1.18.2017 Doc of the Day

Numero UnoVittorio Marchetti: Your book Anti-Oedipus is subtitled Capitalism and Schizophrenia.  Why is that?  What were the fundamental ideas you started from?

brain head mental psychology creativity inquiyGilles Deleuze: Perhaps the most fundamental idea is that the unconscious ‘produces.’  What this means is that we must stop treating the unconscious, as everyone has done up to now, like some kind of theatre where a privileged drama is represented, the drama of Oedipus.   We believe the unconscious is not a theatre, but a factory.  Artaud said something really beautiful in this regard.  He said the body, and especially the ailing body, is like an overheated factory.  So, no more theatre.  Saying the unconscious ‘produces’ means that it’s a kind of mechanism that produces other mechanisms.  In other words, we believe the unconscious has nothing in common with theatrical representation, but with something called a ‘desiring-machine.’  Let’s be clear about the word ‘mechanism.’  The biological theory of mechanism was never able to understand desire and remains totally in the dark in this area because desire cannot be integrated into mechanical models.  When we talk about desiring-machines, or the unconscious as a mechanism of desire, we mean something completely different.  Desiring consists in interruptions, letting certain flows through, making withdrawals from those flows, cutting the chains that become attached to the flows.  This system of the unconscious, or desire that flows, interrupts, begins flowing again—it’s totally literal; and contrary to what traditional psychoanalysis tells us, it is perfectly meaningless.  Without any sense, there is nothing to interpret.  Interpretation is meaningless here.  The problem is knowing how the unconscious works.  It is knowing how ‘desiring-machines’ work, and knowing how to use those machines.rect3336 space
Guattari and I began with the assumption that desire could be understood only as a category of ‘production.’  So we had to reintroduce production into desire itself.  Desire does not depend on lack, it’s not a lack of something, and it doesn’t refer to any Law.  Desire produces.  So it’s the opposite of a theatre.  An idea like Oedipus, the theatrical representation of Oedipus, mutilates the unconscious and gives no expression to desire.  Oedipus is the effect of social repression on desiring production.  Even with a child, desire is not Oedipal, it functions like a mechanism, produces little machines, establishing connections among things.  What this means in different terms, perhaps, is that desire is revolutionary.  This doesn’t mean that it wants revolution.  It’s even better.  Desire is revolutionary by nature because it builds desiring-machines which, when they are inserted into the social field, are capable of derailing something, displacing the social fabric.  Traditional psychoanalysis, however, has turned everything upside down in its little theatre.  It’s exactly as if something that really belongs to humanity, to a factory, to production, were translated by means of a representation at the Comedie Francaise.  So there you have our point of departure: the unconscious as producing these little machines of desire, which we call desiring-machines.

Vittorio Marchetti: So what about Capitalism and Schizophrenia?

Felix Guattari: We wanted to emphasize the extremes. Everything in human existence is brought back to the most abstract categories. Capital and, on the other extreme, or rather, the other pole of nonsense, madness—and within madness, schizophrenia. In our view, it was these two poles’ common tangent of nonsense that seemed to have a relation. And not just a contingent relation making it possible to say that modern society drives people crazy. Much more than that: if we want to explain alienation, or the repression which the individual suffers in the capitalist system, if we want to understand the real meaning of the politics of the appropriation of surplus value, we must bring into play those same concepts to which one turns to analyze schizophrenia. We privileged these extreme poles, but it goes without saying that all the intermediate terms must also be examined: everything from the way in which neurosis is confronted to the study of childhood or primitive societies. All the themes which the human sciences deal with are fair game. But rather than establish some coexistence of all the human sciences, one in relation to the other, we decided to relate capitalism and schizophrenia in an attempt to encompass these fields as a whole; that way we avoided limiting ourselves to the various pathways that allow you to pass between them.

Vittorio Marchetti: Did your research come out of concrete experience? Do you see any practical development? If so, in which fields?

Felix Guattari
: To answer the first part of your question, the research comes out of psychiatric practice, psychoanalysis, and in particular, the study of psychosis.
We feel that the semiotic chains, the descriptions of Freudian theory, and psychiatry are relatively inadequate to explain what is really going on in mental illness. We noticed this as soon as a new kind of listening to mental illness became possible.rect3336 space
Freud developed his concepts, to begin with at least, within the framework of a particular kind of access he had to neuroses, and hysteria in particular. He himself complained toward the end of his life about not having had access to another field, about not having had any other way to approach psychosis. He was able to approach psychotic patients only accidentally and from the outside. It should be added, too, that within the framework of repressive hospitalization, you don’t have access to schizophrenia. You have access to mental patients locked in a system that prevents them from expressing the very essence of madness. They express only a reaction to the repression to which they are subjected, which they are forced to endure. As a result, psychoanalysis is practically impossible with cases of psychosis. And things will continue this way as long as psychotic patients are trapped in the repressive hospitah system. However, rather than transpose the descriptive chains of neurosis onto psychosis, we tried to do the opposite. In other words, we tried to reexamine the concepts used to describe neurosis in the light of the indications we received from contact with psychosis.

Gilles Deleuze: We began with the feeling, and I do mean a feeling, and the knowledge, that something was not right with psychoanalysis. It has become interminable, spinning its wheels and going nowhere. Just look at the psychoanalytic cure. Well, the cure has become an endless process in which both the patient and the doctor chase each other round and round, and this circle, whatever modifications are applied, remains Oedipal. It’s like “OK, talk!” But it’s always about the same thing: mommy and daddy. The reference turns on an Oedipal axis. They can insist all they want that it’s not about a real mother and father, that it’s about some higher structure, whatever you like, some symbolic order, and that it shouldn’t be interpreted as imaginary, but the discourse remains the same: the patient is there to talk about mommy and daddy, and the analyst listens in terms of mommy and daddy. There are problems that troubled Freud toward the end of his life: something is not right with psychoanalysis, something is stuck. Freud thought that it was becoming endless, the cure looked interminable, it was going nowhere. And Lacan was the fist to indicate how far things had to be revamped. He believed the problem could be resolved in a profound return to Freud. We on the other hand began with the feeling that psychoanalysis was going round and round in a circle, a familial circle, so to speak, represented by Oedipus. And today a rather worrisome situation has developed. Although psychoanalysis has changed its methods, it has nonetheless come into line with the most classical psychiatry. As Michel Foucault has so admirably shown, it was in the nineteenth-century that psychiatry fundamentally linked madness to the family. Psychoanalysis has teinterpteted this connection, but what is so striking is that the connection has stayed in place. And even anti-psychiatry, which points in new and revolutionary directions, preserves this family-madness reference. Everyone talks about familial psychotherapy. So, everyone continues to locate the fundamental reference of mental derangement in familial determinations of the mommy-daddy type. And even if these determinations are interpreted in a symbolic way—the father symbolic function, the mother symbolic function—it doesn’t change a thing.rect3336 space
Now I suppose everyone is familiar with the amazing text by that lunatic, as they call him, President Schreber, a paranoid or a schizophrenic, it doesn’t matter. His memoirs are a kind of racial, racist, historical delirium. His delirium encompasses whole continents, cultures, and races. What takes you by surprise is the political, historical, and cultural content of his delirium. When you read Freud’s commentary, this whole aspect of the delirium has disappeared: it has been crushed by the reference to a father that Schreber never mentions. Psychoanalysts will say that it is precisely because he never mentions it that it’s so important. Well, we say that we’ve never seen a schizophrenic delirium that is not first and foremost racial, racist, and political, that is not running off in every direction of history, that does not invest cultures, that does not talk about continents, kingdoms, etc. We say that the problem of delirium is not related to the family, that it concerns mommy and daddy only secondarily, if it concerns them at all. The real problem of delirium is the extraordinary transitions between two poles: the one is a reactionary pole, so to speak, a fascist pole of the type: “I am a superior race,” which shows up in every paranoid delirium; and the other is a revolutionary pole: like Rimbaud, when he says: “I am an inferior race, always and forever.”2 Every delirium invests History before investing some ridiculous mommy-daddy. And so, even where therapy or a cure is concerned—provided this is indeed a mental illness—if the historical references of the delirium are ignored, if you just go round and round between a symbolic father and an imaginary father, you never escape familialism and you remain locked within the framework of the most traditional psychiatry.

Vittorio Marchetti: Do you think linguistic studies can contribute something to the interpretation of schizophrenic language?

Felix Guattari: Linguistics is a rapidly expanding science still very much in search of itself. You sometimes see an abusive use of concepts, too hastily employed, given that they’re still being formulated. There is one notion in particular we felt it necessary to rethink: the signifier. We believe the notion poses several problems in different linguistics. Perhaps the signifier is less problematic for psychoanalysis, but as far as we’re concerned, we think it needs further development. Faced with the problems of contemporary society we have to be in a position to question the traditional culture which has been divided up, so to speak, among the human sciences, science, scientism (a fashionable word for a while now), and political responsibility. Especially after May ’68, a revision of this separation seems important and necessary. From this perspective, until recently, the various disciplines have enjoyed a kind of autonomy. The psychoanalysts have their own cooking utensils, and the politicians have their own, etc. The necessity to reexamine this division is not born from some concern for eclecticism and does not necessarily lead to some sort of confusion. The same way that it is not due to confusion that a schizophrenic jumps from one register to the next. It is the reality he finds himself confronted with that drives him to it. The schizophrenic, without any epistemological guarantee, so to speak, sticks closely to reality and this reality causes him to move from one level to the next, from a questioning of semantics and syntax to the revision of the themes of history, etc. Well, from this perspective, people in the human sciences and in politics should, in a sense, go a little schizo. And not to embrace that illusory image which the schizophrenic gives us when he is trapped in repression, according to which he is supposedly “autistic,” withdrawn into himself, etc. On the contrary, to have the same ability to embrace all the disciplines together. In the aftermath of May ’68, the question is precisely this: either we attempt to unify our comprehension of phenomena such as, I don’t know, bureaucratization in political organizations, or bureaucratization in State capitalism, with our comprehension of distant and disparate phenomena such as, for example, obsession, or the descriptions given by repetitive autism—or else, if we stick to the idea that things are separate, that each of us is a specialist and should mind his own business while making advances in his field, explosions that totally escape our powers of description and comprehension, from a political as well as anthropological point of view, will nonetheless show up in the world. In this sense, the point of calling into question the division of the various disciplines, as well as the self-satisfaction of psychoanalysts, linguists, ethnologists, and teachers of pedagogy, is not the dissolution of these sciences. The point is to refit these sciences so they better measure up to their object of inquiry. A whole line of research conducted prior to May ’68 by some small, privileged groups suddenly found itself at the center of debate, and that Spring, institutional revolution was the order of the day. Psychoanalysts are increasingly “interpolated” in public discourse; they have been forced to broaden their discipline. The same goes for psychiatrists. This is a totally new phenomenon. What does it mean? Is it just a fad? Or as some in the political sphere contend, is it a way of diverting militant revolutionaries from their objectives? But is it not rather a call, however confused, for a profound revision of conceptualization as it is practiced today?

Vittorio Marchetti: Could psychiatry play this role and become, so to speak, the new human science, the human science par excellence?

Felix Guattari: Rather than psychiatry, why not the schizophrenics, the crazies themselves? It seems to me that those who work in the field of psychiatry, at least right now, are hardly on the cutting edge!

Gilles Deleuze: And there’s no reason anyway why psychiatry rather than any other discipline should become the human science par excellence. The whole idea of some “human science par excellence” is misguided. Why couldn’t bib-liophilia be the human science par excellence? Or how about textual criticism? The fact is too many sciences would like to play such a role. The problem is not determining which science will be the human science par excellence; the problem is determining how a certain number of “machines” endowed with revolutionary potential are going to fit together. For example, the literary machine, the psychoanalytic machine, and political machines: either they will find a unifying point, as they have done so up to now, in a particular system of adaptation to capitalist regimes, or else they will find a shattering unity in a revolutionary utilization. We mustn’t pose the problem in terms of priority, we have to pose it in terms of use or utilization. So, the question is: to what use are they put? In our view, psychiatry has up to now concealed a particular use of familialism, of the familial perspective, and this utilization seems reactionary, even necessarily so, no matter how revolutionary those people are now working in the field of psychiatry.

Vittorio Marchetti: Levi-Strauss says that philosophical or scientific thought operates by proposing and opposing concepts, whereas mythic thought operates through images taken from the sensible world. Arieti, in his book Interpretation of Schizophrenia, affirms that those suffering from mental illness have recourse to an intelligible logic, to a “coherent logical system” even if it has nothing to do with the logic founded on concepts. Arieti talks about “paleo-logic” and claims that this “coherent logical system” resembles mythical thought, the thought of so-called primitive societies, that it operates in the same way, by “associating sensible qualities.” How do you explain this phenomenon? Is schizophrenia a defensive strategy pressed into the refusal of our logical system? And if so, doesn’t the analysis of schizophrenic language offer an invaluable instrument for the human sciences in the study of our society?

Gilles Deleuze: I understand your question, it s pretty technical. I d like to hear what Guattari thinks.

Felix Guattari: I don’t really like the word ‘paleo-logic’ because it still implies a “prelogical mentality” and other definitions of the kind that opened the way for a literal segregation, not to mention its associations with the childishness of mental patients.

Gilles Deleuze: And ‘logic’ is a concept that doesn’t interest us in the least. It’s too vague a term. Everything is logical, or nothing is. As for the question, its technical aspect, I would question whether what schizophrenics, primitives, or children are really about is a logic of sensible qualities.

Under the Wing of a Dwarf Galaxy (NASA, Chandra, 04/03/13)
Under the Wing of a Dwarf Galaxy (NASA, Chandra, 04/03/13)

In our own research, what we’re doing now, this question doesn’t come up. What strikes me is how easily everyone forgets that a formulation such as ‘the logic of sensible qualities’ is already too theoretical. What we neglect is “pure lived experience.” Whether we’re talking about the lived experience of the child, the lived experience of the primitive, or the lived experience of the schizophrenic, ‘lived experience’ doesn’t mean sensible qualities. Lived experience is “intensive”: I feel… ‘I feel’ means that something is happening in me, I am experiencing an intensity, and intensity is not the same thing as sensible qualities; in fact, it’s totally different. This happens all the time with schizophrenics. A schizophrenic says: “I feel I’m becoming a woman” or “I feel I’m becoming God.” Sensible qualities have nothing to do with it. It seems that Arieti stays at the level of a logic of sensible qualities, but that doesn’t correspond at all to what schizophrenics say. When a schizophrenic says: “I feel I’m becoming a woman,” “I feel I’m becoming God,” “I feel I’m becoming Joan of Arc,” what does it mean in reality? Schizophrenia is a shocking and very very acute experience, an involuntary experience, of intensity and the passings of intensities. When a schizophrenic says: “I feel I’m becoming a woman,” “I feel I’m becoming God,” it’s like the body is crossing a threshold of intensity. Biologists talk about the egg and the schizophrenic body as a kind of egg; the catatonic body is nothing more than an egg. Well, when a schizophrenic says: “I’m becoming God,” “I’m becoming a woman,” it’s like crossing what biologists call a gradient, traversing a threshold of intensity. A schizophrenic is still crossing it, going above it, beyond it, etc. This whole phenomenon is what traditional analysis fails to take into account. That’s why the pharmacological research being done on schizophrenia could be so rich, although it is poorly utilized at present. Pharmacological studies and drug research pose the problem in terms of variations in intensity of the metabolism. The “I feel…” must be considered in the light of passing sensations, degrees of intensity. So, the difference between our conception and Arieti’s, with all due respect to Arieti’s work, resides in the fact that we interpret schizophrenia in terms of intensive experience.

Vittorio Marchetti: But what do you mean by the “intelligibility” of schizophrenic discourse?

Felix Guattari: What we want to know is whether coherence derives from, say, an order of rational expression, or some semantic order, or whether it derives from an order which one might call machinic. After all, we do the best we can with representation, everyone does the best he can with it: both the research scientist, trying to reconstitute something in the order of expression, and the schizophrenic. But the schizophrenic doesn’t have the possibility of making intelligible what he is trying to reconstitute, with the means ready to hand, those he has at his disposal. In this sense, we’re saying that the descriptions made within the framework of psychoanalysis, and which we call Oedipal, to simplify things, constitute a repressive representation. Even the most important authors, those who have gone the farthest in the exploration of psychosis and childhood, or those who spotted the problem of the passages of intensive quantities—even they end up describing everything in Oedipal terms all over again. A famous researcher, and I mean someone really important, still spoke of micro-Oedipalism in a case of psychosis, despite the fact that he had noticed—at the level of its functioning, in othet words, the level of partial impulses—a landscape reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch, composed of an infinity of fragments, bits and pieces, where the idea of the father, the mother, and the holy trinity was not to be found. What this suggests, on one level at least, is that such a representation is taken literally from a single dominant ideology.

Vittorio Marchetti: There exist typical alterations in schizophrenic language. Are there identical alterations in language specific to certain social categories such as the military or politics?

Felix Guattari: Definitely. We can even speak of a “para-phrenic” military language, the language of militant political activists today. But we would have to generalize. The categories used by psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and research scientists rely on a language of representational closure. To such an extent, that whatever escapes the production of desiring-machines is always redirected back to restrictive, exclusive syntheses, with a continual return to dualist categories, and a perpetual separation of levels. An epistemological reform would be insufficient to redress such a situation, because the whole balance of power is at stake, even at the level of class conflict. That means it is pointless to remind certain psychoanalysts, or research scientists, to pay attention. In so far as what is at stake is not a separate order, as it would be in the case of a pulsional order, for instance, but rather the very totality of social mechanisms and their functioning, as much in the order of desire as in the order of revolutionary struggle or science and industry—in so far as all this is at stake, the system in its totality would have to secrete its models, its casts, and its stereotyped expressions all over again. We ought to ask ourselves whether the expression of politicians, scientists, and the military is not in fact precisely a kind of anti-production, a kind of repression working at the level of expression, whose goal is to stop the work of questioning, which never stops in fact, but overflows and then is simply lost in the real movement of things.

Vittorio Marchetti: Nietzsche, Artaud, Van Gogh, Roussel, Campana: what does mental illness mean in their case?

Gilles Deleuze: It means many things. Jaspers and, more recently, Laing have displayed penetrating insight on this topic, even if they are still pretty much misunderstood. Essentially, they say that what is called madness is composed, roughly speaking, of two things: there is a breach, a tearing open, like a sudden light, a wall that is punched through, and then there is this other, very different dimension which could be called collapse. I remember a letter by 380px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project_(454045)Van Gogh: “We have to undermine the wall,” he says. Except knocking down the wall is really difficult, and if you do it in a way that is too brutal, you knock yourself out, you fall down, you collapse. And Van Gogh added: “Just file away at it, slowly, patiently.” So there is this breach, and a possible collapse. Jaspers, when he talks about the schizophrenic process, emphasizes the coexistence of two elements: a kind of intrusion, the arrival of something for which there is no possible expression, something wonderful, so wonderful in fact that it is difficult to articulate; but it is so repressed in our society—and here you have the second element— that it runs the risk of coinciding with collapse. Here you see the autistic schizophrenic, who no longer moves, and who can remain motionless for years. In the case of Nietzsche, Van Gogh, Artaud, Roussel, Campana, etc., the two elements certainly coexist. A fantastic breach, a hole in the wall. Van Gogh, Nerval—and so many others—have knocked down the wall of the signifier, the wall of mommy-daddy, they went beyond it and speak to us in a voice which is our future. But the second element is nonetheless present in this process, and it is the danger of collapse. No one has the right to deride, to treat with flippancy, the fact that the tearing open, the breach slips into or coincides with a kind of collapse. This danger must be considered fundamental. The two elements are connected. It is meaningless to say that Artaud was not schizophrenic—worse, it’s shameful and stupid. Artaud was clearly schizophrenic. He achieved a “wonderful breakthrough,” he knocked down the wall, but at what price? The price of a collapse that must be qualified as schizophrenic. The breakthrough and the breakdown are two different moments. It would be irresponsible to turn a blind eye to the danger of collapse in such endeavors. But they’re worth it.

Vittorio Marchetti: I heard about these interns in a psychiatric hospital who, against the wishes of the director of the clinic, had the habit of playing cards in the room of a patient who had been in a profound catatonic state for years: a vegetable. Not a word, not a gesture, not the least movement. One day, while the interns are playing cards, the patient, whose head had been turned toward the window by the nurse, suddenly says: “It’s the director!” His perpetual silence ensues and he dies a few years later without ever saying another word. That is his message to the world: “It’s the director!”

Gilles Deleuze: A beautiful story. In the light of schizoanalysis, and that’s what we’re after, we should not ask so much what the phrase “It’s the director!” means, as what happened such that the autistic patient, withdrawn into his body, was able to constitute, with the arrival of the director, a little machine that served his purposes, even for a short time.

Felix Guattari: It seems to me far from obvious that the patient in the story actually saw the director. From the standpoint of the story, it would even be better if the patient didn’t see him. The simple fact that there was a modification, a change of habits due to the presence of the young interns, the transgression of the director’s law on account of the card game, could have provoked the patient to foreground the hierarchical figure of the director, to articulate simply an analytic interpretation of the situation. This represents a beautiful illustration of the transfer, the translation of the analytic function. It’s not a psychoanalyst, or whoever you like, a psycho-sociologist, who is interpreting the structure of the situation. It is literally a crying out, a kind of slip of the tongue, that interprets the sense of the alienation which not the schizophrenic, but the people for whom it is such a big deal simply to play cards in the presence of patients find themselves in.

Vittorio Marchetti: Yes, but the patient is still present to himself when he cries out, even if he hasn’t seen the director…

Felix Guattari: Present to himself!  I’m not at all sure about that.  He could have seen a cat or something.  In the practice of institutional psychotherapy, it is well known that the most zoned-out schizophrenic can suddenly dredge up the most incredible stories about your private life, things you would never have believed anyone knew, and then will proceed to articulate, in the crudest manner possible, truths you thought were secret.  It’s no mystery.  The schizophrenic has instant access to such insight, because he is directly flayed, so to speak, on the hooks that constitute the group in its subjective unity.  He finds himself in a ‘clairvoyant’ situation with respect to those individuals who, crystallized in their logic, in their syntax, in their own interests, are absolutely blind.” Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, an interview with Vittorio Marchetti about Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia

Numero Dos
The Fight For Free Speech 

What We Are Fighting For and Against 

NEVER before in American history were the forces of reacti 
so completely in control of our political and economic 11 
Never before were the civil rights guaranteed by constitutioi 
provision so generally ignored and violated. Th6 reyolutiona 
changes brought about by the war and industrial conflict are i 
where more apparent than in the new machinery for the suppr 
sion of opinion and of traditional minority and individual righ 

That machinery consists chiefly of the reactionary decisic 
of federal and state supreme courts, the growing use of injui 
tions in labor disputes, the sweeping provisions of 35 state se 
tion and criminal syndicalism laws, an array of city ordinanc 
and police regulations restricting free speech and assemblai 
the arbitrary power of the Post Office Department over the pr 
and the mails, stale constabularies and private gunmen, and t 
lawlessness of such organizations as the American Legion a 
the Ku Klux Klan. So complete is the^machinery of supressi 
that an active political propaganda, — ^the communist — ^^has be 
outlawed and forced into secret underground channels. 

Behind this machinery stand the property interests of t 
country, so completely in control of our political life as to esta 
lish what is in effect a class government, — a governme 
by and for business. Political democracy as conceived by mai 
of America's greatest leaders, does not exist, except in a fd 
communities. This condition is not yet understood by the pubi 
at large. They are drugged by propaganda and blinded by 
press necessarily subservient to property interests. Dazed 1 
the kaleidoscopic changes of the last few years, the rank ai 
file citizens accept the dictatorship of property in the name 

The only groups of the American people conscious of this coi 
dition and capable of outspoken resistance to it are the radical 
the more aggressive wings of the labor and farmer movement 

The Fight for Free Speech 

tnd a few influential liberal journals, organizations and individ- 
lals in public life. Among other classes more or less conscious 
>t the condition but incapable of outspoken resistance are the 
Negroes, many foreign-born groups and the tenant farmers of 
he west and south. 

Resistance to reaction has two aspects, — first, activities look- 
ng toward a reorganization of our economic and political life, 
ind second, the demand for the "rights" of those minorities and 
.ndividuals attacked by the forces of reaction. The demand for 
'rights" is couched usually in an appeal to free speech traditions 
Eind constitutional guarantees, though behind that lies the his- 
toric insistence on the "natural right" of the advocates of any 
cause to agitate, — a right prior to and independent of constitu- 
tions. In the long run causes get that natural right in proportion 
to their power to take and hold it. Or legal "rights" securing 
it will be freely exercised when no class conflict threatens the 
existing order. 

Free Speech or Violence 


Whenever conflict grows tense, and the legal machinery of 
rights" breaks down, a resort to force by one side, or open 
violence by both sides is inevitable. Such a conflict on a large 
scale is of course armed revolt or a revolution. It is also obvious 
that the more freely the forces in conflict can agitate by peaceful 
means, the less will be the resort to violence. It is therefore 
clear that the more the spirit and method of peaceful agitation 
is encouraged here in the United States now, the less violent and 
destructive will be the inevitable industrial conflict ahead. It 
is in the interest of orderly progress that organized effort for 
civil liberty challenges the repressive powers of reaction in 
America today, headed as they are for violence and destruction. 

There are many who regard such effort as useless because 
they feel that the reactionary forces in power will never yield 
until compelled to do so by superior force. Even if that conten- 
tion is sound, the propaganda for civil liberty must have the 
effect of softening the conflict, both by making easier the way 
for the new forces and by creating a general distrust of the 
shams of our political system. That weakens resistance to 
progress. Any efforts for tolerance are justified also by their 

The Fight for Free Speech 

general effect on all classes, if we are to help toward a woi 
in which freedom of the mind is to be a reality. 

But quite independent of any political or philosophical 
gument, the work done today in the name of civil liberty is 
manded by the practical daily services to the host of groups 
individuals who are prosecuted, or mobbed, or whose rights 
restricted inside or outside the law. By demonstrations, pi 
licity, pamphlets, legal aid, bail, test cases in the courts, fii 
cial appeals, — ^by all these methods of daily service the friei 
of progress to a new social order make common cause, regi 
less of their political faith or of their view of the principle 
civil liberty itself. 

How the Union Started 

The American Civil Liberties Union is an outgrowth of tl 
National Civil Liberties Bureau, which came into being in 19 
with the war restrictions on civil liberty, — first as a departme 
of the American Union against Militarism, and later, in Octobc 
1917, as an independent organization. 

The Civil Liberties Union succeeded the Bureau in Janua 
1920, extended its scope beyond war cases, enlarged its gover 
ing body, and restated its objects to meet the post-war attac 
on the civil rights of labor, the farmers and the radicals. 

The Situation CAnfronting Us 

The reorganization came on the heels of the great coal ai 
steel strikes, the greatest demonstrations of working-class powj 
in the history of the country, both of which were beaten large] 
through the wholesale denial of civil rights, engineered joint! 
by the government and the employing interests. 

These strikes, with the outlaw switchmen's strike which fc 
lowed them, marked the height of working-class resistance 1 
industrial tyranny, as a result of the war shortage of labor. Th( 
marked, too, the effective beginning of those determined cai 
paigns of organized business which throughout the country ha^ 
either disrupted, weakened or put on the defensive every orgai 
ized movement of the workers, farmers, radicals and liberal 

This has been accomplished through the diverse methods < 
anti-labor and anti-radical legislation, injunctions and judg 
made law, by the open shop campaign, by economic boycott, I 


The Fight for Free Speech 

B raids of the Palmer regime, and by the lawless activities of 
B American Legion, the Ku Klux Klan and similar organiza- 

During the political campaign of 1920, the forces of resist- 
ce to reaction made determined efforts through various 
armer-labor" combinations to achieve power, — emphasizing 
erywhere the issues of civil liberty. All such efforts were 
ried under the Republican landslide. And they have stayed 
ried. There is nowhere in the country any effective political 
industrial organization of the forces of resistance to reaction 
cept in a few scattered localities and a few exceptional indus- 
es. Unemployment and propaganda have made effective 
.tional organization of any sort for the present impossible. 

Centers of Resistance 

Yet to this general condition there are conspicuous excep- 
)ns. There is the armed resistance to company gunmen among 
e mountaineer coal-miners of southern West Virginia in their 
rht for the right to organize ; there is the determined campaign 
the Kansas district of the United Mine Workers under Alex- 
ider Howat against the Industrial Court law which wipes out 
e right to strike ; there is the heroic effort of the Alabama coal 
iners to maintain their organization against the forces of the 
, S. Steel Corporation; the victory of the Amalgamated Clothing 
'orkers in New York; the continuous defiance of repressive 
easures by the I. W. W. lumber-jacks of the Northwest; the 
gnificant growth of working-class unity between whites and 
acks in southern industrial centers; the vigorous organizing 
impaigns of the Non-partisan League in the middle west ; and 
le steady growth of the independent farmer and labor press. 

Underneath this surface of exceptional centers and move- 
ents there are other forces at work, — the secret organ- 
ation of the Communist Party, the increasing rank and file sol- 
arity in the trades unions, and a spreading cynical conviction 
nong certain groups of the ultimate necessity of armed re- 

The Union's General Work 

Into this whole situation the American Civil Liberties Union 
irects its efforts wherever it can be of practical help. It makes 


The Fight for Free Speech 

no distinction as to whose liberties it defends; it puts no li 
on the principle of free speech. The headquarters in New Y 
keep informed of all cases reported in the press by a sp 
clipping service and close perusal of the labor papers, and 
through investigations in various parts of the country by m 
bers of the staff. In every case reported anywhere in the c 
try or in our island possessions, we act at once by letter or 
to advise the person or organization attacked that our serv 
are at their disposal. Those services consist of legal advice, b 
publicity and protests to local officials. 

To help with that service we have 800 co-operating lawy 
in 47 states, and over 1000 correspondents and investigators. 
17 of the larger cities we have local co-operating committ 
which act on important cases. The most active of these is 
New England Civil Liberties Committee in Boston. The nan 
and address of these local committees appear on page 31. In t 
New York headquarters the daily work is in charge of two 
rectors, a field secretary and an attorney. A representative 
Washington handles matters requiring direct contact with gc 
emment officials. 

The chief activity necessarily is publicity in one form 
other, for ours is a work of propaganda,— getting facts aero 
from our point-of-view. That consists of a regular news servij 
to 450 weekly labor, farmer and liberal papers ; special news r 
leases to daily papers; occasional news statements to sped 
groups of papers, including foreign labor and liberal public 
tions; pamphlets; an information service to 420 co-operatii 
speakers and writers throughout the country; and a weekly mil 
eographed report on all cases, which is sent to selected pap€ 
and list of subscribers. 


The most effective publicity has resulted from dramatizii 
the issues of civil liberty by demonstrations in areas of confli* 
During 1920, the Union conducted four such conspicuous fr 
speech fights. The first, in Passaic, N. J., in cooperation wi 
the Amalgamated Textile Workers, wiped off the books a i 
strictive police order and city ordinance and opened up that wc 
town to workers' meetings. The second, in May, at Duquesr 


The Fight for Free Speech 

, in co-operation with the National Committee for Organizing 
n and Steel Workers, staged the issue squarely, but resulted 
L most restrictive decision from the State Supreme Court which 
laws meetings in public places. The third, during the fall 
itical campaign at Mt. Vernon, N. Y., in co-operation with the 
ialist Party, opened up the streets of that city to Socialist 
akers, though the legal issues at stake are still pending in the 
rts. The fourth, also during the campaign, in four Connecti- 
cities in co-operation with the Socialist Party, secured various 
nediate results in the different cities (Waterbury, New Lon- 
i, Meriden and Norwich). The final outcome was a wholly 
orable decision by the State Supreme Court forbidding dis- 
nination between speakers on public streets. 

Field Work 

In addition to the demonstrations, the Union has helped plan 
al civil liberties campaigns carried on by labor organizations. 
I are the means frequently of getting local groups and indi- 
uals in touch with one another when they have never before 
rked together. Many groups and individuals are so isolated 
t they do not know of one another's existence in the same 
imunity. We also have brought national agencies to bear, 
local situations, hiring publicity men, getting investigators on 
field, waking up magazines to the publicity possibilities in 
il dramas, and urging public authorities to action to correct 
ises. We have put in much effort in these ways, particularly 
he long strike conflicts in the coal fields of Alabama and West 


The pamphlets published since the Union was organized in 
uary, 1920, are: 

Why Freedom Matters, by Norman Angell, 32 pages, (re- 

Amnesty for Political Prisoners, 12 pages. 

Freedom of Speech and of the Press, a compilation of quo- 
tations arranged by John Haynes Holmes, 32 pages 

Do We Need More Sedition Laws? Testimony of Alfred 
Bettm^n and Swinburne Hale, 22 pages. 


The Fight for Free Speech 

Seeing Red: civil liberty and law since the armistice 
Walter Nelles, 12 pages. 

New Gags on Free Speech : a one-page map showing ext( 
of "criminal syndicalism", "sedition" and "red fla 

Civil Liberty : a statement of the Union's position on t 
present issues. 

The Police and the Radicals : a report on the attitude a 
methods of the police in handling radical meetings 
about 100 cities, 12 pages. 

The Supreme Court vs. Civil Liberty: opinions of Justi 
Brandeis and Holmes in cases affecting civil libei 
8 pages. 

Lynching and Debt Slavery, by William Pickens, 8 pages 

The Persecution of the L W. W., one-page leaflet summai 
ing the prosecutions to March, 1921. 

The Communist Prosecutions : one-page summary to Mar 

Since the Buf ord Sailed : a summary of developments fi 
December, 1919 to June, 1920, 14 pages. 

Leaflets entitled "Real Americanism" and "Maintain Y 
Rights" ! 

Pamphlets and books now in course of preparation are : 

The Open Shop and Civil Liberty. 

Injunctions against Civil Rights. 

"Force and Violence" in High Places. 

The Mob Mind vs. Civil Rights. 

The Alabama Coal Miners and the Steel Trust. 

The Black Workers' Struggle for American Rights in 
Virgin Islands. 

Mountaineers and Gunmen : the Coal War in West Virgii 

Conscientious Objectors in the Great War, by Norn 
Thomas. j 

The History of Civil Liberty in the United States, by L< 

The Gag on Teachers, by Dr. Henry R. Linville and Thou 
A. Mufson. 


The Fight for Free Speech 

Service to Lawyers 

To our 800 co-operating attorneys, our counsel, Mr. Nelles, 
Bnds each month a bulletin on some legal aspect of civil liberty 
kely to be helpful to them in cases involving civil rights.These 
uUetins in recent months have covered : 

Free Speech on the Streets. 

Control of the Press by Injunction. 

Constitutionality of Criminal Anarchy and Criminal Syn- 
dicalism Statutes. 

Postal Censorship through the Second-Class Mailing Priv- 

Searches and Seizures. 

Scope of Labor Sections of the Clayton Act. 

Mr. Nelles is a member of a law firm which devotes its atten- 
;ion chiefly to civil liberty cases. The members of that firm 
[Hale, Nelles and Shorr) have participated in most of the signi- 
icant civil liberty trials in and near New York, — Mr. Nelles par- 
:icularly in the cases arising under the New York anti-anarchy 
statute and the deportation laws. 

The growing menace of the power of injunctions in labor dis- 
putes prompted us to call a conference of interested agencies, 
lawyers and others* in January, 1921. The result was an agree- 
ment to undertake a thorough study of the whole subject, to* be 
made available for attorneys and labor organizations in the form 
of a pamphlet covering law and tactics. That work is under 

Other Work 

Much of the work we do does not appear with our name 
because the primary responsibility for it rests with others. For 
instance, considerable of the publicity relating to the West Vir- 
ginia miners was arranged for by us and carried out indepen- 
dently. Similarly, much of the work in the amnesty campaign 
is handled by us as part of a joint effort of a number of organi- 

Meetings and conferences on local and national civil liberty 
issues have been held by members of the staff of the Union from 
time to time especially in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pitts- 


The Fight for Free Speech 

burg, St. Louis and New York. Talk's on civil liberties by mem- 
bers of the National Committee or the staff have been arranged 
through the Union before many audiences, particularly in the 
east and middle west. 

Bail Fund 

An attempt to create a National Bail Fund to provide bail for 
persons held in civil liberty cases has only recently been success- 
ful, after over a year's effort to get the minimum fixed for an 
operating basis, — $100,000. The fund is administered by a com- 
mittee of trustees independent of the Union, but working in close 
co-operation with it. The trustees are L. HoUingsworth Wood, 
Albert De Silver and Norman Thomas, with an Auditing Com- 
mittee supervising the work, consisting of Oswald Garrison Vil- 
lard, Charles J. Rhoads and Arthur Garfield Hays. Cash, lib- 
erty bonds or other marketable securities are accepted as loans 
to be used for bail. The risk of loss is minimized and would be 
shared by all participants alike; interest is paid; and no pub 
licity is attached to those participating. A total fund of $200,- 
000 is needed to meet immediate demands. 


The efforts to secure amnesty have been unceasing. The re- 
lease of the last of the conscientious objectors in November, 1920, 
was probably due in part to our constant agitation, but more to 
the determination of the men themselves, and to the conspicuous 
hunger-strike of one of their number. 

Sedition Bills 

Efforts to fasten a peace-time sedition law on the country 
have been vigorously opposed by the Union and allied organiza 
tions, so far with success. We conducted a hard fight against 
the Sterling bill in Congress in 1920, and have kept after the 
situation continuously since. The Union has also participated in 
efforts to repeal, test or defeat various peace-time sedition laws 
in a number of states. 

How the Work is Directed 


The policies of the Civil Liberties Union are determined j 
by vote of the National Committee, voting by mail. 


The Fight for Free Speech 

A statement of the general policy on the chief issues 
pears on page 15. The carrying out of this policy is en- 
sted to an Executive Committee, composed of twenty mem- 
rs of the National Committee, meeting weejcly in New York, 
e members of that committee are: John A. Fitch, Paul J. 
rnas, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, John Haynes Holmes, James 
»ldon Johnson, Mrs. Agnes Brown Leach, Henry R. Linville, 
lliam J. M. A. Maloney, A. J. Muste, Scott Nearing, Walter 
lies, John Nevin Sayre, Rose Schneiderman, Helen Phelps 
tkes, Norman M. Thomas, B. Charney Vladeck, Harry F. 
ird, L. HoUingsworth Wood, Roger N. Baldwin and Albert De 

The Work Ahead 

The work in hand, besides the regular services, deals with the 
lowing chief matters: 

1. Amnesty for political prisoners. Constant efforts on this 
npaign in co-operation with other agencies, directed particu- 
ly to action by the federal government in behalf of the 150 
itical prisoners still in prison (of whom 103 are members of 
! I. W. W.) and also directed to similar action by governors 

I. Campaigns against laws restricting free speech, free press 
1 free assemblage. Efforts to defeat proposed laws and to an- 
: such laws by tests in the courts, campaigns for their repeal, 

i general publicity aimed at making them ineffective in prac- 


i. Demonstrations in areas of conflict: Test meetings as a 
lis of getting laws before the courts or of putting to the front 
I free speech issue, held as occasions prompt. 

I. A special campaign against mob violence — particularly di- 
ted to the American Legion and the Ku Klux Klan. 

>. Completion of the study of injunctions, with suggested 
tics for labor organizations. 

>. Publication of a study of the restrictions on teachers, with 
ampaign in the schools and colleges for academic freedom. 

r. Special efforts in California, to counteract the exceptional 
;ver of reaction there. 

i. Development of the National Bail Fund to reach all de- 
dants in civil liberty cases unable otherwise to get bail. 


The Fight for Free Speech 


The operating expenses of the work are about $20,000 
year, excluding the printing of pamphlets, which cost, at the ra 
we want to publish^ $4,000 a year. There are also various sp 
cial funds to meet needs that come up unexpectedly. The Unic 
operates on a budget, and on a general financial system approve 
by the National Information Bureau, 1 Madison Ave., New Yor 
an agency for the information of contributors to public cause 
The Treasurer's report on page 28. gives the essential figur 
for the fiscal year which closed January 31, 1921. 

Our income is derived wholly from voluntary contributio 
in amounts from one dollar a year to one thousand. The tot 
number of contributors on our list, January 1, 1921, was 150 
The pamphlet printing fund is in part made up from receipts t 
pamphlets sold, — a comparatively small item. 

Public appeals for defense funds in civil liberties cases ha 
been made frequently through the Union, notably for the Ce 
tralia I. W. W. case, the general defense work of the I. W. 
the National Defense Committee (which defends cases of Co 
munists), and the Sacco-Vanzetti case at Boston. We also ci 
lected a fund to help buy a printing press to start a labor pap 
run by the organized workers of the Virgin Islands. 

Statement defining the position of the American Civil Liberties 
Union on the issues in the United States today 

(Adopted by the National Committee) 

We stand on the general principle that all thought on matters 
I public concern should be freely expressed without interfer- 
ice. Orderly social progress is promoted by unrestricted free- 
om of opinion. The punishment of mere opinion, without overt 
ets, is never in the interest of orderly progress. Suppression 
f opinion makes for violence and bloodshed. 

The principle of freedom of speech, press and assemblage, 
mbodied in our constitutional law, must be reasserted in its 
pplication to American conditions today. That application 
lust deal with various methods now used to repress new ideas 
nd democratic movements. The following paragraphs cover 
he most significant of the tactics of repression in the United 
tates today. 

1. Free Speech. There should be no control whatever in 
dvance over what any person may say. The right to. meet and 
speak freely without permit should be unquestioned. 

There should be no prosecutions for the mere expression of 
pinion on matters of public concern, however radical, however 
iolent. The expression of all opinions, however radical, should 
\e tolerated. The fullest freedom of speech should be encour- 
iged by setting aside special places in streets or parks and in 
he use of public buildings, free of charge, for public itieetings of 
my sort. 

2. Free Press. There should be no censorship over the mails 
>y the post-office or any other agency at any time or in any way. 
^rivacy of communication should be inviolate. Printed matter 
hould never be subject to a political censorship. The granting 
>r revoking of second class mailing privileges should have noth- 
ng whatever to do with a paper's opinions and policies. 

If libelous, fraudulent, or other illegal matter is being cir- 
culated, it should be seized by proper warrant through the pro- 
lecuting authorities, not by the post-office department. The busi- 
less of the post-office department is to carry the mails, not 
investigate crime or to act as censors. 


The Fight for Free Speech 

There should be no control over the distribution of literature 
at meetings or hand to hand in public or in private places. No 
system of licenses for distribution should be tolerated. 

3. Freedom of Assemblage. Meetings in public places, 
parades and processions should be freely permitted, the only 
reasonable regulation being the advance notification to the police 
of the time and place. No discretion should be given the police 
to prohibit parades or processions, but merely to alter routes 
in accordance with the imperative demands of traffic in crowded 
cities. There should be no laws or regulations prohibiting the 
display of red flags or other political emblems. 

The right of assemblage is involved in the right to picket in 
time of strike. Peaceful picketing, therefore, should not be pro- 
hibited, regulated by injunction, by order of court or by police 
edict. It is the business of the police in places where picketing 
is conducted merely to keep traffic free and to handle specific 
violations of law against persons upon complaint. 

4. The Right to Strike. The right of workers to organize 
in organizations of their own choosing, and to strike, should 
never be infringed by law. 

Compulsory arbitration is to be condemned not only because 
it destroys the workers' right to strike, but because it lays em- 
phasis on one set of obligations alone, those of workers to 

5, Law Enforcement. The practice of deputizing privately 
paid police as general police officers should be opposed. So 
should the attempts of private company employes to police the 
streets or property other than that of the company. 

The efforts of private associations to take into their own 
hands the enforcement of lav/ should be opposed at every point. 
Public officials, employes of private corporations, and leaders of 
mobs, who interfere with the exercise of the constitutionally 
established rights of free speech and free assembly, should be| 
vigorously proceeded against. 

The sending of troops into areas of industrial conflict to main- 
tain law and order almost inevitably results in the government 
taking sides in an industrial conflict in behalf of the employer. 
The presence of troops,whether or not martial law is declared, 


The Fight for Free Speech 

3ry rarely affects the employer adversely, but it usually results 
I the complete denial of civil rights to the workers. 

6. Search and Seizure. It is the custom of certain federal, 
ate and city officials, particularly in cases involving civil liberty, 
> make arrests without warrant, to enter upon private property, 
id to seize papers and literature without legal process. Such 
ractices should be contested. Officials so violating constitutional 
larantees should be proceeded against. 

7. The Risrht to a Fair Trial. Every person charged with 
1 offense should have the fullest opportunity for a fair trial, for 
'curing counsel and bail in a reasonable sum. In the case of a 
DOT person, special aid should be organized to secure a fair 
ial, and when necessary, an appeal. The legal profession 
lould be alert to defend cases involving civil liberty. The reso- 
itions of various associations of lawyers against taking cases of 
idicals are wholly against the traditions of American liberty. 

8« Immigration^ Deportation and Passports. No person 
lould be refused admission to the United States on the ground 
: holding objectionable opinions. The present restrictions 
jainst radicals of various beliefs is wholly opposed to our tradi- 
on of political asylum. 

No alien should be deported merely for the expression of 
>inion or for membership in a radical or revolutionary organi- 
ition. This is as un-American a practice as the prosecution of 
tizens for expression of opinion. 

The attempt to revoke naturalization papers in order to de- 
are a citizen an alien subject to deportation is a perversion ol 
law which was intended to cover only cases of fraud. 

Citizenship papers should not be refused to any alien because 
the expression of radical views, or activities in the cause of 

The granting of passports to or from the United States should 
t be dependent merely upon the opinions of citizens or member- 
ip in radical or labor organizations. 

9. Liberty in Education. The attempts to maintain a uni- 
rm orthodox opinion among teachers should be opposed. 
16 attempts of educational authorities to inject into public 
hpol and college instruction propaganda in the interest of any 


The Fight for Free Speech 

no distinction as to whose liberties it defends; it puts no lin 
on the principle of free speech. The headquarters in New Yo 
keep informed of all cases reported in the press by a sped 
clipping service and close perusal of the labor papers, and al 
through investigations in various parts of the country by mei 
bers of the staff. In every case reported anywhere in the ecu 
try or in our island possessions, we act at once by letter or wi 
to advise the person or organization attacked that our servic 
are at their disposal. Those services consist of legal advice, ba 
publicity and protests to local officials. 

To help with that service we have 800 co-operating lawye 
in 47 states, and over 1000 correspondents and investigators. 
17 of the larger cities we have local co-operating committe 
which act on important cases. The most active of these is t 
New England Civil Liberties Committee in Boston. The nam 
and address of these local committees appear on page 31. In t 
New York headquarters the daily work is in charge of two 
rectors, a field secretary and an attorney. A representative 
Washington handles matters requiring direct contact with gc 
ernment officials. 

The chief activity necessarily is publicity in one form 
other, for ours is a work of propaganda,— getting facts aero 
from our point-of-view. That consists of a regular news servi 
to 450 weekly labor, farmer and liberal papers; special news i 
leases to daily papers; occasional news statements to speci 
groups of papers, including foreign labor and liberal public 
tions; pamphlets; an information service to 420 co-operatii 
speakers and writers throughout the country; and a weekly mil 
eographed report on all cases, which is sent to selected pape 
and list of subscribers. 


The most effective publicity has resulted from dramatizin 
the issues of civil liberty by demonstrations in areas of conflic 
During 1920, the Union conducted four such conspicuous fre 
speech fights. The first, in Passaic, N. J., in cooperation wit 
the Amalgamated Textile Workers, wiped oflf the books a re 
strictive police order and city ordinance and opened up that woo 
town to workers' meetings. The second, in May, at Duquesne 


and Subscribers to tbe Pamphlet Service 

The following list covers all contributors, and subscribers to 
he pamphlet service, during the year 1920. There is no mem- 
bership in the Union in the sense of committing those who join 
o any dogmatic statement of principles. Inclusion in this list 
lesignates only an interest in the work of the organization. 

The Fight For Free Speech: a Brief Statement of Present Conditions in the United States and of the Work of the American Civil Liberties Union Against the Forces of Suppression/ by Roger Baldwin & Albert De Silver; 1921