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An International Socialist Congress
by [?]

All Zurich turned out to see the procession that was a mile long and overlapped, and went past double, going opposite ways, and the skies were blue as amethyst, and the lake was like the heavens, while underfoot the white dust lay thick until the growing, hurrying crowd sent it flying. All trades, with banners and bands and emblems, were represented; there were iron workers, tin workers, gardeners, women and children. One beautiful young girl in a cap of liberty waved a red banner to Freedom among the applause of thousands. For there were eight thousand in the procession, and the spectators were the half of this busy Canton making Sunday holiday. At the end of the procession we rested in the Cantonal Schulplatz, and Grealig spoke, and then Volders, the violent, strong-voiced Belgian, who called for la lutte, and looked most capable of fighting. He is now dead.

And on the morrow, at the opening of the many-tongued Congress, the fighting and confusion began and lasted a long, long time. For after some usual business and congratulations the usual fight about the Anarchists commenced. It all turned on the invitation, which was worded in a broad way, so broad as to catch the English Trades Unions, who fear Socialism as they do the devil, and thus let in Anarchists claiming to represent trades become corporate by union.

The long hall, decorated by Saint Marx and many flags, quickly filled with an incongruous mass of four hundred delegates, and the gallery were soon yelling. Bebel, who kept in the background and pulled the strings, proposed a limiting amendment about “political action” which the Anarchists maintained includes revolutionary force. This was the signal for the fight. Landauer, a German, young, long, thin and enthusiastic, made a fine speech in defence of the Anarchists. Then Mowbray of the English backed him up. I was then in the gallery and saw the mass surge here and there. Adler of the Austrians strove for peace with outstretched arms among the crowd, dividing angry and bitter men. But he was overborne and blows were struck. The Anarchists were expelled. Only one man was seriously hurt, but those thrown out were bitter at their expulsion, and on the morrow the row began again.

On the platform were the president and vice-president, and the interpreters and others. These interpreters are mostly violent partisans and don’t conceal it. A speech they like they deliver with real energy, rasping in the points. They are not above private interpretations; they were as liberal as Sir Thomas Urquhart when he translated Rabelais not in the interests of decency. When they hated a speaker they mangled and compressed him. There was a great uproar when Gillies, a German, but one of the English deputation, insisted on translating his first speech into German. The interpreters and others vowed he would make another and different one, but he stuck to his point and raised the very devil among the Germans of the Parliamentary Socialist party who wanted to dispute the Anarchist delegates’ credentials and have them definitely “chucked.” They howled and roared and shook their fists, and the French president shrieked for order. But at times his bell was a faint tinkle, like a far sheep-bell on distant hills. He shouted unheard and looked in vain for a break. For the Germans were accused of meanness; it was simply a desire to keep out the younger, more open, most alive of the workers, those who admired not their methods and looked on them as they did on Eugene Richter.

Then at last the English delegation, who as a body were in favour of turning the Anarchists out, rose and yelled for the closure, vowing they would leave until real business was reached if some decision wasn’t come to; and that had some effect. The yells of “Cloture, cloture!” dominated all else, and it was finally voted among frantic disorder, the French and Dutch standing uproarious against eighteen nationalities. For on important points they vote so. And in this there is great cunning, for the organisers hold pocket boroughs among the Swiss, and Bulgarians, and Servians and other European kidlings of the Balkans. So one delegate may equal a hundred; Servia and Bulgaria may outvote France; a solitary Russian hold ninety-two Germans in check.