On Picket Duty.
The Chicago Vorbote has appeared again, but with four pages instead of eight. Its appearance, however, by no means indicates a victory for the freedom of the press, for its editors doubtless realize that, if they pass certain limits in the expression of their opinions, their paper will be promptly suppressed, and are scrupulously avoiding this danger. Censorship, no less than suppression, is a denial of freedom.
The long delay in the issue of tihs number of Liberty was unavoidable. Another publishing house announced its intention of publishing a translation of
What's To Be Done? which obliged me to drop everything else and give all my time and energy to the immediate appearance and sale of my own edition. My efforts were rewarded. My book was the first on the market, the first edition was exhausted in four days, and the second is now ready.
Contributors whose articles have been waiting a long time, and publishers whose books and pamphlets have thus far gone unnoticed, must forgive me and be patient. That concrete ratiocinative process termed the
logic of events, to which my friend Lum is so prone to subordinate his own reason, has had a moderately strong grip on me for a few weeks past, and much matter that has been prepared for these columns I have been obliged (to use a printers' phrase) to
hang on the outside of the chases.
At the special session of the General Assembly, Knights of Labor, in Cleveland, there was a great hue and cry about an alleged combination or ring known as the Home Club, formed within District Assembly 49 of New York, with the purpose of obtaining the salaried offices of the order, the leading spirit in the conspiracy being Victor Drury. I know nothing about the Home Club, but I do know something about Victor Drury, and have no hesitation in saying that he is the leading spirit in no enterprise for the feathering of individual nests. If there lives a man who thoroughly despises filthy lucre, that man is Victor Drury.
Present the theory of Anarchy to an inquirer or argue it with an objector and, nine times out of ten, the first and last question asked you will be:
If there is no government, how will you run the railroads? With this question, and that of
Corporations generally, Charles T. Fowler deals very satisfactorily in the third number of his Sun, which, after some months of obscurity, has again made a rift in the clouds that darken the social horizon. Mr. Fowler shows how the people, by pooling their patronage, may practically control the railroads and secure their services at cost without the intervention of the State. This number contains a portrait of Wendell Phillips. An advertisement of it appears in Liberty's Library, from which it may be seen that I supply it at the same low price as its predecessors,—six cents for one copy and ten cents for two.
The communications in the present issue upholding Anarchists in joining the Knights of Labor ought to have been printed long ago. The question of compromise, upon which they hinge, has been discussed at such length in Liberty since they were written that I do not think it necessary to make further reply. If I could have chosen, I would have answered them directly, instead of indirectly and in advance, but circumstances having compelled the latter course, it does not seem best to repeat myself. I will only say to Mr. Lum that, if he thinks it justifiable to join the Knights of Labor with a mental reservation, resolved to work for certain parts of their platform and smile at the rest, his course is discountenanced by his G. M. W., Mr. Powderly. That functionary writes as follows to the secretary of the New England Lasters' Protective Union:
The man or woman who cannot cheerfully subscribe to the declaration of principles of the order of Knights of Labor cannot make a good member.
An idea for a cartoon, which Puck probably will not utilize: Grover Cleveland in the White House with his new and legal wife; to the right, in a companion picture, George Q. Cannon in a prison cell; to the left of the White House, Maria Halpin, Cleveland's illegal wife, and their illegitimate son, dwelling as social outcasts in an abode of wretchedness and want because wilfully abandoned by the husband and father; to the right of the prison, Cannon's illegal wives and illegitimate children, dwelling in an abode of wretchedness and want because the law has imprisoned the husband and father instead of allowing him to live with and protect them; on the walls of the White House, illuminated texts concerning the purity of the home and exclusiveness of love, taken from the president's message to congress on the Mormon question; on the walls of the prison cell, the constitutional amendment forbidding the passage of laws abridging religious freedom. Title for the cartoon:
Mormonism in Cleveland's eyes, like the tariff in Hancock's, a purely local question.
Tucker, the Boston Anarchist, says the editor of the Winsted Press,
calls Batterson's proposition to divide annually one-third of the net profits of his business among his employees, in addition to their regular wages, How little this editor knows about Anarchists! Why, I was
one of the foulest plots against industry ever hatched in the brain of a member of the robber class. It must not be expected that anything on earth or in the heavens will please an Anarchist.
tickled almost to death by his editorial on The Knights of Labor which stood by the side of the above paragraph in the same issue of the Press,—so pleased, in fact, that I print it in full in this number of Liberty. And if he will present his readers in my own language the reasons why I consider Batterson's proposition a foul plot against industry, I shall be better pleased still. Just a little fairness will please an Anarchist every time. True, he finds this a scarce commodity at present, both
on earth and in the heavens above. Up to this point I had written a few weeks ago. Since then, I have seen so much in the Press that was kind and fair to Anarchism that I am bound to exonerate the editor from any intention to be unfair at any time, and so much that was soundly Anarchistic that I have strong hopes of seeing him become an out-and-out Anarchist himself.
Le Révolté having announced the abandonment of the attempt to publish the London Anarchist with a new programme, I supposed the latter journal had given up the ghost, and I was congratulating the cause that Mr. Seymour would now have a chance to pursue the studies which I lately recommended to him. But in a few days along came the Anarchist, and I found that it was not dead, but had only
flopped again,—this time from Communism to Communistic-Anarchism, if anybody knows what that is (Mr. Seymour is quite right in saying that I do not). The only outward sign betrayed by this latest feature in the programme of our lightning-change artist is the substitution of signed for anonymous articles, the anonymous plan having been adopted a month before in obedience to the teachings of Communism. Mr. Seymour now says that
the collective editorship, while looking very well in theory, hasn't proved so very well in practice, and he makes disparaging remarks in reference to
certain advocates of our ideas who forsake titles and names and responsibilities in the revolutionary press, yet trade on all these when writing for the bourgeois press. From all of which I infer that Prince Kropotkine and Mr. Seymour have had a few words and parted. Referring to my criticisms, Mr. Seymour writes:
Liberty says I have abandoned liberty in embracing Communism. This is untrue. I have embraced Communistic-Anarchism, but by no means Communism. I am an Anarchist at least as entirely as ever. But a few inches lower down he writes:
Le Révolté has yet to learn that the Thus Mr. Seymour confesses that the new programme was anti-Anarchist to some extent, a fact which, in answering me, he had just denied. He invites me to
new programme, in so far as it was anti-Anarchist only, has been abandoned.
cross swords with him. What need have I to cross swords with a man who crosses swords thus deftly with himself? I leave him with the remark of one of my friends:
Seymour is rapidly qualifying for the position of clown to the Anarchistic movement.