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The Libertarian Broadsides Series 

No. 1 MAX STIRNER, The False Principle of Our Edu- 
cation, or, Humanism and Realism. Introduction 
and Annotations by James J. Martin. 

No. 2 JOHN BADCOCK, JR., Slaves to Duty. Intro- 
duction by S. E. Parker, with an Appendix consisting 
of the Essay Egoism by JOHN BEVERLEY ROB- 

No. 3 JAMES L. WALKER, The Philosophy of Egoism, 
with a biographical sketch of the author by Henry 
Replogle. Foreword by James J. Martin. 

No. 4 BENJAMIN R. TUCKER, L State Socialism and 
Anarchism: Wherein they Agree and Wherein they 
Differ; 2. The Attitude of Anarchism Toward In- 
dustrial Combinations; 3. Why I am an Anarchist. 
Introduction by James J. Martin. t 





Libertarian Broadsides, No. 2 

With an Introduction by 


And an Appendix Consisting of the Essay 




Annotations by James J. Martin 






Who more than any other person is responsible for 
preserving John Badcock's name and essay from 

Previously unpublished material copyright, 1972, 
by Ralph Myles Publisher, Inc. 

International Standard Book Number: 0-87926-013-0 
Library of Congress Catalog Number 72-77199 

Ralph Myles Publisher, Inc. 

Box 1533 

Colorado Springs, Colorado 80901 

When the judge enters court in his toggery, (judges and ministers 
and professors know the value of toggery in impressing the populace) 
the egoist is unterrified. He has not even any respect for "The Law." 
If the law happens to be to his advantage, he will avail himself of it; 
if it invades liis liberty he will transgress it as far as he thinks it wise to 
do so. But he has no regard for it as a thing supernal. It is to him the 
clumsy creation of them who still "sit in darkness." 

Nor docs he bow the knee to Morality— Sacred Moralityl Some of its 
precepts he may accept, if he chooses to do so; but you cannot scare him 
off by telling him it is not "right." lie usually prefers not to kill or steal; 
but if he must kill or steal to save himself, he will do it with a good 
heart, and without any qualms of "conscience." And "morality" will 
never persuade him to injure others when it is of no advantage to him- 
self. He will not be found among a band of "white caps," flogging and 
burning poor devils, because their actions do not conform to the dic- 
tates of "morality," though diey have injured none by such actions; nor 
will he have any hand in persecuting helpless girls, and throwing them 
out into the street, when he has received no ill at their hands. 

To his friends— to those who deserve the truth from him,— he will tell 
the truth; but you cannot force the truth from him because he is "afraid 
to tell a lie." He has no fear, not even of perjury, for he knows that 
oaths are but devices to enslave the mind by an appeal to supernatural 

And for all the other small, tenuous ideals, with which we have fet- 
tered our minds and to which we have shrunk our petty lives; they are 
for the egoist as though they were not. 

"Filial love and respect" he will give to his parents if they have 
earned it by deserving it. If they have beaten him in infancy, and 
scorned him in childhood, and domineered over him in maturity, he 
may possibly love them in spite of maltreatment; but if they have 
alienated his afTection, they will not reawaken it by an appeal to "duty." 
In brief, egoism in its modern mteq>retation, is the antithesis, not of 
altruism, but of idealism. The ordinary man— the idealist— subordinates 
his interests to the interests of his ideals, and usually suffers for it. 
The egoist is fooled by no ideals: he discards them or uses them, as may 
suit his own interest. If he likes to be altruistic, he wall sacrifice himself 
for odirrs; but only because he likes to do so; he demands no gratitude 
nor glory in return. 


Benjamin R, Tucker on John Badcock, Jr.'s Slaves to Duty: "A unique 
addition to the pamphlet literature of Anarchism in that it assails the 
morality superstition as the foundation of the various schemes for the 
exploitation of mankind. Max S timer himself does not expound the 
doctrine of Egoism in bolder fashion."— In Charles A. Dana, Froudhon and 
the Bank of the People (New York: Benj. R. Tucker, 1896), p. 69. 

John Badcock, Jr. was one of die small band who pioneered conscious 
egoism in Britain during the last decade of the last century. Along with 
the editor of The Eagle and The Serpent, John Basil Barnhill, the 
colourful master of alliteration, Malfew Seklew, and other virtually for- 
gotten egoists of the time, he set himself against the prevailing altruism 
and proclaimed the sovereignty of the individual. 

A surviving friend, Henry Meulen, remembers him as "an explosive 
little man; but undoubtedly a genius." 1 An accountant, he was married 
and had one son. After the company for which he worked for many 
years went broke, he lived frugally for a time on investments. He then 
visited China in 1902. When he returned he opened a shop in the City 
of London selling Chinese works of art, on which he was something of 
an expert. Like many others he was carried away by the militarist 
hysteria generated by World War 1 and broke with those of his friends 
who were anti-war. 3 He is believed to have died in 1926 at about the 
age of 65. 

Badcock played an active part in the "free currency" and "free love" 
movements of the 1890s. He was the treasurer of Tlie Free Currency 
Propaganda, whose corresponding secretary was Henry Seymour, erst- 


'Meulen recalls that Badcock "Once lectured on Egoism for us in 
Hammersmith (London), and he put his audience's back up by replying 
to questions almost entirely by 'Yes' or 'No.' He explained to me that the 
questions were too silly to merit a long reply." Meulen to Parker, May 
13, 1971. [Henry Meulen is the Secretary of the Personal Rights Associa- 
tion in England, and also the editor of die Association's famous journal, 
The Individualist, which is now (1971) in its 101st year of publication. 
He is the author of the well known book Free Banking (Macmillan, 

z "We quarrelled over the 1914 war. I joined the anti-war party, but he 
was very pro-war, and sent me abusive postcards at a time when the 
police were raiding ail suspicious people. After the war, he wrote me to 
renew our friendship, but I was young and stiff-necked, and I refused. 
He died soon afterwards." Ibid. 


while editor of The Anarchist, The objects of this group were: "The 
de-monopolisation of species -value as the sole basis of credit, and the 
generalization of real credit by the monetization of all suitable market- 
able value," and its eventual aim was the establishment of "banks of 
exchange." Its founders appear to have drawn their ideas from the 
mutualistic economic theories of Proudhon and William B. Greene. 
Both Badcock and Seymour were familiar with the propaganda work 
of Benjamin Tucker in tile U.S.A., and Badcock at one time acted as an 
agent for Tucker's journal Liberty. 

During the same period, Badcock was a leading figure of The Legit- 
imation League, of which he was at first London Corresponding Secre- 
tary and later on member of the National Council. Formed originally 
for the purpose of legitimising the status of illegitimate children, the 
League later added the propagation of sexual freedom to its objects. 
Badcock seconded the motion to this end at the League's conference 
in 1897. One noteworthy intervention made by the League was in 
defence of Edith Lanchester, whose family had her certified as insane 
because she insisted in "living in sin" widi a socialist workingman. 
Edidi Lanchester was the mother of film star Elsa Lanchester. The 
Legitimation League collapsed around 1899 as a result of the arrest, 
trial and defection of its secretary, George Bedborough, who was 
charged with "obscenity." 

Badcock's literary output was slight. Apart from a few articles, his 
published work amounted to two pamphlets. The first, When Love is 
Liberty and Nature Law, was given as a lecture to the Walthamstow 
Literary Institute in 1893. The second, Shoes to Duty, was given as a 
lecture to the London South Place Junior Ethical Society in 1894. Both 
were first issued in printed form by William Reeves, a London publisher 
of radical and anarchistic literature. 

When Looe is Liberty and Nature Law (the title is a line in a poem 
by Pope), is a plea for sexual freedom. Badcock argues that love is 
fundamentally egoistic as is demonstrated by tire fact that we always 
seek to mate with someone we consider to be the best for us and not, 
altruistically, the worst. What is wanted for this fundamental drive to 
attain its best expression is freedom for individuals to make any kind 
of sexual arrangements mat suits them: polygamy, polyandry, monog- 
amy, variety, or what have you. If marriage contracts are needed, those 
who wanted them could have them, but their enforcement should be a 
matter for private agencies, not for governments which compel us to 
contribute to interference in tilings which are not our concern. Badcock's 
championship of sexual freedom faltered, however, when it came to 
incest. Here he drew back with a shudder, lagging behind his great 
precursor Max Stirner, who did not hesitate to cany his war against the 

can make and unmake gods. You are the one of whom the poet tells, 
who stands unmoved, though the universe fall in fragments about you. 
And all the other ideals by which men are moved, to which men are 
enslaved, for which men afflict themselves, have no power over you; 
you are no longer afraid of them, for you know them to be your own 
ideals, made in your own mind, for your own pleasure, to be changed 
or ignored, just as you choose to change or ignore them. They are your 
own little pets, to be played with, not to be feared. 

"The State" or "The Government" is idealized by the many as a tiring 
above them, to be reverenced and feared. They call it "My Country," 
and if you utter the magic words, they will rush to kill their friends, 
whom they would not injure by so much as a pin scratch, if they were 
not intoxicated and blinded by their ideal. Most men are deprived of 
their reason under the influence of their ideals. Moved by the ideal of 
"religion" or "patriotism" or "morality," they fly at each others' throats— 
they, who are otherwise often the gentlest of men! But their ideals are 
for them like the "fixed ideas" of lunatics. They become irrational and 
irresponsible under the influence of their ideals. They will not only 
destroy others, but they will quite sink their own interests, and rush 
madly to destroy themselves as a sacrifice to the all-devouring ideal. 
Curious, is it not, to one who looks on with a philosophical mind? 

But the egoist has no ideals, for the knowledge that his ideals are 
only his ideals, frees him from their domination. He acts for his own 
interest, not for the interest of ideals. He will neither hang a man nor 
whip a child in the interest of "morality," if it is disagreeable to him to 
do so. 

He has no reverence for "The State." He knows that "The Govern- 
ment" is but a set of men, mostly as big fools as he is himself, many of 
them bigger. If the State does things that benefit him, he will support it; 
if it attacks him and encroaches on his liberty, he will evade it by any 
means in his power, if he is not strong enough to withstand it. He is a 
man without a country. 

"The Flag," that most men adore, as men always adore symbols, wor- 
shipping the symbol more than the principle it is supposed to set forth, 
is for the egoist but a rather inharmonious piece of patch-work; and 
anybody may walk on it or spit on it if they will, without exciting his 
emotion any more than if it were a tarpaulin that they walked upon or 
spat upon. The principles that it symbolizes, he will maintain as far as 
it seems to his advantage to maintain them; but if the principles require 
him to kill people or be killed himself, you will have to demonstrate to 
him just what benefit he will gain by killing or being killed, before you 
can persuade him to uphold them. 


himself, although all he knows of them are the impressions on his 
retina and ear drums and other organs of sense. The universe for him 
is measured by these sensations; they are, for him, the universe. Some 
of them he interprets as denoting other individuals, whom he conceives 
as more or less like himself. But none of these is himself. He stands 
apart. His consciousness, and the desires and gratifications that enter 
into it, is a thing unique; no other can enter into it. 

However near and dear to you may be your wife, children, friends, 
they are not you; they are outside of you. You are forever alone. Your 
thoughts and emotions are yours alone. There is no other who ex- 
periences your thou glits or your feelings. 

No doubt it gives you pleasure when others think as you do, and in- 
form you of it through language; or when others enjoy the same tilings 
that you do. Moreover, quite apart from their enjoying the same things 
that you enjoy, it gives you pleasure to see them enjoy themselves in 
any way. Such gratification to the individual is the pleasure of sym- 
pathy, one of the most acute pleasures possible for most people. 

According to your sympathy, you will lake pleasure in your own 
happiness or in the happiness of other people; but it is always your 
own happiness you seek. The most profound egoist may be the most 
complete altruist; but he knows that his altruism is, at die bottom, 
nothing but self -indulgence. 

But egoism is more than this. It is the realization by the individual 
that he is above all institutions and all formulas; that they exist only so 
far as he chooses to make them his own by accepting them. 

When you see clearly that you are the measure of the universe, that 
everything that exists exists for you only so far as it is reflected in your 
own consciousness, you become a new man; you see everything by a 
new light: you stand on a height and feel the fresh air blowing on your 
face; and find new strength and glory' in it. 

Whatever gods you worship, you realize that they are your gods, the 
product of your own mind, terrible or amiable, as you may choose to 
depict them. You hold diem in your hand, and play with them, as a 
child with its paper dolls; for you have learned not to fear them, that 
they are but the "imaginations of your heart." 

All the ideals which men generally think are realities, you have 
learned to see through; you have learned that they are your ideals. 
Whether you have originated them, which is unlikely, or have accepted 
somebody else's ideals, makes no difference. They are your ideals just so 
far as you accept them. The priest is reverend only so far as you 
reverence him. If you cease to reverence him, he is no longer reverend 
for you, You have power to make and unmake priests as easily as yon 


sacred in this particularly tabooed area. The "bond of blood" proved too 
much for Badcock's egoism, at least at this time. 

Although When Love is Liberty and Nature Law reads well and 
cogently today, its theme is fast becoming a commonplace among the 
more liberated elements of the contemporary world, as is witnessed by 
the so-called "permissive society." The theme of Slaves to Duty is still 
unfashionable, however, even among the sexual libertarians, who hesi- 
tate to raise a lance against morality peruse. And in the realm of the 
professional moralist, the notion of "duty" still flourishes. A con- 
temporary British philosopher, A. C. Ewing, in an elementary treatise, 
Ethics, 9 can still write: "It is a recognized principle of ethics that it is 
always our duty to do what we, when considering it sincerely, think we 
ought to do," and can gravely state, "A weak point in the egoist's case 
shows itself when he is asked whether it can ever be a mans duty to 
sacrifice his life for another"(l) That such a question can be asked 
alone makes the reissue of Slaves to Duty worthwhile. 

Acknowledging Nietzsche and Tucker as his inspiration, Badcock 
mounts a sustained attack against "duty," not only as a word without 
a referent but also as a disguise for the domination of some men by 
others and as an obstacle to the individual's self-determination. 

A man is thrust into society by an act of his parents. He does not 
choose to be bom. When he becomes aware of himself and his sur- 
roundings he finds that he is expected to conform to a way of life in 
whose shaping he has had no voice. He is supposed to fulfill the obliga- 
tions it imposes upon him whether these are to his taste or in his interest. 
If he dares to call them into question he is told that it is Iiis "duty" 
to do what the society demands. State, God, Society, Family, Moral- 
ity—in the name of one or several of these the individual is to be sacri- 
ficed and his will subordinated. As Badcock succinctly puts it; 

If you grant the right to command to anybody or anything, 
be it the king, parliament, church or conscience, you as a natural 
consequence inflict tiie duty of obedience on those who are subject 
to the commander. ... If I am duty-bound to the particular gov- 
ernment in possession of the country I live in, I stultify myself. So 
I do whatever or wherever the government. The feeling of duty 
prevents my judging correctly as to where my self-interest lies. 

When a man has been given no choice, forbidden certain acts on pain 
of prison or death, hemmed in by laws and customs which make him an 
object for domination or exploitation, is it not ridiculous to pretend that 
he has any more "duty" to "society" than a slave had to his owner, or a 

''English Universities Press, London, 1969. 


sailor to the press-gang that conscripted him? Badcock answers that it 
is not only ridiculous, but the mark of servility and self-abnegation to 
acknowledge such a thing. "Duty" boils down to imposed obligation, 
self-sacrifice, the thrall dom of the individual to authority: 

So long as the superstition that there is any ought or duty by 
which conduct should be regulated, has a hold over die minds of 
men and women, so long will those people be incapable of appre- 
ciating the full value of existence; and their living powers will run 
to waste while they grovel in die altruistic mire of self-denial, 
Only when that superstition is abandoned is the mind really eman- 
cipated. Only then is the individual free to rise to the highest ex- 
perience of which his or her nature is capable. 

The moral spook of "duty" has been used to terrorize millions of 
poor wretches who have succumbed to its blandishments. To those who 
cherish their autonomy, however, the concept of duty as a sacrosanct 
entity, a mysterious something that must be done whatever one's 
personal wishes may be, is no more than a piece of mumbo-jumbo de- 
signed to sanctify the imposition of an authority and the privileges of 
its beneficiaries. For anarchist individuals like myself Badcock's essay 
is a welcome addition to the intellectual armoury of their perpetual 
struggle for the individual in an increasingly collect! vised world. For 
the intelligent, general reader it can be recommended as a stimulating 
challenge to answer for any beliefs in "duty" that he or she may still 


July, 1971 


The Adult, London, 1897-1899. 

The Free Currency Propaganda, London, 1895. 

When Love is Liberty and Nature Lata. John Badcock Jr. Wm. Reeves, 

London, 1893. 
Slaves to Duty. John Badcock Jr. Win. Reeves, London, 1894. 
Letters from Henry Meulen to S. E. Parker May 13, May 31, 1971. 



There is no word more generally misinterpreted than the word 
egoism, in its modern sense. In the first place, it is supposed to mean 
devotion to self interest, without regard to the interest of others. It 
is thus opposed to altruism— devotion to others and sacrifice of self. This 
interpretation is due to the use of the word thus antithetically by 
Herbert Spencer. 

Again, it is identified with hedonism or cudaimonism, or epi- 
cureanism, philosophies that teach that the attainment of pleasure or 
happiness or advantage, whichever you may choose to phrase it, is the 
rule of life. 

Modem egoism, as propounded by Stimer and Nietzsche, and ex- 
pounded by Ibsen, Shaw and others, is all these; but it is more. It is 
the realization by the individual that he is an individual; that, as far as 
he is concerned, he is the only individual. 

For each one of us stands alone in the midst of a universe. He is 
surrounded by sights and sounds which he interprets as exterior to 

"This essay was first published in the fall of 1915 almost simultaneously 
by Herman Kuehn in his mimeographed individualist anarchist review 
Instead of a Magazine, and in Reedy s Mirror. This latter journal was 
originally known as the St. .Louis Sunday Mirror until it adopted the 
above name in 1893. Its editor was William Marion Reedy (1862- 
1920), a badly neglected figure in American literature, one of the great 
editors and an important influence in many ways. (It was Reedy 's 
Mirror which first published portions of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon 
River Anthology.) John Beverley Robinson was one of the important 
figures in American individualist anarchism who continued in an active 
role in the U.S.A. after Benjamin R. Tucker ceased the publication of 
Liberty in 1908 and retired to Monaco. Robinson wrote for Liberty 
on numerous occasions and was also the author of a number of spirited 
essays on philosophical egoism, of which this is one of the best. Robin- 
son is probably best known as the translator into English of Pierre Joseph 
Proudhon's most important book, General Idea of the Revolution in the 
Nineteenth Century, first published in London in 1923, and recently re- 
printed in the United States. (New York, 1969). For more on Robinson 
and added bibliographical information see James J. Martin, Men Against 
I he State (Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles Publisher, 1970). 



When, some little time back, I was cogitating on the sense of duty, 
and wondering how we should get along without it, my mind reverted 
persistently to mat typically dutiful child Casabianca, the boy who, 
according to Mrs. Hemans, 1 

"stood on the burning deck 
Whence all but he had fled." 

For that boy had figured in my school -lessons as a praiseworthy 
example of devotion to duty-the duty of obedience-of obedience to 
authority— the authority of superiors: Fadicr, Country, God, I suppose 
it has been much the same with the education of other children. By 
pictorial example and precept the idea of duty is impressed into the 
soft brains of juveniles, and, along with the cane, the devil. and other 
moral and religious influences, helps to restrain the rebellious, happy- 
go-lucky spirit of youth, teaches the due performance of ceremonial 
antics and gives a serious aspect to life. But now, after many years, 
the childishness of Mrs. Hemans appears to me to be on a level with 
that of her hero. The natural desires of both of them had been warped 
by the overpowering sense of obligation— duty. To call Casabianca, "a 
creature of heroic blood," because he stood where he was told to 
stand, without attempting to save himself from the shot and flame 
which came nearer and nearer; because, rather than disobey the word 
of command, die boy gave up his life (a sacrifice which had no 
compensating good effects); for all this to be considered worthy of 
eulogium, I have only the most profound pity-and think the pity of it 
is that he did not run away with the rest of the crew. 
Having looked on that picture, I beg you will look on this: 
In the first act of Offenbach's opera, "The Grand Duchess," 2 a young 
soldier, by name Fritz, is discovered strutting up and down before the 

Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans (1793-1835), English poetess, best known for 
her poem Casabianca, which concerns Giacomo Jocante Casabianca, young son 

of a French sea captain. Set on watch by liis father, the boy remained at his 
post when the ship caught fire and his father burned to death, following which 
the ship blew up. 
z La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, one of the tuneful French burlesque operas 
by German-born Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880). It was first performed at 
the Theatre des Variet&s in Paris on April 12, 1867. 

imperial tent. He goes with the regulation step, and holds his head erect 
in the regulation attitude. Presently a beautiful damsel, the soldier's 
sweetheart, comes upon the scene. Seeing Fritz, she rushes up to him, 
but he scarce deigns to notice her. He does not stop marching, and 
dares not even bend his head when on duty. He merely mutters aloud: 
"I must obey the reg-ulations!" This exasperates the girl, who answers, 
"Confound the regulations!" She presses her attentions on Fritz, who, 
however, stiff as a clothes-prop, repeats: "I must obey the reg-u- 
lations." The conflict between love and duty goes on apace— but, at 
last, Fritz unbends, puts down his musket, kisses his sweetheart and 
they both dance to a song whose chorus is "Damn the Regulations!" 

With these two extreme and opposite examples-Casabianca and 
Offenbach's Fritz-before us; seeing that the path of duty is beset 
with many temptations; and that the pressure of obligation has to com- 
pete with the allurements of the sensual for the guidanceship, or 
misguidanceship of youth; we will now try to find a basis in reason, if 
we can, for that duty or subordination of self which most people 
believe in to some extent. 

Let us begin with political duty. From the belief that the levying 
of taxes and conscription is right and proper follows the belief that 
it is the duty of the subject to pay the taxes and fight in obedience to 
command. If you grant the right to command to anybody or anything, 
be it the king, parliament, church, or conscience, you as a natural 
consequence inflict the duty of obedience on those who are subject to 
the commander. Political duty usually takes the form of allegiance to 
government, to either a present form of government or an ideal form. 
And here a distinction has to be made. Those who pay their taxes 
voluntarily for their own protection, and who can conceive of no better 
means whereby their homes and country can be saved from invasion 
except by the government method, do not really support government 
from a sense of duty. It is self-interest, clearly, in their case; and, 
when they force others to pay taxes and preach duty for others to follow, 
against what appears to them as their interests, they are attempting to 
bind obligation upon their fellows which tiiey do not feel themselves in 
the same way. 

To defend one's home and country is patriotic. Patriotism is a fine, 
healthy, selfish feeling; but it is comparatively little developed owing 
to its subordination to political duties. Reverence for the national flag, 
and duty to rulers, are frequently mis-called patriotic sentiment. You, 
however, are able to disconnect fatherland and government, and will 
understand that patriotism recognizes no difference between a foreign 
king and a home king, i.e., between a foreign foe and one in posses- 
sion,— and that the most truly patriotic people are those who try to pre- 


sacrifice his or her possibilities of happiness- whether the possibilities be 
of a high or low order-is apparent. And it is more apparent to those of 
the widest sympathies than to the narrow-minded regulationist. 

So long as the superstition that there is any ought or duty by which 
conduct should be regulated, has a hold over the minds of men and 
women, so long will those people be incapable of appreciating the full 
value of existence; and their living powers will run to waste while they 
grovel in the altruistic mire of self-denial. Only when that superstition 
is abandoned is the mind really emancipated. Only then is the in- 
dividual free to rise to the highest bliss of which his or her nature is 

May the evening's 1 amusement bear the morning's reflection. 



is at a discount in my valuation of them, and their stability is not my 
concern. In the steps I take to satisfy my hunger, whether it be the 
hunger of the sense or of the mind, I am brought face to face with the 
universal properties of matter and cease to consider codes, moral and 

It may be as beneficial for a man, as it is expedient for him, under 
some circumstances, to deny himself many luxuries; to partake of meat 
sparingly, and of pastry only once a month, to drink only water and eat 
bread without butter, to live in one small room, to worship only one 
god and no goddesses, or to share his love with only one woman in a 

But the economics and abnegations found useful at certain times and 
places are not to be codified as the laws for all times and places. All 
Mosaic tables, constitutions, petty fogging County Council licensing 
systems, and other strait- waistcoat regulations, necessarily suppress 
much enjoyment, necessarily cause a sheer waste of life— for they are 
born of ignorance and possibilities of life, and of intolerance. 

Working on egoistic lines, I see the necessity of forbearing from laying 
down moral law for anyone. What another does is beyond my praise 
or blame. Each one's activities have been set in motion by his environ- 
ment (past and present), and contact with others shows how far each 
can go. In furtherance and in defence of my own well-being will I use 
my argumentative or other forces upon others. My self-interest teaches 
me to respect the liberty of others as the cheapest way to get my own 

The MOTHER is often held up as the pattern example of duty and 
self-sacrifice. But would the mother cling to her pains if she could get 
the blessings of ma tern it)' and the consolations of religion without 
them? Does she not, like the rest of us, follow the path of greatest 
satisfaction? Of course she does. This stock example of dutiful self- 
sacrifice falls with the whole show, and will not be resuscitated unless 
the typical mother comes up to the Fabian -Socialist's ideal, by being 
willing to endure the keenest of anguish: the sacrifice of her infant 
for the good of the community, because it happens to be club-footed, 
or has a birth mark, or experts say it is not up to the regulation weight. 
I admire the natural mother as she exists today, because she considers 
her child of much more importance than the whole human race; for her 
child's happiness is a necessary condition to her own, and a source of 
great comfort to her, while the rest of humanity possibly only worry her. 
When vve remember that this life is oux first, last, and only chance, 
that "Only to youth will spring be spring," while each day brings us 
nearer to our final dissolution, the cruelly of expecting any one to 


serve their homes and country from all kinds of invaders, from military 
conquerors to School Board inspectors and rate and tax collectors. 

If I am compelled to labor and pay tribute to somebody, what does 
it matter to me (except as a choice of least evil) whether I do so at 
the bidding of a Napoleon or of a majority of elected representatives of 
my fellow-slaves? While on the look-out for an opportunity to repudiate 
the obligations thrust upon me, it makes no difference whether succor 
comes from abroad or from within my own country, so long as I gain in 

When, in 1887, a war was talked of as imminent between Russia and 
Germany the hope was expressed by a considerable number of Russians 
that, in the event of war breaking out, their own side would be defeated. 
Said Georg Brandes, 3 alluding to this patriotic feeling, "No other 
possibility of liberation from the predominant misery presents itself than 
that which is offered in the weakness which an unsuccessful war will 
entail on the ruling system." 

If I am duty-bound to the particular government in possession of the 
country I live in, I stultify myself. So I do whatever or wherever the 
government. The feeling of duty prevents my judging correctly as to 
where my self-interest lies. To act for my best advantage, I require 
freedom to act as I like, and, so long' as I allow the same freedom 
to others, the just demands of others can no further go, as far as I am 
concerned. I, who recognize no political duty, am free to form an 
opinion as to whether the great political machine over me— the British 
Empire, to wit-is worth preserving. There's a gain in being able to take 
that standpoint; on the other hand, men become voluntary slaves to 
the State by harboring ideas of political duty. 

See how far political duty was carried in old Japan. To protect their 
lord and master was taught as a sacred duty to all subjects. Political 
education was thiswise: "Thou shalt not lie beneath the same sky, nor 
tread on die same earth as the murderer of thy lord," and the rights of 
the avenger of blood were admitted even though he should pay the 
penalty of his life. The story of the 47 Ronin 4 exemplifies this: It is 
related that when the Prince of Ako was executed, through the mean 
contrivance of some other lord, these 47 gentlemen, faithful vassals of 
the dead Prince, swore to avenge die honor of their master. For this end 

3 Gcorg Morris Brandes (1842-1927), well known and wide-ranging Danish liter- 
ary critic. 

*Thc Loyal League of Forty -Seven Renin, one of the best known plays of the 
Japanese marionette theatre, first performed in Tokyo in 1748. Based on an 
incident which took place in 1701, it had previously been dramatized on the 
regular stage in Japan, and also furnished die inspiration for many other artistic 


they put aside all other considerations and, through every obstacle, 
pursued their plan up to the moment when they surprised the object of 
their vengeance and cut off his head. They then surrendered themselves 
to their government and were allowed the privilege of committing hara 
kiri. Thus did these 47 noodles do their duty to their murdered lord by 
slaying his murderer; their duty to their government by surrendering 
diemselves to it and voluntarily acquiescing in the righteousness of the 
punishment awarded to them; and their duty to themselves by com- 
mitting suicide in the most honourable way. Such "noble" conduct 
as theirs became immortalized, and has been the stock example for 
teaching the young Japs how to be good down to the present times. 

At the present time, to the present generation, mastership in its 
nakedness is distasteful. Arguments have, therefore, been invented to 
reconcile the governed to their governors. Majority rule is now the 
fashion, and is called represents toe, —i.e., representative of the majority 
of those who cannot govern themselves or who wish to have a hand in 
governing others. Majority rule is said to be sanctioned by the consent 
of the governed. Unfortunately for that theory, it so happens that all of 
us have to submit whether we consent to be governed or not. It is also 
said that people govern themselves by delegating powers into the hands 
of representatives. Do they, indeed? It rather appears to me that, when 
a man relegates the control over his purse, the control over his body, or 
the direction of his energies to others,— as if he had lost the use of his 
head,— abd icat ion best describes his performance. In the present state of 
political education the representative theory certainly gives to majority 
rule the semblance of a justification, and a respectability not otherwise 
attainable; so it will stick for a time. It may be better than monarchy- 
it may, or it may not ( we receive, the blessings of both, by the way ) ; 
but when- we realize that alt government derives its "rights" from its 
might, and that majority rule is merely a short cut to the victory of 
the numerically-stronger part, we see that the ballot confers no rights 
upon majorities and their representatives that are inviolable, and im- 
poses no duties upon minorities that are binding. The plea for the 
ballot, and of the whole electioneering machinery, it to make out a 
case of free contract between the people and the government. But the 
case is a miserable failure. Free contract implies free individual consent 
of all the contracting parties, and that is the one tiling never allowed by 
any kind of government. 

From acting under the idea that we subjects are duty-bound to 
support the doings of the Government we have taken part in the 
election of, we find ourselves to-day saddled with enormous debt 
responsibilities not of our making. The holders of Consols, India 3 


human nature is to be found. A traveller on the look-out for signs of 
native superstitions in a far country, would be guided by all actions 
performed under the spell of duty. 

Given a believer in duty, or one who is deeply susceptible to the 
feeling of obligation, and it becomes possible for him to be enslaved 
with his own consent. 

The believer in duty is food for power. He will either be enslaved 
by the crafty, or by what he calls his "conscience." His freedom is a 
limited freedom at best, Circumstances change, but he dare not take 
advantage of the tide which, taken at the flood, would have led him on 
to fortune and pleasures new. The propitious time, when tabooed 
pleasures offer themselves to him, he is afraid of. His duty to Mrs. 
Grundy, or Mrs. Jones, to the dead hand, to his religion, or to a 
principle, binds him. He lives within Ixmndary walls which he dare 
not scale. 

"But our moral codes embody the experience of the race!," I hear 
some wiseacre exclaim. Experience of your grandmother. Circum- 
stances change, and your moral codes won't stand the test. 

In place of duty I put— nothing. Superstitions never want replacing, 
or we should never advance to freedom. 

Waste not your energies, but turn them all to your own advantage. 
Instead of pretending to be "doing my duty," I will in future go 
direct to the naked truth, acknowledge I am actuated in all I do by 
self-interest, and so economise in brain-power. What I want is to 
discover where my true, most lasting interests lie. I am the more likely 
to find that out if I allow no moral considerations to obscure my view. 
If I find the ordinary tread-mill routine of existence irksome, or tame 
and unsatisfying, I fearlessly exp lor g» further— allow my mind full swing, 
and see no good reasons for bowing to the limitations set by odiers. 
Perchance I am seduced by the sciences, or I pursue the beautiful and 
try to realize my ideal. My pleasure is my only guide: and in propor- 
tion as my sympathies are great, that is in proportion to my susceptibility 
to external influences, which is, again, the measure of my capacity for 
feeling pleasure, for appreciating and receiving benefit by the most 
intense and most subtle impacts of which matter in motion is capable, 
do I seek the welfare of all I come in contact with. Society may be 
everything to me, but it is nothing to me except in so far as it furnishes 
me with material for my happiness. 

If I have a bad liver complaint, or am worried by a thousand 
anxieties, or find it difficult to get food for myself and for those who 
are a part of me— if, in brief, I cannot get happiness out of the 
condition into which I am bom, then the sacredness of those conditions 


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