A HISTORY OF ANARCHISM.* THIS book is the first attempt
at a detailed sketch of Anarchism—its rise, its methods, its personnel—and an attempt crowned with very striking success. Its pages, a • La 1341ril Anarohigte. Par FOlix Dubois. English Translation. London: T. Fisher tlnwin. 1894. veritable mine of information, appear at an opportune moment. Considering the notoriety acquired of late by the propagators of this creed, and the large place they have filled in the minds of thinking men, M. Dubois has rendered a distinct service to society in providing it with information so full and exhaustive. The book contains an account of the origines of the movement, a chronological record of its progress during the last twenty years, an account of its principal exponents and documents, and finally a chapter on the psychology of Anarchism. A short account of the movement in England—closely resembling Olaus Magnus's dissertation "Of Snakes in Iceland" fitly concludes a very interesting volume.
If this movement can be said to have had an originator, that man was certainly Bakounine. His numerous tergiversa- tions and political volts faces are detailed at some length in this work, and it cannot be said that the impression left by M. Dubois's sketch of this mysterious personality is a very high one. It would be difficult, one would think, for any one less wrong-headed than an Anarchist to make a hero of a man so changeable, or whose character was so dubious as that of Bakounine. His conduct during '48 and '49 was open to the very gravest suspicions, and there is good reason to believe that he played the part of mouchard to the Russian Government. Reappearing—no one knows how—in 1861, after confinement in Siberia for eleven years, be shortly afterwards assisted in founding the International, and in 1869 and subsequent years came his great struggle with Karl Marx and the Collectivist party, which marks a great dividing-line in the history of modern Socialism. Whatever the faults of Marx and his followers, and however much they were the propa- gators of economic falsehood, they were at least aware that for the guidance of man—indeed, as the first condition of his existence as a civilised being—a strongly organised State is indispensable. Here it was that Bakounine parted company with Marx by affirming that the State is an evil which must be swept away. From this sprang plots and counterplots that ended in the expulsion of Marx from the International, and indirectly in the downfall of that quaint institution. Henceforward the advanced party in Europe was to be split into two mutually exclusive camps,—the Socialists, who are with us to this day for good and evil, and the Anarchists, who are an influence for evil wholly. To Bakou- nine the Anarchists owe their first point de d6part and their organisation, and this, as M. Dubois justly says, was almost the result of an accident, — Bakounine's personal rivalry with Marx. Indeed, as M. Dubois rightly observes, it is strange that Anarchists can make a hero, out of this " slippery, ill-defined, and ambiguous " figure. But we shall see, as we proceed, that the heroes of Anarchy are, with scarce an exception, men lacking in every element of heroism, or even of the most commonplace morality. The four revolutionaries known as " the Chicago Martyrs " were condemned and hanged for what was simply murder, and Ravachol, who bids fair to take first and ohiefest place in their hagiologies, had committed, crimes of the most sordid and brutal nature, quite apart from his bomb-throwing exploits. Never was there a political movement whose whole course has been so com- pletely tainted with disreputability as has been that of Anarchism.
No account of Anarchism and its ways would be complete without reference to some of the various papers which have sprung up in its defence, and concerning them M. Dubois has much to say. On the whole, the most respectable of these is (or rather was, for it is • now suppressed) La Revolts. This journal was founded by Kropotkin in 1885 at Geneva, and was transferred to Paris three years later, where it was for long under the direction of Jean Grave, one of the thirty Anarchists tried the other day in Paris. This paper was, in its way, the most important of the Anarchist journals. It was well-written, and its staff contained several men of considerable ability. Kropotkin's connection therewith has been noticed ; and in Jean Grave and Elit% Reolus it possessed two pamphleteers of marked capacity. It repre- sented, as far as possible, the theoretio, the academic, the respectable side of Anarchism. As its sentiments were couched in excellent French, it may be presumed that its conductors appealed to the educated classes for their sup. porters. Its pages did not countenance violence, theft, or bomb-throwing. And this moderation was as abhor- rent to the more thorough-going comrades as ever was Laodicea to orthodoxy of old. They condemned La Bev°lte as "an organ of the pedagogues," and turned to productions more outspoken and less circumspect. But if La Revolte pre- served, as befitted a paper brought out under the shadow of the Sorbonne, a certain sense of decorum, it none the less saw fit to advocate things that to the ordinary bour- geois are sufficiently startling. It declared strongly for "Free Love," it, of course, denied all government, con- straint, or private property, and it declared in favour of theft, though with a halting and uncertain voice. On this rock, more than on any other, did La Revolte split. If, said the more advanced comrades, private property is an iniquity, then theft by those who are in need from those who are not, is simply an object-lesson of that great truth. Therefore, it is wrong to condemn any thief whatever. La Revolte and its staff halted for long between two opinions, timidly allowing that a man committing suicide in the midst of plenty was an idiot ; but scarce daring to go further. Le Pere Peinard and other broadsides called angrily upon the oracle to speak less oracularly, and fairly lost their tempers when La Revolte, in reporting the prosecution of one Pini, described the defendant as "a common thief," "this designation being exactly that which most persons would apply to the individual in ques- tion." Henceforward the breach was complete, and in the eyes of many " comrades " La Revolte became little better than a traitor, an outpost of the bourgeoisie.
Much more remarkable in its way was the paper we have mentioned above, Le Pere Peinard. This journal, which was suppressed at the beginning of the present year, addressed itself to a very different audience. It had offices on the heights of Montmartre, and was written " in the expressive, picturesque dialect dear to the frequenters of the Boule- Noire and the Moulin de la Galette." In other words, its pages contain a most appalling, and to the foreigner untranslatable, medley of argot, blasphemy, and obscenity, well calculated to please the lowest and most brutalised classes to which Anarchy appeals. From the readers of Le Pere Peinard, the men who can work and won't, spring the Ravachols, the Vaillents, the Pauwels, and the other active propagandists. It is written, if we may judge from the extracts given by M. Dubois, and obligingly translated for us in the English edition, in a highly coloured and racy style, bristling with nervous, picturesque phrases not to be found in dictionaries. In its important denial of the most ordinary rudiments of morals and in the simplicity of its exposition of the fundamental truth, that all property is theft, it comes down to the intellectual level of its readers, and provides them with a bandy record of practical Anarchism far more attractive to the discontented than the laboured academic theories of La Revolte. It is planned on eminently business-like lines. Each number is embellished with a cut, illustrating some injustice in the existing system of society. The artistic merit of these illustrations is not of the highest, but they are plain and easily intelligible, and in their savage satire of every institution alike, are well calculated to inflame the uneducated and the ignorant. Twice a year this journal issued a "special" number, and shortly before it was suppressed brought out an Anarchist calendar, with the names and portraits of eminent Anarchists. Foremost among them comes the arch-criminal Ravachol. As M. Dubois points out, he has been elevated to the level of a patron saint; no eulogy is too violent, too ecstatic, to be applied to him, and he alone of all Anarchist martyrs has received the honour of a hymn dedicated to his memory,—a hymn which breathes the profoundly humani- tarian gospel whereof he was through life so shining an exemplar. It may be interesting here to notice the place of the guillotine in Anarchist hagiology. M. Dubois repro- duces in his book "a symbolical portrait" of Ravachol, —the symbolism consisting of a guillotine in the background. It is curious to notice that, to the French Anarchists with the love of symbols common to the Latin races, the guillotine possesses exactly the same significance as does the Cross for their Catholic brethren. It is a curious historical parallel, but scarcely one that does credit to Anarchy. After Ravachol come Valliant, Emile Henry, and the "Chicago Martyrs" among the saints of disorder; each has his own band of devotees, but they are scantier in number than the crowds who glorify Ravachol and his works. We have only touched on one or two points in this interest- ing book ; but it contains much beside that we commend to the student of contemporary history. There is, as we have mentioned, a chapter on Anarchy in England, which shows pretty clearly that these doctrines will have very considerable difficulties to overcome ere they can hope to take root over here. There is also a chapter on the forerunners of Anarchy, —among whom M. Dubois numbers Diderot, Proudhon, and Rabelais .1—which strikes us as somewhat thin ; and there is also a section on the psychology of Anarchism, which is quite excellent. This is a collection of reasons given by men of divers grades and occupations, giving their reasons for a belief in Anarchy. The reader will hardly come away with a higher opinion of the disciples of this creed. In fact, this collection of evidence only confirms the impression that Anarchism appeals to the weak-minded and the unstable; its exponents are in every ease men lacking in balance, and, we should imagine, men deeply tainted with la nevrose, the pre- vailing disease of modern times. Many of the witnesses boast of the logical faculty which is their prominent charac- teristic; but the plain man can only reply, "So much the worse for logic."
The book seems to us a useful piece of work, well done, and the result of much labour and careful study. Considering that from internal evidence it must have been almost wholly written in the early months of the present year, it is sur- prising how few marks of haste are apparent. It is written in an easy, simple, unpretentious style, and the English translation strikes us in every respect as faithful and satis- factory.