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Philosophy on LJ
4. terror and virtue 
6th-May-2006 11:19 pm
Human life in common is only made possible when a majority comes together which is stronger than any separate individual and which remains united against all separate individuals. The power of this community is then set up as ‘right’ in opposition to the power of the individual, which is condemned as ‘brute force.’ This replacement of the power of the individual by the power of a community constitutes the decisive step of civilization.
— Sigismund Schlomo Freud, 6 May 1856 - 23 September 1939,  
Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929[0]  
In 1905, at the height of his renown as the creator of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud published a deceptively slight volume on the clandestine nature of jokes. According to Freud, jokes employ the methods of condensation, displacement, and indirect representation through allusion, absurdity, and substitution of trivialities for matters of profound importance, in the service of man’s repressed instinctual nature, epitomized in the instincts of sex and aggression. These instincts serve as the wellspring of all wit. In civilized society, they seldom wield direct influence over human affairs. Only owing to a momentary suspension of salubrious repressions that constrain them in the service of the super-ego, do sexuality and aggression enter into collective consciousness. Thus jokes enable the brief pleasure in discharging the energy of the anticathexis responsible for maintaining these repressions.
    The nature of this discharge is best illuminated by example:[1]
Itzig ist zur Artillerie eingeteilt worden. Er ist offenbar ein intelligenter Bursche, aber ungeschickt und ohne Interesse für den Dienst. Einer seiner Vorgesetzten, der ihm wohlgesinnt ist, nimmt ihn beiseite und sagt ihm: «Itzig, du taugst nicht bei uns. Ich will dir einen Rat geben: Kauf dir eine Kanone und mach dichselbständig.» Itzig has been declared fit for service in the artillery. He was clearly an intelligent lad, but intractable and without any interest in the service. One of his superior officers, who was friendlily disposed to him, took him on one side and said to him: “Itzig, you’re no use to us. I’ll give you a piece of advice: buy yourself a cannon and make yourself independent!”
Freud goes to some trouble to explain the joke. The advice, says he, is obvious nonsense. Cannons are not to be bought and an individual cannot make himself independent as a military unit — set himself up in business, as it were. But in so far as the advice is not mere nonsense, but a joking nonsense, it merits scrutiny of the means whereby the nonsense is turned into a joke. And here Freud infers that “[t]he officer who gives Artilleryman Itzig this nonsensical advice is only making himself out stupid to show Itzig how stupidly he himself is behaving. He is copying Itzig: ‘I’ll give you some advice that’s as stupid as you are.’ He enters into Itzig stupidity and makes it clear to him by taking it as the basis of a suggestion which would fit in with Itzig wishes: if Itzig possessed a cannon of his own and carried out military duties on his own account, how useful his ambition and intelligence would be to him! In what good order he would keep his cannon and how familiar he would make himself with its mechanism so as to meet the competition of the other possessors of cannons!”
    In this hasty reading, Freud seems disingenuous in decrying Itzig’s stupidity. After all, his underachieving artillerist hero, denied the opportunity to make a snappy comeback, shares his name with the quick-witted protagonist of Freud’s favorite joke: “Itzig, wohin reit’st Du?” “Weiss ich, frag das Pferd.” That other Itzig has no idea where he is riding to. All interested parties should ask the horse. In a hallowed equation, his self-deprecation compensates for his complacency. As an admirer of this tranquil rider, the physician who built his worldview on a painstaking investigation of ostensible coincidences is unlikely to have overlooked this instance of homonymy. The implication of Freud planting his tongue in cheek is borne out by the fact that the butts of each joke derive their shared name from an aphaeresis omitting the first letter of the German word Witzig, witty or jocular.[2] Through the silence of its protagonist, the joke evinces an elusive quality that resists interpretative closure, suggesting great deeds to come from this intelligent but intractable Jewish underachiever. Be it real or feigned, Freud’s confidence in the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force already rang hollow upon publication in 1905. The reluctant artillerist had come into his own. His self-employment inaugurated a new stage in democratic pluralism. No longer will this plebe be meekly carried along by the steed of History.

    The legitimacy of the state’s monopoly had been previously undermined by revolutionary cataclysms. The concept of terrorism, as the means of establishing the reign of terror, first emerged in 1793. On 7 May 1794, state terrorism received its consecration in one of Maximilien Robespierre’s beautiful sayings so cherished by Charles Baudelaire:[3]
Si le ressort du gouvernement populaire dans la paix est la vertu, le ressort du gouvernement populaire en révolution est à la fois la vertu et la terreur : la vertu, sans laquelle la terreur est funeste; la terreur, sans laquelle la vertu est impuissante. La terreur n’est autre chose que la justice prompte, sévère, inflexible; elle est donc une émanation de la vertu; elle est moins un principe particulier, qu’une conséquence du principe général de la démocratie, appliqué aux plus pressans besoins de la patrie. If the recourse of democratic government in time of peace is virtue, the recourse of democratic government in revolution is at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an issuance of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.
Thus inaugurated by Maximilien Robespierre, sustained by his friends in the Committee of Public Safety, state terror was adopted by revolutionary France as its official instrument between the suppression of the Girondins and the reaction of Thermidor. Its defining characteristic was a lack of concern with connections between personal guilt and capital punishment. In principle, most political practices of modernity can be traced back to classical antiquity. The novelty of Robespierre lies in adjoining the reliance upon terror in wartime, to the traditional liberal foundation of democracy in virtue, traceable to Aristotle via Montesquieu. By contrast, the old regime never had any reason to ground its terror in democratic virtue.
    Terrorism entered the repertory of private citizens only with the emergence of counter-revolutionary reaction. In the spirit of Modernity, its ascendance was due to a privately accomplished scientific advance. Following six years of risky experiments that claimed the life of his younger brother Emil, in 1866 Alfred Nobel succeeded in stabilizing nitroglycerine, a highly volatile explosive liquid. By mixing it with silica, he produced a safely pliable paste that presented no danger until and unless it was deliberately detonated with a blasting cap. Nobel called his invention dynamite, deriving its name from the Greek term for power. It was the most significant contribution to social work since the invention of black powder.[4]
    Nobel received his first patent for dynamite in 1867. That year Baudelaire died, suffering the last sacrament after muttering blasphemies for seventeen months of aphastic hemiplegia. That year Napoleon III invited the world to wonder at another Great Exposition in Paris. That year his nemesis Bismarck formed the North German Confederation under the leadership of Prussia. That year Garibaldi marched on Rome, only to taste defeat at the hands of the Papal army and a French expeditionary force. That year Japan committed to the Meiji period of forced modernization, leaving behind its 265 year-long stasis of the Tokugawa Shogunate. That year Russia sold Alaska to the U.S.A. for $7.2 million, netting approximately two cents an acre. That year the Universal Company of the Suez Ship Canal announced a public subscription for 333,333 shares of its stock. That year Ibsen published Peer Gynt, Bagehot published The English Constitution, and Marx published the first volume of Das Kapital. From that year on, until his death in 1896, Alfred Nobel dedicated his career to the art of destruction, obtaining hundreds of patents and commercializing his wondrous invention worldwide.

    Nobel’s efforts were richly rewarded by brisk popular adoption of his invention. Dynamite opened new industrial vistas and precipitated dramatic social change. Its worldwide sales enabled its inventor to amass a vast personal fortune, eventually bequeathed to the cause of tacit expiation. In anticipation of mutually assured destruction, Nobel strove to produce material or a machine so devastating in its effect that thenceforth war would be impossible. In 1891, he justified his enterprise to Countess Bertha von Suttner, a future laureate of his Peace Prize: “Perhaps my factories will put an end to war sooner than your congresses: on the day that two army corps can mutually annihilate each other in a second, all civilized nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops.” From the vantage point of the third millennium, it is hard not to view Nobel’s logic as parodic. Innumerable nations are built and remade by men making their first public appearances on wanted posters. William Tell, George Washington, Michael Collins, Charles de Gaulle, and Mao Zedong, all acquired legitimacy and sovereignty by taking to heart, in one way or another, the condescension suffered by Itzig. And given the trickling down of innovations, the doomsday device is sooner or later bound to fall in the hands of individuals whose destructive personal agenda cannot be constrained by fear of retaliation that binds rational parties acting on the behalves of their societies. Thus Nobel’s invention was fast becoming the focal point of a popular cult.
    Russian innovators set a powerful example for the West.[5] With its government unconstrained by a constitution, with its predominantly illiterate peasantry, with its antiquated industry, Russia was the most retarded major power of the 19th century. In 1867 its autocratic ruler was Alexander II. The eldest son of Emperor Nicholas I, he was born in Moscow on 17 April, 1818, and ascended to the throne on 19 February 1855, following the death of his father. Crowned on 26 August 1856, Alexander II came to power in the midst of his country’s impending humiliation by defeat in the Crimean War, fought against the British and French empires and the Ottoman Turks. Disgraced by the territorial and political concessions in the Treaty of Paris signed on 30 March 1856, Alexander II abandoned overseas expansion early in his reign. He concentrated instead on securing and modernizing his empire through buttressing its borders and reforming its administration. These accomplishments were tainted by compromise. His greatest military triumph of 1877-1878 against the Ottoman Empire caused the annulment of the Treaty of Paris, and precipitated the liberation of the Balkans from Moslem rule. At the same time, it led to financial ruin and political embarrassment. Above all, Russian radicals were disgruntled by the penury that ensued from the long anticipated liberation of the serfs through the 1861 Edict of Emancipation.
    From this frustration of far-reaching hopes emerged a loosely structured secret society called Land and Liberty, Zemlya i Volya. Inspired by the anarchism of Mikhail Bakunin, Land and Liberty sought to precipitate further progress by political violence. On 4 April 1866, thanks to the intervention of a loyal subject, the tsar narrowly escaped the revolver shot fired at close range by the former student Dmitry Karakozov. His reprisals against the revolution in the rescript of 23 May 1866 targeted the universities and the press with special vigilance. Many radicalized students chose to reciprocate their repression. At first, their homicidal skills fell well short of professional standards. When the school teacher Alexander Soloviev, formerly a student of the Petersburg University, emptied his revolver at the tsar on 20 April 1879, military training served his royal target in good stead. Alexander II escaped Soloviev’s bullets by weaving a zigzag trajectory with his hasty retreat. Thus, when People’s Will, Narodnaya Volya, the terrorist wing splintered from Land and Liberty, condemned the tsar to death, its followers chose further ranging means of carrying out their sentence.
    Dynamite had entered Russian popular culture twelve years earlier, in the wake of its use in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878. It soon turned into the preferred means of revolutionary persuasion. Radicalized by imprisonment for criminal possession of The Communist Manifesto, former engineering student Nikolay Kibalchich took time off his design of rocket-propelled spacecraft, to perfect the composition of dynamite and the construction of hand-propelled bombs set to detonate upon impact. Then his People’s Will confederate Stepan Khalturin got employed in the royal residence of the Winter Palace as a carpenter. After smuggling in nearly 50 kilos of specially blended dynamite, Khalturin set up a mine under the royal dining room. Unbeknownst to the bomb plotters, the royal dinner was delayed. When the charge went off on 17 February 1880, the tsar was not to be found among the 67 casualties. The next execution attempt was set for 1 March 1881. Frustrated by domestic intrigue, People’s Will took to the streets of Petersburg. Their new plot included Sophia Perovskaya, Andrei Zhelyabov, Gesya Gefman, Nikolay Sablin, Ignaty Grinevitsky, Nikolay Rysakov, and Timofei Mikhailov. Peter Kropotkin, the gentle apostle of anarchism, described it as follows:
It is known how it happened. A bomb was thrown under his iron-clad carriage, to stop it. Several Circassians of the escort were wounded. Rysakóff, who flung the bomb was arrested on the spot. Then, although the coachman of the Tsar earnestly advised him not to get out, saying that he could drive him still in the slightly damaged carriage, he insisted upon alighting. He felt that his military dignity required him to see the wounded Circassians, to condole with them as he had done with the wounded during the Turkish war, when a mad storming of Plevna, doomed to end in a terrible disaster, was made on the day of his fête. He approached Rysakóff and asked him something; and as he passed close by another young man, Grinevétsky, the latter threw a bomb between himself and Alexander II, so that both of them should be killed. They both lived but a few hours.

    There Alexander II lay upon the snow, profusely bleeding, abandoned by every one of his followers! All had disappeared. It was cadets, returning from the parade, who lifted the suffering Tsar from the snow and put him in a sledge, covering his shivering body with a cadet mantle and his bare head with a cadet cap. And it was one of the terrorists, Emeliánoff, with a bomb wrapped in a paper under his arm, who, at the risk of being arrested on the spot and hanged, rushed with the cadets to the help of the wounded man. Human nature is full of these contrasts.
    Alexander III succeeded his martyred father. On 15 April 1881, five revolutionaries mounted the scaffold. Sophia Perovskaya, a noblewoman, Andrei Zhelyabov, a liberated serf, Nikolai Rysakov, a petty bourgeois, Timofei Mikhailov, a worker, and Nikolay Kibalchich, son of a priest — all five Russian estates had united in regicide.
The Cathedral of the Resurrection on Blood was erected on the site of their bombing. Long accustomed to mitigating its despotism by strangulation, the Russian Empire never recovered from this explosive demise of a liberalizing regime. Further escalation of propaganda by the deed took place in the New World.
    On 1 May 1886, a general strike swept across the United States. On the same day, a stranger came into an Indianapolis saloon kept by John Phillip Deluse. The man was of a medium size, about five feet two, three, or four inches. He had a moustache. He wore a dark suit and carried a small satchel about one and one half feet long. He said “I come from New York and I guess I will go to Chicago. You will hear of some trouble there very soon.” Pointing to his satchel, he continued “I have got something in here that will work. You will hear of it.” The man drank his whiskey. As he went through the door, he turned around. Holding up his satchel, he repeated his words: “You will hear of it soon.” From the appearance of the satchel and from the manner of the man holding it, Deluse guessed that it contained something heavy.[6]
    Three days later, on 4 May 1886, the general strike culminated with the explosion of the first dynamite bomb thrown in America. The infernal device mortally wounded police officer Matthias J. Degan and injured several of his colleagues during a labor rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. A spontaneous police action ensued. As a result, seven other police officers were fatally wounded and sixty more were injured in the hail of predominantly friendly fire that also achieved an unaccounted number of civilian casualties.

A roundup of the usual suspects took place under the direction of Inspector John Bonfield and Captain Michael J. Schaack, commander of the Chicago Avenue station on the North Side. Several eyewitnesses fingered Rudolph Schnaubelt as the likely bomb-thrower. A tall and powerfully built anarchist given to inflammatory outbursts against Chicago’s finest, Schnaubelt was a plausible candidate for precisely tossing a heavy missile in their midst. He was arrested and “quizzed and sweated” three days after the explosion, but was inexplicably released without charge, enabling him to get away from the city and recede into anonymity. In the sweep of the usual anarchist suspects, the Chicago police arrested Samuel Fielden, an Englishman, and six German immigrants, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab. The police also sought Albert R. Parsons, one of the speakers at the Haymarket meeting, who had left well before the explosion. The only native born American among the Haymarket defendants, descendant of a noted New England family, Parsons was born in Alabama and raised in Texas. In the Civil War, he served the Confederacy as a soldier in the cavalry under the command of his brother. After the war, Parsons reconsidered his Confederate ideas and served in the Reconstruction government of Texas before rejecting democratic action and becoming a leader of the anarchist International Working Peoples Association in Chicago.
    A grand jury was empanelled on 17 May, presenting ten days later a sixty-nine-count indictment of Engel, Fielden, Fischer, Lingg, Neebe, Parsons, Schwab, Spies, and Schnaubelt for the murder of Officer Degan. That was the one death clearly attributable to the bomb and not to the ensuing gunfire. Parsons managed to avoid capture for six weeks. However, intending to stand by his comrades and expecting to carry the day with his innocence, Parsons surrendered voluntarily during the afternoon of 21 June 1886.
    State’s Attorney Julius Grinnell asked the jury: “Convict these men, make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions.” But the prosecution was unable to prove that any one of the eight defendants had advance knowledge of the Haymarket tragedy, let alone aided or abetted its unidentified perpetrators. The two witnesses that placed Spies and Schwab at the scene of the crime, were roundly discredited by the defense. Numerous others testified that none of the accused threw the bomb. The prosecution therefore changed the indictment to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Its case eventually reduced to the allegation that the unknown bomb-thrower had been impelled to commit his act through speeches made and articles written by the defendants. Accordingly, Judge Joseph E. Gary refused to instruct the jury, as the defense had asked, that a guilty verdict required evidence that showed a clear connection between the defendants and the bomb-throwing. Similarly, he refused to require that the jurors had to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the eight men on trial had entered into an illegal conspiracy involving someone who was directly or indirectly responsible for the bomb. On the contrary, Gary allowed the jury to read speeches and articles by the defendants where they had argued in favor of using violence to obtain political change. The judge then told the jury that if they believed, from the evidence, that these speeches and articles contributed toward the throwing of the bomb, they were justified in finding the defendants guilty. The prosecution entered as People’s Exibits other discussions of dynamite that so inspired and energized anarchists, and angered and terrified their enemies, verged on incantations to the explosive’s magical ability to make a single worker the equal of the gathered minions of capital. An editorial in the Alarm of 15 November 1884 read:
Dynamite is the emancipator! In the hand of the enslaved it cries aloud: “Justice or—annihilation!” But best of all, the workingmen are not only learning its use, they are going to use it. They will use it, and effectually, until personal ownership—property rights—are destroyed, and a free society and justice becomes the rule of action among men. There will then be no need for government since there will be none who will submit to be governed. Hail to the social revolution! Hail to the deliverer—Dynamite.
Among the documents so considered, the clearest position statement emerged from the letter by anarchist Gerhard Lizius, published on 21 February 1885 in The Alarm, one of Chicago’s numerous anarchist newspapers:
Dynamite! of all the good stuff, this is the stuff. Stuff several pounds of this sublime stuff into an inch pipe, gas or water pipe, plug up both ends, insert a cap with fuse attached, place this in the immediate neighborhood of a lot of rich loafers, who live by the sweat of other people’s brows, and light the fuse. A most cheerful and gratifying result will follow. In giving dynamite to the downtrodden millions of the globe, science has done its best work. The dear stuff can be carried around in the pocket without danger, while it is a formidable weapon against any force of militia, police or detectives that may want to stifle the cry for justice that goes forth from the plundered slaves. It is something not very ornamental, but exceedingly useful. It can be used against persons and things; it is better to use it against the former than against bricks and masonry. It is a genuine boon for the disinherited, while it brings terror and fear to the robbers. It brings terror only to the guilty, and consequently the Senator who introduced a bill in congress to stop its manufacture and use, must be guilty of something. He fears the wrath of an outraged people that has been duped and swindled by him and his like. The same must be the case with the “servant” of the people who introduced a like measure in the senate of the Indiana Legislature. All the good this will do. Like everything else, the more you prohibit it, the more will it be done… A pound of this good stuff bears a bushel of ballots all hollow, and don’t you forget it. Our law makers might as well try to sit down on the crater of a volcano or a bayonet as to endeavor to stop the manufacture and use of dynamite. It takes more justice and right than is contained in laws to quiet the spirit of unrest. If workingmen would be truly free, they must learn to know why they are slaves. They must rise above petty prejudice and learn to think. From thought to action is not far, and when the worker has seen the chains, he need but look a little closer to find near at hand the sledge with which to shatter every link. The sledge is dynamite…
The defense rhetoric was no less florid, describing the accused as “men of broad feelings of humanity,” declaring “that their only desire has been, and their lives have been consecrated to, the betterment of their fellow-men,” and comparing them to Jesus Christ, “the great Socialist of Judea.” More to the point, defense counsel reminded the jurors that, contrary to Grinnell’s statements, law and anarchy were not on trial. The charge was murder and not treason. On Friday, 20 August 1886, after only a few hours of deliberating the previous afternoon and evening, the jury reached a verdict. The following morning the jury foreman Frank Osborne handed the clerk two verdicts. In the first verdict, the jury found Oscar Neebe guilty of murder “in manner and form as changed in the indictment,” and sentenced him to fifteen years in prison. In the second verdict, the jury found August Spies, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, and Louis Lingg guilty of the same crime, and fixed the penalty at death.
    Between October 7 and 9 the condemned men spoke to the court—first Spies, then Schwab, Neebe, Fischer, Lingg, Engel, Fielden, and finally Parsons, who declaimed for eight hours over two days. While his fellow defendants had used at least a portion of their time to vent their disappointed hopes for a better America, as the only confirmed bomb-maker amongst them, Lingg would have none of this. Theretofore seemingly indifferent to the trial, he bitterly thanked the court for conceding him the liberty of a final speech. A man whose scrupulous honesty and conscientious dealings with his fellow men could not go unacknowledged even by his bitterest police adversary, Lingg sheered at the judicial process based on the perjuries of “squealers” and “hireling knaves”. He extolled anarchy and its opposition to “the universal misery, the ravages of the capitalist hyena.” He assured his enemies that his death would be avenged by the masses. “IF YOU CANNONADE US we shall dynamite you,” Lingg thundered at his audience. “I despise you, I despise your order; your laws, your force-propped authority. HANG ME FOR IT!” Ever the theoretician, Parsons justified himself in an eloquent encomium to his favorite means of political persuasion:
WHY, THEN, AM I CALLED A DYNAMITER? Listen, and I will tell you. Gunpowder in the fifteenth century marked an era in the world’s history. It was the downfall of the mail armor of he knight, the freebooter, and the robber of that period. It enabled the victims of these highway robbers to stand off at a distance in a safe place and defend themselves by the use of gunpowder, and make a ball enter and pierce into the flesh of their robbers and destroyers. Gunpowder came as a democratic instrument. It came as a republican institution, and the effect was that it immediately began to equalize and bring about an equilibrium of power. There was less power in the hands of the nobility after that; less power in the hands of the king; less power in the hands of those who would plunder and degrade and destroy the people after that.
    So today DYNAMITE COMES AS THE EMANCIPATOR OF MAN from the domination and enslavement of his fellow-man. [The Judge showed symptoms of impatience.] Bear with me now. Dynamite is the diffusion of power. It is democratic; it makes everybody equal. General Sheridan says “arms are worthless.” They are worthless in the presence of this instrument. Nothing can meet it. The Pinkertons, the police, the militia, are absolutely worthless in the presence of dynamite. They can do nothing with the people at all. It is the equilibrium. It is the annihilator. It is the disseminator of power. It is the downfall of oppression. It is the abolition of authority; IT IS THE DAWN OF PEACE; it is the end of war, because war cannot exist unless there is somebody to make war upon, and dynamite makes that unsafe, undesirable, and absolutely impossible. It is a peace-maker; it is man’s best and last friend; it emancipates the world from the domineering of the few over the many, because all government, in the last resort, is violence; all law, in the last resort, is force. Everything is based upon force. Force is the law of the universe; force is the law of nature, and this newly discovered force MAKES ALL MEN EQUAL AND THEREFORE FREE.
    Parsons, Spies, Fisher, Engel, and Lingg had their sentences affirmed on appeal. Fielden and Fischer, as the only two defendants who asked for mercy, had their sentences commuted, to life in prison. On 10 November 1887, Lingg reconsidered his taunt by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth. His face torn to bits, the young anarchist lingered for six hours before expiring. On the next day, Engel, Spies, Fisher, and Parsons took turns mounting the gallows. As the noose was placed around his neck, Spies shouted out: “There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!” Next in line, Fischer spoke only eight words: “This is the happiest moment of my life.” Parsons, the last to speak, shouted out “Will I be allowed to speak, o men of America? Let me speak, Sheriff Matson! Let the voice of the people be heard!” The voice of the people was silenced by Sheriff Matson, signaling to the executioner to spring the trap.

    Captain Schaack, who had played a major role in the arrests following the bombing, was determined to stay in the limelight in which Haymarket had placed him. Indefatigable at self-promoting and “not overscrupulous” in policing, Schaack made up for his absence from the Haymarket by thrusting himself into the public eye throughout its aftermath. He credited Bonfield and himself with the Haymarket prosecuton succeeding despite the incompetence and permissiveness of Superintendent Ebersold. In true entrepreneurial fashion Schaack collected nearly $300,000 for extracurricular investigations from prominent Chicago businessmen like Marshall Field, George Pullman, and Cyrus McCormick Jr., specially targeted as capitalist villains by anarchist invective. In the third volume of History of Chicago, published the same year as Haymarket, Alfred T. Andreas attributed 865 criminal arrests in an eleven-year period to Schaack. Schaack distinguished himself further with his 1889 Anarchy and Anarchists, the most comprehensive contemporaneous history of the Haymarket affair:
In the year 1866, according to the most trustworthy authorities, dynamite was first made by Alfred Nobel. In speaking of the invention, Adolf [sic.] Houssaye, the French litterateur, recently said:
    It should be remembered that nine-tenths, probably, of the dynamite made is used in peaceful pursuits; in mining, and similar works. Indeed, since its invention great engineering achievements have been accomplished which would have been entirely impossible without it. I do not see, then, much room for doubt that it has on the whole been a great blessing to humanity. Such certainly its inventor regards it. “If I did not look upon it as such,” I heard him say recently, “I should close up all my manufactories and not make another ounce of the stuff.” He is a strong advocate of peace, and regards with the utmost horror the use of dynamite by assassins and political conspirators. When the news of the Haymarket tragedy in Chicago reached him, M. Nobel was in Paris, and I well remember his expressions of horror and detestation at the cowardly crime.
    “Look you,” he exclaimed. “I am a man of peace. But when I see these miscreants misusing my invention, do you know how it makes me feel? It makes me feel like gathering the whole crowd of them into a storehouse full of dynamite and blowing them all up together!”
Echoing Lingg threatening him, Schaack concluded: “Dynamite, however, is the weapon with which the ‘revolution’ has armed itself for its assault upon society. A terrible arm truly, but one difficult to handle, dangerous to hold, and certainly no stronger in their hands than in ours, if it should ever become necessary to use it in defense of law and order.”
    By the time Schaack’s magnum opus was published, both he and Bonfield had been cashiered from the police force for trafficking in stolen goods and extorting saloon-keepers, prostitutes, and thieves. The corruption of their past and present confederates remains inextricably intertwined with their efforts to take down the Black Flag. Thus the extent to which the propagation of dynamite was due to sincere believers in the anarchist cause, or to agents provocateurs acting on behalf of law and order, is forever bound to remain obscure.
    Nevertheless, responding to the mounting doubts as to the justice of their convictions, on 26 June 1893, newly elected Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the surviving anarchists, earning widespread opprobrium from the friends of law and order.
When Altgeld lost his reelection campaign in 1896, his enemies attributed the end of his political career to the pardon. Meanwhile, in Paris in 1889 the Second International called for demonstrations of labor solidarity in commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs on the 1st of May of the following year, causing May Day to be observed worldwide ever since. Its celebration was not long in setting off a chain of terror and expiation.
    By 1929, in the aftermath of the carnage of World War I, and in anticipation of greater destruction to come, Freud turned his speculative gaze toward issues of world-historical scale. Increasingly pessimistic as to the social prospects of human culture and altogether dismissive as to the availability of individual happiness, he accounted for the cruel and indispensable mechanisms of repression responsible for maintaining precarious balances that serve as the prerequisite of civic order:[7]
What means does civilization employ in order to inhibit the aggressiveness which opposes it, to make it harmless, to get rid of it, perhaps? We have already become acquainted with a few of these methods, but not yet with the one that appears to be the most important. This we can study in the history of the development of the individual. What happens in him to render his desire for aggression innocuous? Something very remarkable, which we should never have guessed and which is nevertheless quite obvious. His aggressiveness is introjected, internalized; it is, in point of fact, sent back to where it came from—that is, it is directed towards his own ego. There it is taken over by a portion of the ego, which sets itself over against the rest of the ego as super-ego, and which now, in the form of ‘conscience’, is ready to put into action against the ego the same harsh aggressiveness that the ego would have liked to satisfy upon other, extraneous individuals. The tension between the harsh super-ego and the ego that is subjected to it, is called by us the sense of guilt; it expresses itself as a need for punishment. Civilization, therefore, obtains mastery over the individual’s dangerous desire for aggression by weakening and disarming it and by setting up an agency within him to watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city.
Then, as now, unwanted heirs of Alfred Nobel have carried the day. Dynamite and its increasingly volatile descendants still pass in the hands of insubordinate individuals in riotous cities, serving as the means of production of those essential commodities of political modernity, hatred, strife, and chaos. In defying the foundations of social order, their makers continue to pose a challenge to the rational conception of political power. In so far as it derives its inspiration in religion or grounds its justification in ideology, terrorism stands at odds with necessary conditions of public reason. The stakes continue to increase. The premisses of emancipation continue to accrue. It is only a matter of raising the explosive yield beyond the resilience of social order. Nuclear explosives can no more be interdicted in the XXIst century, than dynamite could be interdicted in the XIXth. The integrity of our institutions in their duty to countermand the imperatives of these infernal devices is warranted no better now than it was then. In coping with their fallout, we cannot avoid the predicament identified by Robespierre. The recourse of democratic governments in the face of ongoing Islamofascist revolutions is at once virtue and terror. Our political identity and cultural continuance therefore depend on mutual support between terror and virtue.


[0] Sigmund Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, 1929, translated by James Strachey as Civilization and Its Discontents, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989, Chapter III, p. 49.

[1] Sigmund Freud, Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewußten, Leipzig, Vienna: Dueticke, 1905, p. 44, translated by James Strachey as Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989, p. 64.

[2] See his letter to Wilhelm Fliess, 7 July 1898, in Aus den Anfängen der Psychoanalyse (The Origins of Psychoanalysis), Frankfurt: Fischer, 1950, p. 275. In his genial embrace of Yiddishkeit, Freud is free of the self-loathing that compels Karl Kraus to decry the speed with which every Itzig Witzig today rhymes ästhetisch [aesthetic] with Teetisch [tea-table].

[3] See Mon cœur mis à nu, V.8, OC I, p. 679; Maximilien Robespierre, Œuvres complètes, ed. Eugène Déprez et al., Paris, 1910-1967, vol. X, p. 357, quoted by David P. Jordan in “The Robespierre problem”, in Colin Haydon, William Doyle (editors), Robespierre, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 29. All translations are by MZ, unless noted otherwise.

[4] References on Alfred Nobel: TBA.

[5] References on Russian history: TBA.

[6] The principal synthesis of the Haymarket Affair remains the magisterial study by the late Paul Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, Princeton University Press, 1984. Court transcripts and newspaper articles are quoted from linked online sources, accessed at the time of this posting.

[7] Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989, Chapter VII, pp. 83-84.

Crossposted to [info]larvatus, [info]real_philosophy, and [info]history in commemoration of Sigmund Freud’s sesquicentennial.
7th-May-2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
This is an incredibly interesting and informing read.

That is until i have to disagree with the conclusion.

There is no such thing as Islamofascism in-so-far-as a naturally occuring governing force arising from within predominantly muslim nations. However there may be such a thing in-so-far-as there are groups who have been funded and manipulated to control populations on certain historical political boundaries... most notably the Taleban. I wouldn't give credence to the term Al-Qaeda, personally.

"Our political identity and cultural continuance therefore depend on mutual support between terror and virtue."

'Our'? If that's the identity you choose, who am i to argue? Are you aware of how cutting this sentence really is? The link between our state and terror in a post-modern society truly does depend on the mutual support between terror and virtue. Except, i think we're lacking the virtue part. This is post-Enlightenment society. All morals are, at best, relative, and at most, subjective.

In short, i think 'this' political cultures continuance depends on the mutual support between terror and terror. (Or terror and error, if you like.)

I do find it highly ironic that the last picture is of the World Trade Centre 'fiasco' - i think that's a word we can all agree on no matter how you look at it.

Watch this eyewitness account of 9/11!
7th-May-2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
...and at the least*, subjective.

Although i guess it depends on how you take the context.
7th-May-2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
I take state terrorism as inaugurated by Maximilien Robespierre and his friends in the Committee of Public Safety, in their unconcern with connections between personal guilt and capital punishment. In principle, most political practices of modernity can be traced back to classical antiquity. The novelty of Robespierre lies in adjoining the reliance upon terror in wartime, to the traditional liberal foundation of democracy in virtue, traceable to Aristotle via Montesquieu. This tactic was imported into the private sector most definitively by Émile Henry declaring to the court of the Third Republic: « Il n’y a pas d’innocents. » In the eyes of the terrorist, no citizen is innocent. The bourgeois electorate must pay with blood for its complicity in repression by the state and exploitation by capital. By contrast, I cannot find any evidence of classical grounding of state terrorism in democratic virtue. This phenomenon is very different from the Romans intimidating conquered peoples or their enslaved folk by imposing arbitrary crucifixion for minor offenses.
    You raise several issues in response. Islamofascism is readily definable as a natural kind, and measurable as a social and political trend, as the propensity to impose religious orthodoxy on the state and the citizenry. As to the ensuing responses of our allegedly post-Enlightenment society, imagine a scenario wherein a low yield nuclear device has been detonated a stone’s throw away from the U.S. Congress. Suppose that its components are traced to Karachi and its construction and delivery are credited to Riyadh. Would you expect the American retaliation to proceed in scrupulous observance of individual guilt and responsibility? Please recall that profound violations of constitutional principle have already taken place in response to calamities much lesser in symbolic and material damage than the hypothetical hostile detonation of a nuclear device on American soil. I cite the internment of Japanese Americans in response to Pearl Harbor and the Patriot Act in response to 9/11. Try to extrapolate these precedents to accommodate the hypothesis.
    Lastly, if all morals are, at best, relative, and at the least, subjective, the game already appears to have been well and truly lost. Your analysis leaves us with no basis for supporting any foundational principle of democracy, understood as the system of government that relies upon checks and balances grounded in a mixed constitution, the separation of executive and legislative powers, and the independent judiciary. It is certainly tempting to seek refuge in sophisticated irony glossing over sophistical misology. In its utmost extravagance, which I hope never to approach in this community, this tendency terminates in the opposition to philosophy characteristic of the fuckwit. To the extent that we remain committed to the love of wisdom, we owe ourselves a sound and adequate accounting of our predicament, as first diagnosed and treated by Robespierre.
8th-May-2006 02:43 am (UTC)
Listen good and listen closely, cause i'm only going to say this once. You've really riled me up and i hope you enjoy the response as much as i enjoyed ripping you apart.

For everyone else that doesn't speak French (or pomp for that matter), "Il n’y a pas d’innocents." means "There are no innocents".

If you're going to waste my time by backing yourself up with links to articles you yourself have written, then you could at least do me the favour of looking at the one website i suggested previously. As for your reference to the phrase 'f***wit', i'm sure you've already enjoyed my response in kind. I realise you weren't calling me the name directly; it certainly must be tempting to seek refuge in sophisticated vocabulary and academic sophistry (a term that can be applied to both of us, so what's the point?). For now, eat this. It's the first article found when you search for "Il n’y a pas d’innocents" in google.

It's relevance? It contains the aforementioned phrase and further relates it to the modern predicament. It is surprisngly hard to find a reliable source for this phrase. The best i could do without wasting too much time was 'Liston, R. (1977). Terrorism. New York, NY: Thomas Nelson Inc.'. I'd of prefered an earlier source, but hey, ce la vi.

Nowhere have i found it to mean 'In the eyes of the terrorist...'. At best, i'll grant you 'In the eyes of Émile Henry...'. Although this erroneous abstraction does seem to be popular. In my own opinion i think it'd be fairer to say 'no citizens are innocent in the eyes of a terrorist, unless that citizen is also a terrorist, or at least a sympathizer, unless the terrorist is using indiscriminate targetting, in which case no one is innocent or guilty, merely those caught in the wake of the atrocity were not sufficiently aligned to the terrorists ideologies enough to be informed of such an event'. I think that nearly covers everything, forgive me if i'm wrong.

I'm not surprised you can't find any classical grounding. If there were a book that detailed the phenomena of today, it would be highly prophetic in nature and have an army of worshippers espousing it's greatness to us everyday. But there aren't and there isn't. (I hope you're enjoying my embodiment of your name calling.)

Islamofascism is not 'readily' definable. It's a very new and crude word that embodies much more than the groups it is applied to. I'll concede that it could be used to describe such groups. I only do this because it mars my main point. It's not just a political and social trend, it's a reaction and outcome of the myriad influences the west has had in the middle-east, from public war to secret coup, over the past 100+ years.

Maybe 'post-enlightenment' had the wrong connotations. What i meant by it was to merely illustrate the temporal relationship between now and then. We are living the Enlightenment philosophy and in such a context we are far from a post-Enlightenment era. Forgive the confusion.
8th-May-2006 02:44 am (UTC)
The precedents are as laughable as the notion that someone could trace the origin of a post-detonated nuclear device to... anywhere. I refuse to extrapolate the precedents because they are not what they seem.

If someone did detonate a nuclear device on U.S. soil, then maybe i'd really believe there were real terrorists responsible. They probably announce it loudly and clearly too, otherwise there would have been no point in there actions.

A controlled demolition of a few buildings at the expense of a few thousand 'expendable' citizenry does not sway my opinion. Executive Order 9066, in response to Pearl Harbor, and The Patriot Act, in response to 9/11, are not precedents - they are developments. Halliburton recently got a contract to build more 'internment camps' (now called 'detention centres') across America and you're going to buy it under the guise they're for 'illegal immigrants'. Did you know that just under 2/3rds of the Japanese that were interned, some 80,000, were 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese Americans? Did you also know that Germans and Italians were also readily interned?

What is it about the image of a 'terrorist' that makes you safe? If you keep going on about some 18th century, know-nothing about the 21st century, king of the reign of terror... you might just end up in these centres one day. I won't, because i'm British. Although the recent creation of SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) is getting me worried.

Morals being subjective is not my analysis, it is the reality in which we live, if indeed we are living the Enlightenment philosophy. It does indeed leave us with no bases for supporting any foundational principle of democracy, hence why democracy is a sham. The checks and balances are being waivered; the lines between executive, legislative and judicial branches are blurring together. We more likely live in a corpocracy and function under war corporatism.

Finally... answer me this:
How can we give ourselves a sound and adequate account of our predicament from someone who is dead?
8th-May-2006 04:00 am (UTC)
I am not sure of understanding your seemingly frenetic engagement with my argument. (This includes your references and your words alike.) Setting aside your allusion to conspiracy theories, there remains my point of political terror employing the standard means of prevailing over rule-bound animals, namely determining the main rule that constrains your adversary, and embarrassing him into submission by breaking it. In the event, the main rule that constrains a democratic society is its allegiance to virtue. (The cynically inclined are welcome to substitute affectation for allegiance.) This much of our predicament we learn from the dead. As every assembly of philosophers is bound to agree with forensic pathologists, hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae.
    I understand the difference between your moral analysis and your social diagnosis. To clarify, I disagree that moral relativism or moral subjectivity finds deep support in any Western society. I also disagree that democracy is a sham. More generally, in the work from which the foregoing has been extracted, I aim to get past such sloganeering, arriving at demonstrative arguments of moral and political consequence. In this philosophical enterprise, I have no interest in engaging personalities outside of the boudoir. There is no name-calling here, howsoever indirect. As for purveying froggy pomp, I plead guilty as charged. Anyone who finds it objectionable should seek his kicks elsewhere.
8th-May-2006 08:56 am (UTC)
Before i begin, i realised i was edging on rude on your counts, but you're also coming across as rude on mine. You may not intend name calling, but i'm left with little else to consider. An interesting paradox. I've tried to remove anything that was caused by my emotional side, although a lot seems to remain, hopefully adding colour to my palette.

I then realised that you seem to have broadcast your practice, which, by your own words, is done to your "own strategic disadvantage". I grant you the benefit of the doubt as to the purposefulness of this move and realise that i should probably likewise reveal my own. The problem here though is that i'm not entirely sure what that is. I'm not sure i'm within any bounds... i play the game of finding out what game i'm playing. To be brutally honest, it seems to be survival and my participation here is purely coincidental in my paradoxically characterised exercise of escaping from reality by learning about it through various mediums other than the dangerous exercise of living in it. It is also certainly a source for stimulating thought, for which tonight you have provided plenty. My brain feels dry from effort, much like eyes do when one is tired. Returning back to the problem of our mutual offensiveness, i have invested too much to just 'shut up'. Interestingly i can do this guilt free because i don't seem to be bogged down in needless social telepathy... i'm not telepathic. (This is my own very obscure way of saying that i know for certain that i do not conform to rules of non-verbal communication... i've lived a life of bullying for it. I might even score higher than most on the Asperger's scale.) Apologies should also be afforded for the structure of my replies. I tend to edit and re-edit and research and re-edit and read and re-read and move bits around in direct correlation to each dissection i take from your own words. Anyway, i shall continue and leave you to make your move.

Frenetic? I'll add 'Phonetic' and 'Phenetic' for good measure.

Why set them aside? You want to disarm me by labelling them conspiracy theories? Go ahead. You still haven't watched that video, fine by me. Your loss of knowledge, not mine. With every hour of research you thrust me into, i learn all the more.

I'm not sure i fully understand the intent of your reference to 'the standard means' with regards to the meaning of the term 'rhetoric' as it has at least two, almost converse, meanings. I'm also lost as to who is referenced by the subject terms in its use as an analogy.

The cynically inclined are hardly likely to have thought of substituting affectation for allegiance. The pedantic might (merely a good example). I'm cynical and instead my train of thought that you derailed was more along the lines of:
"Where when and who said that democratic society is constrained by its allegiance to virtue? Don't forget now that the term 'democracy' is itself, in its modern use, a misnomer. You supposedly live in a federal democracy, but it sure doesn't behave like one. I supposedly live in a constitutional monarchy, although it's ruling realm lacks a decent constitution."

We learn what you say from the dead, in principle. It is another matter in practice. I'd even go as far to say the dead are dead wrong.

The Latin translated - "This is the place where death rejoices to teach those who live."
Again, i think you missed my point. Firstly, who said that this is such a place? Secondly, i ask again, how can a dead man diagnose and treat living problems? I partly agree with the diagnose part, in-so-far-as it can be a useful tool in a larger and more encompassing diagnostic process, but i entirely disagree with the treat part. Those would inevitably be your words coming out of his mouth, or the words outlining the logical conclusion drawn from the restricted pool of resources created by so diligently leaving everything else that matters at the door. I'm sure every competent forensic pathologist would agree (with regards to the difference between 'evidence' and the 'interpretation' of said evidence).
8th-May-2006 08:56 am (UTC)
I just lost a whole half of my reply because of a failure to create an adequate backup before trying to post it in two-halves. Understanbly, this has annoyed me. What follows is a shadow of it's former self.

I too disagree, society is motivated by an amoral creed. I also disagree that a real democracy would be a sham - where i disagree is that what we are living in is infact any form of democracy.

Your aims are admirable but do you realise that in ignoring these 'petty' points you are being complicit to the ruling ideology. The ideology i refer to here is the one that is being lived and will itself be questioned and overturned. I'm questioning it and i want it overturned. The only political and moral consequence of such an endeavour is to 'tow the party line' so to speak.

I vote for more sloganeering! It makes it much easier to understand what you're saying.

Finally, i have to say that i hope you've not taken any of this too personally. I know from experience that this is impossible when, in a manner of speaking, one is asked to question themselves. I'm left with no choice to end like this, though:
Because i am not restrained by my own moral convictions to behave in such a way, this only leaves you to follow your own choice of volition(sic). If you "have no interest in engaging personalities outside of the boudoir" (interesting choice of word), then sit down and be quiet. To me this means you stop publishing anything until you've thought long and hard about how you are a part of the whole and you affect the direction we are all taking, for better or for worse. Hopefully for the better. Hopefully you reply in kind.

I find it most offensive that you seem to suggest that you are here some 'kicks'. I'm living this nightmare, trying to make sense of the mess i find myself in and hopefully some solutions to the predicament as a whole and in relation to myself. I find myself desperately trying to grasp for a life raft, only to find doughnuts. Incidentally, fat is less dense than muscle, so i'm more likely to float anyhow.

Here's the last word:
"To the extent that we remain committed to the love of wisdom..." to which i would add "...we owe it to ourselves to pursue knowledge while knowing no bounds to that pursuit. This is the paradox of a true philosopher." Sounds quite good. With a little polishing i'll be partying in my grave.
8th-May-2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
I went to bed very tired this morning, at around 7am, and as soon as my head hit the pillow i realised that the loss of the second half of my reply had also lost an important paragraph.

I'm enjoying this. If you're not, i'm sorry.

The vast chasm that seems to span the distance between me, a young and rebellious individual, and yourself, a harvard graduate, long time student of philosophy and quite possibly a lecturer too, although i'm not sure. Wouldn't hurt to ask. If it's a job that's causing the world to end, i'll cry.
8th-May-2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
I spent some time translating Montesquieu in response to your question. I will be posting the results later on. Thanks for the momentum.
    As someone else pointed out, I am a bloviator. I suppose that this vocation falls in the lecturing genre. My preferred term is lumpen intellectual, though Luftmensch will do.
8th-May-2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
Awesome, i look forward to reading it. Glad to have put some fire up under your ass, as Marshall Mathers would say.

I'm nothing and nobody. My main love/hate relationship is with politics and everything related, which is a lot of stuff on its own. The fire you lit under my ass was spurred by the default political line your otherwise reasonable entry was making. One day some might call me an extremist, but then so was Jesus. For now, i'm merely the working poor. The son of a line of soldiers and a line terrorists, i embody paradox. I've yet to make my claim here. I'm the observer and the observed. I'm also being needlessly dramatic. But it's fun :)
18th-May-2006 09:30 am (UTC)
Sorry about the delay. I have posted a note on the relevant passages in Aristotle and Montesquieu. It is not my intention to make a default political line, and to that end the reference to Islamofascism shall be excised from the next revision.
    We seem to come from similar stock, as regards soldiering and terrorism. Thanks for returning fire.
18th-May-2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
No worries, i shall give it a good read.

I just had the thought that maybe in combating the chaos of terrorism, a state solidifies its methods of control, thus moving closer towards fascism? This of course works whether the terrorism is 'real' or not ;)

That's an incredible homage to a great man... i don't quite know what to say. If i could leave behind even half a legend as his, i'd know i'd lived my life well.

I should thank you for having a patience with me that few can be bothered to or ever muster.
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