Ernst Steinle, “The True Aim of Anarchism” (1896)











What is the aim and purpose of men, in giving up a free and independent life as individuals, in order to combine into groups, and form a society which must necessarily restrict to a certain degree the liberty of the person? Doubtless the aim can be nothing else than to secure the welfare of all those who belong to such a group or community, and to procure for them the means whereby to make life pleasant and enjoyable; the physical and mental powers of a single person not being sufficient either to furnish ample protection against the destroying powers of nature, or to produce all those things needful for that purpose.

But, from the beginning to the present time, to what end have all combinations of men into communities, or into nations, led? Instead of accomplishing their true and natural aim and desire, “the welfare of all,” they have always and everywhere (as far as we know the history of mankind) precipitated the great mass of the people into indescribable misery. Never have any people on the face of the earth accomplished this great aim. On the contrary, the result of all combinations of men has been the opposite of the original purpose. (Shall we therefore strive to dissolve such combinations? Certainly not, for they are absolutely necessary in order to secure the welfare of mankind. Now if this be true, it follows that thus far, always and everywhere, something must have been thoroughly wrong, and perverted, if such combinations have produced such fearful results as lie open before our eyes, both in the past and in the present. It is not necessary here to describe the terrible misery of men; that has been done already, very many times, by the most prominent authors of all nations; but this alone will bring them no alleviation. We must, therefore try earnestly to find out why that which is so good in itself—the combination of men—has had such lamentable consequences. We must try to get at the root of the evil.

Such is the purpose of this essay.

In order to thoroughly understand what life is; to what end and aim we live on earth; what we want to reach and to accomplish with all our unceasing troubles and labors, we must study the nature of man, his qualities, his physical and mental gifts and powers, his origin, and his development and history.

In every living being, whether beast or man, lies the innermost unceasing strife for enjoyment, for a state of well-being, for happiness. The animals reach this aim much more frequently than man. Are animals cleverer? No: but men are more insatiable—they struggle more passionately than beasts for pleasures; and these passions lead often to their ruin. The strife for enjoyment, for well-being, for happiness, is natural and consequently righteous; and the excessive greed is ruinous. It is therefore an all-important question how we shall act in order to make our lives as pleasant as possible.

If we look at the present state of human affairs, we must acknowledge that we are very far away from what we actually desire to reach. Nay, it seems almost as if men had gone altogether in the opposite direction. Instead of welfare and happiness, we see everywhere endless misery. Instead of strong, healthy, handsome men and women, who enjoy life, and who dwell in pleasant and healthful places, who possess plenty of all good things that please the hearts of men, we see millions of miserable bodies, weak, sick, crippled, often barely covered with dirty rags, who in pestilential holes, drag out their miserable lives. Where does this come from? What is the cause of this misery that remains among men? What and where is the root of this evil? Has the earth not sufficient space, or not sufficient producing power, to enable its human inhabitants to select healthy places to live in, and by cultivating the soil and by raising stock, to produce everything that is necessary to sustain them? Are the works, the industry, the ability, the art, the reason, the genius for inventions, of men not sufficient to arrange and make useful the products of nature, or of human industry and artifice, in such a way as to make life worth living—full of enjoyment and beauty?

The answer to this question is: The powers and activities of men are abundantly sufficient. Here is not the cause of misery. There is plenty of everything to secure to all men a life free from care, and full of happiness. The cause of the misery; the root of the evil lies solely in the unjust division of the earthly treasures. This, no reasonable person can or will deny. This fundamental truth is certainly everywhere acknowledged by all sensible men. Now, if the unjust division of all the goods of the earth is the root of all social evils, why. and in what way has it been done? And if it is so, why is not this evil-breeding cause removed?

“Among men,” such is the usual answer, “there are clever and stupid, strong and weak, industrious and lazy individuals. The clever and strong and industrious ones acquire more of the earthly treasures than the stupid and lazy; and because there will always be clever and stupid, strong and weak ones, etc., so the division of the good things must be always uneven, and the root of our social evils can therefore never be abolished.” With this answer men have always been very ready.

That the clever and strong and industrious outdo the stupid and lazy is quite natural. But the bad, the reckless without conscience, the dishonest, the immoral outdo also the honest and good, even if the latter stand far above the former in intelligence, artistic skill and industry. This undeniable fact proves that the above answer is not correct. The root of all the social evils lies not in the unalterable fact that there are clever and stupid ones, etc., but in the fact that the totality of all those who formed a group, a community, a nation, have suffered wholly wrong institutions to exist among them; that they allowed single individuals to appropriate to their private use, property which belonged to all of them in common; and to leave it, as private property, to their descendants. The acquirement, and the continuation of this private property, is the cause and root of all the evils that oppress mankind. Those members of a group who first, either by betrayal or shrewdness or force, appropriated to their own personal use, property or goods which belonged to the whole community, were the disturbers of the general welfare, the authors of misfortune and social evils.

And, that the great mass allowed and suffered these traitors and robbers to keep and augment their private wealth, and with it their influence and power; that was the great error of society, for which they now receive the just but fearfully cruel punishment. Who were these traitors and robbers? How came it to pass that the community allowed them to exist, and in the end became their servants and their slaves? In order to answer this question correctly, it is necessary to go back to the beginning of the formation of groups; nay, farther yet; to the origin of man and even to the origin of the world.

Is it possible to think, or even to imagine a beginning, or an end to the world? It depends upon what we mean by the word “world.” If we mean by it our solar system—the sun with all its planets, moons and comets—then this world has, undoubtedly, had a beginning, and will have an end. If we go still further, and denote by the word “world” all that we perceive of the heavenly bodies, stars and nebulous spots, some of which are at such an inconceivable distance from the earth, that the light, according to the calculations of the most celebrated astronomers, requires two million years, in order to fly through this space, then also This world has had a beginning and will have an end. In a word, every form which we know, whether a rock, or a flower, or an animal; whether another planet or a comet, or a fixed star, or a mere nebulous spot in the universe, has its beginning and its end. All these, however, are (so far as we know the world) composed of the same elements of matter, from whence they originate and into which they again dissolve. Now, is it possible that this matter itself can have—either in space or time—a beginning, or an end? No. For without the existence of any matter, there would bean absolute nothing, and that is absolutely impossible, because out from nothing, never could have come anything. Furthermore. Is it possible to think, or to imagine any force or power without matter, in which it shows itself? No. For a power is only a power through its activity in matter. Therefore, the belief or the idea of the creation of the world is a thing against all reason and common sense. Matter is eternal. A power without matter cannot and does not exist. The formation of bodies from shapeless matter goes on according to its inherent qualities by necessity, or, as usually expressed, according to the unalterable laws of nature. It is a quality of the atoms of all matter, that they attract or repel each other. Because of this quality they are constantly in motion. Therefore it is against all reason to think of, or to speak of, a first impulse, applied to these atoms in the commencing of the formation of distinctly shaped bodies. The motion of matter is as eternal as matter itself. The, formations of matter which are known to us, are, first, immense accumulations of fluid, without distinctive shape or form—foggy material, which is seen with the telescope here and there among the stars in the universe (they being probably the groundwork, or the beginning, of a new solar system)—second, fixed stars; third, planets, moons, rings (for instance the well-known ones encircling Saturn), comets, shooting “stars and pieces or parts of destroyed heavenly bodies. Astronomers suppose that formerly another planet must have existed between Mars and Jupiter, as the distance between them is very much greater than the distance between any other two planets, or between Mercury and the Sun, and that it was destroyed by a tremendous explosion, caused by too rapid cooling of the outer crust, which was not strong enough to hold the hot fluid inner matter—and this explosion resulted in the hundreds of asteroids (little planets) now occupying the orbit of the destroyed large body. The planets, rings, moons and comets were formerly parts of the Sun, and were thrown of by centrifugal force, or its rapid revolution on its axis. Our planet, the earth, was born in this way. A child of the Sun; which itself is one of the fixed stars of smaller magnitude. To the untold millions of forms which originate from the matter of our planet, belong also the organized beings: the plants, animals, and men; all of whom developed and are developing, according to unalterable natural laws; as is the case with the Sun itself, the stars, etc. In former times, before Darwin’s descendance theory and E. Haeckel’s history of the natural development of the world were known, even celebrated scientists and philosophers (Agassiz, Liebig, Kant, Cuvier) believed that for the creation of organic beings, a certain secret power of life, (viz. animæ), or an unknown inconceivable creator, was necessary; but, in later days, science has found out that neither the matter of which they (the organism) consist, nor the forces which work in them, and move them, are essentially different from those of inorganic formations. The cellulæ, of which all organic beings are composed develop just as simply by natural laws, from the shapeless protoplasma, as the crystals in mineral matter: and the motion, the accumulation, and further development of these cellulæ into plants, animals and men, is just as lawful as the formation of all other bodies, of which the world consists. It is just as difficult to distinguish the first beginnings of organic formations from inorganic ones, as it is difficult to distinguish the lowest forms of plants and animals. There are thousands of such beings, of which no scientist is yet able to determine whether they belong to the vegetable or to the animal kingdom. How hard has the vanity of man labored to distinguish himself as something extraordinary, god-like, excelling all the rest of creation; but in vain! It has been proved by the most minute and searching scientific investigation that between the highest species of monkeys and the lowest of men, there is absolutely not any such distinction as to give men an entirely exceptional position among animals. Neither the organic construction, nor the mental powers of men, are essentially different from those of other animalia. In comparing the gorilla, or chimpanzee, with men of the highest culture, we find such an enormous difference that it seems impossible to find a connecting link between them. But let us compare the savages of Australia, or the Hottentots who cannot count as far as ten and have for abstract conceptions no words, with the finest specimens of apes, and we will undoubtedly perceive that the difference between these is much less than that between the savage negro of South Africa and the highest cultured man of the Caucasian race.

The human brain, the most sensitive of all matter known to us, makes no exception from the general rule of gradual, lawful development, and its forces, which we denominate as the powers of the spirit and the soul, we also nothing else but qualities of matter, working according to the laws of nature. Their activity is no more arbitrary than that of any other matter; not more or less arbitrary or willful than the tending of the magnetic needle toward the pole, or the tending of the sunflower to turn its face toward the sun, or the desire of the swallows and the storks to emigrate before the winter comes, to a warmer climate. Free will, or the arbitrary, independent decision to act, of the human soul, are erroneous imaginations. The human brain acts just so, as it must according to the qualities and the aggregation of its matter. What I know—that is, what I feel and perceive through the impressions of the nerves which are set in motion through my organs: the eyes, the ears, the nose, etc., and which impressions are preserved within the brain in the shape of microscopic cellulæ; and what I will, what I intend to do—is the result of certain motions of these cellulæ, which are unknown to myself, and which impress or influence the motor nerve, according to the principles of mechanism. Therefore society has by no means any right to punish criminals, because the so-called crimes of individuals are the natural and necessary consequences of the perverted actions of society in its totality. But more on this subject later.

Now we may ask what makes men men. What distinguishes man from animals? The only essential difference between man and animals lies in the fact that men ask, investigate, and try to find the cause of things and of what they perceive. This question after the cause and reason of appearances draws the boundary line between men-monkeys and monkey- men. These animals often surpass human beings in shrewdness, reasoning powers and mental inventiveness, when certain obstacles are to be overcome, in order to accomplish an enterprise. The lives of the bees, the ants, the spiders and the beavers furnish thousands of examples in proof of this, but we have not the least- ground for the supposition that, even the cleverest animal ever asks or tries to find the cause of appearances. Only men do this; and if men—as is often the case—are excelled by animals in reasoning power. It is not in consequence of a defect in natural endowments, but the consequence of corrupted and unnatural education, and the miserable and perverted methods of instruction in schools; through which mankind has suffered some series of centuries because of this mechanical school instruction, the self-relying reasoning power of men is not strengthened, but on the contrary decidedly weakened. But, “revenons à nos moutons.” There is every reason for believing that the first monkey-like savage who in a thunder storm, perceiving the effects of lightning, raised the questions “What is this? Wherefrom comes this terrible noise and this sudden fiery appearance?” was the first human being. One question must necessarily lead to others. The desire for an explanation of the appearances in nature was conferred from man to women, and vice versa, and from the parents to the children; and with this began the all-important development and expansion of the brain. This is the only natural conception and explanation of the origin of the human race. When did this happen? This question can no more be answered than the question when the separation of the earth from the Sun took place. The length of time between then and now is incalculable, immeasurable and inconceivable. How can we form, now, a reasonable supposition of the life of the originators of the human race? In the beautiful climate of the tropics, with its beautiful production of all kinds of plants and fruits which serve for the sustenance of men, there was no need nor desire for fixed habitations, for warm clothing, for the cultivation of the soil, or for raising stock. Men may have lived, as today the gorillas do, either single or in single families. The combination of several families into a community took place only in more northern climates, when the rougher temperature necessitated firmer abodes for protection against the inimical and destroying natural forces, and the common labors developed the artificial sense of men to a degree, growing constantly higher. Later, several of these groups may have combined themselves; but the aim and purpose of all those combinations could be no other than that by combination of labor, easier and better than by individual labor, the means could he produced for a more secure and pleasant way of living. Now, it is self-evident, true and natural that all the goods produced by common labor were community property. If the totality of the members of such groups had never allowed certain individuals to claim parts of those goods as their private property, of which they alone had the right to dispose, art and science and general culture would have more and more developed without hindrance, and extended to more and more beautiful productions. It came otherwise.

It is often said: “Through the circumstance of single individuals becoming rich, and in consequence could dispense with or avoid the common labors of life by hiring servants to perform those labors for them, they were enabled to devote their time and talents to nobler aims; to the cultivation of the arts and sciences.” A more perverted or false assertion can scarcely be conceived. Who can conceive of any reason why this could not all have been done just as well, if all the goods produced by nature and human industry had continued to be held in common? Did the artists and scientists become rich? No. But the greed of those who had once acquired private property, and accumulated constantly increasing stores of treasure, thereby consequently causing the impoverishment of the masses, and their gradual sinking down into want and misery, is the cause of the slow development of the general culture of mankind.

In what way, may we suppose, has private property had its beginning? It might appear paradoxical to assert that just the very quality that distinguishes man from animals, the longing to explore the causes of natural appearances, was the root of all the social evils from which we suffer. Yet, It is altogether probable that this has been the case. How so? There have always been, and there are today, appearances in nature which we are either unable to explain, or can do so only in an imperfect and unsatisfactory manner. The desire for a full explanation or exploration became only more and more urgent. Clever men tried to solve such questions by careful investigations and observations in a scientific way and manner. But that was too tedious for the great mass of the people—they wanted a solution in a shorter time, and in this way they fell into the hands of impostors.

How terribly mankind has suffered because men allowed this naturally good desire to explore and find out the ground and cause of natural appearances to grow into an ungovernable passion; into a passion, it must be repeated, from which sprung all the misfortunes of mankind. Clever but dishonest fellows took advantage of this passion of men. Such a one, for instance, said: “You want to know where the lightning comes from?” or “Who made the sun, moon and stars, etc.? I can tell you; I know it; because a heavenly being has revealed it to me.” That fellow was the first priest. Now, had men laughed at this Impostor, or turned away from him with disgust, what a lot of misery they would have avoided? But alas! the impostor found enough stupid ones who believed him. Nay, by and by, they adored him as a higher being, and he said to them: “If I tell you more of these fine things you must serve me; you must work for me; you must give up to me part of your property and treasures, which I may offer as sacrifices to that secret heavenly king, and induce him to make further revelation to me.” And they gave, and sacrificed more and more; they became the slaves of an impostor; and in this way the terrible power of priesthood, of the church, of the hierarchy, was founded. And they called it religion. So it was, and so it is today. Oh, miserable race of men! Will you never open your eyes? Will you forever remain in mental darkness? Oh that I could cry out to the whole world, as long as you do not see that every priest, every preacher, who pretends to know anything of supernatural things, is an impostor; that every religion is an imposition. So long as you are ignorant of the fact, you will be the slaves of the church, and your throwing sheep’s eyes toward heaven will loose you the treasures of the earth. The priests took the greater part of the common goods to themselves; they were the founders of private property. And so they became the authors of all the nameless misery which is now suffered by mankind. But there were at all times persons who doubted the so-called revelations of the priests. In order to protect their private goods against such persons the property of the church was pronounced holy; the touching of it was a sacrilege, which was punished by death; the doubters were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and put to the stake. The history of mankind is full of the cruel deeds of the priesthood of all religions—at all times and in all countries. It is almost impossible to believe with what refined cruelty these priests have persecuted all those who would not acknowledge their authority, and would no submit to their tyrannical reign. They are the same today—except that they have no longer the same power, or they would still burn at the stake all opposers and doubters—therefore it must be he first and most earnest strife of all the miserable and suppressed to become free from priest rule, and that can only be by becoming free from all religious superstition. Men may ask: “But what shall we believe? We cannot investigate and find out everything for ourselves, and we have to trust in many cases to the teachings of others.” That is true; and in order to avoid being led into an erroneous belief, we must hold to the following principles: First, do not believe anything that is against your sound reason and common sense; second, do not blindly believe in anything which lies beyond the periphery of our senses. That is sufficient.

The priest requires blind belief, even if his doctrine stands in flagrant contradiction to human reason. “Credo quia absurdum”—I believe BECAUSE it is absurd, so say sincere believers.

Science does not ask—does not want blind belief. It will convince by proven facts. It says modestly: The observations of scientists are subject to errors, and it Is ready at any time to acknowledge such errors and receive instead of them whatever truth has been learned by deeper and more thorough investigation. The confession of faith—founded upon reason and science—of a man who has freed himself from all supernatural phantasies, may be contained in the following:

1. The matter which fills the universe is without limit in time and space.

2. All matter is constantly in motion.

3. Motion is the necessary consequence of the attraction and repulsion
of the atoms of matter. This is its essentially inherent power and quality, of which everything in the world originates that appeals to our senses.

4. By the attraction and accumulation of atoms, matter is caused to assume distinct forms.

5. All motions of these forms arc the necessary and lawful consequence of their material qualities.

6. The motion of the earth and of all that it contains, including plants, beasts and men, are also the necessary consequence of the originally inherent qualities of matter.

7. The conscience of matter; the feeling of its existence in the brain of animals (and men) is also one of its qualities.

8. The brain feels through its organs the objects which surround it (all those perceptions through the eye, the ear, the nose, etc., are feelings of the corresponding nerves). The brain gets in this way a knowledge of its surroundings, its body; It perceives its separation from other things, but cannot perceive itself.

9. The action of the brain is the necessary and lawful consequence of the impressions made upon it.

Now if someone asks who has put these qualities and forces into matter, I, or better said, the whole of human science, can give him no answer. It is even so. No god has done it. No god can alter it. But now comes the shrewd priest and puts dear Almighty, with smiling face, into heaven, and says: “Look here! HE has done it. ‘Whoever believes it pays a dollar,’” (as an old teacher of mine used to say every time he told to us a fairy tale.) It is our fate, with which we must content ourselves, that there are certain boundaries for our observations that can never be surpassed. They go as far as our senses go; but no farther. For this very reason we will never be able to acquire a perfect knowledge of ourselves; because we cannot observe the Innermost activities of our brains. The dissection of the same is its death. In this we must abide and be content. But the cravings of men to know and recognize that which is forever hidden from us, opens for all the swindlers, priests, spiritualists, sorcerers and prophets, always a large field for their shameless and false impositions, from which they—through the of their fellowmen—reap rich harvests. Besides the laws, the priests needed for their protection strong men (soldknechte, soldaten, soldiers), who blindly obeyed them. They demanded for their services a part of the stealings of their masters, and their masters had to grant it (nolens volens) whether they would or not. In this way the private property of the soldiers (whose leaders called themselves dukes, kings, etc.) came into existence. Soon there sprang up bitter quarrels about this matter between the priests and the soldiers, and this quarrel has gone on without interruption up to the present day; but if it becomes a question of robbing and suppressing the people, then they hold firmly together. The institutions and laws required for the protection of their possessions acquired by robbery and treachery they call the State. This was the beginning of the different states, countries and nations. The princes, in order to increase their possessions, often made excursions or incursions into the domains of other rulers, and this led to bloody wars between each other, and the great mass of their followers allowed themselves to be butchered for the egotistical gratification of their princes. This is the history of mankind—indeed a very poor record or certificate for them.

Let us look over this history. First, it must be mentioned that the greater part of all we read in chronicles and historical writings is not based upon truth. The writers of such works either took in, in blind belief, all that they heard, or they falsified intentionally, certain facts, in the interest of the church and the princes, because they were paid for it. F. Kolb, in his “History of the Culture of Mankind” (Allegemeine Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit), brings many proofs of such falsifications.

The origin of all the old and powerful empires, is enveloped in impenetrable darkness, and the legends or relations about it are big with wonderful stories, which must excite the laughter of every reasonable person. So it is with the empire of the Egyptians, the Hindus, the Chinese, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, etc. The most absurd legends are offered by the historians as truths—facts. But one thing—one indubitable fact—we see everywhere repeated: The priests and the princes seize the common goods, and make the far greater part of them their private property, and everywhere innumerable wars go on for the final possession of the same.

Through wars within, and wars with other powers, most of these empires were crushed and annihilated. The most powerful of all became the empire of the Romans. In its beginning Rome was ruled by kings; but the love of the people for liberty put an end to their rule, and a republic was founded. This liberty, however, was not for the “plebs,” the great mass of the people; but only for the “patricians,” a number of rich families. The common people, however, did not submit quietly but struggled and fought against the privileges of the “patricians,” and after several hundred years of constant struggling, at last succeeded in acquiring equal rights with the patricians. That was the time when the Roman republic reached the highest point of its wealth and power. There were no standing armies, but the whole people were one great body of soldiers. They not only conquered the surrounding countries, but they went far off into Asia, and Africa, and to the distant parts of Europe, and everywhere subjugated the different nations to their power. They ruled the world; but what good came of this to the great mass of the people? They did not perceive and understand that with the continuation of private property, of the church, of laws, and state rule also, the old social evils would remain the same as ever. Those who were already rich and powerful grasped more and more of the treasures of the country, and just those plebeians who got into high positions and became rich were the worst enemies and oppressors of the people. Fellows like those are the most positive proof that in the struggle for private property not the good, intelligent and honest get the upper hand, but the most unscrupulous rascals, who do not refrain from the basest and most despicable means to accomplish their aim. May those poor and hardworking men of today, who expect from the victory of any political party any amelioration for their sordid condition, take this lesson of history to their hearty. They will always be deceived in their expectations. The only real remedy for our social evils is the abolishment of private property. We will consider this more at length when we come to speak about the republic of the radicals, the real republic of the people, and the projects of Bellamy, Dr. Hertzka and others.

The great mass of the Roman people sank deeper and deeper into poverty and misery—while the life of the rich was a shameless debauchery—to such degree that it seems almost impossible to believe the reports of the authors of those times. Through the unceasing internecine wars for property and power the mighty Roman empire broke down. This, as well as the breakdown of the Greek republic through the same cause, should have taught men throughout all coming time that private property is the root of all social evil; because in the struggle for the same—and which is one and the same thing: for the ruling power—not the good and noble, but, on the contrary, the worst and basest always conquer. But the great mass of men is so lamentably slow in understanding that often the true friends of the people, who work for their enlightenment, get discouraged. They cease working and think: All our labor is in vain; mankind does not progress; it goes round and round in the same tread-mill circle.

Indeed, if we contemplate the present state of affairs in our great and rich country, the Republic of the United States; when we see how little these Republicans have learned from the warning example of the Romans; how the same political and social mistakes are being made, and consequently the same increase from day to day; how the beastly struggle for riches makes enemies among men; how the most abominable qualities of the human character break out in disgusting fruitage; how again the greatest criminals secure the highest offices, or grasp in their greedy hands the treasures of the country; how the great mass of the people bow before these rich rascals, and before the dignitaries and leaders of the church; how they quarrel with each other in order to secure for their favorite candidate this or that office; or to secure the triumph of one or the other of the thoroughly corrupt political parties; how they rack their brains to find moans to cure the social misery, and how, in spite of all their exertions, they are still so far away from the only effective remedy—then indeed one might lose all hope and exclaim: “You blind fools! nobody can help you; you yourselves provide the scourges with which you are beaten! You throw yourselves down into the dust in order that the robbers and imposters may put their feet upon your necks!” Thus might the true and honest friends and teachers of the people exclaim when overwhelmed by just anger. But cooler blood brings cooler thoughts. Mankind is not standing still, but is marching on; and not only in art and science, but also in the general propagation of ideas and methods for removing the causes and destroying the roots of our social evils. In Rome there were neither societies of freethinkers nor of radicals and socialists, much less of anarchists.

After the downfall of the Roman republic, under the rule of the emperors, there prevailed such fearful despotism and such a general destruction of morals as neither before nor since has been heard of in the history of mankind. The general state of society beggars all description. Nobody’s life was secure. The emperors themselves were mostly murdered by their own body-guards. The great mass of the formerly so proud Roman citizens sunk down into indescribable misery, and lost, all energy for a general uprising and revolution to out an end to this fearful state of things.

This is another wholesome lesson from history.

When in times of general misery, single-minded well-meaning men exhort the people to stand up in their might, a great number of laborers and small business men, fearing to lose the little that they have, or fearing for their dear, miserable lives, seek, like frightened hares, the protection of the rich and mighty, and submit to them in unconditional slavery. The result is always the same. They will only he the more robbed, down-trodden and oppressed. The present state of society in all civilized countries is ample proof of this.

It is still time, by an energetic, united uprising of the people, with an intelligent and clear idea of their purpose, to put an end to the present misery. Will they listen to the warning voices? The people have their fortunes in their own hands. Will they follow the call of the lovers of liberty, or will they shamefully submit to the money power and the church? If to the latter their fate must be—in Europe as well as America—the same as that of Rome or of China. But we believe that the people still have the will and the power to rise against their oppressors; but they dare not wait much longer or the marrow in their bones will have dried up.

During the rule of the emperors in Rome, there sprang up among the mass of the miserables a religious doctrine which promised them for their sufferings here on earth, great rewards and eternal happiness in heaven. Of course the pitiable rabble took hold of this doctrine greedily. This was the Christian religion—the beginning of the Christian church.

But one must not believe that the person after whom it was called— Christ—was the real founder of this lamentable religion. Of the life and doings of this mythical person we lack altogether real historical proofs. In the writings of the well known and highly estimated Greek and Roman authors of his time, we find nothing of him.

If one follows the myth, then this so-called Christ went roving as a tramp through the country of the Jews, with communistic ideas. He was— according to his own words as told In the Bible—so poor that he had not even a bed of his own to sleep in. He had some followers of the lowest kind of people—poor fishermen, who could neither read nor write. He was a friend of the poor and oppressed, but instead of stirring them up to rise against their tyrants and tormenters, he advised them to suffer patiently their miseries and promised them rewards and happiness in heaven. This is the most detestable doctrine that has ever been preached to a downtrodden, hungry, miserable mass of people. Through its fault it is that the civilized nations today still bear the chains of the church and the money power. Therefore Christianity and its teachings be cursed in all eternity forever. This doctrine has crippled men in mind and body and made them slaves, and even when they have ceased to believe in the insane doctrines of the Christian religion it will be a long time before the wounds that they have received from it are healed.

In spite of all this, Christ, because he laid bare the hypocrisy and greed of the priests before the people and pointed out the rich as the scum of mankind, was by the ruling powers persecuted, condemned and crucified. The legends of his life and sufferings were told from mouth to mouth, but several hundred years passed away before they received any mention in the history of mankind. The priests knew how to exploit these myths and legends and the belief of the people. They made a god out of this Christ, before whom the great mass, as usual, fell down upon their knees.

In the meantime, the great Roman empire, by self destruction, went down lower and lower. Several times, three and even four of the leaders of the soldiery declared themselves emperors and tried to annihilate one another.

So it came to pass that about 350 years after the pretended birth of the mythical founder of the Christian religion, a certain Constantine, who ambitiously struggled to become the only and almighty ruler in the vast empire, brought the masses of the oppressed and persecuted Christians— whose numbers were at this time very considerable—to his side, by promising to make theirs the religion of the state if they helped him to gain the sole power. He put a cross, the sign of the Christians, on his standard, together with the words “In hoc signo vinces” (by this sign thou shall conquer). He by this trick stimulated the enthusiasm of the Christians to the highest pitch and succeeded in breaking down all opposition. He became the almighty emperor of the Roman empire and raised Christianity from the dust to the throne. For this he was proclaimed the first emperor “By the grace of God.’’ In a comparatively short time the heads of the Christian church, the bishops of Rome, Constantinople and Alexandria wrung all the power from the hands of the miserable followers of Constantine, and by and by the bishop of Rome, the Pope, became the head of Europe and made all the kings and princes in this most Important part of the world dependent upon him. More than a thousand years the Popes ruled despotically and unconditionally the nations of Europe. During all this time, not only the great mass of the people, but also the so-called nobility—nay, even the princes and the priests—remained in the greatest ignorance. At the assemblage of bishops in Hasel, it was found that forty of them could neither read nor write. [See Kolb’s History.] All mankind vegetated in a kind of idiotic slavery to the church. The few honest men of science and friends of the people, who here and there in very rare instances shone through this fearful darkness and tried to enlighten their fellowmen, were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and burned at the stake. In the same manner were treated all those who dared to oppose in the least, the rules, doctrines and laws prescribed by the church.

Those were the times of the dark middle ages—the saddest period in the whole history of mankind. The church grasped immense treasures of all kinds, and all the goods of the earth were divided among her, the princes and the few leaders of the world’s traffic who secured their part in fortified towns.

When at last the huge Roman empire—by continual wars within and by attacks from barbarous hordes who swarmed toward its boundaries from Asia and from the northern parts of Europe—was broken in pieces, for several hundred years the whole of Europe was dissolved in discord and disorder; this was at the time of the so-called migration of nations. By and by new empires were founded—not only in Europe but also in Asia and Africa—some of which are in existence at the present time.

Also a new religion sprung up, founded by a certain Mohamed, who gained millions of followers who conquered a great part of Asia, of Africa, and also of Europe; and the wars between them and the Christian church were long and terrible. It is hardly worthwhile to acquire a knowledge of the details of the history of these new empires. The people had learned nothing. Everywhere in all these new states sprung up the same old evils as In the former ones. The people suffered the priests, kings and princes to take possession of the community property, and became consequently their slaves. The struggle for the possession of private property goes on as horribly as ever. It makes the well meaning friend of mankind sick to see and hear, time after time, through the whole history of the human race, how this detestable, greedy fight suppresses, destroys and kills all the noble qualities of men and develops all that is mean and base in them. Thousands of ugly pictures could be represented but it would only stir up the dirt. Whoever likes to bring before his mind such disgusting pictures can do so by reading the reports of the swindling operations of the Scotchman, John Law, during the years of 1716 and 1720. when the Duke of Orleans ruled France, in place of the boy king. Louis XV. I do not think there can be found a nastier, dirtier picture, of human society in all history. It surpasses even the Panama swindle. Disgust, indescribable disgust, fills the mind when looking at such heaps of human filth.

But what do the common books of history tell us? What is taught to the children in the schools? They hear and read of the wonderful deeds of great men. Who are these great men of common history? Great butchers, who were victorious in the wars among nations; or great tricksters, thieves and robbers—called usually “great statesmen”—who, by all kinds of trickery and deception, took advantage of each other. Of the really great men, who sacrificed their all for the welfare of the people, or for the enlightenment of the masses, only here and there a trifle is mentioned concerning them.

The only bright points in the history of mankind are the uprisings of the people against their oppressors and tyrants. The fight of the people in Greece against the overbearing aristocracy; the struggle of the plebeians in Rome against the patricians: the wars of the peasants In Germany and France; the killing of a tyrannical king in England; the Reformation; the rebellion of the English colonies in North America against their mother country; rut especially the great French revolution, and the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 and the terrible tight of the Commune in Paris in 1871.

The French Revolution is THE heroic deed of mankind; a greater one is not to be found in all history.

By some the reformation of Luther is not admitted among these heroic deeds; because, they say, instead of a living Pope, one of paper—the bible— was put on the throne. But the revolutionary character of the reformation lies not in the alteration of doctrines, or the introduction of a new catechism, but in a heroic deed, as a rebellion against the tyrannical rule of the Catholic church.

To these admirable deeds of men, we will add the inventions and discoveries in the domain of natural sciences and the arts. Great and wonderful things are accomplished by the faithful and untiring labors of the men of science, and by the ingenuity of artisans and inventors. But alas! all the wonderful results of their labors are almost entirely controlled and operated by the rich. By far the greater portion of mankind, the hard wording slaves, derive no benefit from them.

By means of uprisings and revolutions men have, it is true, got so far as to break down the unlimited tyranny and brutality of monsters in human shape; they have in most civilized countries secured the right to choose representatives to protect them against the tyrannical will of the rulers. But what has been the result everywhere—in republics as well as in constitutional monarchies? The representatives of the people have become the slaves of its old enemies—the throne, the church and the money-bag. They deceive and betray their electors, and help willingly and bravely to trample down the mass of laboring men under the feet of their oppressors. Thus far we have got; and society, at the present time, is rotten to the very marrow of the bones.

Let us look around. Nobody in the whole civilized world can thrive In business, or secure a well-paid position, or acquire riches, without being a hypocrite, a liar, a deceiver, a coward or a traitor. Nobody dares to tell the plain truth, or to express freely his opinion, for fear of ruining his business, or losing his position. Corruption, rottenness, disgust and misery everywhere, in all ranks and degrees of society.

But it rumbles and ferments everywhere. The natural process of foulness, quickened by forcible outbreaks, must dissolve this miserable society in a short time. Still, the foes of mankind—the priests, the princes, the moneybags—dance upon the volcano; they hear not the muttering thunder. But the storm will come—if certain signs do not deceive—before the end of this century. Wow! how they will then fly from one end of the world to the other: these voluptuous robbers and bloodsuckers, who have drawn from the sweat of the hard workers the means to gratify their unnatural lusts. How they will tremble, and hide in holes from the outbursting flame of the rage of the people.

No salvation; no secure hiding place. No castle is too strong, no cave too deep; everywhere the flames will enter, and nothing will remain of the rotten parts of the, present society. Ah! then will mankind breath freely the air, cleansed by the thunderstorm. The chains are broken; the chain-makers annihilated; and the redemption from slavery, in which the great mass of mankind has suffered so many thousands of years, has come at last. Glory! And then, you freed men, think of the lessons of the past and of the present. Let us put them together in a few words:

First—The craving of men to know things that lie beyond the perception of our natural faculties leads to deceptions, and is the field on which deceivers and swindlers do their pernicious work; therefore do not believe anybody who tells you anything of supernatural things.

Second—Private property is the root of all social evils; therefore never allow anybody to appropriate goods of society for himself alone save what he needs, consumes, or uses.

Third—The tendency of men to leave public affairs in the hands of representatives and chosen officers, leads to the enslaving of the masses under the despotic will of these leaders; therefore keep yourselves free from all official, compulsory leadership, and let no one prescribe laws for you.

Fourth—The general welfare can only be secured by labors performed without compulsion; the fruits of which may be partaken of by everybody, without any official or outside restriction.


All ideas about an after-life are groundless imaginations. Our aim must be to make our life on earth as pleasant and beautiful as possible. How can this be done?

Firstly—Above all things we must be careful about our health. Without it, there is no enjoyment of life possible. Health fills our soul with a constant serenity, which in itself is a great pleasure. A sick person is annoyed, as the proverb says, “by the fly on the wall.” The healthy one drinks joy from a thousand sources, which surround him everywhere.

Secondly—By work. Inactivity, or laziness, is emptiness of pleasure. Ever so many persons, who have ample financial means to enjoy life, condemn themselves by inactivity to a joyless existence. To work is necessary in order to keep healthy—that is, to preserve the fundamental condition for the enjoyment of life.

Thirdly—By recreation and social entertainment. But, this will only then be a source of unalloyed pleasure, when we see really healthy and happy persons around us, and when we can say to ourselves that we in our enjoyment of life do not take away from others the means to do the same.

In our present social condition this is not possible; therefore no one can, undisturbed, enjoy life. The thought of the terrible misery of millions of our fellowmen, alone embitters all pleasure. If we therefore intend to accomplish the principal aim of life, we must thoroughly reform all our political and social institutions. We find indeed this tendency everywhere. The unions of radicals, social democrats, nihilists, and anarchists, is a proof of this.

But now, in what way and in what manner shall this regeneration of civilized mankind take place? On this point opinions differ in all directions. But if anybody wants to be a reformer he must study:

1. The history of mankind thoroughly;

2. The nature of the human being;

3. The present political and social conditions in different countries without any prejudice.

The political and social projects of the radicals, the social democrats, of men like Bellamy and Dr. Hertzka, all have the ground fault that they allow to continue either private property, or the bureaucracy or representative system. But without the entire abolition of legal property and representation by others, no matter under what name, or in what form it is exercised, all reforms are like zero.

The ennobling of the human race can only begin in reality when the disgusting struggle for private property has ceased. Because, so long as that exists, there will be strife to increase it. No one can deny this who is acquainted with human nature. Now it is evident that the increasing of the private property of one person—In excess of that actually created by his own labor—necessarily implies the diminution of that of another; and in this struggle all the base and disgraceful qualities of man—all his low passions are developed. It is the very cultivation of crime—the breeding of the rich, with their greed for lust, and of the poor, who in bitter privation go on to starvation. And wherever there are rich and poor, there are also masters and slaves. How, under such circumstances, can there be any idea of general welfare?

Furthermore, if the great mass of the people leave the control of public affairs in the hands of chosen officers, it will and always must be cheated and oppressed. “But we will,” say the radicals, ‘‘hold control over all our officers, and remove them if they do not carry out the will of the people.”

Experience teaches us that whenever the people give over the public affairs—the res publica—into the hands of officers or representatives they become careless, and do not exercise their power of control. Furthermore, experience teaches us that the coalition of the officers with the rich and the lawmakers makes the exercise of the control at first very difficult, and by and by entirely impossible.

Therefore, in the future states of the radicals, of the social democrats, of Bellamy and of Hertzka, all the old social evils would spring up anew. It is, however, very probable that after the dissolution of the present form of society, men will combine in order to practically experiment with those forms of state. But there will also be men who will try to live together according to communistic and anarchistic principles, and then experience will show which of these organizations is the strongest and most durable.

One thing is sure: All combinations of men who suffer private property carry the germs of death in their heart. Also, any and every body of men in which the life of the individual is regulated by law, or any compulsion that restricts liberty, will get sick and debilitate.

If everyone would carefully study the life and nature of man, he will find the following truths, which are so very important for the regeneration of society:

1. That full liberty for the enjoyment of things kills greed. The desires for pleasure are then held in natural limits.

2. Men will always work voluntarily, without any compulsion, when the fruits of labor come to all alike.

These are no speculations, but facts founded upon numerous careful observations; and on this immovable rock, will the anarchistic-communistic society be built.

Only by voluntary labor, the fruits of which shall be freely enjoyed by all, can the general welfare of mankind be firmly and forever established.

And this is the true aim of Anarchism.



I shall regard the task I have undertaken as accomplished when I shall have proved that the present social evils under which the civilized world suffers are the consequences of the unnatural relationships of men; and that the realization of anarchic teachings Is the only remedy to uplift mankind and insure the well-being of all.

—E. S.


Socialism may be defined as the doctrine of the relations that men bear one another, and the solution of the problems growing out of these relations. Social evils exist In consequence of mistakes made through ignorance of the principles underlying the social structure; It therefore becomes the province of socialism, us a science, to search for the root of these evils, and to point out ways of freeing mankind from universal wrongs.

Humanity has from the beginning suffered under such a legion of Ills, groaning deeper than ever today beneath their oppression, that many regard the life on this planet as joyless—a vale of tears where misfortune, misery and want far outweigh the few real pleasures, rendering life not worth the living.

Socialism opposes this pessimistic view, demonstrating that content and happiness are possible when the attitude of man to his brethren and the institutions founded on their relations, are in accordance with nature’s laws.

It must consequently be regarded by the thoughtful as the leading science.

The first and most necessary condition for the proper enjoyment of life is uninterrupted good health; to the sick and the ailing the world looks dark; for them there is no spontaneity of joy, no flavor in the forced attempts to possess it, no gladness born of physical strength: while to him in the possession of health, happiness gushes out at a thousand way-side springs. This gift of gifts has been lost to the civilized countries of the world, owing to causes enumerated as follows:

1. To the wrong education of children.

2. To bad and insufficient nourishment and improper clothing among the poor and extravagant living among the rich.

3. To unhealthy habitations.

4. To inordinate greed for pleasure.

5. To over-work.

6. To the perverse relations of the sexes to each other, and, in
consequence of this—

7. To the unnatural and pernicious satisfaction of sexual desire. This deplorable condition of society does Indeed render the earth an abode of wretchedness, and were there no means of escape from these ills occasioned by man’s follies alone, surely they who hold that life Is scarce worth the living would be justified In their view.

It is, as already mentioned, the task of scientific socialism to look into the causes from whence spring these wrongs of society, all other arts and sciences being powerless against existing conditions.

Man was ordained by nature to live in groups with his fellow- creatures; the individual, the single pair, the single family cannot exist any great length of time and must of necessity become extinct, because—

1. They are not able to protect themselves sufficiently against the destroying forces of nature.

2. Their powers are insufficient to provide all that is necessary for a pleasant, useful life, whereby the physical and menial well-being is preserved and the perpetuity of the race assured.

Furthermore, a human being can only attain happiness and usefulness through Intercourse with his fellow-beings—never alone.

We may therefore assert that the formation of groups is In obedience to a law of nature, upon which are based all social institutions. Men were forced to unite themselves In order to carry on common work and to enjoy the fruits of their labor.


The beginning of the division of mankind into groups can be as little traced as the origin of man himself, everything relating to the subject being mere acceptance or hypothesis; yet science must use such hypotheses wherever research through our senses is cut off. There is, however, a great difference between hypotheses which are In conformity with sound sense and scientific investigations, and the fantastic speculations that lack any foundation whatever.

The theory of evolution or the doctrine of the formation of matter into distinct shapes, according to natural law, is now generally accepted by all clear thinkers as the result of scientific research and human reasoning. The material of which the world and all that it consists is not a dead mass moved and shaped by an external power; on the contrary, matter is active, “feels and thinks,” and its development into manifold forms is the inevitable result of its inherent qualities and forces. That matter moves; that its atoms attract and repel one another is easily comprehended by all, but that it should “feel and think” is acknowledged only by the few. Gravitation alone is a proof that matter possesses the power of feeling; more clearly yet is the truth shown in its susceptibility to the influence of heat and cold. In many plants, vegetable tissue is extremely sensitive; the mimosa, for example, which closes its leaves at the slightest touch of the fingers. That the matter of the brains of men and animals thinks is nowise more wonderful than its power of feeling, for thinking is but the comparing of the impressions received through the senses.

The solution of mathematical problems is a process as natural as is the attraction of the planets toward the sun and of the iron to the magnet. The supposition of any power outside of matter is delusion, or it is blind, unreasonable, imbecile belief. No essential difference exists between organic and inorganic matter. Melted minerals, on cooling, reassume their beautiful, crystalline forms, protoplasm assumes a globular or cellular structure, of which the whole organic world is composed. Plants, animals and man spring from differences in the transformation and development of this cellular structure, there being no essential difference between man and animal but this: Man seeks to know the cause of his appearance in the world and on this desire is based the whole human science. All organisms are constantly struggling to preserve and propagate their individual forms and on this natural strife is based the formation into groups, through whose common efforts the aim and development, of being is more easily and perfectly achieved.

The products of the common laborer are naturally the common property of all. Communism is therefore the only correct principle for the living together of human beings; through deflection from this fundamental law arose the excessive inequalities; the relations of men grew wholly wrong; anger and disputes arose and all the present, pressing social evils are traceable to the same cause.


The powers, qualities and talents of men differ greatly, but these differences could not originally have been as great as they have gradually grown through inequalities in education and government and through wrong relations in the manner of living together; they were, however, distinct enough to account clearly for the declination from the fundamental social principle in a perfectly natural way, since the degrees of power in man were, without doubt, always unequal. Those who excelled in physical and mental force took the lead, the weaker ones allowing themselves to be guided by their stronger brothers, and in this simple fact lies the explanation of the deflection from social equality. The acknowledged leaders constantly tried to extend their authority. They demanded and took goods belonging to the community and founded private property, and this not through any claim of right, but through force, deception and theft. They bent their weaker fellow men to their stronger will is and made them
submit to prescribed laws. All legislation is therefore a form of tyranny. The power of the leaders, out of which sprung priests and princes, was inherited by their descendants, and led in the course of time to the enslavement of the masses. In like manner, woman became enslaved through the greater physical force and stronger will of man. This perhaps offensive utterance seems to me justifiable because of the fact that even the most intelligent women show pitiable weakness in the readiness with which they follow new fashions. A train of evils necessarily followed these conditions—misery, sickness, unwholesome dwellings and defective generation and education of children. Particularly did the enslaving of woman lead to the perverse relation of the sexes to each other. It is unnecessary to dwell on these evils here since everyone is familiar with them—suffice it to show that they are the outcome of the establishment of private property and law-making. It is self-evident that through the misery of the poor, through the luxury, revelry and debauchery of the rich, crime and want and a multitude of sicknesses were engendered. To lose more words over it is unnecessary, we will therefore only glance at the education and the relations of the sexes. Without regard to the entire spoiling of children born in misery, we will merely assert the fact that all children, whether educated at home or instructed in schools or institutions, are bodily and mentally ruined. Religious poison, the source of all mental bondage, is inoculated; “A little religion harms nothing,” utters man, a free-thinker; the memory is over-burdened with a mass of useless subjects, while the development of the reasoning powers is sorely neglected. Sexual desire, awakened before the proper lime by early and long-continued sitting in desks, is satisfied in an unnatural way, causing bodily health to become debilitated, and the mental powers ruined. To prove this it is only necessary to point to the fact that the normal human being is extinct in civilized society. What terrible appearances present themselves there! Millions of ugly faces, crippled limbs and deformed bodies! Search as we will for the perfect being, not one is found. Afflicted by hereditary or some other cause, all have bodily defects— for example, the feet of civilized people deformed by the shape of their shoes. Perfect health is also perfect beauty, and that exists not among us. Thanks to the art of skillful dressing, much ugliness may be hidden, but imagine the hideous spectacle of a parade where all are clad in nature’s garb solely! B-r-r-r-r! The perverted relations of the sexes, the enslaving of woman, and the idea that she is regarded as the private property of man, cause sexual passion, the strongest of all passions to be satisfied, not in a natural way but in a vicious and detestable manner. It is sufficient to point to the history of the Greeks and the Romans—an emperor of the latter promoted a barber and a servant to the highest positions of the Government—“propter enormitatem membrorum.” Dark stories of monasteries and cloisters and the sexual misdeeds of Catholic priests here and there come to light. Terrible misdeeds might be made known, but they are too revolting to tell. Of what does our culture boast? True; science and art have accomplished much. This we joyfully admit, and point with pride to Greece, who, in the short space of her greatest liberty, produced such artists, poets, writers and philosophers as to place her foremost among the nations. But all the accomplishments of art and science cannot hide the truth that sickness and misery are the prominent features of our vaunted culture and civilization. This sad indescribable state follows the enslavement of the masses arising from the strife for private property, and from legislation that is tyranny instead of justice.


In all times and among all peoples have the friends of humanity sought to ease the sufferings of their fellow-beings, and to uplift the oppressed out of their misery, aye, the latter themselves have endeavored to become free from tyranny by uprising and revolution. Absolute tyrannies have changed to limited monarchies—the misery of the masses remains unchanged; monarchies have been limited by constitutions—the misery of the masses remains; constitutional monarchies have developed into republics, still the misery of the masses remains. People have acquired the right of general suffrage—the misery of the masses is unchanged; we have even got so far as to make the validity of laws dependent on the approval of the majority of the whole people (Switzerland)—and still the misery of the masses remains.

Communistic societies have been formed only to drag along a miserable existence, or to go to pieces utterly. Are men unable, then, to form societies in which all shall live in peace and harmony—perfecting their higher natures? We shall see. All attempts for the bettering of conditions have consciously or unconsciously been more or less an endeavor to restore the original, natural relations of men—the equality, well-being and freedom of all. This is absolutely impossible except where goods are held in common, individable—without laws encroaching on individual liberty. Because of defiance to one of Nature’s unchangeable laws, the holding of private property must inevitably lead to impoverishment, and law-giving, to the enslavement of the people. This is the iron law of organic selfishness—a flat not wholly recognized by those who have attempted to improve the general welfare, and hence the failures attending their efforts. Growing poverty, increasing evils—the real horror of prevailing conditions, has from the beginning of this century, stimulated many benevolent men to exert, to the utmost of their powers, to put at stake all their belongings—yea, even life itself—to find ways and means of freeing humanity from its burdens. In 1835 Robert Owen organized a society in London called “The Association of All Classes of All Nations,” with the direct aim of alleviating the distress of the London workingmen by bettering his condition, and the further intention of baring the workings of the Association spread until the whole civilized world should be embraced. In discussions relative to the work, the word Socialism was first used, and Socialists and Social theories spread rapidly, though the final purpose—the establishment of an international union was never accomplished. Owen is also the originator of the idea of labor exchange—that is, the distribution of products without the use of money; the cooperative movement, too, is due to the same source. But all his practical experiments for the realization of his theories failed, both in England and America, in spite of ample means, political influence, admirable energy and extraordinary activity. In France, the Count St. Simon and Fourier were the founders of socialistic unions, Fourier having established the Phalansteries—i. e., large buildings surrounded by extensive agricultural lands, held as common property by a phalange or group of about 1,600 persons. The products of the common labor were to be divided as follows: Labor, five-twelfths; capital, four-twelfths; and talent three-twelfths of the whole. This well-meant enterprise was an entire failure. In Germany, Ferdinand Lassalle, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were the most prominent promoters of Socialistic doctrines, the two last named being especially active in the establishment of a great international union of workingmen which convened in St. Martin’s hall, London, in 1864, Prof. Beesly presiding. At a Congress of representatives of this union, held at the Hague in 1872, a rupture occurred ending in the expulsion of Bakounine and his followers, who at once founded a new International that found its chief support in Spain and Italy. The followers of Marx transferred the seat of their council from London to New York, when it suffered a collapse in 1874. Still another party with very radical tendencies, calling themselves Autonomists, arose. They were outspoken revolutionists. In 1873 they stirred up a great revolt in the south of Spain and succeeded in getting possession of a part of the Spanish fleet. Being finally overcome, the whole party dissolved. The followers of Marx, those who accept the teachings of Owen, St. Simon, Fourier, and others, together with the Socialistic parties of France and England, the great political party of the Social Democrats in Germany, with such well-known parliamentary leaders as Bebel and Liebknecht—all these can never reach their goal, because the future State they contemplate lacks freedom; and the general welfare of society without individual freedom is an impossibility. The struggle for personal liberty is a law of Nature. Every living organism struggles for it, and in normal man the desire for freedom is as great as the desire for food or the gratification of sexual impulse. The best person, to my view, who advocated full individual liberty in the communistic organization, was Pierre Joseph Proudhon, born in Besancon, France, 1819, and whose death occurred in 1865. His most important work is “Philosophie de la Misere” (The Philosophy of Misery). The well-known saying, “Property is theft,” is his, also the following: “The ruling of men by men, in any and every form, is oppression; the highest perfection of society is organization and order established without compulsion, by voluntary mutual agreement.” Proudhon may therefore properly be regarded as the father of anarchism. Proudhon’s strongest defender and promoter of his doctrines came from the highest circles of Russian aristocracy—the already mentioned Michael Bakounine, who died in Berne in 1876. Of the living anarchists the most prominent are the Russian prince and scientist, Peter Kropotkin, the celebrated French geographer and professor in the University of Brussels, Elisee Reclus, and the German journalist, Johann Most, now in New York. The fundamental principle recognized by these leaders is in harmony with the laws of Nature: guiding us to the original, correct relationships among men; the failures of all the other socialists of the previously mentioned schools, are due to a misapprehension of the fundamental principle. Any association of men which permits authorities and enforces laws, must necessarily fail in its principal aim—the welfare of its members. The laborer, the oppressed who believes that his miserable condition will be improved either in the present or the future by any reforms of rulers and laws, is heartily to be pitied.


The regeneration of society, or better still, the formation of a new society, whose members shall all be free, peaceful and happy beings, is possible alone through anarchism; i. e., through the re-establishment of the natural relations of men to one another. This may be accomplished as already mentioned: (1) By Communism, (2) by full individual liberty. Each member of such a society stands fully free and equal among his brethren, and any attempt to establish other standards is an act of violence that is against the foundation principle of society. Authorities, officials, leaders and lawmakers need not exist. There is no natural right for the possession of private property, nor for leadership, and once permitted they necessarily destroy the peace and general welfare. The whole history of mankind proves this statement; it but remains to show why it is so—to find the law of this apparent fact. Every living organism constantly strives for a state of well-being, and this strife is the motive power for all its actions and endeavors. Could this condition of good be achieved without the aid of the system, the latter would harden into everlasting idleness. This is not the case, however; the matter of which an organism is composed is used up by natural processes and has to be replenished; hunger makes itself felt and the system seeks nourishment. Besides this there are many inimical powers which threaten to destroy the individual organism; it therefore seeks protection against its enemies and struggles to make sure of a safe place in which to live. What is true of all other organizations is true also of the human being. The strife for well-being is not only natural, it is also necessary, since without it an organic body must perish. In man, this strong desire for good is sometimes called egoism and again selfishness, and it is taught that the latter is at the bottom of the social ills and must be suppressed and rooted out. But this is entirely wrong. On the contrary any moral doctrine which has not as its basis the natural selfishness of the individual is wrong, deviates from the natural law and leads to self-deceit and even to hypocrisy. In the normal state of society, selfishness, or rather, selfhood, can work no harm; it finds its natural limits in the share and share alike, and the independence of all, but in our present corrupt society, the selfishness of rulers and leaders, whose greed for power and wealth overrun these limits, causes the misery of the masses, a satisfactory evidence that authorities and leaders must not be tolerated if peace and prosperity are not to sacrificed. The selfishness of the individual can never be suppressed, and all efforts in that direction have proved fruitless. Nevertheless many prominent and liberal scholars and authors still believe the doctrine of the Christian religion to be the best. But a doctrine that attempts to suppress the natural desire for enjoyment and well-being, (“Crucify your flesh and your desires,”) that requires its followers to love their enemies, attempts to reverse an immutable law of nature, and must lead to unnatural results and to hypocrisy. No moral law of man can alter in the least a law of nature. When, then, experience as well as the true knowledge of the nature of man, proves authorities and law-makers lead to the ruination of society, that all our institutions throughout the civilized world are unnatural and pernicious, and that all the social reforms that permit the present state, the church, authorities and laws, can never reach their aim, and cannot bring about the welfare of all, it remains to prove that anarchic teaching are in accordance with nature, that through them alone humanity can be freed from its sorrows, and that the prosperity of the human family will surely follow obedience to these teachings.. “Socialism” signifies community of property among all citizens of a state and anarchism means a state of society or supreme power. We will, however, consider anarchism as the scientific teaching of the natural relationship of men. Anarchism teaches that our knowledge of the world reaches no further than our senses can reach. The wisest and deepest thinkers of ancient times— Aristotle, Plato, Cicero and Seneca, together with philosophers of the newer schools, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, and celebrated scientists such as Cuvier, Liebig, Agassiz, Darwin and many others, were led into opinions not only erroneous, but also ridiculous, whenever their speculations entered religions where the firm ground of sensible observation was wanting. The anarchist, therefore, rejects all fruitless speculations of transcendental philosophy: he has nothing to do with gods and ghosts, but keeps his mind only on those things which are known through the senses, aided by instruments such as the telescope and the microscope, or through experiments, measurements and calculations that are not fallacious, and here we have indeed enough to employ our mental faculties for all time to come. It is not the industrious inquirers and the thorough workmen who indulge in visionary speculations, but the idlers and thoughtless ones that arrive at wrong conclusions and fall into the hands of impostors who make use of their easy belief by robbing the victims or holding them in spiritual bondage. The anarchist declares that any and everybody that tries to lead men into the realm of the supernatural or that pretends to know or to teach anything beyond the evidence of the senses, is either an impostor or a crank. The anarchist’s view of the world, summed up in a few words, is: All that takes place in the universe is the result of activity inherent in matter. Upon this view is based his moral doctrines, which may be summarized as follows: (1) Every living being strives unceasingly for enjoyment of life, and this endeavor is the basis of all his actions; (2) As a moral being I must seek to learn by what ways and means I can attain the highest good and noblest purpose of life; (3) Though experience and observation one arrives at the conclusion that the individual separated from the society of his fellowmen, produces the mere necessities of life by the utmost wearisome labor, but that through the common labor of many, these necessities are easily and readily obtained, allowing leisure for the pursuit of the arts and sciences, by which life is made pleasanter and richer—this knowledge imposes upon me the duty of working for the commonweal, since my individual welfare is assured only through universal well-being; (4) Experience teaches that liberty and prosperity are destroyed through the greed of leaders and law-makers, and this makes it my duty, in self-interest, to oppose authority and legislation; (5) knowing that my health is the foundation of joy in living, I am bound to do all that will promote my own health and that of my fellow-creatures, and to avoid all that could work harm—It becomes my duty to strive for healthy habitations, sufficient nourishment and proper clothing, and to avoid over-indulgence and overwork in any direction; (6) The fact that the gifts, powers and dispositions of men are very different leads me to the conclusion that their participation in the various labors of a group or community must be
entirely voluntary, free from outward pressure, as free as the right to use and enjoy in unlimited measure, the goods produced by the common labor— this condition obliges me to work voluntarily, and to use and enjoy in willing moderation the products of the common labor; (7) When I live among my fellow men in perfect health and liberty; when we together work in harmony, enjoying what nature or the work of our hands and brains has produced; when no law and no will other than my own compels me to act, then I shall have attained the highest degree of human happiness and usefulness.

We see that when self-hood is asserted in the right direction; when man perceives that his own welfare and highest good depend on the welfare and good of his fellowmen; when we strive to make others happy, that egoism and altruism become identical and work harmoniously toward the same end.

Not only the majority of men, but also excellent writers, such as Tolstoi, have failed to recognize this simple truth. L. W. Laa says: “Every man having the well-being of humanity at heart will hope and wish with Tolstoi that egoism give place to altruism, the sooner the better, that practical philanthropy may be realized.” Such a wish can be cherished only by him who does not understand human nature and therefore deceives himself. Egoism will never give place to altruism, since it is the underlying motive of all our actions. All that we do, we do in order to satisfy our wants. No man would turn over his hand if the action did not satisfy some need, fulfill some wish, promote some pleasure, flatter his vanity or content his soul. It is often asserted that when the products of man’s labor belong to him alone, become his private property, that he works more skillfully and diligently than he who performs his part in a communistic society. The Encyclopedia Britannica holds this as incontrovertible truth, accepted by all thinkers and even by Communists themselves, wherefore these latter consider a strong control over the members of their society necessary. In regard to this I answer: (1) It is not a fact that all thinkers accept this assertion as true; and (2) though some great thinkers and Communists do hold this opinion, it is nevertheless easy to prove the utter fallacy of their belief.

Those who accept the statement for truth have in mind the members of our present corrupt society, forgetting that with the abolition of private property, the three members of an anarchistic-communistic society, become quite different beings. The man works according to his disposition and desire. The healthy man is active; nature compels him to work in order to preserve health and to enjoy the benefits of labor, for work in accordance with inclination is happiness. The noble longing to serve the commonweal, using toward that end all one’s powers, together with the natural desire to excel that is witnessed among children at play, and in great emergencies and dangers, the heroism of their elders, causing them to risk life, will assuredly be regarded as far above the narrow selfishness of those whose own interests drives them to activity. We arrive therefore by experience and clear knowledge of the qualities of man, at the firm conviction that the lasting welfare of society can never be established through compulsion of any sort, but only through free fellowship—i. e., through anarchistic- communistic society. It must here be mentioned that many noble friends of humanity believe that the highest alms can be attained only through better education. I believe it, too, but do not agree with many in regard to the means of accomplishing this desirable result. The propagandism of anarchic writings is a very effective educational agent, but the greatest teacher is and ever will remain the revolution. The revolution with all its horrors! It is, nevertheless, the most humane educational factor. The great French Revolution freed millions of men from abject slavery and bondage, poured light and knowledge into the heads of millions of stupid ones, and in spite of its horrors, in spite of the ceaseless activity of the guillotine during this reign of terror, sacrificed less human life comparatively, than was offered during the last short war between France and Germany. If the coming great social revolution demands far more offerings, the number will still be small compared with those which the modern decay and the war of trade between capital and labor will doubtless demand in the course of a few years. It but remains for me to speak concerning the relations of the sexes in equal partnership. Even in anarchic circles, disputes yet frequently arise over this matter, but among clear-thinking Anarchists there can be no difference of opinion. It is self-understood that the living together of man and wife is wholly a non-compulsive agreement; he, therefore, who thinks of any force in this relation, shows that he has not grasped the anarchic principle of full personal liberty. As in all other affairs of the free society, the cohabitation of man and woman must depend on full, reciprocal determination. Through the absolute equality of woman with man, their relations to each other will become far more moral than at present. For those, moreover, who see in the establishment of a free society thousands of difficulties, be it said that they possess neither knowledge of the history of mankind, nor clear understanding of the nature of the individual—his qualities and desires; and secondly, that in the new society spiritual and corporeal health and strength will solve many of the problems that we, through inherited weaknesses, through sickness, over-work and excesses, find it impossible to solve. In answer, to the question, how and when the anarchic-communistic society may enter into life, the following is offered in conclusion:

1. Through the distribution of anarchic teachings in wide circles; particularly among workingmen, and

2. Through the courageous determination of a sufficient number of men to actually establish a free society.

That the establishment of such a society will be opposed by the present ruling class is beyond a doubt, bat the movement once commenced will find millions of enthusiastic followers, while its op- posers will steadily diminish, until but a small number must be forcibly overcome an annihilated, and this is the just punishment of the world’s grand jury for their innumerable crimes, which they have committed against their fellowmen.


Those Wishing For Further Information In Regard to Anarchist-Communism Should Read

The Firebrand

Portland, Ore.

The “Firebrand,” Box 477, Portland, Oregon, for “burning away the cobwebs of ignorance and superstition;” an exponent of anarchist-communism; holding that equality of opportunity alone constitutes liberty; that in the absence of monopoly competition cannot exist, and that Communism is the inevitable consequence. Sample copies free.

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