Miss Kelly,—the Young and the Old
From Libertarian Labyrinth
Miss Kelly, —the Young and the Old.
To the Editor of Liberty:
My egoism does not prevent me from either feeling or giving expression to deep and sincere regret at the lamentable signs of intellectual feebleness and decline transpiring in Miss Kelly's curious letter. When she was "younger," she chiefly relied upon reason, logic, and facts for the support of her views; now all that is replaced by assertion, assumption, presumption, denunciation, and exhortation. This has as little effect on me as her professions of scorn and contempt for my personality, which, I may remark parenthetically, are insincere, for it is generally understood that persons held in contempt are neither paid much attention to nor "warned with all the earnestness of which one is capable."
Miss Kelly makes some philosophical observations concerning the services of disciples in general and my carrying my masters' ("Tak and Tucker") doctrines to sublime heights of absurdity in particular, in which she is guilty of a misapplication in the first place, and an arbitrary and baseless assumption in the second. Far from carrying the Egoistic doctrine to extremes, what I stated was merely the very first and fundamental assertion of the doctrine. If Miss Kelly can demonstrate that people do, as a matter of fact, or ought to do, anything for any other reason than the pleasure which they find in, or expect of, the act, she cannot possibly render her own cause any greater service than by undertaking the task forthwith. Names, however, even such as "wretch," are no argument. As to my discipleship, historical accuracy requires it of me to inform her that "Tak, Tucker," and Stirner have only strengthened and more fully developed the ideas which I had learned a number of years ago in a tongue unknown to her and from writers whose names she would much easier spell than pronounce.
I fail to discover any kinship between the " greatest happiness of the greatest number" doctrine, which was the result of a clumsy attempt at constructing an artificial system of morality, and the doctrine of Egoism, which rejects all systems of morality and makes reason the sole guide of the individual and personal happiness his only object. Nor has Miss Kelly succeeded in convincing me that the religious spirit is a thing to be cherished and respected. I have only her word for it, and, though she is so much older and wiser than I am, it is impossible for me to accept her view without proof, for which I shall be waiting.
There is no danger of my finding Anarchism ridiculous and abandoning it, — at least, no more than there is of my ever losing the pleasant habit of occasionally enjoying a glass of good, fresh lager beer. I work for Anarchy because the work is a source of pleasure to me. But on the part of Miss Kelly there is such danger. Not being able to answer the whitebait argument, she seeks refuge in the company of Father Huntington and Dr. McGlynn. Human sympathy is an excellent thing, but you can't make it the foundation of justice, as a friend of mine, then a young lady of Hoboken, showed in a very fine article entitled, "Self-Interest, Not Love, the Foundation of Justice," two years or so ago in a certain Boston paper called Liberty. Perhaps if Miss Kelly reads that, and some other things, and dispassionately considers the position of the Egoists, she will realize her errors.