Seattle Report

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Seattle Report

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A. H., “Seattle Report,” Mother Earth 2, no. 5 (July 1907): 222-225.

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SEATTLE REPORT

 

It was good for sore eyes to see Comrade Emma Goldman again. We were unable to arrange a complete schedule—could get the hall only for three lectures, June ninth, eleventh and twelfth, at the Socialist Temple, where Emma Goldman spoke on "Misconceptions of Anarchism," "Direct Action versus Political Action," and "The Revolutionary Spirit of the Modern Drama." She spoke in Seattle to crowded houses and wound up by organizing the Social Science Club with about 60 members. The work here was not only successful financially, but also served to kindle the dormant fires of the spirit of revolution and has created a basis for uniting the revolutionary forces and stimulating them to greater activity.

One of the causes of this success was the announcement of our amiable and enlightened Chief of Police that he would arrest Emma Goldman on sight. The natives took notice—for they have heard that Emma Goldman usually dared, and were anxious to see Greek meet Greek. I helped the ball along by issuing this gentle defy a week or two before Emma arrived: "Wappenstein, Chief of the Police Department of this city, has been quoted (I hope incorrectly) to the effect that if Emma Goldman will open her mouth here he will arrest her. This is wild talk. Miss Goldman has a perfect right to open her mouth at all times and places. The Chief of Police should be the last man to be guilty of such intemperate language. There may be some of us who have little respect for policemen in general, but I can assure Chief Wappenstein that it can not be increased by such behavior on his part." After this the Chief modified his plans and announced that he would arrest the speaker if she held open-air meetings, but as such meetings were not contemplated, his officiousness and impudence were entirely gratuitous. His back-down was sufficiently undignified to serve him as a lesson in all future attempts to suppress free speech.

Aside from the great success that attended the meetings there was one significant incident that deserves particular mention. The Socialists in this city are split in two factions, as a result of the "practical" methods that W. T. Mills, leader of one of the factions, favors for winning power as the representative of a "class-conscious proletariat." He is succeeding fairly well, to the angry disgust of the revolutionary (sic) wing. Were it not for the jealousy arising from this split it would have been next to impossible to get the Socialist Temple for the purpose of expounding Anarchist theories. We challenged Mr. Mills to debate with Miss Goldman, but as the latter could not stay long enough to meet Mr. Mills's convenience, the debate was given up and Mr. Mills contended himself by criticizing the lecture on "Direct Action versus Political Action." The Socialists thought the "honors were about evert," but as a matter of fact W. T. Mills was annihilated.

Not satisfied with the result, however, Mr. Mills sought "revenge." But realizing that he got worsted in an intellectual encounter where the odds were even, he decided to try conclusions under circumstances where he would be prosecutor, judge and executioner all in one, with nobody to hold him responsible.

In the Saturday Evening Tribune of June fifteenth, Mr. Mills shot off a two-column leader, in which he protests that it is high time for Socialist speakers and writers to express themselves on the question of Socialism versus Anarchism by a careful statement of the respective positions of these schools. We quote:

"There is a misunderstanding as to the relative position of Socialism and Anarchism; Anarchist utterances are often ignorantly cheered by Socialists, mistaking them for Socialist utterances; Anarchists are often violently denounced by Socialists who call it criticizing and discussing Anarchism."

We cheerfully concede all this, but question very much if incoherence expressed strongly is more harmful to a movement than suave ignorance tempered by subtle mendacity. Mr. Mills has not added to his reputation, either for fairness or insight, by the following performance:

"Anarchy has always stood for 'a universal revolution— social, economic and religious.' Its purpose is and has always been ... 'to destroy all governments and all churches, together with their religions, political, financial, judicial, police, university, economic and social institutions.'

"Anarchism contends that the working class is incapable of emancipating itself. Anarchism decfares only for revolution and refuses any statement of what it would do. Anarchism always relates itself to the present State, not as a good citizen seeking justice, but as a rebel promoting disorder. Anarchism is a program of destruction."

Aside from the first paragraph we deny these charges in toto; they are the baseless fabrications of a brain which, while thoroughly competent to comprehend the real situation, lacks the strength to meet it squarely and so resorts to insinuations and half truths to give a semblance of coloring to bolster up a watery eclecticism.

"Socialism, instead of seeking the destruction of the State, the Church, the family, the school, contends that it is the part of wisdom to enter into and to use the powers of the State. Socialism makes the ballot box the rallying point of its propoganda, and proclaims its obedience to the law and its desire to act always under and in accordance with legal forms."

We deny that this has always been so, but admit that the Socialist parties are degenerating so rapidly that they will soon be what Mr. Mills thinks they are.

What, then, are the important differences between Anarchists and Socialists? Briefly, the Anarchists want to destroy the State, while the Socialists would be content if they could capture it. This brings about a variation in tactics that is far-reaching and is quite independent of what each desires to accomplish after the State is disposed of. As Anarchists have no favors to ask of the State, they can afford to indulge in honest criticism, without having to resort to strategy, chicanery or "practical" politics. This assures individual purity, disinterested motives and a revolutionary spirit. Kill these and you leave the labor movement to the hazard of a conflict between interested parties, either side of which is prepared to buy enough from the other to give victory to those who control the sinews of war. Mr. Mills and those who agree with him (and that means all those who are doing things for Socialism) enter this battle with ardor, vainly imagining that they are on the verge of great achievements where the proletariat will tumble en masse into the arms of parliamentary, authoritarian, regimental Socialism. The proletariat as a body is not disturbed and is quite unconscious of Mr. Mills's plans —but the energetic and active sympathizers of the revolutionary movement are hoodwinked by the siren promises of office, gold, power and perhaps political victory. Then come inevitable despondency, failure and collapse, and thus what might be used as a basis for fruitful work is nipped in the bud by a dead fatalism that kills everything it touches.

The Socialists will kill the Revolution by their lust for power.

A. H.

 

A. H., “Seattle Report,” Mother Earth 2, no. 5 (July 1907): 222-225.

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A. H., “Seattle Report,” The Libertarian Labyrinth, accessed September 22, 2017, http://library.libertarian-labyrinth.org/items/show/1810.