An Open Letter to James F. Morton, Jr.

An Open Letter to James F. Morton, Jr.

When the resumption of Discontent makes it possible to give space to the matter, I intend to enter into a thoro discussion of the scope of philosophic Anarchy. Those writers for Free Society who have misinterpreted my position, may possibly learn it rests upon a broader foundation than they imagine.—J. F. Morton, Jr., in Lucifer.

Philosophic Anarchy! Is it possible that there are different kinds of Anarchy, and that some of us have failed to catch the superior article? I hope Comrade Morton will clearly define the difference so that we may be enabled to recognize a philosoph at the first glance. Without doubt it is a great damage to the cause that the disreputable ideal known the world over as Anarchy should be so promiscuously herded with philosophical Anarchy. It was this motive that actuated Comrade Livesey, of Sykesville, Md., when he, several months ago, scattered a circular far and wide trying to explain the difference.

The trouble with people is, declared the philosopher, that they fail to distinguish between the different types of Anarchists. There are the red Anarchists, to whom Most and Goldman belong, and there are the philosophical Anarchists, who never associate with the reds. And when Comrade Livesey vigorously protested against any laws repressing the philosophicals, he rather left the other type outside of the protest. Comrade Barnes, of Hindsboro, Ill. rebuked Livesey for taking such a position, and Livesey answered, We have to do this to work things around.

Here is a comrade who claims to be a philosoph, who boldly defends Jesuitism and expediency, and practises them. I think he considers this the best method; but as these methods mean an appeal to the passions and prejudices of men, they are always abortive of true progress. It is only thru appealing to man’s reason, sympathy, and courage that the movement against government advances.

Anarchism, as I understand it, is the philosophy of freedom,—the negation of authority. When we explain Anarchism we explain natural laws and principles the observance of which would build a human brotherhood in which government of man by man is abolished. Is the immortal word Anarchy, consecrated as it is by the blood of the innocent, the noble and true, so devoid of meaning that we must add the prefix philosophic? If so, perhaps in due time a suffix will be added also. In my estimation the latter would be no more out of place than the former is. Why should we add to the general confusion by drawing distinctions between those who have a common ideal, especially as no ground seems to exist for such distinction? So far I have never exchanged ideas with a comrade who could not intelligently explain why he thought government should be abolished. While it is true that men vary in ability to reason, no man deserves to be set apart from his fellows as a philosopher, for the simple fact that nearly all his knowledge is derived from his fellows, and even [3] the humblest savage or peasant is capable of teaching him something in regard to the things they best understand.

If Comrade Morton can broaden the comrades by explaining the difference between a philosophical Anarchist and an Anarchist, I for one am ready for the stretching process. It is not the scope we are asking for, but the difference.

There is but one more little matter that needs explaining, since Comrade Morton declares he has been misinterpreted. In Discontent, of March 26, was an Open Letter from the Home comrades to the postmaster general of the United States, in which among several questionable statements was the following: They [the Anarchists of Home] have no connection whatever with the revolutionary element. Will Comrade Morton reconcile this statement with the open and well known fact that the Home Anarchists propagate Anarchism thru the sale of the literature of the rovoluitonaryrevolutionary element, boldly advertising the same in Discontent down to its last issue? If the Anarchists at Home have no connection with the revolutionary element which numbers in its ranks such matchless minds as Kropotkin, Reclus, Malatesta, Jean Grave, Louise Michel, and the dead Bakunin, whose words still live and move the human mind to high endeavor; if they have no connection with the revolutionary women who have lived and died for the ideal of Anarchism, the cause of humanity—lived or died as circumstances required,—then all I have to say is that they are a lonesome crowd. You reason well as a general thing, James Morton. Please explain the why of your not being connected with the revolutionary element. But I would rather hear you say, I made a mistake, comrades, in denying that element; consulting expediency I lost the logic of my position. But if you are positive that you made no mistake, tell your critics why you have not erred in a statement that apparently contradicts the facts.

Kate Austin

Caplingers Mills, Mo.