Our Martyred Educator
OUR MARTYRED EDUCATOR
By C. L. James.
WHATEVER effects the murder of our comrade, Francisco Ferrer, by the wretched Spanish government may have upon authority in general— let us hope they will be as extensive as predicted—one is sure the crime cannot fail to render more familiar than anything which ever happened before, the intimate connection between Anarchism and Knowledge.
When, some twenty years ago, the common-school instructed philosophers of the American patent-side week- lies used to talk, with their usual fatuous impertinence, about the "ignorant Anarchists" coming over from Europe, the present writer always told them that there were no ignorant Anarchists. Though he still believes that to have been true at the time, it can no longer be said—happily; for the fact that there are ignorant Anarchists now is proof how rapidly Anarchism spreads even where those obstacles against which it must contend are gravest. Less agreeable phenomena are that the ignorant Anarchists of such recent origin, and also some who are not ignorant—Tolstoy, particularly—were led to Anarchism by something else than that positive inductive method upon which increase of knowledge depends; and that, becoming Anarchists under the influence of piety or philanthropy, to which the crass practical atheism and barbarous cruelty of the governmental spirit are repellant, they retained, or picked up, a prejudice against the coldly intellectual truthfulness of science, expressing itself in such ways as revamping worn-out dogmatisms— Hedonism, Materialism, Equitism; as abuse of Malthus, because he reproved the principal error of that class in which his assailants felt most interest; as attacks on vaccination, because the meddling of government has made it oppressive, and on vivisection, because of its association with vaccination; upon medicine, because it is protected against quackery (very badly, of course) by law; even a disposition to run after such grotesque idols as faith-cure and mind-cure, because, forsooth, they are not medical science but its antithesis; upon Darwin, because his law of progress by selection can be perverted into a plea for the privileged classes; upon his great disciple, only yesterday taken from us, because Lombroso's doctrine of degeneracy implied that those institutions which acted on their unenlightened zeal as a red rag acts upon a bull, had causes; nay, sometimes (with Bakunin and with Tolstoy) in sneers at all useful and all beautiful acts as at mere caterers to the pleasures of the idle rich. Such phases of the Movement in Favor of Ignorance were much to be regretted, because they could not be exploited, as they often were, in our periodicals, without strengthening the outside prepossession that Anarchism is a movement of the ignorant classes (!); because they could not go far enough without resolving Anarchism, like all movements which lose their hold on experimental investigation, into conflicting sects; because, in case of a revolution conducted largely by Anarchists they might give rise to acts which would make a frightful scandal and set back our propaganda indefinitely. It was necessary to assert with emphasis that Anarchism originated in study of facts; that every slave's inferiority is the necessary condition of his slavery; that the misuse of knowledge by authority is not knowledge itself; that ignorant innovations are never progressive, but always reactionary; that Knowledge only is Power; that to get and keep Power it is indispensable that those now poor should become rich in wisdom. And this, accordingly, has been done by all who could.
So much more, however, are men influenced through their emotions than their reason, that one drop of martyr blood goes further to persuade than many volumes of logic. That Francisco Ferrer was a distinguished educator; that the judicial murder of such a man was possible only in the land of the Inquisition; that his knowledge taught him Anarchism; that the principal excuse offered by his slayers was his establishing a school for the purpose or making Spaniards Anarchists by the simple process of making them scientists; that his death has roused to the anathematizing point those combined scientists of the world who prevented a somewhat more enlightened government than the Spanish from murdering Elisee Reclus; that against the bed-rock of the world's education, that tyranny which would so easily disperse a mob is beating itself, not vainly but suicidally; these are facts which must teach both the newly born "ignorant Anarchist" and the doting ignorant Philistine that Anarchism derives invincibility from being the latest result of Science.