Georgia & Henry Replogle
Egoism Vol. I. No. 6.
Hugh O. Pentecost’s Shakerish Asceticism.
Those who have not yet clearly distinguished between Egoism and egotism should read closely No. 5 of Tak Kak’s series, which appears in this number.
The excellent sonnet in another column by J. Wm. Lloyd, is the first poetic fruit of EGOISM’s siring, and it is hoped it will not be the last. This was Anarchistic and not a case of forced maternity.
“Human Nature” is a new phrenological journal published in this city by Haddock & Fyfe, at 1008 Market street. It will introduce many new ideas to the conservative masses concerning the human animal.
Humor is an aggregation of misallied comparisons which are so clearly such as not to be taken earnestly, hence can do no harm. What a fund the doctrine of collectivism will furnish for a posterity complex enough to not regard it “scientific” as their ancestors did.
The mortifying typographical errors that sometimes creep into these pages are due to the fact that the proof-reader has an impression that the error looked for is farther down in the column, and in the rush to get to it, overlooks the point at which one is silently located.
A number of our readers have recently sent expressions of appreciation attesting the excellence of this paper, which is very gratifying, and we would not object to finding their friends becoming similarly affected. It is now six months old with no probability of bearing weaning soon.
Part of the purpose in publishing EGOISM was to fill the unexpired subscriptions of “Equity,” suspended in Liberal, Mo., in 1886. A number of subscriptions to that paper will be filled with this issue, all of which will be marked at the top of this page with a blue pencil. Those who do not arrange at once to have it continued will be dropped from the list, as we desire to carry no deadbeads except of our own selection.
In No. 168 of “Liberty,” Victor Yarros, after quoting approvingly from EGOISM, says further that it “is an excellent Anarchistic paper, intelligent, keen and strong, although its editors do not always guard sufficiently against obscurity and vagueness.” We fear this latter is too often true and shall try to profit by the kindly suggestion. But there is, however, one extenuating circumstance in the matter, and that is, if our readers were by some means to discover what we are driving at many of them might at once stop their paper.
“Sex Slavery,” a lecture delivered by Voltairine de Cleyre before Unity congregation, Philadelphia, was jokingly sent by “Lucifer” to the “literary editor” of this paper. Unfortunately, it has no such editor, but one of its ordinary horse-sense editors thinks the lecture plain, strong, and well suited to the occasion, but too declamatory and emotional to please Egoists. All lovers of the “Twentieth Century” will like it. Price 5 cents. Send to “Lucifer,” Valley Falls, Kansas, for the present. “Lucifer” will remove to Topeka, Kansas, the capital of the state, but its street address has not been published.
“Observations” by its editor, and “The Marriage Law,” by G. A. F. de Lespinasse in a late number of “Freethought” go far toward supporting Vietor Yarros’s assertion that that paper “will furnish more instruction and delight than any organ published outside of Boston.” Proud as EGOISM is of the editor of “Freethought,” it will not indorse Mr. Yarros’s statement without being qualified with, that Tak Kak’s articles now running in this paper are as instructive as anything published either out, or in Boston. The publication of “Fair Play” being temporarily suspended, the columns of this paper are open to its editors to prove that their paper will not only be superior to “Freethought” and Emma, but the equal of “Liberty” itself.
Among the Egographs, on another page, will be found the announcement from “Freethought,” of George Macdonald’s desire to be considered an Anarchist so far as his qualifications will permit. These are happily so complete that he may be considered practically one of the handful of Egoistic Anarchists who teach industrial and social freedom as social expediency, and not as a religious duty. This is by far the most notable and valuable accession that Anarchism has received in a long time, and all the more delightful to EGOISM because it feels a kind of proprietorship in the prize. It believes that the frequent and quiet canvassing the subject has received during over two years of almost daily association of one of its publishers with Mr. Macdonald, as well as that of others of its immediate staff, has had much to do wit-h bringing to that writer’s attention the merits of Anarchistic socialism. Of course Mr. Macdonald’s well-trained intellect was the principal factor, for all the people we associate with do not become Anarchists. However smoothly it may proceed, some efficient work may be looked for from him. In addition to the philosophic soundness that it has he will bring into Anarchistic writing a keen and witty ridicule of existing institutions that it has not hitherto enjoyed. No one should now be without “Freethought.” We will furnish it with EGOISM for $2.25 a year.
Who fain would stand on purest heights
Where suns rise first, sink last, and all
This seems the acme of philosophy,
The one great need of whose would be free:
Mine own sure friend, no matter how demean
My fellow selves, nor what may come between,
I know no lack of love, nor sympathy.
With reverence still before myself to stand,
To learn, to love, to honor all therein,
Knowing self-injury alone as sin,
And sin to others, sin at second-hand—
I deem a sane man’s thought, and therefore grand,
The attitude of one whom truth helps win.
—J. WM. LLOYD.
THE enthusiasm of blind devotion to a fixed idea in reform always sacrifices the ever present to the never future; always sacrifices the pleasure of the hour on the altar, “duty to the cause,” and finally places the crown of achievement on some assuming figurehead, as witness any movement which men and women suffer deprivation for.
MOSES HARMAN has been officially notified to appear before Judge Foster for trial on the 11th of this month answering to the indictment of last April on the O’Neill letter. Thus this more effective charge will be brought against him before the new trial granted on the writ of error can possibly take place, unless a continuance can in some way be obtained. In this way a man is harassed for years, plundered of his property, and finally murdered by inches for differing slightly from a few of his neighbors in certain opinions. Be it remembered the majority of his neighbors do not want him prosecuted. It is only a few, and these few by the fixity of law and through the natural indifference of a majority comprising the people of the whole United States can thus ruin and destroy a citizen for a technical violation, in spite of the efforts of all the friends that any but the most popular and influential men could possibly have. It is the inevitable majority indifference and disinterest that makes the tyranny of the few in the name of majority rule thus possible. It is that indifference which under Anarchism would become the individual’s greatest protection against meddlers, for no one would be interested enough to leave his own affairs to help prosecute anything but violations of equal freedom. Prosecution would not be a great industry encroaching everywhere for material to feed its ravenous jaws. To send money is most effective now.
Hugh O. Pentecost’s Shakerish Asceticism.
The sexual superstition is the darkest of the age, and I know of no person making pretensions to progress who is more deeply submerged in its murky depth than Mr. Pentecost. In his reply to my question in the August number of this paper regarding the family, he says:
I have no private “heresies.” Whatever I believe I am always ready “to assume publicly.” When in the foregoing paragraph, I wrote of the “husband and father” and the “wife” I was writing of things as they are. All that I said applies to a man and woman and their children, whether the man and woman have been legally married or not. I do not regard the “family” as indispensable, or as having any necessary relation to government. Where a father and mother and child live together there is a family. What I have written in the foregoing paragraphs respecting the extract from the “Individualist” will, I hope, suffice for comment on the last portion of the quotation from “EGOISM.”
The last portion of the quotation from EGOISM was this: “But suppose the father was a friend to both mother and children but not a husband, or the mother owned the house and children and was not a wife, but an independent woman without a question about equals or fathers, would it not be just as well—better?” The comment he hopes will suffice and with which he is content, is essentially the following:
I believe that marriage laws result in more misery and lewdness than would obtain without them. But I do not believe in “free love” as that phrase is generally understood. Men and women should certainly be free to arrange their relationships to suit themselves. If they were thus free I think they would arrange those relationships better than they are at present managed by the politicians and clergymen. I think they would eventually learn the wisdom of establishing them on some other basis than that of sex. As the brain increases the sex nature decreases. As the “union of beings” grows, sexual love dies. The more we are men and women the less we are animals. Why advocate conduct of which all but beasts are ashamed ? I commend to the editors of the “Individualist” and others these words from the “Kreutzer Sonata”:
“But,” said I, with astonishment, “how would the human race continue?”
“But what is the use of its continuing” he rejoined vehemently.
“What! What is the use? But then we should not exist.”
“And why is it necessary that we should exist?”
“Why, to live, to be sure.”
“And why live? ... The object of man, as of humanity, is happiness, and, to attain it, humanity has a law which it must carry out. This law consists in the union of beings. This union is thwarted by the passions. And that is why, if the passions disappear, the union will be accomplished. Humanity then will have carried out the law, and have no further reason to exist.”
The reviewers do not understand the “Kreutzer Sonata.” They call Posdnicheff a lunatic; but he is the only person who has ever spoken wisely and lucidly on the sex question. Clergymen, editors, and many “free lovers” alike reject his message. Is it because it is a call to personal purity? Take one other quotation from the same wonderful pages:
The old foundation [legal marriage] is now shattered; we must build a new one, but we must not preach debauchery.
Men and women should be free to regulate their conduct toward each other to suit themselves. The sooner they are thus free the sooner will they learn that they will be less miserable in the exact ratio in which they eliminate sexual passion from the “union of beings.”
The expediency of “assuming publicly” or not any private heresy was the consideration in the suggestion. Whether it would probably cost Mr. Pentecost more to assume the position than to let it remain his private opinion can be the only question. For it is only a matter of being more or less foolish to express an opinion that places one in the power of any person or number of persons who can injure him or her by that knowledge. Nothing but the religious fervor of always being ready to acknowledge “Jesus” could consistently condemn a person for withholding any opinion at any time, or forever. But in this case Mr. Pentecost’s conception of free love conforms so strikingly to that of the most ignorant and prejudiced that his publicly assuming his belief will bring him the hearty approval of the darkest sexual superstition of this or any preceding age.
It is precisely because all that Mr. Pentecost says of the legal family “applies to a man and a woman and their children whet-her they have been legally married or not,” that I criticise the position. It is because in this case relief from legal meddling means nothing, that I remark the ridiculousness of his Anarchism in sexual relations. That position retains all the staidness and rigidity of the legal family idea and assumes that the fact of bearing the child or the relation that produces it is the process that marries; the very theory that all forced marriages and legal interferences are based upon. It implies that the pleasures of sexual relationship are for some reason to be adjusted by some other standard than the free contract by which other pleasures and all affairs in Anarchistic society would be carried on. Nothing other than sexual superstition is the basis of Mr. Pentecost’s family idea.
From the tenor of his writings I felt certain that Mr. Pentecost was not familiar with the spirit of modern ideas on sexual matters, so to prevent the cry of “mad-dog!” from getting abroad in his brain, and to give him an opportunity to use the common sense that he uses on many other matters I placed the concrete fact before him in the example of a free and independent woman, to deal with as he must deal with his neighbors. The natural inference is that such an independent woman necessarily would be one who in her bringing up was freed from current superstitions and had acquired as much knowledge about the various functions of the human organization as might be known, as well as the skill of one or more industrial occupations, so that she might have secured not only a suitable home, but the means to carry her over the disabilities of motherhood if she chose to assume the financial responsibility in order to have full control of her children. But like a meddling and corpulent old woman of unpleasant memory, I couldn’t fool Mr. Pentecost, he knew what I was getting at; it was “free love!” And he was perfectly willing to class the conduct of such a woman, who produced what she consumed and thus made herself as independent of men as men are of each other, as the “conduct of which all but beasts are ashamed.” There is no escape from this conclusion, for he refers us directly to the paragraphs where free lovers are charged with advocating that kind of conduct. All this to justify a position which must finally seek refuge in a silly and fanatical ideal which proposes ages of suffering for the human race for the purpose of carrying out a “law!” What absurdity is not too gross for man to attempt to justify his prejudices by? it must be something the imagination has not yet formed!
Mr. Pentecost believes that men and women should regulate their relations to suit themselves, and believes they would arrange them better than the clergymen and politicians do. Better! Certainly. Why not; what could be better still than an arrangement that suited themselves? His language implies that there is; that mankind has some other duty than to please itself; that there is something superior to personal pleasure, like a theological duty. So it turns out. While the superstitious attitude of the legalist, in obedience to abstract society, makes sexual relations impure, only outside of legal proscription, Mr. Pentecost, in obedience to an abstract ideal, would institute a social boycott more severe and illogical, by stigmatizing all sexual association as impure, and those who defend it among other pleasures, as beastly because they are not duly ashamed of it. It is only the dregs of the old idea that all pleasure is wrong and sinful. The idea of establishing a basis of relationship between men and women any more than between any other parts of nature, is a theological branch that has its root in the sexual superstition of Jewish theology. There is no more reason for such “basis of relationship” than for our relation to the sun, earth, or any other elements. If there is any enjoyment or benefit to be derived from anything, get it and let that settle it; or if there are any unpleasant or injurious results to avoid, avoid them and let that be the end of it. There is no reason why one pleasurable sensation should be more shameful than another. It would follow in such logic that the pressure of the hand, the lips, or any physical contact whatever is shameful. For if sexual prejudice be dispelled, one sensation to the brain is no less pure than another. The lessons of utility alone cover one relationship as they do another, and have no need for theological cant to impress their importance.
Mr. Pentecost says the more we are men and women the less we are animals. If this were qualified with the word “other,” l could understand it. But to see a man or woman with all animal attributes extracted would be very interesting at least. Of course the more a tadpole is a frog the less it is a tadpole, but just why a tadpole should not wiggle in the water because a frog can jump on the ground I fail to see. The tadpole in the water is living out the fullness of his capacities which keep him there, but this does not justify depriving the frog of the enjoyment of the fullness of his being because it takes the tadpole environment to complete it. Since the human animal has a sexual faculty, and all the others that the less complex animals have, Isee no reason for singling out this particular one for extinguishing the race. There are many others, among which the elimination of eating or breathing would be more benevolent, because more rapid. Aside from ascetic monkism I can see no reason for attempting to eliminate the sexual passion. The only thing necessary is to learn the requirements of its healthful exercise thesame as another appetite. It is not the sexual passion that causes the misery in sex relations any more than it is the desire for food that causes dyspepsia, but the superstitious ignorance regarding that passion. Every animal has so many faculties which make up the fullness of its being, and all of which it spontaneously exercises, and whoever interferes with this rule in the life of the enlightened human animal will have to give a better reason than that of the soured old Posdnicheff.
And here we are before this gentleman’s discovery—the philosopher’s stone of humanity; that for which hogsheads of brain have been consumed to no purpose. And what is it? The “union of beings.” What beings? Sexless men and women. Impossible! Yes; but yet, an unanalyzed conception of that kind could easily grow out of the lone experience of monogamic sexual relations. The balanced electrical or magnetic condition of monogamy, which destroys about all social pleasure except the harmony of intellectual exercise and the inhabitative propensity of association which people sometimes have for an old place or house, along with a heavy drain on the vital forces by mental confinement, and the invariable depletion of the exercise of the procreative function under these conditions, could easily lead the idealist to poetically conclude that sexual association is destructive of happiness. When the magnetic or sexual attraction thus dies or equalizes, as surely and probably the same as any neutralizing chemical action, then the sexual intensity does decrease in their case and further sexual association causes a sexual condition that causes them to imagine that they have grown or are growing “pure” and “holy,” when they are really only electrically tired, and with other magnetic environment would be as carnal as before. The knowledge of facts has a wonderful influence in determining conclusions.
If Mr. Pentecost were to undertake to do nothing else until he proved his assertion that the imagination of the puggy old Christian on sexual relations is wiser and more lucid than the ample and profound exposition of the philosopher, Stephen Pearl Andrews, he would never have time to again assert the vague prognostications of his inexperience for an ideal for his leaders in thought to aspire to.
“The Mannerless Sex,” reprinted on another page from the “North American Review,” for want of space is considerably “cut.” Some paragraphs are omitted entirely, as are also some enumerating and commenting sentences indicated by the dots and dotted lines, but there is enough of it to awaken the minds of the majority to a fact they had hitherto not noticed. This is printed, not to indict woman because she is woman, but to show the result of repressing her activity and attempting to specialize her function to suit the supposed convenience of men. Influenced by the disabilities that a blind propagative instinct has through ignorance imposed upon woman, and his own convenience in developing the ideals of castle life, man now finds as he drifts into more variable environment that the instruments of the feudal ages do not suit him. The doll of the nursery or the drudge of the kitchen neither show off well in the role of responsible citizen. That subjective desire for reciprocity in his sexual faculty which fathers his gallantry, has through the convenience of slave service and resulting idleness of masters, produced an impudence in the dolls of others that is in decided contrast with the decorum of responsible equality, and practical man kicks. He loves inequality only in the castle, or hovel, where he is not the under dog, and if he could enforce equal responsibility in public under the guise of “manners,” and retain unequal conditions at home in the name of “duty,” he could again be at his case for awhile. But woman has a firm hold on the gallantry snag, and lest she learn the idea of equal conditions from equal responsibility, exacting man had better let good enough alone, unless he is prepared for a fair contest in an open field.
Let those many women with “a watchfulness for the rights of others, and a gentleness in the assertion of their own, that deserves a respect little short of veneration,” direct their superior comprehension to impressing all about them that equal opportunity would breed equal responsibility, and to convincing their weaker sisters that superstition is the tool with which the crafty few lash the herd into service, and that it may lurk everywhere except in the gratification of a desire, and they will thereby teach men that ill manners, instead of being the legitimate product of woman, is the result of a condition for which the ignorance of man is equally responsible with the inexperience of woman. Dudes, snobs, and many professional people are guilty of grossly invasive conduct in the presence of the toiler or others whom they believe less fortunate than themselves, while women of variable experience anticipate a need, or a point of equal liberty as readily as men of similar experience.
In the capitalistic press appears under the double heading, “Stimulating Home Industry. Immediate Result of the Passage of the Tariff Bill,” the following safe presumption on popular ignorance:
One result of the passage of the tariff bill, with its tin plate clause, will be the establishment of an immense tin plate factory at an early day, in Baltimore. A company of Eastern capitalists, principally from Baltimore and New York, have been quietly working on the scheme. The capital stock is $7,000,000, and the company will do business on an enormous scale. The concern will have its own tin mines and reducing plant in the West. About $5,000,000 will be put in the Baltimore plant itself. It will cover several acres and will be the largest tin plate concern on the globe. Foreign capitalists are to erect a tin plate mill at Duquesne, at a cost of $1,500,000, on the property of John A. Wood. About 600 men will receive employment.
Thus in order that a few hundred men may have work at wages that must compete with the men who must leave European works on account of the falling off of demand for their product that these new mills will cause, the whole people will buy tin at a price enough higher than that of a free market, to induce these capitalists to invest eight and a half millions of dollars that would have been employed in some other way than in levying a tax on the unprivileged industries of the country. It is said they have been quietly at work on the scheme. The quiet and principal part of the work presumably was to get the tin plate clause into the bill at the lowest cost possible. This is one of the ways by which business opportunities are made by law. Great indeed are the beauties of government, and stupid its patriotic asses.
Men subjectively under the influence of a certain limit of facts never could understand the actions of others who in possession of all these facts and others, deduced therefrom a different course of conduct as better adapted to wellbeing. Not appreciating they always persecute.
Some Managerial Experience.
When the company for the publication of EGOISM was formed the honor of the entire management was conferred upon me, and I started in with the money furnished to get out the first number and a determination of my very own to prove myself worthy of the confidence that had been thus gratuitously placed in me. The money, as intended, was spent on the first issue, and my determination and the company’s confidence evaporated as I approached the task of materializing the second without the necessary California eminence.
It was found that I could set the type and space it to perfection with Benton’s Self-Spacing type, the best that an avaricious compositor ever drilled; that I could do the press-work on as good a press also as ever dispelled verdant ambition; that with a key I could get from our postoffice box the exchanges and abusive postal cards written us by old women of both sexes who have not the requisite quantity of blood and distribution of brain to make pleasant dispositions, or to maintain plumb-line positions; that owing to the fact that money of one-cent denomination will not be received here except by the postoffice, I could carry such change from one mailing of the paper to the next. In short, my management was found satisfactory in every way save in the one particular of obtaining any receipts from the business with which to conduct it. This function I had to resign into the hands of the rest of the company, since which I have worked no disappointment, yet have not been supremely happy with this very small niche in the otherwise smooth fullness of my responsibility.
But as the worst of things unable to grow worse sometimes change for the better, so changed this condition of things. A few days ago some of our more appreciative readers sent orders accompanied by postal notes and money orders for some of our extensive book list. Having long ago hoped for such an occurrence 1 had located in the notorious ruin temporarily used these twenty years as postoffice, the crevice from which shining metal is changed for Wanamaker’s badly-printed money orders. Being posted from having read in the “North American Review” Adams’s “Mannerless Sex,” I took my place at the foot of the line of nervous men and inconfident women which reached ultimately to the cashier’s window, and with the subjective air of a prosperous business man nudged resignedly along the rail on one elbow to that important point. Eventually arriving before the window I dextrously produced my notes and orders and with professional grace waited for the next act in my managerial role, when the complacent cashier inquired in a tone that sounded as if it might have said such things before, whose orders they were. In a confident manner and with audible distinctness I answered, Equity Publishing Company. He was not startled, but with more interest inquired if it was not anew company, what we published, and what relation I bore to to the corporation. I replied that the company, though reliable, was not old and well known, and that we published a monthly paper, pamphlets, and so forth, and I acted in the capacity of business manager. He said, “Sign your name on the money orders as manager for Equity Publishing Company.” This I did in my not neat, but original handwriting while he scrutinized my dollar and a half flannel shirt and my three and a half years old blue flannel suit for which I paid ten dollars and fifty cents to M. Schwartz & Co., at Poughkeepsie, New York, and seemed to believe all I said. As he handed me the glitter he apologeticically observed that his inquiries were due to my face not being a familiar scene at that window. To which I replied with illy-concealed emotion, that that fact had been the greatest obstacle in the discharge of my responsibilities. And I meant to explain to him how most of our subscribers are laboring people and inclose the postage stamps they send us with perspiring hands, which causes them to adhere so closely to the inside of the envelopes that we have to split them open and have them perforated and gummed in order to use them at all, but be mechanically motioned for the next man, and I politely retired with the consciousness of having made an impression and three dollars and thirty-five cents of cash in my hand.
The Philosophy of Egoism.
Can the Altruistic be included in the Egoistic? According to a standard definition, quoted and adopted in Webster’s dictionary, from the Eclectic Review, the reply seems to be that it can. That definition reads as follows:
ALTRUISTIC, a. [from Lat. alter, other.] Regardful of others: proud of or devoted to others;—opposed to egotistic.
If Egoism were the same and as narrow in meaning as egotistic, of course the question would have to be differently answered. But egotism bears the same relation to Egoism as the term selfishness, used with purpose in the derogatory syllable, bears to my newly coined term, selfiness; hence we will set it down that some constructive use for the term Altruistic is not of necessity excluded from Egoistic philosophy. But let it be observed that claims made for Altruism, based upon an ignorant or capricious limitation of the meaning of Egoism, and a glorification of the doctrine of devotion to others, intended to produce a habit of self-surrender, are held in our mode of thought to be pernicious, and attributed, in conclusions from our analysis, to defective observations and reasoning, and to the subtle workings of selfishness. To be regardful of others within reason, is intelligent Egoism in the first place, but before we go far in this we draw a distinction between such others as are worth regarding and such others as present no title to regard unless a barren and superstitious form of respect obtrudes itself and makes a claim for “others” because they are “ others,”—makes a virtue of sinking self before that which is external to the self. This is the principle of worship, mental slavery, superstition, anti-Egoistic thought. To be proud of others, of the right sort for us, is one form of Egoistic rejoicing. When reflection has done its work efficiently the habit of care for others, of the right sort for us, continues until checked by some counter experience; but let the habit become strong, let the avenues to esteem be unguarded and the sentiment of worship usurp the place of good sense, then the Ego is undone. He is like the mariner who has set sail and lashed his helm in a fixed position, fallen asleep and drifted into other currents under changing winds.
Some Altruistic writers remind me of the orthodox theologians. In face of the facts of physical science the theologian admits that everything in this world proceeds according to an invariable order, but he insists upon giving it a magical, ghostly origin. The Altruistic writers likewise admit that the immediate choice of action of each individual at each turn in his career is determined by causes with precision, but they plead for an Altruistic education, an Altruistic impulse now, so that hereafter the reaction of the individual to given causes may be this: that he will find his pleasure in the social welfare. I say that if he finds his pleasure in it, he Egoistically promotes it; and if those writers find their pleasure in planning a greater social welfare, their initial efforts in the matter are Egoistic. The reflecting person may perceive that there is room for mistake as to what is the social welfare. The doctrine which demands that a person shall forego some pleasure without having a deliberate conviction that by so doing he makes a wise individual choice, is responsible for a certain immediate lessening of welfare at one point. Beyond that it may be an illusion of ignorance.
The beliefs which prevail at one time regarding what is for the social welfare are widely different from those which succeed them. Once it was deemed injurious to society to teach a. slave to read, and consequently injurious to tolerate in a slaveholding commonwealth the presence of a free person who ventured to follow his liberal inclination in this respect toward an intelligent slave of deserving character and conduct. Those who yielded to this social belief which they shared, rather than make an exception by following personal inclination, yielded to what has since been generally pronounced to be a malefic error. At the present day the beliefs prevail that conjugal rights of person over person are contributory to the social welfare; that children owe allegiance to their parents, and blood relations peculiar obligations to each other; that citizens need to feel other bonds than their own interested calculations and spontaneous benevolence; and so I might proceed with an array of phantom claimants exacting duties of the individual believer, prescribing what he shall and shall not do to be a worthy promoter of the social welfare; whereas on the whole there never has been any social welfare understood or realized, but meanwhile trumpery beliefs prevailing in the past and present have filled the world with individual miseries.
Some of the Altruists contend that their ideal man is wiser than to serve the beliefs of society. He works for his own idea] with his own reason for his guide. They fear that if he were to lose the urging sense of duty to the ideal he would cease to labor for a better condition of things. Now this is on their part, when stated, an insidious even if unconscious challenge to us Egoists to show them that Egoism is a. better Altruism than Altruism itself. The matter presents itself thus, that the Altruist wants to inquire or discuss whether Egoism is “right,” best for society, and so forth. Perhaps it will break up all the societies that now exist, and constitute new moral worlds, making new ideals possible; perhaps liberality of mind will prompt to all and more than the most intelligent and enlightened Altruist expects from the sentiment of duty: but however this may be, we Egoists are not arguing for the right of Egoism to be tried. We are trying to explain that Egoism is the chief fact of organic existence—its universal characteristic.
Let us analyze Altruism with reference to pursuits instead of confining all our attention to persons. A new acquaintance and anew thing are alike objects to the Ego. His aim is to make use of them. The Ego’s mental caliber and his predilections, heredity, or habits with regard to association, distinguishing him as an individual, are exhibited in the appreciation which he shows for some objects which can be made use of as means to gain, or reduce to use, further objects. The less reflecting man finds grain and consumes it all, finds wood and uses all kinds alike for fuel. The more reasoning man saves some grain for seed, cultivates it and gets more, saves hard wood for durable uses, makes tools of metal, and studies his future welfare by planning means to ends instead of living from hand to month. In so far as he, in dealing with either persons or things, keeps in view the rational purpose of becoming better convenienced by any postponement or surrender of immediate pleasure, he is clearly acting with Egoistic judgment. Even when, having tested a series of phenomena, he establishes a rule and allows habits to supervene, saving himself the trouble of constant repetition of verifications, he is still the same Egoist; but if he lose the normal control of his exertions with reference to objects and ends which at first were to him means to other ends, he becomes an idealistic Altruist in the sense in which Altruism is distinguished from Egoism. In other words he becomes irrational, or insane. As some individuals have mind enough to be habitually regardful of others according to their merits, some artisans are habitually careful of their tools and more systematic and steady in their methods of work than others. Does this argue that they are less selfy or does it simply argue that they are more theoretical and, with excellent reason at the foundation, exemplify the law of character by which a process of reasoning having been settled the intermediate links in some chains of reasoning, become familiar, are passed over without self-consciousness? The selfiness of a farmer who goes out in the cold to save his stock, at the cost to him of some discomfort only, is not less in quantity, but is connected with more intelligence, than that of one who avoids the cold and lets his stock suffer. But a farmer may become so avaricious that he will get his limbs frozen in his craze to save a yearling for the sake of the few dollars it is worth to him. The love of money within reason is conspicuously an Egoistic manifestation, but when the passion gets the man, when money becomes his ideal, his god, we must classify him as an Altruist. There is the characteristic of “devotion to another,” no matter that that other is neither a person nor the social welfare, nothing but the fascinating golden calf or a row of figures. We Egoists draw the line of distinction between the Egoist and the devotee. It is the same logically when a person becomes bewitched with another of the opposite sex so as to lose judgment and self-control, though this species of fascination is usually curable by experience, while the miser’s insanity cannot be reached. The love-sick man or woman has the illusion dispelled by contact with the particular person that caused it; but in certain cases absence or death prevents the remedy from being applied, and in some of these instances the mental malady is lifelong. “Devotion to others,” it will be. observed, can be made a text for other sermons than those emanating from the amiable Moralists who pride themselves upon the alleged superiority of an unreservedly Altruistic habit of thought.
A Reaction, But When?
A thoughtful article in the “New York Commercial Bulletin” addressed to political leaders must have been read with great pleasure by such readers of Jeffersonian mind as are sufficiently hopeful to share the “Bulletin’s” sanguine spirit. It is very admirable if regarded as a plea for the necessity of reaction against the paternalism of this growing generation. Its starting point is the declaration that “the great political want of the times is a policy that shall aim to expunge or reconstruct every vestige of federal legislation that has for its object the supersedure of free individual effort through the enforcement of artificial expedients.” The “Bulletin” traces the growth of policies planted in loose seedbed of war times and exigencies, their indiscriminate tolerance and rapid extension, till congress has felt free to follow whatever course popular ignorance, class interests or party schemes may dictate in aggressions upon individual right and self-adjusting reciprocity of private business. The description of this dangerous progress is masterly and the warning is forcible that every interest in the country is beginning to feel insecure in the presence of a national communism armed with imperial powers. The “Bulletin,” how over, thinks that the reaction is coming. That paper takes a sanguine tone yet confesses that “the reaction has not yet reached the stage of distinct formulation in the popular mind.” The “News” has not been inattentive to the trend of politics. and would qualify any hopeful statement with the most sober reflection. Indeed it is apparent that a sanguine view as regards the present popular mind is not justified by the evidence of current demands. The paternal spirit is active, aggressive, and growing. Perhaps one citizen in twenty is clearly cognizant of the danger which is amply illustrated to the discerning mind in the teeming schemes and proposals for relief from the effects of paternalism here and there by more paternalism. The “Bulletin” addresses political leaders. Now what is the function of the aspiring politician? Usually to ascertain and represent the will of the forces which make members of congress, senators, and presidents. The “great political want” of a small minority of sagacious men of Jeffersonian intelligence is surely not that which will decide the will of seekers after public place, honors, and emoluments. For these the choice lies between the conservatism of class interests, and the demagogic radicalism of a widening and intensifying retaliatory communism. The classes and the masses learn by experience rather than by theoretical reasoning. To reach the experimental demonstration of the evil of paternalism the country would have to push the experiment so far that the whole body politic, industrial and social will have felt its exhausting effect. Then may come the reaction. A too optimistic view was well typified in the illustration of the ostrich hiding his head in the sand. The “Bulletin’s” argument should be addressed to business men and people of philosophic mind. The politician is possibly capable of appreciating a reaction which will come after the lapse of years, but meanwhile the politicians will serve mammon or the multitude. It is obviously impossible to have practical politics on any other conditions—The Galveston News.
The Mannerless Sex.
Perhaps it were best to say at once that woman is referred to under this title, that the reader may not remain one moment in doubt which sex is meant. The phrase, “the gentler sex,” is, I consider, a most misleading one as applied to women, and I have been led to assume as a result of my personal observations that the title given to this paper is, on the whole, the most purely descriptive of woman.
It is my purpose here to assert that, however great an influence may be exerted in behalf of the conservation of manners by exceptional women, the statement that woman in general is the refiner of manners is, in any large sense, an utterly false one. Furthermore, I have no hesitation in declaring that the code of manners followed in public by the average woman is disgracefully inconsiderate, superlatively selfish, and exasperatingly insolent; such a code, in fact, as would not remain in force among men in their intercourse with one another for one half-hour.
Regarding the rudeness of women in their intercourse with the world at large, I shall refer, in passing, to a few forms of it which have doubtless forced themselves upon the attention of very many persons who can readily furnish illustrations drawn from their own experience:
First—The indifference with which a woman will contemplate the fact that the convenience of others has been sacrificed to her caprice. Very observable in young women.
Second—The needless delay a woman often causes in making her appearance when visitors have called upon her. Most commonly noticed among women who are no longer classed as girls.
Third—The unwillingness of a woman to wait for another to finish speaking before beginning to speak herself. Characteristic of nearly all women.
Fourth—Woman’s failure to recognize the importance of an engagement. Most noticeable among women who have the fewest social duties.
The rudeness of women to men is, for reasons which will be sufficiently obvious to the discerning reader, less common than that of women to each other, but it is too frequent to he suffered to pass without comment in this place.
We will suppose ourselves in a railway station in which a number of men are in line before the ticket window. A woman enters and, instead of taking her place at the foot of the line, goes to the front at once and informs the agent that she wants a ticket to Evercrech Junction by way of East Cato. Sometimes she adds that she is in a great hurry. She either cannot or will not understand why she is sent to the foot of the line, and when she arrives before the ticket window again, she becomes voluble over her grievance, and, after securing her ticket, remains to ask a number of questions, the answer to any of which she might learn from the railway time-table she holds in her hand, or from the porters at train doors. That any one is waiting behind her whose time is presumably as precious as her own is nothing to her, and if asked by the agent to make room for the next person, she is overwhelmed by what she terms his impertinence.
There is not a person who reads this who cannot recall similar scenes, l am very sure. At the postoffice or any other place where the invariable rule is “first come first served,” woman endeavors to reverse this rule in her own favor, and, failing to secure this reversion at times, she sets down the fact to man’s lack of gallantry.
Toward men of a rank which woman considers beneath her own she is often shamefully inconsiderate or shockingly impertinent. I have more than once in English railway stations seen porters, while staggering under the burden of heavy trunks, stopped by women who kept them standing several moments while they put to the unfortunate victims questions which would much better have been asked of the station master or of unemployed porters close at hand. But what of that? It is the duty of porters to be civil when questioned, no matter what Atlas-like load is crushing their shoulders. Then, too, I have witnessed American women browbeating persons whom they termed their “tradespeople” in a manner which would have resulted in their being knocked down had they been men...
It were useless to multiply instances in illustration for this part of my subject. To put it briefly, a very great number of women in their relations with men presume upon the privileges of their sex, the degree of presumption depending very often upon the rank of the persons with whom they are brought into contact.
But it is when fair woman goes a-shopping that she becomes least admirable. Then her hand is raised against every woman who crosses her path. From the moment she pushes open the swinging doors of the first retail shop she enters, and lets them fly back into the face of the woman behind her, till she reaches her home again, she has laid herself open at every turn to the charge of bad manners. She has in her progress made tired clerks spend hours in taking down goods simply for her amusement, when she has not the smallest intention of purchasing from them. She has made audible comments upon “the stupidity and slowness of these shop girls.”...... She has needlessly blocked the way when others wished to pass her... She has put up her glass and stared haughtily through it at the gown of the woman next to her at the bargain-counter... She, in short, has done very little that she should have done, and very, very much that she ought not to have done...
I do not mean to declare in broad terms that man is mannerly while woman is not, for I observe with regret in many of my own sex an indifference to the rudimentary courtesies which is fatal to their reputation for good manners, and I recognize in many women a watchfulness for the rights of others, a gentleness in the assertion of their own, that deserve a respect little short of veneration. What I do insist upon, however, is this: that in public the average woman shows an inconsiderateness, a disregard for the ordinary courtesies of existence (which amounts sometimes to positive insolence), to a degree which is not anywhere nearly approached by the average man.
The reason for this difference in the behavior of men and women I do not propose here to discuss. I will not say, for instance, that man is altruistic and that woman is selfish, because I do not believe in any such putting of the case. But I leave for others the task of pointing out the causes of this difference... and indicating if they will, the remedy...—Oscar Fay Adams in “North American Review” for September.
An Egoistic Position.
The generous spirit that induces the sacrifice of self for others seems to be altogether admirable, yet a little reflection will show that this, like other good things, may be carried to such an extreme as to be a vice rather than a virtue. Sometimes the self-sacrifice defeats its own purpose by developing in others a degree of selfishness injurious to them and ultimately leading to their unhappiness. Take the case of a loving wife, who seeks to gratify every wish of her husband without regard to her own comfort or happiness; who forgives him all the wrongs he may do and continues to the end to worship an ideal existing only in her imagination. If he is selfish enough, to begin with to allow such sacrifices in his behalf he will soon grow more selfish, and demand as a right those attentions and sacrifices accorded him through an excess of love. He will become arrogant, incapable of caring for himself, and except his wife is present to act as his hand-maid he will be made unhappy by having no one to pet and humor him in the way to which he has been accustomed. She thinks only of his happiness, anticipates his wishes, neglects her own desires that he may he gratified, and instead of promoting his ultimate good renders him unfit for the society of other more selfish companions. But it is mothers, and especially widowed mothers, who carry the spirit of sacrifice for others to the greatest extravagance, and often with disastrous results to themselves and those they love. Thinking only of the pleasures to be afforded their child, they humor him in every way, develop his selfish instincts, encourage him to dress and live beyond his true means, or at the sacrifice of home comforts, and find, when he has reached manhood, that he is utterly ungrateful, dissatisfied with his condition, perhaps made vicious by his idle habits and need for more money than he can command. Sacrifices that produce such results may have their origin in a kindly heart and in a loving and lovable disposition, but they are so little guided by reason and good sense that they are not to be commended.
Even in business and in the professions there are men who make sacrifices (through modesty or love of the arts and sciences) that are unjust to themselves and do injury to others by developing in the latter a degree of selfishness that could scarcely exist but for the presence of unselfish people to minister to its growth. A man devoted to science, taking no thought of himself or of the rewards to be won for his own support or gratification, makes a discovery which he gives freely to the world. Another of a more practical turn of mind takes up the discovery, turns it to good account, obtains a patent: on the application and acquires a great fortune through a fax laid upon the real discoverer and others like him. The sacrifices made by modest men of ability out of devotion to some hobby of art or science or educational effort are often mischievous in two ways. They deprive the real worker of the rewards in reputation and money that are his due, and they give those rewards to some undeserving man whose self-assertion brings him to the front. The excuse usually made for such retiring modesty by the workers is that they care only for the advancement of humanity in some special line; that they are content to be unknown and have no selfish desire for money rewards.—Baltimore Sun.
Stupidity derives little benefit from experience.
We understand that the missionary societies are going to send some of the clothes, that were made for the heathen, to clothe the cold and naked statuary. Truly charity begins at home!—Individualist.
Government is the tool, to obtain which avarice and ambition strive; it is the sword with which now this, now that one strikes and hits, and calls it governing. We shall constantly be struck and wounded, let who will wield the sword, until we have destroyed the weapon itself.—Dr. S. Englander.
Competition, in fact, is the expression of collective activity; just as wages, considered in its highest acceptation, is the expression of the merit and demerit, in a word, the responsibility, of the laborer. It is vain to declaim and revolt against these two essential forms of liberty and discipline in labor. Without a theory of wages there is no distribution, no justice; without an organization of competition there is no social guarantee, consequently no solidarity.—Proudhon.
The family is not, if I may venture to so speak, the type, the organic molecule, of society. In the family, as M. de Bonald has very well observed, there exists but one moral being, one mind, one soul, I had almost said, with the Bible, one flesh. The family is the type and the cradle of monarchy and the patriciate: in it resides and is preserved the idea of authority and sovereignty...... It was on the model of the family that all the ancient and feudal societies were organized—Proudhon.
Only a little while ago an article appeared in one of the magazines in which all women who did not dress according to the provincial prudery of the writer were denounced as impure. Millions of refined and virtuous wives and mothers [women] were described as dripping with pollution because they enjoyed dancing and were, so well-formed that they were not obliged to cover their arms and throats to avoid the pity of their associates. And yet the article itself was far more indelicate than any dance or any dress, or even lack of dress. What a curious opinion dried apples have of fruit on the tree!—Ingersoll.
The time for asceticism is past. The futility and sterility of preaching and moral exhortation is patent to all. We do not denounce in the style of the religious censors, and do not mount the pedestal to be admired by the crowd, We reason with those who can think, and invite them to discuss with us the actualities and possibilities of life. It is purely and solely a question of intellectual agreement and harmony, this movement for social reform. Is this system of society one satisfactory to all concerned, or is it deeply objectionable? If so, lives there a man who can point out a better arrangement,—no matter who he is, what he does, or what his object,—and who can help us to solve our problem? This world is eager to hear from him. Come forward, one and all, express your opinions, and—let the wisest council prevail.—Victor Yarros, in “Liberty.”
This is from “Liberty”: “The editor of ‘Freethought’ says: ‘I have come to the conclusion that we should be cautious about resisting by force anything that is not imposed by force.’ In other words, Mr. George Macdonald has come to the conclusion that the wisest philosophy is the Anarchistic philosophy.” I congratulate the Anarchists on having so good a, philosophy, and I trust hereafter they will kindly regard me as one of them, at least so far as my qualifications will permit them to do so. I would not be willing to at once declare myself an Anarchist, with all that the name implies, but ask merely to be accepted on probation. Some people have a tendency to label themselves Anarchists, when they are really nothing of the sort, as Mr. Tucker has often pointed out. Indeed, it is Mr. Tucker’s severity with these people that gives me pause. I know of progressive writers who have said one thing after another casually that pleased Comrade Tucker, and he quoted them in “Liberty.” Emboldened by his approval they have declared themselves Anarchists and attempted to set forth the Anarchistic philosophy. Here. was where they fell down, and Comrade Tucker cantered over them lengthways. When they were permitted to arise they apologized to the editor of “Liberty,” and, expectorating on their palms, grappled again the great problems of political economy. I prefer to remain unlabeled, because if I were to mark myself an Anarchist, and at some future time Mr. Tucker should make it appear that I was something else, I should have to take the label off and store it away with the photographs I had taken when I wore whiskers, which are now no longer useful for purposes of identification. Meanwhile. I shall continue to make observations of things as I see them, and shall not be disturbed if Anarchists or other good people discover that they agree with nun—George E. Macdonald in “Freethought” of Sept. 20.
The Robber’s Shield.
Every National Banking Association, State Bank, or State Banking Association, shall pay a tax of ten per centum on the amount of notes of any person, or State Bank or State Banking Association, used for circulation and paid out by them. (Section 3412 Revised Statutes of the United States 1878.)
The legislature shall have no power to pass any act granting any charter for banking purposes, but corporations or associations may be formed for such purposes under general laws. No corporation, association, or individual, shall issue or put into circulation, as money, anything but the lawful money of the United States. (Article III. section 5, Constitution of California.)
We find but few who in their dealings do not seek to get “the best of the bargain.”
The predatory instinct, or the disposition to rob and steal, is an almost universal trait of animal life.
The injunction, “Thou shalt not steal,” was formulated, and has ever been enforced, in the interest of those who live by robbery.
The governing classes in all times and countries, have said to the producers, “You must not steal,” and straightway have devised means by which they rob them (the workers), of the whole product of their toil, save only enough to keep life in their bodies.
J. W. COOPER.
Some Egoistic Catechising.
What causes marriage?—Law.
What causes divorce?—Marriage.
What causes marriage and divorce?—Law.
Who profits by marriage?—The priest.
Who profits by divorce?—The lawyer.
What is a marriage?—A mirage.
What is law?—The opinions of one set of men called the State, forced upon another set of men and women.
What would woman gain by neither marriage nor divorce?—Her freedom.
What would man lose?—A slave.
What is virtue?—Self-approval.
F. B. P.