This letter to the editor was printed in The Sun, Thursday, November 4, 1909. We have not uncovered the letter he is responding to.
A Characterization of Them by One Who Has No Propaganda to Offer.
To the Editor of The Sun—Sir: In Mr. Ghent’s admirable exposition of myself in a letter to The Sun I fail to perceive a single argument advanced for socialism, but I do perceive something of that irascibility: dogmatism and intolerance which I find in all propagandists. These are the psychological germs of the coming absolutism. At the bottom of Mr. Ghent’s personality, as at the bottom of every socialist, anarchist, communist and social ameliorist, there slumbers the pontiff of a “newer dispensation.” The skilled observer may perceive in this great socialistic movement the beginnings of an intolerant ecclesiasticism, in all enslaving hierarchy, such as Comte planned.
I find all socialists admirable logicians—which means nothing, for logic is merely the mathematical justification of our own prejudices and subconscious tendencies. Each brain, each person, being a premise, each is logical. Socialism, anarchism, communism, Mormonism, are all logical if I grant their several premises. Socialism and anarchism (though their programmes differ widely they agree in this, that they are both optimistic systems, that both believe that the human will is more powerful than cosmic law, that both are ignorant of the ironical principle that roles all human movements) are products of superficial minds—men and women whose hearts are in the right place but unfortunately overflow into their brains. They are incapable of dissociating their heart needs from inexorable, implacable reality.
When I said that mankind had alga been the dupe of phrases and words I did not except myself, being still in the flesh. Personally I prefer a beautiful phrase to a dry fact. Being pessimist, an epicurean, a nihilist, I have no programme to offer the world. I am content to be a fascinated spectater of this serio-comic spectacle. I urge Mr. Merit to drop for a few weeks his socialistic bibles and read Swinburne, Keats and Leconte de Lisle. I say unto him also: Better fifty years of Max Stirner than a cycle of Karl Marx.
New York. November 2.