Albert R. Parsons on Anarchy (1887)

“In the effort of the prosecution to hold up our opinions to public execration they lost sight of the charge of murder. Disloyalty to their class, and their boasted civilization is in their eyes a far greater crime than murder.

“Anarchy, in the language of Grinnell, is simply a compound of robbery, incendiarism and murder. This is the official statement of Mr. Grinnell, and against his definition of anarchy I would put that of Mr. Webster. I think that is pretty near as good authority as that gentleman’s.

“What is anarchy? What is the nature of the dreadful thing-this anarchy, for the holding of which this man says we ought to suffer death?

“The closing hours of this trial, yes, for five days the representatives of a privileged. usurped power and of despotism sought to belie, misrepresent, and vilify the doctrine in which I believe. Now, Sir, let me speak of that for a moment.

“What is anarchism? What is it–what are its doctrines?

“General Parsons–for which you are called upon to die.

“Mr. Parsons–For which I am called upon to die. First and foremost it is my opinion, or the opinion of an anarchist, that government is despotism; government is an organization of oppression, and law, statute law is its agent. Anarchy is anti-government, anti-rulers, anti-dictators, anti-bosses and drivers. Anarchy is the negation of force; the elimination of all authority in social affairs; it is the denial of the right of domination of one man over another. It is the diffusion of rights, of power, of duties, equally and freely among all the people.

“But anarchy, like many other words, is defined in Webster’s dictionary as having two meanings. In one place it is defined to mean, ‘without rulers or governors.’ In another place it is defined to mean, ‘disorder and confusion.’ This latter meaning is what we call ‘capitalistic anarchy,’ such as is now witnessed in all portions of the world and especially in this court-room; the former, which means without rulers, is what we denominate communistic anarchy, which will be ushered in with the social revolution.

“Socialism is a term which covers the whole range of human progress and advancement. Socialism is defined by Webster–I think I have a right to speak of this matter, because I am tried here as a socialist I am condemend as a socialist, and it has been of socialism that Grinnell and these men had so much to say, and I think it right to speak before the country, and be heard in my own behalf, at least. If you are going to put me to death, then let the people know what it is for. Socialism is defined by Webster as ‘A theory of society which advocates a more precise, more orderly, and more harmonious arrangement of the social relations of mankind that has hitherto prevailed.’ Therefore everything in the line of progress, in civilization in fact, is socialistic. There are two distinct phases of socialism in the labor movement throughout the world to-day. One is known as anarchism, without political government or authority, the other is known as state socialism or paternalism, or governmental control of everything. The state socialist seeks to ameliorate and emancipate the wage laborers by means of law, by legislative enactments. The state socialist demand the right to choose their own rulers. Anarchists would have neither rulers nor law-makers of any kind. The anarchists seek the same ends by the abrogation of law, by the abolition of all government, leaving the people free to unite or disunite as fancy or interest may dictate; coercing no one, driving no party.

“Now, sir, we are supported in this position by a very distinguished man indeed, no less a man than Buckle, the author of ‘The History of Civilization.’ He states that there have been two opposing elements to the progress of civilization of man. The first of these two is the church, which commands what a man shall believe. And the other is the state, which commands him what to do. Buckle says that the only good laws passed in the last three or four hundred years have been laws that repealed other laws. That is the view exactly of anarchists. Our belief is that all these laws should be repealed, and that is the only good legislation that could possibly take place.

“Now, law is license, and consequently despotic. A legal enactment is simply something which authorizes somebody to do something for somebody else that he could not do were it not for the statute. Now then the statute is the divestment and the denial of the right of another, and we hold that to be wrong; we consider that the invasion of a man’s natural right. Mark you, we do not object to all laws: The law which is in accordance with nature is good. The Constitution of the United States, when it guarantees me the right of free speech, a free press, of unmolested assemblage, and the right of self-defense, why–your Constitution of the United States is good, because it sanctions it. Why? Because it is in conformity with natural law. It don’t require any statute law to provide such a safeguard as that. That is inalienable, and it is a natural right, inherited by the very fact of my existence, and the mere fact that it is embraced in the Constitution does not make it any more sacred at all. On the contrary it shows how foolish it is to do by constitution that which kind mother nature has already freely and graciously done for us. The more we are governed the less we are free. I do not believe your honor will deny that.

“The law-abiding citizen–especially if be is called upon to do something, you understand, under a law that enslaves him, is an uncomplaining slave to the power that governs him. Imagine a chattel slave down south who was law-abiding, who was obedient; what does that mean? That means he did not have any objections, he did not have anything to say against the law that makes him another man’s slave. Now, the workingman to-day in this country who says nothing, who makes no objection to any of these enactments, with no protest at all against these infamous things that are practiced by legislation, that workingman is a law-abiding, obedient workingman. He is a nice, quiet, peaceful, genteel citizen.

“Anarchists are not that kind. We object to those laws. Whether the government consists of one over the million, or a million over one, an anarchist is opposed to the rule of majorities as well as minorities. If a man has a right, he has that right, whether that right is denied by a million or by one. Right is right, and the majority that sets itself up to dictate to minorities, they simply transform themselves into tyrants, they become usurpers; they deny the natural right of their fellow men. Now, sir, this will put an end to the law factory business. What would become of your law-makers? Why a human law-maker, in my humble judgment, is a human humbug. Yes, sir, and I believe that these law-factories that we have throughout the country, the legislatures of our states and the Union, where they manufacture laws; just as we go to a factory to manufacture a pair of boots–why, your honor, the same pair of boots won’t fit every man; how can you a make a law that will apply to the individnal cases of each one?

“Now, your honor, I suppose that you would hold, like they did in the days of old–I don’t know whether you will or not, but there are some men who would hold that a man who- would adhere to these kind of opinions ought to die. That this world has got no use for him. Well, that remains to be seen.

“The natural and the imprescriptible right of all is the right of each to control oneself. Anarchy is a free society where there is no concentrated or centralized power, no state, no king, no emperor, no ruler, no president, no magistrate, no potentate of any character whatever. Law is the enslaving power of man. Blackstone defines the law to be a rule of action. I believe that is it. Colonel Foster, I would like to ask your opinion if that quotation is correct? Blackstone describes the law to be a rule of action, prescribing what is right and prohibiting what is wrong. Now, very true. Anarchists hold that it Is wrong for one person to prescribe what is the right action for another person, and then compel that person to obey that rule. Therefore, right action consists in each person attending to his business and allowing everybody else to do likewise.

“Whoever prescribes a rule of action for another to obey is a tyrant, usurper, and an enemy of liberty. This is precisely what every statute does. Anarchy is the natural law, instead of the man-made statute, and gives men leaders in the place of drivers and bosses. All political law, statute and common, gets its right to operate from the statute; therefore all political law is statute law. A statute law is a written scheme by which cunning takes advantage of the unsuspecting, and provides the inducement to do so, and protects the one who does it. In other words, a statute is the science of rascality, or the law of usurpation. If a few sharks rob mankind of all the earth, turn them all out of house and home, make them ragged slaves and beggars, and freeze and starve them to death, still they are expected to obey the statute because it is sacred. This ridiculous nonsense that human laws are sacred, and that if they are not respected and continued we cannot prosper, is the stupidest and most criminal nightmare of the age. Statutes are the last and greatest curse of man, and when destroyed the world will be free. The statute book is a book of laws by which one class of people can safely trespass upon the rights of another. Every statute law is always used to oppose some natural law, or to sustain some other equally vicious statute. The statute is the great science of rascality by which alone the few trample upon and enslave the many. There are natural laws provided for every want of man. Natural laws are self-operating. They punish all who violate them, and reward all who obey them. They cannot be repealed, amended, dodged or bribed, and it costs neither time, money nor attention to apply them. It is time to stop legislating against them. We want to obey laws, not men, nor the tricks of men. Statutes are human tricks. The law–the statute law–is the coward’s weapon, the tool of the thief, and more the shield and buckler of every gigantic villany, and frightful parent of all crimes. Every great robbery that was ever perpetrated upon a people has been by virtue of and in the name of law. By this tool of thieves the great mass of the people who inhabit our planet have been robbed of their equal right to the use of the soil and of all other natural opportunities. In the name of this monster (statute law) large sections of our race have been bought and sold as chattels; by it the vast majority of the human race are to-day held in the industrial bondage of wage-slavery, and in its name our fair earth has been times without number deluged in human blood. By the instrumentality of this tool, cowards and thieves, tyrants and usurpers, are robbing their fellows of their substance, despoiling them of their natural rights, and depriving them of liberty. Man’s legal rights are everywhere in collision with man’s natural rights; hence the deep-rooted and wide-spread unrest of modern civilization. The only sacred right of property is the natural right of the workingman to the product, which is the creation of his labor. The legal right of the capitalist to rent and interest and profit is the absolute denial of the natural right of labor. Free access to the means of production is the natural right to labor. Free access to the means of production is the natural right of every man able and willing to work. It is the legal right of the capitalist to refuse such access to labor, and to take from the laborer till the wealth he creates over and above a bare subsistence for allowing him the privilege of working.

“A laborer has the natural right to life, and as life is impossible without the means of production the equal right to life involves an equal right to the means of production. The legal right of the capitalist is virtually the assertion that one man has a greater right to life than another man, since it denies the equality of natural conditions. Our present social system, therefore, is based upon the legalization of robbery, slavery and murder. The laborer who does not get more than a bare subsistence as the fruit of his toil is robbed. The laborer who is forced to beg for work, and has to accept it on any terms or starve, is a slave. The laborer who, being unable to got work, but who in turn has too much manhood to beg, steal or become a pauper, is by the refined process of slow starvation murdered.

“Laws–just laws–natural laws–are not made, they are discovered. Law enancting is an insult to divine intelligence, and law enforcing is the impeachment of God’s integrity and His power. I make, as an anarchist, this declaration for the benefit of our christian ministry, who, while professing loyalty for God’s laws, never forget to pray and work for the supremacy of man’s laws and man’s government. Those pious frauds who profess their faith in the ‘power’ of God, while they employ the police, the militia and other armed hirelings to enforce their man-madelaws and maintain their I power’ over their fellow men. Oh, consistency, indeed thou art a jewel! These hypocrites, who always did, and do today, employ brute force to compel their follow men to obey and serve them, while they whine and snivel behind their sanctimonious masks about, their ‘love for man and the power of God.’ I hope some of them will preach in their pulpits next Sunday morning on this topic.

“In the opinion of an anarchist, the sum total of human ills is expressed in one word–authority. The economic regulates and controls the social status of man; the mode and manner of procuring our livelihood affects our whole life; the all-pervading cause is economic, not political; moral or religious; and social institutions of every kind and degree result from, grow out of, and are created by the economic or industrial regulations of society. Every human being, consciously or unconsciously, is affected and controlled by it in what they think, or say, or do. There is no escape, no evasion from its consequences. It is logic. It is cause and effect. Evil exists on every hand; the well-disposed, philanthropic, and generous, and the good, seek relief from these evil influences by moral suasion, by self-denial, by religion, by politics, etc., etc., but in vain, in vain! The evils remain, and not only remain, but grow worse and worse. Why, if the fountain is corrupt, can the stream be pure? If the cause remains, must not the effects follow? Jails, judges and executioners, police, armies and navies, pestilence, misery and ignorance and debauchcry, and evils of all kinds of high and low degree, all flow from one fountain. That flowing fountain of human woe is the economic or industrial subjection and enslavement of man to man. Every human ill is produced by the denial or violation of man’s natural rights, or by the neglect or refusal, of man to conform his life to the requirements of nature. Wickedness, wretchedness, ignorance, vice, crime, poverty, are the penalties which nature inflicts upon her disobedient children. The natural man is a happy man. He is virtuous and rich; truly so. Whoever violates the right of another, sooner or later punishes himself. Nature is inexorable. From her penalty there is no escape. But in a court of law-of so-called ‘justice’–if you are a member of the Citizen’s Association, or if you have a big bank account, in other words, if you are a member of the propertied class, you crawl out of anything you want to, for law is for sale; that is to say, whoever can purchase the lawyers, stock the jury and bribe the court can win. There is only one law for the poor, to wit: Obey the rich.

“The existing economic system has placed on the markets for sale man’s natural rights. What are these rights? Well, among the many I will enumerate one or two. The right to live, for instance, is an inalienable right. So too, is the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now, how can I possess these rights and enjoy them, when the very conveniences of life and the means for their procurement are owned by and belong to another?

“Shakespeare makes Shylock say at the bar of the Venetian court, ‘You do take my life when you take the means whereby I live.’ Now, the means of life are monopolized; the necessary means for the existence of all has been appropriated and monopolized by a few. The land, the implements of production and communication, the resources of life, are now held as private property, and its owners exact tribute from the propertyless. In this way the privileged class become millionaires. They deny the equal right of every one to freely use our natural inheritance, the earth. The denial of that right is death to whom it is denied. The right to live is made a privilege by law, granted by law, which is granted or denied by the possessor to the disposessed. Human rights are for sale, ‘If thou wilt not work, neither shaft thou eat,’ says the scripture. This finds immunity, however, among those who can pay for it. Those who work eat not; and those who eat work not. They do not have to; they hire some hungry, poor devil to do the work for them. The hired man–the hired man whom the capitalist press gloats on the idea of, and whom the pious frauds declare is the dispensation of divine providence, whom we will always have among us is a social fungus, the outgrowth of a rotten, corrupt industrial regime.

“In conclusion I will say, compulsion is slavery, and those disinherited of their natural rights must hire out and serve and obey the oppressing class or starve. There is no other alternative. Some things are priceless, chief among which are life and liberty. A freeman is not for sale or for hire.

“You accuse the anarchists of using or advising the use of force; it is false. ‘Out of your own mouth you stand condemned.’ The present existing state of society is based upon and maintained by and perpetuated by force, This capitalistic system that we have to-day would not exist twenty-four hours if it were not held together by the bayonets and the clubs of the militia and police. No, sir, it would not! Now, sir, we object to this. We protest against it. But you accuse us, or the prosecution ere accuses us, of that very thing which they themselves are guilty of. It is the old, old story of Aesop’s fable, the lamb standing in the water and the wolf above him; he looks up; the water has run down, the wolf stands stands above him; he looks down toward the lamb, and says he, ‘Ho, there! you are making the water muddy.’ The lamb observes, ‘My friend, I am below you in the stream.’ ‘That don’t matter; you are my meat, anyhow.’ And he goes for him and eats him up. That is just the way of the capitalist toward the anarchist. You are doing the very thing you accuse us of, and against which we protest. Now any institution that is based upon force is self-condemned; it does not need any argument, in my opinion, to show it.

“The political economy that prevails was written to justify the taking of something for nothing, it was written to hide the blushes of the rich when they look into the faces of the poor. These are they who brand anarchy as a compound of ‘incendiarism, robbery and murder;’ these are they who despoil the people; they love power and bate equality; they who dominate, degrade and exploit their fellow men, they who employ brute force, violence and wholesale murder, to perpetuate and maintain their privileges.

“This labor question is not a question of emotion; the labor question is not a question of sentiment; it is not a religious matter; it is not a political problem; no, sir, it is a stern economic fact, a stubborn and immovable fact. It has, it is true, its emotional phase; it has its sentimental, religious, political aspects, but the sum total of this question is the bread and butter question, the bow and wherefore we will live and earn our daily bread. And until the right of existence is settled upon the basis of equal and perfect liberty to all, there will never be peace among men. This is the labor movement, It has a scientific basis. It is founded upon fact.

“Labor is a commodity and wages is the price paid for it. The owner of this commodity–of labor–sells it, that is himself, to the owner of capital in order to live. Labor is the expression of energy, the power of the laborer’s life. This energy of power be must sell to another person in order to live. It is his only means of existence. He works to live, but his work is not simply a part of his life; it is the sacrifice of it. His labor is a commodity which under the guise of free labor, he is forced by necessity to hand over to another party. The reward of the wage laborer’s activity is not the product of his labor–far from it. The silk he weaves, the palace he builds, the ores he digs from out the mines–are not for him –oh, no. The only thing he produces for himself is his wage, and the silk, the ores and the palace which he has built are simply transformed for him into a certain kind of means of existence, namely, a cotton shirt, a few pennies, and the mere tenantcy of a lodging-house. In other words, his wages represent the bare necessities of his existence, and the unpaidfor or ‘surplus’ portion of his labor product constitutes the vast superabundant wealth of the non-producing or capitalist class. That is the capitalist system. It is the capitalist system that creates these classes, and it is these classes that produces this conflict. This conflict intensifies as the power of the privileged classes over the non-possessing or propertyless classess increases and intensifies, and this power increases as the idle few become richer and the producing many become poorer, and this produces what is called the labor movement. Wealth is power, poverty is weakness. If I had time I might answer some suggestions that probably arise in the minds of some persons not familiar with this question. I imagine I hear your honor say, ‘Why, labor is free. This is a free country.’ Now, we had in the southern states for nearly a century a form of labor known as chattel slave labor. That has been abolished, and I hear you say that labor is free; that the war has resulted in establishing free labor allover America. Is ths true? Look at it. The chattel slave of the past–the wage slave of to-day; what is the difference? The master selected under chattel slavery his own slaves. Under the wage slavery system the wage slave selects his master.

“Formerly the master selected the slave; to-day the slave selects his master and be has got to find one or else he is carried down here to my friend, the goaler, and occupy a cell along side of myself. He is compelled to find one. So the change of the industrial system, in the language of Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the southern confederacy, in an interview with the New York Herald upon the question of the chattel slave system of the south and that of the so-called ‘free laborer,’ and their wages– Jefferson Davis has stated positively that the change was a decided benefit to the former chattel slave owners who would not exchange the new system of wage labor at all for chattel labor, because now the dead had to bury themselves and the sick take care of themselves, and now they don’t have to employ overseers to look after them. They give them a task to do–a certain amount to do. They say: ‘Now, here, perform this piece of work in a certain length of time,’ and it you don’t (under the wage system, says, Mr. Davis), why, when you come around for your pay next Saturday, you simply find in the envelope containing your money, a note which informs you of the fact that you have been discharged. Now, Jefferson ]Davis admitted in his statement that the leather thong dipped in salt brine, for the chattel slave, bad been exchanged under the wage slave system for the lash of hunger, an empty stomach and the ragged back of the wage-slave, who, according to the census of the United States for 1880, constitute more than nine-tenths of our entire population. But you say the wage, slave has advantage over the chattel slave. The chattel slave couldn’t got away from it. Well, if we bad the statistics, I believe it could be shown that as many chattel slaves escaped from bondage with the bloodhound-, of their masters after them as they tracked their way over the snow-beaten rocks of Canada, and via the underground grapevine road–I believe the statistics would show to-day that as many chattel slaves escaped from their bondage under that system as could, and as many as do escape to-day from wage bondage into capitalistic liberty. I am a socialist, I am one of those, although myself a wage slave, who holds that it is wrong, wrong to myself, wrong to my neighbor and unjust to my fellowmen, for me, wage slave that I am, to undertake. to make my escape from wage slavery by becoming a master. I refuse to do it, I refuse equally to be a slave or the owner of slaves. Had I chosen another path in life, I might be upon the avenue of the city of Chicago to-day, surrounded in my beautiful home with luxury and ease and slaves to do my bidding, But I chose the other road, and instead I stand here, today upon the scaffold. This is my crime. Before high heaven this and this alone is my crime. I have been false, I have been untrue, and I am a traitor to the infamies that exist to-day in capitalistic society. If this is a crime in your opinion I plead guilty to it. Now, be patient with me; I have been with you, or rather, I have been patient with this trial. Follow me, if you please, and look at the impressions of this capitalistic system of industry. Every new machine that comes into existence comes there as a competitor with the man of labor. Every machine under the capitalistic system that is introduced into industrial affairs comes is it competitor, as a drag and menace and a prey to the very existence of those who have to sell their labor in order to earn their bread. The man is turned out to starve and whole occupations and pursuits are revolutionized and completely destroyed by the introduction of machinery, in a day, in an hoar as it were. I have known it to be the case in the history of my own life–and I am yet a young man that whole pursuits and occupations have been wiped out or revolutionized by the invention of machinery.

“What becomes of these people? Where are they? Tons of thousands are thrown out of employment, and they become competitors of other laborers and are made to reduce wages and increase the work hours. Many of them are candidates for the gibbet, they are candidates for your prison cells. Buld more penitentiaries; erect new scaffolds, for these men are upon the highway of crime, of misery, of death. Your bonor, there never was ect without a cause. The tree is known by its fruit.

Socialists are rot those who blindly close their eyes and refuse to look, and who refuse to hear, but having eyes to see, they see, and having cars to hear, they hear. Look at this capitalistic system; look at its operation upon the small dealers, the middle class. Bradstreet’s Commercial Statistics tells us in last year’s report that there were 11,000 small business men financially destroyed the past twelve months. What became of those people? Where are they, and why have they been wiped out? Has there, been any less wealth? No; that which they had possessed has simply transferrod itself into the hands of some other parson. Whoisthatother? It is he who has greater capitalistic facilities. It is the monopolist, the man who can run corners, who can create rings and squeeze these men to death and wipe them out like dead flies from the table into his monopolistic basket. The middle classes, destroyed in this manner, join the ranks of the proletariat. They become what? They seek out the factory gate, they seek in the various occupations of wage labor for employment. What is the result? Then there are more men upon the market. This increases the number of those who axe applying for employment. What then? This intensifies the competition, which in turn creates greater monopolists, and with it wages go down until the starvation point is reached, and then what?

“Socialism comes to the people and asks them to look into this thing, to discuss it, to reason, to examine it, to investigate it, to know the facts , because it is by this, and this alone, violence will be prevented and blood’ shed will be avoided, because, as my friend here has said, men in their blind rage, in their ignorance, not knowing what ails them, knowing that they are hungry, that they are miserable and destitute, strike blindly and do as they did with Maxwell here, and fight the labor-saying machinery. Imagine such an absurd thing, and yet the capitalistic press has taken great pains to say that socialists do these things; that we fight machinery; that we fight poverty. Why, sir, it is an absurdity; it is ridiculous; it is preposterous. No man ever heard an utterance from the mouth of a socialist to advise anything of the kind. They know to the contrary. We don’t fight machinery; we don’t oppose these things. It is only the mariner and methods of employing it that we object to. That is all. It is the manipulation of these things in the interests of a few; it is the monopolization of them that we object to. We desire that all the forces of nature, all the forces of society, of the gigantic strength which has resulted from the combined intellect and labor of the ages of the past shall be turned over to man, and made his servant, his obedient slave forever. This is the object of socialism. It asks no one to give up anything, It seeks no harm to anybody. But, when we witness this condition of things, when we see little children huddling around the factory gates, the poor little things whose bones are not yet hard; when we see them clutched from the hearthstone, taken from the family altar, and carried to the bastiles of labor and their little bones ground up into gold dust to bedeck the form of some aristocratic Jezebel, then it stirs me and I speak out. We plead for the little ones; we plead for the helpless; Nye plead for the oppressed, we seek redress for those who are wronged; we seek knowledge and intelligence for the ignorant; we seek liberty for the slave; socialism secures the welfare of every human being.It The evil effects of our existing social system naturally flow from the established social relations, which are founded upon the economic subjection and dependence of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means, Of labor–the resources of life. All the ills that afflict society–social miseries, mental degradations, political dependence–all result from the economic subjection and dependence of the man of labor upon the monopolizer of the means of existence; and as long as the cause remains the effect must certainly follow. Seventy-five per cent. of the farms of America are to-day under mortgage. The man -who a few years ago owned the soil that he worked, is to-day a tenant at will. A mortgage is placed upon his soil , and when he, the farmer whose hand tickles the earth and causes it to blossom as the rose and bring forth its rich fruits for human sustenance–even while this man is asleep the interest upon the mortgage continues. it grows and it increases, rendering it more and more difficult for him to get along or make his living. In the meantime the railway corporations place upon the traffic all that the market will bear. The board of trade sharks run their corners until- what? Until it occurs, as stated in the Chicago Tribune about three months ago, that a freight train of corn from Iowa consigned to a commission merchant in Chicago, had to be sold for less than the cost of freight. The frieghtage upon that corn was three dollars more than the corn brought in the market So it is with the tenant farmers of America. Your honor, we do not have to go to Ireland to find the evils of landlordism We, do not have to dross the Atlantic ocean to find Lord Leitrim’s rackrenters–land- who evict their tenants. We have them all around us. There is Ireland right here in Chicago and everywhere else in this country. Look at Bridgeport where the Irish live! Look! Tenants at will, huddled together as State’s Attorney Grinnell calls them, like rats; living as they do in Dublin, living precisely as they do in Limerick-taxed to death, unable to meet the extortions of the landlord.

“We were told by the prosecution that law was on trial; that government was on trial; that anarchy was on trial. That is what the gentlemen on the other side stated to the jury. The law is on trial, and government is on trial. Well, up to near the conclusion of this trial we, the defendants, supposed that we were indicted and being tried for murder. Now, if the law is on trial, and the government is on trial, and anarchy is on trial, who has placed it upon trial? And I leave it to the people of America whether the prosecution in this case have made out a case; and I charge it here now frankly that in order to bring about this conviction the prosecution, the representatives of the state, the sworn officers of the law, those whose obligation it is to the people to obey the law and preserve order–I charge upon them a willful, a malicious, a purposed violation of every law which guarantees every right to every American citizen. They have violated free speech. In the prosecution of this case they have violated a free press. They have violated the right of public assembly. yeah, they have even violated and denounced the right of self-defense. 1. charge the crime home to them. These great bloodbought rights, for which our forefathers spent centuries of struggle, they have violated and betrayed and we, who defend these rights, it is attempted to run like rats into a hole by the prosecution in this case. Why, gentlemen, law is upon trial; government is upon trial, indeed. Yea, they are themselves guilty of the precise thing of which they accuse me. They say that I am an anarchist, and refuse to respect the law. ‘By their works ye shall know them,’ and out of their own mouths they stand condemned. They are the real anarchists in this case, while we stand upon the constitution of the United States. I have violated no law of this country. Neither I nor my colleagues here have violated any legal right of American citizens. We stand upon the right of free speech, free press, of public assemblage, unmolested and undisturbed. We stand upon the constitutional right of self-defense, and we defy the prosecution to rob the people of America of these dearly bought rights. But the prosecution imagines that they have triumphed because they propose to put to death seven men. Seven men to be exterminated in violation of law, because they insist upon the rights guaranteed them by the constitution. Seven men are to be exterminated because they demand the right of free speech and exercise it. Seven men by this court of law are to be put to death because they claim their right of self-defense. Do you think, gentlemen of the prosecution, that you will have settled the case when you are carrying my lifeless bones to the potter’s field? Do you think that this trial will be settled by my strangulation and that of my colleagues? I tell you that there is a greater verdict yet to be heard from. The American people will have something to say about this attempt to destroy their rights, which they hold sacred. The American people will have something to say as to whether or not the Constitution of The United States can be trampled under foot at the dictation of monopoly.

*                          *                         *                         *                         *

“We are charged with being the enemies of ‘law and order,’ as breeders of strife and confusion. Every conceivable bad name and evil design was imputed to us by the lovers of power and haters of freedom and equality. Even the workingmen in some instances, caught the infection and many of them joined in the capitalistic hue and cry against the anarchists. Being satisfied of ourselves that our purpose was a just one, we worked on undismayed, willing to labor and to wait, for time and events to justify our cause. We began to allude to ourselves as anarchists and that name which was at first imputed to us as a dishonor, we came to cherish and defend with pride. What’s in a name? But names sometimes express ideas; and ideas are everything, What, then, is our offense, being anarchists? The word anarchy is derived from the two Greek words an, signifying no, or without, and arche, government; hence anarchy means no government. Consequently anarchy means a condition of society which has no king, emperor, president or ruler of any kind. In other words anarchy is the social administration of all affairs by the people themselves; that is to say, self-government, individual liberty. Such a condition of society denies the right of majorities to rule over or dictate. to minorities. Though every person in the world agree upon a certain plan and only one objection thereto, the objector would, under anarchy, berespected in his natural right to go his own way? And when such person is thus held responsible by all the rest for the violation of the inherent right of any one how then can injustice flourish or right triumph? For the greatest good to the greatest number anarchy substitutes the equal right of each and every one. The natural law is all sufficient for every purpose, every desire and every human being. The scientist then becomes the natural leader, and is accepted as the only authority among men. Whatever can be demonstrated will by self interest be accepted, otherwise rejected. The great natural law of power derived alone from association and co-operation will of necessity and from selfishness be applied by the people in the production and distribution of wealth, and what the trades unions and labor organizations seek now to do, but are prevented from doing because of obstructions and coercions, will under perfect liberty–anarchy–come easiest to hand. Anarchy is the extension of the boundaries of liberty until it covers the whole range of the wants and aspirations of man-not men, but man.

“Power is might, and might always makes its own right. Thus in the very nature of things, might makes itself right whether or no. Government, therefore, is the agency or power by which some person or persons govern or rule other persons, and the inherent right to govern is found wherever the power or might to do so is manifest. In a natural state, intelligence of necessity control ignorance, the strong the weak, the good the bad, etc. Only when the natural law operates is this true, however. On the other hand when the statute is substituted for the natural law, and government holds sway, then, and only then, power centers itself into the hands of a few, who dominate, dictate. rule. degrade and enslave the many. The broad distinction and irreconcilable conflict between wage laborers and capitalists, between those who buy labor or sell its products, and the wage-worker who sells his labor (himself) in order to live, arises from the social institution called government; and the conflicting interests, the total abolition of warring classes, and the end of domination and exploitation of man by man is to be found only in a free society, where all and each are equally free to unite or disunite, as interest or inclination may incline. The anarchists are the advance guard in the impending social revolution. They have discovered the cause of the world-wide discontent which is felt but not yet understood by the toiling millions as a whole. The effort now being made by organized and unorganized labor in all countries to participate in the making of laws which they are forced to obey will lay bare to them the secret source of their enslavement to capital. Capital is a thing-it is property. Capital is the stored up, accumulated savings of past labor, such as machinery, houses, food, clothing, all the means of production (both natural and artificial) of transportation and communication –in short the resources of life, the means of subsistence. These things are, in a natural state, the common heritage of all for the free use of all, and they were so held until their forcible seizure and appropriation by a few. Thus the common heritage of all seized by violence and fraud, was afterwards made the property–capital–of the usurpers, who erected a government and enacted laws to perpetuate and maintain their special privileges. The function, the only function of capital is to appropriate or confiscate the labor product of the propertyless, non-possessing class, the wage-workers. The origin of government was in violence and murder. Government disinherits and enslaves the governed. Government is for slaves; free men govern themselves. Law–statute–man-made law, is license. Anarchy-natural law-is liberty. Anarchy is the cessation of force. Government is the rulership or control of man by men, in the name of law-by means of statute law-whether that control be by one man (mon-arche) or by a majority (mob-arche). The effort of the wageslaves (now being made) to participate in the making of laws will enable them to discover for the first time that a human law-maker is a human humbug. That laws, true, just and perfect laws, are discovered, not made. The law-making class-the capitalists-will object to this; they (the capitalists) will remonstrate, they will fight, they will kill, before they permit laws to be made, or repealed, which deprives them of their power to rule and rob. This fact is demonstrated in every strike which threatens their power; by every lock-out, by every discharge, by every black-list. Their exercise of these powers is based upon force, and every law, every government in the last analysis is resolved into force. Therefore, when the workers, as they are now everywhere preparing to do, insist upon and demand a participation in, or application of democratic principles in industrial affairs, think you the request will be conceded? Nay, nay. The right to live, to equality of opportunity, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, is yet to be acquired by the producers of all wealth. The Knights of Labor unconsciously stand upon a state socialist programme. They will never be able to seize the state by ballot, but when they do seize it (and seize it they must) they will abolish it. Legalized capital and the state stand or fall together. They are twins. The liberty of labor makes the state not only unnecessary, but impossible. When the people-the whole people–become the state, that is, participate equally in governing themselves, the state of necessity ceases to exist. Then what? Leaders, natural leaders, take the place of the overthrown rulers; liberty takes the place of statute laws, of license; the people voluntarily associate or freely withdraw from association, instead of being bossed or driven, as. Now. They unite and disunite, when, where, and as they please. Social administration is substituted for governmentalism, and self-preservation becomes the actuating motive, as now, minus the dictation, coercion, driving and domination of man by man. Do you say this is a dream? That it is the millenium? Well, the, crisis is near at band. Necessity, which is its own law, will force the issue. Then whatever is most natural to do will be the easiest and best to do. The workshops will drop into the hands of the workers, the mines will fall to the miners, and the land and all other things will be controlled by those who possess and use them. There will be, there can then be no title to anything aside from its possession and use. Only the statute law and government stand to-day as a barrier to this result, and all efforts to chancre them failing, will inevitably result in their total abolition.

“Anarchy, therefore, is liberty; is the negation of force, or compulsion, or violence. It is the precise reverse of that which those who hold and love power would have their oppressed victims believe it is.”Anarchists do not advocate or advise the use of force. Anarchists disclaim and protest against its use, and the use of force is justifiable only when employed to repel force. Who, then, are the aiders, abettors and users of force? Who are the real revolutionists? Are they not those who hold and exercise power over their follows? They who use clubs and bayonets, prisons and scaffolds? The great class conflict now gathering throughout the world is created by our social system of industrial slavery. Capitalists could not if they would, and would not if they could, change it. This alone is to be the work of the proletariat, the disinherited, the wage-slave, the sufferer. Nor can the wage-class avoid this conflict. Neither religion or politics can solve it or prevent it. It comes as a human, an imperative necessity. Anarchists do not make the social revolution; they prophesy its coming. Shall we then stone the prophets? Anarchists do not use or advise the use of force, but point out that force is ever employed to uphold despotism to despoil man’s natural rights. Shall we therefore kill and destroy the anarchists? And capital shouts, ‘Yes, yes! exterminate them!’

“In the line of evolution and historical development, anarchy–liberty–is next in order. With the destruction of the feudal system, and the birth of commercialism and manufactories in the sixteenth century, a contest long and bitter and bloody, lasting over a hundred years, was waged for mental and religious liberty. The seventeenth and eightenth centuries, with their sanguinary conflicts, gave to man political equality and civil liberty, based on the monopolization of the resources of life, capital–with its ‘free laborers’–freely competing with one another for a chance to serve king capital, and ‘free competition’ among capitalists in their endeavors to exploit the laborers and monopolize the labor products. All over the world the fact stands undisputed that the political is based upon, and is but the reflex of the economic system, and hence we find that whatever the political form of the government, whether monarchial or republican, the average social status of the wage-workers is in every country identical. The class struggle of the past century is history repeating itself; it is the evolutionary growth preceding the revolutionary denoument. Though liberty is a growth, it is also a birth, and while it is yet to be, it is also about to be born. Its birth will come through travail and pain, through bloodshed and violence. It cannot be prevented. This, because of the obstructions, impediments and obstacles which serve as a barrier to its coming. An anarchist is a believer in liberty, and as I would control no man against his will, neither shall any one rule over me with my consent. Government is compulsion; no one freely consents to be governed by another, therefore there can be no just power of government. Anarchy is perfect liberty, is absolute freedom of the individual. Anarchy has no schemes, no programmes, no systems to offer or to substitute for the existing order of things. Anarchy would strike from humanity every chain that binds it, and say to mankind: ‘Go forth! you are free! Have all; enjoy all!’

“Anarchism or anarchists neither advise, abet nor encourage the working people to the use of force or a resort to violence. We do not say to the wage-slaves: ‘You ought, you should use force.’ No. Why say this when we know they must-they will be driven to use it in self -defense, in self-preservation, against those who are degrading, enslaving and destroying them.

“Already the millions of workers are unconsciously anarchists. Impelled by a cause, the. effects of which they feel but do riot wholly under- stand, they move unconsciously, irresistibly forward to the social revolution. Mental freedom, political equality, industrial liberty!

“This is the natural order of things, the logic of events. Who so foolish as to quarrel with it, obstruct it, or attempt to stay its progress? It is the march of the inevitable; the triumph of progress.”

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.