Margaret Sanger, "Tragedy," July 1914.

Published article. Source: The Woman Rebel, Vol. 1, No. 5, July 1914, p. 33 , Margaret Sanger Microfilm C16:547 .


TRAGEDY

Even if dynamite were to serve no other purpose than to call forth the spirit of revolutionary solidarity and loyalty, it would prove its great value. For this expression of solidarity and loyalty and of complete defiance to the morality of the masters, in a time of distress and defeat and death, is the most certain sign of that strength and courage which are the first essentials to victory. On July 4th, three revolutionists, Caron, Berg and Hanson, were killed by the explosion of dynamite--sacrificed because of their willingness to risk life for their convictions. This tragedy created a wonderful spirit of loyalty and solidarity among their comrades. It ought to have awakened the same spirit among all those who advocate the overthrow of the present system--at least among those agitators and leaders who urge direct and revolutionary tactics against the master class.

But instead we have witnessed a far greater tragedy than the death of our comrades. That event in itself bespoke courage, determination, conviction, a spirit of defiance--unfortunately, unusual qualities. The real tragedy has been the cowardice and the poisonous respectability expressed in the apologies of those adepts in that glib and oily art to speak and purpose not--those agitators and leaders who howl about solidarity among the workers, only to whitewash themselves with respectability when an episode occurs which actually offers an opportunity for the expression of such a spirit of solidarity. Instead of this expected defiance of conventional morality and standards, they have given nothing more than involved, shamefaced explanations and apologies actioned which do more to discredit the organizations they represent than any number of bombs or ill-advised acts of violence.

Explanations and apologies, like patriotism, are the cloaks of cowards, not the reactions of strong men.

It is time to learn to accept and exult in every act of revolt against oppression, to encourage and create in ourselves that spirit of rebellion which shall lead us to understand and look at the social situation without flinching or quavering or running to cover when any crisis arises. Not until we do create this spirit will the revolutionists ever be feared or even respected in America.

We are all talking revolution and direct action, solidarity and freedom. If we are not willing to back every word that we utter publicly by determined action, we will never accomplish anything except to render ourselves ridiculous.

Solidarity is a means, not an end. It will unite the working class against its oppressors not at a single catastrophe at some dim and distant future date, but only as we individually incorporate it. We must Live Solidarity, not merely talk it. Even if we disagree regarding the social value of the act of revolt, we must accept it and acclaim it for the spirit and the motive in back of it. Never repudiate or apologize for the comrade who, by an act of revolt has given the best evidence of loyalty to his class, of his SOLIDARITY.

If the so-called revolutionary labor movement must justify its actions at the bar of the very public opinion and morality that have created and sustained laws against labor, it is a wishywashy, milk-and-watery, weakneed movement at best. If it cannot accept as possible and inevitable and valuable among its ranks such men as Berg, Caron and Hanson--if, in short, it is not moving in the direction of REVOLUTION, it is time for us to build up a movement that is.


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Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project


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