Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
By Richard Wagner
(It is not generally recalled that the composer of the worlds greatest music-dramas, 18131883, was an active revolutionist, who took part in street fighting in the German Revolution of 1848, and escaped a long imprisonment only by flight. The following is from his contributions to the Dresden Volksblätter)
I AM the secret of perpetual youth, the everlasting creator of life; where I am not, death rages. I am the comfort, the hope, the dream of the oppressed. I destroy what exists; but from the rock whereon I light new life begins to flow. I come to you to break all chains which bear you down; to free you from the embrace of death, and instill a new life into your veins. All that exists must perish; that is the eternal condition of life, and I the all-destroying fulfil that law to create a fresh, new existence. I will renovate to the very foundations the order of things in which you live, for it is the offspring of sin, whose blossom is misery and whose fruit is crime. The grain is ripe, and I am the reaper. I will dissipate every delusion which has mastery over the human race. I will destroy the authority of the one over the many; of the lifeless over the living; of the material over the spiritual. I will break into pieces the authority of the great; of the law of property. Let the will of each be master of mankind, ones own strength be ones one property, for the freeman is the sacred man, and there is nothing sublimer than he.
I will destroy the existing order of things which divides one humanity into hostile peoples, into strong and weak, into privileged and outlawed, into rich and poor; for that makes unfortunate creatures of one and all. I will destroy the order of things which makes millions the slaves of the few, and those few the slaves of their own power, of their own wealth. I will destroy the order of things which severs enjoyment from labor, which turns labor into a burden and enjoyment into a vice, which makes one man miserable through want and another miserable through super-abundance. I will destroy the order of things which consumes the vigor of manhood in the service of the dead, of inert matter, which sustains one part of mankind in idleness or useless activity, which forces thousands to devote their sturdy youth to the indolent pursuits of soldiery, officialism, speculation and usury, and the maintenance of such like despicable conditions, while the other half, by excessive exertion and sacrifice of all the enjoyment of life, bears the burden of the whole infamous structure. I will destroy even the very memory and trace of this delirious order of things which, pieced together out of force, falsehood, trouble, tears, sorrow, suffering, need, deceit, hypocrisy and crime, is shut up in its own reeking atmosphere, and never receives a breath of pure air, to which no ray of pure joy ever penetrates.
Arise, then, ye people of the earth, arise, ye sorrow-stricken and oppressed. Ye, also, who vainly struggle to clothe the inner desolation of your hearts, with the transient glory of riches, arise! Come and follow in my track with the joyful crowd, for I know not how to make distinction between those who follow me. There are but two peoples from henceforth on earththe one which follows me, and the one which resists me. The one I will lead to happiness, but the other I will crush in my progress. For I am the Revolution, I am the new creating force. I am the divinity which discerns all life, which embraces, revives, and rewards.