By W. C. OWEN.
Fast and faster the dancers fly;
Gaily my lady flashes by;
Bright on her bosom jewels gleam;
While in the depths, 'mid heat and steam,
Where gases creep and stones fly thick,
The diamond digger swings his pick —
But who wants to know
Of the depths below
Where labor is weaving
Its shroud of woe?
Bravely my lady sweeps along,
Greedily viewed by the envious throng;
The wealth of a world on her shoulders lies;
While, over the way, with weary eyes,
Stitch by stitch, through an endless day,
Her seamstress toils and receives as pay —
But a lady so fair
One should always spare
The tedious tale
Or a life of care.
The wine glows red in my lady's glass;
Many and merry the jests that pass;
Loving laughter and winning smile
Circle from lip to lip, the while
Clothed in rags, at her very gates,
Gaunt-eyed hunger in silence waits——
But sights like these
Would little please
My lady in her
Hours of ease.
Sweetly humble my lady's face
As she bends her knee at the throne of grace;
She thinks of the sin and sorrow and shame;
Thinks of the story of him who came
From the starry regions of infinite space
With a message of love to the human race,—
So my lady will give a charity fete
And wear a gown of the latest date.
* * *
OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS
THERE is, even among radicals, a certain bourgeois attitude of mind which scoffs at every suggestion of the people's power for solidaric effort, mutual help, and free coöperation. All such could profitably employ a leisure hour by studying the wonderful spirit of the striking shirt-waist makers.
In the face of tremendous odds, practically without organization, more than fifteen thousand workers have dared to defy their masters and have struck for better conditions. The loyalty, self-sacrifice, and perseverance manifested by the strikers—most of them in actual want—are nothing short of heroic. Exposed to the brutal persecution of the police and the "mercy" of prejudiced judges,—not to speak of the rigors of a severe winter, involving untold misery and suffering—the strikers have remained steadfast and loyal to a de-gree seldom paralleled in labor troubles. Practically no desertions have taken place from their ranks. Rare-ly have working men and women given such a convincing demonstration of conscious solidarity and sin-gleness of purpose.
This strike but gives one a glimpse into the grand possibilities of a people inspired by a common cause and the will to achieve.
* * *
THE devotion and energy of the strikers seemed, at the beginning of the strike, to promise a speedy victory. If their efforts have so far not proved as suc-cessful as expected, the cause is probably to be found in the manner the struggle has been conducted.
Various factors have no doubt contributed to the prolongation of the waist-makers' strike. But it must not be forgotten that the longer such a fight is drawn out, the less chance for the workingmen to win, since both their treasury and power of resistance are thus severely sapped. In the struggle between master and slave, the latter—to be successful—must strike quickly and, above all, as hard as possible. Those who are conducting the present strike have apparently ignored this most vital consideration.
Further, it is questionable whether the practice of settling with individual manufacturers (the employees of the latter resuming work) is really beneficial to the strike. Whatever benefit small groups of strikers may thus gain is more than offset by the opportunity afforded to the larger manufacturers to have their work done secretly in the "settled" shops. Again, the depletion of the ranks is a source of suspicion and distrust, and tends to minimize the importance of the strike. On the whole, the practice of gradual settling weakens rather than strengthens the cause at stake.
But still more serious is the failure of the strike leaders to demand the active coöperation of other labor bodies. That, apparently, was not considered as important as dilly-dallying with arbitration and wasting time currying favor with rich ladies whose leisure hangs heavy on their hands.
No attempt has been made to interest even the directly allied trades of the Garment Workers in a sympathetic General Strike. And yet such a step should have been suggested by all the experience of the past. In modern days of centralized industry and the thorough organization of capital, no strike of ordinary proportions, of a single branch of a great industry, has much chance of success. The standing army of Hunger, eager for the least crumb, and the uniformed army of police and military are both at the instant service of capital. In a test of mere financial endurance labor is necessarily the loser. Its sole hope lies in hitting quick and hard, but no single branch of any industry can deliver such a blow. It requires the combined strength of all the departments of any given industry.
But whatever the outcome of the present strike, the waist-makers, as well as the workers at large, are learning the urgent and valuable lesson of industrial organization and the General Strike.
* * *
THE comparative silence of the capitalist press in regard to the Spokane free speech fight is calculated to create the impression that the fight is over. Such, however, is by no means the case. In spite of the systematic police outrages, our Spokane comrades have not in the least abated their efforts; on the contrary, they are more than ever determined to continue the struggle till they conquer the right of free speech.
The local authorities have followed the conviction of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn* with another trump card. Realizing that the I. W. W. had a powerful weapon of publicity in their organ, the Industrial Worker, the police raided the I. W. W. headquarters, confiscating the whole issue as it came from the press, and destroying seven thousand copies. This was supplemented by the arrest of four men on the charge of selling the "libellous and incendiary" paper. But all these and similar outrages have failed to terrorize our friends. The Industrial Worker continues its appearance, being now issued at Seattle, Wash., fully prepared to wage war relentlessly and energetically, if the friends of free speech and an unmuzzled press will aid this great struggle, financially as well as morally.
* * *
THE Russian government has absolutely ignored the petition sent to Premier Stolypin by five hundred prominent Americans, asking a "fair trial" for Nicholas Tchaikovsky and Catharine Breshkovskaia. Almost two months have passed since the petition was sent, yet so far neither reply nor even an acknowledgment has been received. This attitude of the Russian government is not merely a direct slap in the face of the signers of the petition. It presages a sinister intention. Those familiar with the spirit of the Tsar's autocracy have good cause to fear the worst for the two noble veterans of the Russian Revolution.
*The money (3o.oo) collected at several E. G. lectures for Comrade Flynn has been forwarded directly to the latter, who is at present out on bail pending the appeal of her case.
The similarity between Russia and Spain has been repeatedly pointed out in these pages. In the brutal stifling of every popular aspiration towards liberty, in the fiendishness of political suppression and religious intolerance, and—above all—in the defiance of all sense of fair play toward political prisoners, Russia is synonymous with Spain. The hasty assassination of Ferrer was dictated by the fear of a potential world protest. Russia may follow the example of Spain, if the voice of the civilized world does not make itself heard before it is too late.
* * *
THE frequent and terrible disasters in American coal mines, resulting in an inquiry begun in 1908, have finally brought to light information of a very striking character.
Statistics gathered by the Geological Survey show 2,061 miners killed and 4,800 injured in the coal mines in 1906, and 3,125 killed and 5,800 injured in 1907. The death rate for 1907 was 4.86 for every 1,000 men employed. The European coal producing countries show a death rate in mines of 1 in every 1,000 employed, and not more than 2. In other words, for every miner killed in European coal mines, from 2 to 4 are killed in the United States.
The natural question arises, Why is the death rate in American coal mines so much greater than in Europe? The question is vital if we bear in mind that—according to the conservative estimates of the government experts—more than 30,000 miners have been killed in the United States since 1889.
Some light on the question is thrown by the data for 1908. The public was aroused over the great mine disasters of 1906 and 1907. The general agitation which followed forced Congress to appropriate a large sum for the investigation of the causes of mine fatalities. Remarkable coincidence: the statistics for the year 1908 show a decided decrease in the number of deaths in the coal mines, as compared with those of the previous year: 2,450 in 1908, as against 3,125 in 1907— a decrease of 675.
Six hundred and seventy-five of the country's most useful men saved, within one year, from a terrible and premature death! That is a very great gain, indeed, due chiefly to the active popular protest against the wilful slaughter of miners through the insatiable greed and criminal negligence of the coal barons. The work of the experimental stations further proves beyond doubt that the majority of accidents could be avoided by improving the conditions of the mines, introducing safety appliances, and otherwise forcing the operators to a higher sense of responsibility toward the producers of the coal.
Europe has long since awakened to this necessity, hence the reduction in the death rate in their coal mines. Yet neither Europe nor America can make mining or similar work really safe as long as the principle of commercial competition makes things more valuable than human lives.
* * *
THE sporadic investigations into our reform and penal institutions all bear a striking similarity of refrain: cruelty to prisoners, overcrowded conditions, "irregularities" in the accounts.
The investigator's berth is rather a comfortable one, but when will the gullible public realize that such investigations are worse than wasted effort? The intelligent observer needs no "special inspectors" to discover to him the corruption and barbarity of our institutions. The prison is but the perfected copy of the latter, with all that such perfection implies. There is nothing more brutalizing than authority. The irresponsible sway of prison wardens merely accentuates this truth. Humanity and kindness are not to be expected in an environment the very atmosphere of which breathes violence and suppression. As to corruption and graft, these are the very life of our com-petitive system, with the penitentiary as its natural outlet. What concerns the overcrowded condition of our prisons, 'tis merely an evidence that crime is growing faster than we can build jails. Verily, the great increase of crime is no credit to our industrial system, with its wage slavery, unemployment, and starvation.
It is a very serious condition that confronts us. Superficial investigation of already well-known facts will avail nothing. More penitentiaries will not solve the problem. Our reformers will have to dig deeper to strike the root of graft, abuse, and crime, in and out of prison.
* * *
SADAKICHI HARTMANN, well known to our to readers, has managed somehow to publish a little magazine of his own, called The Stylus, devoted to art and self expression. The subscription price is rather high, i. e., $3.00, but the editor contends that there are so few people anyhow who are interested in art that those who are will gladly pay the admission. If you are interested, write for a sample copy to The Stylus Publishing Co., 122 East 25th street, Room 505, New York.
* * *
FRIENDS and Readers of MOTHER EARTH: We have heard of late a great deal of the wonderful wave of prosperity. We don't know whether it has yet reached you, but we at the office of MOTHER EARTH haven't noticed even a ripple of it.
As usual, we are placed before the alternative of either burying the magazine or invading the country, that is, going on a lecture tour. Feeling deeply with you and not wishing you to go to the expense of wearing mourning, the publisher of this magazine has decided to inflict herself on poor humanity.
Dates have already been arranged for Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburg, and St. Louis. The friends in other cities who are desirous of having Comrade Emma Goldman lecture will please communicate with M. E. (210 East I3th St., New York). All mail will be forwarded.
The work in behalf of free speech has not been in vain, after all. Two years ago our Comrade was forcibly dragged off the platform in Chicago; now she is to address a number of meetings in that city.
In Detroit she was stopped three years ago, and when arrangements for lectures were begun this time the local Chief of Police expressed his determination to follow the established precedent. However, persistency and the keeping of the free speech issue constantly before the public are having a salutary effect.
THE WHITE SLAVE TRAFFIC
By EMMA GOLDMAN.
OUR reformers have suddenly made a great discovery: the white slave traffic. The papers are full of these "unheard of conditions" in our midst, and the lawmakers are already planning a new set of laws to check the horror.
How is it that an institution, known almost to every child, should have been discovered so suddenly? How is it that this evil, known to all sociologists, should now be made such an important issue?
It is significant that whenever the public mind is to diverted from a great social wrong, a crusade is inaugurated against indecency, gambling, saloons, etc. And what is the result of such crusades? Gambling is increasing, saloons are doing a lively business through back entrances, prostitution is at its height, and the system of pimps and cadets is but aggravated.
To assume that the recent investigation of the white slave traffic by George Kibbe Turner and others (and by the way, a very superficial investigation), has discovered anything new is, to say the least, very foolish. Prostitution was and is a widespread evil, yet mankind goes on its business, perfectly indifferent to the sufferings and distress of the victims of prostitution. As indifferent, indeed, as mankind has so far remained to our industrial system, or to economic prostitution.
Only when human sorrows are turned into a toy with glaring colors will baby people become interested,—for a while at least. The people are a very fickle baby that must have new toys every day. The "righteous" cry against the white slave traffic is such a toy. It serves to amuse the people for a little while, and it will help to create a few more fat political jobs—parasites who stalk about the world as inspectors, investigators, detectives, etc.
What really is the cause of the trade in women? Not merely white women, but yellow and black women as well. Exploitation, of course: the merciless Moloch of capitalism that fattens on underpaid labor, thus driving thousands of women and girls into prostitution. With Mrs. Warren these girls feel, "Why waste your life working for a few shillings a week in a scullery, eighteen hours a day?"
Naturally, our reformers say nothing about this cause. George Kibbe Turner and all other scribblers know the cause well enough, but it doesn't pay to say anything about it. It is so much more profitable to play the Pharisee, to pretend an outraged morality, than to go to the bottom of things. Yet no less an authority than Dr. Sanger, the author of "The History of Prostitution,"** although not a radical, has this to say:
"A prolific cause of female depravity can be found in the several tables, showing the description of the employment pursued and the wages received by the women previous to their fall, and it will be a question for the political economist to decide how far mere business consideration should be an apology on the part of employers for a reduction in their rates of remuneration, and whether the savings of a small percentage on wages is not more than counterbalanced by the enormous amount of taxation enforced on the public at large to defray the expenses incurred on account of a system of vice, which is the direct result in many cases of insufficient compensation of honest labor."
The economic reason given for prostitution in the above quotation can be found in all works of any consequence dealing with the question. Nor is it necessary to seek information in books; one has but to observe every-day life to realize that there are thousands of girls working for two or three dollars a week, withering away in factories and shops, while life passes by in all its joy and glory, leaving them behind. What else are they to do? However, our present-day reformers would do well to look into Dr. Sanger's book. There they will find that out of 2,000 cases under his observation, but few came from the middle classes, from well-ordered conditions, or pleasant homes. By far the largest majority were working girls and working women. Some driven into prostitution through sheer want, others because of a cruel, wretched life at home, others again because of thwarted and crippled physical natures (which I will speak of again later on). Also it will do the maintainers of purity and morality good to learn that out of 2,000 cases 490 were married women, women who lived with their husbands. Evidently there was not much of a guarantee for their safety and purity in the sanctity of marriage.
** It is a significant fact that Dr. Sanger's book has been excluded from the U. S. mails. Evidently the authorities are not anxious that the public be informed as to the true cause of prostitution.
The very last to cry out against prostitution is our "respectable" class, since it was that class that ushered in prostitution, from Moses to Trinity Church. Dr. H. Bloss, Dr. Alfred Blaschko, Dr. W. W. Sanger, and other eminent writers on this subject convincingly prove that prostitution originated with the so-called upper classes. I quote Dr. Sanger:
"Our most ancient and historical records are believed to be the books of Moses; according to them it must be admitted that prostitutes were common among the Jews, many centuries before Christ. Moses appears to have connived at the intercourse of Jewish young men with foreign prostitutes. He took an Ethiopian woman himself. Assyrian women, Moabites, Midianites, and other neighbors of the Jews established themselves as prostitutes in the land of Israel. Jephtha, the son of a prostitute, became none the less Chief of Israel." Moses evidently believed that therein lay the greatest safeguard for the daughters of his own people. We shall see presently that the Christians were not so considerate of their own daughters, since they did not employ foreigners for that purpose.
The history of the Christian Church will also serve as a history of prostitution, since the two always went hand in hand and furnished thereby great revenues for the Church.
Dr. Sanger cites the case of Pope Clement II., who issued a bull that all prostitutes were to pay a certain amount of their earnings, or that those living on prostitution were compelled to give half their income to the Church. Pope Sixtus IV. received 20,000 ducats from a single brothel, which, incidentally, he himself had built. Nor is it unknown that a great many cloisters and nunneries were in reality nothing else than brothels. In modern times the Church is a little more careful in that direction. At least, it does not openly demand tribute from prostitutes. It finds it much more profitable to go in for real estate, like Trinity Church, for instance, to rent out death traps at an exorbitant price to those who live off and on prostitution.
Much as I should like to, my space will not admit speaking of prostitution in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and during the Middle Ages. The conditions in the latter period are particularly interesting, inasmuch as prostitution was organized into guilds, presided over by a Brothel Queen. These guilds employed strikes as a medium of improving their condition and keeping a standard price. Certainly that is more practical a method than the one used by the modern wage slave in society.
Never, however, did prostitution reach its present depraved and criminal position, because at no time in past ages was prostitution persecuted and hounded as it is to-day, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, where Phariseeism is at its height, where each one is busy hiding the skeletons in his own home by pointing to the sore of the other fellow.
But I must not lose sight of the present issue, the white slave traffic. I have already spoken of the economic cause, but I think a cause much deeper and by far of greater importance is the complete ignorance on sex matters. It is a conceded fact that woman has been reared as a sex commodity, and yet she is kept in absolute ignorance of the meaning and importance of sex. Everything dealing with that subject is suppressed, and people who attempt to bring light into this terrible darkness are persecuted and thrown into prison. Yet it is nevertheless true that so long as a girl is not to know how to take care of herself, not to know the function of the most important part of her life, we need not be surprised if she becomes an easy prey to prostitution or any other form of a relationship which degrades her to the position of an object for mere sex gratification.
It is due to this ignorance that the entire life and nature of the girl is thwarted and crippled. We have long ago taken it as a self-evident fact that the boy may follow the call of the wild, that is to say that the boy may, as soon as his sex nature asserts itself, satisfy that nature, but our moralists are scandalized at the very thought that the nature of a girl should assert itself. To the moralist prostitution does not consist so much in the fact that the woman sells her body, but rather that she sells it to many.
Having been looked upon as a mere sex-commodity, the woman's honor, decency, morality, and usefulness have become a part of her sex life. Thus society considers the sex experiences of a man as attributes of his general development, while similar experiences in the life of a woman are looked upon as a terrible calamity, a loss of honor and of all that is good and noble in a human being. This double standard of morality has played no little part in the creation and perpetuation of prostitution. It involves the keeping of the young in absolute ignorance on sex matters, which alleged "innocence," together with an overwrought and stifled sex nature, helps to bring about a state of affairs that our Puritans are so anxious to avoid or prevent. This state of affairs finds a masterly portrayal in Zola's "Fecundity."
Girls, mere children, work in crowded, overheated rooms ten to twelve hours daily at a machine, which tends to keep them in a constant over-excited sex state. Many of these girls haven't any home or comforts of any kind; therefore the street or some place of cheap amusement is the only means of forgetting their daily routine. This naturally brings them into close proximity with the other sex. It is hard to say which of the two factors brings the girl's over-sexed condition to a climax, but it certainly is the most natural thing that a climax should follow. That is the first step toward prostitution. Nor is the girl to be held responsible for it. On the contrary, it is altogether the fault of society, the fault of our lack of understanding, of lack of appreciation of life in the making; especially is it the criminal fault of our moralists, who condemn a girl for all eternity because she has gone from "the path of virtue"; that is, because her first sex experience has taken place without the sanction of the Church or State.
The girl finds herself a complete outcast, with the doors of home and society closed in her face. Her entire training and tradition are such that the girl herself feels depraved and fallen, and therefore has no ground to stand upon, or any hold that will lift her up, instead of throwing her down. Thus society creates the victims that it afterwards vainly attempts to get rid of.
Much stress is laid on white slaves being imported into America. How would America ever retain her virtue if she didn't have Europe to help her out ? I will not deny that this may be the case in some instances, any more than I will deny that there are emissaries of Germany and other countries luring economic slaves into America, hut I absolutely deny that prostitution is recruited, to any appreciable extent, from Europe. It may be true that the majority of prostitutes of New York City are foreigners, but that is only because the majority of the population is foreign. The moment we go to any other American city, to Chicago or the middle West, we shall find that the number of foreign prostitutes is by far a minority.
Equally exaggerated is the belief that the majority of street girls in this city were engaged in this business before they came to America. Most of the girls speak excellent English, they are Americanized in habits and appearance,—a thing absolutely impossible unless they have lived in this country many years. That is, they were driven into prostitution by American conditions, by the thoroughly American custom for excessive display of finery and clothes, which, of course, necessitates money, money that can not be earned in shops or factories. The equanimity of the moralists is not disturbed by the respectable woman gratifying her clothesophobia by marrying for money; why are they so outraged if the poor girl sells herself for the same reason? The only difference lies in the amount received, and of course in the seal society either gives or withholds.
I am sure that no one will accuse me of nationalist tendencies. I am glad to say that I have developed out of that, as out of many other prejudices. If, therefore, I resent the statement that Jewish prostitutes are imported, it is not because of any Judaistic sympathies, but because of the fact inherent in the lives of these people. No one but the most superficial will claim that the Jewish girls migrate to strange lands unless they have some tie or relation that brings them there. The Jewish girl is not adventurous. Until recent years, she had never left home, not even so far as the next village or town, unless it were to visit some relative. Is it then credible that Jewish girls would leave their parents or families, travel thousands of miles to strange lands, through the influence and promises of strange forces? Go to any of the large incoming steamers and see for yourself if these girls do not come either with their parents, brothers, aunts, or other kinsfolk. There may be exceptions, of course, but to state that a large number of Jewish girls are imported for prostitution, or any other purpose, is simply not to know the Jewish psychology.
On the other hand, it speaks of very little business ability on the part of importers of the white slaves, if they assume that the girls from the peasant regions of Poland, Bohemia, or Hungary in their native peasant crude state and attire would make a profitable business investment. These poor ignorant girls, in their undeveloped state, with their shawls about their heads, look much too unattractive to even the most stupid man. It therefore follows that before they can be made fit for business, they, too, must be Americanized, which would require not merely a week or a month, but considerable time. They must at least learn the rudiments of English, but more than anything else they must learn American shrewdness, in order to protect themselves against the many uniformed cadets, who prey on them and fleece them at every step.
To ascribe the increase of prostitution to alleged importation, to the growth of the cadet system, or similar causes, is highly superficial. I have already referred to the former. As to the cadet system, abhorrent as it is, we must not ignore the fact that it is essentially a phase of modern prostitution,—a phase accentuated by suppression and graft, resulting from sporadic crusades against the social evil.
The origin of the cadets, as an institution, can be traced to the Lexow investigation in New York City, in 1894. Thanks to that moral spasm, keepers of brothels, as well as unfortunate victims of the street, were turned over to the tender mercies of the police. The inevitable consequence of exorbitant bribes and the penitentiary followed.
While comparatively protected in the brothels, where they represented a certain value, the unfortunate girls now found themselves on the street, absolutely at the mercy of the graft-greedy police. Desperate, needing protection and longing for affection, these girls naturally proved an easy prey to cadets, themselves the result of the spirit of our commercial age. Thus the cadet system was the direct outgrowth of police persecution, graft, and attempted suppression of prostitution. It were sheer folly to confute this modern phase of the social evil with the causes of the latter.
The serious student of this problem realizes that legislative enactments, stringent laws, and similar methods can not possibly eradicate, nor even ameliorate this evil. Those best familiar with the subject agree on this vital point. Dr. Alfred Blaschko, an eminent authority, convincingly proves in his "Prostitution im 19. Jahrhundert" that governmental suppression and moral crusades accomplish nothing save driving the evil into secret channels, multiplying its dangers to the community. In this claim he is supported by such thorough students as Havelock Ellis, Dr. H. Bloss, and others.
Mere suppression and barbaric enactment can serve but to embitter and further degrade the unfortunate victims of ignorance and stupidity. The latter has reached its highest expression in the proposed law to make humane treatment of prostitutes a crime, punishing anyone sheltering a prostitute with five years imprisonment and $10,000 fine. Such an attitude merely exposes the terrible lack of understanding of the true causes of prostitution, as a social factor, as well as manifesting the Puritanic spirit of the Scarlet Letter days.
An educated public opinion, freed from the legal and moral hounding of the prostitute, can alone help to ameliorate present conditions. Wilful shutting of eyes and ignoring of the evil, as an actual social factor of modern life, can but aggravate matters. We must rise above our foolish notions of "better than thou," and learn to recognize in the prostitute a product of social conditions. Such a realization will sweep away the attitude of hypocrisy and insure a greater understanding and more humane treatment. As to a thorough eradication of prostitution, nothing can accomplish that save a complete transvaluation of all accepted values—especially the moral ones—coupled with the abolition of industrial slavery.
IOKANAAN TO SALOME
To Miss Mary Garden, with her permission.
By WILLIAM MOUNTAIN.
THOU beauteous serpent and thou ancient shame!
Thou wonder and thou wounder of the earth!
Eden was darkened when thy beauty came,
And cursed was the day that gave thee birth.
Mad men have painted thee on prison walls,
In dark delirious hours when their chains
Seemed loosed from aching limbs, but left them thralls
To dreams from which they woke to fiercer pains.
Thou art the world's desire and all its sin!
Things long forgotten flame in thy swift eye;
Dead lusts that long but never solace win,
Remorse that gnaws, and starved satiety.
The languorous East is sleeping in thy face,
The fiery West burns in thy purple veins,
And all the smouldering passions of the race
Flare in the souls of them thy lust disdains.
Dead loves and ghosts of unremembered days,
And far-off yearnings kindle at thy kiss;
Long-buried hopes thy hot caresses raise,
Unwilling shapes from time's unplumbed abyss.
Thou art the world's delight since life began;
Euphrates knew thee and the sacred Nile;
The primal instinct of the earliest man
Uprears in him who sickens 'neath thy smile.
Thy beauty is the lily in decay,
Thy singing like the sirens of the sea;
Lo, thou art her whose memory is dismay,
The sorrows of mankind thy progeny.
Thou art a symbol of the earth-old ache,
The ever-blooming flower of desire,
The dream of beauty for its own fair sake,
The cry for joy e'en from the funeral pyre.
Thy voice is sweeter than the camel bell
That tinkles when the weary caravan
Rests by the city gates; but down in hell
Its breath the fires of the unhappy fan.
Thy hair's a forest, shadowy, sweet as myrrh,
Where grief might swoon and heaven find in its scent;
Thy mouth's a ruby, thy lips lovelier
Than all the jewels of the Orient.
Thine eyes are like the fairest stars of eve,
And thy feet touch the tile like flowers that fall;
I dare not watch thy unveiled bosom heave
Lest His sworn prophet prove love's willing thrall.
For I could be the dust beneath thy feet,
To trample, shod with lust and wet with tears;
For oh! the odor of thy breath is sweet,
And thy sad smile is older than the years.
Thy hair winds round the world, thy passion streams
Almost a glory from thy finger-tips;
How might the weary yield to happy dreams,
And suck nepenthe from thy fatal lips!
Thine arms embrace the earth, the stars, the sun,
Thy shadow flares across the frightened sky;
The desert conquered first or thou hadst won!
Ah, slay me, Herod, for I fain would die.
* * *
PIERRE JOSEPH PROUDHON, the French Anarchist, born in 1809, and writing between the years 1848 and 1863, takes the same position as that occupied by the American Abolitionist, Wendell Phillips, when he said: "God has given mankind one, and only one, rule to success—utter and exact justice. That, he has guaranteed, shall always be expediency." His central conception is that of Herbert Spencer, as expressed by the latter in his "Plea for Liberty," namely that "justice" is the cement that holds society together. The following quotations from his writings illustrate his views:
"Justice is the central star which governs societies; the pole about which the political world revolves; the principle and rule of all transactions. Nothing is done among men that is not in the name of right; nothing without invoking justice."
He scoffs at the idea of the law representing justice, as will be seen from the following passages:
"Laws and ordinances fall like hail on the poor populace. After a while the political soil wil be covered with a layer of paper, and all the geologists will have to do will be to list it under the name of papyraceous formation, among the epochs of the earth's history. . . . Do you believe that the populace, or the government itself, can keep its sanity in this labyrinth?
"I am ready to make terms, but I will have no laws; I acknowledge none; I protest against every order which an ostensibly necessary authority shall please to impose on my free will. Laws! We know what they are and what they are worth. Cobwebs for the powerful and rich; chains which no steel can break for the little and the poor; fishers' nets in the hands of the government."
Proudhon's conception of the future is that men and women, living under conditions of equal freedom, instead of being governed by laws imposed by external authority, will govern themselves by voluntary contracts. On this head he says:
***The Symposium will consist of extracts from the world's greatest thinkers and writers on the subject of Anarchism, including Proudhon, Warren, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tolstoy, Stirner, and others. Some of the quotations are according to Steven T. Byington's translation.
"That I may remain free, that I may be subjected to no law but my own, and that I may govern myself, the edifice of society must be rebuilt upon the idea of CONTRACT."
Proudhon has no belief in the State as a protector or righter of wrongs. He rejects it absolutely as being an involuntary relation, and declares emphatically that "the government of man by man is slavery." He asserts (and in this respect Herbert Spencer agrees with him entirely) that the extent to which the rule of authority does or does not prevail is an absolutely true test of the civilization or barbarism of any given society; that the lower the general intellectual development of any given society, the more it is characterized by the authority of man over man.
Government by party is fully as objectionable, in Proudhon's view, as government by a Tsar, as will be seen from the following passage:
"All parties without exception, in so far as they seek for power, are varieties of absolutism; and there will be no liberty for citizens, nor order for societies, no union among workingmen, till in the political catechism the renunciation of authority shall have replaced faith in authority. No more parties, no more authority, absolute liberty of man and citizen—there, in three words, is my political and social confession of faith."
"Authority, government, power, State—these words all denote the same thing—each man sees in it the means of oppressing and exploiting his fellows. Absolutists, doctrinaires, demagogues, and Socialists turn their eyes incessantly to authority."
Criticising the methods of acquiring wealth, then in vogue, Proudhon—in one of his earlier publications—made use of the expression "property is robbery." This unfortunate but catchy phrase was taken up immediately, and has been employed industriously ever since as proof that Proudhon was a Communist. He was at constant pains to refute this misrepresentation. Writing in 1850, he said:
"What I sought for as far back as 1840 in defining property, what I am wanting now, is not a destruction; I have said it till I am tired. That would have been to fall with Rousseau, Plato, Louis Blanc himself, and all the adversaries of property, into Communism, against which I protest with all my might; what I ask for property is a oalance—that is, justice.
Proudhon declares in the most emphatic manner that his whole aim is to give each man the full product of his labor, and his position is that this will be possible only under conditions of freedom, wherein men and women, standing on a footing of equal opportunity, determine for themselves what they shall give and what they shall receive in return, binding themselves by their own voluntary contracts.
As to the method by which the transformation that he regards as absolutely necessary is to be accomplished, Proudhon speaks with no uncertain voice. He rejects most positively all suggestions of an artificially created, violent revolution, declaring that the new conditions will appear only "as soon as the idea is popularized." He mocks the physical force advocates, say-ing: "Accomplish the revolution, they say, and after this everything will be cleared up. As if the revolution itself could be accomplished without a leading idea."
"To secure justice to one's self by bloodshed is an extremity to which the Californians, gathered since yesterday to seek for gold, may be reduced; but may the luck of France preserve us from it."
"Despite the violence which we witness I do not believe that hereafter liberty will need to use force to claim its rights and avenge its wrongs. Reason will serve us better; and patience, like the revolution, is invincible."
To those who object that the educational method is an impossibility, since the professions, the middle class, and the powers that be are impervious to reason, and the populace, brutalized by servitude, remains hopelessly indifferent, he replies: "Don't worry. Just as the lack of ideas makes one lose the most promising games, war against ideas can only push forward the revolution. Do you not see already that the régime of authority, of inequality, of predestination, of eternal salvation, and of reasons of State is daily becoming more intolerable for the well-to-do classes, whose conscience and reason it tortures, than for the mass, whose stomach cries out against it?"
In consequence of his holding these opinions, those who profess the "class struggle" doctrine in its narrowest sense and believe that the social question is a stomach question, to be settled solely by those whose stomachs are affected, speak contemptuously of Proudhon as a middle-class philosopher.
* * *
MONKEY VS. MAN
GO to the monkey, thou voter, consider his ways and be wise. Do the monkeys pay ground rent to the descendants of the first old ape who discovered the valleys where the monkeys live? Do they hire the trees from the chimpanzee who first found the forest?
Do they buy the cocoanuts from the great-great grandchildren of the gorilla who invented a way to crack them ?
Do they allow two or three monkeys to form a corporation and obtain control of all the paths that lead through the woods?
Do they permit some smart young monkey, with superior business ability, to claim all the springs of water in the forest as his own, because of some alleged bargain made by their ancestors 500 years ago?
Do they allow a smart gang of monkey lawyers to so tangle up their conceptions of ownership that a few will obtain possession of everything?
Do they appoint a few monkeys to govern them and then allow those appointed monkeys to rob the tribe and mismanage all its affairs?
Do they build up a monkey city and then hand over the land, and the paths, and the trees, and the springs, and the fruits, to a few monkeys who sat on a log and chattered while all the work was going on ?
* * *
FOR THE REVOLUTION IN SPAIN
AN APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY
AFTER the recent bloody events in Spain, caused by the war in Morocco, when the Spanish proletariat protested against that horrible slaughter, undertaken solely for the profit of a few capitalists; after all the brutalities perpetrated by the Civil Guards against the defenseless women and children who were massacred in the streets of Barcelona, because they refused to let their fathers, brothers, and husbands go to the national shambles; after the unmerciful and ferocious persecutions of propagandists of radical ideas, by means of imprisonment, exiles, and death; after reactionary clericalism had vented its insatiable thirst for martyr's blood and had murdered the great educator, Francisco Ferrer, the man who tried to regenerate the Spanish people by working for the enlightenment of the child and by teaching principles of right and justice; after this orgy of violence and crime, executed in the name or religion, capitalism, and the State,—we, the torch-bearers of liberty, acting in the name of civilization, do intend to continue the fight in Spain, so that we may destroy the shameful monarchy of the insane Alfonso XIII., who is ruled by the high clergy, the genuine representatives of the Inquisition of Torquemada, and who hold the people in darkness and ignorance, and continue the old reactionary traditions and absurd superstitions.
We are convinced that while the present conditions in Spain continue there will be no chance for the people to be educated in the new ideas of progress, but that they will be ignorant and servile; and that there will always be danger to men who, like Ferrer, may try to continue the generous work of this martyr of the Modern School.
At the beginning of our efforts, we known that obstacles will be found in the road of the struggle; but we count on many good fighters who will triumph or perish for the principles of right and justice in their desire to put an end to all the infamy consummated for so many centuries in the land of the Inquisition.
All those who reject the reactionary ideas of absolutism, are on our side, and we wish to fight all together, without regard to individual principles or separative ideas, forming a radical "block" in order to overthrow the present régime, and to open the road for more advanced institutions.
WHO WE ARE: SOLIDARITY NECESSARY.
We, the "Pro-Spanish Revolutionary Committee" of New York, are a branch of the "Revolutionary Party," with headquarters in Paris, composed of Spanish revolutionists, but enjoying the co-operation of intelligent and generous foreign fighters, who conduct an international agitation in all the principal cities of Europe. In order to raise the means for this purpose, we are appointed in this city, as representatives of the radical Spanish colony, to collect money in the United States from all who are willing to help toward the total destruction of Spanish Reaction.
We hope that all the radical fighters of all countries will give us a hand, because our cause is the cause of all sufferers and slaves throughout the world. We must show a practical revolutionary alliance facing the power of our tyrants and making effective a strong solidarity among the international proletariat.
In the name of civilization and progress, we call upon the radical people to assist us in the struggle against despotism and barbarism.
Shall we be heard?
Yours for the Revolution,
New York, December 15, 1909.
N. B.—All the contributions for this purpose should be sent to the treasurer, A. Castañeda, 72 Liberty St., Brooklyn, N. Y.
J. VIDAL, Secretary.
THE PRIEST AND THE DEVIL
By FEDOR DOSTOYEVSKY.****
BEFORE the altar in a splendid church, glistening with gold and silver and lit up by a multitude of candles, stood a priest arrayed in beautiful robe and gorgeous mantle. He' was a portly, dignified man, with ruddy cheeks and well-kept beard. His voice was sonorous and his mien haughty. His appearance was in keeping with the church, which glowed and shone with luxury.
The congregation, however, presented a different picture. It consisted mostly of poor workingmen and peasants, old women and beggars. Their clothing was shabby and exhaled the peculiar odor of poverty. Their thin facesbore the marks of hunger and their hands the marks of toil. It was a picture of want and misery.
The priest burned incense before the holy pictures, and then piously and solemnly raised his voice and preached.
"My dear brethren in Christ," he said, "our dear Lord gave you life, and it is your duty to be satisfied with it. But are you satisfied ? No.
"First of all, you do not have enough faith in our dear Lord and His saints and miracles. You do not give as freely as you should from your earnings to the holy church.
"In the second place, you do not obey the authorities. You oppose the powers of the world, the Tsar and his officers. You despise the laws.
"It is written in the Bible, 'Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and give unto God that which is God's.' But you do not do it! And do you know what this means ? This is a deadly sin. Indeed, I tell you, it is the devil who is tempting you to go his way. It is he who tempts your souls, and you imagine it is your own free-will that prompts you to act in this way. His will it is, not yours.
**** Fedor Dostoyevsky achieved fame as the author of two of the most powerful psychical studies ever penned: "Poor Folk" and "Crime and Punishment," both of which have been translated into most European languages. During his incarceration, for political reasons, in the terrible fortress of SS. Peter and Paul—an imprisonment which ruined his constitution and caused his early death—he wrote the following sketch upon the wall of his cell.
He is waiting for your death. He is burning with eagerness to possess your souls. He will dance before the flames of hell, in which your souls will suffer agonies.
"Therefore, I warn you, my brethren, I admonish you to leave the path of damnation. There is still time. O God, have mercy!"
The people listened, trembling. They believed the priest's solemn words. They sighed and crossed themselves, and fervently kissed the floor. The priest also crossed himself, turned his back to the people—and smiled.
It so happened that the devil was just passing by the church while the priest was speaking thus to the people. He heard his name mentioned, so he stood by the open window and listened. He saw the people kiss the priest's hand. He saw how the priest, bending before a gilded picture of some saint, hastily pocketed the money which the poor people had put down there for the holy church. This provoked the devil, and no sooner did the priest leave the church than he ran after him and caught hold of his holy mantle.
"Hello, you fat little father!" he said. "What made you lie so to those poor misled people? What tortures of hell did you depict? Don't you know they are already suffering the tortures of hell in their earthly lives ? Don't you know that you and the authorities of the State are my representatives on earth ? It is you who make them suffer the pains of hell with which you threaten them. Don't you know this ? Well, then, come with me!"
The devil grabbed the priest by the collar, lifted him high in the air, and carried him to a factory, to an iron foundry. He saw the workmen there running and hurrying to and fro and toiling in the scorching heat. Very soon the thick, heavy air and the heat are too much for the priest. With tears in his eyes, he pleads with the devil: "Let me go! Let me leave this hell!"
"Oh, my dear friend, I must show you many more places." The devil gets hold of him again and drags him off to a farm. There he sees the workmen threshing the grain. The dust and heat are insufferable. The over-seer carries a knout, and unmercifully beats anyone who falls to the ground overcome by hard work or hunger.
Next the priest is taken to the huts where these same workers live with their families—dirty, cold, smoky, ill-smelling holes. The devil grins. He points out the poverty and hardship which are at home here.
"Well, isn't this enough ?" he asks. And it seems as if even he, the devil, pities the people. The pious servant of God can hardly bear it. With uplifted hands he begs: "Let me go away from here. Yes, yes! This is hell on earth!"
"Well, then, you see. And you still promise them another hell. You torment them, torture them to death mentally when they are already all but dead physically! Come on! I will show you one more hell—one more, the very worst."
He took him to a prison, and showed him a dungeon, with its foul air and the many human forms, robbed of all health and energy, lying on the floor, covered with vermin that were devouring their poor, naked, emaciated bodies.
"Take off your silken clothes," said the devil to the priest; "put on your ankles heavy chains such as these unfortunates wear; lie down on the cold and filthy floor— and then talk to them about a hell that still awaits them!"
"No, no!" answered the priest. "I cannot think of anything more dreadful than this. I entreat you, let me go away from here!"
"Yes, this is hell. There can be no worse hell than this. Did you not know it ? Did you not know that these men and women whom you were frightening with the picture of a hell hereafter—did you not know that they are in hell right here, before they die?"
The priest hung his head. He did not know where to look in his confusion.
The devil smiled maliciously. "Yes, little father, you are going to say that the world likes to be cheated. Well, now!" And he released his hold.
The priest tucked up his long mantle and ran as fast as his legs would carry him.
The devil watched and laughed.
* * *
This story came into my mind while listening to the sermon of the prison chaplain, and I wrote it down on the wall to-day, December 13, 1849.
The Anarchist Conference held recently at Leipzig did not bring about the desired result. Indeed, it merely served to aggravate existing friction. The decision of the Congress concerning the reorganization of the German Anarchist Federation has not been accepted by most of the groups, on the ground that it is too centralistic and authoritarian. The groups favor federative organization.
The Berlin Revolutionar has suspended publication. In its place another paper, Der Anarchist, has made its appearance in Leipzig. Thus the Anarchist movement of Germany now possesses three papers: Der Freie Arbeiter, having a circulation of 5,000; Der Anarchist, with 2,000 subscribers, and Der Socialist, of Berlin, with a like number of readers.
The Anti-Militaristic Congress, called by the Federative Committee of the Roman Trades Federation and the Anarchist papers Voix du Peuple and Le Reveil, took place at Bienne, amid great attendance. In spite of the opposition of the Socialists, who showed them-selves true patriots, the Congress proved very successful. It was the unanimous decision of the delegates to continue the anti-militarist propaganda with all possible energy and vigor.
While the International Press Congress was holding its sessions in London, and a high government official was eulogizing the grand English liberty of the press, our Comrade Guy A. Aldred was convicted in Old Bailey to a year's imprisonment on the charge of "seditious libel," resulting from the fact that Aldred published one number of the Indian Sociologist. The latter is the organ of the Hindu revolutionists, edited by Krishna Varma, who was forced to flee to Paris, his liberty being threatened by the government of Great Britain.
After the killing of Sir Curzon Wyllie by the Hindu revolutionist Dingra, the former publisher of the Sociologist, A. Fletcher Horsley—an ordinary printer in no way interested in the movement for India's liberation— was condemned to four months' hard labor. As no printer could be found willing to risk incarceration by publishing the paper, Comrade Aldred offered his services, which circumstance resulted in the charge of seditious libel and imprisonment.
Evidently the boasted English liberty of the press is no less a humbug than its "free" speech. The condemnation by an English court of John Most and Vladimir Bourtzeff, some years ago, at the instigation of the Russian government, has long since characterized the quality of English liberty, not to mention the treatment of Irish Nationalists.
* * *
The oppressive and repressive measures employed by the British government in India do not seem to achieve the ends desired. The attitude of that much-exploited country is well voiced by the Free Hindusthan:
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 that 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.
The Hindu publication. Band Mataram, of Calcutta, suppressed by the government, is now published in Switzerland. All communications should be addressed to Madame Cama, Poste Restante, Geneve.
The fall of Maura's cabinet did not result in the expected cessation of reactionary outrages. The "liberal" régime of Moret has proved as tyrannous as that of his predecessor. The courts-martial of Barcelona continue their bloody work: to the long list of those doomed to death, forced labor, and deportation, and those still suffering in the fortress, forty-two new condemnations have been added, among them two death sentences, ten life imprisonments, and the rest condemned to long years of hard labor.
The Paris Committee for the defence of the victims of the Spanish reaction is determined to continue its war against the "liberal" tyranny in order to arouse the Spanish people to the necessity of abolishing the terrible autocracy of the present régime. It is doing its utmost to waken the conscience of the international proletariat to the point of boycotting Spanish goods, and thus striking at the very vitals of Spanish capitalism.
Comrade Charles Malato writes us from Paris:
Dear Comrades: I have just received your letter including a check for $93.00 (478 francs) which you collected for the imprisoned comrades. I shall immediately consult with Comrades Charles Albert and Moreno about the disposition of the money.
There are still in the Barcelona jails over a hundred prisoners. We are now intensifying our campaign to prevent the execution of the twelve comrades, including three women, sentenced to death.
We have just held a massmeeting, with Soledad Villa franca, the companion and co-worker of Ferrer, as our chief speaker. It was a triumph for us, who claim the right of free love and free union as against the hypocrisy of legality, to witness the respect and enthusiastic sympathy with which our friend Soledad was welcomed.
I will do everything possible to comply with your request to procure Ferrer's works. He wrote many articles; yet, being extremely modest, he rarely signed them. He was principally an organizer and founder of schools, libraries, and reviews. During his incarceration in 1906-07 he wrote two important manuscripts,—one about rational morality, the other about federative communism. But, unfortunately, those works have been destroyed by the police in Mongat
* * *
The Spanish correspondent of a French paper thus describes the burial of Francisco Ferrer:
It was by a very special favor that the relations of the victim were allowed to be present at his burial. Ferrer remained visible in his open coffin, according to the Spanish custom, until the last moment. The modest coffin of blackened pine was brought down in the night. Ferrer was stretched out in the same gray garments which have been seen in his latest photographs. His head was wrapped in blood-stained bandages, but this sinister turban did not conceal the broken bones and the fragments of his oozing brain. His right cheek-bone was broken in, and an open wound stretched up to his temples. His throat was bleeding a little, and had been stopped up with a handful of chalk. In the middle of his forehead a small orifice revealed the passage of a bullet, which had gone out at the top of his skull. His face was bloodless ; but his hands were swollen and black, and added to the sinister horror of the spectacle. When the coffin was lifted for burial, I noticed that it had been standing on a big pool of blood, and all through the funeral procession the horrible box left traces of its passage along the road. The authorities would not allow burial in a private tomb, and the remains were consigned to the common ditch. The family, however, was permitted to put a stone to indicate where he had been buried. His mother was taken ill during this painful ceremony. It is related that this poor old woman came to the office of the Castle of Montjuich the previous evening asking to see her son, not knowing that he had already been shot. Permission was refused without any explanations being given.