08/16/07 - anarchists

In today's encore excerpt - the "anarchist", terrorists in the United States and Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century. Like today's terrorists they used bombings and assassinations. Membership usually came from the destitute and hopeless, and the leadership often came from the elite. Anarchists were also part of the ominous foreshadowing of World War I:

"So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914. They were President Carnot of France in 1894, Premier Canovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, President McKinley of the United States in 1901, and another Premier of Spain, Canalejas, in 1912. Not one could qualify as a tyrant. Their deaths were the gestures of desperate or deluded men to call attention to the Anarchist idea. ...

"They came from the warrens of the poor, where hunger and dirt were king. ...

"The Anarchists believed that with Property, the monarch of all evil, eliminated, no man could again live off the labour of another, and human nature would be released to seek its natural level of justice among men. ...

"The most prominent among the new Anarchist leaders was Prince Peter Kropotkin, by birth an aristocrat, by profession a geographer, and by conviction a revolutionist. ...

"Anarchism's new era of violence opened in France just after the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution. A two-year reign of dynamite, dagger and gunshot erupted, killed ordinary men as well as great ones, destroyed property, banished safety, spread terror, and then subsided. The signal was given in 1892 by a man whose name, Ravachol, seemed to 'breathe revolt and hatred.' His act, like nearly all that followed it, was a gesture of revenge for comrades who had suffered at the hands of the State. ...

"His manner was resolute, and his eyes had the peculiarly piercing gaze expressive of inner conviction. 'My object was to terrorize so as to force society to look attentively at those who suffer', he said putting volumes into a sentence."


Barbara W. Tuchman


The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890 - 1914


A Ballantine Book published by The Random House Publishing Group


Copyright 1962, 1963, 1965 by Barbara W. Tuchman


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