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Introduction

The following extract is taken from the Q&A section after a public speech by the socialist leader
Danial De Leon in 1901 on the subject of Socialism and Anarchism. The meeting was called in
response to the assassination of US President William McKinley that year by an anarchist
named Leon Czolgosz. Suffice to say the bourgeois press at the time went into overdrive,
attacking the anarchist and socialist movements though the false insinuation that there is
consistent support for the method of individual terrorism across both movements. The meeting
called by the American SLP (Socialist Labour Party), of which it's leader De Leon addressed
these issues, should be understood in that context.

Regrettably it must be noted that De Leon's address did very little to bring any kind of clarity to
the workers movement on this question. As a reviewer on Amazon Ashtar Command aptly put
it,

"Unfortunately, it's not terribly interesting. De Leon never really engages the ideas of his
anarchist opponents. Essentially, he just claims that anarchists still hold an ancient conception
of government as something standing outside and above society, which leads them to think that
political attentats can change the course of history, while in reality the modern world can only be
changed by the organized labour movement. This analysis may hold for some anarchists, but
hardly for all. In 1901, most anarchists had given up terrorism and instead supported...well, the
labour movement (anarcho-syndicalism).

A large part of De Leon's speech isn't even relevant to the subject at hand. He attacks
"Kangaroo Social Democracy", his label for a dissident faction which had left the SLP. Several
"kangaroos" were present at the meeting, and their exchanges with the speaker aren't
particularly illuminating either. De Leon also touches on the Protestant reformation, the
character of Judaism, etc.

More disturbingly, De Leon makes a number of pretty weird claims, including the idea that all
anarchist assassins were really Catholics, educated by the Roman Catholic hierarchy or the
Jesuits!"

I would add to this reviewer a serve criticism of De Leon's conception of the socialist movement
and the workers party, which was more akin, ironically given the statements in his
aforementioned speech, a religious sect, with his cutting off the 'socialist faithful' away from the
real workers movement, with all it's inevitable flaws and contradictions. He was also an
authoritarian demagogue in his treatment of members of the SLP who held opposing views and
in his controversy with the Irish Republican Marxist James Connolly, who was an active member
for a few years while he was in the US, he not only denied him the space to reply in the party
press to a series of letters and articles attacking his views on the Marxist theory of wages, the
women's question and relegion, his local branch of the SLP in Tray, New York, even went so far
as to put him on trial!
None less, all that withstanding, I do take issue with one point in the quotation from Ashtar
Command's Amazon review, namely the seeming dismal he gives to the exchanges with De
Leon that follow his speech.

While I fully concede they may be not be illuminating to the topic that was under discussion, that
of anarchism, one such exchange does present a profound contribution to the practicalities of
the aproch elected socialists should take to the question of funding the police.

At this time it seems the revolutionary left, or to be more specific that section of the revolutionary
left who approve of standing candidates for positions within the bourgeois state machinery, are
been split between two positions.

Firstly we have the uncompromising abolition aproch, that the elected workers representative
should always vote against any funding for the police.

The second, which is often called the transitional aproch, supports the funding of the police
while at the same time making calls for more transparency and democratic accountability.

It is not my intention here to go into my own personal thoughts on the strengths and
weaknesses of the previous two approaches which I instead hope will come out in the upcoming
discussion but rather to introduce this exchange with De Leon which myself and comrade SD
support, in it's board outline if not the specifics given the duration of time which has passed, as
the correct way to aproch the question and has been reflected in our proposed formulation on
the funding of the police in our joint discussion document.

MR. FRED. J . B o y le . The attitude of the Socialist Labour Party is well known on
the armoury question. Now, if a member of the Socialist Labour Party were elected to
the city council of a city, and the question should come up of making anappropriation of
15,000 dollars for the police, what would be the attitude of the Socialist Labour Party on
that question)?

The SPEAKER. I do not know whether all of you are fully informed on what, no doubt,
is back of this question . Let me, therefore, state what I consider the source of this
gentlemans question before I answer it.

In Haverhill, a man by the name of James Carey, a Social Democra t (laughter,


applause from one person) that solitary hand-clap is a good illustration of the
popularity of Mr. Carey outside of a Democratic Party crowd. (Laughter and applause.)
Now, then, the person who has the intense admiration of that lone man in this hall,
voted for a 15,000 dollars appropriation for an armoury in the city of Haverhill.
Thereupon the Socialist Labour Party pitchforked him, and has never let up.

He first explained, saying that unless he voted as he did he would have been punished
by the State laws; that was shown to be false.
Then he explained, saying that, if he had not done as he did, the city of Haverhill
would have been liable to a fine; that false pretence was also knocked down.

Then he explained, saying that it was necessary that the appropriation should be
made as a sanitary measure, for the old armoury, he said, was in an unsanitary
condition; that crooks explanation was also knocked down by showing that if the
bullets that killed workingmen on strike were sanitary bullets, they were not any less
deadly, and in the capitalists interests, than the unsanitary ones. (Laughter.)

Thereupon that paragon of duplicity and treason to the workers, after several other
contortions, resorted to this, his latest explanation ; Look, said he, at the Social
Democracy in Germany see how the Social Democracy in Germany votes for
appropriations for the sanitation of the German Army, and shall not I, a genuine Social
Democrat, vote for appropriations for the sanitation of an American armoury?
(Laughter.)

In other words, he dared no longer to lie; he now started to insinuate a lie. The lie here
insinuated is that there is any point of comparison between the German Army and the
American militia, between the American militia, made up of young whipper-snappers,
mostly sons of captialists, who go into it for fun and for the purpose of killing strikers
when they turn out, and a body like the German Army, which every man is compelled to
join, and the majority of whom are workingmen. In the latter case the men are supported
by that army ; they are taken from their trades and occupations and homes for three or
four years, and of course it is necessary that the barracks in which they live shall be
kept in a sanitary condition. But here, especially with the militia, it is quite different. Here
we have a lot of youngsters who go into the militia, not because they are compelled to ;
the regiment does not give them a penny ; it costs them money to keep it up, or keep
themselves in it. There is no comparison between the two. Of course, we cannot favour
appropriations for such purposes as that. (Applause.)

Now, by the light of this explanation, we can approach the question of appropriations for
police. Nine-tenths of the policemans work consists in protecting the property in the
hands of those who have it that is, the captialist class, the robber class. That robber
class has its property, not by reason of its having worked for it, but by reason of its
holding the instruments of production, which enable it to sponge up the wealth produced
by the working man.

But the policemen have other duties besides protecting the, capitalist class in the
possession of its stolen property. They have to stand on the streets, and prevent
blockades, and answer questions, and similar duties. The policeman there exercises a
social function that large aggregations of people render necessary. In Boston, I suppose
there are certain streets where policemen have to be placed in order to prevent
blockade and to make passing safe.

In New York there are many such streets. For instance, in the neighbourhood of City
Hall in New York there are three or four streets on which two policemen must be
stationed on both sides of the street. Those thoroughfares are crowded with numerous
troley lines and other vehicles of traffic. People would be-killed right along if policemen
were not stationed there all the time, to protect foot-passengers. That is a social
function. The whole of New York is represented there by that work.

Now, the question is, What would the Socialist in office do under those circumstances in
matters of appropriations? I should say that, under those circumstances, the Socialist
would look carefully into all the circuinstances and see what the money is to be
expended for. If the appropriation is demanded in order to put that policeman in proper
woollen clothing during cold weather and proper thin clothing during warm, in order that
he may be protected properly from the weather while fulfilling that useful social function,
then I should say it would be the bounden duty of all Socialists to vote for such an
apropriation. If, however, the appropriation is demanded for the purpose of furnishing
the police with a certain kind of brass buttons for their coats, those brass buttons to be
bought of a certain patentee, the wife of a certain gentleman, who is a factotum of a
Republican leader (this actually happened recently in New York), then the Socialist
Labour Party would vote N O. (Applause.)

Again, if the appropriation is to give the policemennight billies or riot billies that is to
say, to arm them against workingmen on strike then it would be the duty of the
Socialist Labour Party to vote NO, and NO for evermore. (Applause.)