Georgia & Henry Replogle
Egoism Vol. I. No. 9.
EGOISM’s unusually late appearance this time is net due to financial shakiness, but to the reverse; its manager has been working for pay, and it is in high spirits.
In the “Twentieth Century” of January 1, Victor Yarros answers a Nationalist critic who undertakes the reason on the social problem. Having prepared himself with a false position for Individualists this Nationalist made the feat possible, and exposed himself to the blade of Mr. Yarros’s logic.
We have received four numbers of the “Herald of Anarchy,” published by A. Tarn, in London. It is the only Anarchist paper published in England, and is heavy and generalizing. It would be about right for Herbert Spencer to read. To us it is fully as interesting as the old Boston “Index” used to be. Those who wish to encourage it financially should address the editor at 27 St. John’s Hill Grove, London, S. W.
Benj. R. Tucker published on the 10th of this month the first English translation of Count Tolstoi’s latest work, “The Fruits of Culture.” This book, like “The Kreutzer Sonata,” has never been published in Russia. It is a twofold satire on “culture” and Spiritualism. The follies of the so-called “cultured” classes are exhibited in a humorous picture of their fashions, “fads,” and mental freaks, and the story hinges upon the effect of Modern Spiritualism on an aristocratic family in Russia.
It sometimes occurs that we know things tee seen. This was true in regard to EGOISM claiming the siring of J. Wm. Lloyd’s poems lately published in its columns. Mr. Lloyd hunts these out of a pile of them that have been written during years past, and before EGOISM. The sentiment of the subjective meed of the two concluding stanzas of the present one is not in harmony with that of the publishers in the role of witnesses, but the rest we greatly admire and heart indorse.
After several months’ suspension “Fair Play” reaches us, transformed into a 24-page monthly, magazine form. One would not recognize it by its form, but the name, the same excellent motto, the “plumb-line penographs,” and above all the editorial productions peculiar to the only E. C. Walker, constitute “Fair Play” with the exception of the name and piquant paragraphs of Lillian Harman, its other former editor. This we regret, as so few women are connected with Individualistic radical work, at which she succeeded so well. “Fair Play” is $1.00 per year, and published at 718 4th street, Sioux City, Iowa.
Love and Summer.
(Inspired by Solomon’s Song.)
In the sun and dew and bird song of the
I walked forth in the meadow,
In the greve, and by the sweet singing
broeklets of water.
O Summer, Summer, Summer!
Glorious are thy heats und thy shadows,
Thy breezes and kisses,
Thy labers and languer,
Thy fruits, love, and thunder,—
O hot-blooded Summer!
There, under a liquid-amber,
By the side of the breeklets of water,
Having bat—hed in the pools of the water,
Saw I the form of the loved;
Her skin rich—tinted like cream,
Skin-tint of the meek Jersey heifer,
Yet rosy, like mist of the morning
When the sun rays pierce the warm vapors;
And her breasts, in their seeming, twin
Feam bubbles afloat on a milk—field;
O sweet was the lilt of that brooklet,
O Summer, Summer, Summer!
Glorieus are thy heat-s and thy shadows,
Thy breezes and kisses,
Thy labers and languer,
Thy fruits, love, and thunder,—
O hot-blooded Summer!
Over the gleam of her sides and shoulders
Fell the rippling cloud of her wonder,
Her hair’s glossy night and splendor;
Every hair a snare to her lover,
A lasse to capture and held him;
And her soft orbs beamed in those tresses
Like a Texan-cow’s eyes from a thicket.
Her limbs were rounded with glamour,
And flashed, in their whiteness, like silver,
While the rosy hands plied the soft towel.
O fair art then, my beloved,
And tall like a queen among maidens!
Thus glimpsed I the bath of the loved one,
My fawn of the woods, and my cheoen;
Then turned I, soft, and departed,
Not & dry stick snapt in the mosses,
Not a quail scared I in the bushes,
But I listed the lilt of the brooklet, singing:—
O Summer, Summer, Summer!
Glorieus are thy heats and thy shadows,
Thy breezes and kisses,
Thy labors and languer,
Thy fruits, love, and thunder,—
O hot-blooded Summer!
Then filled was my soul with sweet music,
And ferth came my voice in low singing:—
I will call thee my rest—
My love! my dove!
O roam not alone,
Come into my nest,
My love! my dove!
And call me thy own,
J. WM. LLOYD.
W. S. BELL is going East next April, to be gone six months, lecturing in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and probably Massachusetts. His address is Box 109, Oakland, California.
WE have read “My Uncle Benjamin,” Benjamin R. Tucker’s latest translation from the French. It is a great book—too great we fear to sell as the “Rag Picker” did. It is the production of an intelligent victim of institution oppression who necessarily suffered more than he enjoyed. The splitting pangs of his intense pessimism are seasoned with ridiculing thrusts at the vanity of wealth. The characters are not made to “come out” in school girl ideal, but tumble along like real life, mostly at the mercy of other elements than human desire. The facts are not manufactured and put up in doses ready to take fer building up a philosophy made to order, but are painters which lead to unmistakable conclusions. The writer in his pessimistic or pathetic moods may exaggerate, but he does it in a way that implies the exaggeration, while it illuminates the point with electric intensity. Under the reign of a king, democracy is the writer’s social ideal, and he often declares a blind devotion to abstract society, but his searching portrayal of the Egoistic motive, which so clearly demonstrates the fetich of his duty idea, and the age that he wrote in makes one readily_ forgive this unanalyzed supplication. He dissects conduct and illustrates the charlatanism on one part and the superstition and stupidity on the other that create fame with quite diagramatic plainness. Living in an age when our grandfathers were too prejudice-ridden to wear boots, buttons, and suspenders, we find him in his philosophy dashing of almost our most radical concepts with a lucidness searcher equaled by the descriptions of the most commonplace affairs of our time. His wit is like springing a dark-lantern in a sub-cellar, while his humor penetrates your anatomy to the marrow without allowing you to rear with laughter, so skilfully is it woven in with philosophy, pathos, or tragedy. Te read it is the only satisfactory way to learn about it. We keep it; price in cloth $1.00; paper cover 50 cents.
Is Faith Alone, Enough.
Anarchism is either a practicable principle that if generally understood could be applied to our social relations today, or it is a pleasant because unanalyzed dream to be indulged in, like poetry, for mental recreation. The reverie in which Anarchists generally move about would indicate their conviction that the latter is true. They take the Anarchistic papers and read the excellent articles with applause often bordering on adoration, while the writers sift and analyze under the critical eyes of all every proposition with geometrical nicety, but who thinks of trying to convince his influential neighbor Practiceworthy that these incontrovertible principles should be taken advantage of for mutual projection. No one. If that is our purpose there is little to indicate it. It would seem that our purpose is to congratulate ourselves on being Anarchists by admiring the ability of our leaders in thought. If we lack the advantage of long practice, intensity or persistence in following an idea to produce such well qualified and accurate expositions of the subject as a Tucker, Yarros, Tak Kak and the others, we sit down and refuse to do anything. We cannot get the premium at the fair, therefore will raise no potatoes at all. If the premium for literary and logical excellence, and not the potatoes of industrial and social freedom is the object, our course is consistent. But if on the other hand, we want the potatoes of free money and resulting reward for labor, and wish also to escape statute regulation and the tax collector, our conduct presents the spectacle of some impractical visionaries who are so busy dreaming of luxury that they allow themselves to starve. If it is this freedom that we desire we have to get about it and remove the popular ignorance that prevents its inauguration.
This brings up at once the question of how to go at it. We have a flaccid-minded and prejudice-steeped herd, and a privilege-fortified autocracy to deal with and to overcome by no other weapon than our logic appealing to the interest of each. The herd being without mental tenacity, it is almost impossible to make an idea stick, and if we succeed, it is very easy for privilege to neutralize its effect by an appeal to some popular prejudice. This makes it next to impossible to gain the adjustment of economic science through an overwhelming public sentiment generated from the sufferers themselves. The opposition has the advantage of a hold on the public ear through the well-trained sophistry of both press and pulpit, and to cope with these, even with the facts on their side, requires an understanding of Anarchism in its every bearing so thorough as will enable its advocates to point out the fallacies and sophistries of the opposition at every turn. This will gain the interest and confidence of that portion of the public which when stimulated by the consciousness of an impregnable position and the opposition of fraud, will control the swaying herd and its manipulators, to which it is ordinarily more or less indifferent.
To this end then, I would suggest that all we faith Anarchists, who comprise probably nine-tenths of the readers of Anarchistic papers, set about it and acquaint ourselves thorough with the basic literature of the philosophy, and especially with its significance, so that we will be impelled to apply it as above described. That the percentage of listless readers is so great as I have indicated may be denied by the more sanguine, but according to my experience it is even understated; in fact very few see what the writers think they have abundantly illustrated. We may skim over the pages and get a glance of the general idea sufficient to base & change of heart upon, but we must have a change of head—a change so complete as to enable us to change other heads. Each reader will of course know that this does not apply to his case, but do not be too sure. Perhaps I am little more indolent than the rest, and often as I have been exasperated with myself for mental laxity and careless reading, I was again forcibly reminded of the continuance of the habit upon reading the discussion on copyright between Benj. R. Tucker and Victor Yarros in a late number of “Liberty.” I had read Mr. Tucker’s editorial of 1888, which he quotes in reply to Mr. Yarros’s criticism and in conclusive refutation of the claims of copyright, but as it exposed Henry George’s jugglery in dealing with that subject, and I was more interested in his being exposed than in the question, I allowed the point to escape me as completely as though it had not been printed. This I believe is true of the majority of readers of Anarchistic papers, in regard to almost every important question discussed. They do not master the principle sufficiently to state it in a manner that will attract the attention of people not hostile to new ideas, nor do they appropriate the arguments so as to be able to use them readily and effectually against opposition. They simply believe them and are satisfied with themselves. If they say anything at all to anybody about the subject it is likely to be no more than a declaration of faith. This would not do even though there were no multitude to convince, for in that case these principles would have to be applied, and of course understood. But when practically the whole population remains to be converted, what must we say of the prospect in face of such facts.
Before us to be reached, are the people just as they grew up, and the task will be none too small, take such advantage as we may. After having ourselves mastered the subject to a handling degree, we should select with the greatest care the material operated upon. This should consist of persons esteemed in the community for their practicality and general good judgment, so that they in their turn become effective workers. If these can be interested at even a cost of man)” times the labor required to convince people of smaller working capacity, they will still be the cheapest. In getting these first there is also the advantage of evading the useless, but more weighty resistance that they would naturally offer to a new idea which they were not first to champion in their vicinity. It is also important that the subject be presented in such doses only as will interest without boring the partially indifferent. Too much discretion cannot be used in this particular. Then care should be taken also that the most pressing question be kept uppermost, and minor once not allowed to uselessly call prejudice against it; that is, it will probably be found expedient not to preach sexual freedom to a conservative who is not searching for information on the subject, and whom you are anxious to convert into an active advocate of free money.
Every Anarchist lives in a community and has it in his power to lead that community if he will abandon his contentment with faith alone, and prepare himself to defend and extend his idea against both ignorance and sophistry. There is in print already all the necessary argument, besides that which everyday observation connected with study will add to each in the extent of his capacity to perceive and classify.
That free money is the first step toward economic emancipation is settled among Anarchists; and happily it is one which they can work most successfully if they go at it with sagacity and determination. Country people can get it into the country newspapers where all the readers are liker to become interested. They can discuss it with their neighbors, always being on the lookout for some real transaction that it would facilitate or some desired one possible that is now impossible. City people can better still illustrate its advantages, and contrive also to get it effectually presented if not thoroughly discussed in the daily papers. Nothing will come so near interesting everybody, if it can only be presented in such a way as to reach their understanding.
On this question, “Citizens’ Money,” being a short, popular, and comprehensive exposition is the best thing to begin with, and should be followed with “Mutual Banking,” especially by those who intend to do something at illustrating the idea in detail. As literature for principals to distribute, “Citizens’ Money” will, owing to its popular style and cheapness be found the most satisfactory.
Among the literature setting forth and sustaining the principles of Anarchism, none is perhaps better for even old readers of Anarchistic papers to brighten up on than “Free Political Institutions,” and it is indispensable in introducing to the raw Philistine the idea of protection for person and property and the settling of differences between individuals without voting or collecting taxes. Then treating society and economics in a general way comes “The Science of Society,” by Stephen Pearl Andrews. On the relation of the sexes, no one can prevail against the comprehensive, exhaustive, and unequaled arguments of the same author in his “Love, Marriage, and Divorce.” And finally most profound and searching of all is “Economical Contradictions,” by Proudhon. Besides these principal works there are numerous excellent pamphlets advertised in the Anarchistic papers.
If those who have these books and have read them only as novels are usually read, would study them, and those who have not got them would procure and also study them, and each would go to work in his own community, the present rush to State interference would not only be blocked, but a reaction toward economical and social freedom would be marked within five years. A very few of the great daily papers manifest an inclination in that direction, which if supplemented by the intelligent fraction of public sentiment which all Anarchists in simultaneous and determined action could create, would be followed by that canvassing of the social problem which must come before it is started toward final settlement. These papers are published for money first, and principle only incidentally, but we could use them in this way. Of course we don’t have to if the ways of unresisting clay suit us better.
It must be very satisfactory to capitalism intelligent enough to realize what its privilege rests upon to see, as voiced by the labor press, the inexpressibly murky depth of ignorant prejudice from which labor has to extricate itself before it can comprehend a solution of its bondage. The following is from the San Francisco “Star,” the most popular labor paper of the city:
Daniel Sewell, just elected a member of the heard of education, has been charged by Secretary Bennett, of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, with photographing, circulating and selling indecent pictures. His case was postponed, when called, until Tuesday next, by Police Judge Lawler. We have seen just one of these photographs, and we blush to think that the education of our youth should, in any degree, be entrusted to a wretch so base as it proves Sewell to be. We congratulate Mr. Bennett, and hope that his expose may result in placing Sewell behind prison bars; and that public indignation will be so pronounced as to prevent his ever taking the position which he would not only disgrace, but in which he could do much harm. No woman in the department should be humiliated by his association, and no child should be under his baneful influence.
This Bennett whom the bashful and blushing editor so fondly embraces, is the man who could get no prosecuting attorney to conduct his case against a victim because, the officials held, Bennett could not be believed under oath.
Mr. Sewell has since been released from custody, and even the moss-spined society for which Bennett is scavenger was forced under the ridicule of the daily press to acknowledge that the pictures were not indecent and that he was hasty. The photograph is that of a vigorous potato of the “peerless” variety, and bears a striking resemblance to a form of human organism in a state of psychologically-induced congestion. It was raised south of this city, by a journalist, and is a great curiosity. I have been exposed to a copy of the photograph. Its effect was to set me at once to cogitating upon what unseen forces cause the shape of things, and to thinking how fortunate it would have been for the community if these forces had so combined as to have formed into garbage carts the material from which the vice society is made, and thus have gratified it with enough real filth to prevent its agent getting stuck on the “shape” of a potato. This would have been an adaptation of means to an end worthy of inspiring a belief in an intelligent designer, and would have placed these people in a position to serve humanity in creditable contrast with their present effort.
George Macdonald thinks that if our institutions are to be preserved there must be some legislation regulating the growing of vegetables in lascivious and indecent form. To suppress the rising spud I would suggest that a secret circular appealing to the esthetic temperament of declining years be sent to the head of every potato growing family requesting him to plant none but strictly modest potatoes, in the most weary sign of the moon, and that he take the precaution to employ old men who have developed large families and a pain in the back to occasionally visit his field early in the morning while the cocks are crowing and before the women are up, and grapple such tubers as show an aspiring tendency. I regard this as a better method than the other in that it discourages the practice of State interference and continues to direct the minds of parents to that end which has ever intensely monopolized the combined solicitude of the whole race.
The New York “Truth Seeker” of Jan. 3 contains a letter from the secretary of an auxiliary Secular Union, who has discovered that there are some reforms more pressing than the securing of taxation for church property, a change of form in oath before courts, the saving of the salaries of chaplains, the discontinuance of the State proclaiming Thanksgiving, and the abolishing of a particular interference prohibiting Sunday work, and he would work for physical liberty. To this the editor seriously objects and shows how it kills Liberal Leagues by the introduction of discussion,thus depriving humanity of the benefit from the mental freedom which the American Secular Union could bestow by the restriction of such discussion. Concerning its effect on the American Secular Union, the editor is right; no organization can maintain itself as such if issues more live than those it supports are countenanced. The church would be ruined in six months by such a policy. It, however, is not a champion of mental liberty, and is not inconsistent in decrying discussion other than that sanctioned by its creeds. But if people persist in becoming convinced that it is more important that they should pay no taxes at all, than that they pay a little less than now; that any form of oath before a court is ridiculous; that the abolition of the salaries of the thousands of other equally useless and more harmful State officials is more urgent than that of the comparatively few chaplains; that the abolition of the laws which rob labor of all but the barest subsistence during six days in the week, is a more crying need than to be permitted only to fish on the seventh; if they thus persist, it falls upon the editor to point out their error. But this he cannot do. Not that he is less able than others; but because it would be a miracle. A position without facts is too hard for any one to sustain. But it has the advantage of being sanguinely popular.
The Philosophy of Egoism.
All the appetites and passions afford subjects for observation and study of the process traced in several of the preceding paragraphs, but it is not my purpose to give an exhaustive review of the various fixed ideas and facinations, or forms of mental slavery. I would suggest, as a useful exercise to the student of this philosophy of the actual, that other forms of subserviency to fixed ideas be analyzed as instances present themselves.
Sometimes it will be necessary to look beyond the individual experience of the subject. Indeed it is certain that heredity plays an important part in predisposing the individual to one or other craze, so that he falls into it when the inciting cause arises, or else in organizing him with well-balanced powers so that he happens to be happily proof against their influence. For example it may be interesting to the reader to take up for himself the passion of revenge, study its origin in the facts of warring species, families, and individuals, self-defense and precaution, habits of thought becoming fixed, the destructive propensity developed perhaps beyond the need of the individual in actual circumstances, while the sense of relation between means and ends is blunted or lost; consequently when some hurt is experienced or apprehended,—or it may be an insult to his “honor” or a bundle of altruistic beliefs,—the person seeking self-protection or vindication will act as if what has been destroyed were still to be preserved by annihilating the destroyer, or on a menace he will act with the energy of concentrated race experiences, and in sympathy with his family, nation, or race will generalize an injury to someone as being precisely the same as an injury to another or to himself, though in the case it may be really otherwise, as a cool judgment might determine. Thus what is primarily self-defense leads, under the influence of this passion, and perhaps quite as often or oftener than philanthrophy, to the sacrifice of his own life by the subject. Such action has the mark of that supernal Altruism already abundantly illustrated and clearly distinguished from a rational Altruism consonant with the reign of self-interest.
We have now dealt with Altruism as fact, but we have yet to consider it as a preachment of duty. Before entering upon a consideration of the claims of the preachers of “moral duty” and showing what their alleged obligatory Altruism is,—putting it to the test, whereupon I apprehend that it will be found to be easier for a man to pass through a needle’s eye than to enter into the moral kingdom of heaven,—I wish to anticipate an objection or criticism which some reader may have raised in his own mind while we were discussing the illustrations of fixed ideas. The miser took pleasure in hoarding gold, but because he was under a fixed idea I classified him as in the bad sense altruistic; yet for an individual to act under the rule of pleasure is Egoistic. This is the seeming difficulty. It is resolved, of course, by disregarding verbal quibbles. The mesmerized subject seems to act as an individual but he is under a foreign control. The miser seems likewise to act as an individual but he is intoxicated or mesmerized by the force of the idea which has obtained an ascendency incompatible with the reign of individual reason.
A further remark seems appropriate here, and I have brought this ease up partly to explain how far the philosophy of Egoism differs from the logomachy of the moralists, who, not content with dividing men into sheep and goats, would be glad to divide ideas of facts in the same way and on the lines of their own prejudices. With them the facts must be opposites, absolute opposites all the way through, if there be opposition in them in some relation. They have right and wrong, good and evil, Altruism and Egoism in their brains as opposites. Though nothing in fact is simpler to sound reason than the conformity of the crazy man’s conduct to the order of the sane man’s conduct, barring the substitution of an abnormal motive which practically supplants individual reason, the genuine moralistic theorist does not want an analysis of the facts. He is on the lookout for some peg whereon to hang a charge of inconsistency in argument. Verbiage is his stronghold for such occasions. He may be painfully surprised to learn that we Egoists profess to find the altruistic subject manifesting Egoistic modes of operation as nearly as the nature of the craze will allow, and that we find in this an expected corroboration of the central fact of organized, sensitive existence. A little shock or whirl of this kind will prepare the less fossilized among my moralistic readers for the greater astonishment which they must undergo when they for the first time read of right and wrong as they will be treated in these pages, as conceptions having each a separate and independent origin and not logically requiring the usual forced moralistic treatment as if they were necessary and invariable opposites. Just at this point: however, I need only say that modest Altruism confesses its foundation and haughty Altruism is self betrayed, as surely as there is method in madness. Altruism is conspicuously selfish to make gains for Altruism. Method is a prime characteristic of sanity. There may be such madness as shows no method, but it is rare. The Altruism that contains no Egoistic alloy is still more rare if it exists at all. We have yet to look about and see whether it can be found and to examine whether or not it appears to be a vain profession of self-deluded men who have never contemplated the sacrifices which it would involve if consistently and diligently carried into action.
BY W. S. BELL.
What a farce is government! No it is something worse, government is the parental crime, the pandora box whence comes all social evils. It pleases the people, who are intellectually but children, to put plausible and flattering sentences in their mouths, as for instance—“a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” It is rather a government of politicians, run by bribe takers and bribe givers, and sustained by hordes of professional office seekers.
Whether you go to congress, to court, or to church the only constant factor in the administration of law and gospel is money. On which side is the larger pile? On that side you will find law and gospel. On that side you will find the new gospel of, “Damn the public.” Go to law with your neighbor or enemy and you will soon find yourself playing with loaded dice. Go to the almshouse, house of correction, jail, or penitentiary and you will find that the superintendents of either and all these institutions are exerting their best energies in trying to make the largest possible amount of money out of their positions. Why? Because they had to buy votes, or buy men who would buy votes for them. It costs a man a small fortune to get an office that has rich stealings connected with it. Elections are political jobbery. Every species of cunning, of treachery, lying, malicious libel are unscrupulously used to defeat an opposing candidate. Not unfrequently the greatest liar and biggest thief is elected to an office where it is expected he will devote his whole mind and soul toward protecting the interests of the people.
I need not emphasize the fact that all government institutions are manipulated by force and brutality. It is obvious that it could not be otherwise since all governments are founded and perpetuated by violence. The only protection worthy the name that government affords, is the protection of government. If it occasionally does some good by way of timely legislation or proper execution of laws, it is not because of any love it has for the people, but it is done out of the prudential consideration of self-interest,—self-preservation.
How do policemen protect us from the invasions of criminals? The policeman is anxious to excel. He would like to have a good reputation with his superior officers. How can it be done? If he makes but few arrests he will be suspected of shirking, hence the policeman has to have to his credit a good number of arrests. It is no agreeable task to arrest strong men, gamblers, and toughs. But tipsy men, and young people who are innocent of all intention to do any crime are easily handled, and as he follows the line of the least resistance, it is more to his mind to gather this class in. Here is a premium put on unnecessary arrests. “Probably not less than ten per cent of all confined in this class of prisons (lockups) for the first and trifling offense, or for no punishable offense at all; and the aggregate number every night shut up in them, throughout the entire country, can hardly he less than ten to fifteen thousand. Think of it! Not less than a thousand every night in the year locked up for the first time for a small offense, or for no offense. Not a few of them children—boys and girls under fifteen years of age, whose chief fault is that they have never known a parent’s love, never enjoyed the blessing of home.” (Altgeld’s “Live Industry,” p. 173.)
It is not an uncommon sight to see a drunken policeman clubbing some one whom he has provoked a row with; for if you say anything at all in reply to a policeman that he can construe into a defy, he is likely to collar you and drag you into the lockup, and charge you with resisting an officer. There are multitudes of cases in every large city, where drunken policemen have clubbed unoffending men, and many witnesses ready to testify to the fact, but the corruption of the political ring protects them. There are many cases where policemen have clubbed men to death, men who were conscious of having done no wrong. And nothing is done with these men. Some of them are put through the form of a hearing, but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they are not convicted. If they are punished at all, it is such a light punishment as to show the trial to be nothing more than a farce.
There is no redress to be had against an officer of the law, whether he be a policeman or a judge. They bar your way to justice—they themselves have taken possession of the temple of justice and converted it into a den of thieves. Still the temple remains,—her dome glitters in the sunlight, her walls are massive and grand—her archives contain the ancient law, the statue of justice from above the door-way looks down upon you, holding in her right hand the sword, and the scales in the left. But this temple is like the whitened sepulchers of old, fair to look upon but filled with corruption inside. And the deluded people think that somehow the courts are all right, until one of them is caught in the meshes of the law, and comes out singed or fleeced. Then he curses Judge Jones and the jury. He does not dream that judge and jury are not the primary cause of his misfortunes. He does not dream that government, no matter what kind of government it may he, is the cancer in society that poisons the whole body politic. He never suspects that all the institutions about him from congress down to a policewoman and police court are pregnant with invasion.
Another way in which government perpetuates crime is by the brutality of its officers. It matters not what kind of government you take whether it be civil or military, home, or school government, the supposed efficiency depends upon coercion, and coercion in the last resort means brute force. Prisoners heretofore have been treated as if they had no rights. And just here is where prison management, sustained by public sentiment, has made something worse than a blunder. The public has itself been guilty of committing greater crimes than those it vainly attempts to repress. But the criminal public is irresponsible, and so too is government.
It was supposed that the best way to preserve good order and complete control over the soldier, sailor, prisoner, child, and scholar, was to crush out the first and least symptoms of individuality. But the “crushing out” method has not been a success, and although prison government is vastly better than it heretofore has been, yet it is barbarous. The atmosphere of courts and prisons is still tainted with the spirit of revenge.
Formerly the prisoner was tortured. Torture was supposed to be the administration of justice. The beasts who inflicted torment were made cruel by the system of religion and government under which they lived. They supposed that torture would reform the criminal. The more he was made to suffer the more purified he would become. Millions of people believe the same thing today. The reformers have pointed out the insanity of such methods,—and although small reforms are effected—still prisoners are almost everywhere robbed of their rights and treated brutally. It is evident that cruel treatment is not reformative, but on the contrary, demoralizing. The prisoner who is abused cherishes savage and revengeful feelings. He thinks of escaping from prison, of shirking by feigning sickness, etc.
We have scarcely emerged from the time when flogging was a panacea for all delinquencies. The sailors were tied up to the mast and lashed. School children were flogged. In fact it was the pride and boast of the teacher to report a large number of his scholars that he had whipt. In the house of correction brutal whippings were common. And even in the almshouses and insane asylums the rawhide or club was used upon the refractory. Today the practice of painful physical punishments in schools is rapidly passing away, but it does not pass away so rapidly from our prisons. Not only because prisoners are more difficult to manage, and that superintendents of government institutions are less humane than teachers, but because government in every form is essentially cruel and brutal. It is government itself, arbitrary and irresponsible, that inspires officers with cruel and brutal feeling toward those under their control.
As we take away from the teacher the arbitrary power of punishment, he and his scholars make progress together. But so long as government remains it will be despotic, arbitrary, and cruel. Policeman, judge, and congressman get their places by “ways that are dark and by tricks that are vain.” The corruption of politics brings to the surface some of the worst men, and they become our rulers. Instead of government being made for the people, it is the people who are made for the government. Let us suppose a case of a man suspected and thrown into prison. After six months’ detention, he has a hearing and is proved innocent. He has lost six months’ time; he has suffered the dishonor of being cast into jail; his family has endured privations, and perhaps his health is impaired. After undergoing all this what does government do to right the wrong it has done? Does it attempt to compensate him for the loss of time? Does it do anything toward indemnifying him? Nothing. He is to consider himself happy that he escaped so lightly. He may not even complain too bitterly, for the “majesty of the law” might become incensed, and in that case the great American voter would be rearrested for “contempt of court,” and flung into prison again with an emphasis. He could then muse at his leisure how government moves in a mysterious way its wonders to perform, while it is protecting the loyal and patriotic citizen in the peaceful enjoyment of all his inalienable rights. No matter where we touch government, we find that it exists for the benefit of its officers, and not for the people. Whether we look at the legislatures, both state and national, at the courts or custom houses, or elsewhere, we find everywhere the persistent fact, that there is no good in government because its laws are mostly bad, and executed with a vengeance by bad men.
As a government institution, the postoffice is often cited to show what the government can do. And we see that one reason why the postoffice is a superior institution is because it is a purely business institution. Its officers are not exposed to such constant temptations of bribes as are the police, judges, congressmen, and custom house officials. But government, like cancer, spreads and poisons all it touches. Hence the postoffice was too good, the people had some liberty that was the pure article; accordingly, government enacts its Comstock bill, and now the postoffice and the United States courts are joined. The postoffice can interfere with and destroy the liberties of the people.
The district attorney shares with all other government officials in the desire to uphold government. To uphold the government is to keep the people down.
He has a case to prosecute. His success and popularity depend largely upon the number of cases he wins—upon the number of persons found guilty. In his case as in the case of the police judge and the policeman, the very animus of his office leads him to disregard justice. It is the perpetuity of government that most concerns him, and he is the government, or that part of it whose official existence he is most anxious to prolong. How obvious is it that man needs protection, and the protection he needs most is to be protected from the crime, cruelty, and barbarisms of government.
That our courts do not administer justice, we have only to take a case or two: a man steals a watch, and is sentenced to three years in the penitentiary, while another who steals a watch is sentenced by some other court to six months or a year’s imprisonment, and the third one who steals a watch gets clear.
One man knocks another down, and is sentenced to two years in prison; another kills his wife, and gets two years. And thus I might go on citing cases that happen every day, showing that our administration of law and justice is nothing of the kind.
Government is something we think we need, but when man advances to the point of individuality where he is willing to take the responsibility of his own life, the need of government will fade away. That day is distant, but that should not excuse us from assuming our own personal responsibility now.
With a pang as large as a two-inch sea-grass rope boring beneath my left shoulder, I spring to my feet and frantically apologize to our readers for not appearing last month. I was so exhausted by overmanagement that I couldn’t write a line. My wife is a strong-minded woman and insists on the privileges of a regularly appointed male husband, by working out at a salary and being served at home for its absorption. This leaves me in addition to having the children—of my neighbors educated, the management of my hope for future remuneration in our business; the management of my wife’s little niece and that of the other housework. I have to prepare my wife’s breakfast in the yawning and gaping hours of the morning, and manipulate our washtub and bathe the kitchen floor weekly.
For breakfast I lay a steak on a plate and with the end of a sharp caseknife jab it spasmodically both ways till I’m just out of breath. Then I melt in a spider some of the tallow which the butcher considerately leaves clinging to the steak at fifteen cents a pound. When all is popping hot I slap the punctured steak in and interestedly try to claw the hot grease out, that splashes into my eyes at every frying. In a minute all is ready, then I authoritatively brawl out for my legal companion to come and surround it before it gets cold, a remark with which many of my male readers are doubtless familiar. After she finally starts on the steak I set the clock on the table before her, showing fifteen or less minutes till her train comes. I then hunt from under the bed, behind the door, in the coal box, and from among piles of papers on the secretary, her purse, gloves, handkerchief, coat, umbrella, and rubbers, and prance nervously about assuring her all the while that she will miss the train. In all this, she being of a placid temperment, remains painfully tranquil usually late into the next morning. The train stops before our door, and at the last moment, with a triumphant smile and both hands she grasps the hand-rails of a car as the train moves away and draws herself aboard and myself a sigh of relief. I then dash either at the washtub, EGOISM’s cases, or go to the office of “Freethought” where I unravel and erect columns of type at so much per thousand ems and found—often eating the editor’s lunch. All these things combined, kept me out of the paper and caused me to long for an income so large as to enable us to hire a housekeeper or to eat at a good restaurant, to have a change of sheets for the beds, a new suit of clothes every spring, and to afford fire on both sides of the stove at once. As it is, I save fifty per cent on the coal bill by occupying one end of the grate with some fire-bricks; and by washing and drying the sheets between morning and night save a similar per cent in investment of capital, while I buy a ten dollar suit of clothes only every four years and a pair of shoes every spring. This is a system of economies which EGOISM desires to disestablish as quickly as possible, as it is unsatisfactory at home and knocks our neighbors out of income by shortening the demand for their product. Herein lies the cause of all the rule cry of our country.
The hornet-poking editorial on emotionalism in last month’s paper was another thing that occupied my time; it was so long that I could hardly get it in type before my birthday, which came off the thirteenth. I well remember twenty years ago when my father was thirty-three, and a young fellow only twenty-four unwisely attempted to hold him down. I wrote to father on my birthday to remind him that I was then as old as he once was, and that he is still stronger than I am. This will please him, and he may give me his gold watch when he is run down. We are not agreed in our ideas of existence. He does not subscribe for EGOISM, which is due to the carelessness of my grandmother, who was old-fashioned and kept no novels about the house except those by Moses, Paul, and others, all bound in one volume. These she allowed my father to read when he was quite young without telling him that the stories were fictitious, and he believes to this day that all the incidents therein related actually occurred, including even the sexual relations of Mary and the ghost. We are bringing up my wife’s little niece quite differently; we teach her that about everything is a lie except poverty, which latter proposition we demonstrate by daily examples.
My wife says I shouldn’t refer to myself and personal matters so frequently as I sometimes do in these communications, because, she says, other folks are not interested in my affairs. This is not, on her part, a well-verified statement, for my experience is that others are interested in my affairs, especially if that affair be gold or silver, an event, I must admit, now almost obsolete. But there are many other facts in my favor, prominent among which is Ireland and Hugh O. Pentecost’s interest in Mrs. O’Shea’s affairs. We have experienced even a more enthusiastic interest in our affairs; one in which it was necessary to repose on shotguns and revolvers to repel the sanguine solicitude showered upon us. These arguments I pressed in our discussion in a low, earnest tone, while I made a loud noise with some tin pans I was washing, and by this means carried my position uncontradicted. Those of our readers who wish to establish a “union of beings,” should try this method, for I am sure it would be more of a success in developing such a union than the union itself would be. We are willing to give our patrons advantage of such useful experience as we may possess.
This brings me at once to the purpose of this article, which is to call attention to some of EGOISM’s advantages. Being published monthly you will not be bored so often by it as with one which comes every week. If you wish to hobnob with your orthodox neighbors and assure them that although you are not clear on the certainty of their God, you are with them in their ideas concerning sexual relations, morality, and majority rule, it will rebuke you only monthly. If you wish to be compromisingly non-committal and seem very wise by eclectically assuming that the solution of the industrial problem is to be found halfway between all opposing theories just because they do Oppose, it will show you where such a position lies, only twelve times per year. If you wish to settle philosophical propositions by your emotions alone, it cannot laugh at you so often as other radical papers now published. If you wish to grope indifferently along while the collectivistic press miseducates, the capitalistic press diverts public attention from the real issue and monopoly tightens its grasp on your neck, this paper won’t exact your co-operation in spreading economic knowledge as a duty, but it may show you that self—preservation depends on your enlightening those around you. It will not beg you to save yourself, but will tell you that you are a fool if you don’t. Then it has another advantage. If you have. it on your desk or table, and your conservative neighbor them in and reads it, your sympathies will not be exposed thereby, for he will not understand a single sentence, and will regard you as a great thinker and student, which indeed you must be to read the paper at all, as witness the testimony of one of our San Francisco subscribers:
855–861 Bryant st., San Francisco.
GENTLEMEN EQUITY PUBLISHING COMPANY:—With the approaching new year, I desire you to discontinue sending EGOISM to my address. I approve of the paper, but have no time to read the same or better study it, as “Liberty” and the “Twentieth Century” give me sufficient food for reflection.
December 23, 1890.
That no careful reader can peruse “Liberty” long without finding something to reflect upon is clear to me, but what a person who has understandingly read “Liberty” for years finds to reflect upon in the “Twentieth Century “ is not so clear unless, like myself, he tries to determine whether Hugh O. Pentecost will come out of his emotionalism and sexual prejudice, or start a church embracing them. He could certainly find thousands of followers in this particular stage of emotional disturbance (I cannot say intellectual agitation). Mr. Boyer is no slave to the duty idea. Although the paper is a home enterprise and struggling in its infancy, he does not for the sake of the “cause” fool away four bits a year for a paper from which he has no time to disentangle the ideas. I defend him. He is in his equal right in so doing. His four bits are his own, and we have no claim on them whatever. He is not responsible for the paper being started here to be patronized. Besides he is already, as I judge from his address, doing business from several doors, and the industrial freedom which is our ideal, even realized, would scarcely improve his financial condition. As a matter of social self-projection I question the policy. If health and opportunity to exchange labor for money permit. the publishers of this pa per may in a few years have enlisted the interest of many intelligent people who will exert an influence, a partnership in which might insure a social appreciation more satisfactory than several dollars. For every lover of liberty cannot help appreciating whoever does something to forward such lover’s ideal, as witness yourself appreciating:
Burlington, Iowa, Dec. 20, 1890.
—————DEAR FRIEND:—I enclose express order for five dollars. Four of these dollars I wish to invest in Mr. Westrup’s lecture, “Citizens’ Money,” and the other dollar put to my credit for EGOISM. I will scatter this lecture around in this neighborhood, and possibly may do some good. Not very enthusiastic over the prospect however. Am very much pleased with your paper, or rather the Equity Publishing Company’s paper. San Francisco alone ought to support a paper like EGOISM. Not so strange though as the city of New York not supporting the “Twentieth Century.” Man is a slow-moving animal. I wish you good health and unfailing courage.
Socially, the self-projecting effect of this is in sharp contrast with that of the first letter, although both are self-projecting within the law of equal freedom. Every Anarchist who reads both will involuntarily applaud the latter and feel an impulse to reward the act in some way; something having been done for his cause he appropriates it as a personal favor. Besides, these seven dozen pamphlets distributed in that neighborhood will be read by as many or more persons, and undoubtedly by some who will appreciate the ideas and especially esteem those who maintain the same, to say nothing of gratitude to the person who brought them to their notice. And as all prefer to bestow material benefits upon their friends rather than upon strangers, these five dollars and more may be returned to the giver by such benefits, which otherwise would not have been directed that way. Thus does Cornelia Boecklin not only project herself in the satisfaction of extending her ideas, but wins friends and admirers abroad as well as at home, and stands a chance of receiving again even the value parted with in the first place. This is why I question the self-projecting policy of the writer of the first letter. If, however, he would not appreciate such consideration, and is as well satisfied without the particular benefits and pleasures which the course of the latter brings as he would be with them, then, barring the effect of enhancing industrial freedom, he is as well off as one could be in an opposite choice, and has so much more for a rainy day which is doubtless already well provided for. But most people enjoy esteem and need industrial freedom. For these there is but one paying course.
Although Mrs. Boecklin liberally patronizes, far from her home, an enterprise espousing her cause, and Mr. Royer declines to patronize at home an enterprise similarly related to him, she is no more dominated by the “duty” idea than he is. She avows that man is a slow-moving animal, and that she is not enthusiastic over the prospect, but she well knows that even the slow move will not be made unless something is done to cause it. The many are moved only as they are acted upon by the more intelligent few, and when the intelligent are fastened in the social mire with which the ignorant flood them, it may pay to act vigorously. This Mrs. Boecklin perceives, and running the risk of accomplishing nothing tries the experiment for her own satisfaction at least. It is only a question of self-projection, and surely such projection is most complete when we exchange that which is less pleasant for that which is more so. Therefore when we have more goods than we need it is wiser to generate good will with the surplus than not to utilize it at all. And young people who spend money to circulate economic literature, if they distribute it wisely, are likely to be making a profitable investment; profitable, not by exploitation of others, but in changing conditions to prevent exploitation by others. So ardently do we desire to see the light spreading go on that in addition to spending all our savings on it we feel like a whole country full of appreciators when occasionally some one gives the cart a boost.
The type has about run out or I would go ahead and show our readers just how five thousand picked ones could spend five dollars each in EGOISM and its book list, and be five hundred dollars better off in ten years than they will be if some one does not. Those who do not believe that such readers would be “picked” can make a number of people deliciously happy.
New Year’s came and was unusually severe here this time, as the minute it struck us it set the semi-barbarians among whom we live to whooping, shooting, and blowing horns and steam whistles in such a manner as would put a Chinese eclipse demonstration to shame. We are truly a great people.
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 nothing 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.