It is among the anarchists (still!) that multiple common superstitions exist, stating that egoism and anarchy are enemies, that they stand opposed and above one another. That the complete acceptance of this statement is wrong, we want to briefly to prove such here.

Egoism is the driving force of all human actions. Each living being holds greed to maintain and to enjoy itself. What limits does anarchism place on egoism? Anarchism has only one commandment: Thou shalt not rule. This is the only barrier which anarchism offers egoism. However, anarchist-egoism grants a thousand liberties which are forbidden in today’s society. It will therefore be in the interest of egoism if anarchy were to arise, and therefore it can only welcome it.

Yes, we expect anarchy from the interests of people; we do not think that anarchy will rise from charity. When we are outraged by today’s society, it is for a selfish reason: because we are treated unfairly by it and want to assert ourselves.

It is not selfishness in and of itself that stands in the way of our propaganda, it is ignorance and excessive tolerance. If only the workers wanted to become so selfish, the exploiters would no longer be validated! If only the workers were so divorced to recognize their real enemies! If only they became so selfish as to be outraged against their tyrants.

The fruits of egoism depend on the abilities of man. The egoism of a restricted head will always take on a limited form; the egoism of a free one will always take a brilliant form. And even if it remains incomprehensible to the penny fox and the religious sectarian, the truth always remains the same: that all actions spring from egoism.

Our task, therefore, is not to fight egoism; this would be as unsuccessful as it would be pointless. We can only fight ignorance, we can show workers how they are being cheated and robbed of their jobs, and that the police and military are just the stooges of the oppressors. Once the workers have come to this realization, egoism will not miss the right goal.

Many people think the goal of selfishness is a stuffed money bag or a stew belly. However, these are only excesses as they are timed under today’s conditions. Egoism strives for the well-being and individuality of the individual. And there is no better ground for this than anarchy.

A n A n a r c h i s t – E g o i s t

[London Workers’ Newspaper No. 5; January 25, 1896]

Dated January 25, 1896. Translated July 25, 2021 by Robin. Retrieved from Zündlumpen No. 083.