A SINCERE MAN OWES TO HIMSEF TO EXPOSE THE FRIGHTFUL BARBARITY WHICH PREVAILS IN THE HIDDEN DEPTHS OF A SOCIETY OUTWARDLY SO WELL-ORDERED.
TAKE FOR INSTANCE OUR GREAT CITIES, THE LEADERS OF CIVILIZATION, ESPECIALLY THE MOST POPULOUS, AND IN MANY RESPECTS THE FIRST OF ALL - THAT IMMENSE LONDON WHO GATHERS TO HERSELF THE RICHES OF THE WORLD, WHOSE EVERY WAREHOUSE IS WORTH A KING'S RANSOM; WHERE ARE TO BE FOUND ENOUGH AND MORE THAN ENOUGH, OF FOOD AND CLOTHING, FOR THE NEEDS OF THE TEEMING MILLIONS THAT THRONG HER STREETS IN GREATER NUMBER THAN THE ANTS WHICH SWARM IN THB NEVER-ENDING LABYRINTH OF THEIR SUBTERRANEAN GALLERIES. AND YET THE WRETCHED, WHO CAST LONGING AND HUNGRY EYES ON THOSE HOARDS OF WEALTH MAY BE COUNTED BY THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, BY THE SIDE OF UNTOLD SPLENDORS, WANT IS CONSUMING THE VITALS OF ENTIRE POPULATIONS, & IT IS ONLY AT TIMES THAT THE FORTUNATE FOR WHOM THESE TREASURES ARE AMASSED HEAR, AS A MUFFLED WAILING, THE BITTFR CRY WHICH RISES ETERNALLY FROM THESE UNSEEN DEPTHS. BELOW THE LONDON OF FASHION IS A LONDON ACCURSED, A LONDON WHOSE ONLY FOOD ARE DIRT-STAINED FRAGMENTS, WHOSE ONLY GARMENTS ARE FILTHY RAGS AND WHOSE ONLY DWELLINGS ARE FETID-DENS. HAVE THE DISINHERITED THE CONSOLATION OF HOPE? NO, THEY ARE DEPRIVED OF ALL. THERE ARE SOME AMONG THEM WHO LIVE AND DIE IN DAMPNESS AND GLOOM WITHOUT ONCE RAISING THEIR EYES TO THE SUN.
"AN ANARCHIST ON ANARCHY"
HEN, fifty years ago, the Catholic university was founded at Louvain, Belgium, Theodore Verhaegen and a few other advancedmen created the liberal university of Brussels. The beginnings of this institution were brilliant; learned professors of open and independent mind composed the faculties; they knew how to form men. Unfortunately these savants were not the directors of the institution; it was administered by a council made up of the most authorized and straight-laced doctrinaires. This governing body slowly transformed the primitive ideas of the university, which became in time an institute where the petits bourgeois, whose beliefs could not be troubled, were educated for future bishoprics. If, for the form and to appear to follow the aims and ideals of the university as first conceived, the council and majority of the professors tolerated some liberals, they suffered them with difficulty, and used their best efforts to prevent adding to the faculties any colleagues imbued with newer and larger doctrines than those, already old enough in 1848, which were taught at Brussels. It was the students that first reacted against this state of things; I mean to say, a group of students, for the mass as usual followed where led. They rebelled several times against some professorial fossils, who would have considered M. Guizot a revolutionist. These tumults had their apogee at the suspension of M. Elisée Reclus's lectures. The administrative council of the Brussels university had given a chair of geography to Elisée Reclus at the instigation of one of the liberal professors, who, without doubt, never understood why his advice had been followed. But just at this time the Anarchist agitations manifested itself by a series of attentats at Paris. This council did not hesitate to hold the savant whom they had called to the professorship responsible for these acts, and the course of M. Reclus was adjourned.
This was the signal for a revolt of the students and some liberals of Brussels. Meetings were held, addresses delivered, manifestoes distributed, and resolutions passed. This movement was terminated by the resignation of the rector (president), who was the professor who had advised the appointment of M. Reclus. He was replaced by one of the fiercest and most authoritative doctrinaires. The students were summoned to re-enter the pale, but, as the agitation increased on account of this, the university was provisionally dosed. Immediately, in the rooms of Masonic lodges and other places, courses were opened, notably that of M. Elisée Reclus. Confronted with these manifestations, the dismayed university resumed a conciliatory attitude; promises were made to the students; the council allowed them to think that reforms would be begun; the university again opened its doors; and everything appeared to be arranged. The crisis seemed to be adjourned. Some weeks passed; it was recognized finally that nothing would be changed in this "citadel of doctrinarism."
There were some men who at last understood that it was necessary to enlarge the question, to neglect petty quarrels, to aim higher, and to erect a school of Liberty in contrast with this institute of routine. At an assembly held at Brussels March 12, 1894, it was decided to found a new university. This university, of which it is not necessary to recount the beginnings, is now open. It is composed of the Free School of Higher Education (which includes the faculties of law, philosophy, and literature) and "L'Institut des Hautes Etudes". The School of Higher Education conforms to the Belgian laws, which fixes the programme of the courses imposed, in order that the university may form part of the organized system of schools, permitting its students to participate in the examinations and to obtain diplomas. But the "Institut des Hautes Etudes", is a free institute, which does not propose to distribute parchments, or prepare for careers, functions, or employments; its aim is disinterested science, without other preoccupation than itself,-the largest, the highest, and the most independent science. The Institute is opened for those who wish to learn for the unique and profound joy of learning, for the joy of enlarging the intelligence, the being, for the intimate satisfaction of thinking and acting ideologically. The Institute, like the whole university, has a noble aim,-that of forming, not professors, not engineers, not lawyers, but men.
It is a great and beautiful task, but it is a difficult one. It consists in doing away with all canons and dogmas; in opening to the intelligence the clearest ways and the most multiple, saying to it: "Look, study, and go where thy nature leads thee, where thy will urges thee, where thy faculties guide thee. Obey no other consideration than thy free will, enlightened and determined by study, meditation, and reflection. Take no one for model; it is not examples we wish to present to thee. We shall give thee some elements from which thou wilt form for thyself an opinion; thou wilt create the body of ideas necessary to constitute thy person, ideological and moral; and we adjure thee to remember this: noble as may appear to thee a man's ideas, honorable as may appear his individuality, beautiful as may appear his life, beware of accepting his ideas before thou hast examined and weighed them, before knowing that they accord with thyself. The men who are going to speak to thee are convinced; beware of believing what they tell thee because of their convictions; create for thyself thine own individuality, develop thy critique, judge for thyself, and adopt that which thy informed reason counsels thee to adopt."
Is not this the only way to develop character, to form free and emancipated men; and the work which such an aim proposes, -is it not glorious? Yes, surely, it is an honor for Belgium to attempt it, a duty for all the independent to desire its success. Because of the name of Elisée Reclus, this university has been called the "Anarchist university." If they mean by this term that it will be a university in which every professor and every student will be amenable only to himself, a university where every opinion will have the right to manifest itself, where there will be no hierarchy of science, where every individual will be left to his independence and at the same time aided by the wisdom of all, then they are right in saying that the university is Anarchist, because it is not constituted as a State, submitted to chiefs, to creeds, to codes, and to laws. If, on the contrary, they mean by these words that the university will teach Communistic or Anarchistic dogmas, there is nothing to respond but that in so doing the university would fail in its object. That one would be able to explain what he meant by Anarchy,-assuredly, yes, and no one would be able to oppose him without denying the very principles which have directed the founders of the university; these principles imply that the Anarchistic doctrines have a right to manifest themselves scientifically, but they oppose the idea that the "École libre" may be a school of Anarchy. Besides, the names of the professors attest the diversity of ideas in the " Université Nouvelle ",-MM. Guillaume de Greef, Edmond Picard, de Roberty, Elisée Reclus, Elie Reclus, Fernand Brouez, and many others. One lien only unites these writers and these savants of so many and diverse ideas,-the love of science and the truth, the desire to communicate this love to the young intelligences which are opening themselves to thought. Is it not a sufficient lien to assure the success of the work which has grouped these men? When shall we have also in France a free university ? When shall we cease to knead brains, to create egotists, cowards, weaklings, and fools?
"LIBERTY" NOVEMBER, 30, 1895.