Georgia & Henry Replogle
Egoism Vol. I. No. 10.
A few months ago we printed an edition of the Chicago “Mutual Bank Propaganda” in leaflets and offered to send them out for distribution at a price that little more than covered postage. Alfred B. Westrup took one-third of the edition, and a man in Oakland ordered a hundred, which was the extent of their sale until Mr. F. A. Matthews, of London, ordered the rest. As indicated by this, our native brethren are a lively set.
George Macdonald’s Uncle Benj. R. Tucker, published on January 28, “Church and State,” a new volume of essays on social problems, by Count Leo Tolstoi. “Church and State” is translated directly from Tolstoi’s manuscript. It was written several years ago, but it being the author’s boldest work, severely denunciatory of the powers that he, he has thus far kept it in manuscript in consequence of the arbitrary regime existing in Russia. Now, however, it is published in the United States. It is an assault upon both Church and State from the standpoint of Christ’s teachings.
Moses Harman has been sentenced by Judge Philips to one year’s imprisonment on the O’Neill letter, and the writ of error trial is yet to be heard from. Steps for an appeal to the United States circuit court on writ of error were taken by Mr. Harman’s attorney, pending which the prisoner is at liberty on his own recognizance. Thus a man so upright and honorable that the courts and State officers allow him his liberty at their own risk, is permitted by the social guarantee of protection to life and property, to be dragged about and persecuted at the instance of a few semi-barbarians who have just intelligence enough to touch the button and set the law mill grinding for personal revenge.
Having in previous issues published extracts from Oscar Fay Adams’s articles in in the “North American Review” on the “Mannerless Sex” and the “Ruthless Sex,” we publish in this number his article from the same journal on the “Brutal Sex.” As in the case of the others, while not indorsing his ideas of implied conventional virtue, we regard the general tenor of the production as excellent. The brutality of the male sex is undoubtedly due to a race experience of physical combat in assuming the additional subduing responsibility in the struggle for existence which woman has incidentally been forced to leave to man with her liberty owing to the disabilities imposed upon her by the breeding function.
“Fruits of Culture,” by Tolstoi, the publication of which by Benj. R. Tucker, was announced in our last issue, has been received and read. It is a drama and therefore a little tedious to read, but well worth the pains. It vividly reproduces our experience at spiritualistic seances, and we advise Ex-Medium Dr. Bouton of Liberal, Mo., to get a copy. The spiritualistic part of it could be more thoroughly appreciated by him than any one we know of. This is not its only merit though. It presents fine illustrations of the vague idealism and often indulgent disposition of idle aristocracy as well as its weakness and cruelty, and sets forth in hold relief the rakish character that underlies the transparent veneer of its young men, along with the contemptible frivolity of its feminine dronery. The ingenuity of servants and the simplicity of peasants each come in for a goodly touch of the eccentric author’s pen. It contains 185 pages and sells in cloth for 50 cents; paper, 25 cents. Address Benj. R. Tucker, Box 8366, Boston, Mass.
EGOISM announces with delight that Alfred B. Westrup has secured funds with which to push the Mutual Bank propaganda vigorously. An office will be opened in Chicago and printed matter distributed in every direction. Now is the time for the friends of this, the most important economic, factor, to lend a hand and work this opportunity for all there is in it. If every reader of EGOISM will put himself in communication with Mr. Westrup and co-operate with him by doing that which is impossible for Mr. Westrup to do; that is, see to it that the literature is distributed to every person in his neighborhood, and likewise distributed by bis friends in other communities, such an impression can be made on the public mind as will date the beginning of a movement ending in a not hopelessly distant victory. This will be the opportunity; wisdom enough on the part of reformers to “catch on” is the only other requisite. Let us be wide awake upon his further announcements!
The members of the old National Liberal League had always been so accustomed to a spontaneous conducting of their work, and also to regard their constitution as a kind of literary production without binding force, that they were easily led by their conservative and puritanical president, Judge Westbrook, into amendments to it which they cannot indorse as he interprets them. But with the parliamentarian’s brutal cunning he attempts to bulldoze them into keeping their contract when they protest against pandering to the champions of a superstition they believe themselves organized to oppose. The thing is sustained by voluntary taxation however, and they can let the legal light run it at his own expense if they wish, while they re-organize to suit themselves. Now if he could compel them to pay in their money or give up their lives and money both, they would have a sample of what Anarchists are continually subjected to by the State, with the Secularists’ full consent. The Anarchists dare not withdraw their support from the State and proceed to secure protection from adequate sources and at competitive rates, but must submit to taxation, plundering by State-created privilege and regulation more tyrannical than the church would impose upon the Freethinkers, who indorse and defend all its social and moral codes. If they were half as anxious to learn from this a lesson of liberty as they are to teach one to the church, they would soon be found trying to wrest the sword from the beast instead of importuning it not to strike in their direction.
The religiously respectable president of the sexually respectable American Secular Union is evidently an old, weary, and correspondingly virtuous man, and seeks to protect the Secularists against their wives and daughters by sending among them a field secretary whose weariness their charms cannot tempt into unconventional familiarities. He evidently believes Charles Watts to be perhaps the only Freethought lecturer of this kind. In this he may be correct, as Mr. Watts has also lived probably a half century, and if we mistake not, legally experienced in this latter part of it a companion much younger than himself, which in removing curiosity concerning such youthful favors would be an additional safe-guard. This prospect the Secular husbands and fathers would hail with joy. They could rest assured on the one hand that they would not be murdered by the field secretary in order that he might rape any chaste wives and daughters, while on the other they would know that however ungovernable these women’s passions might be, and whatever seductive wiles they might exercise, they could not tempt from the president’s chosen an adulterous response, for he will be a man who can be “trusted in our families.” This might be true of any Freethought lecturer were it not for this lewdness which President Westbrook’s imputation implies on the part of the women. For are we not safe in assuming that not one out of a dozen such lecturers would kill their patrons in order to assault their wives and daughters. And if they would not there could be no danger without the willing co-operation of the women. One thing is certain, Mr. Westbrook cannot remain popular among female Secularists, for if his solicitude is well-grounded they will feel cruelly deprived, and if it is not so grounded it is a slander they will not be slow to resent when they realize its logical import.
Money Lending at Present.
Reading the article by Mr. Westrup on “Scientific, Against Religious Methods” I agree with him that Mr. Pentecost’s treatment of the interest question is unsatisfactory. It is so not only because a sentimental consideration predominates in Mr. Pentecost’s presentation of the case, but also because that presentation is very incomplete.
The man who by economy and self-denial has saved $1000 has probably done much more than $1000 worth of work in exchange for that sum. His labor products are somewhere in the mass of wealth and not his possession. While he has the money there exists a suspense account between him and capitalistic society. Let us assume that it has $1500 of his product. If now necessity compels him to spend his $1000 for immediate support, he has lost $500 worth of his labor. But say this man is not compelled to spend his $1000. So much the better for him. He has been underpaid in amount, but paid in a privileged money. The possession of it affords him a prospect or chance of ultimately getting $1500 worth of products,—or what he has earned. We can leave out of account the unscientific nature of the arrangement, which may give him more or less, while we are analyzing a pretense that the man is not entitled to more than $1000 worth of products. The persons who paid him in money could not pay him in full, because money was with them a scarce thing. They paid him a sum with a potentiality of recovering from society the balance due him if he can wait. This is one point which Mr. Pentecost has not considered.
If now he lends his money at interest he is told that he will be appropriating from among the borrower’s goods a sum that he will have done nothing to earn. Has the borrower no judgment about that? The lender who saved “by economy and self-denial” has already earned more than he lends if he lends without interest, for he has earned $1000 worth of scarce, interest-commanding money, which is a very different thing from earning $1000 in a free currency that would represent only labor value and that value fully paid up at the time. But the principal point to which I now wish to direct further attention is in this question: from whose goods is the interest taken? Mr. Pentecost says from the borrower, and he means it strictly, of course, for he suggests a loan without interest; a loan, mark, of this very monopoly money which one has worked disadvantageously to get. But the fact that the borrower pays the interest and has more left than he would have if the loan had been refused, may be deemed proof that the interest does not come out of the borower’s goods. It comes out of the general stock of wealth through the borrower.
One must smile when one hears the assertion that the borrower under the present regimen performs for the leader a service for no equivalent. The borrower who could get money without interest would compete with others who have to pay interest and would put so much more profit in his pocket.
To view this subject the better let us suppose that the owner of the $1000 locks it up instead of lending it. Mr. Pentecost has aroused the man’s conscientious scruples or his pride and he will not take interest, but he does not feel in duty bound to lend, neither willing to allow another to perform a gratuitous service for him, and after all he is not such a ninny as to pay the borrower for taking his precious monopoly money and exploiting society with it. So he does nothing. Now society has provided little currency and has not calculated upon men’s refusing interest, what will be the effect of locking the money up? That the would-he borrower may seek elsewhere, with a tendency to higher interest; that some labor seeking employment will come to a stand; and that while the owner of the money will not draw from the general store any products in excess of $1000 valuation the interruption of labor caused by his withdrawal from circulation of $1000 in money under present circumstances will arrest production so as to leave the total stock smaller than it would have been if he had accepted interest and let the money go into circulation. These points also Mr. Pentecost does not touch upon, yet they concern one taking any comprehensive view of the subject.
There is one expression used by Mr. Westrup which is perhaps questionable. He says: “It is the very essence of Egoism that if the ends sought by Altruists are ever attained they will be reached through Egoism.” I think that nothing which is contingent or doubtful can be logically of the essence of Egoism. But I will take it that Mr. Westrup means: the essence of Egoism is such that an inference may be drawn to the effect mentioned. With this understanding Egoism is logically as independent of any process of negation or deliverance from altruistic dogmas as Free thought is independent of any negation or deliverance from the dogmas of Christian or other theology. The transition stage, however, presents certain phenomena in modes of expression and in eagerness by the individual to vindicate his new tenets with special comparisons. A general unconcern about any sort of Altruism that does not seem to interfere with the enjoyment of life will be found to characterize the mature Egoistic mind. With Mr. Pentecost Egoism is probably as yet a theory rather than a condition—a theory which he perhaps understands well enough and which he would have applied better if he had looked carefully into the war plicated question of money as it is.
“There’s Plenty of Money in the Country!”
So far as I have been able to discover, there has been no attempt to reconcile the recent financial phenomena with the teachings of the professors of political economy. The popular journalists are all lord Dundrearys. To them the ways of finance are like those of an “Inscrutable Providence”—“something that a fellow never can find out.” Listen to the wisdom of one of the great lights of this city. Under the subdivision “Financial” in an article headed “The Commerce of 1890,” today’s “Tribune” says:
The year 1890 was full of financial anomalies. The rules regarding the course of the money market which experience had more or less clearly established were turned upside down. Events played havoc with the predictions of the most experienced financiers.
This is what one might call giving themselves away. It is in fact quite refreshing to thus have them confess their own stupidity. Indeed it would be difficult, if not impossible for the opponents of the present money system to write in as few words a more withering sarcasm than these utterances from one of its avowed champions. If the “Tribune’s” statements mean anything, they mean that the popular theory about money is not worth the paper it is written on, and that its most experienced experts are entirely unreliable. But not withstanding all this the sleepy old thing does not know that it is exposing the very worst features of the system all through the article. Boasting of the ability of the bankers to maintain high rates of interest, as though scarcity of money and high rates were not an incalculable detriment to the general welfare of the country, it says:
In January the rate for call money was held firmly up to 6 per cent and the discount rate kept steadily at 6 to 7 per cent. Easier rates were confidently looked for as the season progressed, but the increasing demands of borrowers held down the surplus and bankers found no difficulty in keeping 6 per cent the minimum rate...... The half year closed with all business in a whirl of unprecidented activity, and with the resultant demand for funds that began to bring out the opinion that there was not money enough to comfortably do the business of the country when business was pitched at such an extreme rate of activity...... Borrowers found themselves closely questioned regarding the use to which they intended to put the money they asked for...... And it mattered little what security he proposed to offer. In August came the first really startling deviation from the usual course of the market. Instead of the moderately easy money that generally comes with midsummer the New York money market got into a state of stringency that carried it to the verge of a panic and the local situation was empathetically affected though in a much less degree. It was less the result of financial laws than it was of financial fears.
Here we have a paper, sustained by the general public, whose interests it utterly ignores. It complacently relates that bankers can maintain high rates of interest and can even refuse to allow you to go into business if it does not suit their purpose; “borrowers found themselves closely questioned regarding the use to which they intended to put the money they asked for, and it mattered little what security was offered.” It would seem pertinent here to inquire: if borrowers put up satisfactory security what business is it of the lenders what they do with the money they borrow? How does it come about that bankers are in a position to dictate to borrowers? That they are is made very evident by the “Tribune’s” statements if such evidence were necessary. Imagine a pawnbroker demanding of a customer: “providing I lend you the sum of money you wish to borrow on your watch, what are you going to do with the money?” Has this generation lost that independent manhood that revolts at such invasions of personal liberty, that should rise up and interpose resistance, even, to such intermeddling with what belongs to another? What constitutes the right of private property? What has become of the spirit that a few years ago was so lend in its anathemas against the Paris Commune?
“There’s plenty of money in the country ! ” we are often told. But to those who care to use their reason, we ask: of what use is it, even admitting it to be true, which we do not, if rates are too high to make it profitable to borrow, or if a certain class of citizens have it in their power to determine whether you shall be allowed to borrow or not? Industry, husbandry, and commerce are being strangled to death by the cords that the money power has wound around them by means of the superstition that State control of money is essential. The explanation to all this is that the people as well as the journalists are most woefully ignorant on the subject.
An editor of a daily paper once said to me while discussing this question of money with him; “but you are mistaken in supposing that we are reformers; we are Bohemians; “we are here to make money.” “YES,” I said. “that is what I supposed, the only difference between us is that I don’t believe you are following the course that will make the most money.”
ALFRED B. WESTRUP.
Chicago, Jan. 1, 1891.
A Daily Paper’s Socialism.
The “Chronicle” of Jan. 25, contains an editorial on the “Growth of Socialism,” and defends in a non-committal way the idea of social equality. This will be encouraging to the State Socialistic agitators of this coast. To Anarchists it is simply a landmark; it indicates that the agitation so long ago begun, has been so constantly justified by the encroachment of privilege-instituted monopoly that it is being indorsed by a per cent of the population great enough to make a commercial consideration which can no longer be ignored by the money-getting daily press. But whether this influential agency becomes a help or a hindrance to early industrial freedom, depends upon how clear the publishers are in their ideas of economics and the fundamental basis of liberty. If they were clear on the economic question, they could, with a little concerted action on the part of the great ones,turn the tide toward the final adjustment of social freedom. The dread among the wealthy and among the intelligent in the middle classes, of Communism, is such that a clear statement of the inevitable result of the principle of political interference, would insure their vigorous support of Anarchistic measures and of the papers proposing and defending such. While a similar exposition of the effect of economic freedom on labor, would finally win the indorsement of the voting herd, when the struggle for social equality would be practically at an end. But the probability is that a majority of these publishers do not understand the question well enough to see that this course would be an incomparably better policy for them in the long run than any other. And such as do, or are willing to trust to a staff so understanding it, cannot stem the tide in competition with contemporaries who pander to popular prejudice and secure the support of the great industry of politics. Therefore Anarchists may safely regard this new agitating spoon in the social soup, as advantageous only in so far as it hurries on the lesson of political fully and the resulting reaction to freedom, which is the only hope in the absence of sufficient intelligence in high places to turn the tide now.
The “Chronicle,” while fully justifying the discontent of the impoverished, studiously avoids giving any clue to its idea of a remedy, if it has such an idea. It says Socialism “is not a question of State policy,” which would indicate anti-State Socialistic measures, but it also admits that for the strong to help the weak and the wise to care for the foolish is a duty, which betrays the old paternal beast at least as much as its other thought suggests the economic idea. Another evidence against its advocacy of the economic theory, is in an editorial of recent date vigorously condemning Stanford’s land loan bill on the grounds that a mortgage held by the federal government would prevent any State collecting taxes on such lands if the owners so chose. This is true, but a matter too easily remedied for an intelligent economist to base a rejection of the scheme upon without suggesting a remedy, either in an amendment or by substituting the mutual banking principle.
It admits that the growth of Socialism may not be wholly unselfish and that the favored in their foresight probably see the expediency of concession over unconditional surrender, and it further affirms that it is not worth while to inquire too closely into motives so long as the desired result is obtained. This annuls the duty idea, and carried to its logical conclusion must end in Anarchistic Socialism. I think also that the “Chronicle” has on its force men who can treat the subject from an impregnable position. What it will do remains to be seen. While I shall watch it with interest I shall be more surprised at a favorable than an unfavorable result. Ignorance and immediate dollar interests are generally constant factors, and may be even in a ten-story building.
This man suicided at Kansas City on January the 10th. I met and became acquainted with him at Liberal, Mo., seven or sight years ago. There he was known as Nicholas Brock, having shortened his name upon coming to America from Russia, where he was an officer in the czar’s army. He was an impressive person; very tall, erect in his bearing, and as tender and sensitive as a sympathetic woman. He had a fine intelligent face, and a high forehead with all the marks of mental cultivation, and was especially marked in the phrenologically indicated region of ideality. His was a dreamy disposition, and his worst misfortune one of those sympathy-craving natures with which association becomes a kind of oppressive obligation. This I believe it was that deprived him of the social appreciation that would have afforded him at least the opportunity to provide the necessaries of life, for want of which he ended the hopeless struggle. His ideas he formed rapidly, but English seemed to stick near the end of his tongue, which made conversation with him tedious to those not especially interested in these ideas. In spite of these things his susceptibility and appreciative manner attracted my interest and I learned to like him more than others did, but much less than would now be the case should I meet another.
He soon became weary of this freethinking community which was contented with clubbing an obviously non-existent God, and left the place, after which I never saw nor heard of him until I received a copy of the Kansas City “Times” with a two-column account of his suicide and the poverty-stricken condition that led to it.
According to the “Times,” he has lived in Kansas City for six years, and formerly worked in a cabinet shop,but for the last few months eked out a bare subsistence by repairing furniture, stoves, and cobbling shoes. From a letter written to a paper two months before, it seems he had tried to get into some of the communistic colonies, but could not because he had no money. All this it seems drove him to that final degree of despair in which be made the most deliberate preparations for the last act without leaving a solitary word to anybody. He sold his stove and bed the day before, with which he probably raised the means to buy the revolver that did the final work. In his room were only his books, covering a wide range in economic and socialistic matter, his trunk, a kit of stove repairing tools, and an upholstered arm-chair in which he was found with a 44-caliber bullethole in the middle of his forehead and a bulldog revolver in his lap. His pockets contained one dollar and eighty-three cents and a cheap silver watch. The books were piled carefully up in one corner and surmounted by the group picture of the Chicago martyrs. He was buried by the Kansas City Socialists who, as is usually the case found themselves more inclined to do a useless act to a dead man than a useful one for the same in life.
His chair was the only piece of furniture left, and this, in which he spent his last night, seems to have been retained on purpose for his last service. His room was in a building tenanted by a class of poor and illiterate Poles and Russians and his surroundings generally most miserable, but the old upholstered arm-chair and the books in the midst of this squalor, were at once an index to and a pitiful expression of the love of refinement within that battled so unsuccessfully with the poverty fiend while beastly and besotted wealth rolled in the luxury to which went the lion’s share of what he could get the opportunity to produce.
It is no wonder he took advantage of the possibility of death to escape the torture of a plundered life. I honor his good sense. He had tried it long enough. To look in helpless old age for opportunities that youth and strength could not secure, is the fancy of a weakening mind of which he was not a victim. A remedy was in his hands which he could apply and he did not fail to use it. If I fail to secure a better condition for myself at that age, I aspire to no more praise-worthy disposition of my case. He is in my eyes a model hero; he died for the only person worth his dying for—himself. The inharmony between his make-up and the world he must live in making his life to him a failure, he made death his success, while he set a towering example to other victims hopelessly crushed.
The Secular Bubble Punctured.
It has been some time since I last read the constitution of the United States clear through, but I remember there are some things in it to which many Freethinkers would object. Supposing a citizen is a Freetrader, he cannot give his full consent to the section of the constitution that says congress shall have power to lay and collect duties and imposts. That class of people called Individualists might oppose the greater part of the instrument. So far as I am concerned, therefore, the constitution is not in it. I would argue against a union of church and State, and the enforcement of the dogmas of both, first, because the State as we have it is essentially a tyranny, and second, because the church is a fraud. I can maintain these propositions Without appealing to a document from any of whose provisions I dissent. I would as strongly object to being held by the constitution as by the Presbyterian Confession of Faith The constitution may be sound from clew to earring, but l claim the right to question it. Likewise the Confession may be composed of eternal verities, but I doubt it. The question is arising in these days whether a State creed is really any more binding than a church creed upon people who have not subscribed to it. If I should say I objected to church and State union because the constitution forbade it, and somebody arose and inquired whether I should support such a union if the constitution enjoined it, I should hardly know what reply to make. On the whole, therefore, I prefer to take the ground that the dogmas of religion are false, and that we have as load a call to show their falsity when taught from the pulpit as we have to question their unconstitutionality when incorporat9d in the laws of the land. Religion in the constitution is a political question, and when we oppose it on purely constitutional grounds we are giving the church the choice of weapons; but when we declare that we object to ecclesiasticism in the State for the reason that ecclesiasticism is an imposture we take a position that is perfectly impregnable.—Geo. E. Macdonald in “Freethought.”
In still other words, the State is a tyrant and the church a fraud seeking to impose itself through the former’s brute force. Both are superstitions. Education alone can remove them. Let the State tyrant be removed, and the church fraud will be powerless. But the latter delusion dispelled, the State tyrant remains. The American Secular Union’s function is educational or it is nothing. In the face of majority rule its hedging for political influence is simply madness. If it could succeed it would only have carried the fire tongs out of the burning“ building. The human-devouring State with all its privilege granting and barbarous custom-perpetuating powers would remain, wearing even the laurels that the Secularists would have won; for if the politicians, such as they pray to for a recognition of their principles, are not the State these Secularists can make themselves the center of no mean interest by satisfactorily establishing such a fact. These things, as above indicated, the brains of the Freethought ranks realize, and if the Freethinkers wish to retain the co-operation of such men as well as the prestige their old guard won in the reform world, they had better wake up and look about them. The church may yet deride them for their orthodoxy on live issues.
The Brutal Sex.
When Mrs. Poyser, in the course of her memorial arguments with Mr. Craig on “the woman question,” wound up by admitting that, though women might be foolish, “God Almighty made ’em to match the men,” she supplied a statement of the seemingly unanswerable variety which her sex have not been slow to make use of in discussions regarding the respective merits or failings of the sexes. As Malvolio, however, when questioned concerning Pythagoras’s assertion that the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit a bird, replied that he thought nobly of the soul and in no way approved of the opinion, so I must declare that I think too nobly of woman to approve altogether of Mrs. Poyser’s theory and assent to its proposition that women were made to match the men. If it were true,then the human race were in a most parlous state. If it were true, then the masculine would not be the brutal sex.
To be cruel is not necessarily to be brutal, in the ordinary acceptation of those terms, however lexicographers may decide the matter for themselves. A person may be both brutal and cruel, or only cruel, or, again, only brutal. In ordinary speech we distinguish between the two words by applying the term “cruel” to merciless acts which seem to imply a definite amount of deliberate thought preparatory to their execution, and “brutal ” to similar acts committed without such thought and on the impulse of the moment. So it is that we speak of “refined cruelty,” but not of “refined brutality.” I have elsewhere intimated that women are often cruel; I should be sorry to believe that they could be brutal.
Cruelty is a defensive at tribute of weakness; brutality the vice of strength. The exhibition of these two traits manifests itself early in our human nature. Let any one observe groups of boys and girls at their separate games, and he will see among the former the brute nature asserting its presence with more or less vehemence, according to circumstances, in a free interchange of kicks and blows, while among the girls he will observe actions that are cruel rather than brutal, and which involve mental rather than physical distress. But it is the brutal rather than the cruel side that comes into boldest relief. And among men and women the same degree of difference exists. The stronger sex is still the brutal one.
With brutality is often blended a vein of reckless generosity, a doubtful virtue, the exercise of which often serves to moderate or even dissipate in the public mind the effect of the brutality. But this is somewhat aside from the main theme. It is not needful to go back to the past to sustain the assertion that the masculine sex, taken in its entirety, is a brutal one. We can find proofs enough of it close at hand in our own time. Nor need we take exaggerated instances of it, such as now and then shock us in Whitechapel atrocities or the acts of Stanley’s rear-guard in darkest Africa, or in the practices of semi-barbarous peoples. We have but to look at existing states of things in the most enlightened nations of the globe.
Among the rougher elements that form part of the social structure, we find most inhuman practices to be of common occurrence. Men think little of beating their beasts of burden most savagely, and nearly as often and as savagely, their unfortunate wives. The impulse to either act is in no way restrained by reason, and is simply the result of an outbreak of brute nature.
If the brutality of modern life touched no greater extremes than these and was confined to the lower strata of society, we might look for its elimination in time, for the progress of intelligence would supplement the workings of law. But brutality is deep-rooted in man’s nature; its motives are not the accidents of the moment in their source when its most baleful consequences are concerned, but among the fundamental passions of man.
Think for a moment what is implied in the single fact that in no part of the world is it deemed safe for a woman to go alone after dark, nor, in many localities, by day even. It is not enough to reply that woman must have a trustworthy masculine escort because she is timid. Why should she be timid? Under similar circumstances a man may fear the personal violence of an enemy or the loss of his money and valuables. A woman has to dread man’s “wildness and the chances of the dark.” In plain words, she fears that, if unattended, some man will seek to rob her of her honor. And is not this fear of hers an arraignment of civilization itself? How much better does civilized man show above his savage brother in relation to this matter?
It may be urged that it is unfair to hold all men responsible for the lawlessness of a minority; but what is this but to confess that the majority are powerless to restrain the minority, or to say that improvement in this regard is impossible? If in the vicinity of every large town in the United States there lurked a dozen or more fierce wolves that, after nightfall, went into the town and banqueted on such of the citizens as they could secure, we may without much doubt assert that such a state of things, when once found to exist, would come to a speedy termination; for every man would feel that the common safety of all demanded the exertion of his strength in the contest with the wild beasts. But let it be understood that the honor of every woman is endangered when she goes from place to place alone at night, and we accept the fact as no reproach on our common manhood, but merely fancy that all requirements of duty are satisfied if we provide defenceless woman with a responsible male escort.
But woman’s timidity is an inheritance, says some one. That is true enough; but is there no active present reason for its continued existence? Let any newspaper with its numberless accounts of brutal assaults upon women make answer to this. That the perpetrators of such crimes often meet with swift retributive justice at the hands of an enraged mob has little influence in the creation of a public opinion strong enough to make crimes of this kind eventually unknown, simply because public opinion, when it thus becomes the instrument of justice, is not worked upon by the nobler aspects of the case.
Crimes against property are always looked upon by the average man as more heinous than any others, and it is useless to deny that the average man regards his wife as his property. She is
“Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse,”
it is true, but his property nevertheless. The indignation which he feels on hearing of some assault upon a woman differs in degree, scarcely in kind, from the horror with which certain frontier communities regard the crime of horse-stealing. In each case the sin is committed against property. In the frontier town every man feels that his own property is in danger while the horse-thief is still at large; and similarly the average man argues with respect to his own wife while the ravisher goes unwhipt of justice. Hence his speedy resort to the swiftest punishment possible in each case.
But suppose the idea of personal ownership is not involved in any way, as it is, refine it how we may, in all instances of the kind first cited, or in all accusations of adultery brought by the husband against his wife. Suppose we consider simply one prominent attitude in which the majority of men stand toward womankind. And what is that attitude? Briefly and plainly it is that man’s physical welfare requires for his maintenance the moral rain of unnumbered thousands of women.
It is prudery to be shocked at such a putting of the matter, when we know that the practice of the average man is in fullest accord with the statement just made. Our age is easily shocked in certain directions, but our superior virtue is not incontestably proved by the fact that we are less plain spoken than our ancestors. What should most concern us is to see whether or no such a statement be true or false.
That it is a false or misleading presentiment I leave for others to maintain; that it is a true condensation of the theory held by the majority of men I do not hesitate to assert.
The tolerant attitude taken by many men of blameless lives towards sexual sins is often urged against them as a reproach by women. In this women are partly right and partly wrong. They are in the wrong because they are prone to magnify the guilt of sins of this kind so far above that of other violations of the rule of right living as thereby practically to ignore at times the existence of other sine. They thus exhibit a distorted sense of proportion in morals, and so weaken the influence they might otherwise exert upon the practice of men in this direction. But they are in the right to a certain extent in urging their reproach because the easy judgment passed upon sexual sine, even by men who have no motion of committing them, helps in its way to make the commission of those offences more readily possible.
Masculine society tacitly assumes that the overwhelming majority of men will not remain virtuous. It also assumes that a vast number of women must lead unchaste lives in order that the sexual appetite of the before-mentioned men may be gratified. Now see how differently the two sets of individuals involved in these assumptions are regarded by the world at large. The first-named are seeking the gratification of a natural instinct, we say. If the men are young and unmarried, we say “boys will be boys;” and if married, we are not very much inclined to severer judgment so long as there is no outraging of conventionalities. But if young women indulge in practices of this kind, we do not good naturedly excuse them by saying “girls will be girls,” or extend to them the same leniency of judgment passed upon their brothers; what is natural in the one sex appears to be‚most perverse and unnatural in the other. We forgive the one class read in enough, or even deny the need of the exercise of forgiveness: the other class we refuse to respect, if we be men, or if we be women, we refuse to forgive.
To tacitly admit that incontinence is, if not commendable, at least a very venial transgression for the male sex, but something quite opposite for the female sex, carries with it the practical confession that right thinking as well as right acting in relation to so important a matter is for the present unattainable. It is to admit, moreover, that man has made but very little progress from the animal to the spiritual in this respect in all the ages that have gone before up to the present, and it seeming involves the denial of the possibility of such advance in the future.
It matters little what advancement is made in any er all departments of human knowledge, or what increase or refinement marks our progress through the centuries, if men are to remain at the end of it all as essentially brutal in the satisfaction of sexual desire as the savage in his wilderness countless aeons ago. So long as the average man, refined or otherwise,persists in acting upon his belief that the physical well-being of his sex inexorably calls for the separation from the ranks of virtuous women of hundreds of thousands of their sisters, and the consequent moral ruin of these ministers to his pleasure; so long as he contentedly suffers this perpetual sacrifice to be offered up in his behalf, so long may ours be truthfully as well as sadly called the brutal sex!—Oscar Fay Adams, in the “North American Review” for January.
A Word of Mending and Defending.
How now, good EGOISM, wherein have my erotic stanzas offended? The “two concluding” you impeach, the implication whereof is that they are not “straight dox” with the Egoisticism. I do not think the reproach is deserved. I understand that it is the idea of ownership in those we love, that you think you discover in “my love,” “call me thy own,” etc., but the possessive “my” does not necessarily imply actual property ownership. Observe: There is not far from here a curious old-fashioned house, which perhaps saw Washington in the days when he dwelt in Jersey and dined, as tradition saith, with one of his generals in Westfield. In that house I was born, and I call it my birthplace. But I own it not, never did own it, nor any of my family; my father rented it, merely, at the date of my advent. America is my native land, but I do not own it. You are my friend, but not therefore my chattel. My neighbor is truly mine, yet not to buy or sell or control. Is it enough?
“My fawn of the woods, and my chosen”?
By the way, you mar one line:
“Saw I the form of the loved one,”
by omitting the word “one” after “loved.”
You were not so wrong, after all, in what you knew so soon. If the poems I sent you were not of EGOISM’s “siring” at least they, and many others, were of egoism’s siring; so what matters the lack of a big E where the big I is not forgotten. I—
J . WM. LLOYD.
Against our supposed position the argument would be overwhelming. But our objection was less serious. We enjoy with the discoverer the beauty of his picture and share the spirit of his desire to possess, but the subjective mood that induces him repeatedly to call her “love,” and such poultry as “dove,” is the point at which we want suddenly to go down town, or out to the orchard for apples—anywhere—we are not in it then, that is all.—[EDS.]
THE great lesson for the world to learn is that human beings do not need to be taken care of. What they do need is such conditions of justice and freedom and friendly co-operation that they can take care of themselves. Provided for by another, and subject to his will as the return tribute, they pine, and sicken, and die. This is true equally of women as of men; as true of wives as it is of vassals or serfs. Our whole existing marital system is the house of bondage and the slaughter-house of the female sex. Whether its evils are inherent or incidental, whether they belong to the essenee or the administration of the institution, whether they are remediable without or only by means of revolution, are the questions that have now to be discussed.—Stephen Pearl Andrews.
We live in Oakland over a German cigar store and Tutonic debate combined. The Tutonic debate is a joy and a thing forever, as it seems to me. As conducted it has many advantages over the method in vogue among English-speaking people. It saves fifty per cent of the time consumed in the ordinary method. It is also conducive to economy of argumentative material. To obtain these results both disputants talk as rapidly as they can and at the same time, thus accomplishing the task in one generation. The saving of material results from the fact that neither pays the slightest attention to what the other says, and thus can bring forward with confidence at the next meeting the same argument, which otherwise might have been exploded. This unconsciousness of any damaging evidence is also a protection against the humiliation and envy of defeat. I noticed the advantage in this particular when I was growing up. My mother’s parents were native Germans and strangely enough retained many of their former proclivities when stepping on American real estate. These their children absorbed more or less by one means or another. When my mother was married she embraced in addition to his person my father’s selection of religious prejudices, which were supposed to differ materially from those entertained by her father and brother. These variations of the master superstition were frequently discussed in the above described manner, and always ended in mutual and joyous victory to all parties until finally some written argument, which they were obliged to consider, passed between them, whereupon the umbilical temperature immediately fell to a pleasant absence of any religious solicitude at least.
Returning to the underlying debate of my present environment I do not complain of it bitterly; it disturbs me no more than anything else of equal capacity would. In volume and constancy it is like Niagara Falls, and being suspended over it at a high rent, it is as good as the Niagara suspension bridge, suspense, toll, and all. In this monopoly of location where is the unearned increment.
Not long since I found that I was standing before a case of type in the office of “Freethought,” environed by twilight and Mr. F. L. Browne, the foreman of that office, who sat patiently upon a stool by my side and affably threw together a notice of the Paine celebration since held in the city. My eyes rested upon an intelligible but unkempt page of manuscript from which I communicated to a composing stick the information that Ex-Governor Waterman had sued for slander a man who stated before witnesses that the governor had received in remuneration for the toil of pardoning prisoners, a contributed commission besides his regular salary. It was easy to see that if this gentleman had gone to a railroad station to meet a belated night train, or to some other place devoid of witnesses and made the statement, no further trouble would have followed. I therefore resolved to evade witnesses when I should have uncertain remarks to make about any one. I have since tried the experiment upon my wife and other acquaintances, and find it a smiling success.
In an after-dinner speech at the Manhattan Athletic Club not long ago Colonel Ingersoll said among some other good things that millions of people go from the cradle to the coffin without knowing what it is to live; they simply defer dying. Yet he preaches a policy of State interference with exchange which caused us to have my wife’s little niece take the pair of six-years-old three-dollar blankets we possess and disperse to the edges the large hole in the middle by sewing the more sound former edges together and nipping from the hole of the former center to each end. My wife sprung this upon us, and it makes a pair of much narrower but far less etherial blankets than in their previous condition. It also illustrates the beauties of a protective tariff and furnishes at the same time a recipe for retaliation upon privileged mutton covering. If Lagersoll’s wife’s little niece had thus to combat the effects of protection he might see the inexpediency of taxing one laborer to “educate” another in how capital takes the legal plunder from both, while he shivered in the attempt to warm an unreciprocal cotton sheet to the responsive glow of an unprotected new woolen blanket. There is a difference in view from the point at which I stand before a case or washtub, and the one at which he sits before a well-loaded table, or in a revolving chair. He has a way of seeing too exclusively in directions.
Rose Terry Cooke, an authoress about whom I know as little as about any other department of literature, says: “I would not advise a girl, even with the strongest taste that way, to attempt literature as a means of living. It is the hardest work for the poorest pay a woman can do.” My experience, though oppositely sexed, corroborates hers exactly in this particular. It is remarkable that persons with so much in common should be no better acquainted.
I have recently experienced two pictures strikingly alike in that neither looked much like what it claimed to represent. One was the photograph of a potato, and the other a woodcut in the San Francisco “Chronicle” purporting to be a likeness of my friend W. S. Bell reading the resolutions for the California State Liberal Union, which held its third annual convention in this city on the 29th of January. Here I was impressed with the immeasurable blessing of letters. But for the fact that his name was announced beneath the illustration in emphatic italic type, I should have passed to the potter’s field without connecting it in any way with a daily associate. To be sure the pose from which the resolutions may have been read was at least duly abdominal, but the trouser-legs were too short. I have never seen them shrink from his well-polished shoes in that abnormally modest way. Neither have I seen his face thus unrecognizably convulsed. There were also some other pictures alleging to represent other participants with whom I am not familiar enough to judge as regards a faithful resemblance to the originals. But in the case of Mr. Bell the reporter’s camera was leveled at an unfortunate moment for those friends who have none of his photographs from an authorized edition taken during normal mental action. I know no kinder-hearted man than George Macdonald, who wrote the resolutions which Mr. Bell read, and I am sure that if he had realized that the propositions were so subtly qualified as to cause in grasping them, a contortion of Mr. Bell’s face that would draw the bottoms of his trouser-legs up to his ankles and cause him to be published to the world in that way, he would have had the resolutions promptly tabled. It was misplaced confidence on Mr. Macdonald’s part to prepare such abstruse resolutions for a convention of merely anti-Bible Freethinkers. And since it has resulted in an irreparable public misapprehension of my colleague’s face and feet I am inconsolable, and could endure to witness & similar illustration of Mr. Macdonald evicting from “Freethought” office the man who accorded to the editor an erroneous genealogy.
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.