"I am he who walkes the states with a barbed tongue questioning everyone I meet. Who are you that wanted only to be told what you knew before?
Who are you that wanted a book to join you in your nonsense."
"The pen has never been mightier than the sword, and never will. The sword rules the world to-day,
and always has done. The majority of men are cowards, therefore they are slaves."
—Sydney Hard Cash
Hard Cash - Vol. 2 No. 4, 1893
”Take heed of your civilisation, ye with your
Pyramids built of human hearts!
There are stages like Paris in ‘ninety-three where
The commonest men play terrible parts.”*
Revolution MAY be peaceful or forcible. It all depends on circumstances and the temper of the man who hold the “mob” in leash. The most successful revolutions (from a hard cash and “material advantage” point of view) have ever been those that were consummated by the edge of the sword. Peaceful revolutions, on the other hand, generally end in re-rivetting the old shackles upon the deluded multitudes.
The object of all revolutions (when reduced to a concrete expression) is “hard cash,” that is to say, Leisure, Land, Food and Clothing—FOR THOSE WHO COME OUT ON TOP. The history of tyranny and slavery is written in blood and fire. Never in the whole dreadful story has a nation or a people gained even temporary independence without facing the music of death. Look at the horrible condition of India, of Russia, of Germany and of Jew-ridden England! Millions and millions of brain-drugged human brutes, drudging and starving their dreary life through, with the bayonets and artillery of janissaries pointing at their hearts, under the lash of polished nation-pillagers, who masquerade as financiers and statesmen. Does any sane man think that this damnable cumulative despotism can ever be broken up by ballots and blatherskite? No! no! The rivers of Europe will yet swirl red with the gurgling hearts’ blood of tyrant and slave, and once more the plains of Hindustan shall re-sound with the roar of death-griped armies, and be manured as of old by rotting harvest of death.
“I’ve looked into the Future, far as human
brain can go—
I’ve gazed on death and slaughter—on terror
and on woe.
The war-drum there is throbbing—the battle-
And human brutes are re-enslaved by emperors
of the World
And the savage greed of robbers holds the
circling Earth in awe,
And multitudes are ground to gold by blood and
… … … …
When the people of a nation have been swindled beyond endurance, and whipped and trodden on as if they were brute beasts, then the savage rage against personal tyranny that slumbers in the hearts of all men, boils forth in lava-like fury. In days gone by it has levelled the proudest cities—curtailed the stature of kings and treacherous statesmen—hung seditious moneychangers, and disrupted mighty and murderous empires: and it shall do so again. The sacred right of self-defence can never be wholly abrogated—never! If a robber enters your house intent on plunder, you have a legal right to shoot him on sight. If an invader lands upon your coast, with the intention of looting YOUR treasure-vaults, annexing YOUR land, and ravishing YOUR women, is it not your sacred duty to resist him even unto death? If a band of unscrupulous and opulent scoundrels use their stolen wealth in order to bribe your senators and tax you into grinding bondage, with rent and accursed usury—if they steal your lands and your homes, starve your children and your loved ones, then it is your God-given duty, if you are not pigeon-hearted cowards, to stand up and defend your property and your liberty at the risk of your lives. Courage and Freedom go hand in hand, and the good old rule is still in force—
“The simple plan
That they shall take who have the power,
And they shall keep who can.”
Ballot-boxes and parliamentary eloquence MAY free a nation from oppression and pillage, but they have never yet done so, and never will, until men are ready, if need be, to back up their vote with their strong right hand. There is far too much spluttering talk in contemporary politics, and far too little grim earnestness. There is no right in this world except it is backed up by might. If Christ came on earth again he would be murdered as of yore, and the very men who would plot his death would be our High Priests, our bankers and our Statesmen.
Everything upon this earth is for the strong. Unfortunately for the poor, Christianity and Justice are mere valueless phrases in political and social struggles. If the democracy have the brains to unite they may possess all things. They who have the might may have the land, and gold, and all that gold can buy. Let the multitudes obtain power (no matter how) and then they may “rob the fat robbers that rob from the lean,” by voting themselves their own wealth and their own land. That is the social question in a nutshell. Our civilisation—as it is termed—is founded on club law. The victor are the propertied classes, the Landlords and the Lendlords; and the vanquished are the propertyless, the dumb servile mob. The victors collect their slave-sweat in the shape of rent, interest, and dividends, and dine off plates of gold and silver and dress in broadcloth and fine linen, whilst the vanquished millions drudge in mines and furrowfields and woolsheds, or eat their plates of charity soup, after mayhap chanting through the city streets in horrible chorus that song of slaves in a land of plenty, “We’ve got no work to do.”
… … … …
And this is no new doctrine; it is as old as the hills and as true as the eternal stars. It is voiced by the prophets of the past, and the seers and tae sages. The greatest of historic names are those of revolutionary chiefs—Moses, David, the Maccabees, Gracchus, Cæsar, William Tell, Wallace, Cromwell, Savanarola, Mirabeau, Danton, Napoleon, Washington, aye, and even Christ (who thought “I come not to bring peace on earth, but a sword.”)
Some were successful; they are the heroes of the Ages—the idols of the song and story. Some failed; and they in most cases died the death of the vilest of the vile—they were poisoned, tortured, disembowelled, exiled, crucified, shot. So has it ever been, and so shall it ever be (until men can read a glance the thoughts of each other or science renders personal avarice of no value). Again new leaders shall arise for the plundered multitude, and again the earth shall tremble with the tread of marching hosts. Again great cities shall be as shambles, and mountain sides shall gleam white in the summer sunshine with the rain-washed bones of men. The world will shiver with a nameless yet hopeful dread, and the cries of the murdered for Freedom shall rise up to Heaven—yells of triumph or sobs of despair. Battle-standards emblazoned with the motto “To the victors the spoils!” shall float over the conquered, and the conquerors and the valiant shall possess, and COWARDS shall be slaves.
[* Adaptation of John Joyle O'Reilly's "The City Streets," 1886. Ed.]
[** Adaptation of Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Locksley Hall," 1842. Ed.]
Many thanks to the collections of the State Library of new South Wales.