Possibly Subversive Flower Arrangements
by Kerry Wendell Thornley
Originally published in Factsheet Five № 27 (p. 50), August 1988. Errors in spelling and grammar are presented as they appear in the original publication.
Dazibao large-character posters.
"Mao and other Chinese leaders have jokingly referred to Marx as though he were God in Heaven. 'Going to see Marx' meant to die."
Today - instead of a widespread understanding of what I've just indicated as the four principles [see FF26 — Aed.] as aspects of a unity — egoism, individualism, labor and revolution — there are factions representing separately egoism (example: the World Power Foundation), individualism (example: the Libertarian Party), labor (the liberal and Leninist left) and revolution (examples: Maoists, The Henry George Schools and the School of Living).
Revolutionaries without a background in egoism and individual rights are shallow and seldom succeed in creating more than intrigues or conspiracies or, at the most, totalitarian bureaucracies.
Liberals who understand the principle of how property is justly acquired through labor seldom carry it through to the logical conclusion, consisting of radical opposition to land and natural resource monopoly. When they don't err in that direction, they usually tend to ignore natural rights, instead. Very few liberals trust human nature enough to understand egoism — which is why they are liberals instead of anarchists or libertarians.
Individualists seldom understand anything about the just acquisition of property via labor applied to natural resources, with the notable exception of homesteading movements: in early America, among the Mildred Loomis faction and among the Kabouters in Amsterdam.
Egoists are an extremely motley lot. They range from fascists to revolutionary communists and anarchists. Practically no generalizations apply to them, except the all reject the idea that social conditioning is necessary, holding that it is neurologically crippling instead — leading to a vast array of bizarre forms of compulsive behavior, usually with no special social value and nearly always without any value to the individual. What they decide to do about this discovery when they make it leads to an equally varied array of activity — since there are any number of ways one can decide not to conform to the oppression of oneself.
When egoists recognize the need to work together for muiual benefit they begin developing philosophies of individualism (rights) to keep from oppressing one another, and thereby sabotaging themselves. (For without agreements about natural rights, today's oppressor becomes tomorrow's victim, etc., and no one is secure).
Unfortunately, most people with both the inclination and the leisure to critique traditional modes of social conditioning and also to make the needed abstractions for comprehending that individual rightss are more helpful than harmful to egoism — of which thought process Stirner's Union of Egoists is the crude beginning — aren't of working-class background and so are indifferent to extending the concept of rights to encompass rightful acquisition of property.
So this is where the great destructive division occurs that winds up making everybody miserable.
Egoistic individualists who haven't been ripped off working for low wages only to have to pay it out again to landlords and bankers in rent and inflation think all leftists are altruistic fools. Whereas working class people with a glimmering of understanding of egoism and rights see immediately that the greatest enemies of their own self-interest and rights are monopolists.
Unfortunately, even when they grasp egoism and individual rights clearly they must recruit to their cause — since monopolism is so entrenched — everyone who opposes it, including defected bourgeoisie who are victims of traditional moralistic sentiment and self-righteous, uneducated wokers who've never questioned traditional brainwashing nor thought about natural rights.
So they find themselves mobilizing one class of oppressors (The Wind) against another — neither of which understands egoism, individualism, labor and revolution as expressions of a single principle: the viability and desirability of the sovereignty of the individual and the destruction of every social institution that impedes it. And so they are oppressed by both classes.
The rulers want them to stop being "altruistic" and to stop supporting what seems to them like "charities" — i.e., organizations to make it unnecessary for us to work for low wages and pay high pricess, taxes and rent. (Charities in their eyes only!)
The workers want us to conform to the most asinine demands the ruling class has always made on us regarding personal conduct because they cannot see any difference between what is moral and what is right — which leads them into enormous confusion even when it occurs to them that all that is moral conduct couldn't be right and vice versa. (Machiavellianism for revolutionary ends, etc., is the most conspicuous symptom of this confusion — by which means they are revolutionary heroes one day and reactionaries the next.) They don't understand that what is socially right must be rooted in common self-interest, and that making egoism socially viable is the purpose of revolution — since the reason societies are organized is to serve the participants and all social progress must therefore perfect that common aim.
(Or they get caught up in Judeo-Christian "smash self" mysticism, etc. — where the object seems to be to make everyone insecure and miserable — instead of to liberate them from oppression.)
Moral behavior is unquestioning obedience to social mores. Right behavior is behavior that tends to work — particularly over a long stretch, whereby individuals, by agreeing to certain restraints, can maintain an optimum situation for continuing satisfaction of their needs by associating with others — even when these needs differ from one individual to the next — by grasping the principles (the Tao) of non-invasive conduct. Otherwise they are cult igures one day and purge victims the next.
How do you get a significant number of people to see this whole? That is the only problem a highly conscious working-class revolutionary has to address.