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This manuscript is part of the International Institute for Social History's Alexander Berkman archive and appears in Anarchy Archives with ISSH's permission.
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Vienna, Oct. 9, 35

Dear A.B.,

     I am long in sending a reply to your letter of August 21. Excuse me, I am at my work again here and much absorbed. My nearly four months with friends abroad were delightful, but meant interesting work to, the gathering in of historical materials which now add so much to my work here but are useful and indispensable. My health, though permanently affected, is all right just now, but the winter is before us; this morning here there is a fog. I am sorry to hear of Mrs. Emmy's new suffering; may it long have improved since six weeks ago.

     When you say that the younger American generation ignores Ferrer, that is bad and is much the fault of those who despise historical work. It cannot be so with the Yiddish reading where old memories are always kept, I believe. But the modern history seems really be the record of the grafters and gangsters, just as some ages ago it was that of highwaymen and pirates. To be relieved of direct political oppression means freedom to appeal to the many it seems to mean absorption by vulgarity, decay of intellectual exercise, amusement by the new class of public jesters, the cinema etc.

     Under such conditions I am the happiest man of all, as I travel so much in the past. The people could do with the values which the past has created and which are dear to us. They could only show them away in museums and alive as they are fit to live. They were heroworshipers in early struggling days, they perpetuated this in godworship and now they worship stars and leaders and know no better. Their social ***** and ****** are questions of feeding and advancement to them, not of dignity.--We have exactly begun at the wrong end, with the masses, whilst everything progressive has origininated and thrived with some of the best-prepared: the masses

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took it up only when it became a tangible benefit to them or when currents of imitative fashion led them to crave for it.

     So many, many causes have prospered before our eyes, but ours is always shrinking, just because we have gone to the wrong market. When you make a wonderful discovery, you go not peddling it to the most backward backwoods men, but try to lay the foundations in the most favorably disposed milieu. The highest libertarian ethics were brought directly before those who were always glad if somebody relieves them of responsability by ordering them about and who are quite satisfied when they, on their turn, succeed to cheat him when he turns his back on them.

     That great mistake, then, was made and much of a glorious century was thus deprived of bearing fruit and now we are weak and those, for whom we worked generously, cringe before their god-leaders more than ever....

     You do not agree with one word of all this and feel happy as you are in your generous confidence. I feel happy to have seen through this all. The ideas are dearer to me than ever, but we brough them to the undeveloped who had no use for them, instead of giving them a very much larger foundation by working hard to make them more perfect and to spread them among the very best and the most fitted. We could not reverse the natural course of things and there are now--tied to routine, most of us--working ahead with increasing pleasure just a very few and larger spheres only in Spain where the ground was so well prepared before 1868 and where continuity of evolution was

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unbroken since then .--

     I delayed my letter also wishing to refer to your 65th birthday next month and I wish you at least 35 happy returns to wind up the first hundred years.

     I ought to have written on your life on that occasion and almost promised, but I think now that it is better not to do so. There was much to tell of the years 1892-1917, of the 1919 to 1921 period also, but times are serious--and did not wish to introduce personal opinions like those above resumed, nor did I wish to simply be a chronicler with no personal opinion. So it was better not to write and you are too near to all of us, to much of a household ward, to do you full justice.--

     You say that mankind, like an individual must learn from bitter experiences. This saying is doubtful to me. It must rather learn from happy experience--one learns only from this and is raised by it to thrive for it once more.

     After all, what is fashion? Intuitiveness expanded upon what is considered a good thing worth having. Somehow, the bright, the hopeful must enter into all our work. I saw some of that in London 1885 to 1890, in the time of William Morris when so many felt proud to be socialists and told it from the street corners. That spirit could not do wonders all at once and was abandoned far to soon, either for terrorism, unaccessibile to most people, or for the minimum of effort, voting and registering in organizations. We must feel again the messagers of good things, show real [Leisfingers], efficiency, make the ideas attractive and worth living for. The drab grey syndicalism drove the ideas away and we stood

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by and let it be done, most of us, Malatesta not. We are an ethical movement for ethical people in the first line--in that sense that unethical stomachs, if filled, are not nearer to the ideal of a free life, than unethical empty stomachs, and resignation, authoritarian revolts, submission to fascism are the only status and issues for the ethically undeveloped stomachs, empty or full. There is room and need for our ideas among the ethically developed and that alone can be the beginning of gradual spreadth. Every mountain plant withers in the soil of the plain, but it can be brought nearer to it by aclimatization in smaller heights. All that cannot be different for our conception alone, when it operates for all the others. Ideas of value always belong to humanity, never to a class (which produces only self interested, incomplete ideas).

     I wish to see some appreciation of things in general from you as a real statement of our position in permanent forms, written irrespective of publishing prospects in your hours of reflexion. Give us such a book. When written, it will always be useful. You are young, 65 only--quite an age separates you from seventy.

     Which news of R.R.? He continues to stay where he is--is this so? I heard of lectures by *.*. in England--may they prosper. How is your health? The fog is gone by now, but the sun has not come. Keep well and best wishes to Mrs. B. and yourself

Alla *****

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