Lucy E. Parsons
We Are All Anarchists
There is no picture so dark but has its bright side—no life so dreary but what at some time a ray of hope flits across its cheerless path. There is no movement so heinous (?) but to those engaged in it has its amusing side. But who can assume for one moment that the awful, horrible, anarchistic movement of “blood-drinking” anarchists can have any amusing side to it? How could such “fiends” ever smile? For after reading insinuations from the pulpit, assertions from the press, and “criticisms” from professional critics, to the average reader an avowed anarchistic society must be composed of beings somewhat resembling the human family, who hold orgies, which they designate as meetings; having been compelled to come in contact with the human race enough (just enough) to learn a few words of their language.
Places selected for holding said meetings (orgies) by these “anarchist fiends” are in keeping with all the rest of their diabolisms, inasmuch as they invariably select only places that are dark, dank and loathsome, where no light is ever permitted to penetrate, either of sunlight or intelligence. And at such appointed times and places these “hysterics of the labor movement” (for these “fiends” have deluded themselves into the belief that they have something in common with the labor movement) write their diabolical mandates upon grimy tables covered with bomb-slaughtered capitalists, these “fiends” having improved upon the capitalist method of starving said victims, and then taking their hides to make fine slippers for their daughters, etc.
And as these “foul conspirators” each in turn reaches a mangy hand under the table and takes therefrom a capitalistic infant’s skull, each slowly raises bloodshot eyes, fills said skull with sour beer, and clinks the same with some fellow- conspirator’s sour beer which is contained in the empty half of a dynamite bomb. At this signal, the whole crowd arise and straighten, as well as they can, their tatterdemalion forms, and with distended nostrils hiss from between clenched teeth, “blood!”
Now, I will ask the readers of The Advance and the reading public if the above picture is at all overdrawn when compared with articles from the press, both so-called religious and secular, and also of insinuations from the pulpit for the last few months, regarding that class of people designated anarchist?
The amusing part of this business to the average anarchist is just here—i.e., that we are being used just now as a kind of a bugaboo, a scarecrow to frighten the capitalists into certain concessions to their rebellious slaves, otherwise said slaves might become “anarchist fiends.” And this little game is being played for all its worth by certain labor “reformers” and especially by the church. But the capitalists don’t frighten a dollar’s worth.
In substantiation of a thousand illustrations coming under the observation of anarchists all the time, I need here but note a few, and these from the pulpit. The Rev. Hugh O. Pentecost, of the Congregational church, Newark, N.J., in his sermon entitled the “Henry George Solution of the Labor Problem,” as reported in the New York Standard, says:
If you say that Henry George is an anarchist, you will simply be exposing your own ignorance. A man who writes two or three books of a purely philosophical character is not an anarchist. A book is not an anarchist’s instrument. Before you pronounce judgment on a man you want to hear what that man has to say.
Wonder if the most Rev. D.D. has ever heard of Reclus, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Proudhon, Marx, Fourier and a host of other renowned anarchists who have written books of “a purely philosophical character”? From the same sermon I take this extract:
The Roman Catholic church has made a big mistake in opposing the Knights of Labor. I have studied the Knights of Labor for several years, and I have become convinced that the organization is one of the great bulwarks that stand between society and red-handed anarchism.
Does this reverend gentleman throw this out as sop to capitalists? Yes, “bulwarks,” “red-handed anarchism,” etc. Well, it won’t work, because the twenty-one demands of the Knights of Labor platform are an endeavor to supplant the present wage system by a system of cooperation and my dear friend, “red-handed anarchism,” where and when the wage system has ended. Every attempt of labor organizations to improve the condition of the wage-worker, is—when successful—a limitation of the capitalist’s power (authority) and a limitation of the severities of the wage-system.
The capitalist understands full well that his power consists solely of his privilege to dictate the terms and conditions to those who bring to him their commodity-labor-for-sale, and any organization, it matters not under what name, which attempts in any way to limit or deny this privilege, viz: the power of the possessing class over the non-possessing producing class, is met by the lockout, the blacklist, and when necessary, the policeman’s club and the militiaman’s bayonet. And this is all justified upon the right of the employer’s “conducting his business to suit himself.”
Now these are potent facts, which no one having eyes to see can deny, and to assume for one moment that capital and labor (or capitalists and laborers) have an identity of interest, is to assume that the purchaser and seller of a pair of boots have an identity of interest. The one has something to sell, the other to buy. The one’s interest is to get all he can, the other’s to give just as little as possible. And this commodity—labor—is controlled the same as any other article, viz: by the amount to be found in the market. Hence it is the capitalistic class always in all countries, who strive and manage to keep an army of laborers in compulsory idleness, to be moved around to take the place of any “kickers” in that very “bulwark” which is to stand between them and “red-handed anarchism.”
Again the reverend gentleman says:
The Knights of Labor imagine that they are tyrannized over, and once in a while they will do things no one will commend them for. It is this system. A great many think the troubles arise from employers. I know some that are as good as any men who walk the face of the earth. There are some hard-hearted employers, but they are not at the bottom of the trouble. It is on account of the system.
Yes, I presume it is only imagination (?) on the part of the K. of L. that they are “tyrannized over.” But it is the “system,” says the reverend gentleman, which is at fault. What more has any anarchist said? Evidently, the reverend gentleman, like many others, is an anarchist and doesn’t know it. But you just touch this beautiful wage system and see under what head capital will place you. And as to those “good employers,” so too there were good chattel slave masters, but what did that have to do with the system of chattel slavery, except to prolong its existence by having the good slave masters held up as shining examples to prove the harmony (?) existing between master and slave, which the horrible abolitionist would sever, just as is the case today with those relations between “good” employers and the wage-slaves, which the “red-handed anarchist” is seeking to destroy. But the anarchists simply answer with the Rev. D.D., “it is the system which is at fault.”
Well, if it is the system that is at the bottom of the trouble, then it certainly should follow to the average thinking person that the system must be changed. But this reverend gentleman durst not propose such a remedy to his congregation, else he might be set down as a “disturber of the peace,” just as though anything in the line of justice can be brought about unless the “peace” of established injustice is disturbed!
I will state briefly for the information of those who are so busily engaged just now in declaiming against the system and declaring they are not anarchists in the same breath, that our position is about this, to-wit: The wage-system having outgrown its usefulness, inasmuch as it creates famine in the midst of abundance, and makes slaves of nine-tenths of the human family, that it (the system) must go!
And having read history I can’t find any instance where the ruling classes have relinquished any “vested right” without compulsion. And knowing that private property in the means of existence is a “vested right” as much as any ever was or can be, it being upheld by the constitutions of all governments, backed by their powerful armies, we don’t believe the privileged class are going peaceably to surrender these “vested rights.”