Tag Archives: Malfew Seklew

Malfew Seklew, Street Fakir

Excerpt from a letter circa July 1932, from Warren Starr Van Valkenburgh (New York) to Emma Goldman (St. Tropez).

I am enclosing the first issue of a boot-leg publication called the Clarion. L. J. Shapiro is a contractor, sympathizer but not an anarchist. He made available sufficient funds for the first three issues. Archie Turner was formerly with Havel on [illegible] Gordin, you know. Amedy Chappeau is a French comrade, an individualist and always considered a dependable comrade. I understand he has merely lent his name to give the Clarion some reason to be. Malfew Seklew is a street fakir with a flair for alliterative sentences. He claims to have been a follower of Kropotkin’s for more than 30 years until he found out how much more he knew than Peter and what damn fools and underdeveloped organisms the anarchists are when he decided that nothing matters but the ego and that the greatest social system man has ever devised is the capitalist system which provides bread and luxuries for hordes too dumb to provide it for themselves. Therefore if 30 capitalists would quit business tomorrow, the whole working class would starve within the next week. He is something over seventy and draws an old age pension from the State of NY, which may have something to do with his defense of capitalism! Anyhow no one takes him seriously except A. Gordin and A. Turner. But he is one of the sponsors of the Clarion. As to its contents, they speak for themselves.

Union of Egoist Note: the letter immediately following this one is Emma Goldman’s statement of earnings from Living My Life, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

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

Liberty Luminants: “Egoism as Taught by Thomas Paine”

I first saw the title in passing in a listing of titles available from the publishers of The Eagle and The Serpent (1898), I was to learn later that Malfew Seklew actually distributed “Liberty Luminants” according to a notice in “The Reformers Yearbook” of 1903. The address given at the time was 213 Grimesthorpe Road, Sheffield.

The collection was published and edited by Henry Bool (1846–1922) in 1902.  “Individualist Anarchist” Bool was British, but lived in Ithaca, NY for about 30 years before returning to England. Bool is the author of For Liberty: The World’s Thinkers and Government, Political Power and Democracy, Freedom, Co-Operation, and Society Without Government.


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We have transcribed one of the first sections from the book:


EGOISM.
AS TAUGHT BY THOMAS PAINE.

“A great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It had its origin in the principles of society, and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has in man, and all the parts of a civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together.

“Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show that everything which government can usefully add thereto, has been performed by the common consent of society without government.

“For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American war, and a longer period in several of the American states, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing a new government; yet, during this interval order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resources, to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in.

“The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and the common interest produces common security.  So far is it from being true, as has been pretended, that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society, it acts by a contrary impulse, and brings the latter closer together.

“Formal governments make but a small part of civilized life; and when even the beet that unman wisdom can devise is establish, it is a thing more in. name and idea than in fact. It is to the great and fundamental principles of society and civilization—to the common usage universally consented to, and mutually and reciprocally maintained—to the unceasing circulation of interest, which ,paces through its innumerable channels, invigorates the whole mass of civilized man, it is to these things, infinitely more than anything which even the best instituted governments can perform, that the safety and prosperity of the individual and of the whole depends.

“The more perfect civilization is, the :ess occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs and govern itself; but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense men into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find by the time that we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operations of the parts upon each other.

“Man, with respect to all those matters, is more a creature of consistency than he is aware of, or that governments would wish him to believe. All the great laws of society are laws of nature. Those of trade and commerce, whether with respect to the intercourse of individuals: or of nations, are laws of natural and reciprocal interest. They are followed and obeyed, because it is the interest of the parties so to do, and not on account of any formal laws their government may impose or interpose.” –Rights of Man.


It appears that at some point a second collection of quotes was published and named For Liberty (Liberty Luminants): An Anthology of Revolt. The first was released by Henry Bool himself, out of Ithaca, New York, but this latter collection was published in the UK by Charles William Daniel. Since thre is no date for this second collection,l we cannot say right now if Bool had already moved back to England or not. Wikipedia states “Charles William Daniel (1871-1955) was a writer and publisher who did much to disseminate Tolstoyan and pacifist ideas, and ideas about food reform and alternative medicine, in the first half of the twentieth century.” I’ll let you jump down that rabbit hole further, if you’re inclined.

One source claims that For Liberty was published in 1914. I cannot find anything to confirm or deny that, but because it quites Byington’s translation of Stirner by page number, we know it was published after 1907.

A copy of this latter book is in the Union of Egoists archives.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Malfew Seklew

“The Ego” by Malfew Seklew, from The Clarion (1932)

We have only a partial knowledge of the contents of the egoist influenced journal The Clarion, but sought out what we could because two of our main Union Members are featured: Malfew Seklew and Benjamin DeCasseres.

Reproduced below is one of the known Seklew pieces.

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THE EGO
By MALFEW SEKLEW
as published in The Clarion | Vol. II – No. 2. (14) | February-March 1934

An Ego is an Individual, an entity with an identity. He may be either a cipher or a character; a nonentity or a personality; an unconscious Ego, or a Conscious Egoist.

What is this thing called Myself?

What is an Ego? It is the essence of energy, the quintessence of all the vitalities registering themselves in the sensorium; a rendezvous for all the realities of Life; a depot of desire; a storeroom of sensation and an emporium of Enlightened Egoism.

The Conscious Ego, the I is the eye of evolution looking down the corridors of consciousness into the future, at the same time, seeking new sensations which may lead to new wisdom.

Ego Consciousness is the rule of reason measuring the motives of man.

You are the most important Ego in the word to yourself. You are somebody; yourself is sacred; every thing you do is done the best way you know how.

Every Conscious Ego can say:
I am, I am myself, I am I.

I am conscious of my present state with ability to differentiate, and separate the past from the present, and with power to mould the future in some degree.

I am conscious of continuity of existence. I am capable of testing the pulse of personality, and of recording the added consciousness of the Ego.

Increase your consciousness and you will increase the circumferences of your happiness.


If you have any corrections, additions or have some archival material to donate, please use our contact form.
Underworld Amusements has published THE book on Malfew Seklew, with an introduction by Trevor Blake. Get it from Underworld Amusements or Amazon.com.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Journals, Malfew Seklew

A partial contents from The Clarion (1932)

One of the titles included in our list of Journals is The Clarion (1932). I was unfamiliar with it (and most of the titles we discovered!), but thanks to the Labadie Collection, we have a sampling of the contents from a few issues. We will be taking this information and more to create a dedicated page later.

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I’d like to first extract some information from the super useful but niche book “Anarchist Periodicals in English Published in the United States (1833–1955) An Annotated Guide”


Clarion (1932–1934)

Prospectus: In the struggle of Capital against Labor, the Clarion takes the side of Labor. . . . Instead of organization, the Clarion advocates self-organization. . . . Instead of democracy, the Clarion advocates Egocracy. . . .This is the Clarion’s revolutionary formula: a) Expropriation of the expropriators; b) usurpation of the usurpers; c) disorganization of the disorganizers. . . . One cannot build an enduring house out of punk, therefore the Clarion’s endeavors will run along two lines: the advocacy of a revolutionary and evolutionary reconstruction of our social institutions, and the emphatic insistence upon the necessity of man’s self-cultivation, so that the Individual should rise to the dignity and full stature of a personality; for only then the inter-relationary designs woven by him will be more or less satisfactory and humane.

Subtitle: A Monthly Publication, 1 (Sept. 1932)–11/12 (July–Aug. 1933)
Editors: Abba Gordin, 1 (Sept. 1932)–13 (Jan. 1934); Archie Turner, 1 (Sept. 1932)–2 (Oct. 1932)
Contributors: E. Armand, W. Beoby, E. Bertran, Warren E. Brokaw, Donald Crocker, Benjamin De Casseres, I. N. Hord, J. William Lloyd, A. G. Meyers, Malfew Seklew, Walter Siegmeister, Charles T. Sprading
Subjects: Egoism, Free Love, Poetry, State Socialism, National Socialism, Diet/Nutrition

What follows are cropped contents listings from a handful of issues with the actual volume and issue number that is pulled from.

VOLUNTEER NOTICE: If someone would transcribe these tables of content into text and send them to us, we will then add that to a dedicated page for the journal. Please use our CONTACT page to let us know you’ll be working on it.

DONE: The Clarion (1932)


TheClarion-V1N1


Vol1No2

Volume 1, Number 2


Vol1No4

Volume 1, Number 4


Vol1No5

Volume 1, Number 5


Vol1No7-8

Volume 1, Number 7-8


Vol1No9-10

Volume 1, Number 9-10


Vol2No2

Volume 2, Number 2

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Filed under 1845-1945, Benjamin DeCasseres, Journals, Malfew Seklew

Antichrist – The Eagle and the Serpent (1898) in The New Humanist

Jonathan Rée wrote an article titled “Antichrist” for The New Humanist in November 2010. In it is one of the few modern references to The Eagle and the Serpent (1898) and some of our egoists, such as John Basil Barnhill.

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The young Nietzcheans did not hesitate to identify Nietzsche himself with the Übermensch – or the “beyond-man”, as the first translator of Zarathustra put it – and they dreamed of a day when they too might be acclaimed as pioneers of post-humanity. The main vehicle for their project was a little magazine called The Eagle and the Serpent: A Journal of Egoistic Philosophy, started in 1898 by a young Londoner by the name of John Erwin McCall. Its policy was summed up in two defiant slogans: “a race of altruists is necessarily a race of slaves” and “a race of freemen is necessarily a race of egoists”, and the first issue called for the creation of a network of “Egoist Coteries” to serve as centres of resistance to all kinds of religion – or rather to all except for McCall’s fresh new creed, known as “the Religion of Hate”.

McCall and his fellow haters were passionate about social change, but they wanted nothing to do with the progressive politics of the past. Their aim was not social justice but self-emancipation, and “the realisation of a higher type of human being … a being as much superior to man as man is superior to the ape.” But where Nietzsche might have expected the dictatorship of the Übermensch to be the work of a cultural aristocracy, his followers at The Eagle and the Serpent looked to a revolutionary workers’ movement based in what they called “class-consciousness” or “class-selfism”. They also amended Nietzsche’s attitude to Darwin, claiming that the “master morality” of the future was “synonymous with … the modern doctrine of evolution”. But in spite of their appeals to mass movements and natural science, they still conducted themselves like an exclusive sect. The principles of the Übermensch (or the “overman” – a term they preferred to “beyond-man”) were “not for boys, nor for old women, nor for dreamers either,” they declared: “they are the ethics for full-grown men, for noble, strong, wide-awake men, who shape the world’s destiny.”

Radical Nietzscheanism was probably the first philosophical movement to pride itself on the raw extravagance of youth rather than the mature wisdom of experience. Bernard Shaw, now in his forties, found it made him feel old; but he offered the egoist teenagers his support, hoping they might re-invigorate the socialist movement by “bringing Individualism round again on a higher plane”. He also broke the translation logjam over the Übermensch with his all-conquering neologism “superman”, and gave the journal an endorsement that its editor could brandish with pride: “it promises,” he said, “to be foolish enough to make people think.”

In 1900, The Eagle and the Serpent was taken over by Charles Watts, tireless printer-publisher to the Rationalist Press Association. But this arrangement – which makes it a precursor and stable-mate of the New Humanist – did not last long. In spite of dropping its explicit hostility to altruism and changing its subtitle to “the journal of wit, wisdom and wickedness” and “a journal for free spirits”, it remained an eccentric and unpredictable publication, and in 1902, after spluttering through eighteen issues, it expired.

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Filed under 1845-1945, 1946-Today, Ragnar Redbeard

The Sirfessor in the Saturday Review

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From “The Phoenix Nest,” a column by William Rose Benet appearing in the April 26 1947 edition of The Saturday Review (page 36)…

Mark Twain relates in one of his stories, the furore up in Heaven when an obscure tailor, Billings by name, from somewhere in Tennessee, arrives in the Celestial realm. Shakespeare is proud to sit at his feet while at the banquet in his honor; it is Homer who stands behind his chair and waits upon him. Yet this was an unknown poet although recognized by his peers as the greatest of them all. No mortal had ever read his verses. They had never even been published. In fact, during his lifetime he had been merely the butt of his contemporaries.

There were many such back in the twenties. For every Eugene O’Neil, Floyd Dell, Ben Hecht, or Maxwell Bodenheim, there were a dozen other real personalities in Greenwich Village and Union Square whose names have rarely reached the public except in column-long eulogies at their passing.

Looking back at those days a score or more years ago, one is struck by the renaissance of thinking which followed the First World War. There was a complete examination and overhauling of ideas which is sadly lacking today. It was a time of great optimism, for everyone felt that if the problems of the world had not as yet all been solved, at least their solution was attainable if not already in sight.

Thoughts were precious then and intellectual integrity the highest goal. There was no compromise with the popular taste in these philosophers, writers, and artists whose books were never printed and pictures never bought. Yet they were men and women of character. In an earlier age they might have been looked on as saints. They were in this world but not of this world. Their wants were few, a cold water flat on the East Side, where they could paint or write or dream, a meagre meal every once in a while was all they required. Yet this was often beyond their reach.

As chairman of the old Dill Pickle Club on 14th Street where they were wont to congregate, the writer knew them well and mourns their passing. There are but few of them left. Ike Shepps still holds forth at Columbus Circle with his satirical tirades against the futile money-grubbing pursuits of humanity. Jo Silverman, who studied medicine in England and then never practised [sic] it because he felt that too little was known about the art, today in his eighty-third year still pursues his studies of Spinoza and the humanities in his hovel on East 3rd Street. Dan O’Brien, King of the Hoboes, no longer delights his listeners with his wit and rich Irish brogue. He merely awaits his end in one of the city’s charitable institutes. Joe Gould still works on his “History” of our times. But where are the Wilkesbarrs, Pollocks, Marchands, Jack Joneses, and Lizzy Davises all gone like the snows of yesteryear?

The “Sirfessor,” as Wilkesbarr was called, rated a column-and-a-half obituary in The New York Times. Is there today in existence a single copy of his “Gospel According to Malfew Seklew,” to which he devoted his entire life? His was the doctrine of enlightened selfishness. He sought the rise of a race of “Supcrcrats,” an aristocracy of brains and skill that would rescue the world from its rising slough of mediocrity. His was a voice “crying in the wilderness.” A Cockney by birth, he had sung with the D’Oyly Carte Company. He had known Shaw and Wells and the Webbs intimately, yet never was his work known by more than a few dozens of his friends.

Abe Pollock was a collar salesman until in middle life, like Gauguin, he began to paint. His work was praised by some critics, scoffed at by others but it never sold. Perhaps Michelangelo passes him the finger bowls in Heaven.

Dr. Marchand had been a professor at Columbia University. During the anti-German outbreak of World War I, he was fired from his job. He never recovered from the blow. He spent his life on the personal project of coordinating all human knowledge. His manuscripts? Who knows where they are today!

There was Helen Langdon, who knew more about Oriental art than some curators of museums. She died in a garret (it was whispered of starvation), yet she could never bring herself to part with her precious Cinnabar vases and Japanese sword-guards.

Those were the days when ideas were all important, when Pollock and Vincent Beltrone holding opposite views on the subject of art — almost but not quite coming to blows about their theories — could argue far into the night before a group of enthralled listeners.

When Leon Samson first read his manuscript on the “New Humanism,” the entire intellectual body of the town was split into “pro” and “anti” factions.

Yes, ideas were important then and poetry was important. John Cabbage with his “Sea Chanteys,” Jack Sellers, Anton Romatka, Lew Ney each had his defenders and detractors, but they were sincere and judged them by their poetry and not as today by their political orientation.

It is amusing to note how many of the former dwellers within their “ivory towers” today have hung “to let” signs upon them and have rushed into the arms of the “proletariat.” For them perhaps, thinking is no longer necessary. Still the prospect of a world without the Sirfessor and his kind is anything but pleasant.

Where are the youngsters who are to take their places? Who will dare to question the dogmatism of the right or the left? Who will examine every self-ordained savior and demagogue and puncture stuffed shirts with an ever-ready arsenal of barbed wit?

Will they perhaps be found among the student bodies of our universities or will their war training and their exposure to college curricula squeeze out the last drops of individualism that they may have retained? What can we expect of a generation reared on comic strips and movies? Perhaps a revulsion, perhaps a re-awakening of a burning love for Democracy which is the only cradle for Nature’s masterpiece — the individual Ego.

The Union of Egoists is in hot pursuit of details regarding Sirfessor Wilkebarre’s time in the D’oyly theater company. Working for D’oyly would explain why the one and only Malfew Seklew repeatedly cites Gilbert and Sullivan in Gospel According to Malfew Seklew.

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