James L. Walker on Egoism in “Liberty and the Great Libertarians”

1845-1945, James L. Walker / Monday, January 8th, 2018

The following excerpt is from Liberty and the Great Libertarians: an Anthology on Liberty, a Hand-book of Freedom by Charles T. Sprading. The book itself is a collection of writings by thinkers including Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, William Godwin, Wilhelm von Humboldt, John Stuart Mill, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Josiah Warren, Max Stirner, Henry D. Thoreau, Herbert Spencer, Lysander Spooner, Henry George, Benjamin Tucker, Pierre Kropotkin, Abraham Lincoln, Auberon Herbert, G. Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Maria Montessori, and others.

The second-to-last chapter is titled “Other Libertarians” and this short bit from Walker is the last section in that chapter. It features two chapters culled from Walker’s book The Philosophy of Egoism that was serialized in the journal Egoism and wasn’t published in book form until 1915, two years after Liberty and the Great Libertarians was published.

While presented without distinction, the first paragraph is pulled from chapter 22 of The Philosophy of Egoism, but not the entirety, and the second paragraph is from chapter 5, but not the entirety. Even though the text is available in full elsewhere, they are god excerpts and I felt it was worth posting them here giving context that they were printed in the aformetioned book in 1913.

Dr. James L. Walker

What is good? What is evil? These words express only appreciations. A good fighter is a “good man” or a “bad man”! both words expressing the same idea of ability, but from different points of view. To the beggar a generous giver is a good man. To the master a servant is good when he cheerfully slaves for the master. A good subject is one obedient to his prince. A good citizen is one who gives no trouble to the State, but contributes to its revenues and stability. Evil is only what we do not find to our good, but what we have to combat. A horse is not good because strong and swift if he be “vicious” ; that is, if we find him hard to tame. A breed of dogs is good if readily susceptible of training to hunt all day or watch all night for the benefit of the owner. A wife is “good” if she will not be good to any man but her husband.

The love of money within reason is conspicuously an Egoistic manifestation, but when the passion gets the man, when money becomes his ideal, his god, we must class him as an Altruist. There is the characteristic of “devotion to another,” no matter that that other is neither a person nor the social welfare, nothing but the fascinating golden calf or a row of figures. We Egoists draw the line of distinction between the Egoist and the devotee. It is the same logically when a person becomes bewitched with another of the opposite sex so as to lose judgment and self-control, though this species of fascination is usually curable by experience, while the miser’s insanity cannot be reached. The love-sick man or woman has the illusion dispelled by contact with the particular person that caused it; but in certain cases absence or death prevents the remedy from being applied, and in some of these instances the mental malady is lifelong.

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