Georgia & Henry Replogle
Egoism Vol. II. No. 3.
George E. Macdonald, former editor of “Freethought,” has severed his connection with that paper altogether, and gone to Snohomish, Wash., to take charge of a tri-weekly paper. His brilliancy besides winning him an enviable reputation in the Liberal world has secured for him a lucrative position in bohemian newspaperdom. He took passage with his wife and baby and everybody’s good will, on the 5th of July.
Last month we noted that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals had petitioned the board of supervisors for a monthly allowance from the people’s pocket, and we stated that appealing to popular prejudice gave it numbers, to which politicians must pander, and finally the society would be loaded squarely Upon the people’s back. All of this has not happened yet, but since that time an Oakland judge has decided that the society shall have all the fines collected from cases prosecuted by it, which besides the glory of charitable conquest, puts a financial premium Upon the tyrannical meddling that characterizes this Christian police philanthrophy. The victims are unpopular and with this incentive will be hunted down like wild beasts by this “humane” society.
Comrade Westrup’s suggestion to the Farmers’ Alliance embodied in the appeal printed on another page is in part anticipated by a few weeks in Kansas, where the farmers are organizing the subtreasury scheme by means of private capital. The plan is to organize banks with warehouses at which farmers may deposit their grain or any imperishable product and receive in the bank’s paper 80 per cent of the market price of the product, which is to be sold when the farmer orders it. This is a good start toward the Mutual Bank, as the banks’ paper may come in conflict with the law that imposes a tax of 10 per cent on all unprivileged money. If they engage and overcome this point the Farmers’ Alliance will not have existed in vain, and the road to free money will be well opened. The notes are redeemable in gold at any of the Alliance banks any time. This dependence on gold could put them to a great deal of trouble, as only 10 per cent is deposit-ed with which to take up notes, and if their enemies should buy up the notes and present them before the farmers ordered the grain sold, a nice little premium could be exact-ed by the furnishers of the gold. The Mutual Bank, which proposes to redeem with products—the only things anybody has any use for save a jeweler, would not be subjected to this danger, nor be limited in its issue to the amount that can be redeemed with gold.
But as the Alliance’s present proposition is not encumbered by legal regulation, this feature can be changed as soon as the public calf is strong enough to be weaned from the golden confidence. We would not be surprised, however, to find that this is a scheme of Alliance politicians to illustrate the workings of the system in order to more easily drive the legal spike. The only hope is that they may be brought to see that the illustration is more desirable than the legal scheme they wish to inaugurate through it. The illustration is in the direction of freedom; it will allow any addition, or striking from the list of products deposited, that the convenience or safety of the interested parties may require, while under legal regulation a bad security must continue until congress meets and is convinced, or a new and good one may be deprived of credit in the same way. Besides these unavoidable evils there is the looseness of official favoritism in loaning government credit on insufficient security, or requiring m ore than a sufficient amount from a political opponent, and also a fixed rate of interest which if above cost cannot be reduced by competition, or if below cost must be made up from the pockets of those who have practically no voice in the management.
Zola’s “Money,” hitherto mentioned in these columns has been read, sketched, and much pondered over, but it is hard to give a comprehensive description of it in any ordinary space. It is at once a camera and chemist of human conduct and motive. Zola not only describes the carnivora, from the den it inhabits to the changing reflections of its glossy coat, but he tells what it is thinking about and will do. He realizes that the human animal is a none too much evoluted wild beast on the front of whose skull the experience of ages has worn only a bright spot, and he exposes all the greed, ferocious brutality, tyranny, cunning, hypocrisy, ostentation, truckling servility, idealism, and stupidity embodied in the kings, manipulators, and victims of a modern speculative world. The cruel and the generous, the detestable and the admirable traits of each character are delineated with an analytical nicety and a realistic accuracy that make the reader live the life of each and absorb the apology for their shortcomings without for a moment losing sight of the expedient course that should have replaced undesirable conduct. With an eloquently-implied regret he rebukes the horrors and cruelties of financial conquest without the wearisome moralizing or the narrow hatred common to the critics of social outrages. He is not a world builder nor a hero worshiper. Even Caroline, the lover of life, intelligent, educated, experienced, unprejudiced, and the heroine of the most trying ordeals of the story, was in his critical eyes full of weaknesses between which she was, inconsistently with her ideal of life, constantly vacillating. At world building he strikes State Socialism one of his efficient implied blows but sensate to the difficulties of wide innovation, he offers no remedy for industrial troubles, contenting himself with painting in bold relief and sharp contrast the almost fabulous extravagance of the rich and the horrifying wretchedness of the poor, along with emphasis on the fraud, sham, and wholesale manipulating of the unsuspecting, practiced by speculators. Yet he describes with effective force the spirit of rivalry, the entrancing pleasures, the magnificent enterprises, and even humanitarian dreams that prompt men to speculate even by the most gigantic fraud. And it is this, along with his realistic repletion that makes Zola such an admirable and to us unequaled novelist. His plot embraces almost every shade of character constituting modern civilization, and he depicts the virtues and weaknesses of each with a disinterest as faithful as his realism is striking. Even his reference to Egoism, a subject that impulsive French blood might readily balk on, is characterized by this faithfulness to the spirit of the subject in hand. His Egoist, though not the expansive utilitarian of our ideal, is nevertheless intrinsically Egoistic and approval utilitarian in a comprehensive view of the subject. Although the story, true to life, contains a full complement of unsanctioned sexual alliances, the only woman rich or poor that gold could not influence was a little Freelover who contracted such association with desirable men just once through curiosity for pleasure alone. Saccard, his chief character, is a financial poet, a Speculative madman who dreams only of money—millions, power, conquest, supremacy, the prostration at his feet of “all great, cowardly, truckling Paris.” Ambitious, active, unscrupulous, assuming, an appropriator of other men’s ideas—of everything that came in his reach, he wove from his own and borrowed imagination such alluring prospects as placed at his service the means beginning a career of speculation and spoilation the incidents and characters of which in Zola’s masterly hands constitute the most startling expose of the power and tyranny of privileged money, the blind recklessness of stock gambling, and the ravenous greed of human avarice that we have read. We regard it as the ablest in our list, although no one can afford to be without the intensification of thought and feeling generated by all of them. The price of “Money” in cloth binding is $1; paper cover 50 cents. It may be ordered from us, but judging from the past, we think it doubtful.
Moralism Necessarily Criminal.
Such generally acceded principles of civilization as this age sustains are based on the law of equal freedom and maintain their solidity through the spontaneous support that the approximatively equal mental and physical strength of individuals involuntarily accords to the idea. So irrepressible is this rule that institutions organized to impede its operations affecting some parts of society, are immediately compelled to recognize it among their own members in order to hold together, illustrating that it is the fundamental principle of social existence. And if it is the fundamental principle of social existence, a violation of it is the fundamental social crime, and the first and in fact only one calling for restraint; for where equal freedom is not infringed there can be no rational complaint since the existence of an object enforces its occupancy of space.
It follows then that whoever does not violate the equal freedom of another is in no way amenable to another, and his actions are no more subject to restriction so far as the other is concerned than if neither actions nor that other existed. So to interfere with any one who is thus acting within the bounds of equal freedom and make him do what he does not wish to do, is to invade his equal freedom. And as people do not need to be forced to do what they like, it follows that there is nothing left for Moralism to do but to force people to do what they do not like, and thereby violate their equal freedom. And it is this fact that makes Moralism necessarily criminal, however popular it may be. Some may claim that enforcing equal freedom by restraining invasion is the Moralistic function, but that would leave the Moralists without a name for the major part of their action, which is not based on equal freedom, but is an obvious violation of it. It would also have to drive the term “equal freedom” out of use for want of an idea to represent, while it left the invasions of Moralistic practice as undefended as before.
The plausibility of the theory that Moralism is necessarily invasive because there is nothing else left for it to be, is fully substantiated by the facts of its practices. Take the instance of the State’s love of others’ welfare in securing for “society” a “sound” exchange medium. It intrenched interest, and placed the control of trade in the hands of privileged property owners by depriving all except one kind from being represented in exchange by certificates, thereby violating the equal freedom of almost the whole community to the extent of the whole deprivation and misery of idle, and of underpaid labor. But for this piece of Moralistic authoritarianism there would be no labor question today. Simple, spontaneous, equal freedom would have made a garden of what is now desert, and feasting and vigor would reign where starvation and lingering death hold sway in the midst of unparalleled production. All is due to that popular and overweaning solicitude for others’ welfare which hesitates not at violating their equal freedom even to the extent of taking their lives for their own good. A recognized enemy is readily repulsed, but palavering Moralism with its scoop-shaped sympathy for abstract society and its contempt for the individual, is not suspected. In the name of the “general good” it can systematically violate equal freedom with its coercing of the variability of genius into the deep-trodden trails of majority mediocrity.
Take for instance its invading proclivity in sexual relations. It will persecute to the grave participants in the most spontaneous and voluntary sex association imaginable, while it defends and perpetuates asexual institution productive of and practicing the most outrageous of invasions. One which forces women into almost continuous maternity through the best years of life, sapping their strength, monopolizing their time for intellectual improvement, and leaving them eitherin the grave or impulseless and uninteresting machines living only to envy pleasure and disperse joy. And men with splendid social natures and fine intellects capable of spreading pleasure and enlightenment in the most effective manner, are harnessed to jealous frames, hedged in by commonplace ideals, and driven from the enrichment of social life to money gathering drudgery and “family duty.” It also countenances the forcing by strong men of weakly wives into nothing less than actual rape. But if men and women of equal strength and willingness seek pleasure without the slavery attachment, it imprisons and persecutes them until their lives are unbearable.
A conspicuous local instance of Moralistic meddling is the case of the Oakland pool-rooms. Here certain men have arranged conveniences for gambling, and certain other men stake their own money on races at odds great or small, winning or losing as the case may be. They are not compelled to gamble and if they failed to go to the rooms at all, the pool-sellers would not capture and carry them there. Those who go can stop at any time. Everything is voluntary and no one is invaded in any way.
How different the conduct of the Moralists. Instead of going about the pursuit of gaining independent livelihood and pleasure, as equal freedom requires, they were found an pealing to the State club to drive the uninvading pool-sellers out of the town. Failing in this they at once set about defaming the city council and creating antagonism and bad blood where peace and at most disinterest had hitherto prevailed. This proving fruitless they sought to injure the patrons of the rooms by publishing their names for the purpose of injuring them in business and social advantage through the prejudice against gambling. And all this in a matter that was none of their business whatever, since it violated no one’s equal freedom, while they did everything in their power to do so by trying to have the pool-room men removed by force.
It is admitted that the pool—rooms are no more advantage to the city than the churches, preachers, and politicians, but the Moralists have said nothing about driving out the latter because of their uselessness. The pool-sellers in particular are harmless beside the politicians who force the unwilling to patronize them. Yet the Moralists defend the latter. They defend the terms of privilege which constitute the State a great pool institution through which a few win while the great mass loses—a game in which all must stake or die. There is no freedom to let it alone as with the pool-rooms. It compels you to stake when you are sure to lose. And it is this flagrant violation of equal freedom that makes it criminal, where at worst the pool-sellers’ game is only foolish for those who lose. And in confirmation of the theory advanced, it is the criminal game that the Moralists defend, because their function is not needed to make people do what they like by following their interests.
The Young Men’s Christian Association clubs are now giving stereopticon exhibitions of the Johnstown flood. Thus God, besides killing a lot of human fowl, kills two other birds with the same stone by exhibiting his divine wrath and filling his treasury at the same time. This suggests his Jewish heredity.
California has modestly secured only one-fourth of the space allotted to state exhibits at the World’s Fair. This will be plenty of room in which to exhibit its massive pumpkins, energetic fleas, and marvelous beets, but I fear that sufficient provision has not been made for its principal production—real estate boom. The beets referred to do not include the beats of the real estate transactions. Like our big trees, the latter would have to be transported in sections. A sufficient number can be produced right at the exhibition, while you wait.
The mayor of Oakland recently appointed a homeopathic doctor to fill a vacancy on the board of health. The appearance of a strange fowl in the allopathic barnyard caused a regular stampede and all the old force threatened to resign—but they didn’t. The newspapers took up the cry and made much sport over some misspelled words in a death certificate made out by this man of “little pills” who aspired to sit in council with doctors whose prejudices are as strong as their medicines. It strikes me that these allopathy doctors have as much to learn about the rational treatment of diseases—of course prevention is no part of their business—as the homeopathic doctor has to learn about orthography. The difference in the number of death certificates the two schools have to issue would be one solution for the difference in spelling.
About six months ago a young man well stocked with flattery and gall canvassed the aristocratic residences of Oakland and succeeded in selling to a great many women books in sets of four each, at $36 per set, by representing that the amount would be collected in installments at the rate of five cents a day. He had them sign what purported to be two receipts, one for himself and another for the company. One of these proved to be a promissory note for the full amount, which was presented recently by a collection agency for the women to pay. In reporting the affair the Oakland “Tribune” said:
The cause of woman’s suffrage has received another setback, and the superiority of man has again been demonstrated. A red-headed book agent has swindled nearly all the lady leaders of Oakland society.
This is remarkable! But when farmers, for the purpose of ridding their locality of troublesome birds or insects, sign purported contracts which they afterward discover to be promissory notes, their verdancy is attributed to inexperience, not having been rendered cautious by business competition and commercial trickery. But when women who have had no business experience are caught in the same net it is due to their sex and inferiority. No one ever heard that the farmers were unfitted for suffrage on account of being victimized, nor is there anything to indicate that they are, since they have failed to show themselves bigger fools than their city brethren at throwing away liberty. But how women could do worse than either would be an interesting piece of illustration.
As evinced by his attitude on the “obscenity” cases of Elmina D. Slenker and Moses Harman, and later the persecution of C. L. Swartz, at Topeka, Kansas, the editor of the New York “Truth Seeker” appears to be considerably afflicted with sex superstition. This has caused him to say some things of Mr. Swartz that he will be less proud of as time passes. A “western correspondent” whom the editor seems particularly anxious to believe has in an assertive and prejudice-smacking paragraph informed him that the Kansas City Sunday “Sun,” for the selling of which Mr. Swartz is under arrest, is a blackmailing and libelous sheet which thrives by circulating social scandal, gathered by “backdoor sneaks.” Thereupon the editor rushes to the front to say that Mr. Swartz “ought to be buried a mile deep under libel suits, and whether he is held in bail in four or forty thousand dollars he gets nothing more than he deserves.” Mr. Swartz is not under arrest for circulating libelous matter, but that of “immoral literature,” just as a vender of the “Truth Seeker” might be charged if the church had at its command a blasphemy law. Blasphemy and immorality are alike real and alike criminal; the “Truth Seeker,” a step ahead of the church, has dropped one superstition and not the other, which is the only difference. Neither is it probable that the “Sun’s” reports are not as true as those of the daily press, a matter which venders can know nothing about. If the matter was generally true Mr. Swartz is not only Innocent of invasion, but indirectly a social benefactor as legitimately as any one who circulates the “Truth Seeker” or any other paper that exposes a hypocritical and tyrannous institution. If the“Truth Seeker” does not know that society’s pretension to chastity and its cruel attempts to enforce it are as unreasonable, hypocritical, tyrannous, and subversive of equal freedom and general happiness as are the claims and the practices of the church, it is because it closes its eyes and ears to ever present evidence just as the church does. The “Sun’s” scandal necessarily consists of accounts of non-conformity to the senseless demands of popular error regarding sexual relations, and thus negativer attests the inadequacy of present institutions to fill the requirements of general advancement just as newspaper accounts of theological heresy attest the same of church dogmas. Before church people the latter is scandal, but it helps expose tyrannical church domination and anti-theological Liberals do not complain of the scandal the victims are subjected to among church people, because such scandal is irrational and logically a credit to the slandered person. The same is true of sexual innovators, their conduct rationally considered is correct; they have not violated equal freedom and are in no wise logically subject to reproach, but on the contrary have inaugurated a course of conduct better adapting means to pleasurable ends, winning the approval of all rational people and the gratitude of those desiring the benefits of such a better way, just as in the case of theological heretics. The unsociable acts are all committed by those who boycott rational conduct because it is not conventional, and not by those who circulate accounts of it, showing the old way is no longer satisfactory. Of the boycotters the “Truth Seeker” is evidently one, for it regards such conduct as scandalous just as the church does that of its heretics, because it is not the old way. As present sexual ethics give away to more freedom the “Truth Seeker” will be less and less proud of its attitude against their exposure.
Last month Arthur McCartney, of this city, had an experience with the effect of the sex superstition in the shape of a howling Missouri mob at Kansas City. He probably nurses this superstition as devotedly as the mob did without realizing it, illustrating how members of the race may for ages writhe from being impaled on the spear of a superstition and not be conscious that each is treating his neighbor to the useless torture that he himself endures. Mr. McCartney, when escorting his two daughters from a carriage to a train, was mistaken for Schweinfurth, a female captivating modern Messiah, and the mossy roosters believing that he was taking two of Kansas City’s women away, attempted to mob him. Fortunately he carried a revolver, with which he held at bay their frenzied virtue until he had time to explain that he was not the Messiah, whereupon the pelvic despots sheepishly retired.
They had rushed upon him shouting: “Kill him, he’s no Christ! He cannot take our women to Rockford, Say, you had better confess before we give you a coat of tar and feathers.” Pitiable plight of helpless brutality. There they were publicly acknowledging their inferiority in not being able to compel the admiration of their women by physical symmetry or mental subtlety. Their wives confined to the dull monotony of monogamic life make an epoch of a thrill of new magnetism, and their daughters, suppressed beyond even the miserable advantages of this depleting palliative, are likely to lose their heads altogether and follow off a wagon, if exposed. Cognizant of these facts without knowing their cause, and too blindly selfish to allow the remedy if they knew it, these primitive barbarians were ready to resort to the methods of wild beasts by destroying competitors instead of outshining them, or better still, leaning as little on others as others do on them. What a satisfaction it must be to men with “faithfulness” as their ideal, to be caressed in arms so willing to receive another that the other is absent only by virtue of a ready club or bullet! How proud these women should be to be heralded as choiceless spawners who, if not herded, would follow off anything male!
A Varying Standard of Value and a Neutralizer.
As contrasted with a standard of value it appears correct to say that a measure of length possesses length in itself, for whereas the variations in value of other things exchanged affect the value of the object taken as a standard, on the other hand the variations in length of things measured do not cause changes in the length of the yardstick. Its variation, if any (infinitesimal and therefore left out of account), depends upon its physical qualities, which without entering upon metaphysics is a way of saying that it possesses extension in itself to the apprehension of the human mind. Having noted the comparatively serious theoretical difference as to a standard of value, the “News” had thought to show a countervailing difference touching such standard. If not all that could be desired, still it is claimed as countervailing to a large extent referring to valuation for security. But the Boston “Liberty” while holding to the necessity fora standard of value, thinks that the best must remain very imperfect, and presents the following illustration:
In the supposed case of a bank loan secured by mortgage, the margin between the valuation and the obligation practically secures the note holder against loss in decline of the value of the security, but it does not secure him against loss from a decline in the value of the standard. Suppose that a farmer, having a farm worth $5000 in gold, mortgages it to a bank as security for a loan of $2500 in notes newly issued by the bank against this farm. With these notes he purchases implements from a manufacturer. When the mortgage expires a year later he fails to lift it. Meanwhile gold has declined in value. The farm is sold under the hammer and brings instead of $5000 in gold, $6000 in gold. Of this sum $2500 is used to meet the notes held by the manufacturer who took them a year before in payment for the implements sold to the farmer. Now, can the manufacturer buy back his implements for $2500 in gold? Manifestly not, for by the hypothesis gold has gone down. Why, then, is not this manufacturer a sufferer from the variation in the standard of value precisely as the man who buys cloth with a short yardstick and sells it with a long one is a sufferer from the variation in the standard of length?
But it sagely concludes that such evils, so far as they arise from natural causes, must be borne. The statement of this difficulty is an interesting contribution to the study of the money question. In reply to the direct question it might be answered: the manufacturer is suffering from the variation in the value of gold as a means of payment. But it is strange if the manufacturer has held these bank notes a year in his safe. He might have paid them away and received them again several times, spreading the loss by the decline in the value of gold over the mass of traders. It can be said that one and the same yardstick does not vary, hence part of the illustration goes to reaffirm the distinction made between a standard for valuation and a measure of length. The chief interest, however, of this very suggestive criticism is that it leads one to reflect both upon the necessity for capital to be active in order to be conserved, and upon the possibility of having bank notes secured not merely upon an ample basis such as a double amount of valuation in gold, but otherwise as to substitute payments. The notes themselves would not necessarily share the decline of gold were the mortgage not to be released on optional payment of a fixed sum in gold. Some provision must always be made for settlement when notes are lost; but for example, it might be agreed that the alternative settlement should be as much gold as would buy 20 per cent of the present value in each of five specified articles of general necessity.—Galveston News.
A Proposition to Extend Mutual Bank Propaganda.
To the Friends of Liberty:
A new and equitable monetary system is essential to save the people from impending ruin and ultimate revolution by violence.
The first and all-sufficient objection which Greenbackers and Nationalists have not duly considered before advocating an exclusive government money system, is the principle of liberty which is involved. The Mutual Bank Propaganda affirms that no government has the right to interfere with the production and exchange of commodities; that authority in the Constitution, if there is any, is no valid reason for doing so. The question is not whether it is constitutional, but whether it is right. This is fundamental and unavoidable. To say that an act is right because it is constitutional is to affirm the dogma of infallibility and put and end to progress. That the Constitution has been amended several times proves its imperfection, and we regard human welfare of such paramount importance that we seek the shorter method of creating public sentiment in favor of liberty, realizing how futile are appeals to the class that make and unmake the laws.
These are sufficient reasons for opposing the Greenback or Nationalist idea, although they are not the only ones, as will be seen by our literature.
What are the Greenbackers’ and what are the Nationalists’ reasons for opposing us? If they really want a money that will supply money at cost to all borrowers who can furnish good security, issuing the money direct on the collateral, why do they prefer the government to the mutual system? In all my experience of sixteen years’ study of this question I have never met a Greenbacker or a Nationalist or Socialist who had any more than a vague idea of our aims and methods, while those who are reading our literature are deserting the ranks of the paternalists and now help the party of freedom. On the other hand, who ever heard of a Mutual Banker becoming a paternalist? Some day you will all be Mutual Bankers. You are not so already, because you do not understand our system. With the numbers, and the influence and means at the command of the Alliances, a movement could be inaugurated that would result in complete victory in less than a year. Is such assurance not worth investigating? We affirm that our plan is the only means by which the money power can be defeated. Let me earnestly ask our brothers in the cause of justice: Look squarely at the difficulties staring you in the face and tell me frankly, what hope is there for establishing your system in one year—ten years—ever? You are clamoring for law! You do not need law; in this case it is your worst enemy.
For thirty millions of workers to endure unspeakable sufferings and wait year after year, begging of a few thousand of their fellow men the privilege (?) of becoming prosperous, is a spectacle that staggers the intellect and faith in manhood! Money controls legislation, and you ask money to legislate against itself. Money creates its own privilege and derives its power, not as a medium of exchange, but that of monopoly, from the laws which it had no right to enact, and instead of contesting such laws you how with superstitious reverence, continue to suffer and meekly ask money to release its grip. Our method is quite different. We declare that it is not law, but good security that makes paper perform the functions of money purely as a medium of exchange. Therefore we call upon all who want a system that will furnish such an instrument of exchange at cost to all borrowers to join the Mutual Bank Propaganda and help raise ten thousand dollars to establish a Mutual Bank, issue money and fight the money power in the courts. By this means we bring the question before the people in double quick time by compelling the daily papers to grapple with instead of ignoring it as they do now. The issue must be fought on its merits—the right of citizens to associate and provide a medium of exchange for their own use and to relieve themselves from the oppression of usurers and promote prosperity. This right cannot be denied—take it! You are the majority! This method of settling the money question is new to most people. It is a phase of the question that the people generally are totally ignorant of, it never having been a subject of general public discussion; but when it shall have been thoroughly discussed by the whole people, a mighty wave of indignation will go forth and will wipe out forever the only stronghold of tyranny—the monopoly of money.
There is no advantage claimed for the Greenback, or any other system that is not transcended in the Mutual system as is clearly set forth in our literature. We have spent thousands of dollars in time and money advancing these ideas although we do not expect to reap any advantage that will not result alike to all our fellows, except, perhaps, a little fame for having advocated it so persistently; but in addition to this we will put up one thousand dollars in cash and we have been promised another thousand as soon as an additional sum of eight thousand dollars is subscribed; thus making an expense fund of ten thousand dollars to establish a Mutual Bank and defend our right in the courts.
Those who have not read carefully our literature on this, the gravest of all questions, should procure our pamphlets and post themselves on the mutual feature applied to banks of issue..
Of those who are with us we ask all the encouragement you can give. It is your fight as well as ours, and it will not commence until those who know they have rights, dare maintain them. Remember our object is to make a test case in the courts. This course [...] will stimulate thought and discussion, creating public sentiment on the side of right, until we shall have overcome all opposition, from whatever source.
Let us hear from you.
ALFRED B. WESTRUP,
343 Michigan Ave, Chicago, Ill.
I have many even marked experiences that are not noted in these columns, but I have just masticated one that has not escaped my memory, one which I had for some time looked forward to as one might to undesired death; without longing, yet under heavy suspense. It was the extraction from this city and my companionship of George E. Macdonald. It has seldom been my privilege to be an intimate of ever refreshing genius, and it was with reluctance and ocular tide that I gave it up. His temperment and manner are much like those of my father, and this semi-conscious biological attachment supplemented by sentimental congeniality, his searching sympathetic nature, and the kaleidoscopic variability of genius brought him as close the quick of my appreciation as a male is likely to get. In these years of almost continual association the time never came when he passed in and out of my optical range leaving the sense of wearying monotony that so many people impart in common with dreary scenery and lazily buzzing flies on a sultry August morning. His presence was always marked with an undivined word or act. If he failed to do a new thing he did not fail to do the old one in a new way.
Evenings and Sundays when everybody else was gone it was his custom to bring a chair and his pipe to the composing-room, after which my case accumulated little type during the hours that followed in which we held mental stereopticon exhibitions, canvassing every thought and experience ’with that abandon mostly confined to the walls of a single cranium. We propounded every suggestion of a question and left many of them unanswered without apology. We determined, however, that consciousness is all that is experienced of life and, free from pain, independence is its greatest pleasure. Therefore when the body is provided for, instead of pandering to hoary prejudice to better gather surplus wealth, we will prop our hands upon our hips and denounce oppression, after which we will join our friends in an informal picnic in the sunshine or in the shade, and at night the body will have been comfortable, the mind independent, and pleasure not broken by the drawn faces or bleaching bones of plundered victims. We found that the nature of consciousness being such that it can act only in ultimate reference to self, fraternity is a mirage arising from a failure to recognize the advantages of social intercourse as advantages of social commerce instead of charitable generosity; that its existence would displace equal freedom, without which there could be no conception of justice or standard of conduct; and that sacrifice and invasion are synonymous terms not differing in their effect upon the general welfare. Therefore the rational business of life is personal pleasure, to which all social principles are subservient expedients or subversive superstitions. Thereupon we put on our hats and coats and went home because it seemed more pleasant than to sit in the office the rest of the night.
Mr. Macdonald and his wife and their son, the Young Pacific Coast Anarchist of radical fame, spent part of what Mr. Macdonald termed their last Sunday on earth, visiting EGOISM’s aristocratic publishers. The father carried the youngster up our stairway, from the ceiling of which I had carefully swept the cobwebs for the first time in the two years that we have lived here. When our guests had crept in, my wife and her little niece promptly took charge of torturing the baby, and it being one of the three famous hot days of the season, Mr. Macdonald when urged to make himself as comfortable as possible by removing his coat, like a true philosopher did so, while I allowed the brisk breeze of my conversation to blow coolingly upon Mrs. Macdonald. We all diluted ourselves freely with iced lemonade and with ice-water straight, and drifted about the flat for a cool place like flies between meal hours. Mr. Macdonald and I explored in his absence W. S. Bell’s den, and later EGOISM’s 7x9 printing office. There is not room enough in it to hold two persons at one time, so Mr. Macdonald stood in the doorway while I showed him through, then we went into the kitchen and turned around and he went in the office first and sat him upon the pile of dampened paper from which this issue is printed, while I seated on my heels reclined on the veals of my shanks and we communed as we are wont in a composing-room. As with a dull butcher knife he found near by he whittled a piece of box-wood quoin and seriously discoursed on the heaviest and most radical issues of the day, few of his thousands of admiring readers would have suspected him of being the renowned Freethought humorist whose productions have so relentlessly exhausted their diaphragms.
At the table he discovered that we keep house about as they do and expressed himself as feeling very much at home in such environment. However this may be it is nevertheless a fact that he enjoys the hospitality of those who condense in the fare of one person at a single meal the price of several days of such board as we were corralling. But this did not prevent his accommodating himself with Grace and the baby to the proletaires’ victuals, and we lingered pleasantly amid the cherry pits and remnants of ice-water. After we had played eat, I showed Mr. Macdonald the model of my new elevated railroad the intricacies of which caused him to reflect so deeply that he fell asleep while I was explaining its workings to him but upon waking agreed with me that it was a great thing, which was to me a joyful surprise as I sat on my hock joints puzzling how to gracefully emerge from this inflicting of so intense a theme upon my esteemed guest.
I of course do not know just what will happen in the hence, but the drift of things indicates that the contact intimacy that I have enjoyed with my friend is forever past, and this bitter thought has driven me to seek what comfort I can in writing this obituary with an unreserve that might in some respects displease him under other circumstances unless he were inanimately dead.
San Francisco has a society known as the Koreshan society. Among other intellectual acrobatics its members have to perform the feat of believing that the earth is a hollow globe and that we live inside of it. This I think is not difficult for many of them to do as they have not been biased by other astronomical theories of any sort. The charter members were, I am informed, generally old women of both sexes who being to diffident to encourage the sexual faculty of others into the more sanguine exercise of the function, gave themselves up to the cultivation of theosophical asceticism and are now celibates, at least for awhile. Celibacy is very bearable to very weary people. I have been one sometimes, and often against my will.
But proposed crucifixion of the flesh in modern times is no good, it always invents some alternative. These celibates hold that by some method which I do not understand, they can turn back to the condition of that more primitive stage in evolution when the individual animal could impregnate itself. This would be eminently more respectable, and does not involve that democratic, if not even communistic mixing up with others now practiced in reproducing the human animal. If it works it will also be convenient and economical, as no marriage license will be required and mothers will not have to worry themselves with match-making. It will also dispense with bastardy suits and divorce, as well as prove “Marriage a Failure.” It is an improvement on Elmina D. Slenker’s inferiority-of-the-male-sex theory, for it dispenses with the use of that sex altogether, while she would have it around for impregnating purposes and perhaps to do other chores when not thus engaged. I do not know whether the whole human race can hope to unravel back to this ante-vertebrate degree or not, but I feel certain that people with these ideas have a biological incomplexity of structure that gives them a long start of the average coarse and unesthetic mortal in this race of crawfishing.
There are so many advertisements on the backs of country newspapers, offering treatment for the ravages of unsuccessful attempts at this kind of celibacy that I advise these people to wait at least until all traces of the spinal column have disappeared before they attempt reproduction in this newfangled way. Meanwhile, to help tide them over inherited tendencies, I would prescribe for their use pulverized alum. It should be taken internally in such quantities as prove effective. The effect can be intensified by baths in a strong solution of the mineral. I know of nothing more productive of virtue, and I earnestly hope they will heed this solicitude on my part, and not palm off on an unsuspecting community offspring purporting to be the result of the new self-impregnating process, which are really the old make. The fact might be concealed for awhile, but when these helpless victims of ascetic suppression grow up the inherited and intensified longings of their parents will cause them to assault men and women at sight as spontaneously as they breathe. Popular suppression, with its laws to protect rape under certain contracts gives us enough of this tendency. Let us not be afflicted then with its intensification through a fraudulent celibacy. I have to be on the streets of this city a great deal and am not strong enough to be exposed to such an attack. Breeding will not be necessary anyway, for as long as the feeble-minded old bourgeoisie can maintain free board and lodging they will, under present economic conditions, have an abundance of disciples. I admonish them therefore to use the alum and give the world a lesson in the science of chemical morality.
The preceding remarks break the ice for a few suggestions to the vice society of San Francisco. If, instead of attempting to suppress pictures of voluptuous beauty and thereby heightening curiosity concerning it, the vice society would employ means to make the population indifferent to “obscene” literature and pictures, it might hope to succeed in spreading ascetic principles. If the secretary would arrange with all the bakers, brewers, and butchers to salt their goods well with pulverized alum, the most vigorous attitude of the most exquisitely chiseled muscle, feature, and form would no more produce licentious thoughts in the citizens’ minds than gazing upon the monster of a Chinese banner. Prostitution would cease, and the secretary could not then hire its members to dance before him in nude attire that he might arrest them. I think, however, a great saving of alum and happiness for the community could be effected by the society only taking copious and continuous doses of it. This would cause the society to lose interest in the subject, and as no one else is visibly disturbed by the fact that growing intelligence loves beauty of form and develops sexual poetry, life would move along in that variable fullness that makes it nearer worth living.
Besides death, nothing is so virtuous as alum and it is ardently desired that until these people can secure virtue in its most rigid and ideal form they will not spare the drug.
Although the “Beacon” and EGOISM are at swords points regarding methods in the great social revolution which is past and which will be coming as long as energy concentrates in consciousness, we nevertheless maintain cordial social relations, and after much arranging and appointing between us EGOISM was favored on a recent Sunday with a visit from some members of the “Beacon’s” staff accompanied by a friend. It wouldn’t do to show a weak hand in the commissary department in entertaining competitors, so I bought two-bits worth of green peas which were too ripe, a hunk of calf thigh, box of cherries, and a new brick of butter. “Brick” does not indicate the solidity of the butter at this time in the year but describes it in the sense in which a man is said to be a “brick” or hard case. When all these raw and rare luxuries were piled high in the pantry I did not pry off the lid of the cherry-box, for that would probably have resulted in a chemical combination of my wife’s little niece and the cherries which might have exploded.
In order to have things out of the way and the house nicely cooled off by the time our guests should arrive, I arose in the youthful and fuzzy hours of the morning, and with excruciating diligence and a short-handled shovel cleaned about three peeks of soot and ashes from under and around the oven of our cook stove. After I got the soot off the floor except what little went into the ash-pan at which I aimed it all, I built a fire and took a wash and hearty swear at stove-cleaning in general. Then I walloped the calf limb and the front of my iron-gray pants in flour, and when the other calf’s anatomy was secured in the oven I poked the fire and in my attempt to keep the infant bovine comfortable roasted my countenance to a finish. I found that heat goes upward mostly, and am much surprised that stovemakers in their apparent anxiety to keep the oven cool never struck the idea of locating it in the cellar in an ice-chest instead of just back of and below the fire. It seems to me that a person with even half sense should know that meat kept so near the fire a little while will spoil. In this case it produced quite a fever in the veal which I soothed as best I could by dipping gravy on its “parched lips.” I am a tender nurse—more tender than this roast proved. This dipping is called “basting,” and is better than the method now in vogue among dressmakers, as the threads do not show in fitting the roast to the form.
About six o’clock, a few hours after I had things moving, my wife vacated the posterior part of the secretary in which she sleeps and helped hull the peas and pick the sound cherries from among the mouldy and rotten ones, so that by the time our visitors came everything was placid.
In entertaining I tried to be very affable and pleasant, but am so out of practice and looked so agonized that my wife thought I had stolen and eaten too many cherries. I saw that she seemed provoked at my hilarious sallies, and thought that she was jealous of my superior entertaining capacity. Having eaten a fill of rotten ones, I had not stolen any of the good cherries, and in my innocence did not suspect the real nature of my wife’s uneasiness until going to the glass to adjust the silken garter I had that morning borrowed and was using for a tie, I witnessed one of my smiles congealing. It strongly resembled the facial exercise of cholera morbus mingled with that of a bruised shinbone. I immediately retired to the kitchen to reflect upon the vanity of life and cook the peas. I could notice that the company grew easier when left to the spontaneous grace of my unostentatious wife.
That they might attend a meeting at San Francisco at 2 p.m. our guests had to take the 1 o’clock train, and at 12:30 the peas were scarcely done, but I franticly tumbled them along with the butter, cherries, and other luxuries upon the table, and after the guests were seated and I had inflicted upon them the joke I studied up the week before, I glode triumphantly from the pantry with the roast, only to find that after all my anguish our guests, except one, were vegetarians and I a damfool. Of the latter I was still more certain when fifteen minutes later they had to leave a half-finished meal to catch the train. If we ever succeed in getting anybody else to visit us I shall neither roast meat, smile exaggeratingly, nor get them so late to the table.
I have read in the “Beacon,” from the pen of Mr. Sigismund Danielewicz, one of the guests, some physical resistance matter that might easily frighten a policeman with 8 diamond-set finger ring and a complacent gait, but he is not a dangerous-acting man at all. On the contrary he is a very mild-mannered man, almost pathetic in disposition. Even I do not feel afraid of him. I do not think it consistent however, for people to be so reckless of human life as physical revolutionists propose to be, and at the same time refuse to eat flesh on the ethical ground of thereby discouraging the taking of animal life, a position which at least part of the “Beacon’s” staff assumes. I once heard a good man say he would rather eat a dead man than kill a live one, if he had to do one or the other. I want my human flesh alive but it must not be that of a man, nor will I eat it, although some that I have witnessed looked sweet enough to make me feel as though I would like at least to bite it caressingly.
Gems, and Straws in the Breeze.
OPPORTUNISTS are misled by number. They believe in working for any reform which is “a step in the right direction,” provided they can thereby influence a large number. Frequently the “reform” contains about one per cent of truth, the other ninety-nine per cent being made up of sentimental bosh and lies. The opportunists waste energy in fighting for all sorts of foolish measures simply because they happen to contain a little truth. One hundred persons influenced for a little one per cent reform, arithmetically speaking, would be equal to one person influenced for thorough reform. Opportunists should not, therefore, be misled by number, but should remember that one person, where ideas are concerned, is frequently an “effective majority” over hundreds. Convince that one person that your ideas are right and you have effected more perhaps, than if you had turned an entire party “in the right direction.”—George Forest.
WERE free banking added to the repeal of duty on lead and the repeal of all government certificate privileges in the interest of any private owners, whether of silver or gold, the country would be better supplied with better currency and this excessive silver mining would become quite unnecessary. It does not seem too much to say that labor might be better employed in cultivating the ground or sinking artesian wells than in feverish attempts to add to a stock of metal to be kept in bars. But under the present scarcity system of currency basis the prompting given to individual interest can be only what it actually is. Public policy shapes private conduct in this as in so many other matters where the law has stepped in to supersede natural inducements with its own paternally contrived ameliorations of the distresses inflicted by its repressions.—Galveston News.
THIS feeling, which has been called Sympathy, has usually been considered as feeling for others. I believe it to be a mistake and that we actually feel With others. The difference is immense. For if we feel for others, whatever we do for them is of no benefit to us, while if we feel with others, in helping them we are at the same time helping our own happiness, and this duty to self includes the welfare of others, and selfish less can be truly taken for our guide, for the care of self includes the care of others—Albert Chavannes.
THE teachings of Christ had more in view the suppression of selfishness than the salvation of souls, and his followers have faithfully preached the duty of taking care of others at the expense of care of self. From these teachings has bloomed out the ethical idea of our day, the duty of taking care of others, an idea that permeates all the reform movements of our times, but which being false in its inception and false in its deduction, can never be made the basis of a successful progressive movement—Albert Chavannes.
THE cadets at West Point each have from thirty-five to fifty pairs of white duck trousers. At least three pairs are worn each day. They and the laundry bills are paid out of the products of the toilers by compulsory taxation. But then, the toilers, as a rule, are well pleased to have it so. When a man is under the influence of the government superstition, he is willing to and finds pleasure in wearing ragged trousers in order to have the cadets extravagantly dressed. —Hugh O. Pentecost.
THE “Times” tells a pretty story of a married couple who were unhappy and who went to Ohio and procured a divorce. The divorce was not complete, however, until the papers were filed in a certain official’s office. After getting the papers and before filing them, the couple talked matters over and agreed not to file them for awhile. They have been living happily together ever since —for ten years. The papers may be filed at any time, the “Times” says, and the divorce he consummated, but since each can be free from the other neither wishes to be. The lesson is plain whether the story is true or not. Freedom is necessary to a happy marriage, as it is to happiness in all the relations in life—Hugh O. Pentecost.
MY countrymen, I am proud of you; your interest in these people [the noble baccarat party] shows that you are incontestibly superior to the incurious hog and indolent cat. To “begin to take notice” has ever been considered in the young of our species, a symptom of dawning intelligence. As with the individual, so with the race of which he is but the concrete expression. As a tribe we Americans are young; we are but a child—a kid—a dambrat. We lie in the cradle of Fate, earnestly gumming away at our precious thumb, with almost human veracity, and—we “begin to take notice!” We observe a king, a prince, a nobleman, a baronet, even a knight. Attesting their conspicuousness in the main and general sum of things, we knock off work upon the edible thumb and stare with both our heady eyes. O, we’re a sweet young thing, and it has wisely been pointed out by one of our most illustrious wet-nurses that our future is all before us. It looks at present as if our national career might be as striking and picturesque as that of the Gadarene swine.—Ambrose Bierce in the “Examiner.”
MR. C. R. BENNETT, who is secretary of a society for the suppression of vice in others, announces his intention to head a mob to lynch the Oakland pool-sellers if they do not leave town and their supporters in the city council if they do not resign. Mr. Bennett is a gallant man, but when the mob convenes and takes up the line of march he will not head the procession: he will move along on a parallel line, a little to the rear, strenuously deflating his lung of formidable whoops. It is pleasant, all the same, to observe that this child of light is not so austere a stickler for observance of law as he has been thought to be. While he has not as yet shown any symptoms of abated zeal in the prosecution of such giant criminals as those who favor the co-existence of the sexes, there is a reasonable hope that in assassinating objectionable public characters we shall enjoy henceforth a reasonable immunity from his molesting hand. The hope represents a distinct advance in the pursuit of happiness. Whenever we are permitted to hang our neighbors according to the dictates of our conscience, the most trivial circumstance may become a minister of pleasure and a herald of good by suggesting the hanging of Mr. Bennett.—Bierce in “Exa’r.”
EGOISM’S PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSE.
EGOISM’s purpose is the improvement of social existence through intelligent self-interest. It finds that whatever we have of equal conditions and mutual advantage is due to a prevalence of this principle corresponding with the degree and universality of individual resistance to encroachment.
Reflection will satisfy all who are desirous of being guided in their conclusions by fact, that as organization itself is a process of absorbing every material useful to its purpose, with no limit save that of outside resistance, so must the very fact of its being a separately organized entity make it impossible for it to act with ultimate reference to anything but itself. Observation will show that this holds good throughout the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and that whatever of equality exists among members of a species or between different species has its source and degree in the resisting capacity, of whatever kind, which such member or species can exert against the encroachment of other members or species. The human animal is no exception to this rule. True, its greater complexity has developed the expedient of sometimes performing acts with beneficial results to others, but this is at last analysis only resistance, because it is the only means of resisting the withholding by others from such actor’s welfare that which is more desirable than that with which he parts. If, then, (he self-projecting faculty of mankind is such that it will in addition to the direct resistance common to the less complex animals, diplomatically exercise present sacrifice to further extend self, and it being a fact that equality depends upon equal resistance, diplomatic or otherwise, what are its chances in an absence of enlightenment in which the individuals of the majority so far from intelligently using this resisting power in their own behalf, do not even believe that they should do so? The result of a general conception so chaotic, would naturally be what we find: the generalization from the practical expediency of certain consideration for others, crystallized through the impulse of blind selfishness into a mysterious and oppressive obligation, credit for the observance of which gratifies the self-projecting faculty of the simple, while the more shrewd evade its exactions, and at every step from the manipulation of the general delusions of religious and political authority to the association of sexes and children at play, project themselves by exchanging this mythical credit for the real comforts and luxuries of the occasion, which the others produce. Thus in addition to the natural disadvantage of unequal capacity, the weaker are deprived through a superstition, of the use of such capacity as they have, as may be seen in their groping blindness all about us.
To secure and maintain equal conditions then, requires a rational understanding of the real object of life as indicated by the facts of its expression. It is plain that the world of humanity is made up of individuals absolutely separate; that life is to this humanity nothing save as it is something to one of these; that one of these can be not-hing to another except as he detracts from or adds to his happiness; that on this is based the idea of social expediency; that the resistance of each of these individuals would determine what is socially expedient; that approximately equal resistance makes it equality, and on such continued and a universal resistance depends equality. This can leave no room for any sane action toward others but that of the policy promoting most the happiness of the acting Ego. Therefore EGOISM insists that the attainment of equal freedom depends upon a course of conduct-replacing the idea of “duty to others” with expediency toward others; upon a recognition of the fact that self-pleasure must be the final motive of any act; thus developing a principle for a basis of action about which there can be no misunderstanding, and which will place every person squarely on the merit of his or her probable interests, divested of the opportunity to deceive through pretension, as under the dominance of altruistic idealism. It will maintain that what is generally recognized as morality is nothing other than the expediency deduced from conflicting interests under competition; that it is a policy which, through the hereditary influence of ancestral experience, confirmed by personal experience, is found to pay better than any other known policy; that the belief that it is something other than a policy—a fixed and eternal obligation, outside of and superior to man’s recognized interests, and may not be changed as utility indicates, makes it a superstition in effect like any other superstition which causes its adherent-s to crystallize the expediency adopted by one period into positive regulations for another in which it has no utility, but becomes tyrannical laws and customs in the name of which persecution is justified, as in the fanaticism of any fixed idea.
Another part of its purpose is to help dispel the “Political Authority” superstition and develop a public sentiment which would replace State interference with the protection for person and property which the competition of protecting associations would afford. Then the State’s fanatical tyranny and industry crushing privilege would torture the nerves of poverty-stricken old age or pinch tender youth no more. The most disastrous interference of this monster superstition is its prohibition of the issuing of exchange medium on the ample security of all kinds of property, which at once would abolish speculative interest and practically set all idle hands at productive labor at wages ever nearing the whole product until it should be reached. The next interference is by paper titles to vacant land instead of the just and reasonable one of occupancy and use, which with the employment that free money would give, would furnish all with comfortable homes in a short time, and thereafter even with luxuries from like exertion. Following this is its patent privilege, customs robbery, protective tariff, barbarous decrees in social and sexual affairs; its brutal policy of revenge, instead of restitution, in criminal offenses, and finally its supreme power to violate the individual, and its total irresponsibility.