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The Profits of Religion by Upton Sinclair

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furs from Alaska and blankets from Arizona, diamonds from South
Africa and beads from the Philippines, grapes from Spain and
cherries from Japan, fortune-tellers from Arabia and
dancing-masters from Petrograd and "naturopaths" from Vienna.
There are seventy-three shops, by actual count, containing
everything that could be imagined or desired by a pretty lady,
whether for her body, or for that vague stream of emotion she
calls her "soul". One of the seventy-three shops is a
"Metaphysical Library", having broad windows, and walls in pastel
tints, and pretty vases with pink flowers, and pretty gray wicker
chairs in which the reader will please to be seated, while we
probe the mysteries of an activity widely spread throughout
America, called "New Thought."

We begin with a shelf of magazines having mystical titles: Azoth;
Master Mind; Aletheian; Words of Power; Qabalah; Comforter;
Adept; Nautilus; True Word; Astrological Bulletin; Unity; Uplift;
Now. And then come shelves of pretty pamphlets, alluring to the
eye and the purse; also shelves of imposing-looking volumes
containing the lore and magic of a score of races and two score
of centuries--together with the very newest manifestations of
Yankee hustle and graft.

As in the case of Christian Science, these New Thoughters have a
fundamental truth, which I would by no means wish to depreciate.
It is a fact that the mysterious Source of our being is infinite,
and that we are only at the beginning of our thinking about it.
It is a fact that by appeal to it we can perform seeming miracles
of mental and moral regeneration; we can stimulate the flow of
nervous energy and of the blood, thus furthering the processes of
bodily healing. But the fact that God is Infinite and Omnipotent
does not bar the fact that He has certain ways of working, which
He does not vary; and that it is our business to explore and
understand these ways, instead of setting our fancies to work
imagining other ways more agreeable to our sentimentality.

Thus, for example, if we want bread, it is God's decree that we
shall plant wheat and harvest it, and grind and bake and
distribute it. Under conditions prevailing at the moment, it
appears to be His decree that we shall store the wheat in
elevators, and ship it in freight cars, and buy it through a
grain exchange, with capital borrowed from a national bank; in
other words, that our daily bread shall be the plaything of
exploiters and speculators, until such a time as we have the
intelligence to form an effective political party and establish
Industrial Democracy. But when you come to study the ways of God
in the literature of the New Thought, do you find anything about
the Millers' Trust and the Bakers' Trust and how to expropriate
these agencies of starvation? You do not!

What you find is Bootstrap-lifting; you find gentlemen and lady
practitioners shutting their eyes and lifting their hands and
pronouncing Incantations in awe-inspiring voices--or in Capital
Letters and LARGE TYPE: "God is infinite, God is All-Loving, GOD
WILL PROVIDE. Bread is coming to you! Bread is coming to you!!

You think this is exaggeration? If so, it is because you have
never entered the building of the pretty ladies, and sat in the
gray wicker chairs of the metaphysical library. One of the
highest high-priestesses of the cults of New Nonsense is a lady
named Elizabeth Towne, editor of "The Nautilus"; and Priestess
Elizabeth tells you:

I believe the idea that money wants you will help you to the
right mental condition. Be a pot of honey and let it come.

I look over this Priestess' magazine, and find it full of
testimonials and advertisements for the conjuring of prosperity.
"Are you in the success sphere?" asks one exhorter; the next
tells you "How to enter the silence. How to manifest what you
desire. The secret of advancement." Another tells: "How a Failure
at Sixty Won Sudden Success; From Poverty to $40,000 a year--a
Lesson for Old and Young Alike." The lesson, it appears, is to
pay $3.00 for a book called "Power of Will." And here is another

Master Key: Which can unlock the Secret Chamber of Success, can
throw wide the doors which seem to bar men from the Treasure
House of Nature, and bids those enter and partake who are Wise
enough to Understand and broad enough to Weigh the Evidence, firm
enough to Follow their Own Judgment and Strong enough to Make the
Sacrifice Exacted.

"Dollars Want Me"

I turn to the shelves of pamphlets. Here is a pretty one called
"All Sufficiency in All Things," published by the "Unity School
of Christianity", in Kansas City; it explains that God is God,
not merely of the Soul, but also of the Kansas City stockyards.

This divine Substance is ever abiding within us, and stands ready
to manifest itself in whatever form you and I need or wish, just
as it did in Elisha's time. It is the same yesterday, today and
forever. Abundant Supply by the manifestation of the Father
within us, from within outward, is as much a legitimate outcome
of the Christ life or spiritual understanding as is bodily
healing..... "Know that I am God--all of God, Good, all of Good.
I am Life. I am Health. I am Supply. I am the Substance."

And here is W. W. Atkinson of Chicago, author of a work called
"Mind Power". Would you like to be an Impressive Personality? Mr.
Atkinson will tell you exactly how to do it; he will give you the
secret of the Magnetic Handclasp, of the Intense,
Straight-in-the-eye Look; he will tell you what to say, he will
write out for you Incantations which you may pronounce to
yourself, to convince yourself that you have Power, that the
INDWELLING PRESENCE with all its MIGHT is yours. Mr. Atkinson
rebukes mildly the tendency of some of his fellow
Bootstrap-lifters to employ these arts for money-making; but you
notice that his magazine, "Advanced Thought", does not decline
the advertisements of such too-practical practitioners.

Next comes a gentleman with the musical name of Wallace Wattles,
who tells in one pamphlet "How to Be a Genius", and in another
pamphlet "How to Get What you Want". The thing for you to do is--

Saturate your mentality through and through with the knowledge
that YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO..... Look upon the
peanut-stand merely as the beginning of the department store, and
make it grow; you can.

And Mr. Wattles wattles on, in an ecstasy of acquisitiveness:

Hold this consciousness and say with deep, earnest feeling: I CAN
succeed! All that is possible to any one is possible to me. I AM
success. I do succeed, for I am full of the Power of Success.

Imagine, if you please, a poor devil chained in the treadmill of
the capitalist system--a "soda-jerker", a "counter-jumper", a
book-keeper for the Steel Trust. His chances of rising in life
are one in ten thousand; but he comes to the Metaphysical
Library, and pays the price of his dinner for a pamphlet by Henry
Harrison Brown, who was first a Unitarian clergyman, and then an
extra-high Bootstrap-lifter in San Francisco, an Honorary
Vice-President of the International New Nonsense Alliance. Mr.
Brown will tell our soda-jerker or counter-jumper exactly how to
elevate himself by mental machinery. All calculations of
probabilities are delusions of the senses; if you have faith, you
can move, not merely mountains, but Riker-Hegeman's, Macy's, or
the Steel Trust. "How to Promote Yourself " is the title of one
of Mr. Brown's pamphlets, in which he explains that--

Your wants are impressed on the Divine Mind only by your faith. A
doubt cuts the connection.

A second pamphlet, which we are told is now in its thirtieth
edition, bears the thrilling title of "Dollars Want Me!" In it
Mr. Brown lays claim to being a pioneer:

I believe that this little monograph is the first utterance of
the thought that each individual has the ability so to radiate
his mental forces that he can cause the Dollars to feel him, love
him, seek him, and thus draw at will all things needed for his
unfoldment from the universal supply.

"What are Dollars?" asks our author; and answers:

Dollars are manifestations of the One Infinite Substance as you
are, but, unlike you, they are not Self-Conscious. They have no
power till you give them power. Make them feel this through your
thought-vibrations as you feel the importance of your work. They
will then come to you to be used.

"What is Poverty?" Mr. Brown asks, and answers himself:

Poverty is a mental condition. It can be cured only by the
Affirmation of Power to cure: I am a part of the One, and, in the
One, I possess all! Affirm this and patiently wait for the
manifestation. You have sown the thought seed.

And our author goes on to hand out packages of these
thought-seeds--"Affirmations" as they are called, in the jargon
of the New Conjuring:

I desire a deep consciousness of financial freedom. I desire
that the flow of prosperity become equalized. I desire a greater
consciousness of my power to attract the dollar. The Indwelling
Power cares for my purse. I own whatever I desire. I can afford
to use dollars for my happiness. I always have a good bank
account. I actually see it. My one idea of the law is to use,
use, USE.

Spiritual Financiering

If the symbolism of the Episcopal Church is of the palace, and
that of the non-conformist sects of the counting-house, that of
the International New Nonsense Alliance is of Wall Street and the
"ticker". "What is your rating in the Spiritual Bradstreet?" asks
William Morris Nichols in the publication of the " 'Now' Folk",
San Francisco:

Is it low or high? Is your credit with the Bank of the Universe
good or poor? If you draw a spiritual draft are you sure of its
being honored?

If you can answer that last question affirmatively, you are on
the road to become a Master in Spiritual Financiering.

Have you an account with the First (and only) Bank of Spirit? If
not, then you should at once open one therewith. For no one can
afford to keep less than a large deposit of spiritual funds with
that Bank.

And how do you proceed to open your account? It is very simple:

Intend the mind in the direction indicated by your desire. Seek
for the Light and Guidance by which you may open up the way for
your Spiritual Substance, which governs material supply, to reach
you and make you as rich as you ought to be, in freedom and
happiness. All this you can, and when in earnest, will do.

I turn over the advertisements of this publication of the " 'Now'
Folk". One offers "The Business Side of New Thought." Another
offers "The Books Without an If", with your money back IF you are
not satisfied! Another offers land in Bolivia for two dollars an
acre. Another quotes Shakespeare: " 'Tis the mind that makes the
body rich." Another offers two copies of the "Phrenological Era"
for ten cents.

There is apparently no delusion of any age or clime which cannot
find dupes among the readers of this New Nonsense. One notice

Stop! A Revelation! A Book has been written entitled "Strands of
Gold" or "From Darkness into Light!"

Another announces:

The Most Wonderful Book of the Ages: The Acquarian Gospel of
Jesus the Christ, Transcribed from the Book of God's Remembrance,
the Akashic Records.

And here is an advertisement published in Mr. Atkinson's paper:

Numerology: the Universal Adjuster! Do you know: What you appear
to be to others? What you really are? What you want to be? What
would overcome your present and future difficulties? Write to X,
Philosopher. You will receive full particulars of his personal
work which is dedicated to your service. No problem is too big or
too small for Numerology. Understanding awaits you.

And looking in the body of the magazine, you find this
Philosopher imparting some of this Understanding. Would you like,
for example, to understand why America entered the War? Nothing
easier. The vowels of the Words United States of America are
uieaeoaeia, which are numbered 2951561591, which added make 45,
or 4 plus 5 equals 9. You might not at first see what that has to
do with the War--until the Philosopher points out that "9 in the
number of completion, indicating the end of a cosmic cycle."
That, of course, explains everything.

And here is a work on what you perhaps thought to be a dead
science, Astrology. It is called "Lucky Hours for Everybody: A
True System of Planetary Hours by Prof. John B. Early. Price One
Dollar." It teaches you things like this:

Saturn's negative hours are especially good for all matters
relating to gold-mining..... The Sun negative rules the emerald,
the musical note D sharp, and the number four. The lunar hours
are a good time to deal in public commodities, and to hire
servants of both sexes.....

A recent lady visitor informed me that she had made several vain
attempts to transact important business in the hours ruled by
Jupiter, usually held to be fortunate, while she was nearly
always fortunate in what she began in the hours ruled by Saturn.
Upon investigation I found her name was ruled by the Sun
negative, and that she had Capricorn with Saturn therein as her
ascendant at birth, which explains.

And finally, here is a London "scientist", reported in the
"Weekly Unity" of Kansas City, who proves his mental power over
two-horse power oil engines which fail to act. "Going a little
apart, he came back in a few minutes and said: 'The engine is all
right now and will work satisfactorily.' and without any further
difficulty it did." We are told how Dr. Rawson gave a
demonstration of his method to a newspaper reporter the other
day. Fixing his gaze as though looking into space, he apparently
became absorbed in deep contemplation and said aloud: "There is
no danger; man is surrounded by divine love; there is no matter;
all is spirit and manifestation of spirit."

You might at first find difficulty in believing what can be
accomplished by "demonstrations" such as this; not merely are
two-horse power oil engines made to work, but the whole gigantic
machine of Prussian militarism is prevented from working. You may
recall how Arthur Machen's magazine story of the Angels of Mons
was taken up and made into a Catholic legend over-night; now here
is a New-Nonsense legend, complete and perfect, going the rounds
of our Nonsense magazines:

London, Dec. 14.--Shell-proof and bullet-proof soldiers have been
discovered on the European battle-fronts. Heroes with "charmed
lives" are being made every day, according to Frederick L.
Rawson, a London scientist, who insists he has found the
miraculous way by which they are developed. He calls it "audible
treatment". "Practical utilization of the powers of God by right
thinking," is the agency through which Dr. Rawson declares he can
so treat a man that he will not be harmed when hundreds of men
are being shot dead beside him. This amazing treatment includes a
new type of prayer. It is being administered to hundreds of men
audibly, and to hundreds more by letter. Nothing since the war
began has aroused so much talk of modern miracles as have many of
the statements of Dr. Rawson.......

At the taking of a wood there were five hundred yards of "No
Man's Land" to be crossed. Our troops could not get across. Then
Capt. --------, who practices this method of prayer, treated them
for an hour before they started, and not a man was knocked out.
He was the only officer left out of eighty in his brigade. He
simply held onto the fact that man is spiritual and perfect and
could not be touched. A bullet fired from a revolver only five
yards away hit him over the chest, tore his shirt and went out at
the shoulder. But it never penetrated his chest. He was
frequently in a hail of shells and bullets which did not touch

The Graft of Grace

All this is grotesque; but it is what happens to religions in a
world of commercial competition. It happens not merely to
Christian Science and New Thought religions, Mazdaznan and
Zionist, Holy Roller and Mormon religions, but to Catholic and
Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Methodist and Baptist religions.
For you see, when you are with the wolves you must howl with
them; when you are competing with fakirs you must fake. The
ordinary Christian will read the claims of the New Thought fakers
with contempt; but have I not shown the Catholic Church
publishing long lists of money-miracles? Have I not shown the
Church of Good Society, our exclusive and aristocratic Protestant
Episcopal communion, pretending to call rain and to banish
pestilence, to protect crops and win wars and heal those who are
"sick in estate"--that is, who are in business trouble?

The reader will say that I am a cynic, despising my fellows; but
that is not so. I am an economic scientist, analyzing the forces
which operate in human societies. I blame the prophets and
priests and healers for their fall from idealism; but I blame
still more the competitive wage-system, which presents them with
the alternative to swindle or to starve.

For, you see, the prophet has to have food. He has frequently got
along with almost none, and with only a rag for clothing; in
Palestine and India, where the climate is warm, a sincere faith
has been possible for short periods. But the modern prophet who
expects to influence the minds of men has to have books and
newspapers; he will find a telephone and a typewriter and
postage-stamps hardly to be dispensed with, also in Europe and
America some sort of a roof over his meeting place. So the
prophet is caught, like all the rest of us, in the net of the
speculator and the landlord. He has to get money, and in order to
get it he has to impress those who already have it--people whose
minds and souls have been deformed by the system of parasitism
and exploitation.

So the prophet becomes a charlatan; or, if he refuses, he becomes
a martyr, and founds a church which becomes a church of
charlatans. I care not how sincere, how passionately proletarian
a religious prophet may be, that is the fate which sooner or
later befalls him in a competitive society--to be the founder of
an organization of fools, conducted by knaves, for the benefit of
wolves. That fate befell Buddha and Jesus, it befell Ignatius
Loyola and Francis of Assisi, John Fox and John Calvin and John

A friend of mine who has made a study of "Spiritualism" describes
to me the conditions in that field. The mediums are people,
mostly women, with a peculiar gift; whether we believe in the
survival of personality, or whether we call it telepathy, does
not alter the fact that they have a rare and special
sensitiveness, a new faculty which science must investigate. They
come, poor people mostly--for the well-to-do will seldom give
their time to exacting and wearisome experiments. They come,
wearing frayed and thin clothing, shivering with cold, obviously
undernourished; and their survival depends upon their producing
"phenomena"--which phenomena are capricious, and will not come at
call. So, what more natural than that mediums should resort to
faking? That the whole field should be reeking with fraud, and
science should be held back from understanding an extraordinary
power of the subconscious mind?

Ever since we came to Pasadena, various ladies have been telling
us about the wondrous powers of a mulatto-woman, a manicurist at
the city's most fashionable hotel. The other day, out of
curiosity, my wife and I went; the moment the "medium" opened her
mouth my wife recognized her as the person who has been trying
for several months to get me on the telephone to tell me how the
spirit of Jack London is seeking to communicate with me! The
seance was a public one, a gathering composed, half of wealthy
and cultured society-women, and half of confederates, people with
the dialect and manners of a vaudeville troupe. A megaphone was
set in the middle of the floor, the room was made dark, a couple
of hymns were sung, and then the spirit of Dr. Oliver Wendell
Holmes spoke through the megaphone with a Bowery accent, and gave
communications from relatives and friends of the various
confederates. "Jesus is with us", said Dr. Holmes. "The spirit of
Jesus bids you to study spiritualism." And then came the voice of
a child: "Mamma! Mamma!" "It is little Georgie!" cried Dr.
Holmes; and one of the society ladies started, and answered, and
presently burst into tears. A marvelous piece of
evidence--especially when you recall that the story of this
mother's bereavement had been published in all the papers a
couple of months before!

And this kind of swindling is going on every night in every city
of America. It goes on wholesale for months every summer at Lily
Dale, in New York State, where the spiritualists hold their
combination of Chautauqua and Coney Island. And the same thing is
going on in the field of mental healing, and of all other
"occult" forces and powers, whether real or imaginary. It is
going on with new spiritual fervors, new moral idealisms, new
poetry, new music, new painting, new sculpture. The faker, the
charlatan is everywhere--using the mental and moral and artistic
forces of life as a means of delivering himself from economic
servitude. Everywhere I turn I see it--credulity being exploited,
and men of practical judgment, watching the game and seeing
through it, made hard in their attitude of materialism. How many
men I know who sit by in sullen protest while their wives drift
from one new quackery to another, wasting their income seeking
health and happiness in futile emotionalism! How many kind and
sensitive spirits I know--both men and women--who pour their
treasures of faith and admiration into the laps of hierophants
who began by fooling all mankind and ended by fooling themselves!

In each one of the cults of what I have called the "Church of the
Quacks", there are thousands, perhaps millions of entirely
sincere, self-sacrificing people. They will read this book--if
anyone can persuade them to read it--with pain and anger;
thinking that I am mocking at their faith, and have no
appreciation of their devotion. All that I can say is that I am
trying to show them how they are being trapped, how their fine
and generous qualities are being used by exploiters of one sort
or another; and how this must continue, world without end, until
there is order in the material affairs of the race, until justice
has been established as the law of man's dealing with his


The Church of the Social Revolution

They have taken the tomb of our Comrade Christ--
Infidel hordes that believe not in man;
Stable and stall for his birth sufficed,
But his tomb is built on a kingly plan.
They have hedged him round with pomp and parade,
They have buried him deep under steel and stone--
But we come leading the great Crusade
To give our Comrade back to his own.

Christ and Caesar

In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus,
we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and
showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and
the devil said unto him: "All this power will I give unto thee,
and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to
whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship
me, all shall be thine." Jesus, as we know, answered and said
"Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would
have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he
chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death
of a disturber of the peace. And for two or three centuries his
church followed in his footsteps, cherishing his proletarian
gospel. The early Christians had "all things in common, except
women;" they lived as social outcasts, hiding in deserted
catacombs, and being thrown to lions and boiled in oil.

But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one
defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces
which battle for him. He failed to get Jesus, but he came again,
to get Jesus' church. He came when, through the power of the new
revolutionary idea, the Church had won a position of tremendous
power in the decaying Roman Empire; and the subtle worm assumed
the guise of no less a person than the Emperor himself,
suggesting that he should become a convert to the new faith, so
that the Church and he might work together for the greater glory
of God. The bishops and fathers of the Church, ambitious for
their organization, fell for this scheme, and Satan went off
laughing to himself. He had got everything he had asked from
Jesus three hundred years before; he had got the world's greatest
religion. How complete and swift was his success you may judge
from the fact that fifty years later we find the Emperor
Valentinian compelled to pass an edict limiting the donations of
emotional females to the church in Rome!

From that time on Christianity has been what I have shown in this
book, the chief of the enemies of social progress. From the days
of Constantine to the days of Bismarck and Mark Hanna, Christ and
Caesar have been one, and the Church has been the shield and
armor of predatory economic might. With only one qualification to
be noted: that the Church has never been able to suppress
entirely the memory of her proletarian Founder. She has done her
best, of course; we have seen how her scholars twist his words
out of their sense, and the Catholic Church even goes so far as
to keep to the use of a dead language, so that her victims may
not hear the words of Jesus in a form they can understand.

'Tis well that such seditious songs are sung
Only by priests, and in the Latin tongue!

But in spite of this, the history of the Church has been one
incessant struggle with upstarts and rebels who have filled
themselves with the spirit of the Magnificat and the Sermon on
the Mount, and of that bitterly class-conscious proletarian,
James, the brother of Jesus.

And here is the thing to be noted, that the factor which has
given life to Christianity, which enables it to keep its hold on
the hearts of men today, is precisely this new wine of faith and
fervor which has been poured into it by generation after
generation of poor men who live like Jesus as outcasts, and die
like Jesus as criminals, and are revered like Jesus as founders
and saints. The greatest of the early Church fathers were
bitterly fought by the Church authorities of their own time. St.
Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, was turned out of office,
exiled and practically martyred; St. Basil was persecuted by the
Emperor Valens; St. Ambrose excommunicated the tyrannical Emperor
Theodosius; St. Cyprian gave all his wealth to the poor, and was
exiled and finally martyred. In the same way, most of the
heretics whom the Holy Inquisition tortured and burned were
proletarian rebels; the saints whom the Church reveres, the
founders of the orders which gave it life for century after
century, were men who sought to return to the example of the
carpenter's son. Let us hear a Christian scholar on this point,
Prof. Rauschenbusch:

The movement of Francis of Assisi, of the Waldenses, of the
Humiliati and Bons Hommes, were all inspired by democratic and
communistic ideals. Wiclif was by far the greatest doctrinal
reformer before the reformation; but his eyes, too, were first
opened to the doctrinal errors of the Roman Church by joining in
a great national and patriotic movement against the alien
domination and extortion of the Church. The Bohemian revolt made
famous by the name of John Huss, was quite as much political and
social as religious. Savonarola was a great democrat as well as a
religious prophet. In his famous interview with the dying Lorenzo
de Medici he made three demands as a condition for granting
absolution. Of the man he demanded a living faith in God's mercy.
Of the millionaire he demanded restitution of his ill-gotten
wealth. Of the political usurper he demanded the restoration of
the liberties of the people of Florence. It is significant that
the dying sinner found it easy to assent to the first, hard to
assent to the second, and impossible to concede the last.

Locusts and Wild Honey

This proletarian strain in Christianity goes back to a time long
before Jesus; it seems to have been inherent in the religious
character of the Jews--that stubborn independence, that
stiff-necked insistence on the right of a man to interview God
for himself and to find out what God wants him to do; also the
inclination to find that God wants him to oppose earthly rulers
and their plundering of the poor. What is it that gives to the
Bible the vitality it has today? Its literary style? To say that
is to display the ignorance of the cultured; for elevation of
style is a by-product of passionate conviction; it is what the
Jewish writers had to say, and not the way they said it, that has
given them their hold upon mankind. Was it their insistence upon
conscience, their fear of God as the beginning of wisdom? But
that same element appears in the Babylonian psalms, which are as
eloquent and as sincere as those of the Hebrews, yet are read
only by scholars. Was it their sense of the awful presence of
divinity, of the soul immortal in its keeping? The Egyptians had
that far more than the Hebrews, and yet we do not cherish their
religious books. Or was it the love of man for all things living,
the lesson of charity upon which the Catholics lay such stress?
The gentle Buddha had that, and had it long before Christ; also
his priests had metaphysical subtlety, greater than that of John
the Apostle or Thomas Aquinas.

No, there is one thing and one only which distinguishes the
Hebrew sacred writings from all others, and that is their
insistent note of proletarian revolt, their furious denunciations
of exploiters, and of luxury and wantonness, the vices of the
rich. Of that note the Assyrian and Chaldean and Babylonian
writing contain not a trace, and the Egyptian hardly enough to
mention. The Hindoos had a trace of it; but the true,
natural-born rebels of all time were the Hebrews. They were
rebels against oppression in ancient Judea, as they are today in
Petrograd and New York; the spirit of equality and brotherhood
which spoke through Ezekiel and Amos and Isaiah, through John the
Baptist and Jesus and James, spoke in the last century through
Marx and Lassalle and Jaures, and speaks today through Liebknecht
and Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Kautsky and Israel Zangwill and
Morris Hillquit and Abraham Cahan and Emma Goldman and the Joseph
Fels endowment.

The legal rate of interest throughout the Babylonian Empire was
20%; the laws of Manu permitted 24%, while the laws of the
Egyptians only stepped in to prevent more than 100%. But listen
to this Hebrew law:

If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then
thou shalt relieve him, yea, though he be a stranger or a
sojourner, that he may live with thee: Take thou no interest of
him, or increase; but fear thy God that thy brother may live with
thee. Thou shalt not give him any money upon usury, nor lend him
thy victuals for increase.

And so on, forbidding that Hebrews be sold as bond servants, and
commanding that at the end of fifty years All debtors shall have
their debts forgiven and their lands returned to them. And note
that this is not the raving of agitators, the demand of a
minority party; it is the law of the Hebrew land.

There has been of late a great deal of new discovery concerning
the early Jews. Conrad Noel summarizes the results as follows:

The land-mark law, which sternly forbids encroachment upon
peasant rights; consideration for the foreigner; additional
sanitary and food laws; tithe regulations on behalf of widows,
orphans, foreigners, etc.; that those who have no economic
independence should eat and be satisfied; that loans should be
given cheerfully, not only without any interest, but even at the
risk of losing the principal. To withhold a loan because the year
of release is at hand in which the principal is no longer
recoverable, is described as a grave sin. When you are compelled
to free your slaves, you must give them sufficient capital to
embark upon some industry which shall prevent their falling back
into slavery. A number of holidays are insisted upon. There must
be no more crushing of the poor out of existence, for God cares
for these people who have been driven to poverty, and they shall
never cease out of the land. Howbeit there shall be no poor with
you, for the Lord will bless you, if you will obey these laws.

But then prosperity came, and culture, which meant contact with
the capitalist ideas of the heathen empires. The Jews fell from
the stern justice of their fathers; and so came the prophets,
wild-eyed men of the people, clad in camel's hair and living upon
locusts and wild honey, breaking in upon priests and kings and
capitalists with their furious denunciations. And always they
incited to class war and social disturbance. I quote Conrad Noel

Nathan and Gad bad been David's political advisers, Abijah had
stirred Jeroboam to revolt, Elijah had resisted Ahab, Elisha had
fanned the rebellion of Jehu, Amos thunders against the misrule
of the king of Israel, Isaiah denounces the landlords and the
usurers, Micah charges them with blood-guiltiness; Jeremiah and
the latter prophets, though they strike a more intimate note of
personal repentance, strike it as the prelude to that national
restoration for which they hunger as exiles.

The first chapters of Isaiah are typical of the Old Testament
point of view. Just as the prophets of the nineteenth century
thundered against the "Christian" employers of Lancashire, and
told them their houses were cemented with the blood of little
children, so Isaiah cries against his generation: "Your governing
classes companion with thieves; behold you build up Sion with
blood." Their ceremonial and their Sabbath keeping are an
abomination to God. "When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide
mine eyes from you. Your hands are full of blood." The poor man
is robbed. The rich exact usury. "Woe unto you that lay house to
house and field to field, that ye may dwell alone in the midst of
the land." "Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your
doing from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well,
seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead
for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord.
Though your sins be blood-colored, they shall be as white as
snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If
ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.
But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured by the sword."

Mother Earth

And nowadays we have the Socialist and Anarchist agitators,
following the same tradition, possessed by the same dream as the
ancient Hebrew prophets. I have mentioned Emma Goldman; it may be
that the reader is not familiar with her writings, and does not
realize how very Biblical she is, both in point of view and
style. Let me quote a few sentences from a recent issue of her
paper, "Mother Earth", on the subject of our ruling classes and
their social responsibility:

Yes, you idle rich, you may howl about what we mean to do to you!
Your riches are rotten and your fine clothes are falling from
your backs. Your stocks and bonds are so tainted that the ink on
them should turn to acid and eat holes in your pockets and your
skins. You have piled up your dirty millions, but what wages have
you paid to the poor devils of farm hands you have robbed? And do
you imagine they won't remember it when the revolution comes? You
loll on soft couches and amuse yourselves with your mistresses;
you think you are "it" and the world is yours. You send
militiamen and shoot down our organizers, and we are helpless.
But wait, comrades, our time is coming.

Doubtless the reader is well satisfied that the author of this
tirade is now in jail, where she can no longer defy the laws of
good taste. They always put the ancient prophets in jail; that is
the way to know a prophet when you meet him. Let me quote another
prophet who is now behind bars--Alexander Berkman, in his "Prison
Memoirs of an Anarchist", discussing the same subject of
plutocratic pretension:

Tell me, you four hundred, where did you get it? Who gave it to
you? Your grandfather, you say? Your father? Can you go all the
way back and show there is no flaw anywhere in your title? I tell
you that the beginning and the root of your wealth is necessarily
in injustice. And why? Because Nature did not make this man rich
and that man poor from the start. Nature does not intend for one
man to have capital and another to be a wage-slave. Nature made
the earth to be cultivated by all. The idea we Anarchists have of
the rich is of highwaymen, standing in the street and robbing
every one that passes.

Or take "Big Bill" Haywood, chief of the I. W. W. Hear what he
has to say in a pamphlet addressed to the harvest-hands he is
seeking to organize:

How much farther do you plutes expect to go with your grabbing?
Do you want to be the only people left on earth? Why else do you
drive out the workers from all share in Nature, and claim
everything for yourselves? The earth was made for all, rich and
poor alike; where do you get your title deeds to it? Nature gave
everything for all men to use alike; it is only your robbery
which makes your so-called "ownership". Capital has no rights.
The land belongs to Nature, and we are all Nature's sons.

Or take Eugene V. Debs, three times candidate of the Socialist
Party for President. I quote from one of his pamphlets:

The propertied classes are like people who go into a public
theatre and refuse to let anyone else come in, treating as
private property what is meant for social use. If each man would
take only what he needs, and leave the balance to those who have
nothing, there would be no rich and no poor. The rich man is a

I might go on citing such quotations for many pages; but I know
that Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman and Bill Haywood and Gene
Debs may read this book, and I don't want them to close it in the
middle and throw it at me. Therefore let me hasten to explain my
poor joke; the sentiments I have been quoting are not those of
our modern agitators, but of another group of ancient ones. The
first is not from Emma Goldman, nor did I find it in "Mother
Earth". I found it in the Epistle of James, believed by orthodox
authorities to have been James, the brother of Jesus. It is
exactly what he wrote--save that I have put it into modern
phrases, and changed the swing of the sentences, in order that
those familiar with the Bible might read it without suspicion.
The second passage is not in the writings of Alexander Berkman,
but in those of St. John Chrysostom, most famous of the early
fathers, who lived 374-407. The third is not from the pen of "Big
Bill" but from that of St. Ambrose, a father of the Latin Church,
340-397, and the fourth is not by Comrade Debs, but by St. Basil
of the Greek Church, 329-379. And if the reader objects to my
having fooled him for a minute or two, what will he say to the
Christian Church, which has been fooling him for sixteen hundred

The Soap Box

This book will be denounced from one end of Christendom to the
other as the work of a blasphemous infidel. Yet it stands in the
direct line of the Christian tradition: written by a man who was
brought up in the Church, and loved it with all his heart and
soul, and was driven out by the formalists and hypocrites in high
places; a man who thinks of Jesus more frequently and with more
devotion than he thinks of any other man that lives or has ever
lived on earth; and who has but one purpose in all that he says
and does, to bring into reality the dream that Jesus dreamed of
peace on earth and good will toward men.

I will go farther yet and say that not merely is this book
written for the cause of Jesus, but it is written in the manner
of Jesus. We read his bitter railings at the Pharisees, and miss
the point entirely, because the word Pharisee has become to us a
word of reproach. But this is due solely to Jesus; in his time
the word was a holy word, it meant the most orthodox and
respectable, the ultra high-church devotees of Jerusalem. The way
to get the spirit of the tirades of Jesus is to do with him what
we did with the early church fathers--translate him into
American. This time, since the reader shares the secret, it will
not be necessary to disguise the Bible style, and we may follow
the text exactly. Let me try the twenty-third chapter of Matthew,
omitting seven verses which refer to subtleties of Hebrew
casuistry, for which we should have to go to Lyman Abbott or St.
Alphonsus to find a parallel:

Then Jesus mounted upon a soap-box, and began a speech, saying,
The doctors of divinity and Episcopalians fill the Fifth Avenue
churches; and it would be all right if you were to listen to what
they preach, and do that; but don't follow their actions, for
they never practice what they preach. They load the backs of the
working-classes with crushing burdens, but they themselves never
move a finger to carry a burden, and everything they do is for
show. They wear frock-coats and silk hats on Sundays, and they
sit at the speakers' table at the banquets of the Civic
Federation, and they occupy the best pews in the churches, and
their doings are reported in all the papers; they are called
leading citizens and pillars of the church. But don't you be
called leading citizens, for the only useful man is the man who
produces. (Applause). And whoever exalts himself shall be abased,
and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Woe unto you, doctors of divinity and Catholics, hypocrites! for
you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men; you don't go in
yourself and you don't let others go in. Woe unto you, doctors of
divinity and Presbyterians, hypocrites! for you foreclose
mortgages on widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long
prayers. For this you will receive the greater damnation! Woe
unto you, doctors of divinity and Methodists, hypocrites! for you
send missionaries to Africa to make one convert, and when you
have made him, he is twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
(Applause). Woe unto you, blind guides, with your subtleties of
doctrine, your transubstantiation and consubstantiation and all
the rest of it; you fools and blind! Woe unto you, doctors of
divinity and Episcopalians, hypocrites! for you drop your checks
into the collection-plate and you pay no heed to the really
important things in the Bible, which are justice and mercy and
faith in goodness. You blind guides, who strain at a gnat and
swallow a camel! (Laughter). Woe unto you, doctors of divinity
and Anglicans, hypocrites! for you bathe yourselves and dress in
immaculate clothing but within you are full of extortion and
excess. You blind high churchmen, clean first your hearts, so
that the clothes you wear may represent you. Woe unto you,
doctors of divinity and Baptists, hypocrites! for you are like
marble tombs which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside
are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you
appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and
iniquity. (Applause). Woe unto you, doctors of divinity and
Unitarians, hypocrites! because you erect statues to dead
reformers, and put wreathes upon the tombs of old-time martyrs.
You say, if we had been alive in those days, we would not have
helped to kill those good men. That ought to show you how to
treat us at present. (Laughter). But you are the children of
those who killed the good men; so go ahead and kill us too! You
serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the
damnation of hell?

At this point, according to the report published in the Jerusalem
"Times", a police sergeant stepped up to the orator and notified
him that he was under arrest; he submitted quietly, but one of
his followers attempted to use a knife, and was severely clubbed.
Jesus was taken to the station-house followed by a riotous
throng, and held upon a charge of disorderly conduct. Next
morning the Rev. Dr. Caiaphas of Old Trinity appeared against
him, and Magistrate Pilate sentenced him to six months on
Blackwell's Island, remarking that from this time on he proposed
to make an example of those soap-box orators who persist in using
threatening and abusive language. Just as the prisoner was being
led away, a detective appeared with a requisition from the
Governor, ordering that Jesus be taken to San Francisco, where he
is under indictment for murder in the first degree, it being
charged that his teachings helped to incite the Preparedness Day

The Church Machine

The Catholics of His time came to Jesus and said, "Master, we
would have a sign of Thee"--meaning that they wanted him to do
some magic, to prove to their vulgar minds that his power came
from God. He answered by calling them an evil and adulterous
generation--which is exactly what I have said about the Papal
machine. The Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and other
book-worshippers of his time accused him of violating the sacred
commands so definitely set down in their ancient texts, and to
them he answered that the Sabbath was made for man and not man
for the Sabbath; he called them hypocrites, and quoted Karl Marx
at them--"This people honoreth me with their lips, but their
heart is far from me." Because he despised the company of the
respectables, and went among the humble and human folk of his own
class in the places where they gathered--the public houses--the
churchly scandal-mongers called him "a man gluttonous and a
wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"--precisely as in
the old days they used to sneer at the Socialists for having
their meetings in the back-rooms of saloons, and precisely as
they still denounce us as free-lovers and atheists.

But the longing for justice between man and man, which is the
Kingdom of Heaven on earth, is the deepest instinct of the human
heart, and the voice of the carpenter cannot be confined within
the thickest church-walls, nor drowned by all the pealing organs
in Christendom. Even in these days, when the power of Mammon is
more widespread, more concentrated and more systematized than
ever before in history--even in these days of Morgan and
Rockefeller, there are Christian clergymen who dare to preach as
Jesus preached. One by one they are cast out of the
Church--Father McGlynn, George D. Herron, Alexander Irvine, J.
Stitt Wilson, Austin Adams, Algernon Crapsey, Bouck White; but
their voices are not silenced they are like the leaven, to which
Jesus compared the kingdom of God--a woman took it and hid it in
three measures of meal till the whole was leavened. The young
theological students read, and some of them understand; I know
three brothers in one family who have just gone into the Church,
and are preaching straight social revolution--and the scribes and
the pharisees have not yet dared to cast them out.

In this book I have portrayed the Christian Church as the servant
and henchman of Big Business, a part of the system of Mammon.
Every church is necessarily a money machine, holding and
administering property. And it is not alone the Catholic Church
which is in politics, seeking favors from the state--the
exemption of church property from taxation, exemption of
ministers from military service, free transportation for them and
their families on the railroads, the control of charity and
education, laws to deprive people of amusements on Sunday--so on
through a long list. As the churches have to be built with money,
you find that in them the rich possess the control and demand the
deference, while the poor are humble, and in their secret hearts
jealous and bitter; in other words, the class struggle is in the
churches, as everywhere else in the world, and the social
revolution is coming in the churches, just as it is coming in

It is a fact of deep significance that the majority of ministers
are proletarians, eking out their existence upon a miserable
salary, and beholden in all their comings and goings to the
wealthy holders of privilege. Even in the Roman Catholic Church
that is true. The ordinary priest is a man of the working class,
and knows what working people suffer and feel. So in the Catholic
Church there are proletarian rebellions; there is many a priest
who does not carry out the political orders of his superiors, but
goes to the polls and votes for his class instead of for his
pope. In Ireland, as I write, the young priests are defying their
bishops and joining the Sinn Fein, a non-religious movement for
an Irish Republic.

What is it that keeps the average workingman in subjection to the
exploiter? Simply terror, the terror of losing his job. And if
you could get into the inmost soul of Christian ministers, you
would find that precisely the same force is keeping many of them
slaves to Tradition. They are educated men, and thousands of them
must resent the dilemma which compels them to be either fools or
hypocrites. They have caught enough of the spirit of their time
not to enjoy having to pose as miracle-mongers, rain-makers and
witch-doctors; they would like to say frankly that they do not
believe that Jonah ever swallowed the whale, and even that they
are dubious about Hercules and Achilles and other demigods. But
they are part of a machine, and the old men and the rich men who
run the machine have laid down the law. Those who find themselves
tempted to think, remember suddenly that they have wives and
children; they have only one profession, they have been unfitted
for any other by a life-time of study of dead things, as well as
by the practice of altruism.

But now the Social Revolution is coming; coming upon swift
wings--it may be here before this book sees the light. And who
knows but then we may see in America that wonderful sight which
we saw in Russia, when Christian monks assembled and burned their
holy books, and petitioned the state to take them in as citizens
and human beings? It is my belief that when the power of
exploitation is broken, we shall see the Dead Hand crumble into
dust, as a mummy crumbles when it is exposed to the air. All
those men who stay in the Church and pretend to believe nonsense,
because it affords an easy way to earn a living, will suddenly
realize that it is possible to earn a living outside; that any
man can go into a factory, clean and well-ventilated and humanly
run, and by four hours work can earn the purchasing power of ten
or fifteen dollars. Do you not think that there may be some who
will choose freedom and self-respect on those terms?

And what of those thousands and tens of thousands who join the
church because it is a part of the regime of respectability, a
way to make the acquaintance of the rich, to curry favor and
obtain promotion, to get customers if you are a tradesman, to
extend your practice if you are a professional man? And what
about the millions who go to church because they are poor, and
because life is a desperate struggle, and this is one way to keep
the favor of the boss, to get a little better chance for the
children, to get charity if you fall into need; in short, to
acquire influence with the well-to-do and powerful, who stand
together, and like to see the poor humble and reverent, contented
in that state of life to which it has pleased God to call them?

The Church Redeemed

Do I mean that I expect to see the Church--all churches--perish
and pass away? I do not, for I believe that the Church answers
one of the fundamental needs of man. The Social Revolution will
abolish poverty and parasitism, it will make temptations fewer,
and the soul's path through life much easier; but it will not
remove the necessity of struggle for individual virtue, it will
only clear the way for the discovery of newer and higher types of
virtue. Men will gather more than ever in beautiful places to
voice their love of life and of one another; but the places in
which they gather will be places swept clean of superstition and
tyranny. As the Reformation compelled the Catholic Church to
cleanse itself and abolish the grossest of its abuses, so the
Social Revolution will compel it to repudiate its defense of
parasitism and exploitation. I will record the prophecy that by
the year 1950 all Catholic authorities will be denying that the
Church ever opposed Socialism--true Socialism; just as today they
deny that the Church ever tortured Galileo, ever burned men for
teaching that the earth moves around the sun, ever sold the right
to commit crime, ever gave away the New World to Spain and
Portugal, ever buried newly-born infants in the cellars of

The Social Revolution will compel all churches, Christian,
Hebrew, Buddhist, Confucian, or what you will, to drive out their
formalists and traditionalists. If there is any church that
refuses so to adapt itself, the swift progress of enlightenment
and freedom will leave it without followers. But in the great
religions, which have a soul of goodness and sincerity, we may be
sure that reformers will arise, prophets and saints who, as of
old, will preach the living word of God. In many churches today
we can see the beginning of that new Counter-Reformation. Even in
the Catholic Church there is a "modernist" rebellion; read the
books of the "Sillon", and Fogazzaro's trilogy of novels, "The
Saint", and you will see a genuine and vital protest against the
economic corruption of the Church. In America, the "Knights of
Slavery" have been forced by public pressure to support a "War
for Democracy", and even to compete with the Y. M. C. A. in the
training camps. They are doing good work, I am told.

This gradual conquest of the old religiosity by the spirit of
modern common sense is shown most interestingly in the Salvation
Army. William Booth was a man with a great heart, who took his
life into his hands and went out with a bass-drum to save the
lost souls of the slums. He was stoned and jailed, but he
persisted, and brought his captives to Jesus--

Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of death.

Incidentally the "General" learned to know his slum population.
He had not wanted to engage in charity and material activities;
he feared hypocrisy and corruption. But in his writings he lets
us see how utterly impossible it is for a man of real heart to do
anything for the souls of the slum-dwellers without at the same
time helping their diseased and hunger-racked bodies. So the
Salvation army was forced into useful work--old clothes depots,
nights lodgings, Christmas dinners, farm colonies--until today
the bare list of the various kinds of enterprises it carries on
fills three printed pages. It is all done with the money of the
rich, and is tainted by subservience to authority, but no one can
deny that it is better than "Gibson's Preservative", and the
fox-hunting parsons filling themselves with port.

And in Protestant Churches the advance has been even greater.
Here and there you will find a real rebel, hanging onto his job
and preaching the proletarian Jesus; while even the great Fifth
Avenue churches are making attempts at "missions" and
"settlements" in the slums. The more vital churches are gradually
turning themselves into societies for the practical betterment of
their members. Their clergy are running boys clubs and
sewing-schools for girls, food conservation lectures for mothers,
social study clubs for men. You get prayer-meetings and
psalm-singing along with this; but here is the fact that hangs
always before the clergyman's face--that with prayer-meetings and
psalm-singing alone he has a hard time, while with clubs and
educational societies and social reforms he thrives.

And now the War has broken upon the world, and caught the
churches, like everything else, in its mighty current; the clergy
and the congregations are confronted by pressing national needs,
they are forced to take notice of a thousand new problems, to
engage in a thousand practical activities. No one can see the end
of this--any more than he can see the end of the vast upheaval in
politics and industry. But we who are trained in revolutionary
thought can see the main outlines of the future. We see that in
these new church activities the clergy are inspired by things
read, not in ancient Hebrew texts, but in the daily newspapers.
They are responding to the actual, instant needs of their boys in
the trenches and the camps; and this is bound to have an effect
upon their psychology. Just as we can say that an English girl
who leaves the narrow circle of her old life, and goes into a
munition factory and joins a union and takes part in its debates,
will never after be a docile home-slave; so we can say that the
clergyman who helps in Y. M. C. A. work in France, or in Red
Cross organization in America, will be less the bigot and
formalist forever after. He will have learned, in spite of
himself, to adjust means to ends; he will have learned
co-operation and social solidarity by the method which modern
educators most favor--by doing. Also he will have absorbed a mass
of ideas in news despatches from over the world. He is forced to
read these despatches carefully, because the fate of his own boys
is involved; and we Socialists will see to it that the despatches
are well filled with propaganda!

The Desire of Nations

So the churches, like all the rest of the world, are caught in
the great revolutionary current, and swept on towards a goal
which they do not forsee, and from which they would shrink in
dismay: the Church of the future, the Church redeemed by the
spirit of Brotherhood, the Church which we Socialists will join.
They call us materialists, and say that we think about nothing
but the belly--and that is true, in a way; because we are the
representatives of a starving class, which thinks about its belly
precisely as does any individual who is ravening with hunger. But
give us what that arrant materialist, James, the brother of
Jesus, calls "those things which are needful to the body," and
then we will use our minds, and even discover that we have souls;
whereas at present we are led to despise the very word
"spiritual", which has become the stock-in-trade of parasites and

We have children, whom we love, and whose future is precious to
us. We would be glad to have them trained in ways of decency and
self-control, of dignity and grace. It would make us happy if
there were in the world institutions conducted by men and women
of consecrated life who would specialize in teaching a true
morality to the young. But it must be a morality of freedom, not
of slavery; a morality founded upon reason, not upon
superstition. The men who teach it must be men who know what
truth is, and the passionate loyalty which the search for truth
inspiries. They cannot be the pitiful shufflers and compromisers
we see in the churches today, the Jowetts who say they used to
believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Rather than
trust our children to such shameless cynics, we will make shift
to train them ourselves--we amateurs, not knowing much about
children, and absorbed in the desperate struggle against
organized wrong.

It is a statement which many revolutionists would resent, yet it
is a fact nevertheless, that we need a new religion, need it just
as badly as any of the rest of our pitifully groping race. That
we need it is proven by the rivalries and quarrels in our
midst--the schisms which waste the greater part of our
activities, and which are often the result of personal jealousies
and petty vanities. To lift men above such weakness, to make them
really brothers in a great muse--that is the work of "personal
religion" in the true and vital sense of the words.

We pioneers and propagandists may not live to see the birth of
the new Church of Humanity; but our children will see it, and the
dream of it is in our hearts; our poets have sung of it with
fervor and conviction. Read these lines from "The Desire of
Nations," by Edwin Markham, in which he tells of the new Redeemer
who is at hand:

And when he comes into the world gone wrong,
He will rebuild her beauty with a song.
To every heart he will its own dream be:
One moon has many phantoms in the sea.
Out of the North the norns will cry to men:
"Baldur the Beautiful has come again!"
The flutes of Greece will whisper from the dead:
"Apollo has unveiled his sunbright head!"
The stones of Thebes and Memphis will find voice:
"Osiris comes: Oh tribes of Time, rejoice!"
And social architects who build the State,
Serving the Dream at citadel and gate,
Will hail Him coming through the labor-hum.
And glad quick cries will go from man to man:
"Lo, He has come, our Christ the artisan,
The King who loved the lilies, He has come!"

The Knowable

The new religion will base itself upon the facts of life, as
demonstrated by experience and reason; for to the modern thinker
the basis of all interest is truth, and the wonders of the
microscope and the telescope, of the new psychology and the new
sociology are more wonderful than all the magic recorded in
ancient Mythologies. And even if this were not so, the business
of the thinker is to follow the facts. The history of all
philosophy might be summed up in this simile: The infant opens
his eyes and sees the moon, and stretches out his hands and cries
for it, but those in charge do not give it to him, and so after a
while the infant tires of crying, and turns to his mother's
breast and takes a drink of milk.

Man demands to know the origin of life; it is intolerable for him
to be here, and not know how, or whence, or why. He demands the
knowledge immediately and finally, and invents innumerable
systems and creeds. He makes himself believe them, with fire and
torture makes other men believe them; until finally, in the
confusion of a million theories, it occurs to him to investigate
his instruments, and he makes the discovery that his tools are
inadequate, and all their products worthless. His mind is finite,
while the thing he seeks is infinite; his knowledge is relative,
while the First Cause is absolute.

This realization we owe to Immanuel Kant, the father of modern
philosophy. In his famous "antinomies", he proved four
propositions: first, that the universe is limitless in time and
space; second, that matter is composed of simple, indivisible
elements; third, that free will is impossible; and fourth, that
there must be an absolute or first cause. And having proven these
things, he turned round and proved their opposites, with
arguments exactly as unanswerable. Any one who follows these
demonstrations and understands them, takes all his metaphysical
learning and lays it on the shelf with his astrology and magic.

It is a fact, which every one who wishes to think must get clear,
that when you are dealing with absolutes and ultimates, you can
prove whatever you want to prove. Metaphysics is like the fourth
dimension; you fly into it and come back upside down, hindside
foremost, inside out; and when you get tired of this condition,
you take another flight, and come back the way you were before.
So metaphysical thinking serves the purpose of Catholic cheats
like Cardinal Newman and Professor Chatterton-Hill; it serves
hysterical women like "Mother" Eddy; it serves the
New-thoughters, who wish to fill their bellies with wind; it
serves the charlatans and mystagogs who wish to befuddle the wits
of the populace. Real thinkers avoid it as they would a
bottomless swamp; they avoid, not merely the idealism of
Platonists and Hegelians, but the monism of Haeckel, and the
materialism of Buechner and Jacques Loeb. The simple fact is that
it is as impossible to prove the priority of origin and the
ultimate nature of matter as it is of mind; so that the scientist
who lays down a materialist dogma is exactly as credulous as a

How then are we to proceed? Shall we erect the mystery into an
Unknowable, like Spencer, and call ourselves Agnostics with a
capital letter, like Huxley? Shall we follow Frederic Harrison,
making an inadequate divinity out of our impotence? I have read
the books of the "Positivists", and attended their imitation
church in London, but I did not get any satisfaction from them.
In the midst of their dogmatic pronouncements I found myself
remembering how the egg falls apart and reveals a chicken, how
the worm suddenly discovers itself a butterfly. The spirit of man
is a breaker of barriers, and it seems a futile occupation to set
limits upon the future. Our business is not to say what men will
know ten thousand years from now, but to content ourselves with
the simple statement of what men know now. What we know is a
procession of phenomena called an environment; our life being an
act of adjustment to its changes, and our faith being the
conviction that this adjustment is possible and worth while.

In the beginning the guide is instinct, and the act of trust is
automatic. But with the dawn of reason the thinker has to justify
his faith; to convince himself that life is sincere, that there
is worth-whileness in being, or in seeking to be; that there is
order in creation, laws which can be discovered, processes which
can be applied. Just as the babe trusts life when it gropes for
its mother's breast, so the most skeptical of scientists trusts
it when he declares that water is made of two parts hydrogen and
one part oxygen, and sets it down for a certainty that this will
always be so--that he is not being played with by some sportive
demon, who will today cause H2O to behave like water, and
tomorrow like benzine.

Nature's Insurgent Son

Life has laws, which it is possible to ascertain; and with each
bit of knowledge acquired, the environment is changed, the life
becomes a new thing. Consider, for example, what a different
place the world became to the man who discovered that the force
which laid the forest in ashes could be tamed and made to warm a
cave and make wild grains nutritious! In other words, man can
create life, he can make the world and himself into that which
his reason decides it ought to be. The means by which he does
this is the most magical of all the tools he has invented since
his arboreal ancestor made the first club; the tool of
experimental science--and when one considers that this weapon has
been understood and deliberately employed for but two or three
centuries, he realizes that we are indeed only at the beginning
of human evolution.

To take command of life, to replace instincts by reasoned and
deliberate acts, to make the world a conscious and ordered
product--that is the task of man. Sir Ray Lankester has set this
forth with beautiful precision in his book, "The Kingdom of Man".
We are, at this time, in an uncomfortable and dangerous
transition stage, as a child playing with explosives. This child
has found out how to alter his environment in many startling
ways, but he does not yet know why he wishes to alter it, nor to
what purpose. He finds that certain things are uncomfortable, and
these he proceeds immediately to change. Discovering that grain
fermented dispels boredom, he creates a race of drunkards;
discovering that foods can be produced in profusion, and prepared
in alluring combinations, he makes himself so many diseases that
it takes an encyclopedia to tell about them. Discovering that
captives taken in war can be made to work, he makes a procession
of empires, which are eaten through with luxury and corruption,
and fall into ruins again.

This is Nature's way; she produces without limit, groping
blindly, experimenting ceaselessly, eliminating ruthlessly. It
takes a million eggs to produce one salmon; it has taken a
million million men to produce one idea--algebra, or the bow and
arrow, or democracy. Nature's present impulse appears as a
rebellion against her own methods; man, her creature, will
emancipate himself from her law, will save himself from her
blindness and her ruthlessness. He is "Nature's insurgent son";
but, being the child of his mother, goes at the task in her old
blundering way. Some men are scheduled to elimination because of
defective eyesight; they are furnished with glasses, and the
breeding of defective eyes begins. The sickly or imbecile child
would perish at once in the course of Nature; it is saved in the
name of charity, and a new line of degenerates is started.

What shall we do? Return to the method of the Spartans, exposing
our sickly infants? We do not have to do anything so wasteful,
because we can replace the killing of the unfit by a scientific
breeding which will prevent the unfit from getting a chance at
life. We can replace instinct by self-discipline. We can
substitute for the regime of "Nature red in tooth and claw with
ravin" the regime of man the creator, knowing what he wishes to
be and how to set about to be it. Whether this can happen,
whether the thing which we call civilization is to be the great
triumph of the ages, or whether the human race is to go back into
the melting pot, is a question being determined by an infinitude
of contests between enlightenment and ignorance: precisely such a
contest as occurs now, when you, the reader, encounter a man who
has thought his way out to the light, and comes to urge you to
perform the act of self-emancipation, to take up the marvellous
new tools of science, and to make yourself, by means of exact
knowledge, the creator of your own life and in part of the life
of the race.

The New Morality

Life is a process of expansion, of the unfoldment of new powers;
driven by that inner impulse which the philosophers of Pragmatism
call the elan vital. Whenever this impulse has its way, there is
an emotion of joy; whenever it is balked, there is one of
distress. So pleasure and pain are the guides of life, and the
final goal is a condition of free and constantly accelerating
growth, in which joy is enduring.

That man will ever reach such a state is more than we can say. It
is a perfectly conceivable thing that tomorrow a comet may fall
upon the earth and wipe out all man's labor's. But on the other
hand, it is a conceivable thing that man may some day learn to
control the movements of comets, and even of starry systems. It
seems certain that if he is given time, he will make himself
master of the forces of his immediate environment--

The untamed giants of nature shall bow down--
The tides, the tempest and the lightning cease
From mockery and destruction, and be turned
Unto the making of the soul of man.

It is a conceivable thing that man may learn to create his food
from the elements without the slow processes of agriculture; it
is conceivable that he may master the bacteria which at present
prey upon his body, and so put an end to death. It is certain
that he will ascertain the laws of heredity, and create human
qualities as he has created the spurs of the fighting-cock and
the legs of the greyhound. He will find out what genius is, and
the laws of its being, and the tests whereby it may be
recognized. In the new science of psycho-analysis he has already
begun the work of bringing an infinity of subconsciousness into
the light of day; it may be that in the evidence of telepathy
which the psychic researchers are accumulating, he is beginning
to grope his way into a universal consciousness, which may come
to include the joys and griefs of the inhabitants of Mars, and of
the dark stars which the spectroscope and the telescope are

All these are fascinating possibilities. What stands in the way
of their realization? Ignorance and superstition, fear and
submission, the old habits of rapine and hatred which man has
brought with him from his animal past. These make him a slave, a
victim of himself and of others; to root them out of the garden
of the soul is the task of the modern thinker.

The new morality is thus a morality of freedom. It teaches that
man is the master, or shall become so; that there is no law, save
the law of his own being, no check upon his will save that which
he himself imposes.

The new morality is a morality of joy. It teaches that true
pleasure is the end of being, and the test of all righteousness.

The new morality is a morality of reason. It teaches that there
is no authority above reason; no possibility of such authority,
because if such were to appear, reason would have to judge it,
and accept or reject it.

The new morality is a morality of development. It teaches that
there can no more be an immutable law of conduct, than there can
be an immutable position for the steering-wheel of an aeroplane.
The business of the pilot of an aeroplane is to keep his machine
aloft amid shifting currents of wind. The business of a moralist
is to adjust life to a constantly changing environment. An action
which was suicide yesterday becomes heroism today, and futility
or hypocrisy tomorrow.

This new morality, like all things in a world of strife, is
fighting for existence, using its own weapons, which are reason
and love. Obviously it can use no others, without
self-destruction; yet it has to meet enemies who fight with the
old weapons of force and fraud. Whether it will prevail is more
than any prophet can say. Perhaps it is too much to ask that it
should succeed--this insolent effort of the pigmy man to leap
upon the back of his master and fit a bridle into his mouth.
Perhaps it is nothing but a dream in the minds of a few, the
scientists and poets and inventors, the dreamers of the race.
Perhaps the nerve of the pigmy will fail him at the critical
moment, and he will fall from the back of his master, and under
his master's hoofs.

The hour of the decision is now; for this we can see plainly, and
as scientists we can proclaim it--the human race is in a swift
current of degeneration, which a new morality alone can check.
The struggle is at its height in our time; if it fails, if the
fibre of the race continues to deteriorate, the soul of the race
to be eaten out by poverty and luxury, by insanity and disease,
by prostitution, crime and war--then mankind will slip back into
the abyss, the untamed giants of Nature will resume their ancient
sway, and the tides, the tempest and the lightning will sweep the
earth clean again. I do not believe that this calamity will
befall us. I know that in the diseased social body the forces of
resistance are gathering--the Socialist movement, in the broad
sense--the activities of all who believe in the possibility of
reconstructing society upon a basis of reason, justice and love.
To such people this book goes out: to the truly religious people,
those who hunger and thirst after righteousness here and now, who
believe in brotherhood as a reality, and are willing to bear pain
and ridicule and privation for the sake of its ultimate

From the edge of harsh derision,
From discord and defeat,
From doubt and lame division,
We pluck the fruit and eat;
And the mouth finds it bitter, and the spirit sweet....
O sorrowing hearts of slaves,
We heard you beat from far!
We bring the light that saves,
We bring the morning star;
Freedom's good things we bring you, whence all good things are...


I have come to the end of my task; but one question troubles me.
I think of the "young men and maidens meek" who will read this
book, and I wonder what they will make of it. We have had a lark
together; we have gone romping down the vista of the ages,
swatting*, every venerable head that showed itself, beating the
dust out of ancient delusions. You would like all your life to be
that kind of lark; but you may not find it so, and perhaps you
will suffer disillusionment and vexation.

I have known hundreds of young radicals in my life; they have
nearly all been gallant and honest, but they have not all been
wise, and therefore not so happy as they might have been. In the
course of time I have formulated to myself the peril to which
young radicals are exposed. We see so much that is wrong in
ancient things, it gets to be a habit with us to reject them. We
have only to know that a thing is old to feel an impulse of
impatient scorn; on the other hand, we are tempted to welcome
anything which can prove itself to be unprecedented. There is a
common type of radical whose aim in life is to be several jumps
ahead of mankind; whose criterion of conduct is that it shocks
the bourgeois. If you do not know that type, you may find
him--and her--in the newest of the Bohemian cafes, drinking the
newest red chemicals, smoking the newest brand of cigarettes, and
discussing the newest form of psycopathia sexualis. After you
have watched them a while, you realize that these ultra-new
people have fallen victim to the oldest form of logical fallacy,
the non sequitur, and likewise to the oldest form of slavery,
which is self-indulgence.

If it is true that much in the old moral codes is based upon
ignorance, and cultivated by greed, it is also true that much in
the old moral codes is based upon facts which will not change so
long as man is what he is--a creature of impulses, good and bad,
wise and foolish, selfish and generous, and compelled to make
choice between these impulses; so long as he is a material body
and a personal consciousness, obliged to live in society and
adjust himself to the rights of others. What I would like to say
to young radicals--if there is any way to say it without seeming
a prig--is that in choosing their own path through life, they
will need not merely enthusiasm and radical fervor, but wisdom
and judgment and hard study.

It is our fundamental demand that society shall cease to repeat
over and over the blunders of the past, the blunders of tyranny
and slavery, of luxury and poverty, which wrecked the ancient
societies; and surely it is a poor way to begin by repeating in
our own persons the most ancient blunders of the moral life. To
light the fires of lust in our hearts, and let them smoulder
there, and imagine we are trying new experiments in psychology!
Who does not know the radical woman who demonstrates her
emancipation from convention by destroying her nerves with
nicotine? Who does not know the genius of revolt who demonstrates
his repudiation of private property by permitting his lady loves
to support him? Who does not know the man who finds in the
phrases of revolution the most effective devices for the seducing
of young girls?

You will have read this book to ill purpose if you draw the
conclusion that there is anything in it to spare you the duty of
getting yourself moral standards and holding yourself to them. On
the contrary, because your task is the highest and hardest that
man has yet undertaken--for this reason you will need standards
the most exacting ever formulated. Let me quote some words from a
teacher you will not accuse of holding to the slave-moralities:

Free dost thou call thyself? Thy ruling thoughts will I hear, and
not that thou hast escaped a yoke.

Art thou such a one that can escape a yoke?

Free from what? What is that to Zarathustra! Clear shall your eye
tell me: free to what?

Canst thou give to thyself thy good and thine evil, and hang thy
will above thee as thy law? Canst thou be thine own judge, and
avenger of thy law?

Fearful it is to be alone with the judge and the avenger of thy
law. So is a stone flung out into empty space and into the icy
breath of isolation.

Out of the pit of ignorance and despair we emerge into the
sunlight of knowledge, to take control of a world, and to make it
over, not according to the will of any gods, but according to the
law in our own hearts. For that task we have need of all the
resources of our being; of courage and high devotion, of faith in
ourselves and our comrades, of clean, straight thinking, of
discipline both of body and mind. We go to this task with a
knowledge as old as the first moral impulse of mankind--the
knowledge that our actions determine the future of life, not
merely for ourselves but for all the race. For this is one of the
laws of the ancient Hebrews which modern science has not
repealed, but on the contrary has reinforced with a thousand
confirmations--that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the
children unto the third and fourth generations.

I get letters from the readers of my books; nearly always they
are young people, so I feel like the father of a large family. I
gather them now about my knee, and pronounce upon them a
benediction in the ancient patriarchal style. Children and
grandchildren of my hopes, for ages men suffered and fought, so
that the world might be turned over to you. Now the day is
coming, the glad, new day which blinds us with the shining of its
wings; it is coming so swiftly that I am afraid of it. I thought
we should have more time to get ready for the taking over of the
world! But the old managers of it went insane, they took to
tearing each other's eyes out, and now they lie dead about us.
So, whether we will or not, we have to take charge of the world;
we have to decide what to do with it, even while we are doing it.
Let us not fail, young comrades; let us not write on the scroll
of history that mankind had to go through yet new generations of
wars and tumults and enslavements, because the youth of the
international revolution could not lift themselves above those
ancient personal vices which wrecked the fair hopes of their
fathers--bigotry and intolerance, vindictiveness and vanity,
envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness!


For twenty years I have been haunted by the dream that I might
some day be my own publisher. I was waiting till I could afford
the luxury; but many a man has put off a bold action till he
died, so I am publishing this book without being able to afford

The reason is that I do not want to be a writer for the rich. I
want to be read by working-boys and girls, and by poor students.

I offer the book at a low price. In the hope of tempting you to
go out and get your friends to read it, I have made a price in
quantities which will allow no profit at all. A margin has been
figured to cover postage, stationery, circulars, and the cost of
a clerical assistant; but nothing for interest on capital, which
is a gift, nor for the rent of an office, which is my home, nor
for the services of manager and press agent, which is myself.

You have read the book, and its fate is yours to decide. If it
seems worth while, pass it on to someone else. If you can afford
it, order a number of copies and give them away. If you can't
afford it, give your time and be a book-agent.

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