Georgia & Henry Replogle
Egoism Vol. II. No. 1.
This number begins the second volume of EGOISM.
The tenth chapter of the “Philosophy of Egoism” has not reached us.
We have been too busy to give Zola’s “Money” a second reading as we desire before attempting to recommend it with the limited language at our command.
From a communication by Lillian Harman we learn that C. H. Swartz, who published “Lucifer” while Moses Harman was imprisoned, is now confined in the Topeka (Kan.) jail awaiting trial for selling the Kansas City “Sun” to newsboys. So frightful was the crime that his bail was set at $4000. Thus fanaticism crucifies its victims with almost no opposition.
Although EGOISM has on another page criticised an article of the editor of “Freethought,” it must heartily congratulate that paper’s home editorial writers on their work in the issue of May 16, especially the editorial “Herbert Spencer on Nationalism.” George Macdonald continues his irresistible hits in “Observations,” and will at no distent day be one of the most popular exponents of Anarchism.
We must apologize to our readers for putting so long an article in such small type as in the case of F. K. Blue’s criticism of “Citizens’ Money” printed on other pages. We had asked him to question in an article not exceeding a given space, such points in the pamphlet as were not clear to him. This he did except that his manuscript was almost twice as long as specified, and was with his permission cut down to its present length. His manner, and perversion of Mr. Westrup’s position has probably led the latter to dismiss him with so condensed a reply.
The subject now being up will likely be continued by other members of EGOISM’s staff.
That she hath sold her body’s use for coin?
Wherefore you leer, because a woman she?
Wherefore you jeer, betrayed by woman’s
In lecher’s lust and perjured troth?
Wherefore you sneer,—O pitiless, bloodless,
I hate you!
A prostitute you brand her!
And is it not a loving woman’s part
To give her person to the man she loves
Freely? Does love delight in prudery,
And cold reserves, and shams of modesty,
Pursed lips, and words precise, and feet
And finger tips at meeting, and kisses
Small and proper at the stiff good bye?
Hypocrites!—cold in heart and foul in soul,
Nature herself, and Love are never pure
Enough for you; the Holiest of holies,
To your smeared thought, is but a voiding
I say it is a woman’s part,
When that she loves, to wholly yield herself
To him, the man she mates, in nakedness
Of form and soul, to strip off every mask
And vail that treachery of man to man,
And foulness of human thought bids wear;
Warm, sweet, in Eden innocence and faith,
She keeps no secret, no reserve, no bar,
But nestles close. ’Twould seem a very
So trusted must be true.
I say it is
No shame to any maid, her misplaced gift
Of confidence in some man’s faith. Nay, it
But proves her womanhood, innocence, trust
(For never yet deceit knew aught but doubt,
While innocence is trustful as a fawn),
Her warmth and ardency of loveliness,
Her everything but knowledge intimate
O fools and false!—O hypocrites!—
Soul-seared by ancient lies, a maid betrayed,
I tell you is the purest of her sex,
Most womanly, most sweet; her “bastard”
Is a living seal by Nature set
To her fair proof of mother-perfectness.
Love only makes a babe legitimate,
And every “love child” is a little Christ,
Conceived immaculate, the son of Man,
Redeeming us, rejected of his own,
And every virgin mother stands a saint,
Revealing holiness, demanding praise.
And when this pure one with her helpless babe,
In agony of ruined love, and pain,
Unfathomable, of trust evanished,
And deeper agony of public scorn,
Shamed, crushed, blinded, heart-broken, and
Like some stale remnant of a feast upon
The street, down-trodden under heedless feet,
Caressed of dogs, without a hope or help—
When she, yielding to fate and all-compelled,
Barters her beauty to your lust for coin
That she may live, then, then, you scorn
If she be foul, who fetched the filth that
Who flung it? Who yielded beauty captive
To the beast? Who sacrificed this lamb
A tortured victim on the altar bed
YOU! Everyone holding statute’s
Holier law than Nature’s, who proclaim
Marriage mightier for purity
Than trusting love and artless innocence.
A prostitute! She is no prostitute
Touched by the test of truth; a victim she
Of rape most foul, and torturous murder
(And you her murderers!), a man compelled
To steal is not a thief, voluntary
Sin alone can stain, and free she was not.
A prostitute!—O lying-lipped and blind!—
These are your prostitutes—the priest, sleek-
With gilded perch ’bove dusty, sleepy pews,
Exerting all his learning, eloquence,
To hypnotize men’s minds with sounds and
To turn their thoughts from asking Nature’s
Be it or that or this, and still to prove,
Or feign to prove, an ancient precept wise,
A hideous fear well-based, a dreamy hope
Assured:—the cunning lawyer, sophist like,
Perverting all his intellect and wit
To make injustice seem but just, and weave
A legal labyrinth of tangled paths
To foil allafeet that seek the central right:—
The doctor crying—“And if it please ye, sin!
For verily ye shall not surely die,
My philters shall force Nature to forgive”:—
The soldier, prostituting courage, strength,
To murderous madness and the trade of
The editor, his ink made black by lies,
Controlled like some ghost medium by spooks
Of party policy, fermenting all
He hears and thinks into rotton a beer
To swill the public pigs:—and last, and least,
A woman who from sex-diseased, and taint
Inherited from parents marred in love,
From itch of lust, and greed, makes sex her
These are your prostitutes, and them, the
Except, ye praise, and let them drain your
For they are strong, and they are not
And they love not, nor trust in anyone;
But she, true woman, this b a be-blessed
Is she not weak?—did she not love and trust,
And add life to Life without consent
Obtained from these whores of Church and
Then fling her back and tread her down,
O virtue, lift thy dainty skirts, without
A carnal taint, at least a lust unblessed,
And tread her ’neath thy shapely booted
O cold, cruel, pitiless, false and foul,
Contemptible and desolate with shams,
Forever drunk with guiltless blood and wine
Of honeyed lies, hypocrites, I hate you!
—J. WM. LLOYD.
A law intended to prevent children being sent to groceries or saloons for beer was part of the work of our late legislature. But it is “law,” and the stupid inhabitants cannot see that it characterizes them as not having sense enough to bring up their children without police supervision. These people believed themselves responsible sovereigns on election day, but their selected masters think not.
The height of all the ridiculousness regarding the New Orleans mobbing was hopelessly outstripped on the 8th of this month at Boston by the calling of a mass-meeting to form a society for teaching “poor and ignorant” Italians respect for and obedience to the laws of this country! When a crazy mob of “respectable citizens” massacred the helpless prisoners as a mad bull might gore babes the outrage was almost imponderable; and when the moss-backed and truckling press brutally justified it and the caricature papers all crowed over it, disgust would have been ecstatic beside my state of feeling, but when culture steps in and gravely proposes to teach the rest of the victimized class respect for the great fuzzy-checked brute, cynical wrinkles corrugate the length of my nose and I sit me down to reflect a bitter reflection upon the human grub in general.
San Francisco’s twin societies for meddling in people’s private affairs—the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the Pacific coast branch of Anthony Comstock’s infamous vice society are now endeavoring to force Police Judge Rix to resign because he refuses to lend his power to help them persecute their victims. These officious meddlers are too tough for even the law mills, which depend on prosecutions for existence. They have been repeatedly rebuked by prosecuting attorneys, the press, and their cases dismissed by the courts, but the agents are anxious for notoriety and are backed by a horde of Grundys loaded with current sexual superstition and ambition to impose their prejudices by the tyranny of political authority now everywhere so rampant.
The secretary of the former says the object of his society is to force parents who can do so to provide for their children, and where they are unable to do so, to put these away from vicious and contaminating influences. Further statement shows that the society has elephants’ ears for all the petty revenges of neighborhood brawling and domestic turbulence. With all its willingness, out of 72 “complaints” and 60 investigations it found but 14 prosecutable cases, six of which are pending. An example cited, proved to be what might be expected of collective tyrants, a case of a man’s refusal to support his wife, on grounds of real or imagined infidelity, in either case forcing an individual to spend his earnings to suit the society instead of himself, if indeed he was fortunate enough to have work at all. It is further stated that in some instances the father promises to provide and the case is dismissed, but that they keep track of it just the same. Just what is to be gained in the way of support for his family by arresting and fining a man is hard to understand, or if he is neither fined nor imprisoned where the efficacious terror of prosecution comes in. It can gratify a brutal revenge on the part of the prosecutors, and generate a life of immeasurable hatred between the parents thus living together by the forging of the policeman’s club, as well as create a hell for children about whom the society pretends to be so solicitous, but it can do nothing better. Charity is humiliating enough, but to force it from the hand of hatred is burning humiliation in with the flame of horror. But all these things and forcing its opinions of what is contaminating upon helpless parents, is faithfully representative of a religio-legalistic institution. The way to really help in such cases would be to provide in addition to immediate sustenance, work at good wages and freedom from legal bondage to these fathers, so that the mother’s efforts and person might be under her own control there after. But independence and divorce are not conventional.
Ira P. Rankin, president of the Cornstockian vice society assured an “Examiner” reporter that if it were not for the society’s work the “city would be flooded with the most obscene kind of literature!” Horrors! How awful it would be to read some of our own thoughts in grammatical sentences, or cultivate the imagination with imagery more poetical than we can invent. Suppose the population should see on paper what it performs daily in person, and should thereby lose its feverish curiosity about such things what could these meddlers then have to make them conspicuous. They have succeeded so well in heightening curiosity concerning sexual imagery that the society’s president unwittingly declared that an “indecent” book will bring $2 where a “moral” one can’t command 20 cents. When the society gets the price up to $4 some of its enterprising members can reprint them at a big profit and help out its treasury. Before these societies were established in the country such books could command no more than 25 or 50 cents each.
These societies prey on the universal sexual superstition as the church does on the first cause superstition. Their influence is much greater, however, for in addition to the whole church their tyrannous meddling commands the approval and sympathy of the theologically sceptical world, so dense is public prejudice. Thus they are enabled to suppress the publication of any scientific facts or ideas supporting theories contrary to those accepted by the societies’ officers. This they have not failed to do as is amply illustrated in their restrictions on Dr. E. B. Foote’s “Plain Home Talk,” Dr. Kinget’s “Medical Good Sense,” “Cupid’s Yokes,” “Lucifer,” and the “Word.” Thus in addition to its primitive ignorance society organizes itself against knowledge until it is forced upon it by its favorite method, the blood of martyrs.
If the world could once learn to have faith in liberty, about which it continually prates, everything would soon reach a normal state. But the reactionary, restrictive idea is everywhere rampant. Restriction of money, commerce, labor, publication, divorce, and even knowledge by parents is the prominent feature of this country. If parents who are so afraid sexual vice will reach their children, which it always does, should once get the competitive idea into their heads and attend to their children’s “obscene” education themselves or have it done under their supervision, sexual knowledge would soon be only a matter of hygiene like eating, bathing, exercise, and the rest. Parents are sure that the widest knowledge is best for themselves, but for their children, never. If they would open up existence to their children as it is known to them witholding no thought, fact, or possible experience, “obscene” literature might be piled up in every house with about as much danger as so many cook-books. So long as cerebellums grow, so long will sexual impulses exist, and the best safeguard against injury from excess is the greatest possible knowledge emphasized by suggestions from experience. Let a fully exercised power to comprehend be the only difference between yours and your children’s knowledge, and you have the “obscenity” spook down. Continue to fear liberty and you continue the prey of politicians, preachers, and vice societies who will take care that you do not obtain the knowledge which alone can save you and must destroy their monopoly for praise and plunder.
The barbarities of the sexual superstition continue to bloom. Near Ducktown, Tenn., an elderly man was recently married two weeks after his former wife’s death to a girl seventeen years old. Six weeks later some of the women of the neighborhood mobbed the girl and whipped her with a hundred lashes, resulting in her death a few days later. These fanatical brutes were formally put under arrest, but their male friends declare they shall not go to jail, and a fight between these and the officers was in prospect when last heard from. Three men have already been killed in this meddling.
At Abingdon, Va, a doctor and another man’s wife gave way to the spontaneous desire for magnetic change under the infatuation of which to remove conventional barriers they were induced to poison their respective legal companions. The doctor’s wife was thus murdered, and the woman’s husband escaped by accident.
Not long since a girl from the country, who had become pregnant, sought medical assistance in this city to evade social ostracism and perhaps banishment from her home. On the way back she died, and the doctor has been arrested and charged with murder.
The first instance is that species of insanity known as “respect for the dead” because they are dead. When the man’s first wife was living these groveling fanatics were perfectly willing that he should hold her in a bear’s embrace of depleting monogamy to death, no matter what her torture be, but the moment she could suffer no longer from any imposition whatever, of “duty” she became an object of respect for which they demanded that the survivor sufier as much and long as possible. But he would not be tortured long enough to suit them. Having as the necessary result of yea rs of magnetic starvation developed an ungovernable craving for change, he probably used its overwhelming power on the yearning inexperience of the young girl and rushed legally on to the gratification of a legitimate desire without so far, invading any one. This was so new and inexcusable to the magnetically disinterested that, obeying the impulse of cattle and turkeys when a new wagon is driven into the barnyard, they proceeded to dispose of it according to the dictates of their muddled emotions. In the minds of the men such an old man’s exploitation of such a morsel created perhaps an unconscious but real envy, while the women were, unconsciously, outraged at seeing their chief stock in trade squandered at so low a price. If she had been an old woman or he a young man things would have been different, and could have been so for no other reasons than the ones named. The old man probably escaped because they could not blame him for taking so good a bargain, while the girl received double condemnation because it was supposed that her sex passion, so desirable to men and detestable to women, led her to accept so poor a one. To women there is nothing so unspeakably hateful as another woman’s sex faculty, and to men nothing so much so as to be left out of its consideration. And in this case their mutual gratification demanded a most ferocious murdering of an innocent girl.
Thus while the first instance was murder by society for not conforming gratification to its ideas, the second was murder by the individual in trying to conform gratification to its ideas, and the third accidental death in attempting to escape its ostracism after gratifying without its permission. This last will probably result in great cost if not imprisonment or death for the doctor for doing a kindly turn earnestly solicited by a helpless victim of Grundy tyranny.
At the bottom of all these lies the idea of “duty to others”—the implacable foe of all freedom—the fetich of political authority. But for the idea of “duty” to something other than one’s own uninvading pleasure, the girl would not have been more fiendishly murdered than savages do it. And but for the same idea prescribing marriage as the only passport to full sex association, the doctor and the other man’s wife would no more have thought of poisoning anybody in order to associate more freely, than they had hitherto in order that either might eat a meal or sit in the cool shade. And in the third case the girl would not need to have risked and lost her life and exposed a doctor to imprisonment or death for performing a solicited service, for none but Altruists would have dreamed that it was any of their business to meddle in her private affairs, even the exposing or taking her own life. Only think of the horrors of a state of society in which an old man and a young girl could marry as often or at any time they pleased without either of them being murdered; or in which any man and woman might sleep together to their hearts’ content without the need of poisoning any one; or in which a girl could be pregnant without social ostracism. Only think of a society in which all these sexual acts might have taken place unaccompanied by murder or Imprisonment. Yet the Egoistic basis of ethics is the only one on which such a noninvasive society can logically exist. Why then should the philosophy of “selfishness” be a greater horror than these murders.
In “Freethought” of April 25, its editor, Samuel P. Putnam, gives his readers a lesson on practical reform through the “Eclectic Philosophy.” Proudhon long ago exploded the idea of making science by the practice of long division upon a conglomeration of facts and fancies. But Mr. Putnam proposes to select the good from all theories, and we might infer from this that he is a scientist from the stump, intending to gather facts regardless of schools and classify them into a scientific method bringing up on ground with which Anarchists are well acquainted. But his summing up disposes of this optimistic hope:
Anarchy means personal liberty. We select that and stand by it. Socialism means fraternal co-operation. We select that and stand by it. Nationalism means the rights and dignity of labor. We select that. Communism means a commonwealth. We select that. Free trade means reciprocity. We select that. Protection means industrial advancement. We select that. But at the same time that we select, we also reject. We must combine the methods, even though they seem to be contradictory. As we must combine the supremacy of the nation with the doctrine of State rights, so we must combine free trade with protection and individual freedom with associated action.
Oh! the echo of Proudhon’s satire rings like a scientific maxim. He mast have based his generalization on a long list of verifications. For behold, despite his proposition to select, Mr. Putnam rushes into the “long division” method of solution as spontaneously as a duckling into water. We are to combine tyranny with freedom as we combine the supremacy of the nation with the doctrine of State rights. Sure enough. How well that word doctrine fits the place in which it is used. In the “combination” it is only a doctrine—an empty phrase. Where supremacy exists rights are gone. The federal power does not meet the individual State as an equal to compromise and agree upon points of difference, and State rights are of course a myth. We combine the doctrine of State rights with national supremacy by submitting—by having no State rights on that occasion. We “combine” as the slave combines with the master. And in this way we are to “combine” individual freedom with associated action and free trade with protection. We are free to trade wherever we are not suppressed by protection, and may enjoy individual freedom until we are oppressed by “associated action.” This is not exactly new. We have been thus “combining” freedom with tyranny for more than a century. It is just this restriction of competition in some directions that furnishes the privilege from which our devouring monopolies spring. It is this “combining”—this free trade in buying labor and protection in furnishing credit, that impoverishes the workers and en.riches the drones. It is this “associated action” spook which enables monopolists and politicians to pool their interests and control not only the production and commerce of the country but the education as well. Freedom in theory, protection for capital, and free trade in the sale of labor is a “combination” of which we are chock full. We do not care to combine with tyranny any longer. We shall be content to stand by personal liberty alone, and let Mr. Putnam justify this combining while his baggage is rummaged on the wharf and he goes about all day on Sunday longing for a cigar in obedience to associated action.
In the light of this eclectic discovery we should look for Mr. Putnam to stop his crusade against Sunday laws and other Secular points, and “combine” them with personal liberty as we do protection and other State interferences. But consistency is not a part of his program; if it were the two first sentences quoted would make him an Anarchist—an all-around defender of equal freedom, to whom the evils opposed by Secularists would be but incidental to an authoritarian regime responsible for both political and industrial slavery. He would then not be found apologizing for oppression, even if he was not in a position to fight it openly. Reciprocity would then mean what it is—free trade in such instances as will not through an unfavorable balance of trade carry our masters’ legal gold-lash out of the country, forcing the adoption of an abundant and economical medium of exchange which would launch us on industrial freedom. And protection would also mean what it is, the taxing of one industry for the profit of another. Both would be seen as they are, machines for creating and perpetuating monopoly through political authority—the most effective superstition of the age.
This criticism assumes that Mr. Putnam’s article was intended as a presentation of social science, and not an eclectic sop slinging.
A correspondent who views some subjects with a fair degree of sagacity, perhaps goes wrong as to the supposed inherent danger of allowing possessors of land to contract debts upon such property as they have in, upon and inseparably mingled with the land, and at their pleasure to sell such products—elliptically expressed by speaking of the sale or incumbrance of the land. How in the world is an owner to sell his improvements, such as can not be removed, without quitting possession in favor of the buyer? It is not an ideal of freedom that the man shall be enslaved to a particular spot of land because he has put improvements there. In a former discussion there was no question of disturbing the homestead law; there was no question of the unwisdom of many borrowers; but there was a square challenge to choose freedom or paternalism and stick to what is chosen. It seems to “The News” that dolorous descriptions of the progress of the farmer to poverty under mortgages would be very much more to the point if the writers were illustrating the consuming power of usury than they are when thrown up against any plan the prominent feature of which would be to afford currency at something like what it should cost to manufacture and securely control such a necessary and important aid to exchange of products. Instead of declaring that the owner of land has control of finance, every day’s experience shows that the control of finance throws the real ownership of land to the financier on the present scarcity and usurious basis. One arbitrary restriction to cure another is an old way, but not a way that “The News” can indorse. Every product of a man’s labor that he may sell he may borrow money upon, save only the product of his labor in land, says the new gospeler of agrarianism. But such a law would at once put a disability upon farm and garden labor. More, the new reformer would not allow land to be sold. Who then could buy a peach orchard? Dig up the trees? Impossible. Labor would be deterred from expending itself in the soil. That will not do. If land could not be sold there would be notice to men that they need not put their labor in land unless they were content to relinquish the common right to sell some of the products of their labor. Some reformers go daft about land, as if it were not more abundant than products, and as if it were not in final analysis a mere condition. To say, then, that one may sell his labor product but not his land is, as to some products, like saying that the author may sell his writings but not the paper upon which his writings are expressed—Galveston Daily News.
What is Interest?
The questions that immediately arise in my mind upon reading Alfred B. Westrup’s lecture on “Citizens’ Money,” which I would like to have him answer are: why should one of his mutual banking notes he required to be redeemed periodically, as suggested on page 14, if the borrower could according to practice immediately borrow it again? How will he define what he means by the value of a dollar, an ounce of gold, or a bushel of wheat? Why is it that ordinarily Smith can borrow a hundred bushels of wheat of Jones only on the condition that he will pay him back perhaps a hundred and ten bushels in a year’s time? In a currency without any unit of value, what will prevent the nominal price of wheat and shoes which is now $1 a bushel and $3 a pair, from changing in a year to $2 a bushel and $6 a pair, to the loss of those who have contracted debts in terms of such currency; that is, what will prevent the nominal price of all property from changing while its relative rate of exchange, perhaps may remain the same? Now I will not dispute to a certain extent his idea of what constitutes the best kind of money, but he certainly makes a very unwarranted comparison when he compares paper to coin as money as if their economic relations were of a similar nature. The choice between paper and coin is not at all a question of the relative quantity in existence, but is primarily a question of whether a certain quantity of property itself, or a right or ability to obtain a certain property shall be circulated as currency, that a promise of property when sufficiently secure, is generally regarded as more convenient and economical to use in commerce has been abundantly proved In England, where it is estimated that in commercial transactions only one per cent of the exchanges of property are effected by the use of coin. That security good for a promissory note is good to issue money on is amply illustrated by the Scotch system of banking. And I would also ask all mutual bankers to explain why interest was not abolished in Scotland if it depends on the prohibition of the issue of currency directly on the property mortgaged as stated on page 17?
I can agree that ample security would maintain the purchasing power of paper currency regardless of the volume issued, but only on the condition that it be redeemable in property on demand. When so issued the quantity can never exceed what is economical for the community to retain in circulation, but just as soon as it is made redeemable in property at some future time, it will only circulate in excess of such economical amount at a discount corresponding to the time before which it is likely to be redeemed in property. The amount of currency that is economical to be kept in circulation in a community is determined by the amount of property each one finds of greater utility to them to devote to the use of facilitating their exchanges rather than enjoy its utility when put to any other uses. In banking business redemption is performed with other property as well as gold and silver, whenever a customer of the bank settles up his account with the bank by returning banknotes to pay his indebtedness. The amount of gold that the notes are expressed in is no more actually used to effect the exchange than the standard yardstick at Washington is actually used to measure every yard of cloth in the country. It is simply when a debt is contracted by the issue of a banknote, it is expressed in terms of the value of gold in exchange at that time, to be redeemed at an equal equivalent, to the value of gold when it is paid. That the actual property borrowed shall equal the actual amount returned depends upon whether the relative value of gold to the property bought with the banknotes when they are borrowed and sold for them when they are returned, remains the same at one time as the other, and this depends ultimately on the relative amount of effort required to produce the other property.
To analyze Mr. Westrup’s criticism of the present system, no one need deny the assertion that “the present system like all its predecessors, fails to provide the means whereby property owners may use their property for purposes of credit”; that is, get property in the present for a promise to pay property in the future “without submitting to the tax called interest”; that is, without paying the economic difference between the value of present and future property “imposed by the monied classes”; that is, required by every one who furnishes present property or a right to present property in exchange for a promise of property to be paid in the future. And no system can do otherwise than fail to provide such a thing, until perhaps some people become so generous as to be willing to allow others instead of themselves to enjoy the advantages of the use of their property for a time without asking any compensation for such use, a state of society the Socialists seem to be trying to induce. “An individual who has property, but no money, wishes to buy some commodities. If he buys them on credit, he has to pay more than if he buys for cash.” That is, if he receives the property of another now, he has to pay more of his property at a future time (credit) than if he pays him property new (cash in gold received for property just sold to Jones, a promissory note on demand on Jones, taken instead of gold, or an accepted bill of exchange on demand, in favor of himself, or a banknote which is a promise of property on demand at the bank.) So when a person gets property from another, he must either pay out his property in exchange at the time of such exchange, or pay more of his property at some future time. “If he borrows money, giving a mortgage on his property, in order to buy for cash, he is confronted with interest.” That is, if he gets property in the present for the same paid in the future, he will have to pay more of it in the future when he pays for his borrowed cash than he would have if he had paid property at the time he received the cash.......
If the borrower can receive currency to the same amount, at the same time he redeemed what he borrowed the year before, why ever compel him to redeem what he has borrowed? But does Mr. Westrup suppose that interest is paid for the cost of “making” money? does he imagine that when a farmer mortgages his farm for a thousand dollars worth of this currency redeemable in one year, and buys tools with it that he really pays for these tools and can thus have the use of them for one year for the cost of making his promise to pay currency! I think if such a proposition should be made, every one would mortgage their property to the fullest amount in order to be able to enjoy the use of so much more property for a year for merely the cost of making a promise to return it. But what would really be the result of such a method, certainly if anyone wished to buy anything he would prefer to pay his own “promise to pay” rather than that of some one else for which he would part with some of his property.
Our farmer wishes tools and our merchant wishes grain. Both have their whole credit to offer in currency at a year’s time to exchange for property. Now suppose the farmer sells his grain to the merchant, receiving “currency” in exchange. Immediately the farmer wants tools, he goes to the merchant and offers this “currency” in exchange for them, but we can imagine the following dialogue to take place:
Farmer—Here is $1000 in your promises-to-pay, for the tools I have just ordered.
Merchant—Yes. But I don’t care to pay my own debt till one year from now, since it stands practically without interest, and if I accept your “currency” at one year’s redemption, I will have no right to demand property of you in exchange for my tools until one year from now, unless you choose to pay your debt sooner which you certainly will not do if you value the use of $1 000 worth of property for one year’s time. Besides I think I can sell my tools to Farmer Jones for $1000 worth of property on demand; however you may have the tools for $1050 of your notes at one year without interest, and I don’t think Merchant Smith will be willing to furnish you tools on any better terms. If you had sold your grain to me for a note on demand, of course I would have been obliged to give you the value of such notes in property at once. But of course I could not afford to offer you in property on demand more than 95 per cent of the amount that I would not be obliged to pay until one year from the time I received your grain.
I think my dear farmer, when you anticipated the possibility of “borrowing money without interest”; that is, a real property on demand which would enable you to buy tools at one time and pay for them in one year when you redeemed your currency, that you unknowingly failed to understand the very important if not under all circumstances very perspicuous distinction between a pa per entitling its holder to a certain property on demand, and one obliging the payment of property at some future time, hence you thought by mutual agreement to circulate future property on the same terms as present, but economic relations transcend even mutual agreement. The fiat of the Roman church could not suppress interest, and even mutual agreement cannot make a thousand bushels of wheat promised to you in a year from now, worth as much as a thousand bushels given to you now. Hence you cannot buy as much with currency redeemable in one year as in currency on demand, or if you choose to make one year notes a legal tender; that is, to estimate all rates of exchange in property at one year’s time, as you would by Mutual Banking with one year currency, then notes obliging the payment of property on demand would circulate at a premium equal to the economic difference in the value of property at a year’s time. So you find yourself after all no better off than you would be to borrow currency redeemable on demand, paying the economic rate of interest for it as by the Scotch banking system. For $1 000 in such notes I could give you $1000 worth of tools at once for I can take them to the bank immediately and pay my indebtedness for money borrowed, or my debt to Farmer Jones for grain, which he had sold to the bank and was charged to my account, or if I have no debts to pay I will have $1000 balance at the bank to my credit which will enable me to purchase more capital.
“And now let me point out to you the blunder at the door of which can be laid all the error that has confused the mind of” Alfred B. Westrup, “puzzled the brain of” every mutual banker and “defeated the efforts of” every one of that school “to solve the problem of” borrowing money without interest; that is, of borrowing a right to present property with a promise to pay in the future, without paying the economic difference in the value of present and future property. It is just “the failure to recognize the difference between coin” which constitutes a real exchange of present property “and currency” which may be representative of property in the present or in the future according to its nature.
So far Mr. Westrup has stated in this paragraph what no economist would pretend to deny, but when he finishes by saying that “this interest is enforced by prohibiting the issue of the currency directly on the property mortgaged to secure the money-lender instead of the money-holder” he can have but a very inadequate idea of the nature of property, for as we have seen, it is not for the cost of “making” banknotes that interest is paid for, but for the assumption of the bank by its notes of the responsibility of paying property on demand in exchange for the borrower’s obligation to pay property at a future time, and neither will the issue of money on his own promise to pay on demand allow him to use property on his credit without paying interest, for, since on the average he must have as many notes in his possession all the time as he has in circulation, he would always be loaning out as much property as he borrowed, and he cannot customarily alter the balance in his favor without paying interest or discount.
It cannot be denied that gold currency costs more than credit currency. That a mutual banking currency would cost only its cost of making, and that if all exchanges were made on demand, on the average no one would pay or receive interest, because what they paid when each was in debt would come back when he was in credit. But what does this difference amount to? Not by any means as Mr. Westrup seems to suppose; the interest that is paid on all the debts existing in the community, but simply the interest on all the property currency in the community. Suppose the quantity of gold in circulation in a country amounts to $10 per capita. This at 5 per cent interest would be 50 cents a year for each person that gold would cost more than credit currency, or suppose the reserve to be one-fiftieth as in Scotch banking, this would be one-tenth of all currency borrowed at 5 per cent interest, or suppose the reserve to be one-fifteenth as in National banking, the difference would be )g per cent on all currency borrowed at 76½ per cent interest.
Perhaps the principal source of misconception among mutual bankers and others who have thought to avoid interest in such a manner, has arisen from the idea that the banks by being able to get interest on their notes seem to be the only ones that make a clear gain to that extent on all the notes they are enabled to keep in circulation on account of the greater economy of credit currency, even if gold currency of sufficient amount were always available. The fact is that by lending such banknotes the rate of interest is lowered from the rate on gold or rent on property, to the extent that money is useful in facilitating exchange; that is, to the extent that the utility of a certain amount of money in a person’s possession is greater than its equivalent value in property in other uses. To the extent that the community is willing to keep banknotes in their possession without receiving interest, instead of presenting them for redemption in property, all debtors may profit by a slightly lower rate of interest.
But though debtors may so profit by the use of credit money, the holders of banknotes are no better off than the holders of coin, so it is becoming more and more a modern custom for merchants to avoid this loss by making their money when they want it; that is, by accepting a bill of exchange at the time they receive a certain property, instead of losing interest on coin or banknotes for perhaps a week or two, that they would otherwise have to keep in their possession to make such payment at the proper time.
This may in a measure account for the decrease in the amount of the National Banking circulation in the United States. People do not want money that they will lose interest on while it is in their possession when they can do business by credit that can be made just at the time of every transaction.
I do not suppose what any one can say will make much difference with those who have so dogmatically accepted the mutual banking fallacy that they regard all arguments to the contrary as unnecessary to be considered, but those who will go over the subject carefully and critically, I am sure will see where they have been led into error, and I can better understand their position since I at one time sincerely held such views myself, but upon a clearer understanding of the nature of economic relations I have come to realize how I was in error.
F. K. BLUE.
In answer to Mr. F. K. Blue’s attempt at criticism of “Citizen’s Money” I would say that a more careful reading of what he finds fault with, and a more effectual effort to digest the ideas he has but so recently come in contact with, would result in greater credit to himself. Nothing is said on page 14 of that pamphlet about “Mutual Bank notes being required to be redeemed periodically.” If he will read Article 13 of the “Plan for a Mutual Bank,” as he should have done before risking exposure of his unfamiliarity with the subject, he will see that his objection is not well taken. There is no such statement in my pamphlet as “the value of a dollar, an ounce of gold, or a bushel of wheat.” I do not have to give definitions to sentences formulated by other people. It is evident he has been studying the text-books and regards them as authority, and so got himself all tangled up trying to make the dogmas of political economists apply to economic science. He should not trust to the learned professors, but rely upon his own judgment. They are very profuse with the use of the terms “measure of value” and “standard of value,” yet it is just as absurd as to write, “the curvature of a straight line,” or “the right angle of a circle.” Value is not a fixed or permanent quality, hence, there can be no measure, standard or unit of value. The dollar is a monetary unit or conventional denominant, and when there is no commodity dollar,—nothing but a paper dollar that is amply secured and therefore no risk in taking it in exchange for commodities, its purchasing power (not its value) will be unchangeable; and when it is available to all borrowers (with first-class security) upon astrictly equal footing, and at the same rate—cost, all speculation will come to an end, for speculation has its origin, not in natural, but in artificial opportunities created by law; hence we favor free (from government control) money. Mr. Blue should now be able to see why Smith can borrow of Jones only on usurious conditions.
Mr. Blue will find on page 10 of “Citizens’ Money” that I have been very explicit in showing the difference between the nature of coin and the nature of paper money.
The reason why speculative interest has not been abolished in Scotland is the same as that which exists here and everywhere else,—because it has not occurred to them to establish Mutual Banks in place of Joint Stock Banks. The former would do the business on the co-operative plan at cost. The latter, in addition to cost charge a profit (speculation) which goes to the stockholders.
Mr. Blue must become more familiar with this subject, especially our views, and not attribute to us the antithesis of what we affirm. It is we and not our opponents who recognize the fact that “economic relations transcend,” not only “mutual agreements,” but legislative enactments.
I cannot further follow his labyrinth of confused idea; and if he does not see his way clear through liberty to a solution of the economic question I shall have to leave him to his fate.
ALFRED B. WESTRUP.
343 Michigan Ave., Chicago.
This is May. I was always stuck on May whether of the feminine or neuter gender. I have been most familiar with the latter. The other never gets near enough to do more than stick in the quagmire of social conventionality. Sour grapes! I dismiss her and prate about the neuter, the one that keeps open house and bars with no price of either gold or respectability. This May that tosses a green velvety curtain over the rugged hills with its shades of open light and mystic dark under the slanting rays of the morning sun; and which spreads a rich carpet over the fields and slopes, along the sides of dusty roads, and tacks narrow strips between ditches and fresh-plowed ground, with scraps neatly fitted in lonesome nooks and unvis1ted fence-corners. This May which dots this sea of green with intricately patterned flowers of yellow, blue, red, and mixed shades formed with exquisite delicacy and by systematic process only to be ruthlessly plucked at the whim of a plucker. This May which makes the muscles under eyes quiver and causes wrinkles to gather on the bridge of the nose; which fills the air with undefined prospects and the perfume of blossoms; May with its poets and leaves thin and tender, its barefoot boys and their chapped feet; its hatching hens in empty salt-barrels lying on their sides south of sheds and coops; its old potatoes and chirping young chickens, its wooly ducklings and mellow-looking gozzlings, its bunting calves and their pails of skimmed milk, its clean young pigs and high-priced corn, its corn planting and chorus of frogs, its abundance of bacon and scarcity of eggs, its hungry plow-horses and their musty chopfeed, its stale strawstacks and mangy colts, its bragging bulls and philoprogenitive cows, its basking dogs an lazy cats, its vain gobblers strutting alone behind barns; its half-hatched broods fumed over by frowzy and wrinkled women with thoughts of hungry and smirking ministers; its sharp plowshares and cloven groundworms, its useless shade and back-breaking Spade, its labor-kicked languor and unharrowed fields; its white dresses cruelly masking shapely limbs or generously concealing bones bound in raw-hide; its broad hats covering acres of prejudice and imbecility, its buggy-rides and their insatiable hugging, its bouyant hope mingled with a touch of uncertainty, and its beautiful and cozy homes with their Egoistic contentment. I like to stand mornings at the south-east corner of the house in the sunshine with squinting eyes and wrinkled nose while I bleach my teeth and ponder over all these things, even if my pants-legs are too short and there is a seedy-looking hole in my cheap derby. May is my first of the year ending the next spring just before the grass begins to crowd the sunshine back. I influenced the launching of EGOISM at that season of the year, and with a large and enthusiastic list of subscribers could hail its return many times with a full purse and delight. May I!................................................?
I regret having indirectly in my previous “Experience” prodded at my mother-in-law for soliciting subscriptions for the “Twentieth Century” while she left EGOISM to its fate. I find the solicitous mother had through philoprogenitive impulse tried to raise a club for the strange duckling she had hatched from what she thought a genuine hen’s egg, but the poultry she circulated among declared it a gull and that they were not gullible enough to part with four-bits for that kind of fowl. So thereafter she tried for the “Twentieth Century” with more success. It still sometimes chases God and the old Jewish novel, and this they like vehemently.
Now, when I subjectively appropriate the anguish on such an occasion of a person more inflated with good will than Egoistic philosophy, I feel much more uncomfortable than when I poked fun at a serious person. To prevent the recurrence of a similar break in my pleasurable complacency I shall not repeat it. Now if I were so unselfish as to be incapable of having my own consciousness pained with a knowledge of this anguish I might continue to joke as innocently as an Altruist applauds a bestowal of gifts in accordance with his desires. But I am so intensely selfy that a knowledge of suffering diverts my pleasure-seeking faculty so much as to cause me to refrain from acts producing pain which I will appropriate through such knowledge. Hence outside of her own resistance and that of the equal freedom interest of the community she has a protection against me through my selfishness in not desiring to suffer by such appropriating of pain. Sympathy then, is the subjective appropriating of a condition through a knowledge of its effects, and sympathetic acts, attempts to escape that knowledge.
The most conspicuous thing now about our abode is the absence of W. S. Bell, with whom we have for two years pooled house-rent and a desire for fortune. These evenings after having dragged myself by lagging strength and a dusty hand-rail up our stairs I do not meet the smiling countenance of a fat man who fills a thirty-two inch doorway like a new sausage does its skin. My wife prepared for disappointment, looks an inquiry for the mail, but no cheerful voice rings out: “What’s new, how’s George?” and upon being assured that George is all right and that things are the usual “chestnut,” exclaims: “What, a man been to the city and knows nothing new? why we know that much and have scarcely been out of the house.” When I want kindling I cannot reach behind the stove and find it prepared for lighting. When our beans and soap are consumed I have to carry more home myself. If there are repairs needed on the house I find myself having to face the landlord. If, as sometimes happens, I get a postal note I must go to the postoffice to cash it. When I want the mail and am too busy to cross the bay I cannot get it by generously offering Mr. Bell the ride, for which he is not spoiling, but have to wait till I can go. If I want to know how to spell a word I have to go to the dictionary, a thing I do not always do. When “Liberty” comes we no longer hold a convention and declaim upon its merits. I read it on the boats and trains, and at home rush inarticulately over its sharpest drives for my wife’s benefit, who is obliged to economize eye-sight for other purposes. Upon the arrival of “Freethought,” we do not now read and shout by turns while devouring “Observations.” I, having previously shaken my ribs loose with laughter, read the paragraphs with matter-of—fact familiarity to my wife who, hitherto kicking and screaming upon such occasions now threatens only an accommodating smile. Verily, our home is filled with a large gone and a few dry bones.
EGOISM is now printed with an 8x12 Columbian lever press and great care. In operation, this press winks at you, grasps the-sheet of paper, doubles itself up like a small boy actuated by a green apple, then straightens out and presents you with a sprained arm and a lightly-pressed page. But with plenty of ink and patience it does much better than no press at all. It has, however, a history as well as an appreciator. Its first service was to print in a sod-house region of Kansas the “Thomas Cat.” (how gladly I would devote it to pressing the Thomases who dispute in our backyard at night!) Then it fought for us a perilous battle at Liberal, Mo. A year or two later it did similar service at the same place for other dissenters. Now it is about to kill me in my attempt to make it do work equal to that of a Colt’s Armory. It does not rush heedlessly through its work. At the deliberate rate now operated it would require twenty days to run an edition of one thousand of EGOISM. On press days lam grateful to a generous public for not running our subscription list up to such a hopeless number. When we get fifty dollars with which to buy the necessary material we will have it printed by steam on a cylinder press at three dollars a thousand. We will then use the Columbian for a relic. I am certain that it will be much pleasanter for me to operate it in this way than as I now do it.
Not long since the report reached us that Eugene L. Macdonald the young Pacific coast Anarchist would bring his mother and visit the publishers of his favorite journal, EGOISM. As this promised to be an unusual occasion I immediately corralled my wife’s little niece and set about enlarging our apartments by excavating the dirt and grease from the window and door casings and sweeping the delicate but dusty cobweb frescoing from the ceiling and corners. We also harrowed and bathed the kitchen floor, spreading its valuable California real estate with unvarying evenness of color. With the skill that I have acquired in operating my jaw and hands simultaneously since the arrival of my wife’s little niece I believed the work could be rapidly executed, but my calculation miscarried conspicuously. I found that with the utmost guinea-hen persistence of my masticatory organ I could induce the kid to put only about as much pressure and speed to the brush as would be required in dressing boils. It was in vain that I elaborated on the idea that the woodwork wasn’t sore and could be safely scrubbed to the limit of her strength. But the woodwork of the occasion was principally on the wall, not with her, for she wouldn’t. Finally this part of the task was completed, minus its result. Youngster Macdonald and his mother didn’t come, and I found myself plunged into the most frenzied gyrations of a war-dance all the next week attempting to keep things up to this standard of glitter. Complacency was, as usual, found in defeat.
Mrs. Macdonald has since sent the photograph of their budding innovator to my wife, and we have it exposed with that of Tak Kak and other philosophic celebrities. This brings me to the long-threatened canvassingl of a report in “Freethought” several months ago in which it was stated that the subject of this “Experience” attempted to disturb the meeting while W. S. Bell was delivering his address on “Government” before the last convention of the California Liberal Union. It was said that his mother had to carry the young fellow out and that he hurled defiance at the meeting as she disappeared with him. It was also implied that his purpose was archistic; that it was an impulse to invade. It is this version that I combat with a more probable theory and one consistent with his principles. Mr. Bell has no equal in delivering radical lectures before conservative audiences without being mobbed, and this ability lies in his skill in introducing glittering generalities at the point where an eruption on the part of his listeners is scented. On this occasion he had just reached such a point sweeping the young listener’s enthusiasm with him like a pennant in the breeze, when it became necessary to throw in something like “liberty struck to the ground crushed and bleeding.” This meaning nothing in particular, was of course too much for the patience of the youth, who echoed an involuntary protest. His imprecations at the door were undoubtedly directed against the clamishness of a people who pretend to follow rationalism to its logical conclusion, yet make such tactics necessary on the part of their instructors.
I’ll bet on one thing however, and that is when he grows to be two yards long and a yard wide like his father, no little woman however Winsome will take him out of a meeting when he has remarks to make.
It has been inadvertently remarked and advertently reproduced, that history repeats itself. It is a phenomenon that I have myself experienced. My parents were born and, later, a similar accident occurred to me. To those things I have finally become somewhat accustomed, but when my youthful associates fall into the antedeluvian habit of breeding it disturbs me like a railroad disaster. It is not a fact that I have been trying to bring about nor a thing that I have lost, but there it is, life size, just the same. It was not there before and now that it is there I have no use for it. I cannot get it out of my memory and yet I do not need it there. The knowledge of how to deposit money in a bank would be no more useless. The latest demonstration of the aforesaid kind among my friends took place recently in the apartments of F. K. Blue, of this city. There, in the immediate presence of Mrs. Gertie Blue, Mr. Blue’s wife, — Blue, their first son, blew his whistle and started off on his run as a separate consciousness. He appropriated from his former environment a large strong body and an equally strong social bond with all of which it is believed he will prosper.
I am somewhat embarrassed at having thus to brandish the news of a matter so delicate, but in common with George Macdonald I find myself oppressed by a prejudiced public which will not allow itself to be prepared beforehand for such announcements by indicating their probability. I could have done it just as well as not. These friends visited us but a short time before this occurred, and as such an “event always casts its shadow before” rather more than in any other direction, I was reasonably certain that some such thing would happen.
We once had some woolen blankets about which some remarks were made in these columns. These were so narrow when last referred to that they could be used by but one person at a time. My wife being the most important member of the family and best adapted to their width they were reserved for her use. But they became still more bigoted and narrow; so much so in fact that to make them last till spring we had to wind them on her at night like thread on a spool or silk on a cocoon. She spun no silk however, only yarns of approaching desolation. Thus an ignorant majority with wool protectively drawn over its eyes fancies its body covered, while we, to sleep, must wind ourselves into balls of carpet-rags.
Benjamin Harrison, now chief knob of the United States privilege pull, has been on exhibition in our city lately. I should have been delighted if it had been George Macdonald’s Uncle Benjamin Tucker, but he has to pay his own expenses when he travels, and I shall probably never see him. The president and myself are natives of a similar state. He did not call on me, but I saw him hanging around the postoffice entrance one day when I went after the mail. He wore a committee-pecked expression and a white shirt. He made no remark to me save a request that I pull down my vest. But I blandly explained to him that the stretched-looking gap in my raiment was not due to aspiration of the vest but to the shortness of my trousers which, in order to reach my shoes had to be swung considerably below the vest.
EGOISM’S PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSE.
EGOISM’s purpose is the improvement of social existence through intelligent self-interest. It finds that whatever we have of equal conditions and mutual advantage is due to a prevalence of this principle corresponding with the degree and universality of individual resistance to encroachment.
Reflection will satisfy all who are desirous of being guided in their conclusions by fact, that as organization itself is a process of absorbing every material useful to its purpose, with no limit save that of outside resistance, so must the very fact of its being a separately organized entity make it impossible for it to act with ultimate reference to anything but itself. Observation will show that this holds good throughout the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and that whatever of equality exists among members of a species or between different species has its source and degree in the resisting capacity, of whatever kind, which such member or species can exert against the encroachment of other members or species. The human animal is no exception to this rule. True, its greater complexity has developed the expedient of sometimes performing acts with beneficial results to others, but this is at last analysis only resistance, because it is the only means of resisting the withholding by others from such actor’s welfare that which is more desirable than that with which he parts. If, then, (he self-projecting faculty of mankind is such that it will in addition to the direct resistance common to the less complex animals, diplomatically exercise present sacrifice to further extend self, and it being a fact that equality depends upon equal resistance, diplomatic or otherwise, what are its chances in an absence of enlightenment in which the individuals of the majority so far from intelligently using this resisting power in their own behalf, do not even believe that they should do so? The result of a general conception so chaotic, would naturally be what we find: the generalization from the practical expediency of certain consideration for others, crystallized through the impulse of blind selfishness into a mysterious and oppressive obligation, credit for the observance of which gratifies the self-projecting faculty of the simple, while the more shrewd evade its exactions, and at every step from the manipulation of the general delusions of religious and political authority to the association of sexes and children at play, project themselves by exchanging this mythical credit for the real comforts and luxuries of the occasion, which the others produce. Thus in addition to the natural disadvantage of unequal capacity, the weaker are deprived through a superstition, of the use of such capacity as they have, as may be seen in their groping blindness all about us.
To secure and maintain equal conditions then, requires a rational understanding of the real object of life as indicated by the facts of its expression. It is plain that the world» of humanity is made up of individuals absolutely separate; that life is to this humanity nothing save as it is something to one of these; that one of these can be not-hing to another except as he detracts from or adds to his happiness; that on this is based the idea of social expediency; that the resistance of each of these individuals would determine what is socially expedient; that approximately equal resistance makes it equality, and on such continued and a universal resistance depends equality. This can leave no room for any sane action toward others but that of the policy promoting most the happiness of the acting Ego. Therefore EGOISM insists that the attainment of equal freedom depends upon a course of conduct-replacing the idea of “duty to others” with expediency toward others; upon a recognition of the fact that self-pleasure must be the final motive of any act; thus developing a principle for a basis of action about which there can be no misunderstanding, and which will place every person squarely on the merit of his or her probable interests, divested of the opportunity to deceive through pretension, as under the dominance of altruistic idealism. It will maintain that what is generally recognized as morality is nothing other than the expediency deduced from conflicting interests under competition; that it is a policy which, through the hereditary influence of ancestral experience, confirmed by personal experience, is found to pay better than any other known policy; that the belief that it is something other than a policy—a fixed and eternal obligation, outside of and superior to man’s recognized interests, and may not be changed as utility indicates, makes it a superstition in effect like any other superstition which causes its adherent-s to crystallize the expediency adopted by one period into positive regulations for another in which it has no utility, but becomes tyrannical laws and customs in the name of which persecution is justified, as in the fanaticism of any fixed idea.
Another part of its purpose is to help dispel the “Political Authority” superstition and develop a public sentiment which would replace State interference with the protection for person and property which the competition of protecting associations would afford. Then the State’s fanatical tyranny and industry crushing privilege would torture the nerves of poverty-stricken old age or pinch tender youth no more. The most disastrous interference of this monster superstition is its prohibition of the issuing of exchange medium on the ample security of all kinds of property, which at once would abolish speculative interest and practically set all idle hands at productive labor at wages ever nearing the whole product until it should be reached. The next interference is by paper titles to vacant land instead of the just and reasonable one of occupancy and use, which with the employment that free money would give, would furnish all with comfortable homes in a short time, and thereafter even with luxuries from like exertion. Following this is its patent privilege, customs robbery, protective tariff, barbarous decrees in social and sexual affairs; its brutal policy of revenge, instead of restitution, in criminal offenses, and finally its supreme power to violate the individual, and its total irresponsibility.