Page:Oliver Spence.djvu/10

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After the statesmen of Australia had succeeded in bringing about the federation of the Australian states, the natural result was the formation of a large standing army, which, as our readers are aware, the Federal Government, from its headquarters at Albury, made ample use of as a valuable auxiliary in their determined maintenance of "law and order," "freedom of contract," and the right of the syndicates to employ men at as low a wage and as long hours as the necessities of the laboring people might compel them to accept. Boycotting, or any attempts on the part of strikers to interfere, even in the most peaceful way, with "free" or non-union laborers, were treated as overt acts of rebellion, and the strikers were promptly dragooned into submission. The result was that the various unions had been gradually broken up, and were succeeded by branches of a vast secret organisation known as "The Brotherhood of the Poor." The ramifications of this association included all sections of workers, and even criminals and social outcasts were admitted to membership, it being a maxim of the Brotherhood that, the outcast being himself a victim of unjust and corrupt institutions and laws, his aid would, on occasion, be of greater value than that of those who had not been strengthened and sharpened by the Ishmael-like life of the outcast.

This formidable body, which scorned any definite reconstructive platform, and appeared to aim only at the destruction of what they considered a corrupt and festering civilisation, was very skilfully and powerfully organised, and had become so strong and far-reaching in its membership, and had been in existence for so long, that the ruling class despaired of suppressing it, and had at last decided to affect to ignore its existence. The career of the Brotherhood had been distinguished by acts of heroism, fortitude, audacity and fidelity which far surpassed anything recorded of previous secret bands of conspirators. Monopolists who had rendered themselves particularly odious to the populace by the ostentatious display of their possessions, or by open and cynical disregard of the feelings of those who were forced by necessity to minister to their desires, we frequently killed in their own houses by men or women who, prior to making their escape stamped upon the bodies of their victims the seal of the Brotherhood. It was only by the exercise of the utmost caution and the expenditure of large sums of money in the payment of faithful bodyguards, that the leading members of the syndicates and corporations which controlled the government and industries of the country saved themselves from assassination. The members of the Brotherhood were also possessed of an amount of knowledge