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For jihadist, read anarchist
19 ago 2005
Repression did little to stop anarchist violence. But eventually the world moved on and the movement withered

BOMBS, beards and backpacks: these are the distinguishing marks, at least in the popular imagination, of the terror-mongers who either incite or carry out the explosions that periodically rock the cities of the western world. A century or so ago it was not so different: bombs, beards and fizzing fuses. The worries generated by the two waves of terror, the responses to them and some of their other characteristics are also similar.
For jihadist, read anarchist

Aug 18th 2005
From The Economist print edition


Mary Evans





Repression did little to stop anarchist violence. But eventually the world moved on and the movement withered

BOMBS, beards and backpacks: these are the distinguishing marks, at least in the popular imagination, of the terror-mongers who either incite or carry out the explosions that periodically rock the cities of the western world. A century or so ago it was not so different: bombs, beards and fizzing fuses. The worries generated by the two waves of terror, the responses to them and some of their other characteristics are also similar. The spasm of anarchist violence that was at its most convulsive in the 1880s and 1890s was felt, if indirectly, in every continent. It claimed hundreds of lives, including those of several heads of government, aroused widespread fear and prompted quantities of new laws and restrictions. But it passed. Jihadism is certainly not a lineal descendant of anarchism: far from it. Even so, the parallels between the anarchist bombings of the 19th century and the Islamist ones of today may be instructive.

Islamists, or at least those of the Osama bin Laden stripe, have several aims. Someâsuch as the desire âto regain Palestineâ?, to avenge the killing of âour nation's sonsâ? and to expel all âinfidel armiesâ? from âthe land of Muhammadâ?âcould be those of any conventional national-liberation movement. Others are more millenarian: to bring everyone to Islam, which, says Mr bin Laden, âis the religion of showing kindness to others, establishing justice between them, granting them their rights, and defending the oppressed and persecuted.â? All this will come to pass once everyone is living in an Islamic state, a caliphate governed by sharia law. Hence âthe martyrdom operations against the enemyâ? and the promise of paradise for those who carry them out.












Anarchists have always believed in the antithesis of a Muslim state. They want a world without rule. Their first great theoretician, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, wanted to abolish centralised government altogether. This, though, would not bring the chaos with which the word anarchy is often considered synonymous. On the contrary, a sort of harmonious order would ensue, the state being replaced by a system of autonomous groups and communities, glued together by contract and mutual interest in place of laws. Justice, argued this essentially non-violent man, was the âcentral starâ? governing society.

Though Proudhon is remembered for the dictum, âProperty is theft!â? he actually believed that a man had the right to possess a house, some land and the tools to work it. This was too much for Mikhail Bakunin, a revolutionary nationalist turned anarchist who believed in collective ownership of the means of production. He believed, too, that âthe passion for destruction is also a creative urge,â? which was not a description of the regenerative workings of capitalism but a call to the barricades. Regeneration, however, was very much an anarchist theme, just as it is a jihadist one. As one of anarchism's leading interpreters, George Woodcock, has put it, âIt is through the wrecks of empires and faiths that the anarchists have always seen the glittering towers of their free world arising.â?

What prompts the leap from idealistic thought to violent action is largely a matter for conjecture. Every religion and almost every philosophy has drawn adherents ready to shed blood, their own included, and in the face of tyranny, poverty and exploitation, a willingness to resort to force is not hard to understand. Both anarchism and jihadism, though, have incorporated bloodshed into their ideologies, or at least some of their zealots have. And both have been ready to justify the killing not just of soldiers, policemen and other agents of the state, but also of civilians.



The heads roll
For anarchists, the crucial theory was that developed in Italy, where in 1876 Errico Malatesta put it thus: âThe insurrectionary deed, destined to affirm socialist principles by acts, is the most efficacious means of propaganda.â? This theory of âpropaganda by deedâ? was cheerfully promoted by another great anarchist thinker, Peter Kropotkin, a Russian prince who became the toast of radical-chic circles in Europe and America. Whether the theory truly tipped non-violent musers into killers, or whether it merely gave a pretext to psychopaths, simpletons and romantics to commit murders, is unclear. The murders, however, are not in doubt. In deadly sequence, anarchists claimed the lives of President Sadi Carnot of France (1894), Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, the prime minister of Spain (1897), Empress Elizabeth of Austria (1898), King Umberto of Italy (1900), President William McKinley of the United States (1901) and José Canalejas y Méndez, another Spanish prime minister (1912).

Such assassinations, it may be argued, were less similar to al-Qaeda's than to those of the Narodniki, the members of the Russian Party of the People's Will, who believed in âdestroying the most powerful person in governmentâ? to undermine its prestige and arouse the revolutionary spirit. This they had undoubtedly done in 1881 by murdering Tsar Alexander II, even though he had been a reformer and, indeed, a liberator of the serfs. In truth, the practice of assassination is as old as the hills, though it got its name only in the 11th-13th centuries when it was followed by the Nizari Ismailiyun, a Shia sect that considered the murder of its enemiesâconducted under the influence of hashish (hence assassin)âto be a religious duty.

Mr bin Laden would surely delight in some dramatic assassinations today. Presidents and prime ministers, however, do not nowadays sit reading the newspaper on the terraces of hotels where out-of-work Italian printers wander round with revolvers in their pockets, as Cánovas did, or walk the streets of Madrid unprotected while looking into bookshop windows, as Canalejas did. So Mr bin Laden must content himself with the assertion that on September 11th, âGod Almighty hit the United States at its most vulnerable spot. He destroyed its greatest buildings...It was filled with terror from its north to its south and from its east to its west.â?

The anarchists, too, were happy to resort to more indiscriminate acts of terror. âA pound of dynamite is worth a bushel of bullets,â? said August Spies, the editor of an anarchist newspaper in Chicago, in 1886. His readers evidently agreed. A bomb thrown soon afterwards was to kill seven policemen breaking up a strikers' gathering in the city's Haymarket Square.

France, too, had its dynamitards. One of their bombs blew up the Restaurant Véry in Paris in 1892. Another, some months later, which was destined for a mining company's offices, killed six policemen and set off a flurry of wild rumours: acid had been placed in the city's water supply, it was said, churches had been mined and anarchists lurked round every corner. A year later a young anarchist, unable to earn enough to feed himself, his lover and his daughter, decided to take his own lifeâand at the same time make a protest. Ready to bomb but unwilling to kill, he packed some nails and a small charge of explosive into a saucepan and lobbed it from the public gallery into the Chamber of Deputies. Though it caused no deaths, he was executedâand then avenged with another bomb, this one in the Terminus café at the Gare St-Lazare which killed one customer and injured 19. The perpetrator of this outrage, designed to âwaken the massesâ?, regretted only that it had not claimed more victims. A popular street song boasted:

It will come, it will come,
Every bourgeois will have his bomb.

And many were inclined to agree. Four more bombs went off in Paris in the next two months.

Other countries were hardly more peaceful. A bomb was lobbed into a monarchist parade in Florence in 1878, another into a crowd in Pisa two days later. In 1893, two bombs were thrown into the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona, killing 22 opera-goers on the first night of the season. A year later a French anarchist blew himself up by accident in Greenwich Park in London, presumably on his way to the observatory there. Two years later, at least six people taking part in a religious procession in Barcelona were blown to bits by an anarchist bomb. Countless attempts were also made on the lives of bigger names, such as King Alfonso XII of Spain (1878), Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany (May and June 1878), Andrew Carnegie's business partner, Henry Clay Frick (Pittsburgh, 1892), a Serbian minister (Paris, 1893) and King Alfonso XIII and his English bride (Madrid, on their wedding day, 1906). In this last incident alone 20 bystanders died.

Then, as now, alarm and consternation broke out. Admittedly, violent attacks on prominent figures were quite frequent: one American president had been assassinated in 1865 (Lincoln) and another in 1881 (Garfield), and seven attempts were made on Queen Victoria's life before her reign ended in 1901, none of them by anarchists. Even so, governments could hardly do nothing. The response of some was repression and retribution, which often provoked further terrorist violence. Germany arrested 500 people after the second attack on the kaiser, many for âapprovingâ? of the attempts on his life. Spain was particularly prone to round up the usual suspects and torture them, though it also passed new laws. After the Liceo bombing, it brought in courts-martial for all crimes committed with explosives, and only military officers were allowed to be present during the trial of the supposed bombers.

France, too, resorted to unusual measures. After the bombing of the French Chamber of Deputies, 2,000 warrants were issued, anarchist clubs and cafés were raided, papers were closed down and August Vaillant, the bomber, was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death in a day. An apologist who declared that not a single man in France would grieve for the president if he confirmed the sentence (as he did), and then was assassinated (as he was), was jailed for two years for incitement to murder. The French parliament made it a crime not just to incite sedition but also to justify it. Criminal âassociations of malefactorsâ? were defined by intent rather than by action, and all acts of anarchist propaganda were banned.

Similarly, in Britain soon after last month's bombings, the prime minister, Tony Blair, announced that âcondoning or glorifying terrorismâ? anywhere, not just in the United Kingdom, would become a crime. Places of worship used as centres for âfomenting extremismâ? are to be closed down. Measures will be taken to deport foreigners âfostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs, or justifying or validating such violence.â? Naturalised Britons engaged in âextremismâ? will be stripped of their citizenship.

Jihadists, of course, cross borders, and many are presumed to be indoctrinated by foreigners, even if they commit their deeds at home. So it was too with the anarchists, even though they often plotted and acted alone. Many of the ideas came from Russia. Besides Bakunin, Russia also produced Kropotkin, âan uncompromising apostle of the necessity of violenceâ?, according to Barbara Tuchman in âThe Proud Towerâ?.

Italy, by contrast, produced many of the assassins: for example, those who killed Carnot, Cánovas, Empress Elizabeth and King Umberto. It also exported utopians who founded anarchist settlements like the Cecilia colony in Brazil. Germany, too, had its share of fanatics, including Johann Most, the editor of an incendiary New York newspaper, Freiheit, and many of the Jewish anarchists who congregated in London's East End. France also sent anarchos abroad: a prominent theorist, Elisée Reclus, taught in Brussels. The man who shot McKinley was the child of Polish immigrants to America. And Switzerland, like England, played host to exiles who came and went with considerable freedom.

No wonder, then, that anti-foreigner feeling ran high in many places. In the United States, President Theodore Roosevelt asked Congress to exclude anyone who believed in âanarchistic principlesâ? and, by treaty, to make the advocacy of killing an offence against international law. Congress duly obliged with an act that kept out anyone âteaching disbelief in or opposition to all organised governmentâ?.

By then an international conference had been held (in 1898) at the behest of Italy to seek help in fighting anarchism. The Italians did not get all they wanted: Belgium, Britain and Switzerland refused to abandon the right of asylum or to extradite suspected anarchists. But in 1893, just after the Liceo bombing, Britain had reluctantly banned open meetings of anarchists after the Liberal home secretary, H.H. Asquith, had come under attack for allowing an anarchist meeting to commemorate the Chicago Haymarket martyrs.

The vast majority of anarchists, like the vast majority of Islamists, were not violent, and some of those who once believed in bloodshed, notably Kropotkin, were to turn against it in time. But those who relished indiscriminate violence used an argument with striking similarities to that used by Mr bin Laden. Thus Emile Henry, who had left the bomb in the café at the Gare St-Lazare, was to justify his act by saying that those in the café were all âsatisfied with the established order, all the accomplices and employees of Property and the State...There are no innocent bourgeois.â? For his part, Mr bin Laden, in his âLetter to Americaâ? of November 2002, justifies the âaggression against civilians for crimes they did not commitâ? with a slightly more sophisticated variant. They deserved to die, he said, because, as American citizens, they had chosen âtheir government by way of their own free will, a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies.â?

Such sentiments recall the characters of Conrad's âThe Secret Agentâ? and Fyodor Dostoevsky's âDevilsâ?. Inspired by 19th-century anarchist intellectuals and events, they describe men of almost autistic lack of empathy and contorted moral sense. For Conrad's protagonist, nicknamed the Professor, the world's morality

was artificial, corrupt and blasphemous. The way of even the most justifiable revolutions is prepared by personal impulses disguised into creeds. The Professor's indignation found in itself a final cause that absolved him from the sin of turning to destruction as the agent of his ambition. To destroy public faith in legality was the imperfect formula of his pedantic fanaticism; but the subconscious conviction that the framework of an established social order cannot be effectually shattered except by some form of collective or individual violence was precise and correct. He was a moral agentâthat was settled in his mind. By exercising his agency with ruthless defiance he procured for himself the appearances of power and personal prestige. That was undeniable to his vengeful bitterness. It pacified its unrest; and in their own way the most ardent of revolutionaries are perhaps doing no more but seeking for peace in common with the rest of mankindâthe peace of soothed vanity, of satisfied appetites, or perhaps of appeased conscience.

Anarchists like the Professor, a quiet man who went round with a bomb in his pocket that he could detonate with the squeeze of a rubber ball should he be arrested, were difficult to detect and impossible to deter. So why did their wave of terror pass? Not, it seems, because of the measures taken to deter them. The main reason, rather, was that the world became consumed with the first world war, the Russian revolution, the fight against fascism and the struggles against colonialism. Another was that, after a while, the more rational anarchists realised that terrorism seldom achieves the ends desired of itâas the IRA has recently acknowledged.

But in truth the wave did not entirely pass; it merely changed. The anarchist terrorists of 1880-1910 were replaced by other terroristsâFenians, Serb nationalists (one killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thus sparked the first world war), Bolsheviks, Dashnaks (revolutionary Armenians), Poles, Macedonians, Hindu nationalists (among them the killers of Mahatma Gandhi), fascists, Zionists, Maoists, Guevarists, Black Panthers, Red Brigades, Red Army Fractions, Palestinians and even al-Qaeda's jihadists. Few of these shared the anarchists' explicit aims; all borrowed at least some of their tactics and ideas.

And the world went on. It probably would even if yesterday's dynamitards become today's plutoniumards. But terrorism is unlikely to be expunged. As long as there are men like Conrad's Professor, there will be causes to excite them, and therefore deeds to terrify their fellow citizens.



Sources:

âAnarchismâ?, by George Woodcock, Pelican Books, 1962.

âThe Anarchistsâ?, by James Joll, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1964.

âThe Proud Towerâ?, by Barbara W. Tuchman, Macmillan, 1962.

âHow Russia Shaped the Modern Worldâ?, by Steven G. Marks, Princeton University Press, 2003.

âEast End Jewish Radicals 1875-1914â?, by William J. Fishman, Five Leaves Publications, 2004.

âViolent London: 2,000 Years of Riots, Rebels and Revoltsâ?, by Clive Bloom, Sidgwick & Jackson, 2003.
Mira també:
http://economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=4292760

This work is in the public domain

Comentaris

Re: For jihadist,and all,all,all others read anarchist
19 ago 2005
Fenians, Serb nationalists (one killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thus sparked the first world war), Bolsheviks, Dashnaks (revolutionary Armenians), Poles, Macedonians, Hindu nationalists (among them the killers of Mahatma Gandhi), fascists, Zionists, Maoists, Guevarists, Black Panthers, Red Brigades, Red Army Fractions, Palestinians and even al-Qaeda's jihadists...
Re: For jihadist, read anarchist
21 ago 2005
http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/bevington/anarchvi.html


ANARCHISM AND VIOLENCE.
BY

L.S. BEVINGTON.
LONDON:
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY JAMES TOCHATTI, "LIBERTY PRESS,"

CHISWICK, W.
1896. Price One Penny.

LIBERTY:
A Journal of FREE COMMUNISM.
Monthly--One Penny. Communications for Editor, or Publisher, to be addressed 7, Beadon Road, Hammersmith, W.

Anarchism and Violence (1896): a machine-readable transcription
Bevington, Louisa Sarah (Guggenberger) (1845-1895)
Re: For jihadist, read anarchist
22 ago 2005
Me no speak english
Re: For jihadist, read anarchist
23 ago 2005
Es una mierda de artículo que mezcla y compara dos cosas tan dispares como "anarquismo" y "islamismo radical"...un barullo mental de la autora que no tiene ni idea de lo que habla.

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