August 28, 2004

Anarchism and Violence

"The Jurassic, the Spanish, and the Italian federation and sections of the International Working Men's association, as also the French, the German and the American Anarchist groups, were for the next years the chief centres of Anarchist thought and propaganda. They refrained from any participation in parliamentary politics and always kept in close contact with the labour organizations. However, in the second half of the 1880s and the early 1890s, when the influence of the Anarchists began to be felt in strikes, in May-day demonstrations, where they promoted the idea of a general strike for an eight-hour day, and in the antimilitarist propaganda in the army, violent prosecutions were directed against them, especially in the Latin countries (including physical torture in the Barcelona castle and the United States (the execution of four Chicago Anarchists in 1887 [for being part of a protest meeting on May 4, 1886, in Haymarket Square against the murder of several workers, and wounding of many more, by police responding to a strike at the McCormick Harvester factory -- the meeting (already seen to be peaceful by the mayor) was ordered dispersed by the police chief and 180 of his armed officers, when a bomb was thrown, killing 6 policemen and wounding others]). Against these prosecutions the Anarchists retaliated by acts of violence which in their turn were followed by more executions from above and new acts of revenge from below. This created in the general public the impression that violence is the substance of Anarchism, a view repudiated by its supporters, who hold that in reality violence is resorted to by all parties in proportion as their open action is obstructed by repression, and exceptional laws render them outlaws."

-- Peter Kropotkin, from "Anarchism," Encyclopedia Britannica

This ought to be considered by the authorities in New York this week as they do all they can to intimidate and prevent lawful protest during the Republican Party convention.