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The Easter Challenge 2014

Welcome to the Easter Challenge! Our panel of experts – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and our Mystery Guest – have two thousand years to give consistent answer to simple questions about the resurrection of Christ. No proof is required, only consistent answers. Our questions are prepared by Dan Baker, author of Losing Faith in Faith.

And now, let’s begin… The Easter Challenge!

from OVO 16 AntiChrist (January 2006).

Trevor Blake: Tu Ne Cede Malis

tunecedemalis

I offer my thanks to Mr. James E. Miller for his April 7th 2014 essay “On Natural Rights, the Egoists Have Nothing” which appeared at mises.ca. Thank you to Mr. Miller and thank you to mises.ca.

I have read Mr. Miller’s review of Nicholas James Pell’s review of my review of L. A. Rollin’s book The Myth of Natural Rights. I have also read L. A. Rollin’s book The Myth of Natural Rights, and I recommend reading the book in addition to reading a review of a review of the book. As a thoughtful writer once said, calling something fake without evidence is a poor man’s argument. Thus when George Walford led me to David McDougagh, who led me to David Steele, who led me to Ludwig von Mises – none of whom are egoists – who (LvM) had the lightning-flash insight into the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism, I read the source at every station. Do I mention with great favor Mises’ theories on page 37 of my book Confessions of a Failed Egoist? Those who have read it would know. Tu ne cede malis, indeed. Do not give in to evil… make it earn your company!

Mr. Miller and I are in agreement that egoism is a subject rightfully discussed under the tags given to it at mises.ca, philosophy and law. We are also in agreement that egoism has some deep and possibly critical flaws in its ability to be a philosophy or law. I had so much to say about the flaws of egoism that the main and first essay of my book on egoism is called “Confessions of a Failed Egoist.” That’s the title of my book as well: Confessions of a Failed Egoist. Should the rest of my book offer the best arguments in support of egoism, well, let’s call it allowing the reader to make informed choices. Mr. Miller writes that natural rights do not prevent any harm, something L. A. Rollins (and I) agree upon. Mr. Miller and I agree on some matters. But there is a limit to what we may learn from each other by agreement. Commenting further on Mr. Miller’s comments on Nicholas Pell’s comments on my comments on Mr. Rollins’ book would be possible but I propose I speak instead for myself. That seems suitable to an egoist, eh? Here then are some criticisms of Mr. Miller’s essay straight from my heart of hearts.

Mr. Miller wrote: “Claiming that natural rights demand you take an inordinate amount of interest in the desires of others is foolish.” I am unsure then what he meant by also writing in the same essay about “universal goodness.” This appears to be a contradiction, as any universal goodness would be an inordinate amount of interest in the desires of others. I suggest that advocates of natural rights only sometimes have an interest in the desires of others. Usually it is the supposed natural right of the advocate of natural right to do as they desire that guides them, no matter the desire of others. I note a revealing careful word choice of ‘right’ when talking about one’s self but ‘desire’ when talking about other people. Mr. Miller has a right to defend himself but an accosting bum on the street has only a desire. ‘Defense’ and ‘accosting,’ other careful word choices. ‘He hit me first’ makes might right. Mr. Miller gives all the evidence there is for his careful word choices in his defense of natural rights.

Mr. Miller wrote the strongest defense of natural rights that he could write, the strongest defense that has ever been written, and the strongest defense that could ever be written: “[natural] rights exist regardless of what others say.” Ex nihilo, presto chango, natural rights exist because shut up. To define a natural right is magically for natural rights to exist, a lovely cruise to Gaunilo’s Perfect Island. One may base one’s governing theory of life on any number of sandy beaches, but (1) the tide comes in for us all (2) it is the individual, the ego, with a theory of life each and every time. What good or utility there might be in a right that does nothing, why a nothing-right is a firm foundation for a legal right or a moral right, Mr. Miller may explain elsewhere but not here.

I address the contradictions of egoism in my book (titled, by the way, Confessions of a Failed Egoist). I also specifically discredit the idea that might is right. With all due respect to Mr. Ragnar Redbeard, author of Might is Right and other bracing reads, it is clear that to say the mighty ought to prevail is to set the ideology of who ought to prevail outside of myself, above and superior to myself. That I ought to act in my own self-interest is also an introduction of phantoms to the wheelhouse. Crazy talk, no? The question is not who is fit to rule over me, or who I am I fit to rule, but instead the question is who is doing all this ruling and fitting? Why, that would be me. Extracting what might still be of vital value (or a good laugh) out of egoism is why I wrote my book Confessions of a Failed Egoist.

I am as clear as most that the state exists. While I am thankful unto tears for the roads and libraries and even the sometimes-crummy schools I could do without the winnerless wars, the bloated bureaucracy and the sparkly spectacle (or as the kids call it today, the Cathedral). The state exists, with its laws and police and prisons. To say the state exists is not to say it is my preference that the state exists. Nor is it to say that some states are not more preferable to others. I would rather live a single life in Canada than a hundred in any Muslim nation. I don’t think might makes right. I don’t think the state is always right. I do think might makes the state. If Mr. Miller thinks civil agreements among well-informed free agents can resolve all conflicts, I suggest he needs to get out more often. And while doubters of the existence of natural rights such as myself, L. A. Rollins, Max Stirner, Dora Marsden, Malfew Seklew, Anton LaVey and others write books (oh my, what amoral villains, writing books!) I challenge Mr. Miller to name one tyrant who did not claim natural rights were his. Hitler had his GOTT MIT UNS, Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot had their historical materialism, the Muslims have their Jihad… whaaa, now look what it was natural for me to do!

Mr. Miller is in fine company as a critic of egoism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were friends with Max Stirner, author of The Ego and Its Own. Until, that is, they had their own brand to promote. Then they peed all over themselves in the lengthy posthumous anti-egoist temper tantrum The German Ideology. Of course in this essay it wouldn’t be playing fair to use guilt by association, comparing Mr. Miller with communists or myself with fascists. Like the natural rights that Mr. Miller has enough to claim but not enough to give evidence of or apply, I’ll leave such a naughty slur out of this essay (while sneakily not leaving it out at all). He hit me first!

I am going hazard that Mr. Miller claims that natural rights exist outside of him. Even if this were true, it is Mr. Miller who has decided that natural rights are suitable to him. This puts Mr. Miller as the one making his own moral choices. Morality is choice. To be forced to be charitable is not to be charitable, and to be forced to be cruel is not to be cruel. It is Mr. Miller, the individual – the egoist – who is making his choices. I make mine as well.

- Trevor Blake

PS: one last thing, my book is called Confessions of a Failed Egoist and can be purchased at tinyurl.com/theuniqueone. You can hear me go on about it in person at the first live reading from Confessions of a Failed Egoist at 5pm PST May 1st 2014 (Mother Foucault Books, 523 SE Morrison Portland, Oregon 97214 USA).

Confessions of a Failed Egoist

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Buy Confessions of a Failed Egoist by Trevor Blake.

http://tinyurl.com/theuniqueone

$9.95 plus postage
Underworld Amusements, Publisher
Available 1 April 2014
Paperback
140 pages
8″ x 5.2″
ISBN 978-0988553651

TREVOR BLAKE… IS… DENSE
“Trevor Blake hails and assails the ‘ism’ closest to His heart in a Mencken-like step-right-up, soapbox style that is smart, dense and fun to read. Blake is a meticulous thinker, and this book is bound to delight and challenge individualists, egoists, and people who would dramatically object to the idea of egoism – but then do and say exactly what they want to anyway.” – Jack Donovan.

A THROWBACK… BORING
“Somewhere at the crossroads between Anton LaVey and Robert Anton Wilson lies Trevor Blake. Confessions of a Failed Egoist is equal parts The Satanic Bible and Prometheus Rising. Everything you know is wrong, but don’t worry: It’s just the punchline to the great epistemic joke. Blake’s book is a throwback to the days of H. L. Mencken mercilessly skewering sacred cows on the left and right, while firmly rooted in our present day victimology industry conundrums. Blake’s book provides inspiration for thought. Bring it up at your next boring work party and scare your colleagues.” – Nicholas Pell.

CLEAR AND IMPORTANT CLAIMS
“I read and then skimmed your book, but couldn’t relate to it. I prefer clear and important claims to be analyzed, while you mostly seemed to ramble and free associate. Sorry, just not my style at all.” – Robin Hanson.

IMPRESSED
“I was not impressed. Trevor Blake fancies himself an egoist. As far as I can tell, egoism is a combination of solipsism and existentialism, with a good dose of arrogance thrown in. The ideology seeks to do nothing more than slaughter sacred cows for amusement. The only thing that matters is self, and all ends must lead back to the ever-needy ME. In sum, it’s the adult rationalization for a child’s worldview.” – James Miller.

More Reviews At…
Good Reads
Library Thing
Shelfari
Facebook
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Mises Canada: On Natural Rights, the Egoists Have Nothing [archive] (7 April 2014).
Church of Satan: Review [archive] (4 April 2014).
Nicholas James Pell: The Un-manual to Unman all Manuals: Trevor Blake [archive] (1 April 2014).

EVENTS
Meet the author and get your copy of Confessions of a Failed Egoist signed. A very limited number of copies of the book will be on hand, buy one today to make sure you’re not left out in the rush.

PDF MOTHER FOUCAULT FLYER by Kevin I. Slaughter!

1 May 2014 5pm
Mother Foucaults
523 SE Morrison
Portland, Oregon 97214
+1.503.236.2665

https://www.facebook.com/MotherFoucaults

Are We There Yet? Dave Brockie Edition

Are We There Yet? is a series about changed minds.

Dave Brockie:

On the old site I used to have this thing called “Stupid,” and damned if it wasn’t one of the more popular pages. The idea was this: for a year straight I would catalog every single act of stupidity I committed. Hopefully I would create such a litany of failure that I would shame myself into not being stupid. You notice I say “not stupid” as opposed to “smart.” Well, it was a stupid idea to begin with because I stopped updating it and eventually forgot about it altogether. But not because I stopped doing stupid things, believe me. But you good fuks wouldn’t let me forget how stupid I was (am). How you longed for those deep belly-laughs as you read about my downstairs neighbor’s roof collapsing because I left the bath running all night or how my attempt at opening a latched door with the front tire of my bike (while riding it) sent me head-first into a pile of beer cans. And frankly I can’t blame you – that shit is funny! So I am proud to present the brand new “Stupid” page! A collection of the most asinine and idiotic moments from my past, present and whatever else there is. Here’s an example:

Jan 28th, 2011
Is was talking to my friend on the phone while wiping down the kitchen. Suddenly I couldn’t hear my friend and my ear was getting wet. Realized I was rubbing my phone on the wall while holding a sponge to my ear.

Jan 24th, 2011
Over last year have lost three cameras, four debit cards, and a countless number of phone chargers.

Jan 15th, 2011
Found lost chunk of hash in couch. Tried to smoke it (unsuccessfully). Finally realized it was a chunk of chocolate pretzel.

Jan 10th, 2011
Responded to news of friends suicide with email meant for someone else. Told heartbroken ex-boyfriend of the deceased to “Have a Happy New Year”.

Nov 15th, 2010
I go to FOX studios in LA to do an Oderus appearance on The Daily Grind. They have requested that I go on without the Cuttlefish, and that’s no prob, except that I forgot the Mangina. So I have to make do with a motley selection of woefully inadequate thongs and tranny dick-flatteners. I manage to get my real package hidden, and then go to stage. As soon as the production assistant sees me she goes beet-red and says something like “Are you sure you are supposed to go on like that?”, to which I reply “why certainly!” I make my way onto the set where a 100-strong studio audience takes one look at me and bulges 200 eyes out of their sockets. Well, that’s ok, people freak when they see Oderus, though it did seem a little more extreme than it usually was. But I shrug it off and make my way through the rest of the hour-long show. It goes well, but I can’t help but notice an uncomfortable feeling in the air… After the shoot was over I walked back to my dressing room, wondering why nobody was talking to me…until I behold myself in the full-length dressing room mirror. My entire nut-sack is hanging out of my improvised banana-hammock. I had been unknowingly exposing myself to easily 100 people for over an hour.

March 29th, 2010
Thinking that direct messages were private, I posted my new cell phone number on Twitter.

Much more at the source (or archive). Rest in Peace, Dave Brockie.

Matt Forney: Review of The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew

Reprinted with kind permission of Matt Forney of 12 March 2014. – Trevor

gatms

Nietzsche is dead. God is alive.

I mean that in the same way that Nietzsche himself proclaimed God’s death. More than a century after the egoist movement launched by Nietzsche and continued by Dora Marsden, Ragnar Redbeard, H.L. Mencken and more, humanity remains steeped in collectivist ideologies that encourage mediocrity and victimhood. While our progressives and socialists no longer justify their corruption by appealing to a higher power, fundamentally they are no different than William Jennings Bryan, the temperance crusaders and the other Bible-thumping obscurantists of yesteryear. Feminists and progressives, knowing how weak and pitiful they are, seek only to drag others down to their level with witch hunts and government action.

What’s a budding supercrat to do?

You can start by reading The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew, one of the most influential and ignored treatises of early 20th century egoism. Brought back into print after a century by OVO publisher Trevor Blake, this volume is a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy and egoist thought.

But who was Malfew Seklew? Much like his contemporary Ragnar Redbeard, Seklew’s true identity and origins remain a mystery. Unlike Redbeard, who is assumed to be the pen name of a single man, an unknown number of people wrote under the “Malfew Seklew” alias, as shown by the Gospel’s constant alternations between English and American spelling. As Trevor explains in his introduction, Seklew’s writing was championed by an English prophet known only as “Sirfessor Wilkesbarre”:

At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, Sirfessor Wilkesbarre was a regular at the Dil Pickle Club in Chicago, Illinois. So was Ragnar Redbeard, and in fact the two shared 1353 North Clark Street (at least as a mailing address) in 1927. That same year the Dil Pickle Club published Might is Right by Redbeard and Wilkesbarre published The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew. Both men wrote for the egoist journal The Eagle and the Serpent. I imagine that Condo and Raper, the author and artist for the contemporary Chicago comic The Outbursts of Everett True, concocted central character Mr. True on Wilkesbarre’s looks and Redbeard’s thunder.

The Gospel comprises three sections, the first of which, the “Gospel” itself, is by far the largest. In it, Seklew explains his theory and philosophy of egoism. While a good deal of his ideas will ring familiar if you’ve read Redbeard or Nietzsche, Seklew comes up with a number of thoughtful innovations. For example, he argues that all humans are egoists by default, the main difference being that progressives and altruists are dishonest about their egotism:

Man never does anything except for self-approval or self-gratification. He is interested in everything he does. There is no such thing as disinterested action. He never does anything that will bring remorse. Remorse comes afterwards, because the result of the action is unsatisfactory to the doer. Remorse is the aftermath of folly. Folly is the foolish gratification of emotion or desire for the moment. A man gives a beggar a dime for the pleasure or kick he gets out of it. When a man passes a beggar and then turns back to give him something, he does so to ease his mind and feelings. He expresses his sympathy in this way, because he is full of self-pity at the sight of the beggar; for sympathy for others is pity for self. By giving he finds relief and passes along at peace with himself.

His argument reminds me of Ayn Rand, albeit without the circular moralizing and autistic logic that defines her work.

Seklew also explains the uselessness of charity, dividing the wealthy into “Fordanthropists” and philanthropists. According to his logic, philanthropists are innately inferior because they give away their money out of guilt (think Andrew Carnegie) and in such a way that it won’t actually improve anyone’s lives. This is contrasted with the philosophy of Henry Ford, who dictated that the workers in his factories should be paid well enough to afford the products that they created:

Fordanthropist socializes his joys; the Philanthropist collectivizes his agonies. The enlightened selfishness of the former creates new conditions and brings prosperity to millions of men and women, while the crude selfishness of the latter tends to perpetuate conditions and produce apathy and patience on the part of the poor.

Seklew’s writing is a joy to read, laced as it with constant rhyming and alliteration, like a right-wing version of Dr. Seuss. He occasionally slips into ridiculous purple prose, sounding like a Prohibition-era Heartiste, but those segments are rare. Seklew’s musical prose style makes flipping through the book – or at least the “Gospel” section – an absolute breeze.

The most valuable chapter in the Gospel by far is “What is Prohibition?” In it, Seklew lays into the eternal enemy of the enlightened egoist: the Puritan. Puritans are defective, broken human beings (Seklew later drives the point home by calling socialism a “brain disease”) whose perverse desire to be seen as good – as opposed to actually doing good – leads them to inflict immeasurable suffering on their fellow men:

Ask a purblind Prohibitionist to vote for the nullification of the 18th Amendment. He will certainly refuse, because his principles or his prejudice will not permit him to do so. Ask a parboiled Puritan to do something that he deems evil, even though it has been proven to be good for his fellow man, he will refuse, because his conscious would be outraged and pain would be his portion for the time being. All prohibitionists, Puritan and professional uplifters, are malicious, anti-social and meanly selfish when their pet prejudices (which they call principles) are opposed or exposed. That’s the reason why we have lynching bees and tar & feather parties in the moonlight, conducted by unripe thinkers and morbid moralists.

As Marx put it, history repeats itself first as tragedy and then as farce. Prohibition may be gone, but the same sick impulse that fueled it animates the modern left (and yes, Prohibition was a progressive program, despite leftists trying to rewrite history; the temperance movement and women’s suffrage movements were joined at the hip). Whether it’s increasingly punitive smoking bans, hysterical witch hunts against people who make “misogynistic” or “homophobic” statements, or the invention of victim classes out of whole cloth, the simpoleons (to use Seklew’s terminology) among us desire only to destroy that which better men than them have created. And no matter how many concessions they get, how many times we bend over backwards for them, they are never satisfied.

Their anger is a disease of the soul that can never be cured.

There are only two issues with the Gospel. The first is that the latter two sections, “Malfew Seklew Collected Works” and “Malfew Seklew Solves All Problems of Life,” are not nearly as compelling as the first part, as they largely comprise newspaper and journal articles about Seklew and Wilkesbarre. Fortunately, combined they only take up about a quarter of the book, so you can get through them relatively quickly.

My other issue with the Gospel is the skimpy Table of Contents. The only links in the Table go to the aforementioned sections of the book, Trevor’s introduction and the index. Given the length of the “Gospel,” some links to specific sections of it would have been helpful.

Despite all this, The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew is a must-read for those interested in egoist thought. Despite some of its anachronistic advice and claims (Seklew predicted that technological advances would make the working class obsolete and usher in a new era of enlightened egoism, among other things), the Gospel’s ideas and philosophy make it just as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago.

Click here to purchase The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew.