Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak

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(1834 - 1896)
William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. He was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he helped win acceptance of socialism in fin de siècle Great Britain. (From : Wikipedia.org.)

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Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak

(a) William Morris's Tribute (The Clarion)

I think I may say that I am one of those who speak for, at all events I am here to represent the feelings of English Socialists on the death of our lost comrade. My mission is simply to express our deep sorrow at the loss of our comrade, and an appreciation of his noble qualities, which our friend Krapotkin, with so much feeling—and feeling is better than eloquence—has laid before us. Stepniak impelled us to express the feeling which animates all our party, the feeling of love, the feeling of brotherhood which we have for the great Russian people. I am quite certain there is not a single person here, whatever shade of opinion he may hold, that does not truly sympathize with the ends and aims Sergius Stepniak laid before us. Perhaps at times we might feel that we did not altogether agree with his line of tactics; but then, have we not to consider this, that here was a man who gave up his whole life for the Russian people, that he understood them down to the ground, that he sympathized with every class of them; and we must feel this, that after all he was rather the man to say what could be done in Russia than we were. We must remember the difference of position between us in England and the people of Russia. We can more or less speak our minds. We are doing so now. Our fathers at all events won for us a certain amount of freedom. That was Stepniak's aim, and that is the position from which all who revolt from Russian tyranny speak and act with the hope of gaining freedom, political and economic, for their own people. In thinking about this loss we must minimize it as much as possible by our own lives and exertions, keeping green the memory of Sergius Stepniak. (Applause.)


(a) Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak (Labor Leader)

WILLIAM MORRIS said his message was simple. He was there as an English Socialist to express the deep sorrow and regret they felt at the loss of their comrade, and their appreciation of his noble qualities, and next — and Stepniak himself would deem that the most important — to express the feelings of love and brotherhood they had for the great Russian people. (Cheers.) When he heard things talked about earnest Russian policy, he could not help thinking what a farce it was, when all those millions of the Russian people were still living under a system of most abominable oppression — there was no other word for it. (Cheers.) All present sympathized with the end and aim Stepniak had before him. They might feel they did not at all times agree with his tactics. But they knew he was giving up his whole life for the people. and they felt that he was after all the man to say what should be done first in Russia. (Cheers.) Stepniak had no idea that Russian freedom should end with the creation of a prosperous middle class, and a miserable wage-earning Proletariat. (Cheers.) Here in England they could speak their minds with some degree of freedom. Their fathers before them had won that for them, and had made the rest easier to win. It was Stepniak's aim to get that position, under which all Russians would be able to speak and act, and then get real genuine freedom, economical not less than political. (Cheers.) Their business in thinking about their great loss was to minimize it as much as possible, by their own words and actions, keeping his memory green.


(b) Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak (The Times)

MR WILLIAM MORRIS said he was one of the speakers, at all events, who was there to represent the feelings of the English Socialists on the death of their lost comrade. His message was, first, simply to express their deep sorrow and regret at the loss they had sustained in Stepniak's death, and their appreciation of his noble qualities. Next he wished to express the feelings of love and brotherhood entertained by all their party for the great Russian people—the people, he said. When he saw such and such things said about Russian policy, whether they would go to India or hither or thither, he thought what a farce it was, when all those people were now living under what one must call that day abominable oppression— there was no other word for it. There was not a single person there who did not thoroughly sympathize with the end and aim that Stepniak had before him.

Title

Funeral Oration for Sergius Stepniak

Sources

The Clarion, 4 January 1896; The Labor Leader, 4 January 1896; The Times, 30 December 1895

Notes

Stepniak died in a railway accident; his funeral was attended by leading members of all the main socialist and anarchist currents of Britain at that time. Other speakers included Edward Bernstein, Eleanor Marx, Malatesta, Kropotkin, Herbert Burrows, Eleanor Marx, Keir Hardie, and John Burns. The Times commented that It was a significant and striking spectacle, this assemblage of Socialists, Nihilists, Anarchists, and outlaws of every European country, gathered together in the heart of London to pay respect to the memory of their dead leader. For a full hour they stood in the drizzling rain, as speaker after speaker mounted the parapet and delivered his funeral oration with an earnestness which there could be no mistaking..

From : Marxists.org

Chronology

February 28, 2021 ; 5:19:06 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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