On Mr. Kelly's Final Statement
From Libertarian Labyrinth
On Mr. Kelly's Final Statement.
To the Editor of Liberty :
I think I never forgot that Mr. Kelly believes in duties prior to promises and consequently independent of promises. Against Mr. Kelly's statement that I construed him to mean that without promises we are without obligations, I refer to what has been printed. It will show that I kept Mr. Kelly's position in view, but I contended that satisfactory conduct may result from natural good will without any feeling of moral obligation.
Moral obligation is not properly denned by explaining the single word " obligation " in the sense of philosophical necessity. For illustration, the embezzler and the assassin act in accordance with philosophical necessity. If Mr. Kelly should say that they act according to moral obligation, he would stultify himself.
I have never advocated killing the Chinese. In approaching other men, I am disposed to take the first steps at my own cost to see whether it is possible to derive mutual benefit from the relation.
Economics I regard as different from morals, and in economics I agree with Mr. Kelly.
By using the word "special" he has suggested something general, but this is not the way to prove that the basis of accord is anything more than similarity of organisms and conditions. One contract may be more special than another, but, to my thinking, a contract presumes simply contracting parties and conditions.
According to evolution and observation objective realities are changing. Then practical justice must take form according to the number and qualities of the objective realities which give rise to it at any time. I design writing a brief analysis of justice to show that this ideal is a composition of apperception and sympathy.
Mr. Kelly says that he knows of "no ego other than the combined ideas and feelings at any given time." Do the readers imagine, then, that Mr. Kelly has been discussing Egoism as advanced by Stirner and myself? Mr. Kelly's ego is utterly unlike our Ego. When Mr. Kelly wrote before about a spookish, unconditioned ego, I simply answered that the ego of which I speak is an animal. If there is one distinction which must be clearer than another, it is the distinction between the real and the ideal. The Ego of which I speak is real. I mean my own organism. Hence, as I speak
of the real, I can consistently speak of ideas as its furniture. But an Ego, or person, composed of ideas and feelings, would be mere moonshine. In " Der Einzige " Stirner says that he does not mean Fichte's ideal ego, but " this transitory I," the man Stirner.
In a matter of wrong (wringing, twisting) there are the doer and the sufferer, perhaps also a spectator. From their different standpoints various considerations may arise besides that of imprudence, which latter is among the considerations specially for the wrong-doer.
Mr. Kelly has simply mistaken my meaning in the sentence which he correctly quotes, ending with the words " he is not allowed in thought to be a standard of good for himself." I meant in the thought of the moralist; otherwise I should have written the words in different order, with punctuation. I knew that the moralist must in fact allow me to be a standard for myself; and it would not be worth while to ask the moralist to allow me to be, in thought, a standard for myself, for over my thinking he cannot dominate. I quite agree with Mr. Kelly that, as soon as a being in pursuit of his good commits acts injurious to others, it is time for them and their allies to stop him.
I do claim and know that there is a better use for friends than to sell them; and, as I feel with Stirner, I believe that I comprehend Stirner better than Mr. Kelly does. Interest in others and profit to be derived from their company mean more to us than to the moralist, precisely as morals means more to the moralist who has rejected religion than to the religionist who regards morality as an outhouse to religion.
I have not yet undertaken to reconcile Proudhon and Stirner all the way through. For such a task the first step would be to reconcile Proudhon with Proudhon. The reasons which I and Stirner can give why the young man should be given a chance to show himself are such as I doubt not Mr. Kelly would approve. We desire to find, to aid, and be aided by as many free and intelligent men as possible. What Mr. Kelly really wants to know is how I and Stirner came to have such desires. Let him interrogate the forces which created us sentient individuals, or be content with the fact. Proudhon, who exclaimed: "A moi Lucifer, Satan, qui que tu soil, demon que lafoi de met peres opposa a Dieu et it feglise! Je porterai ta parole,"—Proudhon would not reject our aid.
The extracts given by Mr. Kelly from Proudhon show a temperament and expression very different from Stirner's. These may be found to conceal a greater degree of agreement in purpose than Mr. Kelly has yet discovered. Take these words : " And that he who has renounced God continues to adore Justice, even though it be nothing else than the commandment of himself to himself, the principle and law of social dignity." Methinks that smacks of the intrepid Stirner. Now listen to Stirner (p. 311): " It is contemptible to deceive a confidence which we have freely called forth; but it is no shame to Egoism to allow anyone who has tried to get us into his power by an oath, to suffer by the ill-success of his distrustful artifice. If you have tried to bind me learn then that I know how to break my fetters." Would this sentiment stain Proudhon ?
In the extracts it is asked, what is this Justice if not the essence that has been adored as God ? But afterward Proudhon declares war against God. May we not possibly, by a further step, have found the same essence in a still nearer form, — nothing else than the commandment of one's self to himself? If the form Justice then appears superfluous, fossilized, and an abstraction, we are advancing still to understand that of which God, and the Idea, and Rights, and Justice, were successive reflections. When I know and feel myself, I need neither God nor moral law. The Justice which Proudhon worshipped and served was an emanation from himself. Stirner has taken the sceptre of Truth and beaten it into a pruning-hook, and now Truth, no longer an idle queen, may handle the scrubbing brush and make herself generally useful.
That Proudhon used the word egoism in a way not to make it admired makes no essential difference. There are other egoists than those who take the name.
There is some rhapsody in Proudhon, and Anarchists may note also that he puts devotion to one's country along with justice. Stirner, on the contrary, will abolish all frontiers and recognize only individuals.
I draw attention to the last of Mr. Kelly's extracts, — that Justice is not a simple notion, but that " it is also the product of a faculty or function which comes into play as soon as man finds himself in the presence of man." This is very suggestive. The men, then, are the objective realities from whose presence together justice comes as a product of a function. Is not this creating justice? Simply put, this is justice,— the result of absolute individual sovereignty, or Egoism, as I and Stirner use the term.
I will now present a few further extracts from Proudhon, taken without any long search. They are to show, firstly, that as a vivacious writer his imaginative expressions are not to be seriously weighed against his logic; and, secondly, that he does express in somewhat different terms the doctrine which I call Egoism.
I swear before God and before men, upon the Gospel and the constitution. — Probleme Sociale, p. 259.
He who by poverty has been led to steal and is punished remains forever the enemy of God and man. — Contradictions, I, p. 313.
God is stupidity and cowardice, hypocrisy and lies, tyranny and wretchedness; God is evil. — Ibid., p. 3t,0.
Charity! I deny charity; it is mysticism. Vainly you speak to me of fraternity and love. If you love me, it is through interest. Devotion! I deny devotion; it is mysticism. Speak to me of debit and credit. If I am drawn to aid you, I will do so gracefully, but I will not be obliged to. —Ibid., p. 228.
Humanism is most thorough theism. — Ibid., p. 309.
The New Philosophy, subverting method, breaking the authority of God as well as that of man, and accepting no other yoke than that of fact and evidence, makes everything converge toward the theological hypothesis as toward the last of its problems. Humanitarian atheism is, therefore, the last term of the moral and intellectual enfranchisement of man; consequently, the last phase of philosophy, serving as a passage to the reconstruction or verification of all the demolished dogmas. — Ibid., p. 22.
Philosophy is merely a deceptive method consisting in going from the general to the particular. — De l'Ordre, p. 58.
I am in need of the hypothesis of God to justify my style. — Contradictions, I, p. 25.
A headless society, so to speak, cannot live. — Creation de l'Ordre, p. 485.
[The preceding statement was attacked by Stirner.]
But let us not blaspheme royalty, for to do so would be blaspheming humanity.—Ibid., p. 311.
Wherever religion appears, it is by no means as an organizing principle, but as a means of subjugating men's wills. — De l'Ordre, p. 17.
Respect for contracts, fidelity to one's word, the obligation of oaths, are the fictions — the ossicles, as the famed Lysander well said — with which society deceives the strong and puts them under the yoke. — Contradictions, I, p. 263.
Instead of regarding the man and his fellow, the prince and the citizen, as two terms the relation of which existed independently of consciousness and constituted the real moral law, they have imagined that this law preexisted. — De l'Ordre, p. 69.
Morality is not a science: it is an encyclopaedia. . . For, as two forces, being united, produce a complex effect quite different from the simple effect to which each one of them could give rise, and incommensurable with this, as from the combination of two simple bodies there results a composite the properties of which were not found in either of the originals. . . .
Now, just as the decisions of reason in man received the name of idea, just so the decisions of his liberty received the name of volition, sentiments, habits, morals. Then language, figurative in its nature, continuing to supply the elements of the primary psychology, people have contracted a habit of assigning to ideas, as a place or capacity where they dwell, the intelligence; and to volitions, sentiments, etc., the consciousness. AH these abstractions have for a long time been taken by the philosophers for realities, their psychology being merely a will o' the wisp. — Contradictions.
To be a member of a democracy it is necessary in law, independently of the quality of frankness, to have made choice of the liberal system. ... As a variety of the liberal regime, I have distinguished Anarchy, or government of each one for himself. ... It consists in the fact that, political functions being reduced to industrial functions, social order would result from the sole fact of business and exchanges. Then every one would be able to term himself the autocrat of himself, which is the furthest opposite of monarchical absolutism. — Du Principe Federatif, p. l(i.
To found the society it is necessary to set forth, not simply an idea, but a judicial act. —Ibid., p. 53.
There are three modes of conceiving law, according to the point of view. ... as a believer, as a philosopher, and as a citizen. 1, Command; 2, Expression of the relation of things; 3, The arbitral statute of the human will; theory of contract. The social system to which they give rise is not the same. By the first, man declares himself subject of the law and its author or representative; by the second, he acknowledges himself an integral part of a vast organism; by the third, he makes the law his own and frees himself from all authority, fatality, and rulership. The first formula is that of the religious man; the second that of the pantheist; the third that of the republican [Anarchist]. This one alone is compatible with liberty.—Ibid, p. 53.
The social contract extends only to exchanges. — Idee Generale, p. 118.
They have agreed among themselves mutually to keep faith and right; that is to say, to respect the rules of business which the nature of things indicates to them as alone capable of insuring them in the largest measure of welfare, safety, and peace. Will you adhere to their compact? become a part of their society ? If you refuse, you are a part of the society of savages. Nothing protects you. ... If you swear to the compact, you become a part of the society of free men. —Ibid., p. 312.
Here I close, trusting that economists will especially note the extract beginning " Morality is not a science."