“Dominance and Submission versus Egoism” by Peter McAlpine (1972)

1946-Today / Monday, August 23rd, 2021

This essay by Libertarian writer Peter McAlpine was published in issue 20 of L.A. Rollins journal Invictus (April 11, 1972). He introduced it himself with the following prefatory note:

The following was written as a radio presentation for the “Voice of Reason” in Detroit (WABX). It was rejected because the Objectivist Steering Committee was not in agreement about the ideas presented. — Pete McAlpine

Between 1978 and 2002, John Zube committed over five hundred thousand pages of rare libertarian, anarchist, free market and related materials to microfiche. These texts have passed from paper to microfilm to scanned images to online at the Libertarian Microfiche Project (LMP). This transcription was made from images preserved by the LMP.




The motive for the rebellion of young people against parental and institutional authority is well-known: young people are sick and tired of surviving by kissing ass’. Infants come into the world completely at the mercy of their parents. To the infant it appears that his survival and well-being rests on his ability to elicit love from his parents. He soon discovers that the way to elicit “love” is to submit to his parents urge to dominate. The child thus learns to respond to his parents values. He learns that it is “cute” and therefore a means of survival to ape the subservient role.

The subservient role is nearly universal among toddlers, but soon the resentment and hatred that submission breeds creates a desire for the opposite, that is, dominance. Perhaps temper tantrums are the method by which the child first attempts to assume the dominant role.

Existing society can be described as a complex pecking order, designed to perpetuate the vicious circle of submission, resentment, and then, compulsion to dominate others which infects more people with the psychology of submission.

Society is divided into three major divisions: men, women, and children. Men dominate women and women dominate children. There is, of course, also a system of dominance and submission within these broad categories that is far too complex to describe at this time. Careful observation will reveal that the great bulk of people spend most of their time jockeying for position in various pecking orders. Politics, whether on the job, in the sphere of public office, or voluntary groups, is the euphemism people use to describe the quest for dominance and power.

Survival by dominance and submission systems is really a primitive Social system of trade that man shares with animals. Practically all animals that live in groups such as chickens, wolves, monkeys, and cattle have elaborate pecking orders that provide the group solidarity necessary for survival.

The submissive partner in any relation trades his self-respect, individuality, and self-assertiveness for protection and safety. The submitter says, “I am weak and therefore, no threat to you. I will satisfy your cravings and follow your orders. I’ll kiss your ass as long as you let me live.”

The dominant partner, on the other hand, trades the physical courage necessary for the defense of the weak for the pleasure and material advantage of being the master of slaves. The dominator says “As long as you are no threat I will keep you alive for my benefit.”

This view of human society is grim indeed. No doubt it is this view of social reality that leads various submitting groups such as women, blacks, workers, and youth to rebel. Rebellion is an attempt to regain the self lost in the degradation of submissive behavior. Unfortunately, rebellious movements too often merely attempt to turn the tables by assuming the dominant role or make subservience to the collective universal as in socialism rather than attempt to banish dominance and submission from the social scene.

Fortunately, there is an ethical orientation that does not involve the mutual degradation of dominance and submission. That ethical Outlook is egoism. The egoist does not live for others or ask others to live for him. He worships nothing above the self. He does not himself or expect others to trade away their self-respect for survival. The egoist must temporarily make terms with superior force, but never in his heart surrenders his life to another in honest submission. Egoism is the rejection of the “slave morality” which posits submission and meekness as a virtue as well as a rejection of the “master morality” that makes virtues out of exploitation, aggression, and brute strength. What would a society of egoists be like? It would be a society where autonomous individuals trade value for value, where forthright selfish trade in services and goods replaced the degrading transactions of dominance and submission, where the harmony of rational self-interest replaces the chaos of force and bureaucracy, where people do not set their calendars to satisfy so-called “social obligations,” where there are no power lusters who juggle pacifying the masses against getting their own way, where there are no resentful, downtrodden masses who must trade in their self-esteem in order to live, where productive effort replaces the whining demand that self-sacrifice be rewarded, where people are equal in spiritual egoism, but unequal to the degree of their effort, ability, and luck, where supply and demand rather than government edict directs productive enterprise, and where individual rights are defended and aggression prohibited. This is egoist anarchy!

The table of contents for this issue is as follows:


Title or Subject


Page No.

1. For Your Information


2. Slaves to Duty (Part I)

John Badcock, Jr.


3. Classified Advertisements


4. News!!!!!


5. Comments on McAlpine’s Essays

William H. Stoddard


6. Dominance and Submission Versus Egoism

Pete McAlpine


7. The Legalization of Gold

National Committee for the Legalization of Gold


8. A Note From the Publisher

The Publisher


9. England Comes to America

Mark Brady & Chris Tame


10. Notes From England

Chris Tame & Mark Brady


11. An Alternative to Complete Financial Breakdown

Wm. T. Sayre-Smith


12. Back Issues of Invictus Available


13. Safeguard Your Faith!


14. Items of Possible Interest


15. Integrated Index of Selected Publications (Parts 4 and 5)

George Kysor


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