Posts tagged Alexander Berkman

Friday Lazy Linking

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

It’s a beautiful Sunday in May, and Shamelessness is in the air.

I’ve been working away in the scriptorium this week, not as diligently as I like, but diligently enough that some things long-planned are beginning to come to fruition. You probably know that the Bits & Pieces on Free Market Anti-Capitalism are coming out (and will continue to come out over the upcoming week). What you may not know, unless you specially follow it, is that I’ve also been steadily at work over at the Fair Use Repository. In particular, I’m happy to announce that, as I suggested I might last week, I’m now happy to announce that the complete text of the November 1914 issue of Mother Earth is now available online at fair-use.org. In particular, if you haven’t yet, I would recommend taking a look at Guy Aldred’s essay That Economic Army (a reprint from the Spur). The obvious aspect of the essay is a long tirade against the hypocrisies of Labour Party politicians and trades unionists who are long since dead. But whether the polemic entertains you or not, underneath it there is also a really interesting analysis of how the pressure of state capitalism seizes and deforms individual people, and entire industries, into gears for the war machine, through what Aldred calls economic conscription, and how this constructs and confines their interests so as to create a shared interest in perpetuating war. (The question of course is how to become the sand in the gears, instead of the oil.) This next week, I’ll be working some more at Mother Earth and Liberty, and completing the first run of Bits & Pieces (that is, getting through the material that was actually presented at the APEE panel), and hopefully coming back around to some related commentary. Also got a big pile of contact information from the last couple weeks’ A-Cafes that needs to be processed.

That’s my Shamelessness for the week. What about y’all? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

Happy Sunday, y’all. And I hope you had a happy May Day. I was away from writing opportunities all day yesterday, but in belated honor of International Workers’ Day, I’m pleased to announce that Fair Use Repository is now home to Black Friday of 1887, a commemoration of the Haymarket martyrs which was published in November, 1914 in Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman’s Mother Earth.

There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!

—Last words of August Spies (1887-11-11), immigrant, anarchist, and Haymarket martyr

I’m announcing it here partly to take notice of the article itself; but also because this article is the first of several heretofore unwebbed articles from Mother Earth which will be appearing over the next several days. (I hope to have the entire November 1914 issue of Mother Earth available online by the end of the coming week.)

And what about y’all? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Happy Tyrannicide Day (observed)!

Here's a Tyrannicide Day logo, with a cartoon silhouette of a T. rex with a crown on its head and an asteroid hurtling at it from the sky, with the slogan SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS printed on top.

Happy Tyrannicide Day (observed)!

Today, March 15th, commemorates the assassination of two notorious tyrants. On the Ides of March in 2010 CE, we mark the 2,053rd anniversary — give or take the relevant calendar adjustments — of the striking down of Gaius Julius Caesar — the military dictator who rose to power by butchering his way through Gaul, by boasting of enslaving millions of war captives, by setting fire to Alexandria, and, through years of conquest, perfidy and proscription, battering and breaking through every restraint that Roman politics and civil society had placed in the way of unilateral military and executive power — until he finally had himself proclaimed dictator perpetuus, the King of Rome in everything but name. On March 15th, 44 BCE, a group of republican conspirators, naming themselves the Liberators — rose up and ended his reign of terror by stabbing Caesar to death on the floor of the Senate. By the coincidence of fate, only two days before, on March 13th, is also the anniversary (129th this year, give or take the relevant calendar adjustments) of the assassination of Czar Alexander II Nikolaevitch, the self-styled Caesar and Autocrat of All the Russias. A group of anarchist conspirators, acting in self-defense against the ongoing repression and violence of the autocratic state, put an end to the Czar’s reign by throwing grenades underneath his carriage on March 13th, 1881 CE, in an act of propaganda by the deed. In honor of the coinciding events, the Ministry of Culture in this secessionist republic of one, together with fellow republics and federations of the free world, is happy to proclaim the 15th of March Tyrannicide Day (observed), a commemoration of the death of two tyrants at the hands of people rising up in the conviction of their own equal freedom to defend themselves from violence and oppression, even the violence and oppression exercised by men in the name of the State and its fraudulent claims to authority. It’s a two-for-one historical holiday, kind of like President’s Day, except cooler: instead of another dull theo-nationalist hymn on the miraculous births of two of the canonized saints of the United States federal government, Tyrannicide Day gives us one day in which we can commemorate the deaths of two tyrants at the hands of their equals — men and women who defied the tyrants’ arbitrary claims to an unchecked authority that they had neither the wisdom, the virtue, nor the right to exercise. Men and women who saw themselves as exercising their equal right of self-defense, by striking down the would-be tyrants just like they would be entitled to strike down any other two-bit thug who tried to kill them, enslave them, or shake them down.

It is worth remembering in these days that the State has always tried to pass off attacks against its own commanding and military forces (Czars, Kings, soldiers in the field, etc.) as acts of terrorism. That is, in fact, what almost every so-called act of terrorism attributed to 19th century anarchists happened to be: direct attacks on the commanders of the State’s repressive forces. The linguistic bait-and-switch is a way of trying to get moral sympathy on the cheap, in which the combat deaths of trained fighters and commanders are fraudulently passed off, by a professionalized armed faction sanctimoniously playing the victim, as if they were just so many innocent bystanders killed out of the blue. Tyrannicide Day is a day to expose this for the cynical lie that it is.

There are in fact lots of good reasons to rule out tyrannicide as a political tactic — after all, these two famous cases each ended a tyrant but not the tyrannical regime; Alexander II was replaced by the even more brutal Alexander III, and Julius Caesar was replaced by his former running-dogs, one of whom would emerge from the abattoir that followed as Augustus Caesar, to begin the long Imperial nightmare in earnest. But it’s important to recognize that these are strategic failures, not moral ones; what should be celebrated on the Ides of March is not the tyrannicide as a strategy, but rather tyrannicide as a moral fact. Putting a diadem on your head and wrapping yourself in the blood-dyed robes of the State confers neither the virtue, the knowledge, nor the right to rule over anyone, anywhere, for even one second, any more than you had naked and alone. Tyranny is nothing more and nothing less than organized crime executed with a pompous sense of entitlement and a specious justification; the right to self-defense applies every bit as much against the person of some self-proclaimed sovereign as it does against any other two-bit punk who might attack you on the street.

Every victory for human liberation in history — whether against the crowned heads of Europe, the cannibal-empires of modern Fascism and Bolshevism, or the age-old self-perpetuating oligarchies of race and sex — has had these moral insights at its core: the moral right to deal with the princes and potentates of the world as nothing more and nothing less than fellow human beings, to address them as such, to challenge them as such, and — if necessary — to resist them as such.

How did you celebrate Tyrannicide Day? (Personally, I got back into town from San Francisco, got down to sorting my books from the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, and gave my wife a Tyrannicide Day gift that I picked up for her while I was out — a copy of the The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid, just barely cooled from the presses from the Kate Sharpley Library.) And you? Done anything online or off for this festive season? Give a shout-out in the comments.

Thus always to tyrants. And many happy returns!

Beware the State. Celebrate the Ides of March!

Other Celebrations

See also:

T-shirt: Celebrate Tyrannicide Day