At Last!

By Johann Most

Alex II


Freihet Nr 12, III. Jahrg.
London, Sonnabend, 19 Maerz 1881.
The Raven, Vol. 1 No. 4, March 1988


Seize this one, seize that one;
Someone ne’ertheless will reach thee.

C. Beck

Triumph! Triumph! The word of the poet has accomplished itself. One of the most abominable tyrants of Europe to whom downfall had long since been sworn, and who therefore in wild revenge breathings caused innumerable heroes and heroines of the Russian people to be destroyed or imprisoned – the Emperor of Russia, is no more.

On Sunday last at noon just as the monster was returning from one of those diversions which are wont to consist of eye-feastings on well-drilled herds of stupid blood-and-iron slaves, and which one calls military reviews, the executioner of the people who long since pronounced his death-sentence, overtook, and with vigorous hand, settled the brute.

Five times did this rascal have luck to brush with the coatsleeve the boundary stone between the on this side and the beyond, and already was he at this time once more on the point of drivelling about the ‘God’s finger’ which had newly saved his accursed life, when the first of the people stopped his mouth for ever.

One of those daring young men whom the social revolutionary movement of Russia brought forth, Roussakoff – with reverence we pronounce his name – had thrown under the despot’s carriage a dynamite bomb, which indeed effected a great devastation on the conveyance and the immediate neighbourhood, yet left the crowned murderer for prey uninjured.

Michaelewitch, a princely general, and others, at once fall upon the noble executor of the people’s will. The latter, however, with one hand draws a dagger against the autocrat’s face, and with the other hand guides the barrel of a revolver against the breast of the same. In an instant he is disarmed, and the belaced, betufted, and by corruption eaten through and through retinue of the Emperor, breathe again on account of the supposed averted danger. Then flies a new bomb near, this time it falls down at the despot’s feet, shatters for him the legs, hips, opens for him the belly, and causes amongst the surrounding military and civil Cossacks, numerous, wounds and annihilations.

The personages of the scene are as if paralyzed, only the energetic bomb thrower, does not lose his presence of mind, and is able safely to fly.

The Emperor, however, is dragged to his palace where yet for an hour and a half, he is able, amidst horrible sufferings, to meditate on his life full of crimes. At last he died!

This in reference to the simple state of facts.

Instantly the telegraph wires played up to the remotest corners of the earth to make the occurance known to the whole world. The effect of this publication was as various as it was drastic.

Like a thunderclap it penetrated into princely palaces where dwell those crime-belated abortions, of every profligacy who long since have earned a similar fate a thousand-fold.

For three years past has many a shot whistled by the ears of these monsters. Without that, but for Nobiling’s shot with small shot, even one hair had been bent for them. Always and always again could they indemnify themselves in princely fashion for the fright endured by executions and regulations of the masses of all kinds; nay, just in the most recent period they whispered with gratification in each others’ ears, that all danger was over because the most energetic of all tyrant-haters – the Russian Nihilists, had been successfuly exterminated to the last member.

Then comes such a hit.

William, erstwhile canister-shot Prince of Prussia, the now Protestant Pope and soldier-Emperor of Germany, got convulsions in due form from excitement; like things happened at other Courts.

Howling and gnashing of teeth prevailed in every residence-nest.

But the other rabble too, which in the various countries, pulls the wires of the Government-machanism of the ruling classes, experienced a powerful ‘moral’ headache, and melted in tears of condolence.

The whimpering was no less in France, Switzerland and America, than in Montenegro or Greece.

A Gambetta carried through the adjournment of the Chambers and thereby put an insult on France from which even Austria was saved by the then president of the Reichstrat.

Public opinion is startled, and seeks in vain for the reasons of such a miserable attitude. One thinks of diplomatic motives and the like, but one misses the mark.

Much may indeed have contributed here and there which resembles mere political hypocrisy; in the main the grounds lie deeper.

The supporters of the ruling classes see just in the destruction of an autocrat which has taken place, more than the nere act of homicide in itself. They are face to face with a successful attack upon authority as such. At the same time they all know that every success has the wonderful power not only of instilling respect, but also of inciting to imitation. There they simply tremble then from Constantinople to Washington for their long since forfeited heads.

This fright is a high enjoyment for us, just as we have heard with the most joyful feelings of the heroic deed of those social revolutionaries of St Petersburg who slaughtered a tyrant on Sunday last.

In this time of the most general humiliation and woe, at a period when in many countries old women only and little children yet limp about the political stage with tears in their eyes, with the most loathsome fear in their bosoms of the castigating rod of the State night-watchman; now when real heroes have become so scarce, such a Brutus-deed has the same effect on better natures as a refreshing storm.

Let some say behind our backs we are carrying on a ‘game with Nihilists,’ let others blame us as cynical or brutal, yet we know that in expressing our joy at the successful deed, we were disclosing not only our own feelings but were also giving utterance to what millions of men, down-trodden and tyrannised over, thought with us when they read of the execution of Alexander.

To be sure it will happen once again that here and there even Socialists start up who, without that any one asks them, assert that they for their part abominate regicide, because such an one after all does no good, and because they are combatting not persons but institutions.

This sophistry is so gross that it may be confuted in a single sentence. It is clear, namely, even to a mere political tyro, that State and social institutions cannot be got rid of until one has overcome the persons who wish to maintain the same. With mere philosophy you cannot so much as drive a sparrow from a cherry tree, any more than bees are rid of their drones by simply humming.

On the other hand it is altogether false that the destruction of a prince is entirely without value, because a substitute, appointed beforehand, forthwith takes his place.

What one might in any case complain of, that is only the rarity of so-called tyrannicide. If only a single crowned wretch, were disposed of every month, in a short time it should afford no one gratification henceforward still to play the monarch.

Moreover, it is certainly a satisfaction for every right-thinking man, when such a capital criminal is done away with, i.e., is punished according to his evil deeds. It does not occur to the jurists of civil society to hang no murderer or lock up no thief, because it is proved that these punishments do not remove murder and theft (both institutions of this society) out of the world.

When we had entirely to do with such a subject as Alexander Romanow was, then one must accept his destruction with double satisfaction.

If one could believe newspaper writers, then one must, according to their chatter, take it that the exterminated Czar was a real pattern of benevolence. The facts prove that he belonged to the worst doers of abominations that have ever disgraced humanity.

Some 100,000 men were banished to Siberia during his reign; dozens were hanged after they had suffered the cruellest tortures. All these victims the Russian crown Moloch claimed, only because those concerned were striving against him for the improvement of society – wishing for the general welfare – perhaps had only passed on a single forbidden book, or written one letter in which a censure on the Government was expressed.

Out of the war abominations which this tyrant conjured up, we take but one scene from the last Turkish War.

Alexander was celebrating his name-day, and wished a warlike spectacle. He ordered a storming of Plevna; the generals ventured to call to his mind that such an one would not only fail, but would cost an enormous number of men. In vain! The order stood good, and in order to witness the slaughter with more gratification, the tyrant caused a special stand, with a kind of imperial box, to be erected for himself, whence he might watch the storming without himself falling into danger. The result corresponded with the predictions of the Generals. The storming was repulsed, and 8,000 dead and wounded covered the ground outside the walls of Plevna. But the ‘little father,’ as the despot by preference caused himself to be called, had amused himself cannibalistically.

All petitions, all wiishes for the introduction of ever so slight reforms, which were almost daily laid at his feet, he only answered be fresh meannesses of an Asiatic government – barbarism. Genuine ‘dragonades’ followed every warning of threat attempted, but unsuccessful attacks on his person increased his baseness to the monstrous.

Who is scoundrel enough really to bewail the death of such a beast?

But it is said: ‘Will the successor of the smashed one do any better than he did?’ We know it not. But this we do know, that the same can hardly be permitted to reign long, if he only steps in his father’s footsteps.

Yes, we could actually wish that it should so happen, for we hate the hypocritical, mock-liberal, monarchs, no less than the despots ‘sans phrase’ (which words are words in the French language, and being interpreted, mean ‘pure and simple,’) because the former, perhaps, have still greater power of retarding the development of civilisation than the latter.

In addition, the persistence of the new Czar in the old principle of government, must forthwith double and treble its enemies, because in Russia there are a number of people of that sort, which has believed in the Crown Prince legend, usual in all countries and at all times, according to which the successor spoken of only awaits the moment when he may be able to pour over the people a whole horn of plenty, full of blessing.

All these enthusiasts are forthwith converted, when they see that the new ukases smell as much of Russian leather as the old.

Meanwhile, be this as it may: the throw was good, and we hope that it was not the last.

May the bold deed, which, we repeat it, has our full sympathy, inspire revolutionists far and wide with fresh courage. Let each think of Herwegh’s words:

And where tyrants still exist,
There let us boldly seize them;
We have loved long enough,
And we wish at last to hate!

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