terrorism -- 4/23/15

Today's encore selection -- from The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman and How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton. In light of today's terrorism, it is useful to recall that this is not the first period of global terrorism. In the late 1800s, the harsh oppression of factory workers and the new specter of unemployment and homelessness spawned in backlash a movement known as "anarchism." More than today's terrorists, these anarchists succeeded in assassinating heads of state and were determined "to terrorizeso as to force society to look attentively at those who suffer" Among their leaders were Peter Kropotkin and Ravachol:

"So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914. They were President Carnot of France in 1894, Premier Canovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, President McKinley of the United States in 1901, and another Premier of Spain, Canalejas, in 1912. Not one could qualify as a tyrant. Their deaths were the gestures of desperate or deluded men to call attention to the Anarchist idea. ...

Justice Hurling a Bomb

"They came from the warrens of the poor, where hunger and dirt were king. ...

"The Anarchists believed that with Property, the monarch of all evil, eliminated, no man could again live off the labour of another, and human nature would be released to seek its natural level of justice among men. ...

Kropotkin c. 1900

"The most prominent among the new Anarchist leaders was Prince Peter Kropotkin, by birth an aristocrat, by profession a geographer, and by conviction a revolutionist. ...

"Anarchism's new era of violence opened in France just after the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution. A two-year reign of dynamite, dagger and gunshot erupted, killed ordinary men as well as great ones, destroyed property, banished safety, spread terror, and then subsided. The signal was given in 1892 by a man whose name, Ravachol, seemed to 'breathe revolt and hatred.' His act, like nearly all that followed it, was a gesture of revenge for comrades who had suffered at the hands of the State. ...

"His manner was resolute, and his eyes had the peculiarly piercing gaze expressive of inner conviction. 'My object was to terrorize so as to force society to look attentively at those who suffer', he said putting volumes into a sentence."

author: Barbara W. Tuchman
title: The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890 - 1914
publisher: A Ballantine Book published by The Random House Publishing Group
date: Copyright 1962, 1963, 1965 by Barbara W. Tuchman
pages: 63-78


Kevin Ashton


How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery


Doubleday, a division of Random House


Copyright 2015 by Kevin Ashton


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