Stand Alone | Egoism: The First Two Volumes 1890-1892 | SA1023

8th issue of the egoist journal Stand Alone (2016).


Egoism: The First Two Volumes 1890-1892
by Georgia & Henry Replogle (Author), Kevin I. Slaughter (Introduction)
212 pages, 8.5×11″, Perfect bound

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Egoism was the first journal explicitly based on Egoist ideas in the English language, and was published by individualist anarchists Georgia and Henry Replogle beginning in 1890. An advertisement from the period stated:

Its purpose is the improvement of social existence from the standpoint of intelligent self-interest. To gain recognition of the fact, and popularize the idea, that self-pleasure can be the only motive of any act; that any attempt to ignore it must as necessarily be disastrous to human happiness as an attempt to ignore any part of the order of nature. Thus developing a principle for a basis of action about which there can be no misunderstanding, and which will place every person squarely on the merit of his or her probable interests, divested of the opportunity to deceive through pretension, as under the dominance of altruistic idealism.
From this basis Egoism will defend the individual against every phase of invasion, whether it be the exactions of political-authority-protected privilege or the decrees of superstition-influenced custom.

In the late 19th Century a pocket of America was ready for an expression of “rugged individualism” to transform into a more coherent worldview. The greatest articulation of that sprang from German philosopher Max Stirner’s 1844 book Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum. This book serves foundation of Egoism, which is a philosophy of putting the self in the central concern, rather than gods, other men, “mankind” in the abstract. Though relatively unknown compared to other flag-bearers of free thinking individualism like Friedrich Nietzsche, Robert Ingersoll, Ayn Rand and others, the message of Stirner’s book has had a critical impact on many writers and artists who were influential in Europe and America.

Stirner’s great work (published in New York in 1907 as The Ego and His Own), while having no explicit connection to Anarchism, was championed early on by that milieu. First in Germany by John Henry Mackay, who saved Stirner from the dustbins, to writers and radicals in Russia, France, Spain and England.

Here in America, Egoism’s first champions were Georgia and Henry P. Replogle, and British born James L. Walker (aka “Tak Kak”). Contemporaries with publishers Benjamin Tucker (Liberty), Moses Harman (Lucifer the Lightbearer), D. M. Bennett (Truth Seeker) and other radicals, the Replogle’s are not as well known as their more prolific comrades.

The Egoism journal is most notable for first serializing Walker’s The Philosophy of Egoism book, but it also contained writings from and about the anarchist and individualist discussion of the day. While Walker’s book would later be reprinted as a single volume in 1905, the journal itself became scarce and near impossible to access.

This issue of the Stand Alone journal reproduces the entire first two volumes published between 1890 and 1892. Additionally it includes rare and never before printed historical materials and a biographical sketch of the publishers by Kevin I. Slaughter. The journal is important for historians of Anarchism, Individualism and Egoism; three ideas that overlap greatly, but often depart in fascinating ways.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Book, Stand Alone

“What an egoist ought to be…” by S.E. Parker

The following short piece by S.E. Parker, which is mostly him quoting James L. Walker, is from his journal En Marge (1995), volume one, issue one.

In his posthumous work, The Philosophy of Egoism, James L Walker refers to certain of his libertarian critics who “show absolutely no understanding of egoism. It is an affair of objective classification, 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 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 egoistic to eat it — not to talk of duty — is only a deluded egoist, by which I mean he has missed being an egoist in the definite sense in which I am using the word in theses concluding pages.”
A most apposite response to those who try to impose upon egoists a categorical imperative according to their conception of what an egoist ought to be….

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Filed under 1845-1945, 1946-Today, En Marge, James L. Walker

Max Stirner – Egoist Warlord

The Fra was a magazine edited by Elbert Hubbard and published by the Roycrofters fine press.  From Volume 6 Number 4, January 1911 (pages 103 – 106) comes a bombastic toast to Max Stirner by an unaccredited but unmistakable Benjamin DeCasseres. Ben later collected this piece, along with other biographical sketches, to comprise the book Forty Immortals: The Story of the World’s Great Civilizers.

IN Ralph Waldo Emerson’s revolutionary essay, “Self-Reliance” — a passionate call to arms from a mighty soul on fire with the glorified vision of its own individualized destiny — occur, among other memorable sentences, these words: “Society is everywhere in conspiracy against the manhood of each one of its members. The only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.”

Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau uttered equally radical words. But neither of these men was an anarchist. They were too sane to take themselves literally. What they believed in was the spiritual evolution of the individual, a self-overcoming, a throttling of the ghosts in one’s own soul — the ghosts of fear and ignorance, the ghosts that within ourselves stand at the crossroads of every crisis that invites to action, demanding toll of our self-reliance.

Self-emancipation must precede social emancipation. If you want to abolish a mass you must begin by reconstructing the units of that mass. Of course you can blow the mass up with gunpowder, but you blow up the units with it.

If society everywhere conspires against the individual it is because the individual has not yet freed his mind of the fixed idea that he can do without a State. The fault comes back to each one of us. The State is not a thing; it is an organized instinct; one of the skins of evolution not yet sloughed off; a tool that has not yet completed its work in the hands of the World-Ego.

The weaknesses of “society” are the shadows of our individual weaknesses.

Its transgressions are the sum of all individual transgressions. Society is no better than the average between the best and the worst individuals living within its pale.

Its crimes against the individual are in exact ratio to the crimes of individuals against one another.

Organized society will exist so long as there is an instinct to organize among individuals.

Emerson says, let each one of us fit ourselves to do without society — just as we have out grown the old monstrous theologies. The State will then be sloughed. “Physician, heal thy self!” Social workers and anarchists today are fighting what they call “general ills.”

There are no such things.

There are only individual ills. Be yourself, emancipate yourself, abolish the State by learning to do without it — that is the message of Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Ibsen.

The latter cried, “Away with the State!” and, clairvoyant thinker that he was, he added as an afterthought — “of course, I mean by spiritual means.”

Nietzsche wrenched man out of his social socket and made him a beatified Cain. He was the poet of the Ego. Had he ever heard of Max Stirner, the War-Lord of the Ego?

“The Ego and His Own”

STIRNER’S book, “The Ego and His Own,” is the last word in egoism — the last word in revolt. It is not the most dangerous book ever written, because its philosophy is hopelessly impracticable. Ibsen and Emerson and Whitman are more dangerous in their teachings than Stirner. The latter has given us one of the most stimulating books ever written, a book that thrills, invites a man to himself; a book that lays all the sacred spooks and ultimately brings the reader ’round.

Egoism makes strange bedfellows!

You shall leave all; the Kingdom of God is within you. Max Stirner makes the Ego of man God, and to serve it you shall leave the State, the home, the family, religion and everything that battens on the aspiring soul of man, though after he has gotten rid of all these “earthly spooks,” just what you should aspire toward is not clear, unless it be what Stirner calls man’s “Ownness” — a word that Kipling makes comprehensible in his famous injunction, — “What you want go and take.”

Stirner’s Individualism

THE individualism of Stirner is thus founded on the most rational idea in the world — the idea that only the individual is glorified, that only I matter — with the most irrational implications.

Away with State, Church and family! — they prevent my Ego from realizing itself. Crime is my business. Citizenship is slavery. Parents maim their children from the cradle. Society tickets me. Laws prevent me from getting my “own.” What I can do, that is right. Evil is failure. Success is the only righteousness. All regulation is emasculation. Only I, myself, am holy. The thing I can use is good; the thing that uses me is bad.

Altruism is merely sickness of the will.

All this is not as dangerous as it sounds, for as a matter of fact all strong men-all men who do anything in life at all, all those who differentiate themselves from the mass — act on those principles in one degree or another, generally unconsciously.

Men never like to have their motives to action formulated. They hate even to formulate the matter secretly to themselves. And Max Stirner’s boldness merely consisted in putting what he thought into print. The Albany and Harrisburg legislatures are reeking with men who would no doubt suppress Stirner’s book if they ever heard of it—men would long ago have known the book if it had been titled, “Cash; or Grab Your Own.” Stirner’s anarchy is purely analytic and idealistic. But at Albany and Harrisburg the brand of anarchy is intensely practical.

And to Stirner’s individualism there is a rational, majestic, sublime side. His Ego is the hungry animal inside of us all, an animal that has intelligence and imagination, it is true, but an animal nevertheless in that every movement of its psychic, physical and emotional nature is toward its own. Men will only marry and procreate, they will only pay taxes and support churches, as long as they can be made to believe that they are getting something out of these things; they are good so long as the good gives them pleasure —that is, swells their own Ego. They are good and altruistic for the same reasons that they are bad and egoistic: they believe there is a gain somewhere to them. For at bottom when you tear away the rags and tatters of hypocrisy and the moldy crusts of convention that cover the real palpitating core of a man, what will you find? A being that adores itself and loves and worships only where it believes it is loved and benefited by that worship in return.

Stirner asks, “What is good?” And he answers, “What I can use.”

Conservation of the Ego

MAN is a warrior. No matter how subtle and complex life becomes, as in New York City today, no matter how highly “civilized” we boast of being, it is our own — our “ownness,” Stirner calls it — that we are battling for. We each of us, whether in a “state of nature” or a state of society, are fighting for the conservation of the Ego.

Some of us believe that the marriage institution, children, the State, help us to conserve that Ego; others believe that these adjuncts suppress it. It depends on the Ego. A business man, generally speaking, finds it aids him to subscribe to the common plan of life. A thinker like Herbert Spencer or Schopenhauer finds it does not. But both classes of men worship at the shrine of the same god-the Ego. Self was the first law; today, as ever, it is the first virtue.

The Ego is a blood-smeared fact. Man once lived in a perpetual state of war; he brutally struck down whatever stood in his way — if he was not struck down first. Today we are still in a state of war, but for the same reason that we found it necessary to kill in the old time we find it necessary now to preserve. The Ego seeks its own through destruction and construction. There was a time when kindness and goodness and charity would have destroyed the race. Use was God; Use is still God. We, the men and women of today, with top-hats and lorgnettes and tin pails and steam-shovels, are not different in our aims from the caveman and shaggy brute that peered out of the forest brambles. Scratch us and the old ghost walks again. We are still the victims of egomania. Our methods are different — that’s all.

This warrior instinct can not die. It is our virtue. It is our sap and our virility. We are becoming masters now of the death-dealing forces in us and around us; we have disciplined the things that disciplined us at It is another mask for Ego. It is on these unquestionable truths that Max Stirner has reared his doctrine of the Ego.


HENCE it follows that this announcer of Ego does not admit the idea of self-sacrifice into his scheme of life. And here again Stirner thinks boldly and clairvoyantly. For no doctrine has had more adherents and fewer sincere believers than the doctrine of self-sacrifice. Ego will not be sacrificed. It will lend, but will not vanish. Self-sacrifice should be the prerogative of power; as it is, it is most often the excuse that weakness makes for its inability to live for itself alone. Suppose the doctrine of self-sacrifice became universal! We should have the absurd spectacle of each person living for the good of some other person. That, of course, is unthinkable. Self-sacrifice must, in the very nature of things, be subterranean egoism.

Stirner speaks of the “egoism of the stars.” It is a good example. Each star shines for itself; as an incidence of power it throws its radiance into space, giving light to the darkness, shedding warmth. But its giving is incidental. It exists first of all for itself. The good it causes comes out of its surplus. And self-sacrifice should be self-glorification. All gifts should be gifts of power, not a hand-out from Duty. “Everything is for me!” cries Stirner.

Even what he gives is still his. And there can be nothing to give unless one has cultivated his Ego before conferring the gift. Unless the gardener has given his time to raising the most beautiful plants, how can his gift be worthy? Strangle your instincts, throttle your inner nature, stifle the soul’s cry for joy and power and its hunger for its “ownness” — and Nature will brand you a sloven in your very gait and secrete the venom of your secret spite in all your “gifts.”

The Socialistic Bugbear

STIRNER’S doctrine of the Ego leaves a no room for the Socialistic state. He deals sledge-hammer blows at that fallacy. Socialism is to him, as it appeared to Herbert Spencer and Gustave Le Bon, another form of slavery.

Socialism is only that old enemy, the State, popularized. The mantle has fallen from the shoulders of the old gods onto a newer being — the People. The Socialist believes that the State can do what the individual can not do, forgetting that the State is no other thing than the people. As Stirner truly says, there is no such thing as a body; there are only bodies — that is, the State, like all abstractions, is a myth; there are only individuals with Ego.

The Socialist believes there are individuals and a State. He makes a thing out of a word, galvanizes it into a semblance of life, sticks a crown on its head, puts a gilded wand in its hand, sits it on a throne of theories, and cries, “Behold the Deliverer of Man—the State, the People!”

Always the slave of words — this poor bewildered Man!

Always there is a New Jerusalem — a lazy man’s Utopia! Once it was Paradise — now it is Socialism. It is only the latest illusion. There is no short cut to happiness. There is no backstairs to the House of Life. What the individual can not do for himself the State can not do for him. Nothing degrades like dependence; nothing undermines a man like the certain guarantee of a living. The Ego must fight and bleed for its “own” — that makes the Ego godlike.

The Social Slavery

STIRNER foresaw this great Socialistic propaganda that is on us. He foresaw a slavery more terrible than that which ever prevailed in ancient times following the erection of the Socialistic State. By destroying the competitive system, the principle of individuality, the profoundest principle in Nature, would be sapped at the core. Men, always certain of life and the necessities, would lose the one supreme characteristic of their manhood-the ability to struggle and to conquer.

Under Socialism we should be ruled by a gigantic Trust called the State or the People — all names for one thing. The Ego would be regulated as in medieval times, and on the same theory, the theory of all tyrants—— “public improvement.” Instead of a few politicians we would have a world of ’em.

What should a man be helped to do, then? To make a better fight, to give a deadlier blow, to strike surer, to battle for the preservation of Ego. But he should be guaranteed nothing except death if he fails. What is injustice? The equal distribution of goods — guaranteeing to those who can not fight; preserving the weak at the expense of the strong. All men are born unequal. Socialism — the Social State, Stirner calls it — is confiscation of Ego. It is popular with those who have nothing.

Nature’s Unit Value

WHATEVER of great things has been done in the world has been done by the individual.

The individual — not the State or the family — is Nature’s unit value.

All that makes for material or mental develop ment has sprung from individual initiative, lashed by the thongs of Pride and Necessity — lured by the lust for Power. And wherever the State or the Church has attempted to regulate the individual and the activity of the Ego, decay has followed. The Dark Ages were dark because the Ego was dead. The Ego awakened with Dante, Gutenberg, Michelangelo and Martin Luther.

The old autocracy reigned on the theory that one man should rule all men.

The new autocracy is called Socialism; it merely reverses the scheme.

It believes that all men should rule each man.

Socialism abolishes the fear of danger in the Ego of the individual. She smashes his mainsprings, fear and courage. No man is born with a right to a living, or to anything else. Man’s only right is a competitive right. The State is always evil, asserts Stirner — and Socialism is merely another gag for our tongues and fetters for our feet.

Max Stirner’s dream of an emancipated Ego is futile, but his reasons for dreaming it were sublime. The direction his thought takes is right, but he had visions beyond the reaches of our souls. He imposes on our brains a sublime ideal of human development. It is like the North Star, a great light to steer by, but he who tries to reach it is mad, mad, mad, my lords.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Benjamin DeCasseres, Historical Work, Max Stirner, Trevor Blake

A 1919 translation of Stirner: “The Worker and the Government”

 Byington’s 1907 English translation of Einzige… is  fairly universal, and has been (until the near future) the only complete translation of Stirner’s opus.

There have been a couple of excerpts that appear to be freshly translated, and when Trevor Blake shared a link from the Kate Sharpley Library, I knew we’d “discovered” a new one, but it’s not clear who actually performed the translation. Marcus Graham, who you may know from Man! Journal, was the editor of the journal, so it’s possible he did it. We posted a bit of background on him from a Sidney E. Parker interview. The title “The Worker and the Government” reminds me of the Simpsons episode “Krusty Gets Kancelled”, where Krusty shows the “Eastern Europe version” of Itchy and Scratchy called “Worker and Parasite.”

From: Anarchist Soviet Bulletin, December 1919 (edited by Marcus Graham) .

The Worker and the Government

Governments do not let me come to my value, and continue to exist only through my valuelessness: they are forever intent of getting benefits from me, that is exploiting me, turning me to account, using me up, even the use they get from me consists only in my supplying a proletariat; they want me to be “their creature”.

Pauperism can only be removed when I as ego realize value from myself, when I give my own self value. I must rise in revolt to rise in the world.

What I produce, flour, linen, or iron and coal, which I toilsomely win from the earth, etc, is my work that I want to realize value from. But then I may long complain that I am not paid for my work according to its value: the payer will not listen to me, and the governments likewise will maintain an apathetic attitude so long as it does not think that they must “appease” me that I may not break out with my dreaded might. But this “appeasing” will be all, and, if it comes in to my head to ask for more, the Governments turn against me with all force of their lion-paws and eagle-claws: for they are king and beast, they are lion and eagle. If I refuse to be content with the price that they fix for my ware and labor, if I rather aspire to determine the price of my ware myself, that is “to pay myself” in the first place I come into conflict with the buyers of the ware. If this were stilled by mutual understanding the Governments would not readily make objections; for how individuals get along with each other troubles them little, so long as therein they do not get in their way. Their damage and danger begins only when they do not agree, but, in the absense of a settlement, take each other by the hair. The Governments can not endure that man stand in a direct relation to man; it must step between as mediator, must intervene. What Christ was, what the saints, the church were, the Governments have become – to wit, “mediator”. It tears man from man to put itself between them as a “spirit”. The workers who ask for higher pay are treated as criminals as soon as they want to compel it. What are they to do? Without comp-ulsion they don’t get it, and in compulsion the Governments see a self-help, a determination of price by the ego, a genuine, free realization from its property, which they can not admit of. What then are the workers to do? Look to themselves and ask nothing about the Governments.

But as is the situation with regards to my material work, so it is with my intellectual too. The governments allow me to realize value from all my thoughts and to find customers for them (I do not realize value from them, that is, in the very fact that they bring me honor from listeners, and the like); but only so long as my thoughts are their thoughts. If, on the other hand, I harbour thoughts that they do not approve (make its own), then they do not allow me at all to realize value from them, to bring them into exchange, into commerce. My thoughts are free only if they are granted to me by the Government’s grace, if they are by the Government’s grace, the they are the Governments thoughts. They let me philosophize free only so far as I prove myself “philosopher of the Governments”; against the Government I must not philosophise, gladly as they tolerate my helping them out of their “deficiencies”, “furthering” them. Therefore as I may have only as an ego most graciously permitted by Governments, provided with their testimonial of legitimacy and police pass, so too it is not granted to me to realize value from what is mine, unless this proves to be theirs, which they enthrusted me with. My ways must be their ways, else they destrain me; my thoughts their thoughts, else they stop my mouth.

The Governments have nothing to be more afraid of than the value of me, and in nothing must they be more carefully guarded against than on every occasion that offers itself to me for realizing value from myself. I am the deadly enemy of the Governments, which always hovers between the alternatives, they or I.

Byington’s translation from The Ego and His Own (1907) is as follows, with non-excerpted text from the same paragraph in gray:

Pauperism is the valuelessness of me, the phenomenon that I cannot realize value from myself. For this reason State and pauperism are one and the same. The State does not let me come to my value, and continues in existence only through my valuelessness: it is forever intent on getting benefit from me, i.e. exploiting me, turning me to account, using me up, even if the use it gets from me consists only in my supplying a proles (proletariat); it wants me to be “its creature.”

Pauperism can be removed only when I as ego realize value from myself, when I give my own self value, and make my price myself. I must rise in revolt to rise in the world.

What I produce, flour, linen, or iron and coal, which I toilsomely win from the earth, is my work that I want to realize value from. But then I may long complain that I am not paid for my work according to its value: the payer will not listen to me, and the State likewise will maintain an apathetic attitude so long as it does not think it must “appease” me that I may not break out with my dreaded might. But this “appeasing” will be all, and, if it comes into my head to ask for more, the State turns against me with all the force of its lion-paws and eagle-claws: for it is the king of beasts, it is lion and eagle. If I refuse to be content with the price that it fixes for my ware and labor, if I rather aspire to determine the price of my ware myself, e.g., “to pay myself,” in the first place I come into a conflict with the buyers of the ware. If this were stilled by a mutual understanding, the State would not readily make objections; for how individuals get along with each other troubles it little, so long as therein they do not get in its way. Its damage and its danger begin only when they do not agree, but, in the absence of a settlement, take each other by the hair. The State cannot endure that man stand in a direct relation to man; it must step between as —mediator, must — intervene. What Christ was, what the saints, the Church were, the State has become — to wit, “mediator.” It tears man from man to put itself between them as “spirit.” The laborers who ask for higher pay are treated as criminals as soon as they want to compel it. What are they to do? Without compulsion they don’t get it, and in compulsion the State sees a self-help, a determination of price by the ego, a genuine, free realization of value from his property, which it cannot admit of. What then are the laborers to do? Look to themselves and ask nothing about the State?

But, as is the situation with regard to my material work, so it is with my intellectual too. The State allows me to realize value from all my thoughts and to find customers for them (I do realize value from them, e.g. in the very fact that they bring me honor from the listeners, etc.); but only so long as my thoughts are —its thoughts. If, on the other hand, I harbor thoughts that it cannot approve (i.e. make its own), then it does not allow me at all to realize value from them, to bring them into exchange into commerce. My thoughts are free only if they are granted to me by the State’s grace, i.e. if they are the State’s thoughts. It lets me philosophize freely only so far as I approve myself a “philosopher of State”; against the State I must not philosophize, gladly as it tolerates my helping it out of its “deficiencies,” “furthering” it. — Therefore, as I may behave only as an ego most graciously permitted by the State, provided with its testimonial of legitimacy and police pass, so too it is not granted me to realize value from what is mine, unless this proves to be its, which I hold as fief from it. My ways must be its ways, else it distrains me; my thoughts its thoughts, else it stops my mouth.

The State has nothing to be more afraid of than the value of me, and nothing must it more carefully guard against than every occasion that offers itself to me for realizing value from myself. I am the deadly enemy of the State, which always hovers between the alternatives, it or I. Therefore it strictly insists not only on not letting me have a standing, but also on keeping down what is mine. In the State there is no property, i.e. no property of the individual, but only State property. Only through the State have I what I have, as I am only through it what I am. My private property is only that which the State leaves to me of its, cutting off others from it (depriving them, making it private); it is State property.

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The Dill Pickle Club: A Bright Spot in a Somber Town

The Dill Pickle Club was the home of Dill Pickle Press, publisher of the 1927 edition of Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard. The Dill Pickle Club was also a primary pulpit of pontification by Sirfessor Malfew Seklew, author of The Gospel of Malfew Seklew. Here are selections from three books that further give the flavor of this bohemian grove.

A Century of Progress by John Drury (Chicago: Consolidated Book Publishers Inc 1933)

“TOWER TOWN,” over the river on the near north side. Chicago’s largest and most flourishing bohemian quarter, bounded roughly on the south by Grand Avenue, on the east by Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, on the north by Division Street and on the west by Clark Street. District centers about the historic old Chicago Avenue Water Tower, Chicago and Michigan Avenues. Studios, art galleries, tea rooms, bookshops, alley forums and Italian restaurants are on every hand. The famous Dill Pickle Club, conducted by Jack Jones, is “Tower Town’s” main rendezvous. On Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evenings lectures, debates and dances are held here. The Dill Pickle occupies a chapter in Albert Parry’s “Garrets and Pretenders: A History of Bohemianism in America.” It is located at 18 Tooker Place. Nearby is “Bughouse Square” (Washington Square, North Dearborn Street and Walton Place), haunt of soap-box orators.

Chicago’s Left Bank by Alson J. Smith (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company 1953)

In Towertown, one-eyed Jack Jones had started the Dill Pickle Club, and here, every Saturday night, a Chicago one act play, written by some unknown Chicago playwright, presented by unknown Chicago actors, took the boards. […] With the coming of Prohibition, Towertown became something of a haunt for the underworld, too. The Dill Pickle became a scarcely-disguised speakeasy, and even had itself raided a few times just for the publicity.

Hobohemia by Frank O. Beck (Rindge: Richard R. Smith Publisher Inc. 1956)

One evening in 1919 no less a luminary than Sherwood Anderson published in The Chicago Daily News the statement, “Jack Jones and the Dill Pickle Club are the bright spots in the rather somber aspects of our town.”

Jack was a man of stature and a visit to the Club was for many years a must in the itinerary of all pilgrims making a round of the night clubs of the Windy City. It was a focal point of the nightlife of Towertown, a region of the near north side where, when the shades of night arrived, foregathered the Bohemian, the artist, the near-artist and the strange conglomeration of city dwellers who follow in their train.

The Dill Pickle Club is surely an appropriate name for an eating spot. What epicure but does not relish the dill, the humble anise of the Scriptures? When the eating club was opened on Locust Street and patronized mainly by disputatious labor leaders, it had over its door the sign, “The Copper Kettle and the Dill Pickle. ” A few years later, Bohemia-in-Chicago was stirred by food poisoning caused (supposedly) by the use of the copper kettle and the Club dropped “The Copper Kettle” end of the name and the Dill Pickle went it alone. While the Irish were pleased, the Germans were not.

The same Jack Jones, who in 1917 opened the Dill Pickle Club, now incorporated the club, copyrighted the name and moved it to Tooker Alley, where he continued to serve “coffee and a few light foods that are tolerable” as John Drury writes in his Dining in Chicago. On Wednesdays, his mild-mannered sister prepared a goodly assortment of sandwiches for the literary group who took over that evening. It was on one of these special evenings that I, in search of a copywriter, bought “coffee and — ” for a young writer, Carl Sandburg. He ate it in a dimly lighted recess in the wall, as I tried to persuade him to come with me to do some special writing, as I was then making the Chicago Area Survey of the Inter-Church World Movement.

But for John Archibald (Jack) Jones, the Dill Pickle Club was to serve purposes other than gastronomy. This king of the Picklers came to Chicago about the year 1907 and, as a labor leader, he wished his Club to serve his ends, by enlisting the intelligentsia.

Where he came from and who he was was definitely secondary to the fact that he was a most intelligent and militant labor agitator, one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. His Club was to be a public forum for the discussion of what, to Jones, was the most vital subject in our national life, the rights of manual laborers.

Of an earlier interesting place, a nursery rhyme said, “The way into my parlor is up a winding stair.” The way into the Dill Pickle Club was even more complicated. Off North State Street to the left you wedged yourself, if you were thin enough, through a hole in the wall, a narrow slit between the four-story buildings. Then, with ashcans and garbage cans making it wise to watch your step, you went over the cobblestones and bricks of Tooker Alley to No. 18, where you faced a bright green light over an orange door with three small stained glass apertures. Here you were admonished, if you aspired to enter, to “Step high, stoop low, and leave your dignity outside.” Crawling was really the best means of locomotion from there on in.

Blazed across the vestibule was the enigmatical line “This club is established to elevate the minds of people to a lower level.” There were several ways in which the Club made no more sense than that.

However, the founder, Jack Jones, an American pioneer in the field of labor education, was a powerful magnet and drew unusual personalities within his orbit. It was probably in the cards from the beginning that Jack, years later, should die alone in a third-class men’s lodging house, and his wasted and besotted body, not yet sixty-four years old, be buried in a casket, the gift of a thousand derelict men on the stem on West Madison Street.

What mattered was what Jack Jones, a flaming missionary of industrial justice, did with his opportunity in the Dill Pickle Club. At once it became the rendezvous of leading labor organizers and leaders, of radical artists too often coarse and ribald, of modern poets often equally unrefined and gross, of rising literary personages and revolutionists. It became more than a serious labor forum, it became an institution for all the arts. It opened its doors wide to everybody who had a message, a grievance, a hope, or a criticism, constructive or destructive; who wished to raise his voice against oppression, prejudice and injustice in all their multiforms. To every guest, at some time during his sojourn at the Club, Jack Jones, the ingenious, put the question, “Are you a nut about anything?”

One night in an unrestrained moment the group of the evening accepted the following credo: “We of the Dill Pickle believe in everything. We are radicals, pickpockets, second-story men and thinkers. Some of us practice free love, and some, medicine. Most of us have gone through religion and have tired of it. Some of us have tired of our wives.” This was the Dill Pickle Club in its most indulgent and unrestrained mood.

This creed did not express the main objectives of the Club. It was definitely not a place where men grow broad bellied and narrow minded, despite the fact that there were hedonists there and those allergic to purity. Through the years they did much creative work. Here experts taught dancing and other arts. Poets read their own verses. Artists, wood carvers, ornamental iron designers, sculptors and painters created and displayed their handicraft, always to an interested public. From the haymow on the second floor — the city used transportation that fed on hay — came the mingled odors of charcoal, turpentine, fixatives. Often a party of visitors stood by, waiting to be shocked at the nude subject.

In the birth and early development of the little theatre the Club must be given prominent mention. This, one of the earliest of the little theatres, presented some of the finest amateur talent. Jack, a man of varied talent, built with his own hands a splendid stage, invented and installed an unusual lighting system, wrote, directed and acted in the plays.

The open forum of the Club was stimulated by the idea that truth wholly controlled may become dangerous. Yet no matter how important the question brought before the Dill forum or how illustrious the speaker, he was thrown to the lions, as he expected to be. His message — important, crack-brained, serious or humorous — the omnipresent heckler treated the same as the last and the next. And what consummate hecklers were there! There was big John Laughman, whose biting Irish witticism, often almost sadistical, literally cowed the speaker and thrilled the audience; little Birdie Weber, hook-nosed and bespectacled, vulgar always and thunderous in his approach, confused and trapped the orator. The heckling was usually brilliant and constituted not an inconsiderable part of the entertainment.

The Dill Pickle Club drew to its platform a surprising “Who’s Who” of speakers. In my diary are listed speakers heard there, and many of them were monthly guests. There was Maxwell Bodenheim, author of Ninth Avenue; Carl Sandburg, the poet; Ben Reitman, King of the Hoboes; Ben Hecht, author of 1001 Afternoons in Chicago, editor of the Chicago Literary Times and a promising poet; Countess Luddie, who wore sandals and bobbed her hair; Paddy Carrol from Hell’s Half Acre; Aimee Semple McPherson, and a Spanish spiritualist who shaved her head and dyed it green; Morris Levine, blind, gray-haired orator; Van Cima, Dutch artist and piccolo player; Emma Goldman, the Anarchist, and Rube Menken, Russian art critic; Eugene Debs and William D. Haywood, tycoons of the labor movement; Sherwood Anderson, the playwright, and Jim Larkin, the famous Irish rebel; Harry Batters, selling socialism to the Democrats and democracy to the Socialists; Yellow Kid Weil, of high-finance fame; Clarence Darrow and scores of the more brilliant members of the faculties of Northwestern and Chicago universities. Sooner or later everybody had a chance to ex- press himself and the Club’s Sunday night doings often made Monday morning news.

One night one of the university speakers remarked seriously, “More famous people have passed through this Club than through any fifty universities in the world.” The statement was, to say the least, extravagant. It was statements like this that convinced me that I was using rather well the time I gave to them. Early in the Club’s history, Jack Jones invited me to join his staff and called me “Chaplain.” I have met few groups with such enormous responsiveness and so much in need of education of the spirit. I tried to understand when they needed praise and when they needed prayer. They always needed a friend. Jack Jones climaxed his study of labor’s problems by writing a treatise, “The Tech-Up,” a pronouncement on technocracy.

Harper Leech, co-originator of the War Insurance plan, wrote of Jack’s “The Tech-Up”: “A masterpiece of explanation of the industrial form of unionism.” It brought Jack a trip to Washington, D. C., during World War I at Uncle Sam’s expense, for conference with the Department of Labor. Labor sympathizers of the Dill Pickle type later followed the worker’s movement through syndicalism and the Worker’s Party into the Communist Party.

When the crest of bootlegging came, the Club’s cultural flame flickered low. The lawless horned in on the management of the Club and chiseling gangsters followed. Man shall not live by free love, companionate marriage, unrestrained Bohemianism, rackets, “red” Russia, alone — vital subjects though they were to the adherents of the Club. However, sincere voices raised against suppression, prejudice and injustice bring their own reward. Dill Pickle’s popular forum, little theatre, art school, social center, all often on the five-yard line in their way and day, served the cause of adult education and democracy.

And possibly society has a greater ability to reform itself than many of us thought that day.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Book, Malfew Seklew, Ragnar Redbeard, Trevor Blake

Malfew Seklew: Horse, Traps, Gigs, Landaus and Cabs

Sirfessor Malfew Seklew was a man of many names. One of them, a name perhaps in proximity to the one he was assigned at birth, was F. W. Wilkes. Seen here is an advertisement for the good Sirfessor’s services as a stevedore.

Telephone 4549. F. W. Wilkes, Horse, Traps, Gigs, Landaus and Cabs. For Hire by Week, Day, or Month. Gt. Colmore Street, Birmingham. All Orders Promptly Attended to.

Telephone 4549. F. W. Wilkes, Horse, Traps, Gigs, Landaus and Cabs. For Hire by Week, Day, or Month. Gt. Colmore Street, Birmingham. All Orders Promptly Attended to.

This advertisement appears in the 7 November 1904 program guide for the Prince of Wales Theatre. This is Document ID ET-D313 of the Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Database, a guide to the papers from Smallhythe Place. This is a remarkable resource for repertory research in late 1800s / early 1900s England.

This is the period of time when Sirfessor Seklew said he served in the D’Oyly Theater. His exposure to the stage shows in the many references to the work of Gilbert and Sullivan in his Gospel According to Malfew Seklew. In particular, Malfew mentions The Mikado. Programs for this work are also found in the Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Database, once for 23 July 1917 and once for 21 July 1924. Each of these performances was carried out by D’Oyly.

Would it be too much to hope that photographs or film of Malfew Seklew from his time on the stage may yet emerge?

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Filed under 1845-1945, Bibliographic, Historical Work, Malfew Seklew, Trevor Blake

Stand Alone | Philosophy of Time by Dora Marsden | SA1020

The Stand Alone (2016) project was launched one year ago, and the Union of Egoists is proud to announce the reprinting of The Philosophy of Time, an extremely rare book from suffragette and egoist Dora Marsden. This is not just a facsimile, but an entirely new typesetting with original introduction by Trevor Blake.

The Philosophy of Time was published in an exceptionally small run in 1955 and has never been reprinted – until now. The final published work by suffragette and egoist Dora Marsden (1882 – 1960), released to the world while she was confined in a mental hospital.

The Philosophy of Time is currently available from:
Underworld Amusements*

This is the seventh issuance of Stand Alone, and the series has brought to light nearly lost (or impossible to obtain works), and previously unpublished materials in affordable editions, mostly limited to a set number. There are plans for issues currently extending to the end of 2018, with a new issue emanating at least every other month.

*Underworld Amusements has nine copies of The Philosophy of Time that is paired with a numbered block print of the author cut by Trevor Blake and printed by Kevin I. Slaughter. These are $33 each and the proceeds go directly to projects.


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Filed under Book, Dora Marsden, Stand Alone

Stand Alone | Max Stirner/Roots of the Right | SA1019

The Union of Egoists produced journal Stand Alone (2016) has released it’s 6th issue of the egoist journal.  Limited to 45 copies.


This edition of Stand Alone pairs 45 uncirculated copies of the 1971 Harper Row edition of Max Stirner: The Ego and His Own, with a special typesetting of Sidney E. Parker’s review of that book titled “Anarchism, Angst, and Max Stirner.” The books are as new, though the dust jackets have varying degrees of shelf and storage wear. Part of the “Roots of the Right” series, this is an abridged, edited of Stirner’s Der Einzige based on Byington’s translation.

Inside Flap Copy:
The life of the nineteenth-century anarchist philosopher Max Stirner was notable for one outstanding event: the writing of The Ego and His Own. This classic text, almost unavailable in English today, anticipated and influenced many prominent, psychological, philosophical and political theories of the last hundred years. A long and vigorous monologue exploring the foundations of the ego, the book was regarded by Marx—who wrote a fourhundred-page reply to Stirner—as the most dangerous of polemics against socialism. The intensity and persistence of Stirner’s revaluation of life led to psychological insights, making him an important precursor of Nietzsche and Freud. Stirner’s egoist philosophy, contra every type of moral and social order, disinherits him from any political tradition. But his savagely penetrating critiques of liberalism and socialism generate ideas which were readily incorporated into fascist ideology. Mussolini, for one, claimed to have been greatly indebted to him. Moreover, there is contemporary relevance in a new look at this strangely neglected thinker : he presents the most fully-developed case against all supra-individual authority. Already in Stirner can be found the rhetoric of ‘doing your own thing’ and of ‘repressive tolerance’. John Carroll’s selection from this extraordinary book, presenting in an easily assimilable form the essence of Stirner’s ideas, is an invaluable work for all students of politics and philosophy.

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Filed under 1845-1945, 1946-Today, Book, Max Stirner, Sidney E. Parker, Stand Alone, Uncategorized

Dora Marsden and the Wrath of Antis

The second decade of the 2000s marks a near century of near-universal woman suffrage. But there was a time when woman suffrage was not universal, or universally desired. Some opposed woman suffrage because it went too far, others because it didn’t go far enough. Ellen Key and A. J. George were among the former, Dora Marsden among the latter.

Ellen Key (1849 – 1926) “[was never] opposed to woman suffrage, but only to the suffragists’ method of twisting it to fresh oppression of individual women and of woman’s own nature” according to Ellen Key: Her Life and Her Work by Louise Hamilton Nyström (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1913). In Love and Ethics (New York: B. W. Huebsch 1911) Key wrote…

[It] must still be insisted that the gains to society is nothing if millions of women do the work that men could do better, and evade or fulfill but poorly the greater tasks of life and happiness, the creation of men and the creation of souls. To fulfill these tasks properly women require the same rights as men, and until they have obtained these rights “feminism” has still all its work before it. But in proportion as woman acquire the right of suffrage, using this word not merely in its narrow political sense, but in all senses, the right of choice or selection in general – in proportion as they acquire this right they must learn to use it in the field of life. They must learn to know that their power is greatest in those provinces in which “imponderable” values are created, values which cannot be reduced to figures and yet are the solve values capable of transforming humanity.

Mrs. Andrew J. George of Brookline, Massachusetts addressed the United States Senate in opposition to woman suffrage on April 19, 1913. She also wrote several anti-suffrage pamphlets.

The quote from Dora in the second set of articles below comes from The Freewoman for November 23 1911 (Volume 1, Issue 1). The essay was called “The Bondwoman,” which I take to mean the opposite of ‘the freewoman’ (which in turn was not at all the same as being a suffragist, a suffragette or a feminist).

Anti-suffrage in the news a century ago…

Wrath of Antis is Stirred by Charges that They Use Questionable Tactics. Suffrage Foes to Keep Up Vitriolic Attacks

Cincinnati Enquirer of June 1 1914

Because the New England women’s suffrage Association and it’s forty-seventh annual meeting accused of the anti-suffragist of “the tactics of the polecat went badly frightened,” the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is up in arms.

The end his report to the New England suffer just passed a resolution at their meetings, saying: “these are questionable tactics.”

The antis reported that the New England suffragists passed a resolution at their meeting, saying: “We denounce as a gross slander the charge of the anti-suffragist that equal suffrage means loose morals; and we protest especially against their attributes into prominent women’s statements which those women have been physically disclaimed.”

In commenting on this, Mrs. George, the leading platform speaker among the antis, says: “This is perhaps the most extraordinary resolution ever adopted by a public assemblage. Is this ‘woodsy’ metaphor a foretaste of the amenities in which political women will deal? These suffragists should not condemn their opponents, but should hasten to withdraw from the suffrage platform those who are preaching feminism. The resolution resolutions [sic?] should be aimed at the suffragist-feminists who are giving daily evidence of the tendency of the younger suffragists to work for ‘the social revolution’ promised by Mrs. Harper Cooley. A New York daily under date of May 26 quotes the Secretary of the National Suffrage Association as defining feminism as the rebellion against being ticketed and treated as somebody’s female relative. If this rebellion does not involve a social revolution what does it promise?

“Ellen Key and Dora Marsden are not antisuffragists in the sense that they oppose woman suffrage. They look upon woman suffrage as a part of this social revolution. Ellen Key pleads for the woman only as the mother of the child. Dora Marsden says, ‘The cult of the suffragists takes its stand upon the weakness and dejectedness of the conditions of women. The free woman’s concern is to see to it that she shall be in a position to bear children if she wants them, without soliciting assistance from any man, wherever he may be.’

“The feminists are the logical suffragists, who have the intellectual honesty to declare that you cannot change everything and leave everything unchanged, who seek the ‘social revolution’ and acknowledge the means by which they will bring it about, and these means include, although they may stop at such woman suffrage.”

And from the Atlanta Constitution of May 31 1914 (the Houston Post of July 18 1914 repeats the second paragraph):

There is a danger that, in the minds of the few people, there may exist to some confusion as to the relation between the so-called “feminist movement” and equal suffrage. The latter has always repudiated any connection therewith. As one of the distinguished leaders in national suffrage works said: “I do not know what this feminist movement is and I do not believe anyone else does.”

Ellen Key and Dora Marsden are two of the most conspicuous feminists of the world. Both are anti-suffragists. Ellen Key has never announced yourself the suffragist. Dora Marsden was, however, an active member of Mrs. Pankhurst association, the Women’s Social and Political Union. When she left the organization she wrote a frank article in The Freewoman – a magazine of which she was one of the editors – on the futility of the women’s suffrage movement. Since then, she has become an anarchist. These facts would seem to disprove the contention of certain anti-suffragists that suffragist and feminist are synonymous terms.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Dora Marsden, Historical Work, Trevor Blake

Unhatched Egos Bathe Their Souls in Super Sunlight

An astounding article on Sirfessor Malfew Seklew from the Chicago Daily Tribune of February 28 1916.

The man identified here as Doc Rawleigh of the Toltec tribe may be Redwood Bailey, Cherokee. Bailey wrote about the Sirfessor in The Day Book for February 5 1916, and the Sirfessor replied in the same periodical five days later. W. Kibbler comments on the both two days after that, and all of these letters are collected in The Gospel of Malfew Seklew.

Franklin Rosemont lists Bertram Lester Weber as an active and early member of the Dil Pickle Club in The Rise & Fall of the Dil Pickle Club. The Pickle was the publisher of the Sirfessor’s work as well as the 1927 edition of Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard. Weber wrote plays performed at the Pickle, plays lost to time. “No speaker could withstand […] the biting wit of Bertie Weber” said Ben Reitman. Edna Dexter described Weber as “clever and humorous. He would go about Bughouse Park and the Pickle and peddle [his poems] for ten cents a piece.” Rosemont’s recommended book reprints a two-page poem by Weber. The Big Red Songbook by Utah Phillips writes Weber was born in Chicago in 1885 and died in Wisconsin in June 1962. – Trevor Blake

Unhatched Egos Bathe Their Souls in Super Sunlight

Mildewed Minded Mortals List to Sirfessor Superman Rage


Whatever gentle, lamb-like traits a Superman may display when among his fellows, he certainly gets real rough when talking to mere mortals who, unlike him, have failed to ascend to the Summit of Ego.

At least that was the conclusion to be drawn from attendance at a meeting held in a hall at 20 West Randolph street last night where “Sirfessor” F. M. Wilkesbarre, who modestly admits he is the only Superman running at large in the United States at the present time, engaged in a debate on “Is Exploitation the First Law of Nature?” with Lester Weber, who describes himself as “a rationalist lecturer.”

Call ‘Em Supernames.
In taking the affirmative side and trying to convince his audience of 300 persons that his Superintelligence was the greatest thing ever brought to Chicago, the “sirfessor” – a term to be carefully set apart from that of common, ordinary “professor” – shook his Superlocks as he Superraged majestically about the platform and called his hearers the following Supernames:

Spineless grovelers.
Sniveling humbugs.
Pestiferous pifflers.
Mildew-minded mortals.
Unhatched egos.
Beatific believers.
Benighted and bedamned bipeds.
Beatitude mongers.
Sentimental sobbists.
Humid humilitarians.
Creeping cemeteries.

Gets Away with It.
And not only that, but the “sirfessor” got away with it without having a single chair bounced off his Supercranium. As for “Rationalist” Weber, he didn’t stand a chance and was glad to quit the argument in half the time allotted to him.

With his tawny bangs drooping artistically over one eye so that he could look at the audience only with the other optic, Weber opened the debate.

“You have gathered here tonight to witness a battle royal between two of the greatest intellects the world ever saw,” he began in the voice of a well drilled chorus man. “You may bathe your souls in the sunlight of our brilliant personalities.”

“Haw!” Laughs Doc Rawleigh.
“Haw!” laughed a long-haired individual who claims to be “Dr. Raleigh, medicine man of the Toltec tribe.”

For a time it looked like a riot, but Weber managed to hold the platform for a few moments, asserting that exploitation couldn’t be the first law of nature because nature didn’t have any first law, and that the “sirfessor” was real mean in making him debate on such a subject when what he really wanted to argue about was, “Resolved, That the Self-COnscious Ego is a Cheap Organism.”

Then Arose the “Sirfessor”
Then he sat down and the “sirfessor” arose.

“You angry and antagonistic atoms!” he thundered at his hearers. “You cheap organisms and banal babblers – all that you know is how to get and beget. Poor, miserable devils of workers, you have no conception of the Supreme Ego. I stand before you, superior to any human being I’ve ever met, ready to push Infinity in the face and tell it to get out of my way, while you – you miserable misfits – sit there ready to kiss the hand that crushes you and kick the hand that benefits you… ”

You Gotta Hand It to Him.
Even the long haired medicine man was willing to admit that the “sirfessor” took the cake after the debate was closed.

The “sirfessor,” who is president of “the Society of Superites of England,” is in America to organize “the Society of Social Aristocrats,” to be composed of supermen and superladies. He says he can turn any “mental aristocrat” into a superbeing in four lessons.

When not engaged in this he sells super cigarette holders and superite netcktie grippers.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Bibliographic, Events, Historical Work, Malfew Seklew, Ragnar Redbeard, Trevor Blake