as upon an irresponsible lunatic. Yet nothing is  further from the truth. As a matter of fact, those who have studied the  character and personality of these men, or who have come in close  contact with them, are agreed that it is their super-sensitiveness to  the wrong and injustice surrounding them which compels them to pay the  toll of our social crimes. The most noted writers and poets, discussing  the psychology of political offenders, have paid them the highest  tribute. Could anyone assume that these men had advised violence, or  even approved of the acts? Certainly not. Theirs was the attitude of the  social student, of the man who knows that beyond every violent act  there is a vital cause.

Björnstjerne Björnson, in the second part of Beyond Human Power,  emphasizes the fact that it is among the Anarchists that we must look  for the modern martyrs who pay for their faith with their blood, and who  welcome death with a smile, because they believe, as truly as Christ  did, that their martyrdom will redeem humanity.

François Coppé, the French novelist, thus expresses himself regarding the psychology of the Attentäter:

"The reading of the details of Vaillant's execution left me in a  thoughtful mood. I imagined him expanding his chest under the ropes,  marching with firm step, stiffening his will, concentrating all his  energy, and, with eyes fixed upon the knife, hurling finally at society  his cry of malediction. And, in spite of me, another spectacle rose  suddenly before my mind. I saw a group of men and women pressing against  each other in the middle of the oblong arena of the circus, under the  gaze of thousands of eyes, while from all the steps of the immense  amphitheatre went up the terrible cry, Ad leones!  and, below, the opening cages of the wild beasts.

"I did not believe the execution would take place. In the first  place, no victim had been struck with death, and it had long been the  custom not to punish an abortive crime with the last degree of severity.  Then, this crime, however terrible in intention, was disinterested,  born of an abstract idea. The man's past, his abandoned childhood, his  life of hardship, pleaded also in his favor. In the independent press  generous voices were raised in his behalf, very loud and eloquent. 'A  purely literary current of opinion' some have said, with no little  scorn. It is, on the contrary, an honor to the men of art and thought to have expressed once more their disgust at the scaffold."

Again Zola, in Germinal  and Paris, describes the  tenderness and kindness, the deep sympathy with human suffering, of  these men who close the chapter of their lives with a violent outbreak  against our system.

Last, but not least, the man who probably better than anyone else understands the psychology of the Attentäter  is M. Hamon, the author of the brilliant work Une Psychologie du Militaire Professionnel, who has arrived at these suggestive conclusions:

"The positive method confirmed by the rational method enables  us to establish an ideal type of Anarchist, whose mentality is the  aggregate of common psychic characteristics. Every Anarchist partakes  sufficiently of this ideal type to make it possible to differentiate him  from other men. The typical Anarchist, then, may be defined as follows:  A man perceptible by the spirit of revolt under one or more of its  forms,--opposition, investigation, criticism, innovation,--endowed with a  strong love of liberty, egoistic or individualistic, and possessed of  great curiosity, a keen desire to know. These traits are supplemented by  an ardent love of others, a highly developed moral sensitiveness, a  profound sentiment of justice, and imbued with missionary zeal."

To the above characteristics, says Alvin F. Sanborn, must be  added these sterling qualities: a rare love of animals, surpassing  sweetness in all the ordinary relations of life, exceptional sobriety of  demeanor, frugality and regularity, austerity, even, of living, and  courage beyond compare.2

"There is a truism that the man in the street seems always to  forget, when he is abusing the Anarchists, or whatever party happens to  be his bête noire  for the moment, as the cause of some outrage  just perpetrated. This indisputable fact is that homicidal outrages  have, from time immemorial, been the reply of goaded and desperate  classes, and goaded and desperate individuals, to wrongs from their  fellowmen, which they felt to be intolerable. Such acts are the violent  recoil from violence, whether aggressive or repressive; they are the  last desperate struggle of outraged and exasperated human nature for  breathing space and life. And their cause lies not in any special  conviction, but in the depths of that human nature itself. The whole  course of history, political and social, is strewn with evidence of this  fact. To go no further, take the three most notorious examples of  political parties goaded into violence during the last fifty years: the  Mazzinians in Italy, the Fenians in Ireland, and the Terrorists in  Russia. Were these people Anarchists? No. Did they all three even hold  the same political opinions? No. The Mazzinians were Republicans, the  Fenians political separatists, the Russians Social Democrats or  Constitutionalists. But all were driven by desperate circumstances into  this terrible form of revolt. And when we turn from parties to  individuals who have acted in like manner, we stand appalled by the  number of human beings goaded and driven by sheer desperation into  conduct obviously violently opposed to their social instincts.

"Now that Anarchism has become a living force in society, such  deeds have been sometimes committed by Anarchists, as well as by others.  For no new faith, even the most essentially peaceable and humane the  mind of man has yet accepted, but at its first coming has brought upon  earth not peace, but a sword; not because of anything violent or  anti-social in the doctrine itself; simply because of the ferment any  new and creative idea excites in men's minds, whether they accept or  reject it. And a conception of Anarchism, which, on one hand, threatens  every vested interest, and, on the other, holds out a vision of a free  and noble life to be won by a struggle against existing wrongs, is  certain to rouse the fiercest opposition, and bring the whole repressive  force of ancient evil into violent contact with the tumultuous outburst  of a new hope.

"Under miserable conditions of life, any vision of the  possibility of better things makes the present misery more intolerable,  and spurs those who suffer to the most energetic struggles to improve  their lot, and if these struggles only immediately result in sharper  misery, the outcome is sheer desperation. In our present society, for  instance, an exploited wage worker, who catches a glimpse of what work  and life might and ought to be, finds the toilsome routine and the  squalor of his existence almost intolerable; and even when he has the  resolution and courage to continue steadily working his best, and  waiting until new ideas have so permeated society as to pave the way for  better times, the mere fact that he has such ideas and tries to spread  them, brings him into difficulties with his employers. How many  thousands of Socialists, and above all Anarchists, have lost work and  even the chance of work, solely on the ground of their opinions. It is  only the specially gifted craftsman, who, if he be a zealous  propagandist, can hope to retain permanent employment. And what happens  to a man with his brain working actively with a ferment of new ideas,  with a vision before his eyes of a new hope dawning for toiling and  agonizing men, with the knowledge that his suffering and that of his  fellows in misery is not caused by the cruelty of fate, but by the  injustice of other human beings,--what happens to such a man when he  sees those dear to him starving, when he himself is starved? Some  natures in such a plight, and those by no means the least social or the  least sensitive, will become violent, and will even feel that their  violence is social and not anti-social, that in striking when and how  they can, they are striking, not for themselves, but for human nature,  outraged and despoiled in their persons and in those of their fellow  sufferers. And are we, who ourselves are not in this horrible  predicament, to stand by and coldly condemn these piteous victims of the  Furies and Fates? Are we to decry as miscreants these human beings who  act with heroic self-devotion, sacrificing their lives in protest, where  less social and less energetic natures would lie down and grovel in  abject submission to injustice and wrong? Are we to join the ignorant  and brutal outcry which stigmatizes such men as monsters of wickedness,  gratuitously running amuck in a harmonious and innocently peaceful  society? No! We hate murder with a hatred that may seem absurdly  exaggerated to apologists for Matabele massacres, to callous acquiescers  in hangings and bombardments, but we decline in such cases of homicide,  or attempted homicide, as those of which we are treating, to be guilty  of the cruel injustice of flinging the whole responsibility of the deed  upon the immediate perpetrator. The guilt of these homicides lies upon  every man and woman who, intentionally or by cold indifference, helps to  keep up social conditions that drive human beings to despair. The man  who flings his whole life into the attempt, at the cost of his own life,  to protest against the wrongs of his fellow men, is a saint compared to  the active and passive upholders of cruelty and injustice, even if his  protest destroy other lives besides his own. Let him who is without sin  in society cast the first stone at such an one."3

That every act of political violence should nowadays be  attributed to Anarchists is not at all surprising. Yet it is a fact  known to almost everyone familiar with the Anarchist movement that a  great number of acts, for which Anarchists had to suffer, either  originated with the capitalist press or were instigated, if not directly  perpetrated, by the police.

For a number of years acts of violence had been committed in  Spain, for which the Anarchists were held responsible, hounded like wild  beasts, and thrown into prison. Later it was disclosed that the  perpetrators of these acts were not Anarchists, but members of the  police department. The scandal became so widespread that the  conservative Spanish papers demanded the apprehension and punishment of  the gang-leader, Juan Rull, who was subsequently condemned to death and  executed. The sensational evidence, brought to light during the trial,  forced Police Inspector Momento to exonerate completely the Anarchists  from any connection with the acts committed during a long period. This  resulted in the dismissal of a number of police officials, among them  Inspector Tressols, who, in revenge, disclosed the fact that behind the  gang of police bomb throwers were others of far higher position, who  provided them with funds and protected them.

This is one of the many striking examples of how Anarchist conspiracies are manufactured.

That the American police can perjure themselves with the same  ease, that they are just as merciless, just as brutal and cunning as  their European colleagues, has been proven on more than one occasion. We  need only recall the tragedy of the eleventh of November, 1887, known  as the Haymarket Riot.

No one who is at all familiar with the case can possibly doubt  that the Anarchists, judicially murdered in Chicago, died as victims of a  lying, blood-thirsty press and of a cruel police conspiracy. Has not  Judge Gary himself said: "Not because you have caused the Haymarket  bomb, but because you are Anarchists, you are on trial."

The impartial and thorough analysis by Governor Altgeld of that  blotch on the American escutcheon verified the brutal frankness of  Judge Gary. It was this that induced Altgeld to pardon the three  Anarchists, thereby earning the lasting esteem of every liberty-loving  man and woman in the world.

When we approach the tragedy of September sixth, 1901, we are  confronted by one of the most striking examples of how little social  theories are responsible for an act of political violence. "Leon  Czolgosz, an Anarchist, incited to commit the act by Emma Goldman." To  be sure, has she not incited violence even before her birth, and will  she not continue to do so beyond death? Everything is possible with the  Anarchists.

Today, even, nine years after the tragedy, after it was proven a  hundred times that Emma Goldman had nothing to do with the event, that  no evidence whatsoever exists to indicate that Czolgosz ever called  himself an Anarchist, we are confronted with the same lie, fabricated by  the police and perpetuated by the press. No living soul ever heard  Czolgosz make that statement, nor is there a single written word to  prove that the boy ever breathed the accusation. Nothing but ignorance  and insane hysteria, which have never yet been able to solve the  simplest problem of cause and effect.

The President of a free Republic killed! What else can be the cause, except that the Attentäter must have been insane, or that he was incited to the act.

A free Republic! How a myth will maintain itself, how it will  continue to deceive, to dupe, and blind even the comparatively  intelligent to its monstrous absurdities. A free Republic! And yet  within a little over thirty years a small band of parasites have  successfully robbed the American people, and trampled upon the  fundamental principles, laid down by the fathers of this country,  guaranteeing to every man, woman, and child "life, liberty, and the  pursuit of happiness." For thirty years they have been increasing their  wealth and power at the expense of the vast mass of workers, thereby  enlarging the army of the unemployed, the hungry, homeless, and  friendless portion of humanity, who are tramping the country from east  to west, from north to south, in a vain search for work. For many years  the home has been left to the care of the little ones, while the parents  are exhausting their life and strength for a mere pittance. For thirty  years the sturdy sons of America have been sacrificed on the battlefield  of industrial war, and the daughters outraged in corrupt factory  surroundings. For long and weary years this process of undermining the  nation's health, vigor, and pride, without much protest from the  disinherited and oppressed, has been going on. Maddened by success and  victory, the money powers of this "free land of ours" became more and  more audacious in their heartless, cruel efforts to compete with the  rotten and decayed European tyrannies for supremacy of power.

In vain did a lying press repudiate Leon Czolgosz as a  foreigner. The boy was a product of our own free American soil, that  lulled him to sleep with,

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty.

Who can tell how many times this American child had gloried in the  celebration of the Fourth of July, or of Decoration Day, when he  faithfully honored the Nation's dead? Who knows but that he, too, was  willing to "fight for his country and die for her liberty," until it  dawned upon him that those he belonged to have no country, because they  have been robbed of all that they have produced; until he realized that  the liberty and independence of his youthful dreams were but a farce.  Poor Leon Czolgosz, your crime consisted of too sensitive a social  consciousness. Unlike your idealless and brainless American brothers,  your ideals soared above the belly and the bank account. No wonder you  impressed the one human being among all the infuriated mob at your  trial--a newspaper woman--as a visionary, totally oblivious to your  surroundings. Your large, dreamy eyes must have beheld a new and  glorious dawn.

Now, to a recent instance of police-manufactured Anarchist  plots. In that bloodstained city Chicago, the life of Chief of Police  Shippy was attempted by a young man named Averbuch. Immediately the cry  was sent to the four corners of the world that Averbuch was an  Anarchist, and that Anarchists were responsible for the act. Everyone  who was at all known to entertain Anarchist ideas was closely watched, a  number of people arrested, the library of an Anarchist group  confiscated, and all meetings made impossible. It goes without saying  that, as on various previous occasions, I must needs be held responsible  for the act. Evidently the American police credit me with occult  powers. I did not know Averbuch; in fact, had never before heard his  name, and the only way I could have possibly "conspired" with him was in  my astral body. But, then, the police are not concerned with logic or  justice. What they seek is a target, to mask their absolute ignorance of  the cause, of the psychology of a political act. Was Averbuch an  Anarchist? There is no positive proof of it. He had been but three  months in the country, did not know the language, and, as far as I could  ascertain, was quite unknown to the Anarchists of Chicago.

What led to his act? Averbuch, like most young Russian  immigrants, undoubtedly believed in the mythical liberty of America. He  received his first baptism by the policeman's club during the brutal  dispersement of the unemployed parade. He further experienced American  equality and opportunity in the vain efforts to find an economic master.  In short, a three months' sojourn in the glorious land brought him face  to face with the fact that the disinherited are in the same position  the world over. In his native land he probably learned that necessity  knows no law--there was no difference between a Russian and an American  policeman.

The question to the intelligent social student is not whether  the acts of Czolgosz or Averbuch were practical, any more than whether  the thunderstorm is practical. The thing that will inevitably impress  itself on the thinking and feeling man and woman is that the sight of  brutal clubbing of innocent victims in a so-called free Republic, and  the degrading, soul-destroying economic struggle, furnish the spark that  kindles the dynamic force in the overwrought, outraged souls of men  like Czolgosz or Averbuch. No amount of persecution, of hounding, of  repression, can stay this social phenomenon.

But, it is often asked, have not acknowledged Anarchists  committed acts of violence? Certainly they have, always however ready to  shoulder the responsibility. My contention is that they were impelled,  not by the teachings of Anarchism, but by the tremendous pressure of  conditions, making life unbearable to their sensitive natures.  Obviously, Anarchism, or any other social theory, making man a conscious  social unit, will act as a leaven for rebellion. This is not a mere  assertion, but a fact verified by all experience. A close examination of  the circumstances bearing upon this question will further clarify my  position.

Let us consider some of the most important Anarchist acts  within the last two decades. Strange as it may seem, one of the most  significant deeds of political violence occurred here in America, in  connection with the Homestead strike of 1892.

During that memorable time the Carnegie Steel Company organized  a conspiracy to crush the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel  Workers. Henry Clay Frick, then Chairman of the Company, was intrusted  with that democratic task. He lost no time in carrying out the policy of  breaking the Union, the policy which he had so successfully practiced  during his reign of terror in the coke regions. Secretly, and while  peace negotiations were being purposely prolonged, Frick supervised the  military preparations, the fortification of the Homestead Steel Works,  the erection of a high board fence, capped with barbed wire and provided  with loopholes for sharpshooters. And then, in the dead of night, he  attempted to smuggle his army of hired Pinkerton thugs into Homestead,  which act precipitated the terrible carnage of the steel workers. Not  content with the death of eleven victims, killed in the Pinkerton  skirmish, Henry Clay Frick, good Christian and free American,  straightway began the hounding down of the helpless wives and orphans,  by ordering them out of the wretched Company houses.

The whole country was aroused over these inhuman outrages.  Hundreds of voices were raised in protest, calling on Frick to desist,  not to go too far. Yes, hundreds of people protested,--as one objects to  annoying flies. Only one there was who actively responded to the  outrage at Homestead,--Alexander Berkman. Yes, he was an Anarchist. He  gloried in that fact, because it was the only force that made the  discord between his spiritual longing and the world without at all  bearable. Yet not Anarchism, as such, but the brutal slaughter of the  eleven steel workers was the urge for Alexander Berkman's act, his  attempt on the life of Henry Clay Frick.

The record of European acts of political violence affords  numerous and striking instances of the influence of environment upon  sensitive human beings.

The court speech of Vaillant, who, in 1894, exploded a bomb in  the Paris Chamber of Deputies, strikes the true keynote of the  psychology of such acts:

"Gentlemen, in a few minutes you are to deal your blow, but in  receiving your verdict I shall have at least the satisfaction of having  wounded the existing society, that cursed society in which one may see a  single man spending, uselessly, enough to feed thousands of families;  an infamous society which permits a few individuals to monopolize all  the social wealth, while there are hundreds of thousands of unfortunates  who have not even the bread that is not refused to dogs, and while  entire families are committing suicide for want of the necessities of  life.

"Ah, gentlemen, if the governing classes could go down among  the unfortunates! But no, they prefer to remain deaf to their appeals.  It seems that a fatality impels them, like the royalty of the eighteenth  century, toward the precipice which will engulf them, for woe be to  those who remain deaf to the cries of the starving, woe to those who,  believing themselves of superior essence, assume the right to exploit  those beneath them! There comes a time when the people no longer reason;  they rise like a hurricane, and pass away like a torrent. Then we see  bleeding heads impaled on pikes.

"Among the exploited, gentlemen, there are two classes of  individuals. Those of one class, not realizing what they are and what  they might be, take life as it comes, believe that they are born to be  slaves, and content themselves with the little that is given them in  exchange for their labor. But there are others, on the contrary, who  think, who study, and who, looking about them, discover social  iniquities. Is it their fault if they see clearly and suffer at seeing  others suffer? Then they throw themselves into the struggle, and make  themselves the bearers of the popular claims.

"Gentlemen, I am one of these last. Wherever I have gone, I  have seen unfortunates bent beneath the yoke of capital. Everywhere I  have seen the same wounds causing tears of blood to flow, even in the  remoter parts of the inhabited districts of South America, where I had  the right to believe that he who was weary of the pains of civilization  might rest in the shade of the palm trees and there study nature. Well,  there even, more than elsewhere, I have seen capital come, like a  vampire, to suck the last drop of blood of the unfortunate pariahs.

"Then I came back to France, where it was reserved for me to  see my family suffer atrociously. This was the last drop in the cup of  my sorrow. Tired of leading this life of suffering and cowardice, I  carried this bomb to those who are primarily responsible for social  misery.

"I am reproached with the wounds of those who were hit by my  projectiles. Permit me to point out in passing that, if the bourgeois  had not massacred or caused massacres during the Revolution, it is  probable that they would still be under the yoke of the nobility. On the  other hand, figure up the dead and wounded on Tonquin, Madagascar,  Dahomey, adding thereto the thousands, yes, millions of unfortunates who  die in the factories, the mines, and wherever the grinding power of  capital is felt. Add also those who die of hunger, and all this with the  assent of our Deputies. Beside all this, of how little weight are the  reproaches now brought against me!

"It is true that one does not efface the other; but, after all,  are we not acting on the defensive when we respond to the blows which  we receive from above? I know very well that I shall be told that I  ought to have confined myself to speech for the vindication of the  people's claims. But what can you expect! It takes a loud voice to make  the deaf hear. Too long have they answered our voices by imprisonment,  the rope, rifle volleys. Make no mistake; the explosion of my bomb is  not only the cry of the rebel Vaillant, but the cry of an entire class  which vindicates its rights, and which will soon add acts to words. For,  be sure of it, in vain will they pass laws. The ideas of the thinkers  will not halt; just as, in the last century, all the governmental forces  could not prevent the Diderots and the Voltaires from spreading  emancipating ideas among the people, so all the existing governmental  forces will not prevent the Reclus, the Darwins, the Spencers, the  Ibsens, the Mirbeaus, from spreading the ideas of justice and liberty  which will annihilate the prejudices that hold the mass in ignorance.  And these ideas, welcomed by the unfortunate, will flower in acts of  revolt as they have done in me, until the day when the disappearance of  authority shall permit all men to organize freely according to their  choice, when everyone shall be able to enjoy the product of his labor,  and when those moral maladies called prejudices shall vanish, permitting  human beings to live in harmony, having no other desire than to study  the sciences and love their fellows.

"I conclude, gentlemen, by saying that a society in which one  sees such social inequalities as we see all about us, in which we see  every day suicides caused by poverty, prostitution flaring at every  street corner,--a society whose principal monuments are barracks and  prisons,--such a society must be transformed as soon as possible, on  pain of being eliminated, and that speedily, from the human race. Hail  to him who labors, by no matter what means, for this transformation! It  is this idea that has guided me in my duel with authority, but as in  this duel I have only wounded my adversary, it is now its turn to strike  me.

"Now, gentlemen, to me it matters little what penalty you may  inflict, for, looking at this assembly with the eyes of reason, I can  not help smiling to see you, atoms lost in matter, and reasoning only  because you possess a prolongation of the spinal marrow, assume the  right to judge one of your fellows.

"Ah! gentlemen, how little a thing is your assembly and your  verdict in the history of humanity; and human history, in its turn, is  likewise a very little thing in the whirlwind which bears it through  immensity, and which is destined to disappear, or at least to be  transformed, in order to begin again the same history and the same  facts, a veritably perpetual play of cosmic forces renewing and  transferring themselves forever."

Will anyone say that Vaillant was an ignorant, vicious man, or a  lunatic? Was not his mind singularly clear and analytic? No wonder that  the best intellectual forces of France spoke in his behalf, and signed  the petition to President Carnot, asking him to commute Vaillant's death  sentence.

Carnot would listen to no entreaty; he insisted on more than a  pound of flesh, he wanted Vaillant's life, and then--the inevitable  happened: President Carnot was killed. On the handle of the stiletto  used by the Attentäter  was engraved, significantly,

VAILLANT!

Santa Caserio was an Anarchist. He could have gotten away, saved himself; but he remained, he stood the consequences.

His reasons for the act are set forth in so simple, dignified,  and childlike manner that one is reminded of the touching tribute paid  Caserio by his teacher of the little village school, Ada Negri, the  Italian poet, who spoke of him as a sweet, tender plant, of too fine and  sensitive texture to stand the cruel strain of the world.

"Gentlemen of the Jury! I do not propose to make a defense, but only an explanation of my deed.

"Since my early youth I began to learn that present society is  badly organized, so badly that every day many wretched men commit  suicide, leaving women and children in the most terrible distress.  Workers, by thousands, seek for work and can not find it. Poor families  beg for food and shiver with cold; they suffer the greatest misery; the  little ones ask their miserable mothers for food, and the mothers cannot  give it to them, because they have nothing. The few things which the  home contained have already been sold or pawned. All they can do is beg  alms; often they are arrested as vagabonds.

"I went away from my native place because I was frequently  moved to tears at seeing little girls of eight or ten years obliged to  work fifteen hours a day for the paltry pay of twenty centimes. Young  women of eighteen or twenty also work fifteen hours daily, for a mockery  of remuneration. And that happens not only to my fellow countrymen, but  to all the workers, who sweat the whole day long for a crust of bread,  while their labor produces wealth in abundance. The workers are obliged  to live under the most wretched conditions, and their food consists of a  little bread, a few spoonfuls of rice, and water; so by the time they  are thirty or forty years old, they are exhausted, and go to die in the  hospitals. Besides, in consequence of bad food and overwork, these  unhappy creatures are, by hundreds, devoured by pellagra--a disease  that, in my country, attacks, as the physicians say, those who are badly  fed and lead a life of toil and privation.

"I have observed that there are a great many people who are  hungry, and many children who suffer, whilst bread and clothes abound in  the towns. I saw many and large shops full of clothing and woolen  stuffs, and I also saw warehouses full of wheat and Indian corn,  suitable for those who are in want. And, on the other hand, I saw  thousands of people who do not work, who produce nothing and live on the  labor of others; who spend every day thousands of francs for their  amusement; who debauch the daughters of the workers; who own dwellings  of forty or fifty rooms; twenty or thirty horses, many servants; in a  word, all the pleasures of life.

"I believed in God; but when I saw so great an inequality  between men, I acknowledged that it was not God who created man, but man  who created God. And I discovered that those who want their property to  be respected, have an interest in preaching the existence of paradise  and hell, and in keeping the people in ignorance.

"Not long ago, Vaillant threw a bomb in the Chamber of  Deputies, to protest against the present system of society. He killed no  one, only wounded some persons; yet bourgeois justice sentenced him to  death. And not satisfied with the condemnation of the guilty man, they  began to pursue the Anarchists, and arrest not only those who had known  Vaillant, but even those who had merely been present at any Anarchist  lecture.

"The government did not think of their wives and children. It  did not consider that the men kept in prison were not the only ones who  suffered, and that their little ones cried for bread. Bourgeois justice  did not trouble itself about these innocent ones, who do not yet know  what society is. It is no fault of theirs that their fathers are in  prison; they only want to eat.

"The government went on searching private houses, opening  private letters, forbidding lectures and meetings, and practicing the  most infamous oppressions against us. Even now, hundreds of Anarchists  are arrested for having written an article in a newspaper, or for having  expressed an opinion in public.

"Gentlemen of the Jury, you are representatives of bourgeois  society. If you want my head, take it; but do not believe that in so  doing you will stop the Anarchist propaganda. Take care, for men reap  what they have sown."

During a religious procession in 1896, at Barcelona, a bomb was  thrown. Immediately three hundred men and women were arrested. Some  were Anarchists, but the majority were trade-unionists and Socialists.  They were thrown into that terrible bastille Montjuich, and subjected to  most horrible tortures. After a number had been killed, or had gone  insane, their cases were taken up by the liberal press of Europe,  resulting in the release of a few survivors.

The man primarily responsible for this revival of the  Inquisition was Canovas del Castillo, Prime Minister of Spain. It was he  who ordered the torturing of the victims, their flesh burned, their  bones crushed, their tongues cut out. Practiced in the art of brutality  during his r gime in Cuba, Canovas remained absolutely deaf to the  appeals and protests of the awakened civilized conscience.

In 1897 Canovas del Castillo was shot to death by a young  Italian, Angiolillo. The latter was an editor in his native land, and  his bold utterances soon attracted the attention of the authorities.  Persecution began, and Angiolillo fled from Italy to Spain, thence to  France and Belgium, finally settling in England. While there he found  employment as a compositor, and immediately became the friend of all his  colleagues. One of the latter thus described Angiolillo: "His  appearance suggested the journalist rather than the disciple of  Guttenberg. His delicate hands, moreover, betrayed the fact that he had  not grown up at the 'case.' With his handsome frank face, his soft dark  hair, his alert expression, he looked the very type of the vivacious  Southerner. Angiolillo spoke Italian, Spanish, and French, but no  English; the little French I knew was not sufficient to carry on a  prolonged conversation. However, Angiolillo soon began to acquire the  English idiom; he learned rapidly, playfully, and it was not long until  he became very popular with his fellow compositors. His distinguished  and yet modest manner, and his consideration towards his colleagues, won  him the hearts of all the boys."

Angiolillo soon became familiar with the detailed accounts in  the press. He read of the great wave of human sympathy with the helpless  victims at Montjuich. On Trafalgar Square he saw with his own eyes the  results of those atrocities, when the few Spaniards, who escaped  Castillo's clutches, came to seek asylum in England. There, at the great  meeting, these men opened their shirts and showed the horrible scars of  burned flesh. Angiolillo saw, and the effect surpassed a thousand  theories; the impetus was beyond words, beyond arguments, beyond himself  even.

Señor Antonio Canovas del Castillo, Prime Minister of Spain,  sojourned at Santa Agueda. As usual in such cases, all strangers were  kept away from his exalted presence. One exception was made, however, in  the case of a distinguished looking, elegantly dressed Italian--the  representative, it was understood, of an important journal. The  distinguished gentleman was--Angiolillo.

Señor Canovas, about to leave his house, stepped on the  veranda. Suddenly Angiolillo confronted him. A shot rang out, and  Canovas was a corpse.

The wife of the Prime Minister rushed upon the scene.  "Murderer! Murderer!" she cried, pointing at Angiolillo. The latter  bowed. "Pardon, Madame," he said, "I respect you as a lady, but I regret  that you were the wife of that man."

Calmly Angiolillo faced death. Death in its most terrible form--for the man whose soul was as a child's.

He was garroted. His body lay, sun-kissed, till the day hid in  twilight. And the people came, and pointing the finger of terror and  fear, they said: "There--the criminal--the cruel murderer."

How stupid, how cruel is ignorance! It misunderstands always, condemns always.

A remarkable parallel to the case of Angiolillo is to be found in the act of Gaetano Bresci, whose Attentat  upon King Umberto made an American city famous.

Bresci came to this country, this land of opportunity, where  one has but to try to meet with golden success. Yes, he too would try to  succeed. He would work hard and faithfully. Work had no terrors for  him, if it would only help him to independence, manhood, self-respect.

Thus full of hope and enthusiasm he settled in Paterson, New  Jersey, and there found a lucrative job at six dollars per week in one  of the weaving mills of the town. Six whole dollars per week was, no  doubt, a fortune for Italy, but not enough to breathe on in the new  country. He loved his little home. He was a good husband and devoted  father to his bambina  Bianca, whom he adored. He worked and  worked for a number of years. He actually managed to save one hundred  dollars out of his six dollars per week.

Bresci had an ideal. Foolish, I know, for a workingman to have an ideal,--the Anarchist paper published in Paterson, La Questione Sociale.

Every week, though tired from work, he would help to set up the  paper. Until later hours he would assist, and when the little pioneer  had exhausted all resources and his comrades were in despair, Bresci  brought cheer and hope, one hundred dollars, the entire savings of  years. That would keep the paper afloat.

In his native land people were starving. The crops had been  poor, and the peasants saw themselves face to face with famine. They  appealed to their good King Umberto; he would help. And he did. The  wives of the peasants who had gone to the palace of the King, held up in  mute silence their emaciated infants. Surely that would move him. And  then the soldiers fired and killed those poor fools.

Bresci, at work in the weaving mill at Paterson, read of the  horrible massacre. His mental eye beheld the defenceless women and  innocent infants of his native land, slaughtered right before the good  King. His soul recoiled in horror. At night he heard the groans of the  wounded. Some may have been his comrades, his own flesh. Why, why these  foul murders?

The little meeting of the Italian Anarchist group in Paterson  ended almost in a fight. Bresci had demanded his hundred dollars. His  comrades begged, implored him to give them a respite. The paper would go  down if they were to return him his loan. But Bresci insisted on its  return.

How cruel and stupid is ignorance. Bresci got the money, but  lost the good will, the confidence of his comrades. They would have  nothing more to do with one whose greed was greater than his ideals.

On the twenty-ninth of July, 1900, King Umberto was shot at  Monzo. The young Italian weaver of Paterson, Gaetano Bresci, had taken  the life of the good King.

Paterson was placed under police surveillance, everyone known  as an Anarchist hounded and persecuted, and the act of Bresci ascribed  to the teachings of Anarchism. As if the teachings of Anarchism in its  extremest form could equal the force of those slain women and infants,  who had pilgrimed to the King for aid. As if any spoken word, ever so  eloquent, could burn into a human soul with such white heat as the  lifeblood trickling drop by drop from those dying forms. The ordinary  man is rarely moved either by word or deed; and those whose social  kinship is the greatest living force need no appeal to respond--even as  does steel to the magnet--to the wrongs and horrors of society.

If a social theory is a strong factor inducing acts of  political violence, how are we to account for the recent violent  outbreaks in India, where Anarchism has hardly been born. More than any  other old philosophy, Hindu teachings have exalted passive resistance,  the drifting of life, the Nirvana, as the highest spiritual ideal. Yet  the social unrest in India is daily growing, and has only recently  resulted in an act of political violence, the killing of Sir Curzon  Wyllie by the Hindu Madar Sol Dhingra.

If such a phenomenon can occur in a country socially and  individually permeated for centuries with the spirit of passivity, can  one question the tremendous, revolutionizing effect on human character  exerted by great social iniquities? Can one doubt the logic, the justice  of these words:

"Repression, tyranny, and indiscriminate punishment of innocent  men have been the watchwords of the government of the alien domination  in India ever since we began the commercial boycott of English goods.  The tiger qualities of the British are much in evidence now in India.  They think that by the strength of the sword they will keep down India!  It is this arrogance that has brought about the bomb, and the more they  tyrannize over a helpless and unarmed people, the more terrorism will  grow. We may deprecate terrorism as outlandish and foreign to our  culture, but it is inevitable as long as this tyranny continues, for it  is not the terrorists that are to be blamed, but the tyrants who are  responsible for it. It is the only resource for a helpless and unarmed  people when brought to the verge of despair. It is never criminal on  their part. The crime lies with the tyrant." 4

Even conservative scientists are beginning to realize that  heredity is not the sole factor moulding human character. Climate, food,  occupation; nay, color, light, and sound must be considered in the  study of human psychology.

If that be true, how much more correct is the contention that  great social abuses will and must influence different minds and  temperaments in a different way. And how utterly fallacious the  stereotyped notion that the teachings of Anarchism, or certain exponents  of these teachings, are responsible for the acts of political violence.

Anarchism, more than any other social theory, values human life  above things. All Anarchists agree with Tolstoy in this fundamental  truth: if the production of any commodity necessitates the sacrifice of  human life, society should do without that commodity, but it can not do  without that life. That, however, nowise indicates that Anarchism  teaches submission. How can it, when it knows that all suffering, all  misery, all ills, result from the evil of submission?

Has not some American ancestor said, many years ago, that  resistance to tyranny is obedience to God? And he was not an Anarchist  even. It would say that resistance to tyranny is man's highest ideal. So  long as tyranny exists, in whatever form, man's deepest aspiration must  resist it as inevitably as man must breathe.

Compared with the wholesale violence of capital and government,  political acts of violence are but a drop in the ocean. That so few  resist is the strongest proof how terrible must be the conflict between  their souls and unbearable social iniquities.

High strung, like a violin string, they weep and moan for life,  so relentless, so cruel, so terribly inhuman. In a desperate moment the  string breaks. Untuned ears hear nothing but discord. But those who  feel the agonized cry understand its harmony; they hear in it the  fulfillment of the most compelling moment of human nature.

Such is the psychology of political violence.

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