The Nub of It All

The Nub of It All.

When I am mentally plumb sober, I stand for radicalism, the whole of radicalism, and nothing but radicalism. But now and then the temptation to be seduced into faith in the possible virtue of pretentious superficial movements, having no sound radical basis, but imposing in numbers, noise, and passing respectability, gets something of a hold on me. When this sensational will o' the wisp has suddenly vanished as quickly as it came, I sober back into the standing conviction that all essential reform must develop out of an understanding of the true roots of social evil.

Two months ago the Knights of Labor and the trades unions were in full blast. A couple of millions of workingmen were on their nerve, and society seemed to be captured by their demands. But suddenly the whole movement seemed to have been seized with cramps. It lost its soul, if it ever had any; brains it had persistently repudiated. Its claim to public interest seemed to have rested on no more substantial a plane than sensation. When that had used itself up, the people put it away from them, as they did Pinafore and the Mikado. It subsided like a penny candle and is seized with its final flickerings.

The cause of this humiliating skulking back of workingmen into their holes is plain as daylight. As soon as Powderly had shown himself a skunk (possibly a traitor) who had no settled principles save fidelity to Romanism and law and order, the signal was ready for those legalized mobs known as courts of law to set upon the strikers, boycotters, and other active protestants, and, by making examples of them, frighten away what little spirit there was left in the organizations. Fortunately for the capitalistic tyrants, the episode of Most and the Chicago Anarchists coƶperated to chill public sympathy for labor, and so the empty and pretentious bubble which had been parading as organized labor ignominiously fizzled.

But the point of main interest to scientific Anarchists is that, as soon as the law took a hand in this business, the so-called intelligent American workingman was morally, mentally, and physically routed. He saw strikers and boycotters arrested for conspiracy and had nothing to say, for the law did it. He saw men brutally treated by the police and court officers, and dared not open his mouth, for it was the mob sanctified in law. Wherever the law spoke, he was dumb.

What an unequivocal proof resides in this ridiculous fiasco of organized labor that it is useless to hope for substantial progress in equity till enough solid sense is gotten into the heads of the masses to make them understand that legalized mobbing and violence are no more respectable than any other; that those commands of the irresponsible agents of despotism called laws rest upon no moral basis, and are only possible of execution through an exercise of the very violence which they assume to provide against.

It is the abolition of the State, after all, that underlies all social emancipation. This abolition we do not propose to bring about by violence, for that is the very thing we protest against in the imposition called law. The abolition we contemplate shall come of the abolition of ignorance and servile superstition in the masses, to the end that by a gradual desertion of the ballot-boxes and a refusal of the people to voluntarily touch any of the foul machinery of the lie called government, tyrants shall yet be compelled to survive or perish solely on their own merits, at their own cost, and on their own responsibility. This process is already in settled operation, and all the powers of authority, fraud, and sanctified violence can neer stay it. Anarchism has come to stay.