Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 109.
Arbeiter-Zeitung (Newspaper) article, "(Editorial) About Revolutionary Deeds," 1885 Mar. 16
Introduced into evidence during testimony of E. F. L. Gauss (Vol. K p. 721-732), 1886 July 31.
Transcript of translation of article.
Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 109.
Monday, March 16, 1885.
ABOUT REVOLUTIONARY DEEDS.
War is an occupation of raw forces;
With mild means thou canst not assert thyself.
Clear and even like unto a mirror the surface of the ocean generally presents itself; the waves, moved by a weak breath of air, form in rows of small, low hillocks, whose forms are changing and which at once disappear again whilst new ones are forming. But the picture assumes a different form when a storm is approaching: A peculiar dreadful oppressive stillness fills the air, but only for a short time; suddenly the waves rise, grow higher and higher into towers which rapidly disappear and make room for a gaping deep. These tower-like formations of the water multiply, the sea foams in wild commotion and a rustling and howling fills the air. But suddenly the enraged element seems pacified, the storm has finished its ravings, the ocean exhibits a cheerful harmless surface.
An analogy of this is seen in the life of humanity, is found in the advancing element of culture of the entire human race.
Men present in their every day existence little that is remarkable to the eye of the observer. Their daily occupations absorb the greatest portion of the time and what then remains falls to recreation, to the collection of new strength, which then has to be spent again; the machine is oiled and heated that it may be in condition to run again.
But the picture suddenly assumes another aspect, when the tendency of the current of time forces this living billowy mass of humanity to the threshold where one portion is left and a new and higher one is entered upon; it is different when our race arrives at those turning points marking the epochs of time where lasting marking posts are planted in history. In such moments the pulses begin to beat with greater power, the hearts do throb louder and more clearly. In such moments then gigantic forms arise above the level of the common and the daily, which, Titan-like, over-tower the surroundings. Singly at the outset, they appear after a time more often and more numerously, the enthusiasm, the storm of deeds communicate themselves more and more mightily and finally sieze upon the entirety, the heart of the world throbs with a stronger and more excited beat. We find light moments of highly-going waves of enthusiasm repeatedly inscribed upon the leaves of history and we live at present in such an epoch of time, in a moment when the greatest,
the most lofty, when the idea of all ideas fills the entire globe. Gigantic forms throwing light in the advance of humanity have appeared and will continue to appear and multiply in numbers; the blood of the most noble champions has flowed and will be the seed which, like unto the dragon-teeth bring forth Spartans. Their deeds will be proclaimed, their memory the proletariat has closed into its heart, their names will be a terror to all the tyrants and their tools, but unto the people they will be a symbol of gratefulness of reverence and enthusiasm for ever more.
Peculiar is the task of the critic; it bears a great similarity to that of an anatomist or physiologist. As he, free from every inward excitement, takes the dissecting knife into his hand, cuts the corpse, examines the organs, looks for abnormities and follows up the results which these have produced from the mutual contact of the organs, thus in similar manner the critic has to dissect revolutionary actions into their atoms and observe to study and compare, to draw conclusions and develope theses, thereby to sharpen and make moreeffectual that side of the two edged blade, revolutionary action, which is turned towards tyranny and to dull and thus make less dangerous the opposite side. This is the task of
the following lines: In all revolutionary action three different epochs of time are to be distinguished; first, the portion of preparation for an action, then the moment of the action itself and finally that portion of time which follows the deed. All these portions of time are to be considered one after another.
In the first place, a revolutionary action should succeed. Then as little as possible ought to be sacrificed, that is, in other words, the danger of discovery ought to be weakened as much as possible, and if it can be should be reduced to naught; this calls for one of the most important tactical principles which briefly might be formulated in the words: Saving of the combatants. All this constrains us to further explain the measures of organization and tactics which must be taken into consideration in such an action%
Mention was made of the danger of discovery. That is in fact present in all three of the periods of the conflict. This danger is imminent in the preparation of the action itself and finally after the completion thereof; the question is now, how can it be met?
If we view the different phases of the development of a deed we have first the time of preparation.
It is easily comprehensible for everybody that the danger of discovery is the greater the more numberous the mass of people or the group is which contemplates a deed,
and vice versa. On the other hand, the threatening danger approaches the closer the better the acting persons are known to the authorities of the place of action, and vice versa. Holding fast to this, the following results:
In the commission of a deed a comrade who does not live at the place of action, that is, a comrade of some other place, ought if possibility admits to participate in the action, or, formulated differently, a revolutionary deed ought to be enacted where one is not known.
A further conclusion which may be drawn from what was mentioned is this:
Whoever is willing to execute a deed has in the first place to put the question to himself whether he is able or not to carry out the action by himself; if the former is the case let him absolutely initiate no one into the matter and let him act alone, but if that is not the case then let him look with the greatest care for just as many follows as he must have absolutely, not one more nor less; with these let him unite himself to a fighting-group.
The founding of special groups of action or of war is an
absolute necessity. If it were attempted to make use of an existing group to effect an action, discovery of the deed would follow upon its heels, if it would come to a revolutionary action at all, which would be very doubtful. It is especially true in America, where re-action has velvet paws and where assinne confidentially is from a certain direction directly without bounds. In the preparation already endless debates would develope; the thing would be hung upon the big bell; it would be at first a public secret and then after the thing was known to everybody, it would also reach the long ears of the holy Hermandad (the sacred precincts of the watchman over the public safety) which, as is shown to every man, woman or child, hear the grass grow and the fleas cough.
In the formation of a group of action the greatest care must be exercised. Men must be selected who have head and heart in the right spot. for of such is true the word of the poet;
"For here the heart is yet considered,
No substitute can here be found;
But for himself he stands his ground,"
Has the formation of a fighting group been effected, has the intention been developed, does each one see perfectly clear in the manner of the execution, then action must follow with the greatest possible swiftness without delay, for now they move within the scope of the greatest danger simply from the very adjacent reason, because the selected allies might yet commit treason without exposing themselves in so doing.
In the action itself one must be personally at the place to select personally that point of the place of action and that part of the action which are the most important and are coupled with the greatest danger, upon which depend chiefly the success or failure of the whole affair."
Has the deed been completed, then the group of action dissolves at once without further parley according to an understanding which must be had before-hand, leaves the place of action and scatters to all directions.
If this theory is acted upon then the danger of the discovery is extremely small, yea, reduced to almost nothing, and from this point of view the author ventures to say thus and not otherwise must be acted if the advance is to be proper.
It would be an easy matter to furnish the proof by the different revolutionary acts in which the history of the immediate past is so rich, that the executors sinned against the one or the other of the afore-meantioned principles and that in this fact lies the cause of the discovery and the loss to us of very important fellow champions connected therewith; but we will be brief and leave that to the individual reflection of the reader. But one fact is established that is this: That all the mentioned rules can be observed without great difficulties, further that the blood of our best comrades can be spared thereby; finally as a consequence of the last mentioned, that like actions can be increased materially, for the complete success of an action is the best impulse to a new deed and the thing must always succeed when the rules of wisdom are followed.
A further question which might probably be raised would be this: In case a special, or conditional group must be formed for the purpose of an action, what is the duty in that case of the public groups or the entire public organization, in view of the aforesaid actions? Well, the answer is very near at hand. In the first place, they have to serve as a covering, as a shield behind which one of the most effective
weapons of revolution is bared; then these permanent groups are to be the source from which the necessary pecuniary means are drawn and fellow-combatants are recruited; finally, the accomplished deeds are to furnish the permanent groups the material for critical illustration, these discussions are to wake the spirit of rebellion, that important lever of the advancing course of the development of our race without which we would be forever nailed down to the state of development of a gorilla or an orang-outang, this right spirit is to be inflamed, the revolutionary instinct is to be aroused which still sleeps in the breast of man although these monsters which by an oversight of nature were covered with human skin are honestly endeavoring to cripple the truly noble and elevated form of man by the pressure of a thousand and again a thousand years, to morally castrate the human race, finally the means and form of conquest are to be found by untiring search and comparison which enhance the strength of each proletarian a thousand fold and make him the giant Briarcos which alone is able to crush the ogres of capital.
May these modest lines give an impulse to a general, deep and lasting reflection in this direction, for the situation
in which we are is of a doubly serious nature. Already the single-handed fight, already the small warfare has commenced at many a point of our line of battle. Already the hydra of every tyranny is winding, coiling itself. Step by step it goes forward in spite of the ruling monsters and Iscariots of the people. Now it is the thing to put down then fencing mask and to put in position the lance and fight with the sharpest and most effective means and fight with the employment of the greatest cunning against our bestialized, demoralized enemy. If then follows at last an early rising en masse then let every one of us without an exception be mindful of the words of the poet:
"For virtue, rights of man and liberty to die,
Is reward of highest nature, is death of a Savior of the World.
And only the most brave of the heroes of mankind,
Do dye their armor red in these with their hearts blood."
_ _ _ _ _ Z