Henri Rochefort is reported to have said in an interview the other day: “Anarchists are merely criminals. They are robbers. They want no government whatever, so that, when they meet you on the street, they can knock you down and rob you.” This infamous and libelous charge is a very sweeping one; I only wish that I could honestly meet it with as sweeping a denial.
But unfortunately, in the minds of the people at large, this word Anarchist is not yet restricted in meaning. This is due principally to the fact that within a few years the word has been usurped, in the face of all logic and consistency, by a party of Communists who believe in a tyranny worse than any that now exists, who deny to the laborer the individual possession of his product, and who preach to their followers the following doctrine: “Private property is your enemy; it is the beast that is devouring you; all wealth belongs to everybody; take it wherever you can find it; have no scruples about the means of taking it; use dynamite, the dagger, or the torch to take it; kill innocent people to take it; but, at all events, take it.” This is the doctrine which they call Anarchy, and this policy they dignify with the name of “propagandism by the deed”.
Well, it has borne fruit with most horrible fecundity. It has developed, and among its immediate and foremost supporters, a gang of criminals whose deeds for the past two years rival in pure “cussedness” any to be found in the history of crime. Were it not, therefore, that I have first, last, and always repudiated these pseudo-Anarchists and their theories, I should hang my head in shame before Rochefort’s charge at having to confess that too many of them are not only robbers, but incendiaries and murderers. But, knowing as I do that no real Anarchist has any part or lot in these infamies, I do not confess the facts with shame, but reiterate them with righteous wrath and indignation, in the interest of my cause, for the protection of its friends, and to save the lives and possessions of any more weak and innocent persons from being wantonly destroyed or stolen by cold-blooded villains parading in the mask of reform.— Benjamin Tucker