“Emmeline Pankhurst” By Benjamin De Casseres

1845-1945, Benjamin DeCasseres / Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
The following firecracker of a sketch was published in The Fra, Vol. 2 No. 6, (March 1914) on pages 182-183. The Fra: A Journal of Affirmation was published by Elbert Hubbard.

Emmeline Pankhurst

By Benjamin De Casseres

ALL new movements are deadly. They are elemental. They are born of some sublime moral, intellectual or physical transgression.

The renewers and renovators, the precursors of every renaissance, bring not peace, but a sword. War is as eternal as matter and motion and change. Christs, Luthers, Darwins, Hugos, Whitmans, Wagners, come to dynamite and destroy. They are in the intellectual sphere what earthquakes, lightning and thunder are in the physical world. Everything repeats the elemental laws of physics. Everything that is great and mighty and cleansing is attained with blood. Everything that is sublime is a form of wickedness raised to the highest power.

Great prophets, newcomers, heralds, hurl tiles from the housetops and plant in secret places giant time-bombs that may not do their religiously murderous work for fifty years after they are planted; but they work automatically and irreparably. Christ planted a time-machine that blew to fragments the ancient world. So did Luther, Rousseau, Voltaire and William Lloyd Garrison.

The Stamp of the Absolute

THERE are no moral values; there are only esthetic altitudes. From the fourth dimension of the imagination, great criminals are the equal of great saints. So that they both be sublime, every Napoleon will top every Spinoza, and a Miltonic Lucifer will rank with a Mary Magdalen. Emmeline Pankhurst belongs to the Elect.

She bears the stamp of the absolute. That is, she has the winged prophetic soul, the destroying passion of great humanitarian geniuses, and she uses the flaming speech of an avatar. The old regime is gone and that barbaric Jehovah with it. The modern mind rises out of the ruins, a vision of flame and thunder, chanting the glory of life, the divinity of impact, sex for sex’s sake, and the greatness of Woman.

Pankhurst is, whatever you say, the flower of that great reaction against other-worldiness begun by Ingersoll, Bradlaugh, Stendhal and Nietzsche. Matter and force forever and forever are divine. The eternal bloodsucker, the Spiritual, must be crucified again. Away with the vampire “saviors” of the race! To the rack and the crucifix with those who blaspheme against matter! Stamp out forever the libelers of the sun, the stars, the lily! Only the innate pornography of the cowled and ascetic spiritualists have made of woman’s body a reek and a pig-sty. This is a practical world, and the Practical is an epic. Every denier of the flesh and matter is led into his velvet heaven to the fanfare of a thousand pig-grunts, like Saint Anthony. Matter is the only mystery and the only reality. The future always belongs to the materialist. The spiritualist is a reversion, an atavism, a perversion of the time-instinct and the sex-instinct. Pankhurst has talked of Here and Now.

The Return From Nirvana

THE Feminist Movement, of which Emmeline Pankhurst is the soul, represents also a violent reaction against the intellectual. It is the return from Nirvana. From the ice-bound abstractions they come crashing into the jungles of the concrete. Come across with the ballot and our natural rights! They celebrate and immortalize every-day life.

On the anvils of their lyricism they forge the beauty of the coming time with the raw material of the ugly world that surrounds us.

They are revenants of sanity and health in a world of alcoholic poets, anemic doctrinaires and boudoir essayists like Cassiodorus. The Feminist manifestos, which are flung broadcast over the world in three or four languages, ring like a mountain call. A style veined with the red health of youth. It is, indeed, the Red Terror of Health which has flung itself into a tuberculous and shamble-footed world. An atavism? Yes. It is a reversion to Eternal Youth; a reversion from the Vampire-Ideal to a hot-blooded Reality. An atavism truly! From the peaceful catacombs of the state of Grace, the suffragists invite us to the hallucinating perspectives of perpetual transgression. They are very ancient are these Pankhursts as ancient as the first pantheists who kissed the earth passionately and “hurled their lances at the sun.”

“Freakishness” is the word that Stupidity uses in the presence of the rare. Well, Pankhurst is freakish!

Where are there any standards for anything? Where are they to be found—in what brain, in what secret mountain of the moon, in what revelation? The rare and the normal are contradictions in terms. The beautiful and the popular are antithetical conceptions. Standards shift as the brain shifts. Values change with each new emotion. The thought or feeling that is not anarchic in its incipiency will never be great. Everything great and luminous and immortal is born a Cain. Has Emmeline Pankhurst broken the law? Yes! And there are more that need smashing.

Fear nothing. Scorn death. Live life ecstatically. Measure your grandeur by the number of things your Will has crushed. Open wide the nostrils of your consciousness and draw in the wild salt savor of your instincts. Sobriety of any kind is a curse. Battle and intoxication, pain and victory justify life. Rub acid in your wounds so as to madden and stiffen your Will. Keep the pistol of purpose pressed against the temple of your weakness. Be cruel to no one but yourself. Each day carry a dead self on the pike of your Will. The soul is a monstrous gadfly that stings matter and mind to incessant action and transformation.

Emmeline Pankhurst is immortal before her death.


Source: The Fra, March 1914, Vol. 2 No. 6, pp. 182-183.

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