The Philosophy of Egoism
(1845 - 1904) ~ American Egoist and Advocate of Stirner and Tucker : James L. Walker (June 1845 – April 2, 1904), sometimes known by the pen name Tak Kak, was an American individualist anarchist of the Egoist school, born in Manchester. (From : Wikipedia.)
Walker was one of the main contributors to Benjamin Tucker's Liberty. He worked out Egoism on his own some years before encountering the Egoist writings of Max Stirner, and was surprised with the similarities. He published the first twelve chapters of Philosophy of Egoism in the May 1890 to September 1891 issues of Egoism. (From : Wikipedia.)
The Philosophy of Egoism
We seek understanding of facts for guidance in action, for avoidance of mistake and suffering, and even for resignation to the inevitable. This statement may cover the chief aims of mankind in intellectual discussion, ignoring now that which is merely a scholastic exercise. I am not in favor of argument in the style of the debating tarnished by a practice of which easily generates an evil habit, and there are, at least as yet, too many occasion in real life on which every person who loves to tell the truth and expose falsehood must consider time and circumstance lest he impale himself upon implacable prejudices. Consequently if duplicity have its uses there need be no fear that it will not be cultivated without concerted efforts thereto among those who are seeking intellectual light.
I have placed resignation last, though it may be first in importance for some individuals. I take it that the life forces are strong enough in most of my readers to exude in promptings to action which shall move things, in the liberal sympathy which would communicate to others any discoverable means to reach conditions of greater harmony.
Is it not a fact that there is a considerable amount of well wishing and at the same time and intricate series of reciprocal injuries practiced by mankind, such as in not discoverable in any other species on earth? Then, may we ask, what are the causes of evils in society, can they be generalized, and what is the nature or principle of an efficient remedy? If now the words laissez faire occur to the reader he will easily remember that all animals except man practice according to that principle. Do we hear of fanaticism among them, of fighting within the species except in defense of their persons and property or on a matter of rivalry between the males? But what do we read in the history of mankind except woes, wars, persecutions and catastrophes beggaring description, and all related in some way to the determination of mankind to interfere with each others' actions, thoughts and feelings for the purpose of making people thing better and behave better as conceived?
The theological Liberal is never tired of affirming that the greatest cruelties have been perpetrated by bigots action sincerely for religious right as they understood it; yet among the theological Liberals may be found prohibitionists and taxationists manifesting a holy horror of a man or woman who simply wants to be let alone while he or she lets others alone, and who refuses to join in any scheme or coercion. They insist that he cannot enjoy such liberty without detriment to society, and their ire rises on thinking that he is insensible to a moral principle, as they view the matter. They are bigots unknowing.
But are there such people as I have alluded to, who practice the rule laissez faire? Certainly there are. (These words are French and mean "Let them do," or "Let other people alone as far as you can.") Properly understood and carried out in political science, as by Proudhon, a rational system of Anarchy is evolved from the motto. Anarchy in its strict and proper philosophical sense means "no tyranny,"—the regulation of business altogether by voluntary and mutual contract.
With some readers the perception of these relations as regards religious belief and political institutions and this comparison of human intolerance with the better habit of other species, to mind their own business, will have suggested the fundamental thought to which I am coming. We are digging now for bottom facts; not trying to invent any artificial rule, but to find the wholesome reality in nature if there be any good there for us, and to find the mainspring of normal action at all events, leaving for after discussion if advisable whether or not any artificial substitute be possible or commendable.
Now it is not my purpose to suggest that men should pattern after any other species of animal. We find the other animals acting naturally, seeking their own good, going each his own way and letting each other alone except under certain conditions which have caused a momentary conflict of individual interests. We find human life full of artificiality, perversion and misery, much of which can be directly traced to interference, the worst of this interference having no chance of perpetuation except through a certain belief in its social necessity, which belief arises from or is interlaced with beliefs as to details of conduct, such for example as that the propagation of the human species would not occur in good form unless officially supervised, and so forth. Drawing such comparisons the conclusion appears that man needs to become natural, not in the sense of abandoning the arts and material comforts of life, but in the treatment of individuals of the species by others and in their collective action.
I may here anticipate an objection. Someone will ask whether I pretend that Egoism means the same as laissez faire. To this I say no, but the prevalence of Egoism will reduce interference, even by the ignorant, to the dimensions of their more undeniable interest in others' affairs, eliminating every motive of a fanatical character. Invasive developments of Egoism, no longer reinforced by the strength of the multitude under a spell of personal magnetism, will probably not be very hard to deal with; then for want of success such developments will be attenuated or abandoned within the species. Thus Egoism is demonstrably the seed-bed of the policy and habit of general tolerance. And if vigilance be the price of liberty, who will deny that the tendency, within Egoistic limits, to vaporizing, non-Egoistic philosophers would place tolerance upon a cloud-bank foundation of sentiment and attempt to recompense with fine words of praise the men who can be persuaded to forgo any advantage which they might take of others. Like the preachers who picture the pleasure of sin and urge people to refrain from it, their attempts are inevitably futile.
It is now time to meet the demand for definition of Egoism. The dictionaries must be resorted to for explanations of the meanings of most words, but in any science, art or philosophy there are some leading terms understood in a more precise manner than that general notion or mass of nearly related significations given in the dictionary under one term. The dictionary is like a map of the world, which shows where a country is with relation to all other countries. The definition of the dictionary is simply objective, not closely analytical. Its language is popular, as in the speaking of black and white as colors. All this is well enough. People need information which will be true to appearances, for practical purposes, and need so wide an extent of this in a moderate compass, that they are glad to get brief explanations or even hints at meanings, prepared by men skilled in classifying linguistic growths. Hence, however, they sometimes find the popular definitions as good but not better than to define cheese as condensed milk. The so-called synonyms have different shades of meaning, but disputants easily yield to the temptation to assume an identical import in two terms, an evil connotation which adheres to the other; and conversely the hearer is usually able to understand immediately whether the speaker, if sincere, is friendly or hostile towards an object, merely by noting the terms chosen in alluding to its existence. We rarely find many sentences together without a moral judgment being conveyed. Such judgments, from an Egoistic point of view, could be illustrated by representing a beggar extolling charity.
The definition of the specialist, on the other hand, is like a map which shows the boundary between two countries, but does not attempt to show anything else. To the navigator land is that beneath his vessel which is not water. To the political economist a lake and a bed of coal are equally land. The two specialists are concerned with two different series of ideas, therefore with different aspects of the object.
The best that can be said of Webster's dictionary definition of Egoism, is that a reader who already understands the term as it has been used in practical philosophy for more than forty years, may barely recognize the idea as one espies a diamond in a dust heap. "The habit of . . . . judging of everything by its relation to one's interests or importance," is Webster's nearest approach. In what sense can the individual and his interests be other than all-important to the individual? Only in the sense that, in order to reject Egoism, his interests are not to be understood as including his intellectual and sentimental interests in objects, including other persons. But the Egoist will take the liberty to inquire how anyone can be engaged in judging of anything without having taken an interest in it. Let us assume that a new dictionary maker inserts in his work a paragraph like this:
EGOISM, n. The principle of self; the doctrine of individuality; self-interest; selfishness.
Then I shall comment by saying that "the doctrine of individuality" is a happier expression than the single word individuality, for the latter is commonly used to convey the idea of distinctive, marked peculiarities of character. Self-interest is usually restricted to pecuniary interest and the like, ignoring what is reciprocal in the pleasures of companionship and what affords intellectual satisfaction. Selfishness is commonly used to indicate self-gratification I disregard of the feelings of others. All these words indicate Egoism, but they indicate it with special determinations. In the word selfish to termination arrests attention. It is generally disparaging; either connected with bad words or it gives them a contemptuous shade connected with bad words or it gives them a contemptuous shade of meaning, as knavish, thievish, foolish, mawkish, bookish, monkish, popish. Hence when a man acts in certain ways causing disgust I other people they declare his actions selfish, --not merely a manifestation of self, but one which they purpose castigating by adding the termination expressive of aversion and contempt. The linguistic instinct appears correct to this extent, however incorrect may be the popular judgment regarding certain actions which are thus stigmatized. For what of this thought some writers have laid the whole popular judgment, expressed in the reproach of selfishness, to the account of opposition to the principle of self. There is certainly a great deal of that. It is selfism, of course, which protests, and selfishness which protests more against selfishness of others and against the principle of self in others. Selfishness argues that its pasture will be greener and richer in proportion as others yield in particular desires to the preaching of unselfishness and self-abnegation, however, in its fell sense, is evidently insanity, while unselfishness may be only selfism without any feature which can be calculated to arouse the antipathy of other individuals (that is, the unishness of the self). This a new analysis and I do not pretend that users of the word unselfish are generally conscious of any force in the termination, to which the private prefix may apply, but I refer to Webster's definitions of selfishness and self-love respectively for support as to the usage.
Egoism is (1) the theory of will as reaction of the self to a motive; (2) every such reaction in fact. This double definition is in accord with the usual latitude due to the imperfection of language, in consequence of which an identical term covers theory, individual fact and mass of facts. I apprehend that in making this fundamental definition I shall have provoked the dissent of some readers well enough grounded in mental philosophy to perceive that on accepting the definition they must speedily consign any claim for an unegotistic philosophy to the realm of mental vagaries. They will accuse me of begging a question in the definition; but I cannot wish to lay down a definition less fundamental than that which will be found sufficiently comprehensive and exact in every relation of rational motive and resulting volition and action. When I shall have done justice to "Altruism" it will be seen that there is here no begging of any question. The alternatives which the "Altruists" propose may accord with such of their own conceptions as they wish to term "Egoism," with which, however, I have no complicity.
By "motive" I mean any influence, --sight, sound, pressure, thought or other energy, --operating upon the self, and thereby causing a change in self, under which process it reacts to seize what contributes to its satisfaction or to repel or escape from what produces or threatens its discomfort or undesired destruction.
If my definition be imperfect, the gap is in omitting to mention reflex action together with will. I regard reflex action as probably connected with a species of will in the nerve centers (and in other plastic matter in the lowest animals). However this may be, reflex actions are not subject to serious dispute in any speculative moral aspect. The omission, therefore, if any, would concern the exhaustiveness of the definition, not its quality. But the merit of a definition is not in its exhaustiveness; it is in drawing the line at the right place. As I do not purpose further defining "will," I will just say that remains to be done in order to universalize, according to these views, the recognition of the Egoistic theory, is to establish all determinations to voluntary activity as reactions, plus consciousness in the brain, like reflex actions without it. Any controversy against the Egoist theory will range along the line of voluntary action; hence that part of the line of Egoism is all that is essential to be put into a definition. But if I have omitted reflex action in (1) the theory, I have not ignored it in (2) "such reactions in fact" for "such" refers to the self. Consulting convenience, I have written "the self" whether meaning apparently the whole co-ordenated energies of the self or the attracting and repelling of any organ or member thereof. Probably never were the whole energies of any animal exerted at once under the stimulus of any motive or combination of motives; hence the common expression is an exaggeration.
A course of reading in history, philosophy and science, especially standard literature on evolution, together with personal observation of animal, including human life, will gradually convince any intelligent person that all voluntary acts, including a certain class of acts popular but erroneously called non-voluntary, are caused by motives acting upon the feeling and reason of the Ego, and that the reaction of the Ego to a motive occurs as surely according to the Ego's composition and the motive as does any chemical reaction; that the only difficulty for our understanding is in the complexity of motive influence (motives) and composition of the subject acted upon. To avoid this conclusion the dogmatists have spoken of motive as if it were something self-originating in the thoughts. Plainly, motive is any influence which causes movement. There must be a cause for every thought as well as every sensation. That cause must affect the Ego, and the Ego cannot but react if affected, -- therefore according to the character of the motive and the manner and degree in which the Ego is affected in any of its parts, otherwise there would be no nature, no continuity of phenomena. In short, man in everything is within the domain of nature; that, the regular succession of apparently self-correlating phenomena.
A motive planted in the Ego (that is to say in the self) may be compared to a seed planted in the ground. Assuming that it germinates, the commonly observed effect is an upward growth of stalk and fruit, analogous to voluntary action; but I have defined Egoism by reference to the spring of such action rather than by reference to the action as phenomenon, for a reason which will be understood by following out the analogy. Besides the upward growth there is a formation of root. The stalk of some plants may be repeatedly cut off, but while the root is alive there is the probability of another upward growth. This is most generally the case with young plants. Though mental analysis should reduce will to a mere abstract term of convenience for an imaginary link between motive and act, and whether or not volition becomes differentiated to bear a more precise and active sense, it is necessary to have a conception correlating renewed activities with former ones, as perceived in repetition of in series, without the planting of new seed. This is found not in the simple and familiar illustration of seed lying without germinating for some time, but in the invisible growth beneath the surface, supplying energy and determination to forms which repeatedly appear and then take various directions accordingly as they encounter obstacles.
Besides individuals we encounter groups variously cemented together by controlling ideas; such groups are families, tribes, states and churches. The more nearly a group approaches the condition of being held together by the interest of its members without constraint of one exercised over other members, the more nearly does the group approximate to the character of an Ego, in itself. Observation and reflection show that the group, or collectivity, never yet composed wholly of enlightened individuals joining and adhering in the group through individual accord, has always fallen short of the approximation which is conceivable for the group to the independent Egoistic character. The family, tribe, state and church are all dominated physically or mentally by some individuals therein. These groups, such as they have been known in all history, never could have existed with the disproportionate powers and influence of their members but for prevailing beliefs reducible to ignorance, awe and submission in the mass of the members.
With this exploration and corresponding allowance, the group may be spoken of as approximately Egoistic in its character. Even when least swayed by individual members, the family, the nation and the church are thoroughly selfy. These composite individualities, as it is the fancy of some writers to consider them, are appealed to in vain to furnish an exception to the Egoistic principle. When Jack imposes upon the ignorance of Jill or upon habits acquired during mutual aid, and Jill is too trusting to trace the transaction back to fundamental elements and calculations of mutual benefit, the matter is readily laid to Jack's selfishness, which of course lauds its victim's welcome compliance; but when the family demands a heavy sacrifice of each member, attention is mostly drawn by Moralists to the advantage of the family and the need of such sacrifices, never to the phenomenon of a ruthless form of Egoism in the family, imposing upon its members who have felt some of the advantages and then yield to pretentions which will not bear analysis, or tracing back in an actual account of loss and gain. Thus it is said to the man that he needs a wife, to the woman that she needs a husband, and to the children that they needed parents and will need obedience from their own children by and by. On the strength of these views various sacrifices of the happiness of man, woman and youth may be effected while they do not inquire precisely what they do need individually and how they can get it at least cost of unhappiness.
The family, attempting to become an Ego, treats its members as an Ego naturally treats available organic or inorganic matter. The supine become raw material. The person has the power to resign self-care and allow himself to be seized upon and work up as material by any of the other real or would-be Egos that are in quest of nutriment and of bases of operation. The greater would-be Ego, the "social organism," reinforces the family demand with persuasion that hesitates at no fallacy, but first plies the individual with some general logic as to our need of each other then with flattery, how it will repay him for inconvenience by praise, external and internal, all the while exerting a moral terrorism over every mind weak enough to allow it, and all to subjugate the real Ego to the complex would-be but impossible Ego. For not the good of the family, but of itself, is the object of the state and of the "social organism." The state prates of the sacredness of the family, but treats it with scant courtesy when its own interest conflicts with the family interest. The "social organism" reinforces the family against the individual and the state against the family, this already threatening the family, and obviously it will next threaten the state so far as this can be distinguished for the community; that is, the "social organism" will have no permanent use for separate nations.
But in speaking thus we should not forget that the group, or collectivity, reflects the will of some master minds, or at the widest the will of a large number under the influence of certain beliefs. Either one or two or three horses may draw a plow, and its motions will be different. The complexity of motion from three horses is certainly a phenomenon to be studied, but the way is not to disregard the elementary motive forces which form the result by their combination; and so it is with society. Its phenomena will be according to conditions of information and to circumstances which determine the direction of personal desires. There certainty of desire and aversion as motives, founded in self-preservation, is found in the nature of organic as distinguished from inorganic existence. All desires and dislikes, acting and counteracting, make the so-called social will, -- a more convenient that accurate abstraction. To make of it an entity is a metaphysical fancy. Unity of will is the sign of individuality. The semblance of a social self, apart from individuals, obviously arises from the general concurrence of wills. They could not do otherwise than run along parallel lines of least resistance, but the intellectual prism separates the blended social rays.
The church is an important group, under the theological belief. The primitive character of its dominant idea funds its complementary expression in the simple and transparent Egoism of its immediate motives. A personal ruler, judge and rewarder existing in beliefs, commands and threatens. The person sacrifices part of his pleasure to propitiate this master because he fears his power. Habit supervene and the investigation spirit is terrorized by both personal belief and the fear of other fear-stricken believers, watchful and intolerant. The hope of heaven and fear of punishment are of the simplest Egoism. Morality on the same plane includes the fear of man and hope of benefit from men, complicated with belief in reciprocal enforcement of ecclesiastical duties, and this as a duty. Becoming metaphysical it is doubtless more difficult of analysis, but this secondary or transition stage of mind is already disposed of as a whole by philosophy, so that the evolutionist predicts the passage of its phenomena and their replacement by positive ideas of processes. The metaphysical stage will pass away though its formulas be entirely neglected by the advancing opposition. In fact, spell-bound and mystified man is freed by courage to break off from the chain of fantasies which has succeeded to the chain of theological fear. In this progress example counts suggestively and even demonstratively, and new habits of positive, specific inquiry give the intellect mastery of itself and of the emotions which had enslaved it.
To sum up this part of the subject, let those who preach anti-Egoistic doctrines in the name of deity, society or collective humanity, tell us of a deity who is not an Egoist autocrat, or who has worshipers who do not bow down to him because they think it wisest to submit; of a family which sacrifices itself to the individuals and not the individuals' hopes and wishes to itself; of a community or political or social state which departs from the rule of self-defense and self-aggrandizement; of any aggregation, pretending to permanence, this is not for itself and against every individuality that would subtract from its power and influence; of a collective humanity that is not for itself, the collectivity, though it were necessary to discourage and suppress any individual freedom which the collectivity did not think to be well disposed toward the collectivity or at least certain to operate to its ultimate benefit. Self is the thought and aim in all. Selfness is their common characteristic. Without it they would be elemental matter, unresisting food for other growths.
Can the altruistic be included in the Egoistic? According to a standard definition, quoted and adopted in Webster's dictionary, from the Eclectic Review, the reply seems to be that it can. That definition reads as follows:
ALTRUISTIC, a. [from Lat. Alter, other]. Regardful of others; proud of or devoted to others; opposed to egotistical.
If Egoism were the same as narrow in meaning as egoitistic, of course the question would have to differently answered. But egotism bears the same relation to Egoism as the term selfishness, used with purpose in the derogatory syllable, bears to my newly coined term, selfness; hence we will set it down that some constructive use for the term altruistic is not of necessity excluded from Egoistic philosophy. But let it be observed that claims made for Altruism, based upon an ignorant or capricious limitation of the meaning of Egoism, and a glorification of the doctrine of devotion to others, intended to produce a habit of self-surrender, are held in our mode of thought to be pernicious, and attributed, in conclusions from our analysis, to defective observations and reasoning, and to the subtle workings of selfishness. To be regardful of others within reason, is intelligent Egoism in the first place, but before we go far in this we draw a distinction between such others are worth regarding and such others as present no title to regard unless a barren and superstitious form of respect obtrudes itself and makes a claim for "others" because they are "others," --- makes a virtue of sinking self before that which is external to the self. This is the principle of worship, mental slavery, superstition, anti- Egoistic thought. To proud of others, of the right sort for us, is one form of Egoistic rejoicing. When reflection has done its work efficiently the habit of care for others, of the right sort for us, continues until checked by some counter experience; but let the habit become strong, let the avenues to esteem be unguarded and the sentiment of worship usurp the place of good sense, then the Ego is undone. He is like the mariner who has set said and lashed his helm in a fixed position, fallen asleep and drifted into other current under changing winds.
Some Altruistic writers remind me of the orthodox theologians. In face of the facts of physical science the theologian admits that everything in this world proceeds according to an invariable order, but insists upon giving it a magical, ghostly origin. The Altruistic writers likewise admit that the immediate choice of action of each individual at each turn in his career is determined by causes with precision, but they plead for an Altruistic education, an Altruistic impulse now, so that hereafter the reaction of the individual to given causes may be this: that he will find his pleasure in the social welfare. I say that if he finds his pleasure in it, he Egoistically promotes it; and if those writers find their pleasure in planning a greater social welfare, their initial efforts in the matter are Egoistic. The reflecting person may perceive that there is room for mistakes as to what is the social welfare. The doctrine which demands that a person shall forego some pleasure without having a deliberate conviction that by so doing he makes a wise individual choice, is responsible for a certain immediate lessening of welfare at one point. Beyond that it may be an illusion of ignorance.
The belief which prevail at one time regarding what is for the social welfare are widely different from those which succeed them. Once it was deemed injurious to society to teach a slave to read, and consequently injurious to tolerate in a slaveholding commonwealth the presence of a free person who ventured to follow his liberal inclination in this respect toward an intelligent slave of deserving character and conduct. Those who yielded to this social belief which they shared, rather than make an exception by following personal inclination, yielded to what has since been generally pronounced to be a malefic error. At the present day the beliefs prevail that conjugal rights of person over person are contributory to the social welfare; that children owe allegiance to their parents, and blood relations peculiar obligations to each other; that citizens need to feel other bonds that their own interested calculations and spontaneous benevolence; and so I might proceed with an array of phantom claimants exacting duties of the individual believer, prescribing what he shall and shall not do to be a worthy promoter of the social welfare; whereas on the whole there never has been any social welfare understood or realized, but meanwhile trumpery beliefs prevailing in the past and present have filled the world with individual miseries.
Some of the Altruists contend that their ideal man is wiser than to serve the beliefs of society. He works for his own ideal with his own reason for his guide. They fear that if he were to lose the urging sense of duty to the ideal he would cease to labor for a better condition of things. Now this is on their part, when stated, an insidious even unconscious challenge to us Egoists to show them that Egoism is a better Altruism than Altruism itself. The matter presents itself thus, that the Altruist want to inquire or discuss whether Egoism is "right," best for society, and so forth. Perhaps it will break up all the societies that now exist, and constitute new moral worlds, making new ideals possible; perhaps liberality of mind will prompt to all and more than the most intelligent and enlightened Altruist expects from the sentiment of duty; but however this may be, we Egoists are not arguing for the right of Egoism to be tried. We are trying to explain that Egoism is the chief fact or organic existence --- its universal characteristics.
Let us analyze Altruism with reference to pursuits instead of confining all our attention to persons. A new acquaintance and a new thing are alike objects to the Ego. His aim is to make use of them. The Ego's mental caliber and his predilections, heredity, or habits with regard to association, distinguishing him as an individual, are exhibited in the appreciation which he shows for some objects which can be made use of as means to gain, or reduce to use, further objects. The less reflecting man finds grain and consumes it all, finds wood and uses all kinds alike for fuel. The more reasoning man saves some grain for seed, cultivates it and gets more, saves hard wood for some durable uses, makes tools of metal, and studies his future welfare by planning means to ends instead of living from hand to mouth. In so far as he, in dealing with either persons or things, keeps postponement or surrender of immediate pleasure, he is clearly acting with Egoistic judgment. Even when, having tested a series of phenomena, he establishes a rule and allows habits to supervene, saving himself the trouble of constant repetition of verifications, he is still the same Egoist; but if he loses the normal control of his exertion with reference to objects and ends which at first were to him means to other ends, he becomes an idealistic Altruist in the sense in which Altruism is distinguished from Egoism. In other words he becomes irrational, or insane. As some individuals have mind enough to be habitually careful of others according to their merits, some artisans are habitually careful of their tools and more systematic and steady in their methods of work than others. Does this argue that they are less selfy or does it simply argue that they are more theoretical and, with excellent reason at the foundation, exemplify the law of character by which a process of reasoning having been settled, the intermediate links in some chains of reasoning, become familiar, are passed over without self-consciousness? The selfness of a farmer who goes out in the cold to save his stock, at the cost to him of some discomfort only, is not less in quantity, but is connected with more intelligence, than that of one who avoids the cold and lets his stock suffer. But a farmer may have become so avaricious that he will get him limbs frozen in his craze to save a yearling for the sake of the few dollars it is worth to him. The love of money within reason is conspicuously an Egoistic manifestation, but when the passion gets the man, when money becomes his ideal, his god, we must class him as an Altruist. There is the characteristic of "devotion to another," no matter that that other is neither a person nor the social welfare, nothing but the fascinating golden calf or a row of figures. We Egoists draw the line of distinction between the Egoist and the devotee. It is the same logically when a person becomes bewitched with another of the opposite sex so as to lose judgment and self-control, though this species of fascination is usually curable by experience, while the miser's insanity cannot be reached. The love-sick man or woman has the illusion dispelled by contact with the particular person that caused it; but in certain cases absence or death prevent the remedy from being applied, and in some of these instances the mental malady is lifelong. "Devotion to others," it will be observed, can be made from a text for other sermons than those emanating from the amiable Moralists who pride themselves upon the alleged superiority of an unreservedly Altruistic habit of thought.
The man who has fifty or a hundred suits of cloths made for his imagined use, the woman who keeps a colony of cats, the man who fills a private storehouse with all sorts of tools which he can never use, are equally illustrations of the subversions of reason and are to be classed as Altruists in the degree in which Altruism supplants a ration Egoism. Let us take up these cases and consider them in detail. To have more than one suit of cloths is mostly a wise provision for the future, hence the aim is Egoistic, but from the point at which the accumulator loses sight of the end for which his care and trouble are taken, and becomes a slave to the idea of cloths, he ceases to be intellectually his own master; he falls under the domination of a fixed idea and is in that respect like a fanatic. The difference between him and the fanatic is that his crotchet is merely a waste of time and means, whereas the fanatic's fixed idea is one impelling its slave to some sort of senseless interference with other people's conduct. The fanatic, too, is an idealistic Altruist. If his oppression of others were carried on in pursuance of a selfish calculation, he would not be a fanatic.
The woman who keeps an absurd number of cats embodies the exaggeration of the originally rational idea that this is a useful course to have one or two cats about a house to keep the mice down. Care for the useful domestic cat, without reasoning this matter over continually, is just as altruistic and no more so than fair treatment of good neighbors or of neighbors who would probably be dangerous if unfairly treated. The craze for cats is the same kind of Altruism as that which dictates entire self-sacrifice for the imagined food of other people.
One may need many appliances, but there is a rational limit to the accumulations of tools. It is quite clean that some men pass this limit and make collections of such things a hobby, not for exhibition and instruction, because they will eagerly accumulate a dozen or fifty articles of a kind, and nor for commerce. This mild form of insanity cannot well be classed otherwise than as a degeneration from rational Egoism, through the altruistic process, to supernal Altruism.
I have dwelt upon these examples partly because it is sometimes assumed that professed Egoists should use neither foresight nor prudential self-denial. Critics who presume to argue in this way refer man to the improvident species of animals and forget even the squirrel. It is quite consistent with Egoistic philosophy and practice that foresight should be used and specific pleasures relinquished, and that habits of prudential self-denial should be formed, subject to searching review and ready self-control, especially as we are admonished on aye change of surroundings.
And now, having traced the degeneration of the limited altruistic phase of Egoism (the rational postponement of immediate ends to means of no value in themselves but only to reach Egoistic ends), in others words having viewed Egoism as partly a pursuit of means, and so a rational course, and Egoistically altruistic habits as a further rational economy of time, in place of endless minute examination and calculations of consequences, --having explained from the Egoistic point of view how, when the Ego has in some instance purposely dismissed the immediate gratification of self, he may and does sometimes fail to return to it for want of landmarks, memory and reflection, I would inquire whether there be any better explanation of the origin of the insanity of self- abnegation; I mean in the real, extreme unegoistic sense of the word; a sacrifice without expectation of Compensation to the individual. The limited altruistic phase of Egoism is inevitable for a complex being. It involves the peril described. He runs the risk of going into supernal Altruism, much as the sailor, deliberately going out of sight of land to reach other land, runs whatever risk there may be of forgetting the object with which he undertook the voyage or of losing his compass and never getting back; or as an orator, entering upon the Flowery path of illustrations, may become captivated with the images of his fancy and utterly forget the logical conclusion which he intended only momentarily to postpone in order to reach it with greater effect. As hobbies, miserly habits, and so forth, do not seem to admit of any other explanation than the one presented, and as fanaticism with its cruel deeds admittedly springs from concern for others, coupled with a belief that certain of their doctrines are errors, and is thus identified despite its deplorable characteristics, as being pronounced Altruism, and yet in consequence of these characteristics it will not be defended by professed Altruists, but will be admitted by them to originate in unreason, I should not expect them to object in this way of accounting for all obviously evil forms of Altruism. But the obviously evil and the silly phases of Altruism are apparently as intense as those phases which are so much praised and expatiated upon by professed Altruists, and therefore presumably require an equal formative energy. Consequently until the contrary is shown, we shall be as thoroughly warranted in reason in assuming that if the one set have been accounted for by our theory of the development of the dominating power of ideas and sentiments, the other can be accounted for in the same way; precisely as we may say that if the physical development theory be admitted to account for the snake and the hawk, it will be taken to account for the sheep and the deer. And moreover, when a process of development is shown to hold good, the mute challenge of facts is not merely as to whether or not another and radically different sort of explanation can be supposed for correlative facts, but the presumption of a general unity of process is very strong. Let any considerable part of the foregoing reasoning be admitted and it is granted to us that the concrete good or seemingly good in Altruism is based in Egoism. Then it can safely be inferred that it must be subject to test by reference to the Egoistic reason for its existence; in each case of a development of altruistic motive the question will be: is it serviceable projection, an indirect means of Egoistic attainment, or is it an irrational movement, an aberration, to which we have seen there is a constant tendency? Now, the reason why we need to speak with caution of the seeming good in Altruism is not founded in any doubt that rationally limited altruism is wise and a necessary part of human Egoism, but in the circumstance that Altruism appears to have been set up by some writers as a principle separate from and independent of Egoism, as if the latter were a preliminary ladder, passing from which they profess to reach their supernal structure, whereupon they would kick the ladder from beneath them. At this point we Egoists decide that such Altruism, considered as a principle, is not a thing of parts more or less good, but is posited as a rival of antagonistic claim, and therefore from the Egoistic point of view, is wholly bad. Here for illustration we may take the analogy of what is called government. If we say that each individual needs protection from violence and combinations of violence, that therefore the honest people should combine to secure such protection, this is well; but if upon this basis a governmental power is built which proves to be oppressive, we deny that such government is good, whatever good acts it may perform.
All the appetites and passions afford subjects for observation and study of the process traced in several of the preceding paragraphs, but it is not my purpose to give an exhaustive review of the various fixed ideas and fascinations, or forms of mental slavery. I would suggest, as a useful exercise to the student of this philosophy of the actual, that other forms of subserviency to fixed ideas be analyzed as instances present themselves.
Sometimes it will be necessary to look beyond the individual experience of the subject. Indeed it is certain that heredity plays an important part in predisposing the individual to one or other craze, so that he falls into it when the inciting cause arises, or else in organizing him with well-balanced powers so that he happens to be happily proof against their influence. For example it may be interesting to the reader to take up for himself the passion of revenge, study its origin in the facts of warring species, families and individuals, self-defense and precaution, habits of thought becoming fixed, the destructive propensity developed perhaps beyond the need of the individual in actual circumstances, while the sense of relation between means and ends is blunted or lost; consequently when some hurt is experienced or apprehended,--or it may be an insult to his "honor" or a bundle of Altruistic beliefs,-the person seeking self-protection or vindication will act as if what has been destroyed were still to be preserved by annihilating the destroyer, or on a menace he will act with the energy of concentrated race experiences, and in sympathy with his family, nation or race will generalize an injury to someone as being precisely the same as an injury to another or himself, though in the case it may be really otherwise, as a cool judgment might determine. Thus what is primarily self-defense leads, under the influence of this passion, and perhaps quite as often or oftener than philanthropy, to the sacrifice of his own life by the subject. Such action has the mark of that supernal Altruism already abundantly illustrated and clearly distinguished from a rational altruism consonant with the reign of self-interest.
We have now dealt with Altruism as fact, but we have yet to consider it as a preachment of duty. Before entering upon a consideration of the claims of the preachers of "moral duty" and showing what their alleged obligatory Altruism is, putting it to the test, whereupon I apprehend that it will be found to be easier for a man to pass through a needle's eye than to enter into the moral kingdom of heaven, I wish to anticipate an objection or criticism which some reader may have raised in his own mind while we were discussing the illustrations of fixed ideas. The miser took pleasure in hoarding gold, but because he was under a fixed idea I classified him as in the bad sense Altruistic; yet for an individual to act under the rule of pleasure is Egoistic. This is the seemingly difficult. It is resolved, of course, by disregarding verbal quibbles. The mesmerized subject seems to act as an individual but he is under foreign control. The miser seems likewise to act as an individual but he is intoxicated or mesmerized by the force of the idea which has obtained an ascendancy incompatible with the reign of individual reason.
A further remark seems appropriate here, and I have brought this case up partly to explain how far the philosophy of Egoism differs from the logomachy of the Moralists, who, not content with dividing men into sheep and goats, would be glad to divide ideas of facts in the same way and on the lines of their own prejudices. With them the facts must be opposites, absolute opposites all the way through, if there be opposition in them in some relation. They have right and wrong, good and evil, Altruism and Egoism in their brains as opposites. Though nothing in fact is simpler to sound reason than the conformity of the crazy man's conduct to the order of the sane man's conduct, barring the substitution of an abnormal motive which practically supplants individual reason, the genuine Moralistic theorist does not want an analysis of the facts. He is on the lookout for some peg whereon to hang a charge of inconsistency in argument. Verbiage is his stronghold for such occasions. He may be painfully Surprised to learn that we Egoists profess to find the Altruistic subject manifesting Egoistic modes of operation as nearly as the nature of the craze will allow, and that we find in this an expected corroboration of the central fact of organized, sensitive existence. A little shock or whirl of this kind will prepare the less fossilized among my Moralistic readers for the greater astonishment which they must undergo when they for the first time read of right and wrong as they will be treated in these pages, as conceptions having each a separate and independent origin and not logically requiring the usual forced moralistic treatment as if they were necessary and invariable opposites. Just at this point, however, I need only say that modest altruism confesses its foundation and haughty Altruism is self-betrayed, as surely as there is method in madness. Altruism is conspicuously selfish to make gains for Altruism. Method is a prime characteristic of sanity. There may be such madness as shows no method, but it is rare. The Altruism that contains no Egoistic alloy is still more rare if it exists at all. We have yet to look about and see whether it can be found and to examine whether or not it will appear to be a vain profession of self-deluded men who have never contemplated the sacrifices which it would involve if consistently and diligently carried into action.
To plead before a tribunal is generally understood to be an acknowledgment of its jurisdiction. The intelligent Egoist does not seek to justify his views or conduct according to rules or principles of Moralism which works by awe, aping theology and religion, of which this Moralism is the ghost. Such words as morals, morality, right and wrong, duty and obligation have not lost their limited Egoistic meanings. The theoretical Egoist may be termed a moralist in so far as he thinks out a course of conduct in conformity with his observation and reason. If in a genial way he soars above business calculations then he "sings as the birds sing." To him duties imply persons who have wants and make the non- satisfaction of those wants a source of discomfort to him. But supernal Moralism with its absolute Duty he apprehends as a claim of an essentially religious character fettering with ghostly terror or enthrallment all who yield to the mystic spell.
Persons who have been reared in a religious belief find themselves years after they have become disbelievers in the doctrines taught them in childhood still so far under the influence of religious sentiment that light remarks on the subject give them a shock, and apparently in the same way a generation that does not know God or ecclesiastical authority, a generation that does not know the sacred political State and the sacred authoritative family of its fathers, still retains some portion of the conscience that would fain subjugate Egoistic reason. For thousands of years preachers in the service of rulers have been preaching Duty, humility, submission, piety to the people, and Egoism has been their unspeakable horror. In our day the results of criticism applied to religious belief are apparent in general skepticism regarding the foundation of their authority, of their dogmas. Still the heredity of preaching, exhorting and warning must find its outlet, to say nothing of calculations made by men whose wealth is insured by the system of belief and submission preached, and to say nothing of calculations by ex-preachers of theology whose prospect of an income seems limited to finding something on which to preach and by which to obtain contributions, and thus the relations of man with man, philanthropy for equity, sentiment for science, serve to continue the comedy-tragedy of preaching and servility.
If Shylock does not go to church he takes a magazine and enables the publisher to pay a few dollars a page for essays on ethics, the purport of which is that Morality, Conscience, Duty reign where God formerly reigned and with much the same restraining effect; that all honorable men will agree that these forces are indispensable, ineradicable and necessary for the conservation of property, the family, government and social order, hence a proof of Moral Being in man, while self-interest as a principle would be subversive of Moral sentiment and ruinous to society; wherein it is assumed that society is about as it is desirable to keep it. By such process Shylock makes 5000 per cent on his investment in Moralistic literature simply in the economic sphere, as he is protected by the State. He accepts any incidental assistance toward keeping women in a receptive and docile condition of mind as being so much clear profit, though really if the enterprise had to be sustained for this purpose alone he must be a miser only or else a free lover and not a "proper family man," if he did not see the advisibility of paying out the few dollars even with this sole end in view.
All reformers who are not intelligent Egoists or endowed with the genius of Egoism continually render themselves ridiculous by complaining of monopolists and tyrants. Thereby they proclaim their Moralistic superstition. Their method is abortive. It can at the best lead people from one form of trustful dependence to another. At the worst and often it causes people to commit acts of ill considered hostility and to indulge in sentimental declarations which enable cool and intelIigent masters to incite stronger forces against the reformers. Reform, indeed, is a word for conservative mediocrity. Egoism when understood by the many means nothing less than a complete revolution in the relations of mankind, for it is the exercise of the powers of individuals at their pleasure, and not a plea for their "rights."
The Moralists, or Altruists, come with a tale of Duty, or moral obligation. They say that I ought to love my neighbor as myself and to put aside my selfy pleasure. It is horrifying to them that I act on consciousness of satisfaction, on genial impulse, on calculation of gain, and not in submission to the Moralistic judgment of "conscience." I understand very well that it is their ignorant fear of an independent person that is at the bottom of their pleading. They are accustomed to think of a man as a dangerous animal unless controlled by "conscience." Few of them have met one who does not profess to defer to such a "spiritual guide." I however regard their "conscience" as identical with the superstition which impels Hindoos to throw themselves beneath the wheels of the sacred car and to allow sacred animals and sacred men to devour their substance.
Are the Altruists, the Moralists, willing to examine the logic of their principle and carry it out to its consequence? Will they follow where it leads? Then we need not insist Upon the prominence of the oppressive idea of Duty and its degradation of the individual, but we may take their own favorite idea of pure, disinterested love expelling self-interest wherever the two conflict. Of course the intelligent Egoist will perceive that I am trying to accommodate the Altruists, to get as near their position as possible, but that nevertheless there is something of falsehood, of contradiction, in the idea that love can be other than a personal interest in the object when love overcomes other interests without a sentiment of sacrifice arising; and that if the consciousness of sacrifice be present the motive is Duty, not love. However, I am discussing an alleged possibility, a life of Altruistic devotion,-and I do not expect in the statement of the question to succeed better than the Moralists themselves in making the fanciful scheme appear wholly real. Apart from theology with its gross dogmatism about "souls" in men and the animals as "soulless" machines of flesh and blood, the dogma of Moralism, the duty of Jove to others, obviously bears a direct and essential relation to the capacity of others to enjoy and to suffer, and no radical distinction can be made between a human subject and any other animal. The anti-vivisection Moralists stand up to the logic of their principle in one particular when they insist that pain ought to be inflicted upon the inferior animals for the advancement of science intended for the benefit of mankind and not for the species or individual animals operated upon.
The consistent Moralist will now see what his principle requires of him. Though the animal, by reason of its inferior intelligence and want of speech and hands, cannot fully express its complaints, assert its "rights," and maintain its liberty, he will neither use his superior ability to enthralled it nor permit others to do such wrong if it be within his power to prevent them. The animal's inability to participate as an equal in social affairs is ground for certain exclusions, but not for usurpation, detention, subjugation, castration, enforced labor, shearing off the natural coat, robbery of the mother's milk and driving to the slaughter house. By what right does the Moralist shoot deer or crows, cut off the heads of chickens and turkeys, and cast his line or his net for fish? If by the authority of God, I reply that God is the archetype of personal despotism, Egoism without the balancing force of approximately equal powers in different individuals; and that there is no such authority. The philosophical Altruist has left that ground. I refuse to recognize the plea. I look to the Altruistic Moralist for a less barbarian answer. And let him remember the incapable of his species, the idiot, the maniac. Does he exploit them with a good conscience, as he tames and rides a horse? Does he refrain from fattening and killing them only because he thinks they are not good eating? Where and what is his conscience, then, as to other animals?
Permit me to suggest that a man is safe in reflecting that he will never be a buffalo or a rat, unless he believes in transmigration, whereupon his unconfessed Egoism crops out, keenly self-regardful. Hence buffaloes and rats have no rights that a man even though a professed Moralist need respect, except the right of exemption from torture. (Torture is a bad example. It can be inflicted upon men as well as upon other animals and it does not minister to any demand of enlightened self-interest.) But what man may not be accused of feeble-mindedness or suffer some accident which will impair his mental powers? How then can self-concern be silent when one of his species is ill treated? The other animals-indeed he is never to be one of them: what does it matter to him how you use them so that you do not cultivate cruelty in yourself? (The cruel man is dangerous to us and ours.)
I call upon the Moralist to vindicate his doctrine by applying it consistently to the treatment of all animals. Confining it to our own species is too Egoistic to be deemed pure Moralism. I shall be very much surprised if any such practical response comes as to disprove my new version of scripture, which says that the Moral kingdom of heaven is inaccessible to men of ordinary sanity. Who will rejoice to see the grasshopper getting his fill, and keep sacrilegious hands out of the hen's nest? Who will feed the lambs and neither feed upon ~lamb nor wrap in woolen blankets, for conscience sake? One Moralist has one hobby and another has another hobby, but if there be one who proposes to live a life of self-denial for the happiness of all other sentient beings as far as they are capable of experiencing pleasure, to respect their liberty and embryonic offspring as conscientiously as any Moralist does those of his own species, I shall regard his appearance upon this scene as the exception which will very strikingly illustrate the rule in individual conduct, and I shall be glad to have an opportunity of learning how he manages to live.
If self-renunciation be a virtue, certainly it is the purer when the sacrifice is made for individuals of another and widely different species. In caring for our own species we may obtain a return, and we can cherish the imagination thereof if it seems improbable; and so it is in caring for one of any other species between which and ourselves there is some communication of mutual intelligence and mutual sympathy; but if a man wants to show pure disinterestedness let him sacrifice his pleasure, his comfort and his life for other species that wilt neither understand nor return the manifestations of benevolence. Such a supernal Altruist will reject cleanliness as a sin, if convinced, as he must be by ordinary observation, that parasites thrive best on the human body when there is an entire avoidance of soap and water. Such a self-denying Moralist wm not dress a wound or purify his blood, for these practices mean death to animalcules. Here I am reminded of a story of the devout Hindoo who was horrified on looking at a drop of water through a powerful microscope. He found to his consternation that he could not drink without destroying life.
Supernal Moralism should be viewed sometimes from the point of view of universal animal motives and conduct, excluding the idea of selflessness. If the survival of the fittest be not an empty phrase, supernal Moralism is an excessively silly insanity. The "sacredness" of the germs of human life is impressed upon the mind of the devotee of Moralism, and in some cases the result is that a child is born as the offspring of rape. The simple, pious people may wonder that "God" can assist in giving effect to crime. The supernal Moralist who prides himself on scientific acquirements may well feel confused when a hybrid form appears as a practical commentary upon the alleged "sacredness."
Spiritual terror, the strangest, most melancholy phenomenon in human motive, is essentially the same influence, while it lasts, in the man or woman claiming to be emancipated from theological dogmas, as in the believer in those dogmas. It usually remains after its generally supposed root is destroyed, in the Agnostic, like an air-plant. This indicates that its foundation is not precisely where some antitheological writers suppose. Mere disbelief in Jehovah may leave the agnostic mind subject to fixed ideas of a most irrational character. The belief in Jehovah in the first place occupied an ignorant mind and when that belief is expelled neither ignorance nor fear is altogether banished. There is some improvement in the prospect for positive Egoistic thought and sentiment to occupy its own. There remain, however, numerous fixed ideas of Duty to Society, Duty to the State, Duty to Humanity, and such rubbish, which are fertile of intoxicating and paralyzing influences, and our talking Freethinkers in general still shudder to contemplate a person uncontrolled by such "restraining influences." They imagine, after all, that he will go to the devil or run amok without moral "restraint." The triumph of sanity, then, lies not in the expulsion of anyone form of insanity, but in the acquisition of an Egoistic consciousness and self-control.
Under the head of Religion Webster's dictionary says: "As distinguished from morality, religion denotes the influences and motives to human duty which are found in the character and will of God, while morality describes the duties to man, to which true religion always influences." Granted belief in a personal ruler, submission to his will is prudence and prudence is Egoistic. With this conception the duty spoken of is not mysterious: it is service by a subject,-the slave's submission to the power which he fears. He believes that the sovereign ruler has laid upon him special commands favoring his species and therefore he must treat men better than other animals. If this belief be an error, still there is no line to be drawn between the alleged duty and his interest. There is no disinterestedness or generosity in religious duty or moral duty, or say rather in duty to God or man, for both are ultimately duty to the supposed heavenly master.
But Moralists, having gained some rational ideas of mutual relation, while unhappily ignoring the fact that these ideas are the proper foundation of willingly assumed mutual duties, fancy that they have discovered the justice of the alleged divine command or will, which is nothing but a reflection of their own thoughts, and thenceforth they fall under the hallucination of mystic Duty, independent of either calculation or pleasure. It is one task of Egoistic philosophy to analyze this notion of theirs as a confusion of ideas. They go so far in some instances as to dismiss belief in a moral lawgiver of the universe and yet remain under the same fascination to Duty as if they had him, and his will were equitable, and their servility were swallowed up in admiration of his justice. What they lack is the insight to perceive that conduct which makes for the good of the species is naturally agreeable to the feeling of each well developed individual, hence that the conception of Duty is skepticism as to spontaneity. The fixed idea of Duty unrelated to interest and not reducible to calculation, arises by abstraction and fascination like other aberrations reviewed in preceding pages. It reaches clear insanity in self-sacrifice if this occur in unreasoning ecstasy.
Of course one self-inflicted pain of some particular kind or even death is sometimes chosen in order to terminate anguish which none but the subject can appreciate. In such cases the action is Egoistic, though it may be of a terribly ignorant sort, as for example, when the cause of the pain is an imaginary object or such a real relation as is humiliating to the person's feeling only because of irrational notions about it.
If morality be regarded from the point of view of the social utilitarian, as that course of conduct which promotes the welfare of the species, it is only necessary to repeat that the species acts as Egoistically as it can. It cheerfully sacrifices individuals to its own welfare. It has a subtle economy of means in planting Altruistic conceits in those that are willing to entertain them. When intelligence comes to recognize mutual interests this instinctive trickery of social influence will vanish, no longer seeming to be needed.
As for the virtues, such as benevolence, every observing person knows that we seek to get rid of painful impressions. Such, usually, are those of suffering in others. Many writers have pointed out how pity is stirred by the sight of wasted bodies and hearing the cry of pain, and how much weaker it is when only an ordinary description is given of the occasion; also how much more ready the poor are to help other poor people than the rich are. What has perhaps not been so generally observed is the reason for this, viz., that the rich do not feel that they arc likely to need alms, while the poor are on the edge of such need. There is quite enough in the difference of circumstances to make it instructive, although at the same time, personal character varying in susceptibility, it is doubtless true also that those most inclined to benevolence are most likely to be poor in a society like ours, where money is supposed to grow by lending and profits are consolidated from the results of unpaid labor.
The suggestion has been heard that if all acts are Egoistic this term has no distinctive meaning. The same thing has often been said as to "matter" when the Materialist has affirmed that there is no "spirit,"-no opposite of matter. Matter then becomes synonymous simply with existence. The Materialist replies that he is content with the conclusion that there is no alleged existence unrelated to other and known existence; none exempt from manifestation according to a regular order or subject to the inherent law of its being, to speak according to appearances. There is a regular order of succession of phenomena. The Spiritual theory asserts a break in what is popularly called "the reign of natural law," Materialism denies such assertion and exists as a distinctive ism to deny and disprove it. This statement will indicate in part what is the proper reply when it is charged that Egoism is almost meaningless if it embraces all acts. It was believed that a man acted disinterestedly. Closer examination finds the motive and the form of their interest. Thus a parallel to the progress made from the time when men believed in miracles to the time when they have learned enough of natural law to expel the former belief.
By referring to the definition already given of Egoism it will be seen that it covers a theory as well as facts. If every act of every animal were perfectly Egoistic, nevertheless the demands of intelligence would not be satisfied without understanding the phenomena, which are explained according to natural law as reactions of individual will to motives presented in circumstances. To act Egoistically is universal, but to be in part ignorant of the fact seems to be also nearly universal. The theory of Egoism has its opposite in the theory of Altruism, evidently joined to Spiritualism by ignoring and denying the necessary sequence in phenomena. (I make no allusion to modern Spiritualism, which professes to be Materialistic.)
But beyond this it can be firmly said that until the Egoistic theory is understood and has had its full influence upon character, those irrational actions will continue which are the fruit of error, illusion, fascination, fixed ideas, rendering the individual practically not an Ego, not in the possession of his faculties, hence there will be, as there are, actions not properly Egoistic, but insane, though not generally so understood. Thus the Egoistic theory has a practical purpose. The half insane, that is to say all worshipers, religious, political or personal,-are to come to consciousness of their individuality and become wholly sane. As to submissive actions performed simply under fear or hope, their Egoistic character is quite clear.
The word right has the same fundamental meaning as straight. When no obstacle stands or Iies between an animal and the object of its desire, the shortest way, which is a straight line, is the way the animal takes to reach the object; but when approach by a right line is impracticable the nearest known path is chosen, all considerations such as safety being weighed according to intelligence. This is then the line of least resistance,-the one most approximating in convenience to a right line. The right hand is so named because usually the stronger and more serviceable. A man's right is his straight way to the satisfaction of his desires, and he takes no other way except under adverse circumstances or hallucination.
It will be objected by Moralists that such an exposition of right reduces it to nothing but might. In this inference they are correct, but their objection does not disturb Egoistic philosophy, which regards their alleged supernal, sacred Right as a superstition. I have a right to do what I can take and openly keep, and another has a right to take it from me if he can. Those, however, who believe that a superior authority has laid down a rule to which they must conform, will take up that rule or law as they understand it, and their idea of right will be that of conformity to the command of the authority. The Moralist is under an impression that instead of pursuing his own pleasure he has to fulfill a purpose which may be at variance with his pleasure. His conception of Right is not an Egoistic conception. He has surrendered himself, and with himself his Own right, and has begun to serve an abstraction. He is in the way to commit great folly and wrong to himself. To the Moralist Right and Wrong are two fixed ideas, forever in opposition in all senses. To the intelligent Egoist they are two words generally perverted from their meaning and used as scarecrows. There is a frequent clash between the right of one and the right of another, and they fight it out. It is settled by the triumph of one and the defeat of the other. Max Stirner in his matchless book, Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum (The Individual and his Property), says: Ist es mir recht, so ist es recht (If it suits me, it is right.) The Moralist would say: if it be right for me; thus implying that he is under some mysterious authority. The Egoist would not Use the the latter preposition except when recognizing some law or definite arrangement which prescribes certain rights. When I say: "if it be right for me-," I admit an authority. Now in fact I must often admit one-, that is a power, but I admit it simply as a power, not at all as the Moralist admits it. I do not bow down to it in my thought or regard it as anything but an enemy to my freedom, and if it cease to assert its power and to compel me by penalty or the prospect of penalty, I assert my full power to do my own pleasure and nothing but my own pleasure. The Moralist consents to serve as his own jailer; not so the Egoist. Assert your right, your power, your pleasure. I claim none of that, I assert my own. I appeal to no Moral law of the world. I recognize none. We shall find our interests coincide or we shall give each other battle or we shall steer clear of each other, according to circumstances.
In words you can assert my right, but when you attempt to do so in deeds you succeed only in asserting your own right. I alone can prove my right by deeds.
The Moralist pretends to be under an obligation to respect the rights of others and never do them any wrong; but he defines their rights and does not allow them all their rights. He abdicates his own and cripples theirs and then flatters himself that the mutilation and effacement constitute superior Right. He protests against Egoism because it wrongs his system. At times he imagines that the Egoist must talk in the language of Moralism and must mean that in acting with Egoistic right the Egoist would pretend not to do wrong to another; wherein the Moralist becomes absurd, for the Egoist does not pretend that he can always exercise his right without wrong to another. It is a matter of expediency with the Egoist what wrong to another he shall do.
"Right wrongs no man," exclaims the landlord, and drives the tenant out of a house. The inclement weather beats upon the unsheltered, and their nerves are wrung. The landlord exercises his right, but lies moralistically.
The word wrong is a variation upon the past participle of the verb to wring, to twist. Victor and vanquished are two, and the Moralist simply looks away from the facts of life when he preaches a universal natural Right and ignores individuals with their various wants and powers and the probability that what is good to one may entail some ill upon another.
But the species? The Moralist, driven from the former position of a divinity ordering all things in harmony in the world, or at least the conceit that his own species is favored at the expense of all below it, and this not by its intelligence but by a divine decree arbitrarily making the spoliation of the world and rule over inferior animals Right, takes refuge in a belief that the welfare of the species may give Moral law to the individual. Hence the dogma that the individual exists for the species. Were it so, the individual might insist upon existing at any cost, assuming that he is what he knows best of the species, and that his stubborn will might probably be a provision for the species. That is Right, says the Moralist, which best serves the species. And what best serves the species? The Moralist will generally reply; "that which is Right," thus completing a little circle in dogmatism. Nature, however, seems to say that species survive by the survival of their individuals. The Egoist will find in himself certain loves and aversions, and he may think that the species is taking care of itself just in proportion as he is following those paths which give him satisfaction.
The Moralist, becoming more philosophical, suggests that the war of interests will cease as men understand their similar needs and the possibility of mutual benefit, hence wrongs in the species may become fewer or cease. With all our heart, say the Egoists, only you are not to begin by sacrificing us. If the later Moralism be merely a prophetic dream of a harmony of interests through wisdom, we are not without hope that at last the dreamers will recognize individuality as the condition precedent to the fulfillment of their hopes. The fellow feeling in the species is a certain fact. Let us take it for what we find it to be and not attempt to place it in antagonism to our individualities. As these are developed the necessity will appear for each one to recognize somewhat the individuals of his species, and thus the "claims of the species" will be recognized.
Self-interest masks itself and says suavely "we seek the good of the species," instead of saying bluntly, "we gladly pick up all that other individuals let slip from their grasp." Are not we the species as contradistinguished from any individual? When we go so far as to urge sacrifices for the good of the species what are we but beggars and hypocrites? Persuasion is mingled freely with flattery administered to the vanity of the individual, and it is not to be ignored that the Moral philosopher flatters himself as he proceeds to render what he vainly imagines to be a service to his species. Assuming the point of view that he is spokesman for the species, the dictum that that is good conduct which promotes the interests of the species, is a subtle mendicancy or a veiled terror in the supposed interest of the crowd. But assuming an individual point of view the question is differently shaped. It then becomes; what use can I make of the species, of the crowd?
A summary of ethical teachings of Herbert Spencer says that postulating the desirability of the preservation and prosperity of the given species, there emerges the general conclusion that "in order of obligation the preservation of the species takes precedence of the preservation of the individual." The species he admits, "has no existence save as an aggregate of individuals," and hence, "the welfare of the species is an end to be subserved only as subserving the welfare of individuals," but, continues the summary, "since disappearance of the species involves absolute failure in achieving the end, whereas disappearance of individuals makes fulfillment simply somewhat more difficult, 'the preservation of the individual must be subordinated to the preservation of the species where the two con1lict.' "
There are several features of sophistry in this. Let us, however, note first the admission that "the species" is simply a convenient term. Now, where confusion is possible the safe way is to lay aside the term. When this is done it will be found that in restating the foregoing propositions it becomes necessary to speak, instead, either of all the individuals concerned except one or of all the individuals concerned, without exception. But he has seemingly used the term species in both senses or else, with his "order of obligation," he has affirmed an obligation to subordinate the preservation of one individual to that of another. As this is intelligible for the purpose of the crowd dealing with individuals but not for the individual acting for himself with himself as the victim, the immediate inference at this point is that Spencer is expounding the Egoistic logic of the crowd.
If the welfare of others is subserved only as subserving my welfare, it can never be true that I must subordinate my preservation to that of others, for this is to divert the general rule, which applies while I am one of the crowd, to the exceptional case wherein I am set apart from the crowd. All conditions of benefit imply at least preservation. When I am counted out for non-preservation, for the good of others, it must be the others, not I, who do the counting out. In the first premise Spencer speaks for the individual treating the crowd from his proper motive; but in the conclusion he speaks for the crowd or some of its preserved part contemplating the sacrifice of an individual, yet these shifting points of view are included in a syllogism. The welfare of the crowd a mediate end: that is reasonable to the individual. The preservation of the individual a mediate end to the crowd; that is reasonable from the crowd's point of view; but analysis of the diverse points of view is needed, not an attempt to link the two in a syllogism the conclusion of which is merely the crowd's conclusion.
Now examine the second premise of the syllogism: "the disappearance of the species involves absolute failure in achieving the end." Why, in fact? Because the disappearance of all others of the species but myself involves it? Not at all; but because the term species includes myself. But as far as my existence is concerned it would be the same if I alone disappeared. Do you say: the preservation of the alphabet is of no use to A except as A combines with other letters; but the disappearance of the alphabet would involve the disappearance of A; hence the preservation of one letter (A) is less important than the preservation of all the other letters? The letter A answers: "Bosh!"
Speaking for the individual, how does the doctrine of subordination of the preservation of the individual accord with evolutionary theory regarding the origin of species? Do species originate by individuals taking care of themselves under whatever circumstances, if possible, or by the contrary rule of their benevolence toward the pre- existing species? The reader can pursue this inquiry for himself; but I should like to suggest that what has been considered regarding the individual and the species can be paraphrased with reference to the species and the genus under which it is classified, thus:
The welfare of the genus is to be sub served only as subserving the welfare of the species, but since the disappearance of the genus involves absolute failure, whereas disappearance of particular species makes fulfillment simply somewhat more difficult, therefore the preservation of the species must be subordinated to the preservation of the genus where the two conflict.. The fallacy of this sort of reasoning may appear without comment, inasmuch as the individual will easily maintain the point of view of the interested species, and will not practically allow himself to slide over to the position of the presuming genus. A supplementary remark may be indulged. The genus never licenses or encourages the origination of new species; but then the verbal sophistry of the genus would not prove to be a preventive.
I pass by the small occasion of confusion in the use of the word "end," the second time, in the foregoing statement. Total failure may be assumed to refer to failure of the ultimate aim.
Duty is that which is due. I ought is I owe or lowed. Some duties I assume for duties assumed by others toward me. This is reciprocity. Some alleged duties the Moralist tells me that I ought to acknowledge and perform from a sense of Duty. If I then say that it is a superstition he perhaps severs himself for the moment from the superstitious crowd and claims that it is only a generalization, meaning fitness, saving tiresome repetition of analysis; it is my interest after all. He is somewhat disingenuous here, for if it be only my interest embodied in a thought-saving generalization, it will bear analysis and always come out as my interest. But he has the "social organism" in mind, to the preservation of which my individual welfare is to be subordinated, according to his idea. The "social organism" idea has captured him and he is using decoy argument to obtain from me a sacrifice of myself to his idol, his spiritual monster.
A man is hired to do certain work, and that is then called his duty; or exchange of services grows into a mutual understanding; the debt is first on one side and then on the other, and what at any time is expected, to balance the account or turn the scale as usual and create another claim so as to continue the mutually advantageous arrangement or understanding, is also called one's duty. Where service is compulsory it is likewise called duty.
Moralism, when it has gained enlightenment enough to reject slavery to a person, under the subjection of mind overawed by physical force, denies that the slave's duty is Duty. But if the slave has yielded his mind to his master the phenomenon is clearly that of Duty. When the Egoist is conscripted he does not argue that his assigned duty is not Duty. It is servitude contrary to his interest, and this consideration is enough. The fact that some slaves are governed by a sense of Duty furnishes the plainest evidence that Duty is mental slavery.
But the Moralist will claim for Duty that it is not always mental slavery. It is true that he can confuse the issue by using the word Duty to describe all those habitual actions in the doing of which no immediate benefit to self is thought of; but let us keep to the plain sense. Duty is what is due. The domination of a fixed idea begins when one admits something due and yet not due to any person or something due without benefit coming to one in return; and of course when a return benefit is calculated upon the idea is interest.
When interest is sublimated so as to lose sight of self it assumes the form of love in the absence of oppression. Evidently the presence of fear in the causative circumstances corrupts the sublimating process and results in the oppressive sense of Duty. It is possible for the Moralist, finding a series of admirable actions which are well-nigh perfect love or gratitude, to call these Duty, on an examination which will show that were the doer to study his conduct he could find in it the elements which would serve to construct a wise scheme of reciprocal duties. If the Moralist talks of Duty when the fact is spontaneity,- whether gratitude, love, overflowing pride or generosity advancing to aid all that is seen to make for our good, he talks at random. His system of thought has predicated that men need to be controlled by a sense of Duty. Let him stick to that or leave it. We duty it. The doctrine of hell-fire was long upheld under the same idea that it was needed to control men. Moralistic Duty is the hardened dregs of fear. Generosity is the overflowing fullness of a successful, satisfied and hopeful individuality.
"I ought" is no stumbling block to the intelligent Egoist. Two persons are playing at drafts and a bystander says of one: "He ought to have captured the man to the left, not the one to the right." There is no sense of moral obligation conveyed in the remark. It is assumed that each player is trying to win, and the words "he ought" introduce a suggestion of what was wanting to produce the result. A pirate endeavoring to capture a merchantman and taking the wrong course would say: "I ought to have sailed on the other tack." To whom was the obligation? To himself. So men speak of their duty to themselves, meaning the attending to supplying what is lacking to their welfare.
These words duty and ought are not words to be rejected. They are in constant correct use in everyday life, and it is not the use of the Moralist, but it can be observed that every humbug politician harps on the "sacred duty" of the citizens to do this or that, something that he and his party are interested in and that he cannot readily prove to be to the interest of the citizens addressed, or he would do so instead of trying to get them with him on an appeal to "sacred duty."
The supposed inward monitor which warns the Moralist against breaking the sacred law of Right, as it admonishes the believer against offending God, is that which "doth make cowards of us all," in the language of the dramatist. That is conscience. One thinks he knows his Duty and with this thought come vague fear and selfreproach for not having obeyed the Moral law; not simple fear in the Moralist, rather a confused feeling, but a feeling as clearly distinguishable from the simple fear of consequences as Moralism is distinguishable from a calculation of interest. The dread is as undefined as the Authority or the reach of consequences, or both, are indefinite and dimly apprehended.
The fact that the dictates of conscience are the result of so-called "education" (really indoctrination) is established by the strongest proof on every hand. Every religion has its commandments and however absurd they may appear to others than the believers, conscience enforces their observance. Moralism continues in a general way the religious terror, making humanity or it may be more broadly animal life the sacred object.
Egoism, on the contrary, regards conscience as superstition. It is true that by a simple analysis of the word, which yields con, with, and science, knowledge, we can have the definition: the sensation, sentiment or reflection regarding ourselves which accompanies knowledge of our voluntary action. But as an Egoist has simply either satisfaction or regret and does not judge himself by reference to any standard of Duty, he cannot have a guilty conscience.
It is most to the purpose, therefore, of Egoistic philosophy to look into the means of destroying the superstition habit, for it is a notorious fact that self condemnation continues somewhat after reason has assured the subject of the error of the doctrine which claimed his allegiance.
A silly conscience is to be extinguished, like other inconvenient habits, by resolute action. I have known a compositor who seemingly could not place a letter in line without first making an unnecessary motion with it against the side of his composing stick; a statesman who could not or dared not go to bed without first placing his boots as he Wore them; a youth whose reason rejected the orthodox Christian doctrines in which he had been reared but who had qualms, which surprised him, about studying on Sunday; an infidel who had killed a man but had nothing to fear from the law, who nevertheless had the horrors in his dreams, and several persons with freelove ideas but inconsistent in practice in a way that showed the rule of their old conscience. Some of these things will strike everyone as being ridiculous. Of the instances cited only one did not admit of correction by Emerson's rule of doing the thing you fear to do. I firmly believe that if the man who had a life on his conscience had taken the rational method of doing all else which he knew to be sensible, his mind would have been much strengthened to overcome his trouble of blood-guiltiness. The Sunday school young man realized that his conscience was awry, or the habit of a superstitious belief, and in a moderate time he overcame it. Others have had similar experiences as to books and conversation of a "blasphemous" character and breaches of the so-called law of morality in the sexual relation. Reasoning is well in its place, but action is necessary to make a free man or woman when one has been trained to have a conscience in any particular. I mean only action which combines pleasure with safety. It is no part of philosophic Egoism to pay more for advancement than it is worth.
The origin of the guilty conscience may be in mishaps, such as defeat, capture and slavery. When men from exercising mastery and even cruelty, are subjected to the rule of the stronger and more warlike, their energies are turned inward in bitterness against themselves. Upon this gnawing of ill humor comes the suggestion from religious belief, that these uncomfortable feelings are sent by the tribal god as a warning. This is readily believed by people who already believe that defeat and misfortune are punishments for some lapse of duty to their deity. The checking of an active career and humbling of the vanquished produces a bilious temper and morbid spirit, ready for ascetic rites on misdirection, because ever ready to attribute misfortunes to something other than their simple natural causes.
The guilty conscience precedes the good conscience. The latter is nothing but the consciousness of the guilty conscience removed-by expiation, atonement or however beliefs run.
Before the guilty conscience there was the spontaneity of the free savage. After the guilty and the good conscience there is the serenity of the self-conscious, sovereign, intelligent Ego. For convenience I will hereafter speak of him simply as the Egoist. While all men are Egoists in so far as they are not visionaries or madmen, nearly all men are in fact partly blinded, ashamed of themselves, not fully possessed of themselves. They do things for conscience sake-Egoistic method in madness;-they reject religious doctrine, but have a "sense of sin;" they have a horror of certain acts because condemned by a "moral standard," and so forth. They do not even understand that they cannot be "sinners" except by admitting a religious standard of "righteousness;" that they cannot be "immoral," wicked, without thinking as saints and Moralists think of "guilt," "disobedience" in natural acts. They cannot even call themselves Egoists to their satisfaction because the religious world has branded every natural impulse as vile and "unsanctified;" consequently Egoism -- self-direction -- as the sum of all villainy, and they are hampered by accepting their language from the religious world.
The real Egoist is not even he who has merely seen through the cheat of Moralism, but he who has outgrown its habitual sway, broken its scepter, desecrated every shrine of superstition in his heart or else been more happily born and reared than one in ten thousand of those who live today or ever lived.
The Egoist hears voices saying: "Forgive us Our sins." His thoughts take a humorous turn and he asks: Why do not the idiots think of forgiving themselves each one his own sins? Why cannot they be like the father? If "I and my father are one," I can do the acts of the father and forgive my own sin. He who dares not say: "I do most cheerfully forgive myself all sins and misdeeds I have ever committed or shall ever care to commit," is certainly not an Egoist.
Moralists propound the question: "Does the end justify the means?" He who argues on either side of it, shows not the quality of Egoism. It is a question for Moralists, to be answered by reference to their standards of duty. The Egoist will ask whether the game is worth the powder and in this sense he could use the very words quoted in the question; meaning, however, only a particular application of means to a particular end-a question of expenditure or risk and probability of gain. Every case being decided on the principle of economy or of strategy, the general moral question disappears. The Moralist is left to answer his own question as to whether or not he will venture to break a "moral law" in order to accomplish what he considers a moral good.
Another way of putting our criticism is that the question can be parodied: "Does the evidence warrant the verdict?" But then, you say, we must know what verdict and what evidence are referred to. Quite so; and the question: "Does the end justify the means?" is equally void of meaning unless we learn what end is sought and what means are proposed.
But suppose we become more specific and ask: "Is the killing of a heretic justified by the probability of saving one thousand souls from perdition?" To this I say it concerns the Moralist, not the Egoist. In order to kill, no justification before the tribunal of conscience is necessary to, say, the Egoistic statesman; for that is a piece of superstition. In this respect "all things are lawful" for him, "but all things are not expedient." The heretic has to thank the thousand other heretics for his immunity from being killed for heresy. A common interest unites them in some measures for self-protection. Their danger is but the greater because fanatics exist who in addition to the brutal instincts of mankind are possessed with the idea of a moral pardoning power encouraging men to do violence as a service, not to themselves but to a creed of church or society. The Egoist wastes no breath to persuade the fanatic that the end would not justify the means. He knows that the wish was father to the thought. The doctrine of exceptional justification was the inevitable excuse, like the wolf's brief remarks to the lamb at the stream. That wolf was not a natural wolf, but a moralizing wolf; still, altogether a wolf in fact. The moralizing man is less frank and more cunning than the wolf. He would paralyze his enemies by teaching that not all courses are "justifiable;" then when they spare him and he gets them in his power he does not spare them. The end never justifies the means when a Moralist is being hurt; always when a Moralist is getting the best of the fight by unusual artifice and usurpation. The idea of injustice
The idea of justice precedes that of justice. Dr. Maurice de Fleury in his book, L' Ame du Criminel, says: Assuming the legend of Cain and Abel to be true, the brothers had a quarrel and when Cain struck Abel, the latter struck back. The fight continued for some time. Just when Abel was directing a blow, his arm was struck and fell helpless by his side. The impulse to deliver the blow returned to the brain as consciousness of purpose frustrated and this was the first sense of that want of correspondence which is called injustice.
If at such a juncture a tree or rock should happen to fall upon the victor or a lion make him his prey, and the vanquished escape, the latter would thank a supposed providential interference, build an altar and found a worship.
Out of a great number of cases of hurts-injustice-the sufferers build such theory of justice as corresponds with their idea of the satisfaction of their demands.
"Just right" is what fits a place or case. Adjustment and even justification are words used in a mechanical sense. Justice, however, cannot be predicated till we come to relations between persons. It is evident that in the notion or sentiment of justice there are present two elements: first, fitness in general, as in common with accuracy; secondly a recognition of something more, which may be the sentient nature of the object. We do not speak of injustice save where there is a possibility of suffering.
There are a great many applications of the term justice, but in all of them it has some relation to sentient beings and to fitness. The differences apparently spring from different standards of authority, rules of privilege, right, immunity, etc. Every uproar among men is a proof of injustice, in the same way as the creaking or screeching of a machine is an evidence of parts ill adjusted.
The loudest advocates of justice complacently overlook the fact that nobody extends justice to the inferior animals.
The adjustment of relations between man and man will probably be best where each one is alive to his own interests and convenience. In the absence of this condition justice is the warcry in quixotic campaigns, the success of which in any instance serves to destroy some privilege and emancipate some ignorant, helpless folk to become tools of fanatics and victims of speculators. The free are those who free themselves. These and these only can or will do themselves justice and they are prevented from doing themselves and each other justice most of all by the prevailing belief in justice as a "ruling principle." The motto: "Let justice be done though the heavens fall," is a perfect example of fanaticism, equal to insisting on some one performance, though any amount of loss and suffering results. But the very men who harp on justice are the ones who delegate the trial and execution to functionaries chosen haphazard, and make a religious duty of submitting to injustice whenever these functionaries are ignorant, corrupt, prejudiced or mistaken in their judgment. The idea that any person might do himself justice, though no doubt existed that the act were justice, is horrifying to the good socialists, because the executioner was not appointed by society. Justice, then, is a prerogative of society, a favor rather than a right, in their view. They become involved in perplexities. The heavens may fall, but not the dignity of the state. They deny justice to save respect for its mechanism. An unjust law is enforced by the same authority which enforces a just law. It is enforced all knowing that it is unjust, and because it is unjust, to the end that it may be repealed. Somebody is made a victim of injustice in order that by forcible wrong, thus done by authority, another branch of authority may be induced to alter a decree and issue another decree (which will be certain to accomplish another wrong to somebody).
Revenge is not justice, but simply the impulse to do hurt for hurt. It lacks measure, balance. It is at most a propensity which makes for the extermination or humbling of aggressors.
The Egoist does not worship justice. He recognizes the impossibility of its existing as a donation. Thc ruler or the society which decrees justice is the shepherd who manages his flock, not for the sake of the flock, but for his interest in it. The Egoist aims at the accommodation of interests according to the capacity of the contracting parties. Egoist with Egoist must recognize, and on reflection will rejoice at the prospect of a rule of not trespassing where-he had better not. From this he can arrive at a position of comfort in having allies of great value to him, through their not being afflicted with any superstition. They multiply his power and he adds to theirs.
As to justice in the sense of meting out punishment to persons according to their alleged moral delinquencies, the idea gives place to that of protecting ourselves and serving our convenience. We may suppress a dangerous madman and a dangerous sane man as a measure of prevention, not having the old Moralistic horror of responsibility in the case of ourselves dealing with the madman, and not having the Moralistic furor against the sane offender. We need not therefore resort to casuistry in case of slight doubt if we are determined that it is unsafe to risk permitting either to live. Thus Egoists will not let an offender off on technicalities or scruples if they deem it necessary to expel him or kill him, and thus, too, if one has killed another the inquiry will be as to whether or not the slayer merely anticipated an intelligent verdict by a jury.
Let us beware of the craze for justice. It is the mask of social tyranny. It demands a delegated authority and a prerogative in this authority. Thus it builds a citadel of injustice; so that the man who does himself justice is declared by the law to be guilty of a crime against it, the monopoly of administration of justice.
What of equal liberty! Egoism is interior liberty, which of course makes for equal liberty of Egoists. But this is on the basis of their common ability, whereas democracy and aristocracy have a common principle in the affirmation of birthright: In democracy liberty is the sacred birthright of every man. In aristocracy liberty and privilege are the right of those born or admitted to aristocratic rank. The spirit of democracy is, to fashion each individual on its model, and endow him with political equality in contradistinction to class privileges, but as a member of the democracy into which his passport is his humanity, not his personal assertion and demonstration of his power and will to command equal liberty. Aristocracy commands its members to maintain their rank. Democracy commands its members to maintain an equal status for all. Egoism awaits the coming of the free, who will recognize each other, but not by virtue of any birthright.
Contrasts between men as lions and lambs, eagles and doves, are fanciful and overdrawn. Nature has not endowed them with such extreme and transmissible differences of organism. When they shake off old beliefs and indoctrination and realize their powers as individuals, equal liberty follows from the practically equal assertion of similar physical powers in self-conscious Egoism. When each of us has determined to be as free as he can, to yield only to effective force in restraint of the liberty he wills to exercise, there will be more liberty and substantially equal liberty for us if we be numerous, even while far from a majority.
The idea of liberty for man as Man, as something to be respected for its own sake, though the man be a slavish animal, the sacredness of Man, is a different notion altogether. While I am, indeed, an example of man in general, I base my claim to consideration at the hands of Egoists on the fact of my being this man who can be known to be neither tyrant whom they must combat nor slave incapable of requiting their aid. I will be a useful ally for certain purposes. I will not spend my strength in contending for equal guardianship, miscalled equal liberty, but I will seek allies like-minded. Not knowing whether I shall find one yonder in a born aristocrat or there in a toiling plebeian, I will put out the sign of equal liberty to exist among allies and of a readiness to take allies for equal liberty as a working rule, not as a religion.
Republicans think they abolished the community of plebeians when they abolished aristocratic rank. Far from it. They reduced the aristocrats to the plebeian level before the law and set up an aristocracy of office-holders and of wealth, which traffics in the making and administration of the laws. Equal liberty remains entirely unknown, because liberty is unknown as an objective reality. There can be no liberty of action till it is understood that each of us finds his law in his will and pleasure and that wherein our wills and pleasures agree we make our law, which we enforce on others who come into our domain, because we must or it is our convenience so to do, Thus only, liberty and law are synonymous, Be not unequally yoked together with non-Egoists. They cannot maintain your liberty. Your right and liberty, apart from what you can do for yourself, is that part of your will and pleasure which receives the support of allies lending you the aid of their power, as their right and liberty has the same extension by recognition and aid from you and others. The Egoist does not commit the mistake of battling for emancipation and endowment with power, misnamed equal liberty, of a herd of human cattle. More precious to me than ten thousand of these is one person capable of asserting all attainable liberty, Still, I came from the herd and by this and like signs I know that the herd contains my precious allies in the making, I send, among those who can hear, the word of awakening. Come to me and I will recognize in you equal liberty; I will give myself, if you will, a duty toward you, to be performed on pain of losing your esteem and support. I have already the pleasure of seeking and the hope of finding you. Life is worth less without you than it will be with you, Your precious force is my strength from the moment that you understand that I have no greater hope than in your fullest assertion of your liberty. We will not allow the world to wait for the overman. We are the overmen.
Aristocracy has not that fascination for me that it has for F. Nietzsche. Whatever pleasure a man may feel in wielding power in association with bold and strong companions, a reflecting man must despise an hereditary system which is subject to the following defects: that in order to transmit power to one of his sons he must consent to place his other sons in an inferior position; that he must aid in maintaining a special prerogative for the degenerate sons of his original colleagues; that he must give his daughters to such inferior scions to be their marital slaves; that to support the system he must aid in employing those vermin, the priests; that to keep down the plebeians he must slay many a brave and intelligent fellow of plebeian birth.
One can feign a selfish motive to obtain opportunity to do an act of personal kindness; that is, one feigns other self-interested purpose in order to accomplish another self-interested purpose--to overcome the pride of independence in another person. A number of the most delightful stories have this point. The generosity which thus disguises itself differs fundamentally from abstract philanthropy or theoretical Altruism. The reader perceives in every such story how thoroughly the generous heart enjoys its success in aiding particular persons of merit who have attracted its good will. But one never feigns a selfish interest in order to do a disinterested act. On the other hand, how well mankind know that hypocrites profess disinterestedness while their aims are selfish.
In the generous act there is spontaneous, personal motive; no dread duty; no bending before a master power. Do you say the master power is there? Well, it comes through the doer's organism as a genial impulse, interesting him, and so is Egoistic. Do you complain that thus we make of Egoism what you call selfishness and what you call unselfishness? We show you that there is a common element of genuine personality, even of pleasurable action, in both. Opposite are the acts in which the person yields his will, subjugated by an ideal, the powers of which arc awe, dread and lashing duty. I do not care to quarrel about a word with those whose idea is beckoning-duty. If it comes through my sense of what is worthy of me, due to fulfill my honor and dignity, that too is distilled in 'my consciousness or subconsciousness and is of my aliment and flowering and of the fruitage of my sentiment, intellect and will-is Egoistic.
Since the publication of these chapters began, I have seen in libertarian papers several flippant remarks and attempted refutations. We hear that Egoism is a very old thing, which is true; but that is one cause why the sour critics have missed understanding it, for they have gone to old books in which they found the idea of Egoism as viewed in the light of the science, philosophy and politics of past ages; or they have gathered opinions from superficial writings. Many show absolutely no understanding of Egoism. It is an affair of objective classification of acts, they suppose. Thus if I have an apple and eat it, that is Egoism, they suppose. If I give the apple to my friend, that is Altruism, they suppose. How simple! Then I, being an Egoist and liking to see some of my friends eat my apples, must not indulge in this pleasure unless I can stand certain persons' charges of inconsistency. Let me give them a point: I select my friends. My apples are not for everybody to help himself. Let me give them another point. The man who eats his own apple, not because he likes it, but because he thinks it is Egoistic to eat it, not to talk of duty, is only a deluded Egoist, by which I mean that he has missed being an Egoist in the definite sense in which I am using the word in these closing chapters.
One correspondent demolishes Egoism thus: that Egoism is Hedonism or Eudemonism, the pursuit of pleasure; that it is absurd to say that the pleasure of professing Christianity outweighed the pain of being burned at the stake; that hence it is not true that the pursuit of pleasure is the greatest motive.
"The pursuit of pleasure," is an expression which has conveyed to many persons the idea that Egoism consists for all men in satiating certain appetites; but the truth is that philosophically "pleasure" stands for sovereignty-is used in contradistinction to servitude.
Egoists do not accept the state of mind of a Christian martyr as being normal. He believed that a crown of glory awaited those faithful to death; that exclusion from the presence of the Lord awaited the "apostate." Qualified by these beliefs undoubtingly held, how can we deny the martyr's (deluded) Egoism? The apostolic "fishers for men" baited their hooks with promises and threats addressed to self-interest and repeated: "Fear not them that kill the body," etc. Are only those who secure good bargains to be credited with the intention to secure them?
The critic makes a ludicrously false comparison when he sets the physical pain of burning against the mental pain of apostasy. At the moment when the Christian martyr made a choice of constancy to his religion and a crown of glory, he had not felt the physical agony of having his flesh consumed by fire. As much as possible he fixed his thought on the promised heaven and thus lessened the anticipation of pain. Whatever pain there was in the expectation of burning it was not the pain of actual burning. We do not know what the final suffering was nor what the final thoughts were. We read of one on the cross, when too late, exclaiming: "My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?" and we read that the servant shall not be above his lord. Moreover if the Christian martyr could be supposed to fully appreciate the pain of death that awaited him, he must also be supposed to appreciate as fully the hell which awaited the apostate and endless death in the lake of fire. How then must such a terrified believer decide on the Egoistic principle as distorted by his faith? To us there is no more difficulty in his case than there is in the principle of gravitation illustrated by a ball rolling down an inclined plane when that is the nearest approach it can make to perpendicular descent.
But while we may suppose a martyr possibly logical in his course, given his absurd belief, we feel warranted in thinking that the majority of those who sought martyrdom were excited beyond the control of reason, as in the case with men acting under the dominion of passion in the commission of certain offenses. Craziness is essentially an inability to weigh conditions and apprehend consequences.
Another thinks that Egoism kills sympathy and thus, he thinks, hinders the care of children.
The prevailing opinion that general betterment depends upon increased sympathy is one which I am more and more decided to pronounce a stupendous error. Sympathy diverts energy from one channel to turn it into another. An illustration showing the ruin caused by an irrational excess of grief may cause some to reexamine their opinion. B was married three years ago. Lately his wife died, leaving a child a year old. B was so much affected by the death of his wife that he went to the cemetery day after day and lay down on the ground crying. There he contracted an infectious disease and he also died, thus leaving the child an orphan.
Another is shocked at Egoism, as it has no reverence for anything sacred, not even for Feuerbach's jugglery that "love is divine" and "man is godlike" or can be by thinking himself so. Also that Egoism puts no premium on "courage", but rather on cowardice.
It is well to be shocked in default of any other way of getting intelligence awakened. Be sure that Egoism has nothing sacred, and therefore accepts no imposture or hallucination and remember that it requires courage to be a coward and appear a coward. Where "courage" is folly, it is Egoistic to be a "coward." Certainly it is only Egoism that can ridicule sacred things of man as well as of God: I mean ridicule in action as well as iu word. Pecksniff, even if an Atheist in woman's clothes, should be snubbed, and the Egoist will snub him, without regard to his or her sex.
What is good? What is evil? These words express only appreciations. A good fighter is a "good man," or a "bad man," both words expressing the same idea of ability, but from different points of view. To the beggar a generous giver is a good man. To the master a servant is good when he cheerfully slaves for the master. A good subject is one obedient to his prince. A good citizen is one who gives no trouble to the state, but contributes to its revenues and stability. Evil is only what we do not find to our good, but what we have to combat. A horse is not good because strong and swift if he be "vicious;" that is, if we find him hard to tame. A breed of dogs is good if readily susceptible of training to hunt all day or watch all night for the benefit of the owner. A wife is "good" if she will not be good to any man but her husband.
Why do the lion and the eagle enjoy such a reputation? The eagle attacks nobody except babes. The lion is a large animal, deliberate in his movements and reputed to give a man a chance to get away. There are "worse" animals.
In all varieties of Moralism obedience is the cardinal virtue, which is wholly on the principle of procuring "good" subjects for those who have the effrontery to set up as rulers over fools and simpletons. "Be good and you will be happy." "Virtue is its own reward." These proverbs are an appeal to self-interest beguiled to accept some current teaching as to what is "good" conduct, "virtue." What if one be happy and healthy and the same believers in these maxims tell him that his happiness is not good? They show that their idea of goodness is obedience to certain commands or rules. But the Egoist will prove most things and hold fast to that which he finds to be good for him. That which he finds to be "its own reward" he holds to be virtue enough. The positions are opposites. The Moralist says: "This course is virtue; believe it and follow instructions, and you will find happiness in the thought of doing right." The Egoist perceives that such instruction is a trap for credulity. The experience of mankind is all very well, but most of the time your Moralist deprecates experiment. It is remarkable that in "the most important relation in life" two persons must have a legal contract for permanent union before they have any knowledge of each other in the relation; then bear it if they dislike it, and this is regarded as virtue. I do not say that all Moralists teach such doctrine, but all Moralists have some doctrine which they enforce by sentiment demanding individual sacrifice, absolutely and not merely as individually expedient.
Truth, the agreement between thinking and thing,-between thought and that,-is as desirable as seeing and hearing without illusion or confusion. Truth, the agreement between thinking and expression, is made a duty by Moralists, yet generally with reservations. Maya man lie to assassins to save his life, or to robbers to save treasure committed to his care, or to a sick person to conceal news which would be a serious shock? The gravity with which such questions are argued points to something further,- that Truth, like Right and Justice, is erected into a deity and men go crazy or pretend to go crazy over the worship thereof. This is the hypocrite's opportunity. So people bind themselves with an oath and lend a spurious importance to words spoken by men who care only for immunity, but who are shrewd enough not to profess what they think and how independent they feel.
How curious that men generally feel it "right" to cut and hack natural forms, but not to take any liberty with "truth" even in the verbal representation of such forms!
But on the other hand they say: "All's fair in love and war." Now everything that is not love can be viewed as war (and the "love" here spoken of is war too). This maxim is more often used to excuse lying than for any other purpose. Lying is a very common practice and I perceive no reason to expect its abatement unless individuals in large numbers (1) cease to pretend to exact from others action which is inconvenient, when they cannot or do not really exact it; (2) make it to the interest of others to tell them the truth or leave others alone as to telling anything about matters on which they now tell lies. So there might be less "war."
To the Egoist truth is an economy, where practicable. The chief condition is mutual intelligence.
Honesty,-truth in action,-is commonly said to be "the best policy," and perhaps as commonly disbelieved to be unconditionally so. Where honesty is reciprocal, it brings that mutual advantage which attaches to truthfulness, but honest conduct in an individual in dealing with dishonest persons, is too simple. Honesty is a pleasure, often a luxury.
Moralism reaches its acme in the craze for a supposed perfection the opposite way from individuality. Even when philosophy has pronounced that its aim is to lead man to find himself, the spirit of perversion is such that it takes Man, the general idea of the species, as an ideal for the individual and teaches individuals to torture their personal mind in order to conform to the idea formed about the species. Thus it is said our "mission" is to be true men, more perfect men, more perfect women. This notion prompts to imitation of what has been exemplified in others, not to development of that which is most genuinely myself or yourself. If I am to be a conforming man, striving to be something set before me, I cannot be I. As Stirner remarks, "every man who is not deformed is a true or perfect man, but each one is more than this. He is this unique man." What he is that another is not, we cannot say in advance of knowing him. Egoism is this: that this man acts out himself. Every woman may be assumed to be a true or perfect woman, and she is cheated if taught to assume otherwise. That is not the aim; that is the starting point with us Egoists. Be easy about perfection of Man. The individual needs first to be free from any yoke or assigned task, in order to normally possess, enjoy, develop and exhibit himself or herself. I shall develop the species, if I have nothing more distinctive to develop. A woman will be merely a "true and perfect woman" if she has nothing of her own, only the species. The very moment, however, that she knows herself to be already a "true and perfect woman," as the zero or horizon of individuality, that moment is the individual energy set free to work out whatever it takes pleasure in,--or as free as conscious reflection can make us while old habits and affections persist in some degree. To come to ourselves, to find ourselves, is to know that what we have of the species is ours, so far as it suits us to keep it and that we have neither obligation nor mission but what each one may give himself.
A woman is possibly an Egoist. Apart from this possibility she is-simply a female. If an Egoist, she will determine her actions with precisely that interior freedom possessed by the male Egoist.
Marriage, whether as polygamy or monogamy, is an agreement among men in a given state to respect each other's property in one or more women, according to the law of the tribe or state. It depends upon deluded Egoism. The supposed happiness of exclusive possession as a right to be enforced is resolvable into several factors such as (1) The certain immediate desire for possession; (2) The notion that the person possessed is passive and a constant quantity; (3) The seeming accumulation of happiness by monopolizing that which others would use if permitted, the defeating of their desire being supposed to be the securing of one's own. Some men, however, marry because they see that the desired woman will be married by another and hence lost to them unless they take her on the customary contract.
Men flatter themselves that they can perpetuate themselves and not merely the race; a simple error, for if we allow half the effect to each parent, the result is that A's offspring is half A; his grandchild is one-fourth A; his great-grandchild is one-eighth A; the next generation one-sixteenth A, and thus his descendants will have nothing more in common with him than any of the individuals of his race.
Some learned men argue that while men are naturally polygamous, women are naturally monogamous; but their discourse soon turns into censure of any woman who does not come up to the mark, as being a perverted creature. Are they blind to the vast amount of fear, reserve and duplicity in women? Can the subjugation of woman through all past time have failed to make her seem and act as though her nature were different from man's? Is not the watch kept upon her a proof that the preachers have no deep faith in her nature being different from their own? But what would be the fate of an author who should terrify society by assimilating the nature of the two sexes, while affirming man's polygamous instinct? He would be accused of a tendency to corrupt virtuous womanhood.
All agree that jealousy is a cruel and tormenting passion. Is it not, then, self- evidently a sign of perverted Egoism? The temper which is not jealous, which can love and let love, and enjoy the love that is spontaneously given because attracted, is undoubtedly happier than the jealous disposition. Such a temper will be willing to let the nature of woman display itself in freedom, and not until more of such a temper is shown is it to be expected that men will be privileged to know from women what women really are.
The wife enjoys a status. To forfeit it is to forfeit reputation. The husband is judged differently. It looks as if the modern woman, for the present, were mostly contenting herself with keeping her reputation and using the status in which man has placed her, for what there is in it. Liberty is not hers, but some power she can wield. Such power cannot fail to be a curtailing of the husband's resources, liberty or convenience, honesty, growth; and if he is fool enough to presume too far on his prerogative, he is sure in many instances to be deceived, for woman's wit has been forced in the direction of deception as much as to submission. The latter implies the former.
With the discovery by men that the perpetuation of their individuality is an illusion, that the expectation of happiness by the exercise of authority over woman is a gross mistake, that the person possessed is not a constant quantity but a variable one, a good to be elicited by wise treatment and not by rule of thumb, Egoism comes into the relation of the sexes, without delusion. The woman will have her way in the matter of procreation and will have the control of her children till they are wise enough to assert the control of themselves.1 What have we onlookers to do with the relations of mother and infant? Nothing.
Those who are in the married state sometimes pretend that if they were single they would remain single. They are not to be believed because they say so. Marriage to very many is a sacred thing in some aspect or the demon of deluded selfishness is stronger than they confess. What if we say to them: Please for a moment regard your marriage as the marriage of a pair of doves or canaries. When so regarded what is there to talk about in the question whether you are married or not, apart from bare legal powers?2
Related to this is the idea that crimes of jealousy, even outside of marital relations, can be traced to the idea of marital rights. The man and woman who have cohabited have talked or thought of marriage and come to regard their connection as a marriage without the ceremony. Marriage and the possibility of marriage are in this way responsible for those crimes which simulate marital vengeance.
Some people contrast love with selfishness. They surely cannot mean sexual love. Te quiero is translated either "I love thee" or "I want thee." By common understanding love that is not selfish enough to break some law in order to satisfy a personal want, is not strong enough to hold a spirited mate.
Others find in sex an argument against Egoism. They say you cannot be an independent individual, because you are incomplete without one of the opposite sex, We may reply that a man is very much sooner done for if deprived of food or water than if unable to meet with an agreeable woman; consequently if there were anything in the above argument it would lead to the conclusion that the having any physical requirements militates against Egoism. But, on the contrary, we find they all afford scope for Egoism. We are likely to find in our surroundings the objects essential to our existence, and this comes out with regard to companionship just as with regard to materials for food, clothing and shelter. Egoism lies entirely in our attitude toward objects, not in our being constituted to have no need of them. We cannot fly, and we are subject to hunger and other appetites. Our needs serve to awaken our powers to activity and gives various occasions for converting threatened suffering into enjoyment, if we meet everything in a thoroughly intrepid, Egoistic spirit. Even our need of social conversation is no derogation from Egoism. The man who uses and appropriates to himself the benefits of intercourse with others -- of his choosing -- is an intelligent Egoist, whereas the shrinking, solitary man is weaker: he attaches too much importance to something and he permits it to drive him from the field of activity and enyoument.
Theoretically and practically the position of a married woman is in all essential respects the opposite of that which an Egoist would choose. Still, there is no position in which one may accieentally find oneself (short of actual imprisonment) that can make any difference to the individual comparable in effect to the difference between Egoism (mental liberty) and non-Egoism (mental slavery).
If a woman had sold herself into chattel slavery which the law forbids, she would feel no hesitation in repudiating the bargain. What is the difference in marriage? The difference lies in the social sanction. The victims await emancipation by social opinion. This is not Egoism, but its opposite.
Reared in Evangelical Christianity I [assed, between the ages of 15 and 18, through the stages of Biblical criticism and disbelief in Providence, on the ground of the supremacy of natural law, to Athesim.
As my religion had been an undoubting faith in and obedience to an ideal Ego -- God -- when I unbound myself from the web of theology, I fell heir to the sovereign attributes, -- the liberty ad the benevolence, -- of the God who then became a myth. I did not cheat myself a day with Moral commandments without a Moral Lawgiver. Yet I felt and foresaw that what was gained by the intellect would not be easily translated into feeling and action for many years to come, such was the Moral susceptibility and force of habits, from early indoctrination. I said to myself as a youth: "I feel that not unitil I am 40 years of age shall I be able to act in all things as my judgment decides for my own interest." It was even so.
Thus in the first half of the sixtyies I was an Atheist and self-conscious Egoist. I associated with Atheists and took part in their propaganda before I was 20 and for years after. But I found a false note among the Atheists, that theirs was the religion of Humanity with a Morality not less impresswive upon the conscience than that connected with theology, purer because freed from superstition. They challenghed comparison as to the Morality of their leaders and members with Christians, -- the Christian standard being usually implied as to what constituted Morality. There were among them men impressed with the philosophy of Epicurus, of Hobbes, of D'Holbach and Spinoza, self-love as the foundation and sum of morals, but the drift of their discourses was that good morals would grow out of self-love, and still the morals were Christian morals. When an Atheist ceased to take an interest in the iconoclastic propaganda, he usually settled down into a selfish individual, a nonentity of ordinary morals, His Egoism was after the current ideas of rudimentary Egoism which orthodox Moralists propagate and his former associates simply regretted that he was no longer militant or contributory to the Atheistic church.
From the first of my mental independence, or Atheism, I repudiated conscience and a Moral standard; and I was equally dissatisfied with the attempted limitation of self-love, to grubbing for advantages over other people; certain that it was purely my pleasure or prudence which impelled me to any act, I declared in print, prior to 1870, that when an Atheist acts honestly toward another person it is because it is his pleasure to do so. This aroused a critic who affirmed the "sense of justice" governing Atheists. A pretty term, but when we have arrived at a "sense of justice" why do we inconvenience ourselves for it? I affirm a pleasure, a sentiment of good will and of art. There is no "must" about it with the Egoist. But with my Atheistic critic there was a spice of dictation, as who should say "you must yield to a sense of Duty to Humanity." Hard by lurks bigotry.
Feuerbach's inversion of theology, turning "God is love," into "love is divine," did not fascinate me. I saw in it a play on words, In my infancy God was a stern fact and when he became a myth, why, love was-love, not divine; goodness was what we find to make for our good; that is to say there was nothing divine; no such thing as goodness or badness except as relative to our welfare and no better reason why I should not be a cruel man than that I took no pleasure in cruelty, found no sense in it.
I have always rather pitied those who run passionately after the so-called good things which Christians and Moralists generally suppose must be the sole aim of Egoists. What fools are the fretful lusters after power, men covetous of others' goods, toilsome accumulators of what they cannot enjoy! Deluded Egoists!3
During the period I have mentioned and until the spring of 1872 I had no knowledge of Max Stirner's work, Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum (The Individual and his Property). But believe me that I devoured it so soon as I got hold of it. There for the first time I saw most plainly stated, my own thought, borne out by illustrations that will test the nerve of every professed Egoist. Who but Stirner has dared to suggest that the tie of blood is a superstition? Were it not that we have assurance of the speedy appearance of an English translation of his great work, I would here give something of a summary of its contents; but now, under the pleasing expectation, I may confine myself to a mention of one feature of that wonderful book. The author shows us the world divided into three epochs: first, Antiquity, in which men were terrorized by the forces of nature. Second, Christendom. Christ introduces the rule of the spirit, which destroys the fear of material things, but establishes the tyranny of the Idea. There is now a spook in every object. Third, the Unit, by the might of his own understanding and will, dismisses the spirits, the spooks; the rule of Ideas is broken. The Unit, --- the Ego, --- is not an abstract I. He is you, yourself, just as you are in flesh and blood, become simply sovereign, disdainful of all rule of Ideas, as Christ was of all rule of material powers.
Of the author's character as shown by his actions I will emphasize only one feature. He recognized in the woman the individual, as free as she cares to be, precisely as he did in the man. When we read of another German author as Stirner's disciple, who differs from him so radically in this, we may think that author somewhat of a plagiarist, perhaps, but certainly not a disciple, as alleged.
Others again are springing up to classify the Ego and Egoism in philosophy. The Unit of Stirner is --- yourself, if you like. You, as a person of flesh and blood, will not be successfully classified in "philosophy," I think, if you grasp the idea and act on it. The old so-called philosophic Egoism was a disquisition on the common characteristics of men, a sort of generality. The real living Egoism is the fact of untrammeled mind in this or that person and the actions resulting, the end of the tyranny of general ideas.
1Will the Union of Egoist legislate on the "debt" of grown children to their mother? Our Union will be based simply on our common interests. The interest must be clear to each Unit in order to command support for any rule. Only a minority can have a pecuniary interest in the above suggested claim. We may first eliminate all the men, as the children belong only to the mothers. We can also leave out all the women who have no children that are under our jurisdiction or likely to come under it, and those mothers who are content with the unrestricted control of their infant children to train and impress them as they will; content to blame themselves if a child proves ungrateful after ten or fifteen years of such opportunity to form its disposition. To my thinking the policy of awarding compensation in after years, would imply the policy of interfering with the mother's absolute control over the child during infancy, for in this control lies the making or spoiling of the child's character. I prefer to trust her entirely and leave her to face the results of her training of her child.
2 You say certain birds are monogamous and that this argues that man may be so. Accept the assurance that Egoists will be content to see the question resolved by the free play of instinct in the species, as you suggest. But the action of mankind, by legislation and social censure on the matter, looks very like a confession that they regard themselves as naturally constituted with an inclination to variety in love and needing a deal of dragooning to make them good monogamists or passable counterfeits thereof.
3 A dwarfed, stunted conception of Egoism finds expression in the remark: "I do not believe in self-interest. I would not take another man's job." Indeed, sir, if you have a determination not to take it I am sure you will not take it-unless some stronger interest of yours comes into play. We will wait and see what you do. Professions are cheap.
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