Appendix: Anarchist aims & purposes

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Thirty Years of Labor

by Terence Powderly



[From the Chicago Star April 25, 1887.]



The announcement that a committee has been appointed by Burnette G. Haskell, to effect a union of the Red and Black Internationalists and the Socialistic Labor party into one national socialistic organization, is one that to the initiated is fraught with some significance.

The International Workingmen's Association was organized in London in 1864 by an assemblage of representative workingmen from all the principal cities of Europe. Its first general convention was held in Geneva in 1866, when the plan of organization and declaration of principles as drafted by Dr. Carl Marx was adopted in preference to those proposed by Mazzini and Bakounine. While the principles proposed by Marx were perfectly satisfactory to these leaders, it was Marx' idea that progress could be made only through education and agitation, and he would listen to no other methods of propaganda. These methods Mazzini and Bakounine considered wholly inadequate, even puerile. Mazzini's connection with the carbonari of Italy had made him thoroughly an adherent of the doctrine of force. Bakounine, who claimed to be a Russian prince, was also an advocate of a desperate policy. Space forbids an extended resume of the discussion, but the convention adopted the policy outlined by Marx.

The strike of the Paris bronze-workers in 1867 was sustained by money from London obtained through the International groups, and by a force policy successfully engineered by Bakounine and his adherents. From that time on the advocates of force gained ground, especially in France, where Blanqui's maxim, "Buy lead, and you'll get bread," seemed to be the motto of nearly all the Internationalists. At the congress of the Internationalists held at Hague in 1872, Bakounine was expelled from the association, and took with him thirty delegates. With these thirty delegates he organized the "Black" International as distinguished from the "Red," as the followers of Marx were called. In their declaration of principles they said:

"We reject all legislation, all authority, and all privileged, licensed, official, and legal influence, even though arising from universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interest of the immense majority in subjection to them. Such is the sense in which we are really anarchists."

Bakounine declares: "I demand the destruction of all states, national and territorial, and the foundation on their ruins of the International State of Laborers." The Blacks reject the educational methods of the Reds, and declare for force, destruction, devastation.

The Blacks have increased very rapidly in France and Belgium, but have made but little progress in other European countries.

The Red International was introduced in the United States almost immediately after the war. Its plan of organization is by groups - eleven forming a group. The first, or student's degree, is accompanied by a red card. Red card members are instructed in the principles of socialism, must take a certain course of reading: after which they stand an examination which, if satisfactory, entitles them to a white card. Before entering the course red card members are assured that the I.W.A. is not anarchistic nor counsels the use of force. White card members are members of the executive committee. From among these are picked those to whom blue cards are given. Blue card members are the counsellors and directors of affairs.

The course of study for American red card members is radically different from that organized in Europe. Burnette G. Haskell, who was made secretary of the North American section, included in the books to be read those of Kropotkine, Bakounine, and many other avowed anarchists. It was always the object of Haskell to unite the Reds and Blacks in America. The "private and confidential" instructions to white card members, or executive members, prepared by Haskell, say:


"Having received the necessary information certifying you as a socialist, we take pleasure in enclosing you your white card, the possession of which constitutes you a member of the central committee of the I.W.A. for your particular locality. This is in accordance with the socialist idea which maintains, first, that no person should have any control over the movement until he is a scientific socialist, and second, that all who are such socialists should have equal voice and hand in the conduct of the movement.

"As a member of this central committee the following may be outlined as your duties:

"1. To urge forward the work of education among the general public of your locality by addresses, propaganda and personal argument.

"2. To endeavor to force or cause the capitalistic press of your locality to give prominence to socialistic ideas.

"3. To aid and support the Labor press, and especially to obtain support and subscribers for the Enquirer, our official organ.

"4. To report all matters of interest to your state secretary (if one exists; if not, to the bureau of information).

"5. To do all in your power to enforce federation among all trades unionists, to aid local labor organizations, and to urge upon the Knights of Labor a consistent and harmonious work in radical ideas.

"6. To endeavor, in your proselyting among the various societies, to secure as converts, first, those who are the most intellectual and who have developed as the leaders of their respective organizations.

"7. To insist, whenever opportunity presents, upon the absolute necessity of harmony between all schools of socialism, and to deprecate any quarrels founded upon personalities or minor points of doctrine.

"8. To educate yourselves thoroughly so as to be competent to meet at once and prove the falsity of all lies that are told concerning us; as for instance the following lie: 'The socialists desire to overthrow the present government by force.' Answer: 'No. They predict by the light of science merely that an armed conflict between the insolent rich and the ignorant poor is near at hand; that that battle will end in chaos unless at the proper time the socialists interfere and by their aid secure a just system of society. And that when they do interfere they propose to do so effectively.'

"9. To endeavor (even though without much hope of its being successful) to secure the gradual interference of the state in production and distribution.

"10. To aid such co-operative enterprises as will really do good.

"11. To grasp the whole situation as it now stands and endeavor to fit yourself for a leader in the revolution and a scientific organizer of the new society.

Then follows, under the head of "General Suggestions," the following somewhat definite suggestions:

"We desire to deal with the probable future of the social revolution and in doing so we propose to touch briefly upon its conduct and the subsequent reorganization of society flowing from it. We believe that the entire lack of a definite idea of the proper scheme of action to be pursued, has in past times of insurrection been the greatest stumbling-block to success. And we see no way to avoid similar failures in the future unless we at least consider the question now.

"First, then, we all admit that the operation of the competitive system itself will force its own downfall at some time or other. Those of us who have carefully consulted and compared the statistics of invention, production, exchange and labor believe with Krapotkine, that ten years absolutely can not pass without the outbreak. The idea is very general, in both France and England, that the historic year of 1889 will see the first serious trouble, and to that end every energy is being bent. The theory of our movement is the creation in every country of so strong an agitation that combination between governments to suppress the revolts in one land will be impossible because of the necessity of looking after their home affairs; the uprising in those lands which are best prepared for success follows and may be either simultaneous or consecutive. In Europe, England will probably be the first to strike, but the beacon fires there will be answered at once, we know, from the hills of Spain, the plains of Italy, the fields of Germany, Russia, and Austria, and the valleys of France. The movement in Europe will be guided by wise heads and careful hands, and of its success we have no doubt whatever.

"It is in America that we need to understand what the future may hold. The impression seems to be general that we here will occupy in '89 a place similar to that held by England in 1848, that of the conservative reactionary country. This view is certainly held by many of the wealthy people of Europe, who are backing their belief, as we all know, by extensive purchases of American lands. But we think this impression is ill founded. The revolution in every land can only be postponed by keeping the people contented. And our position now is entirely different from that of England in 1848. So long as old markets existed or new ones could be opened it was possible to keep the people employed. Where are the new markets now? Even the pitiful substitutes such as are so eagerly sought in the Congo are not available for American productions. It seems indeed to threaten that in America the course of events will tend, as it has in the past in Europe. Some particular localities may be aroused and will take independent action; the conservative centers will be drawn upon for force to suppress the uprisings, and the end will be failure - this certainly unless we foresee and provide against such an event. What then ought we to do?

"We believe we ought first of all to urge the organization of the I.W.A. and federation of all socialists irrespective of the schools to which they belong; that this federation ought to arrange a system of correspondence by which they can consult fraternally regarding disputed points of doctrine and proper methods of harmonious action.

"That the first active duty of the I.W.A. should be to secure in every town city and county of the country at least one good socialist who should act as a revolutionary agent in the distribution of propaganda and the making of converts.

"If we set actively to work with these ends in view we believe this much could easily be accomplished within the coming year.

"Nothing else would then remain to be done save work of education and preparation until such time as circumstances permitted decisive action.

"We do not approve of quarrels with the S.L.P. I.A.A., nor the Henry George men. Let them continue to teach their own peculiar ideas if they so desire, but let us urge them to federate with all others of the reform school.

"The circumstances which may permit decisive action will probably be these:

"In 1887 the present panic will approach a climax. It will be widespread and alarming, accompanied by closed factories, starving workers, rioting and the use of military force. It may even, complicated by a bitter class feeling, result in a suppression of the rights of free speech, meeting and press.

"Until then, unless the whole people are aroused, it is the duty of the wise socialist to hold aloof from riots in special localities. The time is not yet ripe for success; we have counted our heads and we know it. To strike this year would be to uselessly slaughter our best people and put back the cause a hundred years. No; at present we must be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. We must take advantage of it for agitation and education only. We must speak much and act not at all. When the working people are hungry their brains weaken. One year of panic means a trebling of our forces at the very least. And while with our present 100,000 American socialists forcible action is impossible, with 400,000 (which the next panic will give us if we manage wisely) we hold the game in our own hands!

We have perhaps until 1889, four years, in which to perfect our plans. That year in Europe will surely bring grave results. In America, if figures lie not, another panic, greater and more widespread than the preceding will be upon us. Then, and not till then, may we risk a cast of the iron dice. Then may we strike and strike to win!

"Let us say, then, that the probabilities are in favor of our having in 1889, in the United States, at least half a million earnest socialists. Let us say that they are divided somewhat as follows:

"Chicago, 25,000; New York, 25,000; in the New England factory States, 100,000; in the central coal and iron region, 100,000; in Colorado and the western States 50,000; on the Pacific coast, 50,000; in the Atlantic and southern cities altogether, 100,000; and scattered at various points in towns and villages, 50,000 more.

"The panic comes, the public are excited, outbreaks occur, the large centers revolt, the places where but a few Socialists exist are made points for rallying of the conservative elements.

"In these small places it should be made the duty of the Socialists there presiding, secretly and with all the aid of science in destructive warfare, to raise sufficient turmoil to keep the conservative busy at home.

"Meanwhile in large centers bold measures should be taken. Our people should head, lead and control the popular revolt; should seize the places of power; should lay hands upon the machinery of government.

"Once installed in power the revolutionary committee should follow this course of action. Decrees somewhat as follows should at once be promulgated and enforced:


"Decreed: That private title in fee simple to lands, mines and the natural raw materials of production is abolished and the possessory title thereto vested in the commonwealth.

"Decreed: That rent for the use of houses and lands is declared illegal and action for its recovery barred; except that in all cases the landlord shall have the right of demanding compensation for such improvements whose original cost has not been repaid in rent, until such time as the cost is so repaid.

"Decreed: That the books wherein the titles of private persons to lands are recorded and preserved by the State, be burned.

"Decreed: That personal occupancy and use of any piece of land gives a right of tendency from the State to the occupier as against any other person, free of rent, at the pleasure of the State.

Decreed: That a department of lands be created to carry out this decree.


"Decreed: That it is the right of every individual who supports the commonwealth to receive from it an opportunity to labor.

"Decreed: That a department of production be organized whose duty it shall be to carry out this decree.

Decreed: That the title to all machinery of production shall vest in the commonwealth. And that the individual manufacturers now claiming to 'own' such machinery shall turn such over to the State officials without compensation, when it shall appear that the profits have, in times past, paid back to said owner the first cost thereof; but otherwise upon a compensation equal to a difference between said first cost and the profits gained.

"Decreed: That profit is abolished, and that the department of production shall turn over its manufactured goods to the department of distribution at cost.

"Decreed: That nothing herein shall prevent any manufacturer who has not received back in profits the cost of his enterprise from continuing his business, if he so pleases, in competition with the State.


"Decreed: That a department of distribution be organized.

"Decreed: That the stock on hand of all wholesale and retail dealers is confiscated to the commonwealth without compensation, in cases where their profits have paid back their original capital; but otherwise upon payment of the difference between the first capital and the amount of profit returns.


"Decreed: That a department of statistics be organized, whose duty it shall be to ascertain the productive capacity of the people and also their probable wants, and to certify the same to the proper departments.


"Decreed: That a department of education be organized; that all printing establishments be placed under their charge; that kindergarten, athletic, mechanical, industrial, and technical schools be organized.

"Decreed: That interest for money be abolished. That money be abolished. That a department of exchange be organized. That cost be declared the limit of price and that temporarily (until proper statistics are obtained showing the true relations of the various classes of labor to each other), in State employ, the time of one man shall be held on equivalent value to that of any other. That clearing houses be established upon this principle, and that the payment of workers and delivery of goods to the holders of labor notes be made upon the same principle. That until proper statistics are obtained goods shall be sold at thirty-three per cent. less than their ruling retail price under the old profit system, and wages shall be fixed at a rate equivalent to $5 a day.


"Decreed: That sub-departments of public justice, art, agriculture, transportation and communication be organized.

"Decreed: That one year from date the first election for public functionaries shall be held, and that a provisional department to formulate a just system therefore be now organized.

"Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

"Each center or insurrection having pursued this course, immediate steps should then be taken to federate the various localities. A congress should be called and the national organization effected."

"The system thus set in operation would gather strength and power every hour and day, and long before the year had passed when the people with a free ballot were to pass upon the work, its beneficent results would be felt by every citizen. The plebiscite would then but give it the sanctity of popular approval, and no power on earth could then for any length of time withstand its triumphant progress.

"In concluding these necessarily crude and fragmentary remarks, we beg to emphasize our belief that the Pacific coast particularly, by reason of its peculiar population, its natural wealth, its position (such that a few determined men could isolate it from the balance of the world for months of time), and the agitation already started over its whole area, is peculiarly fitted to be the first to lead off in active work when the time for that work shall come.

"'Workingmen of the world, unite! You have a world to win and but your chains to lose!'

"FINAL WORDS. - 1. Central committees will take measures to provide themselves with a regular agitation and expense fund.

"2. They will remit monthly to their State secretary for the postage, circulars and other expenses of his office, five cents for each white card member on their roll.

"As soon as practicable you ought to put your State secretary in a position of independence by paying him a salary, and requiring him to devote his whole time to the work.

"3. They will remit also to the bureau of information a similar sum for similar purposes.

"4. The State secretary and State executive is elected to hold during good behavior; subject to recall at any time by the blue card members of his State. The national secretary and national executive may be elected similarly by the blue card members of the United States.

"5. Such men as have been for years prominent Socialists or work era in the cause may be recommended by any central committee for a blue card without having made the actual converts required by the rules.

"The blue card members are designed as the revolutionary force, and it is expected they will exercise their best thoughts in study and consideration of the points that ought to be dealt with. In future, by congresses and correspondence, plans will undoubtedly be formulated that will cover every emergency.

"As it is of the utmost importance that only those who are tried, trusted, and true shall hold the 'blue card' you are urged to the most careful scrutiny of all new applicants for the same in your locality. Do not recommend any who are not of the very best material. Mere numbers are not so much of an object as men.

"At present the most important work is organization, and to this every energy should be bent.

"During the year 1885 all white card members are instructed to write and forward to headquarters carefully written essays upon the subjects named below. At the end of the year abstracts of each essay or class of essays will be submitted by referendum to the consideration of all white card members.

"1. How may the new social order be organized and administered; i.e., how may the change be brought about with the least jar?

"2. What should be our proper course of action in times of panic, revolt, revolution?

"3. What are the best means of offense and defense? How may the success of the revolution be assured?

"4. Our policy in times of revolution.

"In centers of insurrection - how controlled - seizure of public buildings - control of the press, telegraph, railroads, shipping - occupancy of armories - organization of the people - arming - arrest of prominent capitalists - seizure of military stores - guarding against disorder - the rationing of the people - prevention of arson, murder, theft - reorganization of society - means of preventing stagnation of business - free justice - no rent - work for all - organization and federation of the new society.

"At conservative points - formation of secret revolutionary committees - proclamations of intention - forcibly preventing departure of forces to aid capital at other points, etc. etc.

"Arrangements have been made to commence before the end of the year, the circulation of brochures containing, in extenso, what accumulated knowledge we already have concerning newly discovered means of practically applying dynamite to organized (not sporadic) revolutionary warfare. But this is not a matter for haste. Organization should be the watchword for the hour. You should be, as well, particularly active in labor arganization [sic]. Every white card member ought to be, in fact, a leader. If possible, he should control some trade union or organization, molding it carefully and steadily into such shape that it may be of use in the time of struggle.

"Every white card member should thoroughly understand that it may be upon his efforts alone - upon his fidelity and persistence that the successful issue of the revolution depends. He must, for the sake of the cause, watch his fellow white card members, must advise with, strengthen, purify, and aid them upward."

This is the Red International in America as directed by Burnette Haskell! A great number of dainty morsels might be quoted, but are omitted for lack of space.

The Blacks, or the International Anarchist association, as an organization, was introduced in America in Pittsburg in 1883, as the International Working People's association. It issued a long manifesto, which ended up as follows:

"If there ever could have been any question on this point, it should long ago have been dispelled by the brutalities which the bourgeois of all countries - in America as well as in Europe - constantly commits, as often as the proletariat anywhere energetically move to better their condition. It becomes, therefore, self-evident that the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeois will be of a violent, revolutionary character.

"We could show by scores of illustrations that all attempts in the past to reform this monstrous system by peaceable means, such as the ballot, have been futile, and all such efforts in the future must necessarily be so, for the following reasons:

"The political institutions of our time are the agencies of the propertied class; their mission is the upholding of the privileges of their masters; any reform in your own behalf would curtail these privileges. To this they will not and can not consent, for it would be suicidal to themselves.

"That they will not resign their privileges voluntarily we know; that they will not make any concessions to us we likewise know. Since we must then rely upon the kindness of our masters for whatever redress we have, and knowing that from them no good may be expected, there remains but one resource - force! Our forefathers have not only told us that against despots force is justifiable, because it is the only means, but they themselves have set the immemorial example.

"By force our ancestors liberated themselves from political oppression, by force their children will have to liberate themselves from economic bondage. 'It is therefore your right, it is your duty, says Jefferson, to arm!'

"What we would achieve is therefore plainly and simply:

"1. Destruction of the existing class rule, by all means, i.e., by energetic, relentless, revolutionary and international action.

"2. Establishment of a free society based upon cooperative organization of production.

"3. Free exchange of equivalent products by and between the productive organizations without commerce and profit-mongery.

"4. Organization of education on a secular, scientific and equal basis for both sexes.

"5. Equal rights for all without distinction to sex or race.

"6. Regulation of all public affairs by free contracts between the autonomous (independent) communes and associations, resting on a federalistic basis.

"Whoever agrees with this idea let him grasp our outstretched brother hands!

"Proletarians from all countries unite!

"Fellow-workmen, all we need for the achievement of this great end is organization and unity!

"The day has come for solidarity. Join our ranks! Let the drum beat defiantly the roll of battle: 'Workmen of all countries unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains; you have the world to win!'"

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