Wipe out, then, these feudal robbers – the whole race of kings, and queens, and nobles, and all their accomplices in every grade of life, and take possession of all the spoils which they and their predecessors have wrung from you and your ancestors. Put an end to their Parliaments and Courts. Blot out forever their statute books. They contain little or nothing else than the records of their villanies. Free England and Ireland, and thus all the rest of the empire, of the tyrants and robbers that are plundering, enslaving, and crushing, and starving you.
Sorry Anglo-Saxons, this post is not for you. It culminates in one of the most cutting anti-Anglo rants I’ve ever read. You can just skip to the last block quote if you are short on time. Its low effort on my behalf because I’m mostly just quoting Spooner, but its worth it. Lysander Spooner wrote this letter entitled Revolution: The Only Remedy for the Oppressed Classes of Ireland, England, and Other Parts of the British Empire. He is one of my favorite Anarchist writers and if you aren’t familiar with him already, well you should be.
Heres the setup: The impetus for the letter is a letter which Spooner received from a certain “Dunraven” apparently defending landlordism in Ireland. It leads him into a polemical rant on empire, revolution, liberty, and history. He initially makes an attack on Dunraven’s position by attacking feudal landlordism in general as the product of thievery:
The whole force of your letter, as a defence of Irish landlords, rests upon the assumption that they are the real and true owners of the lands they now hold. But this assumption is a false one. These lands, largely or mostly, were originally taken by the sword, and have ever since been held by the sword. Neither the original robbers, nor any subsequent holders, have ever had any other than a robber’s title to them. And robbery gives no better title to lands than it does to any other property.
A moment later however, he goes on to extend this criticism to England:
And what is true of the lands in Ireland is equally true of the lands in England. The lands in England, largely or mostly, were originally taken by the sword, and have ever since been held by the sword; and the present holders have no better titles to them than simple, naked robbery has given them.
This is all rather obvious stuff for someone who has even a faint grasp of history (Spooner says as much himself: “It cannot be supposed that you are so stupid as to be ignorant of all this…”) but it leads to a funny conclusion. Namely, that the entire “social structure” of the British Empire (which Dunraven holds in such esteem) is predicated on nothing but robbery, and should therefore be abolished. This leads to the most thrilling passage in the letter, wherein Spooner characterizes the ruling class of England (and indeed, the Anglo-Saxon people in general) as the enemy of humanity, and as a race primarily defined by a proclivity towards robbery and piracy.
This designation – enemies of the human race – has more generally been applied to pirates; to men who committed their crimes upon the sea. But there have been other hostes humani generis; men devoted to plunder, who committed their crimes upon the land and who were equally indifferent, with pirates on the sea, as to the persons on whom their crimes were committed. The ruling classes in England, from the time the Anglo-Saxons first came there, have been hostes humani generis: enemies of the human race. They have had only one motive, viz, plunder. And so long as this motive was gratified, they have cared not whom they plundered, enslaved, or murdered.
The Anglo-Saxons were robbers and pirates in their own country, two thousand years ago; robbers on land, and pirates at sea. Such was their sole business. The men performed no useful labor. Their useful labor was all performed by their women and their slaves. They themselves, as history tells us, scorned to labor for anything they could take by force. They came into England on their usual errand. They seized the country by military power, and reduced the native Britons to slavery. And they have maintained this character ever since. The Normans were equally robbers. The real government of England, the actual ruling power, for more than a thousand years, has been a mere band of robbers; a mere confederacy of villains. And it is nothing else to-day. They have not only plundered and enslaved the great body of the people of England and Ireland, but, as far as possible, the peoples of all other parts of the globe. They have their chains to-day upon more than two hundred millions of people; and their whole purpose is to extort from them everything that oppression, in every form, is capable of extorting.
It then concludes with the passage which I started this off with up top, just beneath the portrait of Spooner.
I love it!