anarchy archives


About Us

Contact Us

Other Links

Critics Corner


The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
  Peter Kropotkin
  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Elisée Reclus
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
  Bright but Lesser Lights
  Cold Off The Presses
  Anarchist History
  Worldwide Movements
  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets

Mother Earth, Vol. 7, October, 1912, no. 8


By Dyer D. Lum.

THE sacred ballot --- idol woman craves --- We laugh to scorn. Whene'er we crowd the mart

Where labor sells its strength, unto what heart Doth suffrage bring relief? When hunger raves Hath he who votes more food than he who slaves? Or they who with their household's treasurer part To purchase bread, doth suffrage give a chart To better times, or sod their pauper graves? Ye fools! who dream that statecraft can do aught But limit freedom to the beaten track, Where economic slaves their daily task Perform, and when ye rise relief to ask Do find your ballots have for others wrought And clothed with power to drive you trembling back.


ON the 29th of October it will be eleven years since Leon Czolgosz died in the electric chair at Auburn Prison. He shot President McKinley, the most servile and willing agent the plutocracy of America ever had in the White House. During the McKinley regime the government began to play quite openly the role of the retainer of the rich, with the result that to-day it represents only the dictates of a few money princes. At the same time there began under Mark Hanna, McKinley's real boss, that labor policy, which on the one hand advised the workers legally to incorporate their organizations, and on the other held bayonets ready, to murder them as soon as they evidenced signs of independent action. It did not require much effort, under the McKinley rule, for the masters to procure the mobilization of troops against their striking workers.

The act of Czolgosz was one of the results of this situation. His shots proved that now and then pressure from above finds an echo below that does not sound very pleasantly in the ears of the masters. This has ever been the case, since the first oppressor found his Brutus.

The best cure against Attentate is liberty, equality, and well-being for all. But as our perverted public opinion --- fabricated by the mouthpieces of the ruling interests --- could not stomach this simple truth, Czolgosz had to be represented as a very monster, devoid of all humanity.

Let them continue to assert it --- his attitude in court, his manly demeanor all through his terrible ordeal, proved that his act resulted from the very disposition and motives which mankind generally considers as the noblest.

We have not the least doubt that the future historians, who will not be content with picturing the glories of great generals and their armies, but who will deal with the struggles of humanity for greater freedom, will assign to Leon Czolgosz a more honorable niche in the temple of humanity, than to William McKinley.

* * *

WE also commemorate in these days the anniversary of Francisco Ferrer's death. Three years ago, on October 13th, 1909, Ferrer was shot to death by the bullets of Spanish soldiers. But behind them stood not only the government: the Church directed their aim. She decreed that it was a capital crime to build free schools in the classic land of the Inquisition. Besides worldly possessions, the Catholic Church covets nothing more than a monopoly of benighting the people. She claims that this monopoly has been directly entrusted to her by the Lord Himself; and indeed, no one has understood better than the Catholic Church to use the mailed fist of the government to destroy those who offered her the least opposition.

Francisco Ferrer was neither a leader nor a participant in the Barcelona uprising, in the summer of 1909. But he had devoted his great ability, his efforts and labor to further the cause of libertarian education and to the founding of free schools in Spain, whose teaching was anti-authorian and anti-religious. That was enough to throw him into prison, and to decree his murder, under a flimsy pretext.

The old custom of the Church to pull wires behind the stage, while putting on a pious face of angelic innocence before the footlights, stood her in good stead also on this occasion. Indeed, she had good reason to act thus, because no murder more foul and cowardly has ever been committed. Even the "divine consent" cannot alter this fact.

To judge from reliable reports, the Ferrer meetings in Spain this year will come under the sign of the General Strike, and we may feel confident that resistance to governmental and Church tyranny is gaining in strength, in spite of all clerical and lay inquisition.

In New York the third anniversary of Francisco Ferrer's death will be commemorated Sunday, October 13th,

8 P.M., at Clinton Hall, 157 Clinton Street.

* * *

BEFORE election the voter is a most comical and pathetic figure. In the midst of the furious battle that is raging on paper between the various presidential and other candidates, he stands like a forlorn step-child, dimly suspecting that whichever way he turn, he will be on a wrong track. He may vote blue, white, or red, but however he casts his ballot, he always votes to continue his slavery. The "sovereign" voter exercises his suffrage to announce that he will have rulers; he declares himself so stupid and impotent that he must have some one to manage his life for him, and that he, together with his fellow voters, is so incapable of arranging his individual and public affairs that he needs for the purpose the corrupt government system, from the village sheriff to the president.

The only miserable concession made to him is the permission to pick out his choice of the evils --- political candidates --- submitted to him. And even in this he is generally duped. That he emerges from the swamp with a bitter feeling of having been played for a fool is self-evident.

* * *

IT seems that the character quality of the people's "leaders" and statesmen has considerably declined since the days of Moses.

According to the Scriptures, Moses had one day surprised his people in the act of paying homage to the golden calf. Wroth over the unholy spectacle, he forthwith destroyed the image of the false god.

Compare with that the attitude of our presidential candidates. They know that the golden calf is the supreme ruler, and that they will pay it homage and be obedient to its will when they are placed in the White House. But they are too cowardly to admit it. They yearn with their whole soul for the blessing of the golden calf; to be in favor with its high priests is their chief ambition. Yet they solemnly protest their abhorrence of the idol; they will have nothing to do with it, they assure the people; they will even try their utmost to destroy it, like unto Moses, they assert --- if they will only get enough votes to have a safe majority.

Miserable liars! One and all they are dangling on the strings held in hand by the high priests of the golden calf, and no one knows it better than themselves.

* * *

LABOR discontent is becoming so wide-spread, the masters find it necessary to resort to wholesale arrests and trials. Besides Lawrence and Indianapolis, there is going on at present another labor trial in Lake Charles, La.

Fifty-eight men, ranging in age from sixteen to nearly seventy, are charged with murder, in connection with the affray which occurred between union and non-union mill workers at the saw mill of the Galloway Lumber Company on Sunday, July 7. Sixty-five men were originally indicted by the Grand Jury, but it was found afterward that four of the men had been indicted twice under different names, while one man has since died of injuries received in the conflict, one was killed while resisting arrest, and one has evaded capture so far. The remaining fifty-eight were placed in custody and have been in jail now for more than two months.

The defendants are all men of limited means, or no means at all. The only prominent figure among them is Al Emerson, President of the Brotherhood of Timber Workers, who started that organization three years ago, and in May effected its affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World.

Capital and government have virtually declared a war of extermination against organized labor, especially against the more radical wing of the proletariat. Let labor accept the challenge, and act accordingly.

ONE of the most encouraging events in connection with the trial of Ettor, Giovannitti, and Caruso is the great number of international demonstrations in favor of the accused labor leaders. In Rome, London, Paris, and many other places mass meetings have taken place, in which the judicial farce at Salem was energetically condemned.

An encouraging sign of the trial at Salem --- the place, by the way, where the good Christian custom of witchburning was kept up the longest --- is that the prosecution finds great difficulty in securing a jury to try the case. The attitude of many of the talesmen indicates that a deep, wide-spread disgust with the workings of "justice" permeates the people. From the replies of the men examined for the jury it is apparent that they resent being used as tools to do the dirty work of the masters, in sending the accused labor men to the electric chair.

The majesty of the law has suffered considerably from the circumstance that it is being regarded as a guillotine for the poor, in the hands of the rich.

* * *

DEETECTIVE BURNS and Stool-pigeon McManigal are again about to save society, in the role of witnesses for the State in the trial of the fifty-one labor officials in Indianapolis, on the charge of "conspiracy to transport dynamite." The trial will probably continue for several months.

What would governments do without professional traitors and paid man-hunters? How would they enforce the principle of organized violence, the foundation of their existence.

* * *

THE American nation may now rejoice in the Congressional permission to spend 15 million dollars for a new slaughter machine. The jingoes had demanded two new battleships, but finally compromised on one, no doubt in the hope that God will preserve the patriotic leprosy long enough to accomplish their designs later on.

In the discussion over increasing the military strength of the country, it was asserted that a powerful army and navy serves to preserve the peace of the nations. This argument was long ago aptly answered by Montesquieu, when he said: "A new disease has spread itself throughout Europe; it has taken hold of our princes and led them to maintain an inordinate number of troops. It has its paroxysms and becomes necessarily contagious, for, as soon as one State augments its troops, the others forthwith augment theirs, so that they gain nothing by it but a common ruin. Each monarch keeps on foot as many armed men as he would have if his people were in danger of being attacked without provocation and exterminated, and they call this rivalry of all against all, Peace."

Of course, the opponents of war can't comprehend the emotions of the great American financier who has secured for a song valuable concessions in Mexico or Nicaragua, for instance, which will bring him a great fortune, and then suddenly finds obstacles placed in his path. He immediately recollects the duty of his government to protect the "honor of his country" at the point of the cannon, and it is purely accidental that his concessions, secured at so much expenditure of diplomacy and intrigue, are identical with the honor of his country. That is the reason that about three thousand American soldiers have been sent to Nicaragua, and for the same cause certain financial circles are seeking to incite war with Mexico.

RECENTLY Collier's Weekly has been discussing the question whether Nicholas Murray Butler, of Columbia University, who is under suspicion of being hand in glove with the corruptionists of the Republican party, is fit to be continued as president of the college.

It is a vain question. The head of a Berlin university once permitted himself the confession that the university serves as the intellectual bodyguard of the Hohenzollern. There is not the least doubt that in this country also there is no lack of professors and teachers, whose pedagogic efforts are directed toward supplying our Rockefellers and Morgans with intellectual bodyguards.

* * *


It is no pleasant thing for us constantly to remind our friends of their indebtedness to MOTHER EARTH. Therefore we are compelled to call to the attention of our delinquent subscribers the fact that we shall be forced to take all the unpaid subscriptions off our mailing list, if they do not renew at once.


THE augurs of the political parties are again after your vote. When they come to you now, they put on a happy grin; but look out! After the elections they will turn to you their posterior --- to their own real delight.

Give them the answer they deserve. Tell them you are tired of paper promises and platforms, tired of squabbling over political tatters, because you have learned that they are only a noose with which your liberty and your own will are strangled.

The workingman who casts his vote into the ballot box only throws his initiative and his own power into the gutter. He authorizes political scoundrels, corruptionists and grafters to lord it over him, and to rob him in partnership with the land speculators and other exploiters.

Stop and consider what this deceiving profession of politicians --- of all and every party --- really is. As soon as they land their coveted offices, they turn the legal pimps of the big and little exploiters. Their business is to lull your discontent and wrath with lying promises and empty reforms; and, if that fails, to put you down with their soldiers, militia and police.

Are you going to continue to play the dupe, and elect your own subjection as "the best ticket"? Will you be so stupid as to hand to your masters the whip with which to lash you into greater misery and degradation?

Your rights as men have been trampled under foot; are being thus trampled continually. Throughout the country the workers are treated like so much cattle. They are suppressed and enslaved; their assemblies are invaded and broken up; they are clubbed and maltreated, and thrown into the jails. Every day strikers are beaten up by the police, shot down like dogs, and sent to prison. The least resistance on their part is stamped as crime, and is strangled with the iron hand of capitalist law.

The only thing that is ironically left to you from the glories of the Republic is the right of Suffrage --- the "right" to sign away your manhood and seal your own humiliation and servitude on election day.

Fellow-workers! Don't expect to get your right from the despicable gang of vote peddlers. They will never come to your rescue. You must help yourself, and act for yourself. Exercise your own energy and initiative. Realize your own needs, assert your own will, and learn to take instead of begging for the crumbs that might fall from the table of your masters.

Organize with your fellow-workers on the lines of your common economic interests. Stand shoulder to shoulder in international solidarity, and you will be strong enough to liberate the world from the robber capitalism and from the murderous rule of government.

Prepare your heart and your mind for the liberating thought that you yourselves are your own saviors.

Don't vote! Down with the political procurers and their graft schemes!


By Leonard Abbott.

THE shot that killed Francisco Ferrer at Montjuich Fortress on October 13, 1909, is still reverberating through the world. In practically every country his name is known. The Belgians have been the first to erect a statue in his memory. An Englishman, William Archer, has written the best biography of him. A Dane, the greatest living literary critic, George Brandes, has paid him the most noteworthy tribute. A Spaniard, Ferrer's successor in Barcelona, Lorenzo Portet, has just printed a posthumous work by Ferrer, describing his labors for the Modern School. In America, such men as Lester F. Ward, Robert Henri, Bayard Boyesen and George Bellows have felt that they honored themselves in honoring Ferrer. During the past year the Ferrer School in New York has heard from correspondents in Norway, Australia and the Dutch West Indies. If anything is certain, it is the immortality of Francisco Ferrer in the hearts and minds of men.

Ferrer's reputation is bound to become even more firmly established as the years go on, because the ideas for which he stood are growing. He knew that education must be liberated from the dogmas that stifle it 246 Francisco Ferrer Three Years After His Death

to-day, and he recognized in this not merely a Spanish problem, but a world-problem. He was not the originator of libertarian education, but he became its bestknown exponent. He was in the direct line of an educational movement that can be traced back, through Tolstoy, Pestalozzi and Froebel, to Rousseau, and that is influencing at the present moment school methods everywhere. Since his death, the Italian doctor, Madame Montessori, has begun to make an impression. She is a gifted woman and has made a real contribution toward freer educational methods. But she is a Roman Catholic, and she does not see as deep or as far as Francisco. Ferrer. Ferrer is the ultimate figure in this movement.

To those who are watching here in America, a great change in educational theory is apparent. "Educational insurgery" is the order of the day. Many experiments in school methods are being initiated. Bruce Calvert has published a booklet on "Rational Education" in which he reminds us that the teacher can learn from the pupil as much as the pupil can learn from the teacher. Prof. Boris Sidis, of Harvard University, is the author of a book, "Philistine and Genius," which is all that the most ardent radical could desire. In it he makes a memorable and eloquent plea for what might be called the Greek attitude toward education --- the encouragement and expression of genius and of a perfect balance between mind and body. "We school and drill our children and youth," he says, "in schoolma'am mannerism, schoolmaster mindankylosis, school superintendent stiff-joint ceremonialism, factory regulations and office discipline. We give our students and pupils artisan inspiration and business spirituality. Originality is suppressed. Individuality is crushed. Mediocrity is at a premium. That is why our country has such clever business men, such cunning artisans, such adroit leaders of new cults, but no scientists, no artists, no philosophers, no statesmen, no genuine talent, and no true genius." Superintendents of Schools in several cities are in open revolt against the present system. "If the American schools of the past," observes Superintendent S. L. Heeter, of the Saint Paul, Minn., Schools, "have developed on the democratic theory that children are equal, they will develop in the future in the knowledge that all children are different. If the schools in the past made a desperate effort to make all children alike, they will make as great an effort in the future to make all children different." An American magazine with a million circulation is at the present moment carrying on a crusade against the public schools on the ground that they attempt "the impossible feat of making one course for all children, absolutely irrespective of physical strength, mentality, inheritance, home environment, or whether the children are to become lawyers or blacksmiths, artists or car conductors."

So the spirit of Francisco Ferrer lives on in a world that killed him for his faith. So the seed he tended is growing into a mighty tree whose branches shall cover the earth.


London, September 16. My Dear Friends:

I have been asked to contribute an article to the Ferrer number of Mother Earth, but I have preferred to write not an article, but a personal letter to the members and friends of the Ferrer Association. An "article" seems to me a cold-blooded thing to address to friends (and who but our friends will read this Mother Earth?). I want to talk to you and with you, not write at you. And a letter allows one so lavish a use of the egotistic pronoun!

When you get to this you will already have learned the history of our association and our school from the articles of friends who were radicals before I was born. I came upon the scene many months after the toil and turmoil of inception, and found the great work already well under way. I came from an institution where the mere mention of Ferrer would have been rebuked with holy horror; and I have no doubt that our little school suffered a good deal from my lack of training in the science of libertarian teaching. What little experience I now have I have achieved at the expense of the children, by making mistakes from which they suffered; it has been said of me, very truly, that I learned more from them than they learned from me.

I think this lack of an experienced teacher was the greatest difficulty besetting us; but it was only one of a thousand difficulties. Millionaires do not innovate, and we were innovators; --- to say that is to give the clue to our difficulties. Show me a great idea that began rich, and I will show you how to pass a camel through the eye of a needle. We needed a hundred and one things that other schools had come to look upon as absolute essentials; we needed a hundred and one things that even now we can only hope and strive for, but not yet enjoy. Indeed, there were times when the things that we needed loomed up so large beside the things that we had that I might have played the coward and given up the ship (perchance a good thing for the ship) had it not been for the example and inspiration of men and women whose ardor had learned to survive disappointment. To have met these men and women, to have learned from them and been influenced by them, --- I cannot begin to tell how much this has meant to me.

I was asked to write about Ferrer, and here I am, inevitably, talking about myself. I want to tell you, before I let you go, about the Ferrer monument in Brussels. I doubt if there is a finer conception, more beautifully executed, among all the public monuments of Europe. A bronze figure, life-size, absolutely nude, holding aloft a blazing torch, and standing on tip-toe --- every muscle tense --- that the light may shine the farther; could there be any fitter form for a monument to Ferrer? Oh, to be a bearer of the torch, even if only for a little while! --- could one ask any more of whatever gods there be?

Did you know that on the day when the news of Ferrer's death reached Milan a group of radicals ran a black flag from one of the lofty spires of the great cathedral there? --- or that the citizens of Florence gave the name of Ferrer to a street that had before borne the name of an archbishop? (These things Kropotkin told me; --- a gentle, fatherly old man whom I learned to love even while he was scolding me for lecturing so much about sex.) And I met in Paris a man who had taught under Ferrer, and who informed me that the Ferrer schools were being reopened throughout Spain. E pur si muove, as Galileo said; the world does move after all, and truth goes marching on. Most people respect truth only after it has become a platitude; those who dare respect and recognize it sooner are called revolutionaries, and are crucified in some one or other gentle way, --- burnt at the stake like Bruno, stabbed at like Spinoza, or shot like Ferrer. But as the world moves on one perceives that it is the crucified who live, and the persecutors who are dead.

I write this from London, perforce many days before you can read it; before you read it I shall be back with you, ashamed of having had so long and splendid a vacation, and anxious to get to work. What stories I shall be able to tell the boys and girls who come to me, what pictures I shall be able to show them! I understand that you have all been working hard while I have been playing with Baedeker and Kodak; but I hope to do a little work myself when I get back.


Will Durant


[Home]               [About Us]               [Contact Us]               [Other Links]               [Critics Corner]