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A Girl Among the Anarchists   By:

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By Isabel Meredith


In spite of the fact that there are certain highly respectable individualists of a rabid type who prefer to call themselves Anarchists, it must be owned that it requires some courage to write about Anarchism even with the sympathy befitting a clinical physician or the scientific detachment of a pathologist. And yet it is certain that Anarchists are curiously interesting, and not the less in need of observation from the fact that apparently none of the social quacks who prescribe seriously in leading articles has the faintest insight into them as a phenomenon, a portent, or a disease. This book, if it is read with understanding, will, I feel assured, do not a little to show how it comes about that Anarchism is as truly endemic in Western Civilisations as cholera is in India. Isabel Meredith, whom I had the pleasure of knowing when she was a more humble member of the staff of the Tocsin than the editor, occupies, to my knowledge, a very curious and unique position in the history of English Anarchism. There is nothing whatever in "A Girl among the Anarchists" which is invented, the whole thing is an experience told very simply, but I think convincingly. Nevertheless as such a human document must seem incredible to the ordinary reader, I have no little pleasure in saying that I know what she has written to be true. I was myself a contributor to the paper which is here known as the Tocsin . I have handled the press and have discussed details (which did not include bombs) with the editor. I knew "Kosinski" and still have an admiration for "Nekrovitch." And even now I do not mind avowing that I am philosophically as much an Anarchist as the late Dr. H. G. Sutton, who would no doubt have been astounded to learn that he belonged to the brotherhood.

Curiously enough I have found most Anarchists of the mildest dispositions. I have met meek Germans (there are meek Germans still extant) who even in their wildest Anarchic indignation seemed as little capable of hurting a living soul as of setting the Elbe on fire. For it must be understood that the "red wing" of the Anarchists is a very small section of the body of philosophers known as Anarchists. There is no doubt that those of the dynamite section are practically insane. They are "impulsives"; they were outraged and they revolted before birth. Most of the proletariat take their thrashing lying down. There are some who cannot do that. It is out of these who are not meek and do not inherit even standing room on the earth that such as "Matthieu" comes. Perhaps it may not be out of place to suggest that a little investigation might be better than denunciation, which is always wide of the mark, and that, as Anarchism is created by the social system of repression, more repression will only create more Anarchism. However, I am perfectly aware that the next time a wild eyed philosopher, who ought to be under restraint in an asylum, throws a bomb, all the newspapers in Europe will advocate measures for turning all the meeker Anarchists into outrage mongers. For of the Anarchists it is certainly true that repression does not repress. Anarchism is a creed and a philosophy, but neither as creed nor philosophy does it advocate violence. It only justifies resistance to violence. So much, I think, will be discovered in this book even by a leader writer.

In conclusion I cannot do better than quote from Spinoza's Tractatus Politicus:

"In order that I might inquire better into the matter of this science with the same freedom of mind with which we are wont to treat lines and surfaces in mathematics, I determined not to laugh or weep over the actions of men but simply to understand them, and to contemplate their affections and passions such as love, hate, anger, envy, arrogance, pity, and all other disturbances of soul not as vices of human nature, but as properties pertaining to it in the same way as heat, cold, storm, thunder pertain to the nature of the atmosphere... Continue reading book >>

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