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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
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"The Eagle and the Serpent" (S537: 1898)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor of the newspaper The Clarion printed on page 95 of its 19 March 1898 issue, and concerning comments made on the new publication The Eagle and the Serpent. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S537.htm

     Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace writes: "I do not think our friend Mont Blong has done justice to this last new light of Socialism. It seems to me to be worthy of our attention, as it teaches much the same fundamental doctrine as does the Clarion, but from a different standpoint, and calculated to attract a different class of minds; while in originality and go it is very refreshing. As I understand its somewhat enigmatical and paradoxical sayings, it looks at altruism and egoism, not at all as regards individual action towards our neighbours and friends, but solely as regards the great problem of how to advance the cause of Socialism. Its title may be taken to mean self-reliance and wisdom, and this is well illustrated in that portion of its creed which says, 'Freedom cannot be granted; it must be taken.' The following passage still more clearly expresses its object, indicates the meaning it attaches to the words altruism and egoism, and is very good Clarionese doctrine. To convert the exploiters to altruism is a fatuous programme--a maniac's dream. The only remedy for social injustice is this: the exploited must save themselves by enlightened self-interest. The exploiters are certainly egoistic enough; the only hope for the exploited is for them to be equally so--yes, consistently, persistently egoistic. Egoism spells justice and freedom, as surely as altruism spells charity and slavery. This I take to mean that we must be guided by egoism--enlightened self-interest--in all relations between Socialists and non-Socialists, while not implying that we are to be egoistic in our individual relations with our fellow-men; that we are fools if we choose landlords, capitalists, soldiers, or lawyers to represent and govern us; and that the kind-hearted and altruistic workers and dispensers of charity in the slums, though individually to be admired and loved, are as a class to be condemned, because they have no object but to palliate symptoms instead of removing causes. 'The Eagle and the Serpent' seems to me to supply a want in our socialistic literature, and I hope that it may meet with support. At present it is to come out bi-monthly, price 3d. It is published at 185, Fleet Street."

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