The revolution in China, so fraught with significance, overshadows all other events of the year. This is an era of revolutions, a time of ferment, but with the tottering of thrones and the crushing of idols, the revolution in China was the most unexpected of all. If any of our
far-sighted statesmen had been asked three months ago regarding the possibility of a republic in China, a dissertation on the processes of evolution with a disquisition on the superiority of the Occidental over the Oriental, would have been handed out in a manner most patronizing. Even the
advanced politicians, the Socialists, would have scoffed at the idea and would have advanced economic determinism to prove its utter impossibility. China is not an industrial nation; therefore, it is unreasonable to expect anything from her. To do so is to challenge the theory of Marx. Jumping from Feudalism to Republicanism seems rather startling to those of us suffering from the weight of a dead past and should bring home to us: first, that perhaps the Oriental is after all not inferior to the Occidental in intelligence and, second, that mankind does not always advance along beaten paths or by prescribed methods. We fear, however, this lesson will not be accepted by a great many. The trouble with the Occidental seems to be most of them are frightened out of their wits when they think there is an immediate possibility of their theories being realized. When an important event happens, a revolt in Italy in 1898, in Spain in 1909, a general strike in England, or even a McNamara case in America, men tumble over each other in their anxiety to declare that such methods are unsuited to their time and place, or that the time is not ripe for revolution. The real reason is, they fear the thing they advocate. In many cases it is a genuine fear of the conservative mind, in others it is the philistine spirit that has crept into the revolutionary movement and seeks to make capital out of it. The Chinese are going through the first now; the second will come later when the revolution is a success. After suffering from Manchu rule for two hundred and sixty-four years and admitting they number four hundred million to five million Manchus, there are Chinamen who are afraid the time is not ripe for a Republic!
The war between Italy and Turkey brings home once more the fact that the era of peace has not set in. It reminds us again that of all the hypocrisies of the present time none is quite so gross and vulgar as the cant about national honor. As we wrote at the time of the seizure of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria, we hold no brief for Turkey. If, however, such things as national honor or international law actually did prevail, despoilment of one nation by another would be impossible. International brigandage is a strong word and an overworked one; none other seems to fit the acts of Italy in Tripoli at the present time. Poor Garibaldi, is this what you and your gallant one thousand suffered and struggled for? To see that same people debauched and degraded as they are, is pitiable. The war is being fought on African soil; so the pinch must come to the inhabitants there instead of in Italy. We sincerely hope the Italians will soon suffer the reverses they so justly deserve, and the uprising that took place after the Abyssinia war will break out and cause a cessation of hostilities and the people wreak their vengeance upon those really responsible for their poverty.
Spain is still fermenting and the Ferrer agitation will not down. The unity of interests of exploiters has again been shown by the articles in L’Humanité on the conspiracy between the King of Spain and ex-King of Portugal to bombard Lisbon. How hollow all this talk of kings and rulers loving their native land appears to the student of politics! Bombard Lisbon, smash the capital city of my country to keep me and my Gaby on the throne! Verily the last resort of a king and a scoundrel is patriotism. Fortunately, it did not take place, and the Republic still stands and with it the hope that Alphonse will soon keep Manuel company at the court of St. James.
Syndicalism and sabotage, the two terrors of the French exploiters, have grown so fast the government has made an investigation. The Senate report has been commented on in our papers and, of course, with the hope that the Syndicates will be exterminated. Fortunately the government isn’t strong enough to crush them and it does not seem to be as successful in bribing their backers as in some other countries. When sabotage is resorted to by the Standard Oil Co., as Henry D. Lloyd pointed out some years ago, it is a different matter.
The year was ushered in by the tragedy at Tokyo, where the gallant Kotoku and his comrades were done to death by the powers that be. It is another illustration of the growth of radical ideas in the Far East. The spirit of liberty still lives in Japan and will continue in spite of his divinity, the Emperor. Lafcadio Hearn, the brillient Oriental scholar, wrote ten years ago to Prof. Chamberlain that none of the educated classes in Japan believed in the divinity of the Emperor. The latest news from that country is that the Elder Statesmen have just informed the Mikado that the majority of the Chinese people favor a republic. It must have given his divinity quite a jolt to realize that his time may also be quite near. An exiled Mikado to some European court would be quite a novelty.
The great strike in England has been so much written about, there is little for us to say. That it has had far-reaching results can be seen by the strikes it has caused and inspired. At this very moment there is a strike of cotton operatives threatened that will engage between one hundred and sixty thousand to three hundred thousand people. The whole trouble, if the press is to be believed, has been caused by the discharge of two men. When an entire district, or even several districts, can be affected by the discharge of two men, solidarity of the workers seems to be growing.
The struggle in Mexico is being dealt with in another part of the magazine, therefore we pass it over with the briefest kind of comment. It was, and according to those best informed, is a great struggle. Overshadowed for the time being by other events, it will not down; and we sincerely hope the near future may show the world that, far from being dead, it is very much alive.
The McNamara case, from the revolutionary standpoint easily the most important event that has happened in America during 1911, has been so much written about and is so recent it need not be discussed at length. The one thing of paramount importance to us is the fact that a class war is now openly admitted on all sides. A few years ago these men would have been unanimously denounced as common murderers. Times have changed since 1886, and while there have been cowardly
labor leaders to denounce them and pass resolutions in favor of hanging them, there have also been many in all walks of life to defend the brothers against these attacks. In 1887 men were hanged who were innocent of the charges made against them, and a howl of exultation went up all over the country. In 1911 men are sentenced to imprisonment who are, according to their own statement, guilty—and they find many defenders. This shows progress. THe one fact that stands out big and clear is that they were soldiers in a class war and fought the fight as best they knew. The pendulum will soon swing to the other extreme, and then these selfsame
labor leaders will fall over themselves in their anxiety to laud the men they now decry. It was ever thus, and we hope the McNamaras have sufficient faith in themselves to be strong and true. They have played their part and that part has once and for all stripped the mask from the liars and hypocrites. There is a class war in America, and the whole world knows it. This the McNamaras have accomplished; the air has been cleared, and while the labor movement may have a temporary setback, it will sift the wheat from the chaff and—small though the number may be—we feel sure some conscious revolutionists will be made by this sacrifice.
Verily the world is in a ferment, and the next twelve months may bring changes as great or even greater than the ones now going on in the world. One thing is certain, the year 1911 will be remembered long by historians as one of storm and strife, a necessary preliminary to a better and more just society.