Diary of an Algolagnist
The following extremely valuable contribution to the psychology of the Russian revolution now in progress was sent in September, 1906, from Russia to my colleague Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. He most kindly gave me this extremely interesting sketch for publication in this place. It throws a very clear light upon the nature of algolagnia. We have here a unique psychological document, which deserves the attention of politicians and sociologists no less than that of anthropologists and psychologists.The following extremely valuable contribution to the psychology of the Russian revolution now in progress was sent in September, 1906, from Russia to my colleague Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. He most kindly gave me this extremely interesting sketch for publication in this place. It throws a very clear light upon the nature of algolagnia. We have here a unique psychological document, which deserves the attention of politicians and sociologists no less than that of anthropologists and psychologists.
My parents were opposite elements : my father, strong, coarse, brutal, egotistic, material to excess ; my mother, suffering, delicate, sensitive, ethereal. From such a cross, a masochistic character must necessarily be produced. My father brought me up with storms, chastisements, and fear ; my mother counteracted all this with caresses, kisses, and tears. … I trembled with secret anxiety and exulted inwardly at the same moment when my father stretched me across his knees. As soon as the punishment was over, he immediately proceeded to box someone’s ears anyone’s, a footman’s, a maid’s, anyone’s. I ran with a smarting posterior to my mother. By her first my injuries were inspected, then I was cried over, embraced, kissed, and finally laughed at and with. This scene repeated itself at irregular intervals. To these years belong my first memory of the masochistic principle of life. This was based upon the following observations :
All my companions, boys and girls alike, endeavoured to play tricks on one another ; to tell tales of one another to their parents, tales true and false ; in every way to cause suffering, in order then, by redoubled love, to make all right again. On the other hand, I noticed that no child loved another unless it was tormented by that other. Those who did not torment one another were mutually indifferent.
This mutual tormenting and being tormented must therefore, in the nature of things, produce a certain charm, gives rise to a pleasure. This pleasure consisted in increasing, mentally realizing, sympathizing with, the pain of another. This is not sadism generally speaking, sadism does not exist it is only refined masochism ; for we prepare pains in order to sympathize with them that is, in order that we may free ourselves.
I especially enjoyed teasing girls, destroying their toys, tearing their dolls to pieces, dirtying their clothing, etc. When, thereupon, they wept bitterly, I fought against their tears, until finally they were consoled. Then I went close to them, embraced them, caressed them, kissed them, and cried with sympathy. What pain and what pleasure did I experience when they pushed me away, struck me, and spat in my face ! I bought them once more finer toys, and was so happy when their tears gave place to laughter !
How often I told false tales of other children to their parents, in order to be able to sympathize with the mental pain of an undeserved chastisement ! But I was no exception in this, because most of my playmates were the same. I remember how a girl of eleven calumniated a boy of twelve : she declared that he had put his hand on her private parts when she was out walking ! The happy, poor lad was frightfully beaten at school and at home. All the children baited him, despised him, and avoided him like the plague. . . . He became quite afraid of his fellows.
What did I live through at that time ?
Moody and spiteful, he lay under a tree ; the girl who had told this false tale about him softly drew near, stood by him, and with a pleading voice called his name. Furiously he jumped to his feet, and wished to run away ; but she seized his hand, fell upon her knees, and begged for his forgiveness. It was useless for him to abuse her, to strike her, and to tread upon her toes. She threw her arms round him, cried as if her heart was broken, and spoke tenderly to him for so long a time, until at last he sat down beside her, and allowed himself to be caressed. Thus they sat together for a long time, and wept and laughed and wept. Suddenly she seized his hand and pressed it violently between her thighs. . . .
This contact formed the last link of a long logical chain. . . . These were the facts which first made me feel instinctively how, like every fundamental thing everything which is of a primeval character : primeval force, primeval matter, primeval impulse, etc. all represent the union of two extremes ; the primeval impulse ” love ” can also be the coalescence of two opposites. These two opposites in this case are pleasure and pain ; as in the case of electricity we have the union of the two opposites, positive and negative electricity ; in the case of magnetism, we have the union of positive and negative magnetism ; in the case of the atom, the positive and negative ion ; in the case of sex, man and woman, etc.
My years of school and University life were spent at St. Petersburg. Tempestuously I threw myself upon simple physical ” love ” (!), upon the orgies, upon all the varieties, of physical love. Bodily- sexual masochism, with all its artificial sensual charms, was a cup which I drained to the dregs ; but I was never able to explain to myself why humanity was satisfied with so crude a definition of the idea of ” masochism.” Sexual masochism is indeed one of the most obvious facts of life. But the same is true also of sexual love ; and yet we do not maintain that love is only sexual impulse.
I passed beyond this physical masochism ; it was for me a necessary phase of development. The spiritual element within me began to sway my existence. At this time I learned to love a girl of a wonderful character. She loved me to a similar degree of insanity.
Had I been a beggar or a tramp, she would have followed me through the streets. She would have accompanied me to forced labour in Kara, Kamtchatka, or Saghalien. For me she would also have mounted the scaffold ; to save me she would even have become a prostitute. It was a blessedness to love her and to be loved by her.
How can we wonder that in conformity with this interminable love accompanying sorrows should also extend into infinity, and ultimately lead to a catastrophe ?
Every night we slept together, although for months at a time we did not have sexual intercourse ; we embraced one another so closely and slept so gently ! . . .
To separate from one another only for a few hours was a torment. If I went out alone, I must tell her the precise moment at which she might expect me to return. If I remained away a quarter of an hour longer, Mascha at once pictured to herself that I had been run over by a tram, that I had fallen down in an epileptic fit, that I had suddenly become insane and jumped into the Neva, or that some other disaster had befallen to me. Thus she stood continually at the window, in order to see what was passing in the street. If anyone came up to our floor, she ran quickly to see who it was. If it was not I, then she felt horrible anxiety. When at length I came, she stood waiting for me in the doorway, laughing and crying at the same time. Then there followed embraces and kisses as if I had returned from a journey to the North Pole ; but also reproaches, such as, ” You do not love me at all ; if you did you would not torture me so ! You know how anxious I always am about you when you are away !”
Gradually I began to understand this condition, as an inevitable consequence of the masochistic principle of love.
This martyrdom of the soul, which lovers prepare for themselves in the unceasing dread of losing one another, or of losing one another’s love, is intimately connected with the very nature of love. Without anxiety of this kind, love would be unthinkable. He who loves must continually torment himself with this anxiety ; and the stronger the love, the greater is this torment. When the torment is increased by the other’s participation in it, the mutual love is also increased thereby.
This necessity we also felt, and we resolved to procreate an illegitimate child.
What this step meant to us members of leading families can readily be understood ; but wo proudly resolved to defy society at large, in order to consecrate our love by the sorrows which this would entail.
As soon as Mascha became pregnant, I felt an irresistible impulse to increase our mutual torments ! To increase them ! ! To increase them ! ! ! For our love did not appear to me sufficiently great, nor yet sufficiently worthy, nor yet sufficiently holy, for us to crystallize ourselves in a new living being.
This idea racked me continually. In vain I sought to convince myself that our love was a million times greater than the love of ordinary mortals, that it was unique ! . . . Again and again my con- science said to me : ” How can you use for yourself the measuring rule of ordinary men, even if they are the leaders of men ? You are the conscious masochist ! Your ideals must be suited to this fact ! Is it anything so much out of the common to have an illegitimate child ? You must increase your sorrows ! Increase them ! !
(He proceeds to describe how in every possible way he tormented his beloved.)
At length, in consequence of my continued vexation, Mascha became as nervous as I was myself. . . . Now she really began to take everything perversely.
” Leave me in peace ! It is your fault ! You are driving me quite out of my mind ! !”
On account of the most trifling matters we became furious with rage, mutually making one another more wretched and more bitter. Ten, twenty times a day, we stood facing one another, leaning forwards, shaking with wrath, our mouths gaping with anger, our eyes sparkling, our fingers widely separated, like tigers ready to spring ; many times she struck me in the face or spat at me !
” Oh, you wretch ! How I hate you ! ! ! I should like I should like !”
Then we said to one another calmly and quietly that we did not suit one another ; that we had been deceived ; that everything was now at an end ; we begged one another for forgiveness, and separated.
Soon came the pangs of conscience, the question, ” Who is to blame ?” Now the pains began : ” What have I done ? It is impos- sible that it can be so ; I will beg her forgiveness upon my knees. She must be mine again must be, must be !”
” Oh, love, love ! How interminable is your pain !”
Now I began with nervous haste to say to myself, ” Where will she be ? With Katja ? Up ! Go to her and ask her !”
‘ Has Mascha been here ?”
‘ Yes she has just gone away !”
‘ Did she not say where she was going ?”
‘No ! … Have you quarrelled once more ?”
‘ H’m ! . . . A little, but it was my fault ! . . . I must find her ! . . . Good-bye !”
At the house of A, B, C, and D she was not to be found. Is it possible that in her pain ? No, no ! Not that ! Not that ! !
This pulsed in my temples, whilst I ran up and down the stairs !
Six o’clock ! now she will go out walking on the Newsky-Pros- pekt ! ! . . .
At last I reach the Newsky-Prospekt ! I rush up and down looking for her ! Is that she ? No ! Or there 1 It is not she ! That must be she ? No yes no yes, yes ! . . . It is she. . . . Now walk a little more slowly. . . . Now she sees me. . . . She turns as if to pass by on the other side. . . . She changes her mind and stays on this side. . . .
” Have you been out walking long ?” . . .
Mascha lies in my arms. We cry and laugh cry and laugh. . . . Never, never, never again ! ! . . . Forgive, forgive ! ! . . . We embrace one another, press one another, kiss one another, as if we could be ab- sorbed into one another. . . . We abuse one another, pull one another’s hair, and playfully box one another’s ears. . . . Then we rub our cheeks together, and give one another the maddest pet names. . . .
Oh, paradise of love ! Why did I quarrel with my fate which imposed upon me such unheard-of torments ? . . . Nothing else could have brought me such blessedness as this ! !
Oh, fate ! More, more, still more martyrdom ! . . . In this way let my love grow !
Our life together became continually more intolerable, and yet we could not bear to be away from one another a single hour. A terrible fate chained us together, and threw us into the maelstrom of this furious impulse, irresistible in its elemental force. To tear ourselves apart was rendered impossible by the fetters that chained us together.
Continually more frightful, continually more insane, became our scenes, and the love-eruptions which broke out from time to time.
(After mutual spiritual torments, becoming ever worse and worse, K. begs his beloved to procure abortion !)
She wept quietly, then kissed me and went out. . . .
The key grated in the lock. . . .
” Mascha ! Mascha ! For God’s sake ! Mascha ! What are you going to do ? …”
I shook the door like a madman. … It would not give way. . . . I tore open the window. … ” Help ! Help !” . . . The door was burst open. . . . Break open Mascha’s door ! . . . It was quickly forced. . She lies there. . Dead. . . . Poison. . . .
Finally after weeks I was once more somewhat calmer, and was able to think a little. I had so utterly lost all power that I was only able to get from my bed to the sofa, or back again, with assistance. They had been afraid that I should not get over it at all. … Week after week to endure the most shattering, superhuman sorrows, to oscillate between death and madness ! . . .
Butj superhuman love had also been mine ! The statue of Sais had been unveiled to me ! … I had quaffed the cup of love to the last dregs ! . . . But he only will have had this experience who has first drunk to the dregs the draught of sorrow ! . . .
Oh, short-sighted world, which will call the murder of Masoha ” sadism ” ! . . . Had not her pains cut twice as deeply into my own heart ? Has not my soul been convulsed by her torment ? . . . I wished only to torture myself ! . . . Am I to blame that it was only possible to do so through her martyrdom ? . . . Has not she shared also all my superearthly blisses ? . . . He who has experienced this does not regret even if he must pay double the price in sorrows ! !
Is not that ” masochism ” ?
Have you who wished to pass judgment on me learned that ? No ! Who will set up to be a judge of a case of which he knows nothing ?
Oh, crude psychology, which teaches that out of an inhuman impulse out of cruelty we commit ” crimes ” on those nearest to us ! Only from a purely human impulse from ” love ” do we do to the nearest to us what you call ” crimes,” in order that he may share that unnamable happiness which we ourselves feel. Thus the in- fluences which move us are purely ethical.
Do you believe that we only are masochists ? Or do you believe that those only are masochists who have themselves trodden on by a prostitute, have had their ears boxed, have been whipped, befouled, and have let the prostitute spit in their faces ?
Oh, idiots ! I say to you all love is masochistic, and all which leads to it is associated with it, or results from it, bears the imprint ” pleasure and pain.”
Nature never fails. Who, then, believes that it was caprice, chance, or irony, on Nature’s part, when she associated love with so much torment ?
Who does not think of all the tragedies of unhappy love, with its murders and suicides, all its physical and spiritual martyrdom, which every day brings to us ?
Who does not think of the tragedy of sexual love which is offered to us in the hospitals ? all the hundreds of thousands who have to pay for the licentiousness which results from sexual lust all the tabetics, syphilitics, general paralytics, etc. ?
Who does not remember the torments which the sexually perverse have brought on themselves and on humanity ? All the lust-murders ! And all the punitive measures ? The lust-murders which we commit to prevent lust-murders ! . . .
Who does not think of the torments of pregnancy ? its risks of life and death ?
Are all these mistakes of Nature ? No ! No ! ! The accompaniment of pleasure by pain must have some definite purpose. This purpose is : That pleasure, without its opposite, pain, would not be perceptible, would be unthinkable, would be inconceivable just as cold could not be apparent to our consciousness without heat, or light without darkness. Thus pleasure, in the absence of pain, would not be perceived as pleasure. Therefore, by increase of pain, pleasure becomes of greater value, for the greater the contrast the more readily do we perceive it.
” Masochism is thus a natural law.”
The more fully it is developed in any individual, the higher, the more superhuman is that person.
Through the recognition of the masochistic natural law, I passed into a peculiar condition. Individual love and sorrow no longer made any particular impression on me. I began to observe masochism in the life and work of Nature, in the history of humanity, in social life, and in civilization.
Is not the great developmental principle of Nature based upon this that the existence and progress of the species is dependent upon pressure exercised on it by its environment ? The more difficult the conditions of existence, the harder the pressure of the environment, the more suffering the species has to bear, the stronger must be the reaction against these, the more strongly will the powers and capacities of that species become active, and by this the species will be elevated to a higher level.
” Thus suffering is the driving force of Nature. Nature is therefore masochistic !”
Within the species itself the same law holds. Within the ” human ” species have not those varieties developed to the highest which have had to overcome the hardest environment ? Those who by nature have been troubled with the greatest difficulties in providing for their food-supply ? Those who have suffered most ?
Is not the existence of the living being dependent upon the ” struggle for existence,” upon the mutual hostility of the species, striving for one another’s annihilation ?
It is a characteristic trait of human nature that all religions are based upon the same fundamental principle : ” Only by suffering canst thou become happy !”
Is not this true masochism, when humanity, by means of modern science, has also been robbed of the hope of a beyond, of the hope for eternity and blessedness, and is offered nothing in its place ? Look at universal history !
Was not the birth of that great idea associated with frightful suffer- ings, with the influence of fire and sword, blood and death ? Has not humanity crucified its greatest benefactors ? Has it not re- warded them with the gallows, the torture-chamber, the wheel, the stake, the prison, and the asylum ?
And all out of love for humanity !
All the persecutions of Christians and Jews, the inquisitions and burnings of heretics, witch-trials, the religious sorrows of all times all were outflows of the love for humanity. Their aim was to safe- guard mankind from the robbery of its happiness by heresy !
The love of humanity begat our Neros, our Torquemadas, our Ivans the Terrible, and Schdanows !
Why did these men torture other men ? . . . In order themselves to realize in imagination the others’ torments, to sympathize with them, to feel with them. In order in their own spirit to endure these martyrdoms ; that is to say, to torture themselves with the representa- tion of the pain of another. … ” Thus in its motives sadism is nothing else than masochism.”
The love of humanity erected the cross of Christ, lighted the faggots with which Huss and Bruno wore burned, tortured Thomas Miinzer, stabbed Marat, decapitated Hebert, and built the gallows of Arad, St. Petersburg, Chicago, etc. !
The love of humanity built the Bastille, the Tower of London, the Spielberg, BlackwelTs Island, and the Schliisselburg, built the torture- chambers of the Inquisition, constructed the medieval penal system, and those of Montjuich, Alcalla del Valle, Borissoglebsk, and many others.
Remarkable ! That precisely your ” love of humanity ” was the most cruel tormentor, the most inexorable executioner, the most bloodthirsty butcher of men, and the greatest of all criminals.
Do you not see in all this the wise rule of the masochistic principle ? That it was only persecution which diffused these ideas ? All the progress which man makes in civilization must be paid for by means of enormous sacrifice. The superhuman sorrows of millions of slaves created the civilization of antiquity the Phoenician, the Babylonian, the Persian, the Assyrian, the Greek, and the Roman ! (With regard to this often disputed fact, see Mommsen : ” In comparison with the sufferings of the slaves of antiquity, all the sufferings of modern negro slaves are simply a drop in the ocean !”)
Indian civilization is the product of the most horrible suppression and plunder of the lower castes by the higher. The soil of the Southern States of America was cultivated through being manured with the sweat, blood, and bones of negro slaves.
The soil of Europe, again, was made fertile by the sufferings of slaves and serfs, and so on !
Amid the most horrible birth-pangs, amid the slave rebellions, peasant wars, and revolutions, in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, mankind was enabled to throw off the shell of the feudal system. Therewith capitalism was born. This newest form of civilization, once more, is based upon horrible plundering, oppres- sion, and misery of millions and millions of proletarians.
What a devastation of humanity results from the acquirements of civilization in respect of engineering and the practical arts ! . . . Every invention and discovery demands its victims ! . . .
How often have chemists been destroyed by an explosion in the creation of new compounds, or killed by the development of poison- ous vapours !
Count the engineers who have been sacrificed to their profession, or bacteriologists who have been killed through infection in the study of zymotic diseases !
Count all the victims of professional diseases, of tuberculosis, phosphorus necrosis, lead poisoning, mercurial poisoning, etc. ! . . . Count all those who have fallen from scaffoldings, all the sailors who have been drowned, all the railway employees who have been run over, all the factory hands who have been torn to pieces by machinery, all those who have been destroyed in mines by explosions, etc. !
Think of the hunger and misery of the widows and children of these victims of industry and science, of the loss of work and other social injuries resulting from capitalism !
The rebellion of the victims of this system, again, gives rise to the class war, with new tortures, new sufferings ! . . . In order ultimately, by the creation of a new social system in the future, to free mankind from these sufferings ! . . . People believe it ! But that is nonsense ! The sufferings will only assume a new form, and will increase ! !
Do you, then, believe that all the miseries of mankind at the present time have been the result only of chance, not of foresight ?
Oh, no ! These sufferings were only the stimulus which drove mankind forward to new construction, to greater progress, in order to avoid suffering ! . . . Progress brought new suffering, and so on.
” Thus suffering is the civilizing factor of mankind ! To free man- kind from suffering would mean to rob mankind of civilization.”
Can we represent to ourselves a life of complete satisfaction ?
No ! Without suffering, the needs would be wanting which alone provide the stimulus to progress ! . . . Without suffering, we should also be without enjoyment. For everything reaches our consciousness only by means of its opposite.
‘ To free us from torment means to rob us of pleasure. . . . But then we should no longer have any interest in life !”
” Civilization is a union, a hermaphrodite structure, of pleasure and pain that is, masochism ! ! . . . The progress of mankind is only possible by means of the masochistic principle.”
Oh, cruel-sweet philosophy of Golgotha ! ! Eternally shalt thou remain the Moira and Kismet of humanity ! ! !
” Always the more, always the better of your kind shall perish, for it shall always be worse for you. So only 80 only does man grow upwards ” (Nietzsche, ” Zarathustra,” ii., p. 126).
Magnificent Nietzsche !
Now first do I grasp your ” superman “! . . . Now I share your hatred of the every day and the average !
Away with the philistine cowardice which says, ” Above all, do not go too far ! … Do everything with moderation and for a definite end ! . . . Never go too far, and never fall into extremes !” . . .
No ! . . . Go forward with courage into the extreme ! . . . Only slothfulness, comfortableness, and cowardice are afraid of a Turkish bath, with the subsequent cold douche !
But how the body softens under this laisser faire et laisser passer, how it loses its power of resistance, accumulates substances which are superfluous, and therefore harmful ! In the same way that part of humanity which follows this device will perish from the philistine disease named ” moderation ” !
Let mankind get into its Turkish bath and then get under the cold douche ! Thus it will be steeled, rejuvenated, and invigorated ! Thus it will be freed from superfluous matters !
” Let things be made continually worse and harder for mankind, then the reaction will step in and drive them forward !”
According to this device I acted henceforward. To increase pain, in order that pleasure might become greater !
An immeasurable love for humanity took possession of me now that I had at length attained the point of view which so perfectly harmonized with my individuality. … I myself became equivalent to humanity ; I felt the heart-beat of millions in myself. Their contradictory feelings were united in my own person. I felt equally capitalist and proletarian ; equally orthodox Christian and Catholic, Jew and atheist ; equally man and woman.
All the sorrows and joys in humanity I felt in myself, and I plunged myself in them to the depths.
I wished to experience them all in my own spirit. … I studied universal history, but with what perception ! . . . I did not confine myself to facts, but I turned to the persons of those who were acting ; I represented to myself all the misery of the crowd and the thought of the crowd.
What intolerable pain all these provided for me ! How I began to love glorious humanity which suffered all that !
Now the moment had come ! Now was the time quickly to plunge into the extreme of life ! . . . To plunge into all the sorrows of the millions, and to increase them tenfold, a hundredfold, a thousandfold ! To drink the voluptuous sensation which all experience in the paroxysm of frenzy, and thus to become thoroughly man !
Prom now onwards I threw myself with enthusiasm into the arms of the most extreme section of the anarchist movement. I gave up the whole of my property to the support of newspapers, to the publication of pamphlets, to the support of agitators, and so on. But, at the same time, I remained in touch with the ” upper ten thousand.” I travelled through the principal countries of Europe and America, everywhere forming associations, everywhere developing amid the receptive element of the movement my most radical tendencies in most cases with good result.
(He now describes in detail his propagandist destructive activity, especially in Spain.)
Meanwhile, in my home in Eastern Europe the revolutionary tendency was continually gaining force ; anarchism also became more influential. I felt that there was the proper field for my further activity.
Henceforward I lived partly in Paris and partly in Genf and Zurich, in order from these places to guide the movement in my direction.
Among my own countrymen I soon found adherents to whom nothing seemed too fantastic, nothing too radical.
Soon we were in possession of a small printing-office, with the aid of which we issued leaflets, pamphlets, and newspapers.
These generally contained the same ideas : the working classes should not bother themselves with political demands, such as ” uni- versal suffrage,” ” individual liberty,” and the like. For, even if all these were to be gained, social oppression and exploitation would remain unaltered : these are what they feel most deeply, and from these evils all the others result. The working classes should rather aim at the ” social revolution,” they should undertake the ” expropriation of the expropriators.”
In the newspapers and pamphlets we proved in a scientific manner the justice of all forms of individual expropriation robbery with violence, theft, extortion, etc. ; we conducted an attack on property ; we demanded the destruction of wealth, whether in private hands or in the hands of the State, in order that its possession might be more easily gained.
When the war between Japan and Russia broke out, we all felt that the time for increased activity had now arrived most of us moved to Poland, Lithuania, or Bessarabia. A few only remained in Switzer- land, in order to keep a grip upon the organization in these parts.
For me there now began a period of frightful sufferings. . . . With frenzied haste, I seized all the possible news from the seat of war ; greedily I consulted the reports of great battles lasting for entire weeks ; I read of the dreadful storming of Port Arthur. All the horrible details passed plainly before my eyes.
All the frightful tortures of the masses I represented in my imagination. I saw how they stood in battle day after day ; how they had lost consciousness in consequence of hunger and thirst and fatigue, and so went on fighting as mere automata. Ultimately they even forgot to take nourishment, to drink, and to rest they actually did not any longer understand that they could free themselves from their torture of hunger and thirst, could save their lives, by eating and drinking so they went on in a frenzy until they fell.
I was no longer capable of doing anytliing else than, with a swimming head, with temples pulsating with fever, studying war reports. Day and night these pictures were before me. Oh, if I could only stand with them in this hell ! . . . How I loved them, these people who were capable of such grand actions ! . . . I wished to call out to them : ” Be embraced, millions ! Receive the kiss of the whole world !” . . . Yes, these are the true civilized nations ! . . . To what progress must these horrible sufferings give rise ? What a future for mankind ! What joys to come !
Meanwliile the whole of my property had been used up in the revolutionary movement. The little money that was still available, that we were still able to scrape together here and there, was neces- sarily used for party purposes. I therefore suffered the most horrible poverty now in Warsaw, now in Lodz, Bialystok, Kiew, or Odessa. . . . Most of our adherents were among the poor Jewish quarters of these towns.
My earnings consisted of occasional work and occasional theft. When there was nothing doing in either of these ways, I moved on with a few of my own kind from one of our supporters to another. . . . These people divided with us the little they had.
It was a voluptuous joy to me, finally, to plunge into the uttermost depths of misery which it is possible to reach.
It was an enormous victory to be able to live in such surroundings.
What glorious torments I suffered, until I had overcome the disgust and loathing which the whole environment produced in me ! Every- where we were amidst horrible dirt.
Notwithstanding all the dirt and misery in which I saw these people wallowing or, precisely, because of these things I began to love them as hitherto I had loved no others. . . . When they told me of the frightful persecutions which their people had endured as no other had done, then I experienced an unnamable yearning to be one of them ; then I wondered at the enormous power with which, notwithstanding all persecutions, amidst the most frightful misery which I saw around me, yet they were able to be the most ardent revolutionists.
Everywhere now the revolution was in flood. We developed a feverish activity in all our centres. … At first we had no very great influence, but our emissaries were actively at work everywhere, in order to convert our movement from a political one to a social one, or at least to an economic one.
For this purpose we had provided a secret printing-press in Warsaw, where we prepared the necessary leaflets. They were written by a student, who was a genius in this speciality. No one understood as well as he how to appeal to the instincts of the crowd. The moving power of his style was incomparable. . . . He put the facts side by- side, illuminated them from the side that seemed to him most suitable, and then drew his conclusions, which, in their simple convincing logic, seemed irresistible. Then he turned to inflame fanaticism, reminded us how, then and there, and there, and there, so many victims had been sacrificed to the same idea ; how, there and elsewhere, on the barricades men had died for it, and had rather rotted in prison than abandon their just demands. In this way he always succeeded in moving the crowd.
It was very efficacious, also, to remind the people of all the little tricks which had been played upon them by the manufacturers and by the authorities ; he drew their attention to the fact how they, who had created everything, were actually not recognized as human beings, far less as human beings with equal rights. . . . These proofs most readily infuriated the proletarians to frenzy, and in some places, as in Lagonsk, Tiflis, and Baku, we succeeded in turning the movement in the economic direction. It was a great advantage that we had associates everywhere, and we were quickly notified when the rain was likely to begin, so that we could speedily move to another place.
In Tiflis the affair did not go as I wished ; here the people were only too practical. . . . They began neither to strike, nor to demolish, nor to attack the soldiers. . . . No. . . . They simply said : ” So much wages do we want ; then we shall work only for such a time ; and no commodity must rise in price. . . . Every one who will not take part with us we shall shoot.” . . . All the inhabitants joined them. . . . After a short time all this came to nothing.
Baku was more pleasing to me. . . . Here the petroleum-borers made their demands, and as these were not agreed to within two days, they set fire to 140 wells. . . . Then, to my great regret, the proprietors agreed to everything which had been demanded. I had been so inhumanly glad to see my life-ideal fulfilled. It seemed as if the situation was going to be such as I had often imagined. . . .
A long time already had the religious and racial hatred between the Armenians and the Tartars been inflamed to the uttermost. In the whole of the Caucasus there was a bubbling as if in a witch’s cauldron. . . . Naturally, I remained in Baku, hi order to be ready for what I hoped would happen there.
The whole population was at the uttermost point of tension ; every- thing seemed painfully uncertain ; would the dance begin or not ? . . . I felt that it would only be necessary to throw a grain of sand into the machine, and in an instant it would lead to an avalanche. : . . I was possessed by a frightful excitement ; this mental tension was intolerable. . . . From minute to minute the horrible anxiety of the undetermined increased in me, and the hellish desire still burned within me ; I longed that it might start at this very minute, so that, at last, my nerve-destroying tension might be relieved.
Then I became possessed with a demoniacal idea : one only needed to give the slightest little push at the right place, and the storm would break.
Inwardly I shuddered at the idea of the horrible consequences ; and yet something within me drove me forward with an irresistible force finally, to close the switch, and to allow the current to pass which must give rise to the explosion. … ” It is only a kind of benevolent midwifery,” something seemed to whisper in my ear. ” It must happen, in any case ! . . . The sooner the storm breaks, the better !”
Thus I was subjected to a conflict of perceptions, which made me quite irresponsible. I was hurled to and fro by momentary feelings like a football. A single word from the other side would have pro- duced in me such a suggestion that I should have blindly done any- thing I might have been asked to do.
My state resembled that of those people of whom Blanqui says : ” Paris at any moment contains 50,000 men who are ready at a wave of the hand to shed blood for any cause.” It is indifferent to them, he might have added, if it is for the cause of freedom or for the cause of reaction.
This ” destroy-everything mood,” which had so long been to me a psychological riddle, I was now able to study in my own person, as the result of an intensified masochistic predisposition. … At the foundation of the whole hermaphroditic state, there lay nothing else than the love of humanity. . . . An everyday humanity offers us no new sensations. . . . We are only able to love when it is out of the ordinary. . . . For this reason, we strive to see mankind in pain and poverty in order that we may love men more ardently ; to love them for that reason, because their misery provides for us intense pain.
For days I wandered about, fighting within myself a frightful spiritual battle. … I felt that the only alternatives were either to bring about a catastrophe or suicide. To wait any longer was beyond my powers. A chance must decide. . . .
A kind of trance state had taken possession of my organism. . . . I_knew nothing rightly : I did not know if everything around mo was reality or only a dream ! . . . Yes, I even doubted my own exist- ence ! . . . At no moment did I know where I was, how I had come there, what I had just been doing, what I really was. … I remember only that suddenly I was walking in the street in deep conversation with a man entirely unknown to me. . . . Our con- versation turned round the question, What was going to happen ? . . . Both of us were reserved, both on the watch ; each seemed to have the feeling ” He is seeing through me ; I must not betray myself ! . . . Perhaps I shall be able to get something out of him !” . . . Thus, we spoke with the most extreme caution about that which each of us read in the soul of the other. . . .
The passers-by stared at us ; possibly we had been speaking rather too loudly. It appeared to me that someone was following us in order to listen to our conversation ; we stopped, in order that this person might be compelled to walk past us. It was an impudent lad, in the years between boyhood and manhood ; he stopped also, with his hands in his trousers pockets, a few paces distant, and listened to us with interest. . . . My companion was as mucli taken aback as I was myself, and we both began to stammer. At the moment a crowd of gapers had collected around us, hoping to hear something of interest. We both became continually more confused ; my head began to swim, and I began to say something. It must have been nonsense that I spoke, for my companion looked at me, half astonished and half alarmed, and several persons in the crowd began to titter. This made me suddenly lose my head more even than before, and I began to get angry. Suddenly I shouted out to my companion : ” That will have the most frightful results ; they have cut off the Tartar’s feet and hands, and now the Tartars will massacre the whole town !” . . . All those around me began to talk to one another at once. ” Cut off feet and hands !” . . . I had turned the switch and the current had passed. . . .
I do not know how I got home. . . . My landlady rushed to me with the news : ” The Tartars are going to burn the town to ashes, and to murder all the Armenians. Some of them have had their feet and hands cut off ; their noses have been slit, their eyes cut out ; boiling oil has been poured into their ears. . . . The people are all running away, or barricading themselves in their houses !”
I did not see the beginning of the drama, for immediately after my return home I fell into a death-like slumber, which lasted more than fifty hours. No one could have kept about after such a spiritual storm. . . . When I awoke, I was so weak that only with labour could I move a few paces ; my whole body trembled unceasingly. . . . I had absolutely no other desire but for repose. . . . After I had somewhat recovered, I went to sleep again until the next morning.
Now I once more felt comparatively strong, although my arms and legs still trembled. My hostess a German woman, long ago deserted in this town gave me an account of the atrocities perpetrated by the Tartars. As I went out, the town seemed to be dead. In the streets there still lay numerous horrible, mutilated corpses ; the shops were closed ; here and there houses were demolished. As far as I could learn, in Tiflis the Tartars had done even worse. . . . Here in Baku they had fired the boring-wells of the Armenians ; from these the fire had spread to the rest, so that the entire petroleum industry was ruined, and 10,000 men were out of work.
All this, however, made no impression on me. A frightful relaxa- tion and apathy had taken possession of me ; I felt neither pain, nor pleasure, nor sympathy. It was the reaction following the previous hypertension of the nerves.
I cared no longer to stay here, and I resolved to return to Kiev, and later to Warsaw or to Lodz.
After a short stay in Rostow, on the Don, I reached Kiew, and was received by the group with much joy. They had believed that I had fallen in the massacre at Baku or Tiflis.
Our successes in Tiflis and Baku in the economic province, by means of the economic terror, were now utilized at every opportunity ; they only regretted that, owing to the racial conflict, everything had been once more destroyed.
During my absence there had been many changes here. In Odessa, Kiew, Warsaw, Lodz, and Bialystok, successful ” expropriations ” had been effected. These ” new tactics ” had not only been strikingly successful in almost every case, but they had also attracted towards us the sympathies of those who had hitherto not taken in much earnest our influence upon the revolution.
These “expropriations” were carried out in various ways. For example, by one of our associates, who was an official in the postal service, we were kept informed when, anywhere in the neighbourhood of the town, the post-office coach was to pass an isolated place, carrying anything of considerable value. We then attacked it and plundered it.
Or we sent out spies to learn when, in any great person’s house, or in any bank, large suras of money would be on hand, and at what time the fewest employees would be there. Armed to the teeth, we crowded in, and demanded the surrender of the money, leaving in its place a receipt with the dreaded imprint of our organization. It also happened as in Odessa that a bomb was exploded in a business locality. Every one ran up to see what had happened. Meanwhile, one of our bands entered the place of business from behind and plundered the safe.
What a quantity of intelligence, energy, perseverance, and know- ledge had to be employed, to render such enterprises possible ! How we had to watch for weeks, to form plans and reject them ; how our arrangements must be altered at the last moment, or the enterprise entirely abandoned ! Of this every one and no one can form an idea for himself.
Here, at any rate, I do not propose to give a detailed description of these affairs, because my sketches do not aim at giving a description of the revolution, or of those who participated in it, but simply and solely to represent the motives of my own activity: Therefore I describe my own environment, only in so far as it is necessary to do so for the understanding of these motives.
These ” expropriations ” were, moreover, not an anarchist speciality, for they were also undertaken by the other terrorist parties.
He, however, who believes that the revolutionaries employed this money for their personal needs is grossly deceived. After, as before, they remain