Category Archives: Essays/Articles

10 from “March of Events”

The following 10 essays were from Benjamin DeCasseres syndicated newspaper column that would later be known as the “March of Events,” but went by different names or none at all. We have proofread the text, done basic formatting, and added the dates published. All examples below were transcribed from the Syracuse New York Journal. Eventually, they will be folded into the archives of the website in a more formal way.

Thanks to S.P. and #mybookcult Proofreaders.


Communists and Civil Rights

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(December 21, 1934)

THE case of Alexius Karllson, the alien Communist held at Ellis Island for deportation, is full of that ironic mirth which is said to make the gods laugh at all things mortal and which we on earth call the “horselaugh.”

Karllson, whose only use for America is to turn it into a Communistic slave-state, had his lawyer apply for a writ of habeas corpus. He wants to stay in this accursed capitalistic country. He demands the right to go on talking and plotting—neither of which he could do in his own ideological Utopia, Russia, without an early morning trip to the live-target yard.

Federal Judge Goddard denied the writ on the ground that membership in the Communist party was proof of conspiracy to overthrow the government.


Aside from the momentous nature of this decision, the question arises why these enemies of the American form of government are so loath to leave our shores. They exhaust every legal resource of this hateful “bourgeois-capitalistic-ruggedly individualistic” democracy to stay here.

They appeal—with perfectly straight faces—to their “rights” under the constitution—that constitution which they would tear into bits.

They abjectly petition judges and bureau chiefs at Washington to keep them here, where they are, so they claim, being “exploited” and “enslaved”—those very judges and bureau chiefs that they would not only abolish but lift into the air with a gentle bomb or two.

They use, in a word, all the privileges that a free democratic country accords them—free speech, free pen and a free soap-box—TO ADVOCATE THE ABOLITION OF ALL THESE SWEAT-AND-BLOOD-BOUGHT PRIVILEGES.

WE PERMIT these aliens to use our own culture and civilized practices for the purpose of destroying us!


No wonder they want to stay here! Think of the loot!

It is like inviting a man to sit in your office chair so that he can more comfortably shoot you.

The Communists, both of the foreign and home-spawned varieties, are strong for the preservation of American civil liberties when their own liberties are threatened.

But when they come into power, as in Russia, presto!— all civil liberties disappear and the Karllsons line up against a wall anyone who utters those words of hated democratic capitalistic origin, civil liberties.

A political dissenter in Russia when arrested ls hurried before a MILITARY TRIBUNAL. He has no counsel (that is a capitalistic custom). There is not even a trial. There is a “hearing” (the military tribunal HEAR themselves pronounce sentence), and the objector to Communism is hurried up against a wall.

The only writ of habeas corpus is written by the vultures if the fellow is not buried in quicklime.


Sixty-six of these cases in one day In the last communist “purge”!

And Karllson and his Communist plotters yawp about their “rights”!

As a matter of fact, Karllson and his alien cronies know that they are having the time of their lives in free America. They never breathed freely before they came here.

But it is time to check the breathing of these plotters, of all plotters of all patterns—Communists, Nazists and Fascists—and make them understand that this democratic- individualistic republic is still a going concern.

The Communists dish it out (in Russia), but they can’t take it (in the U. S. A.).

THERE SHOULD BE NO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN THEM.

The dictatorship of the proletariat means the end of everything that is fundamentally American! Liberty, self-reliance, private property, civil procedure, free speech, free press and even free movement.

It would be the return of ant-civilization. Instead of the free-flying eagle as our emblem a Communist regime would substitute A BUG.


What the Communists here need is a dish of their own cooking. Do unto them as they have done unto the minorities in Russia!

The time for action is NOW. Let democracy destroy Communism. Don’t wait until the Fascist man-on-horseback appears!


Mr. Tugwell

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(January 15, 1935)

BEFUDDLEMENT!

No word more precisely describes the mental flounderings of the Sanhedrin of professors who hatch the word-eggs of the “new order” in Washington.

There is nothing courageous, well-defined or creative in the books, pamphlets or the verbose proclamations of these professorial and professional rigmaroleans.

Now and then they flutter around the red flame of Communism. When they feel they are in danger of getting politically scorched, they blithely trip away to the frogpond of near-Socialism.

Here, comfortably squatted, they croak “rugged individualist,” “capitalist” and “Tory” at the self-reliant, aggressive, self-made Americans who pass by.

These horn-rimmed nunkey-donkeys of the New Deal are already immortalized by what they do not know.

Their thoughts hop around pathetically on their flypaper brains.

Their mucilaginous political views prevent their puny ideas from ever taking wing.

Hence they have no historical sense, no knowledge of men at first band, no psychological penetration and no sincere belief of any kind except in the financial rewards of publicity and that their jobs MAY some day be turned into a soft life-commissarship.

Befuddlement!

Of all the hopelessly befuddled minds of the “new order,” Rexford Guy Tugwell, deputy commissar in the department of agriculture, seems to be most muddle-headed.

He is the most perfect type of the yes-and-no man, of the right-wing-left-wing-no-wing man, of the high-diddle- diddle-jump-over-the-fiddle, the phoney-baloney young man.

One has but to read his latest bull on the New Deal, called “The Battle for Democracy,” to see plainly that the grand junta of Brain-Trusters is very like Br’er Rabbit: It come in by the same hole it went out at.

Someone said economics was the deadly dull science. This is sheer nonsense. Nothing is dull to a live, vital brain.

It isn’t economics that is dull. It is the brains of the political-professorial press agents of the New Deal that are atrophied.

Befuddlement!

Listen to Mr. Tugwell:

“What the old order describes as ‘rugged individualism’ meant the regimentation of the many for the benefit of the few.”

ONE OF THESE “FEW” IS REXFORD GUY TUGWELL.

The “old order” and “rugged individualism,” which he despises, built the dozen or so universities from which Mr. Tugwell drank at the bubbling founts of Marx, Engels and the other czars of collectivism.

It was the “old order” and “rugged individualism” that made Possible Mr. Tugwell’s job of deputy commissar of agriculture, with its emoluments and the revenues he derives from his royalty-laden proclamations.

If the “old order” meant, as Mr. Tugwell says, “The regimentation of the many for the benefit of the few,” THEN WHY HAVE THE WORKING CLASSES OF ALL THE WORLD BATTERED AT OUR DOORS FOR ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS? WAS IT TO BE REGIMENTED AND EXPLOITED?

The “old order” and the “rugged individualism” of the American character built the only country in the world WHERE THERE WAS NEITHER COMPULSORY MILITARY SERVICE NOR REGIMENTED HUMAN BEINGS; WHERE LABOR UNIONS ACHIEVED MORE IN FIFTY YEARS THAN ALL THE LABOR UNIONS OF EUROPE HAD ACHIEVED IN A CENTURY.

“Malefactors of great wealth” and “plutocrat” having become shopworn, the “new order” demagogues have invented the new bugaboo of “rugged individualism” to scare the old ladies of both sexes.

It is “rugged individualism.” physical, mental and political, that is the very core of the character of Mr. Tugwell’s humane chief, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Rugged individualism” is a mighty, an inspiring phrase that should be hung on every wall in every home and office in America.

The antonym to “rugged individualism” is milksop, weakling, chicken-heart.

Under which banner does Mr. Tugwell prefer to march?


More befuddlement!

“What is demanded of us in America today is the making over of the institutions controlled and operated for the benefit of the few so that, regardless of their control, they shall be operated for the benefit of the many.”

As they do in bled-to-the-bone Russia, where a small bureaucratic Camorra own 170,000,000 people body and soul? Here Mr. Tugwell flutters around the red flame.

I spoke of Mr. Tugwell’s lack of historical sense. I suggest that he throw his abstractions out of the window and read concrete American history.

From the foundation of America, THE MANY HAVE BENEFITTED BECAUSE THE FEW HAVE BENEFITTED.


The working classes of America are literally dragged upward when the few prosper by the inexorable law of supply and demand.

Besides, where have 99 percent of Mr. Tugwell’s “few” come from in America? They have risen because of their RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM and their SUPERIOR COMPETENCE right out of the ranks of the “many.”

And who is to “operate” these “institutions” for the benefit of the many?

Why, of course, Rexford Guy Tugwell and the rest of the vast army of mentally befuddled “new order” crusaders who only wait the signal to doff their masks of “democracy” and turn to the duped “many” the face of Lenin.


Matriarchy?

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(March 9, 1935)

A PUBLIC SOOTHSAYER some time ago said that somewhere in our country was now a young man who would be the first Fascist dictator of America.

This loud wish-thought brought to life a Communist soothsayer who predicted that somewhere on the high seas a stowaway was approaching America who would be the first commissar of the United States of Soviet Republics.

Both of there crystal gazers left out the obvious fact that there are just about one hundred and twenty-four millions of Americans left who, when it comes to a showdown, might object to both a native Fascist dictator or a foreign first commissar in the manner of the famous axe which smote the no less famous chicken in the neck.

But a prophecy that has more material ground than either is the statement of Miss Lillian D. Rock, vice president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, that she expected to see a woman as vice president of the United States before another decade, and, later on, a president.


The League for a Woman President and Vice President has already opened permanent headquarters in Brooklyn, and the drive for “recognition” will come next year at both conventions. All male delegates to both national conventions had better go with their wives and mothers.

The male has made such a bad mess of it in Washington in late years that it might pertinently be asked, why shouldn’t the hand that rocks the cradle ALSO help to rock the boat?

As Miss Rock, who is the organizer of this matriarchal movement, so wisely and pertinently says:

“The voice that sang the evening lullaby should play an important role in the legislative halls of the state and Nation.”

This logical connection between the evening excursion to Blanket Bay with the little darling and initiating legislation on taxation, drawing up a declaration of war and refunding the public debt will be instantly apparent even to the dullest masculine brain among the brain trusters at the national capital.


Another striking apothegm of Miss Rock’s is also worth recording:

“The brain that solved the economic problems of the home was certainly keen enough to play a part in politics.”

No mere male can gainsay this. As a matter of fact, the very first duty of a woman president, if she is true to her innate economic instincts, will be to create a secretary of charge accounts.

It must also be recorded, reluctantly and regretfully, that woman has already played “a part in politics”. The fate of a New York magistrate and a New York secretary of state, both evening lullaby singers, must grieve the judicious and even cause some quakings and forebodings among the masculine upholders of the honor of the Republic.

Man is, of course, naturally a scalawag. So we expect of woman better things. However, the several ladies who have sat in Congress have seemed, off the record, somewhat null and void, and certainly our grand old America would not dance with prideful and puffy joy at seeing a Ma Ferguson in the White House.

As a matter of truth, that estimable lady is too good for the job. Too much character is not desirable in high places in democracies. Ma is a dud at carrying water on both shoulders.

On the other hand, a woman president would give us many advantages, especially if she had with her a sound yes-and-yes, lollipop-sucking president consort at her heels.

Reason seems by way of rotting in Washington at the present time. A good dose of female intuition might snap us back into the good old days.

A cabinet of pure intuitionalists, especially a postmaster generaless who flipped out postmasterships on purely subconscious grounds, could decide the heavy problems of state just like THAT. Why waste the people’s time with reason, hindsight and foresight when we can get time-saving intuition F.O.B. and off the hoof?

Women have ruled great nations before. There are the instances of those profound stateswomen and humane lawgivers, Jezebel, Cleopatra, Catherine of Russia and Elizabeth.

Of course, there was Queen Victoria, but that good lady had the misfortune to have been doomed to reign in the Victorian era, so she was really not seen at her best.

With a woman in the White House, many states and legislative bodies would go feminine. This would eventually put man back just where he belongs: He could fight and die for his country, build the airways, finance big business, create the art and literature of a nation, and put up the ironwork on 80-story skyscrapers. Let the beast do the dirty work!

Meanwhile, Mrs. Roosevelt—who knows—says the country is not yet ready for a woman president.

With the highest respect for that sagacious lady’s opinion, I think the country is just about ready for anything short of total extinction.


New American Primer

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(March 20, 1935)

The following primer for all naughty Americans could be compiled from a day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month reading of the red, pink and sour-green publications published in the land of the good-natured sucker, the U.S.A.:

To defend fundamental American institutions is now Fascism.

To be wealthy is to have your heel on the neck of the poor.

To war against the enemies of democratic doctrines is to be sold to the “interests.”

To believe in the competitive system stamps you as a Wall Street wolf.

To announce yourself as a rugged individualist means you are getting ready to shoot down pajama-stitchers.

To believe that Jefferson was a greater man than Lenin brands you as a “bourgeois” and a “tory.”


To denounce the crimes of the Cheka and the GPU is treason to the ideal of the brotherhood of man.

To wear an American flag in your lapel means that you advocate calling out the state militia to suppress labor unions.

To believe that the Constitution of the United States is a superior document to “Das Kapital” is proof-positive that you are working your help to the bone.

To merely whisper that Communism should not be taught in state-supported institutions brands you as an enemy of Stalin’s Nutopia.

To believe that alien enemies should be deported to the lands of their birth makes you a paid agent of Adolf Hitler.

To denounce a Russian blood purge means you are not “social-minded.”

To adhere to the capitalistic system of economic development as the best for ALL the people in the long run is prima facie evidence that you are for child-labor, sweatshops and the 24-hour day.

To believe that the state is the servant of the individual links you with the White Guards.

To even suspect that our freedom is not wholly in the keeping of the carmine Civil Liberties Union nails you as a brutal coal-and-iron baron.

To announce that state-aid, as a principal, is an anti-American doctrine, is to put yourself in the class of beetle-browed predatory Cro-Magnons.

To even insinuate that the American boudoir branch of Leninism and the spats-and-monocle phalanx of the New Vision is merely a publicity racket in some vacuous skulls is to be branded as a poor slob of a Victorian who still reads Dumas and Walter Scott.


To believe that America has its own political philosophy and social ideals that have no relation to Marxist fiddle-faddle, diddle-daddle and walla-walla is to line you up with the savage capitalistic seamstress-starvers.

To assert that Communism is worming its way into the army and navy means that you are for making war immediately on Russia, Japan and Irak.

To even mildly observe that a Moscowegian who plots the violent overthrow of the American government should be brought to heel is certain proof that you have secretly torn up the Declaration of Independence.

To sit in your seat while the “Internationale” is being played in Madison Square Garden is treason to the world proletarian state. Horrendus horrors!—They may even find a copy of the “Star-Spangled Banner” in your pocket!

To asseverate that it is more important that a man should be free mentally, physically and verbally than that he should be “secured” in his livelihood stamps you as a gold bloc buzzard.

In a word, the American system is doomed. The Politburo has spoken, you poor American fish!


American Parade

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(March 28, 1935)

Grand Marshal:
The Mad-Hatter


On Horseback:
Politicians, Racketeers, Dope Kings


In Automobiles:
Brain-Trusters, Bureaucrats, Economists


Grand Float:
The United States Treasury Pumping Out Billions of
Dollars All Over the World


TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS
Dragging Ball and Chain


CLOWNS SENATORS SENATORS CLOWNS


Grand Float:
Guillotine Chopping Off the Heads of Capitalists


On Foot:
Upton Sinclair Leading Ten Thousand Communists


TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS
Dragging Ball and Chain


Grand Float:
Marriner S. Eccles Dividing Our Incomes Among
the Spectators


GANGSTERS GANGSTERS GANGSTERS


Colossal Tumbril in Which Sits Big Business Manacled


INFLATIONISTS DEFLATIONISTS DILUTIONISTS
STABILIZERS


On Foot:
Henry A. Wallace Gertrude Stein Rexford G. Tugwell


TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS
Dragging Ball and Chain


Revolving Platform:
Dr. Townsend Hurling Another Fellow’s
$8,000,000,000 to the Multitude


Grand Float:
Radical Professors Carrying the Moscow State
University to New York


DEVALUATIONISTS DEPRECIATIONISTS
REVALUATIONISTS EXPANSIONISTS


Tableau Vivant:
Huey Long, Theodore G. Bilbo, Jim Farley and
General Johnson in a Battle Royal


On a Mule:
Nicholas Murray Butler Costumed as Jupiter


TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS
Dragging Ball and Chain


Grand Float:
Symbolical Figure of the NRA Making No Thing Grow
Where Two Things Grew Before


COMMUNISTS FASCISTS NAZISTS SOCIALISTS


An Old Fire-Horse Labeled CREDIT


Grand Float (for the Kiddies):
A Gigantic Rubber Figure Labeled
THE NATIONAL DEBT Dilating to Bursting Dimensions


TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS TAXPAYERS
Dragging Bail and Chain


Ambulances Ambulances Ambulances Ambulances


MIKE ROMANOFF


America Last!

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(April 1, 1935)

THE YALE NEWS, student organ of the great university in New Haven, prints a long editorial urging our colleges to institute courses in Communism and Fascism.

This ought to be electrifying news to the shoals of Stracheys and Mosleys in Europe who are hoping to run the blockade of our loose and good-natured immigration laws to pick up an honest capitalistic-tainted penny.

These Communist and Fascist highbrows lie in the offing like the ships of old Rum Row in order to bootleg their reactionary and mediaeval Old World doctrines in our colleges and schools.

They will also, no doubt, demonstrate to the plastic generation how poisonous, out-moded and oppressive is our own home-grown brand of government labeled INDIVIDUALISTIC DEMOCRACY.


The Yale News suavely asserts with the flamboyant omniscience of ignorance that “one of these two extremes will prevail in this country.”

This is what is known as a wish-thought. Back of it, in the shadow, stands another wish-thought—democracy is dead.

The editorial then blandly says, “Education should open its eyes.”

What it means to say is:

“LET’S THROW SAND IN THE EYES OF AMERICA—MAYBE WE CAN MIX IN A DROP OR TWO OF VITRIOL.”

“Fascism and Communism are realities,” slickly pursues the NEWS.

Then why not institute traveling scholarships for the study at first hand of these systems in the countries with which they are blessed? Bath diseases and Utopias should be studied on the home grounds.

“it is essential that courses be instituted at Yale to deal specifically with these problems,” pursues, with its innocent, china-blue eyes, the editorial.


We already know how “specifically” these problems are dealt with at Teachers’ College, Columbia University. That is, ALL AMERICANS WHO ARE NOT RED ARE STAMPED YELLOW.

But, the YALE NEWS condescendingly admits, as a kind of after-thought, a little sop to conscience or what you will:

“Needless to say, the study of our own government …. must be in no way sacrificed.”

This ought to hearten the rapidly disappearing American cells and cadres in some of our colleges.

This concession ought, further, to stiffen the spines of the declining American colonies in Columbia and Yale.


The Wheeler-Rayburn bill, pending in Congress, is one of the most disturbing pieces of legislation ever suggested in this country.

By destroying holding companies it would wreck a twelve-thousand-million-dollar industry.

In so doing, it would destroy the value of investments held by tens of millions of people, including the life-savings of families, by as ruthless a method of confiscation as could be devised.

Abuses and bad practices in the holding company field must and shall be corrected and prevented from recurring.

But why kill a patient in order to cure his malady?

There is just one thing for Congress to do with the Wheeler-Rayburn bill—REJECT IT!


Billion Paranoia

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(April 2, 1935)

ONE of the symptoms of chronic paranoia is the delusion of a person totally broke that he has vast sums of money and that he can go on indefinitely borrowing and spending without paying back.

A cold-blooded, disinterested ailienist—say from Mars—who should make a cursory examination of the centralized national brain in Washington, or if he merely skimmed the daily papers, would most certainly pronounce us a nation far advanced along the road to paranoia.

The United States has a huge debt, running far into the billions. It has a deficit of billions of dollars. And yet it goes on spending billions of dollars—always BILLIONS, MORE BILLIONS AND MORE BILLIONS.


These billions are raised in taxes, always MORE TAXES, ALWAYS MORE BILLIONS.

Millions of persons not yet born are already being taxed into prenatal poverty to pay for the dementia of our billion-bitten rulers and their congressional servants.

Croesus, king of Lydia, was so rich and powerful that he drew all the wise men of Greece to his court.

Uncle Sam, in the hallucinated visions of our billion mad representatives, is now Uncle Croesus.

And he, too, has drawn around him all the wise men of the Republic. ——-

They have trooped from the East, South and West all a-shimmer with degrees and decorations.

Many of them have graduated from four colleges, while others, like Topsy, just growed up into wisdom.

The word BILLIONS, like a star of promise and good news, drew them to the miraculous pork barrel which is in Washington.

Once being in the atmosphere where BILLIONS are spent that do not exist, where BILLIONS are paid out of empty tills and where BILLIONS of taxes are levied on people who are not yet born, they soon came to believe that the one hundred and twenty-five million inhabitants of the United States are nothing but safe deposit vaults to be rifled at will.

And so, like those happy and fantastic persona who live in asylums, they toss away billions of dollars over the breakfast coffee.


This billion-mania is no doubt part of “the more abundant life”—at least for the wise men in and out of Congress who manipulate our destinies.

There is an almighty lift, an airy buoyancy, an expansive feeling of well-being that comes to the great official who can fling billions around from toast to coast which is far greater than the effect of a morning swim or a predinner cocktail.

Our billion complex began during the war. It was our first national taste of colossal spending, colossal taxing and colossal lending.

We flipped billions out of our pocket with the merry ha-ha of a drunken sailor entering a penny arcade with a dime to spend.

We dished up billions for the European countries— those that we fought with, those that we fought against and those that didn’t fight at all—with the superb carelessness of a maharajah who has nothing else to do but to tax the living and unborn to their last rag.


During the boom years following the war we continued on our billion binge with the assurance born of our swelling head.

Those years were the megalomania period of Uncle Croesus’ new life. To talk in millions was bourgeois. To think in thousands was infantile.

We kept lending. We kept spending.

We were open sesame to Europe and to our own people.

In those days a ribbon clerk would throw out his chest when he arrived at the store in the morning and say to the cash girl:

“I see WE appropriated several billions yesterday, and Europe now owes us rah-rah billions.”

The humblest citizen lived on the manna of hallucinating BILLIONS.


Came the dawn—1929.

Did that cure us of the billion frenzy?

No. What was merely megalomania passed into paranoia.

Instead of retrenching, we began to talk bigger billions than ever.

The more definitely Europe repudiates the billions we “loaned” her, the more Uncle Croesus spends.

The deeper we get into a hole, the higher climb the billions.

THE LESS WE HAVE THE MORE WE SPEND.

It’s the greatest paradox of the ages—DEMENTIA PARADOX!


“Reactionaries”

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(April 29, 1935)

One of the oldest tricks of political revolutionists (especially of the collectivist breed) is to fasten epithets on their adversaries.

A conservative becomes a Tory, a Tory becomes a reactionary, and a reactionary becomes an advocate of shooting down strikers.

Today in America all who do not believe in Communism, Socialism, Tugwellism, Wallaceism or any of the other varieties of collectivism are “reactionaries.”

The reverse of this is the cold truth.

It is individualism (the ruggeder, the better) that is RADICAL, PROGRESSIVE and in the STREAM OF EVOLUTION.

It is Communism that is REACTIONARY and RETROGRESSIVE.


Communism is NOT advancement. It is a RECESSION, a degenerative movement to OLD, DISCARDED FORMS.

It can only be put over where THE INTELLIGENCE IS LOW, WHERE PERSONAL INITIATIVE HAS BEEN PARALYZED, WHERE FEAR IS THE DOMINANT EMOTION.

That is the reason it was so easy to apply the doctrine to Russia. The Russians have regimented minds and fear has been their constant companion for centuries.

Communism may be observed in all its mechanical degeneracy in the ant, the bee and the beaver, where millions of years of automatism has killed all change. Here is complete Stalinization.

There is nothing new in Communism. It is as old as herd-tyranny.

Dr. Frederick B. Robinson, president of the College of the City of New York, recently said something about Communism that demolishes tons of verbal humbug:

“Communism is nothing new. It was one of the primitive forms of tribal government thousands of years ago. Its obvious shortcomings and fallacies caused it to be discarded as civilization progressed.

“To revert to it would be to destroy the development and advancement of mankind for many centuries. It would be a reversion to patriarchal government…. It would destroy the freedom of the individual. This is the freedom for which America, and the American Government especially, stands—freedom of self-expression, freedom to make personal contracts and free use of personal property.”


Communism has been tried here in America. There were Brook Farm, the Oneida Community, the George Rapp experiment in Pennsylvania, Robert Owen’s “New Harmony” and Topolobampo in California.

They all went to pieces — these “Edens” — because of that old serpent the INDIVIDUAL, who is always a healthy, energetic, promoting, progressive, goad-and-evil animal.

Communism’s divinization of the laborer and the peasant is an insane attempt to reverse a supreme biological law — THE RACE IS TO THE SWIFTEST AND THE STRONGEST AND THE MOST INTELLIGENT, even among laborers and peasants.

History also gives Communism the lie. All collectivist nations are culturally dead nations.

Civilization advances with STRUGGLE, COMPETITION, THE RIVALRY OF BRAINS.

The whole economic plan of the brain-trusters at Washington is REACTIONARY-COMMUNISTIC, or maybe Commufascist.

The depression began with a panic in 1929.

IT HAS BEEN PERPETUATED BY SEMI-COMMUNISTIC EXPERIMENTS AT WASHINGTON.

The REACTIONARIES are in the saddle and the fabric of our institutions crumples.

The genius and destiny of America is FORWARD—which means MORE RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM.


‘Down With EVERYTHING!’

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(May 29, 1935)

AFTER one hundred and fifty years of upbuilding an epidemic of destruction evidently has taken possession of the American people—or at least of that part of them that now pretends to represent them.

“DOWN WITH EVERYTHING!”

Among professional Communists, direct-action anarchists and that vast horde of “social innovators” who are born with ants in their bones and bats in their belfrey, this is quite understandable.

But, both officially and among a crowd of demagogues and their followers, a demoniacal spirit, totally foreign to the conservative instincts of the American, has suddenly seized the country.


Is this mania to revolutionize all our traditions, to tear up all our safeguards to liberty and to trample on all that we once boasted of—our ingenuity, our individualism, our competitive joy—NARROWLY LINKED TO THE RISE AND DOMINANCE IN OUR LIFE OF RACKETEERING AND GANGSTERISM?

There is a close connection, psychologically and actually, between the professional politician and the gangster.

Their methods differ, but their object is the same—SPOLIATION.

One uses a gun. The other uses the weapons of taxes, bureaucratic tyranny and sappings and mining the edifice of free institutions under the guise of “going forward to better things.”


DOWN WITH EVERYTHING ! Down with profits! Down with the rich! Down with savings! Down with free competition! Down with incomes! Down with independdence! [** ]misspelled in original text[] Down with the Constitution! Down with private business! Down with criticism! Down with capital! Down with over-production! Down with under-production! Down with the law of supply and demand —etc., etc., etc.

DOWN WITH EVERYTHING—EXCEPT the jobs of politicians, the right to confiscate personal wealth, the right to build up a tyrannous bureaucracy, the right to play fast-and-lose with every crackbrained theory that has made Europe a shambles and a stench.

THESE things are made safe for the mob-masters and the Utopian racketeers.


Look back from 1935 to 1932. Here is a three-year perspective for solid thought.

1T LOOKS NOW AS IF THERE HAD BEEN A PLOT HATCHED BEFORE THE LAST ELECTION WHICH IS ONLY NOW COMING TO LIGHT.

If the national program that is now undermining the traditional American Republic had ever been hinted at in the Democratic platform adopted in the summer of 1932, HERBERT HOOVER WOULD NOW BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

The Socialists who now rule at Washington are bent on a program of DOWN WITH EVERYTHING!

They are doing precisely as the dictator-tyrants of Europe are doing—everything to dig themselves in indefinitely.

The “forgotten man” is today more completely forgotten than ever—HE IS NOW JUST A NUMBER ON A DOLE CARD.

The “remembered man”—that is, the man of wealth, the business man, the capitalist—is the big target of the “down with everything!” program.


Economic atheism is another reason for this destructive business.

We no longer believe in natural law. We no longer believe that business and normal human beings, who are left alone, more certainly attain their ends than when they are harried and hamstrung.

When we have as rulers men of the “down with everything!” school we have turned to strange gods.

Especially are these new, strange gods a menace when they and their actual character and opinion never were elected by the people, but swooped down on us in the Trojan horse of a perfectly conventional and traditionally American political platform.


Who Is President?

BENJAMIN DeCASSERES
(June 22, 1935)

IN 1932 THE American electorate was under the impression that it had elected Franklin D. Roosevelt President of the United States, running on the Democratic platform.

THE MAN WHOM IT REALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT WAS NORMAN THOMAS, RUNNING ON THE SOCIALIST PLATFORM.

No sooner had Mr. Roosevelt been inaugurated than the Democratic platform, which the people had indorsed by a plurality of 7,000,000 votes, was thrown overboard and the platform of the Socialist party, which polled only 884,781 votes out of a total of 39,000,000 votes, WAS ADOPTED ALMOST IN TOTO.

Therefore, we are ruled today by a party that was OVERWHELMINGLY DEFEATED AT THE POLLS BY BOTH MAJOR PARTIES.

We elected a Democratic ticket, but we live under a SOCIALISTIC form of government.

Let us looks at the facts:

The only two important planks in the Democratic platform, adopted at Chicago in June, 1932, that have been lived up to are the prohibition and national defense planks.

The platform began with this “solemn covenant” with the people:

“The Democratic party solemnly promises by appropriate action to put into effect the principles, policies and reforms herein indicated.”

They were: A drastic reduction of governmental expenditures; the abolition of useless commissions and offices; consolidation of departments and bureaus; eliminating extravagance; a federal budget annually balanced; unemployment and old-age insurance under STATE LAWS.

All these “solemn promises” have been broken by increased governmental expenses, the creation of new commissions and bureaus; increased extravagance; a further division, instead of “consolidation,” of departments and bureaus; an unbalanced federal budget; a mounting debt, and federal unemployment and old-age insurance instead of insurance under state laws EXCLUSIVELY.


The rest of the platform consists of vague generalities piled on the still vaguer basic generality of “to recover economic liberty.”

Now turn to the platform of the national Socialist party, adopted in May, 1932, at Milwaukee.

Here are the leading planks in that platform which the Roosevelt administration has tried by every means in its power, TO FOIST ON A COUNTRY THAT VOTED FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM:

The entrance of the United States into the world court (failed).

Recognition of the Soviet government (succeeded).

Six-hour day and a five-day week (succeeded, partly).

Increased inheritance tax (about to be launched).

Moratorium on farm foreclosures (succeeded until knocked out by the ALL-AMERICAN supreme court).

Socialization of the power, banking and other industries (already begun on a large scale under the NRA—until smashed by the same ALL-AMERICAN supreme court, Socialistic power and banking planks now under consideration).


Cancellation of war debts (tacitly successful, as nothing is being done in the matter).

That is the platform adopted by a party, whose avowed aim is the DESTRUCTION of individualistic – Democratic – capitalistic America and the SUBSTITUTION of a tyranny of economic and political mob-masters originating in the brains of reactionary minded European peoples.

And that is the platform—with still more revolutionary and crackpot details—that the Roosevelt administration has adopted, instead of the one it was ORDERED TO PUT INTO EFFECT BY THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES!

If Norman Thomas was elected president in 1932, why isn’t he serving?

WHY HAS HE A PROXY?

DeCasseres Dances With Nietzsche

 

Two small articles/reviews from the Detroit Jewish Chronicle concerning Benjamin DeCasseres and Nietzsche.  The first about “Germans, Jews and France,” published November 15, 1935,  followed by  “I Dance With Nietzsche,” published December 11, 1936, enjoy.


DeCasseres Shows Nietzsche Hated the German People

Benjamin DeCasseres, eminent writer and critic, descendant of the family of Baruch Spinoza, is the author of a pamphlet, “Germans, Jews and France,” in which is compiled a series of statements from the writings of Nietzsche. This pamphlet, published by the Rose Printers & Publishers, Inc., 91 Runyon St., Newark, N.J., proves that contrary to the claims of Nazis, Nietzsche hated the Germans and had the highest respect for the Jews. DeCasseres took the excerpts in this pamphlet from the 15 volumes of Nietzsche’s works. In a foreword to the booklet he states:  “In Germany his universal doctrine of Will-to-Power and his ideal of Superman have been used by professors and mob-masters as philosophy to excuse their atrocities, their sadism and their totalitarian-state crimes. But they have carefully concealed what you will find in this booklet.”

In his attack on the Germans, Nietzsche is quoted among other things as follows:

“German intellect’ is my foul air.”

“When I try to think of the kind of man who is opposed to me in all my instincts, my mental image takes the form of a German.”

“Even the presence of a German retards my digestion.”

“I can no longer abide the (German) race.”

“I was condemned to the society of the Germans.”

Under the caption “Germany and the Germans,”Mr. DeCasseres has compiled a chapter of quotations among which we read:

“The Germans have not the faintest idea how vulgar they are.”

“The spirit of Germany—soft, swampy, slippery soil.”

“A man lowers himself by frequenting the society of Germans.”

Another chapter in which he condemns the Germans is titled “German Culture.”

Three of the 31 pages are devoted to a discussion of the Jews, and he says of them:

“What a blessing a Jew is among Germans!”

“This race (the Jews) should not be irritated without necessity. Therefore anti-Semites should be expelled from Germany.”

“Since Wagner’s return to Germany he has condescended to everything that I despise—even to anti-Semitism.”

“In respect to cleaner intellectual habits, Europe is not a little Indebted to the Jews; above all, the Germans as being a lamentably deraissonable race, who, even at the present day, must always have their ‘heads washed. ‘It has always been the Jews’ problem to bring a people to raison.”

“It was Heinrich Heins who gave me the most perfected Idea of what a lyrical poet could be.”

“Among Jews I did, indeed, find taste and delicacy toward me, but not among Germans.”

“The Jews are beyond all doubt the strongest, the toughest and purest race at present living in Europe.”

A two-page chapter on France pays tribute to the French as compared to the Germans he despised. Nietzsche is quoted as saying: “We Germans are nearer to barbarism than the French.”

Detroit Jewish Chronicle – November 15, 1935, P.6


DeCasseres “Dances With Nietzsche”

Benjamin DeCasseres, lineal descendent of Spinoza, ranks among the outstanding authorities on the German philosopher, Nietzsche, whose name has been invoked by Nazis in the campaign against the Jews. A short time ago DeCasseres published a pamphlet entitled “Germans, Jews and France by Nietzsche” in which he compiled the writings of this German to prove that instead of being a hater of Jews, Nietzsche, rather, favored them and despised the Germans.

A great lover of Nietzsche, DeCasseres is continually writing commentaries on his works and one of the most interesting of his pamphlets entitled “I Dance with Nietzsche” has just come off the press. It is procurable at 50 cents from him, care of the Blackstone Publishers, 118 W. 27th St., New York City.

The title of this pamphlet is derived from Nietzsche’s having been referred to as the Dancing Philosopher. A most interesting tribute to Nietzsche is contained in this pamphlet in which DeCasseres writes:

“No one has stimulated me over a longer period of time than Nietzsche. Merely to pick up one of his books after reading him for 30 years gives me a great thrill, physical, mental and metaphysical. With a book of his in my hand I feel precisely like a person who holds a bomb.”

“I love him because he inflames every part of my physic and physical life. He is perpetual ecstasy, orgasm. He inflames me to intellectual anger, quite often, as well as to dancing with intellectual joy. But I thank him for infuriating me almost as much as I thank him for penetrating me with mental ecstasy. For whether I agree or disagree with him, he causes my emotions, my thoughts, my nerves to dance.”

Elsewhere in this booklet, Mr. DeCasseres states:

“The prophet and writer in Nietzsche are straight out of the Old Testament. He is of the strain of Isaiah and Jeremiah, King David and Jesus. He is an Old Testament Jew transposed to a modern sensibility. He Is par excellence the Puritan. He is in no sense Greek. He is Oriental. “His “funeral of God’ Is somewhat pathetic, for he has resurrected Jehovah under the name of the Superman. ‘Sacrifices’ are demanded in the name of the Superman. Here is the God of the Old Testament again.”

DeCasseres calls Nietzsche “the greatest phychologist of all time, one of the greatest poets who have ever lived, one of the master-stylists of world-literature, one of the Six Colossi of Thought, the incarnation of all militant Individualists that have been and the protagonist of those to come — sublimely beautiful soul whose like we shall probably not see again.”

Detroit Jewish Chronicle – December 11, 1936 P.13

 

Hawthorne: Emperor of Shadows

 

From the “Hawthorne number”  of The Critic – Vol.XLV No.1, July 1904


Hawthorne: Emperor of Shadows

By Benjamin DeCasseres

 

HAWTHORNE drank from the beaker of inexhaustible shadows; his soul sought instinctively the obscure and the crepuscular; the shadow-glozed figures of his brain were never mockeries of the real, but phantasms of the dead-beings called out of the endless night of the tomb to sport, at his will, in the shadow of crypts and catacombs, or to languish in half-lights, or to be the pawns in some moral problem that vexed his sensitive heart. He dallied in byways and roamed strange, blighted heaths, and preferred to listen to the sibilant murmurs that came from the brackish tarn than to stand beside the gay, tumbling waterfall in the full light of the sun. He was an emperor—but an emperor of elves—an Oberon whose reign began at the twilight hour and who abdicated at the first cockcrow. He was a giant—but a giant leashed in cobwebs. He was a thinker whose thoughts were always at half-mast for the sorrows that sucked at his heart. He was exquisitely aware of a Conscience. He knew that the supernormal could alone explain the normal, that the exceptional housed all the laws that governed ordinary occurrences plus an explanation, which if it did not explain gave us something better — another mystery. “The Scarlet Letter” is the romance of pain; “The House of the Seven Gables” is the romance of crime; “The Marble Faun” the romance of penitential despair.

The evil that is in the heart of man; the subtle poisonous vapors that emanate from his soul like vent-hole gases; strange, sudden maladies without name, dateless in their birth, bringing with them reversions to a kind of devilship; moral cankers which he identified with physical environment and which he made to dwell in dank cellars, in old gabled houses, in curious angles in the garden-wall, or in the fetor of old wells—these things possessed Hawthorne entirely. He dealt with pain as though it were a conscious being —a survival in his brain of the puritan belief in a personal devil. He never burst through the black cerements and dun dreams that kept him apart from his kind. His tales are his soul-saga.

They portray a man immured in a sunless moat—one who is content with the dark, but who, unconsciously, rises from his seat at intervals and searches the walls with his eyes for a chink of light. His mind was a lodging-house for the distraught. What weird, pain-bitten, grief-ravaged beings took up their abode in that caravansary at night and slunk away in the morning, maybe never to return!—imprinted, unprintable, untellable. And there came, too, to stay with him myriads of wan, pale, ethereal wayfarers who seemed to bear about their eyes the light of impalpable worlds and on their brows the sombre thoughts of thwarted genius. The best that is in a man is never told—and the worst is past imagining. Two things the soul cannot formulate in language: its remote, obscure emotions and its immediate noon-day certainties. In Hawthorne’s face there are the wonderful tales that he never told.

There is phantom-touch in his pages. He lacked the sense of reality—the sure test of spirituality. Long, shadowy files sweep up from out the unconscious and form black processions across the earth. That is life. It is the phantom lockstep. These shadows come and go, making frenetic comic gestures. They whisper hoarsely each to the other—and this they call history. They scud across the earth from the immurmurous to the immurmurous — from Mist to Mist. They are palpitant sobs vested in flesh-mesh. This star is but a ghost walk—the fading ramparts of a mystic Elsinore, and graveyards are but tombs within tombs. The days sheened in their meridional glories, the nights set with their little pulsing eyes are the reflections of soul-torrent. Our arts are but the photographs of the apparitional.

Who has touched the Real or tethered the Now? What Hawthorne saw, that is so. Who can say, “Here thought begins and things cease”? Who can put his thought upon that moment that divides the sleeping moment from the waking moment?—who can tell how far one trenches on the other? Life is but a conscious sleeping; sleep an unconscious waking—or a waking into the Unconscious. Life in prospect is always phosphorescent with hope; the path behind is a white capped dream. Youth and Age are to both somnambules. Our imaginations —and Hawthorne was an imaginative seer — are unplumbed, immeasurable. Fancy is the mirror that gives us back the real. Life is a progressive dream, a languorous, painful unwinding. We pace the decks, withered gods, the definite shrunk to a hint, a puzzle to ourselves, a puzzle to the beasts below and the inhabitants of the fourth dimension above. Hawthorne nowhere formulates this sense of mystery, but it stands shadowlike behind each sentence. It is the breath of his literary body.

Though here, of our date and time, he was a belated spirit—a fanciful, roving, ether-cleaving spirit who one day, while peeping in curiosity over the eaves of his dream-mansion, fell into flesh. Society annoyed him and he turned from the rouged arts of civilization with a fine contempt.

Genius treads far from that bellowing sphinx called civilization. The nineteenth century was a coarse melodrama written by the devil for the delectation of the blasé gods. By ignoring it utterly Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walter Pater became its greatest critics. Civilization at best is a peddler dressed up to look like a monarch. It is that process which has subtilized the direct and made automatic the spontaneous. It has made a crooked line the shortest way between two given points and substituted Machiavelli for Euclid. It invents pains in order to banish from its heart the horrible boredom that oppresses it. The vaunted arts and sciences sit cheek-by-jowl with Mammon. “Progress” is the cluck-cluck of satisfaction of Caliban as he makes headway into thicker mud.

Practical life stands for the utter materialization of the soul. Its glitter, which attracts from afar, is the glitter that falls from pomade-burnished garbage cans. In the great cities, which Rousseau called nature’s sinks, men do not congregate, but fester. Cities are great street-canalled slime-vats, wherein long familiarity has indurated the sense of smell. Here the souls of men turn turtle: they call it “business.” Ideals melt in these fens like the snow-image in Hawthorne’s tale when it is dragged by the Practical Man—always and everywhere an atheist—before the fireplace. Practical life!—the domain of the arched spine and the furtive glance—it is better to become moss-grown in the Old Manse of Dreams. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Clifford Pynchon, Miriam, Donatello shall outlive in shadowy immortality the flesh and blood beings that mimic their ways here below, and the turrets and spires of our civilization shall long be gangrened in the muds of oblivion when the shadow-makers that have gone shall still with potent rod smite the souls of generations unborn, and from them, as from us, shall burst the fountains of exalted wonder.

What strange shadows tread at our heels!—shadows of evil and shadows of good. On how slight a pivot turn our fortunes! In that exquisite fantasy, “David Swan,” the muffled march of events that never materialize, that cross and recross our paths unseen, unapprehended, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father when he parades before the eyes of the spirit-blind Queen Gertrude, is the theme of  Hawthorne. In this little allegory we read the chances of life. Our destinies are brittle but inexorable, and we are tossed around in the great world-forces like a bottle in the sea.

Young Swan lies down to rest beneath a tree that stands by a well-travelled road. He is poor and sleeps deep. A carriage becomes disabled near him and the occupants, an elderly lady and gentleman, while waiting for a broken wheel to be mended, contemplate his adoption, but the coachman interrupts with the message that the carriage is ready, and Fortune, which just grazed him in her flight, passes on forever. Death, in the guise of thieves who are about to murder him for his clothing, but who are opportunely frightened off, lingers near him for a second and then postpones her rendezvous with the soul of David Swan. Love, in the person of a young girl who steps aside to contemplate and blush, glides by him. David wakes and goes on his way whistling.

Our days are freighted with gifts and curses, and the bitterness of life lies in the consciousness of what might have been. Yet the Law never swerves, or if it swerve, it carries on its breast the debris of our dreams and hurries us to the Gulf that swallows all dreams. The might-have-been is as far away as that which never came to being. “Our happiness passes close by us.” Not so: it is the illusion of space. Unless we possess it, it is but the greater mockery when it thrusts its flowers under our noses and when we are about to inhale the fragrance substitutes snuff.

Hawthorne, King of a realm fantastic, Emperor of shadows, Grand Seigneur of the unmapped, tourist of the sub terrene, who saw from behind his lattice of fancy the pain that bases the moral world and the comic lie that is called optimism — he sups to-night, with Omar, Amiel, and de Maupassant, on herbs and bitters. For he was one of the Order of the Black Veil—in life a soul of regal pains, in death a quenchless memory in our hearts.

 

 

America’s Most Unpublished Author

As published in the San Bernardino Sun, Volume 67, Number 23, 23 September 1930


Intelligentsia Pole Star Gives Bernard Shaw Merciless Flaying In Volume Lauding H.L Mencken

America’s Most Unpublished Author at Last ‘Clicks’ and Works to Be Printed

By H. ALLEN SMITH (United Press Correspondent) NEW YORK, Sept. 22.

Benjamin Decasseres, pole star of the American intelligentsia and sometimes called the most unpublished author in the United States, has written a new book that will be published. It is called “Mencken and Shaw, the Anatomy of America’s Voltaire and England’s Other John Bull.” Between its covers Decasseres sets out, with a pen that drips blue fire, to prove that George Bernard Shaw is a colossal mountebank and that H. L. Mencken is the true modern Voltaire.

Lives in Apartment Off Gramercy Park

This being an interesting thesis, Decasseres submitted to an interview. He lives in an apartment off Gramercy park surrounded by books, green pencils, unpublished manuscripts and an ice box well stocked with tannic acid. The “Lone Eagle” of American literature wore brown striped pajamas, of a silken texture, during the interview. First off he brought out his 16 unpublished books. These range in topic from a volume of poetry to the love letters of Bio and Benjamin Decasseres. “The publishers,” Decasseres said, “won’t touch my stuff because I won’t go to literary teas.” His new volume on Mencken and Shaw will be published by Silas Newton, a Texas oil man. Newton may publish all of Decasseres works. The 57-year-old author believes that Mencken’s books should be placed in the schools, “to teach Americans how to write English.” He holds that Mencken is the greatest writer as well as the greatest social satirist this country has ever produced. “I have taken Mencken and Shaw,” he said, “as the world’s two outstanding sane rebels. But my idea is that Mencken’s sanity is sincere, while Shaw’s is not. Shaw delights in making people believe he is insane, which he probably is. He is a cheap publicity-seeker, a publicity-shark of the lowest type. He is like a trick bear, always clowning. “The big difference lies in the fact that Mencken has character, Shaw has none. I don’t agree with Mencken on many of his literary and esthetic judgments. But I believe that his grandeur comes from his narrowness, his height comes from his lack of breadth. “Mencken glories in the use of words. He takes the same pleasure in studying the use of words that a Beethoven would take in the study of notes, or a Rembrandt in the study of colors.” The frequent charge of insincerity, brought against Mencken, irritates Decasseres.

Has Been Pursuing One Line of Thought

“For 20 years.” he said, “the man has been following one solid line of thought a battering ram against sham and humbug and popular idols. My objection to him is that he is monotonously sincere. I wish he would change his record occasionally.” Decasseres said that Shaw has never created a character that will live, that he is the “father of all the sophisticated drool that exists on the stage today. He is the greatest disaster to the English stage of the century. He cannot create human beings, only epigrani-spouters, and he creates his characters to fit his epigrams instead of letting the epigrams flow naturally from the characters. I might add that he gats all his epigrams from jazzing up Schopenhauer, Neitzsche, Tolstoy, La Rochefocauld, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Butler. Shaw is related to the world of great artist? as jazz composers are related to Beethoven and Mozart.” Decasseres sent the proofs of his book to Mencken, who in- turn wrote a letter to the author. The last line of this letter reads: “You forgot to put in that I was baptized at the age of two months and had the hives for five weeks thereafter.”

“A Counsel of Imperfection” by Benjamin DeCasseres

The following was published in The International, Vol. VI, No. V for October 1912.


A Counsel of Imperfection
by Benjamin DeCasseres

GULLIBUS:—But if your theories prevailed what would become of the race?

SATIRICUS:—The race ? My dear Gullibus, there is no such thing as the race; like posterity, it is a verbal superstition. The word was invented to keep social philosophers from saying anything dangerous. “To live for posterity” is the phrase of faddists. The attempt to live up to that phrase results in mental, moral and physical decay. It is part of the doctrine of Christian altruism—the part that is the most beautiful and decadent in tendency ; for you know, dear Gullibus, that all altruism is degeneracy. I can conceive of nothing more immoral than to sacrifice a present benefit in order to avoid a future evil. Grasp what you can now. Why should we live like a naked Hypothesis, sacrificing ‘the facts of this day for fear of the things that may not happen to-morrow ? Fine phrases have eviscerated the instinct to individuality. Social evolution is the evolution of phrases. The idea that we should so order our lives as to benefit generations not yet born is an idea that came into the world with the advent of man ; and man is only an abnormal development of the monkey, the most perfect, to my way of thinking, of all the vertebrates. Being an abnormality, man’s ideas are all abnormal, freakish. Do you suppose for a moment that the histories of those wonderful social states that the ants, bees, monkeys and other forms of superior intelligence have organized can show such worship of Cant as the history of man?
Let us look at some of the consequences were men to live solely with an eye to the good of posterity. What would become of sin, the one thing that gives form, color and symmetry to life? We dream of transmitting our sins and our defects as well as our virtues, and a father would rather see a son resemble him on his seamy side alone than not to have the son resemble him at all. The dream is to have “a chip of the old block.” There is no greater secret humiliation for a parent than to see a child who is “better” than himself. Superiority always draws the arrows of hate from the hidden slings where they are kept.

GULLIBUS :—You mean to say, Satiricus, that we are all in love with sin?

SATIRICUS :—Yes. Our dream of Heaven, of Perfection, is but the soul brooding over its abrogated darling sins. Perfection is sin deferred. The dream of a perfect social State springs from the cupidity of the heart. As for me, the most beautiful thing I can think of is a life wherein I shall live out my thwarted instincts. That is a marvellously beautiful thought which comes to me at times—that in some other sphere, social or celestial, I will be able to do all those things which the policeman would not allow me to do here. For the way of the transgressor who meets with no resistance is paved with gold.

GULLIBUS :—And conscience, Satiricus, what of that?

SATIRICUS :—It is not our sins that have begotten conscience. On the contrary, it is the inability to realize our sinful (miserable word !) desires that gives us that uncomfortable feeling in the head which is known as conscience. Successful murderers and thieves and swindlers have no conscience until they are caught. Success never had a conscience. It is born of fear and baffled instinct. Conscience is the homage that evil intention pays to the policeman.
Altruistic ideals are indeed valuable if we do not try to live up to them. Nothing so coarsens a thing as to use it. The sublime is only the sublime as long as we do not humanize it. Self-sacrifice is a sublime feeling; it attracts because of its unreality. To live for others ! Superb uplift in these words ! What exaltation in the idea! And, my dear Gullibus, it only exalts because it is an idea. We love goodness in an inverse ratio to our means of realizing it. Pegasus appeals to the imagination because he never existed. Drag him from his habitation in the clouds and we should yoke him to drays and furniture vans. It is thus with our ideals. If by any accident a great ideal becomes practicable it is soon ground up in the mills of the commonplace—and so loses all its beauty.

GULLIBUS :—What a paradoxist you are ! You destroy the value both of conscience and the ideal. Has the ideal, for instance, no value at all?

SATIRICUS :—Of course—did I not just speak of its value ? The ideal of self-sacrifice has an aesthetic value, like a sunset or a charming landscape. It has the beauty of perspective, the vague charm of aloofness. It has the value of an incentive. To degrade a dream into a concrete rule of conduct is as vulgar a thing as to litter the heavens with patent medicine advertisements. Have you noticed how convictions lose their force when enacted into law ? All our legislative bodies are engaged in repealing what the previous body ordained. It is a tragedy of the Ideal—the debacle of Imagination.
The man who goes to the stake for his convictions is an ass. But the martyr as a motive for a work of art or a novel is invaluable. For the beauty of an act of martyrdom lies in the fact that it will appear beautiful to somebody else. It has an aesthetic value only and is absolutely destitute of moral significance. Bruno, Savonarola and Socrates were merely obstinate fanatics. It is we who have created them. A kind of ex-post facto idealism. Now as to this craze of living for posterity and the “good of the race,” the motive is not moral, but aesthetic ; and that it has a value (as a human motive) no one can doubt who loves the marvellous literature of the New Testament, the jewelled but inutile phrasings of Ruskin and the simple patriarchal style of the late Tolstoi. What literature the unphilosophical philosophy of self-acrifice has given us!

GULLIBUS :—And Truth—what becomes of that in this amazing view ?

SATIRICUS :—Truth ! There is only one truth !—The universality of error. You remember what I said about Pegasus? Well, if Men ever discovered the Truth they would be bored to death. Without error life would not be worth the living. Indeed, life is hardly worth the living to-day because it is so much better than it used to be. People actually commit suicide now because they are happy—that is, they are bored with life, and what is boredom but the highest phase of happiness ? We are confronted by the dreadful possibility that every ideal may soon be realized. The Socialists are about to decree the end of poverty and want and will substitute a nasty ennui. The pride of rank is to make way for rank pride. The Empire of the Wise will soon be in the dust and every wise man will be compelled to live out his system as a penance for having dared to dream it. Gullibus, the imagination of man is confronted by the greatest crisis in its history. We are going to lose our gods ; the corner orator is decreeing the death of the Intangible. We shall fall from Parnassus into the Bon Marche.
And then in these days we are all understood. We no longer know the sweet secret of incommunicable sorrows. We are no longer mysterious one to another. We read each other like circus billboards. Life has lost its savor of mutual ignorance. The Brain is discovering all things, even its own limitations. Everything is classifiable. We are verging toward truth, goodness and cosmic lassitude. I foresee a time when there will no longer be room for those exquisite little hatreds and subtle jealousies from which we at present derive much pleasure.

GULLIBUS :—You don’t seriously hold that our hatreds are a source of pleasure, do you ?

SATRICUS :—Nothing is more clearly true. All hatred adds to self-esteem, and anything that adds to self-esteem must be pleasurable. Envy I hold to be the first and highest of virtues. To be envious of another reveals to us our own limitations. It makes us desire the things we lack ; and this gives birth to the instinct of pursuit. I often conceive envy as an exquisite perfume. It gives us our ideals. It is the fairest flower that blossoms on the Tree of Good and Evil. I, for one, dear Gullibus, would not consent to live another minute did the Green Goddess desert me. Envy is certainly the father of genius and the mother at least of self-culture. The total absence of this almost universal spur argues a low origin—bovine or porcine. We find little envy among peasants because they have no knowledge of values and no aspirations ; they would rather sleep on a dunghill than in the seigneur’s halls. Nothing so titillates my daily life as a desire for my neighbor’s wife or his rugs or his gold. Those who lack this divine and urgent fire of envy will be found prosy and virtuous or stupidly wise ! To dream of undoing your neighbor raises the tide of life—and Herbert Spencer, you know, defines pleasure as a rise in the tide of life. This is the age of intellectual Borgias, but it will pass, is passing now with the coming apotheosis of stupidity, the Brotherhood of Man. The Brotherhood of Man ! What a gigantic egotism ! We so love ourselves that, not being content with that, we are constantly seeking to be some one else. The precious fluids of selfhood seek discharge in other modes of life than our own. The passion for the consummation of the scheme of the Brotherhood of Man is generated in the monstrous desire of o’erbrimming egotists to expand the bladder of self to the dimensions of the race. The soul of man blasphemously seeks to take on the characteristics of Omnipotence ; this it calls self-sacrifice. Men desire to be MAN ; this they name the Brotherhood of Man.
It is envy that creates want ; it is the fulcrum on which Power tries its instruments. I would rather envy than have.

GULLIBUS :—And what becomes of justice?

SATIRICUS :—Justice is a catchword. It is as fugitive as the idea of God. It has never been defined. The only definition of justice that sounds rational to me is the tiger’s definition : What you want go and take. It is just that the strong should prey and that the weak should pray. All that I have has been stolen, even my present reasoning. If any one interferes with my methods, that is unjust, for injustice may be defined as settling an arbitrary limit to Power. Our present social condition is the most unjust imaginable because of the unceasing depredations of the weak on the strong. All organized government is used by the weak to harry and oppress primitive strength. Hence the present reign of mediocrity. The strongest go to the wall or jail and the unfittest survive and write our laws, our literature and our poems. You see, Gullibus, it is the old posterity-worship idea again. We are preserving the race at the expense of the individual. There is no justice in a system that will tie a Gulliver to the ground and allow myriad black ants from the government ant-villages to void their offal on him. Only war is justice.

GULLIBUS :—You are hardly convincing. From your remarks I gather that you have a very poor opinion of civilization. Come, have some common sense.

SATIRICUS :—Common sense is vulgar sense. Let us put common sense aside and talk intelligently. Civilization is a device for increasing human wants. It, too, is merely barbarism tattooed. But civilization is good in this : that it never satisfied a human craving. It promotes all the sacrosanct vices. There is nothing more frightful than a sense of satisfaction with things. Content is ever the doctrine of the aged and well-to-do. No, my dear Gullibus, let us not underestimate the blessings of civilization. Nowhere else can you find such exquisite pains and sufferings. Nothing so promotes the picturesquely criminal as our great and compact cities. The vileness of modern life is the one thing that redeems it. It made Balzac, Zola and Gissing possible. The slums are worth while when they manure such genius. Organized want—that is London ; unique thought, is it not ? Artists and psychologists and thinkers are interested in the phenomenon. It is the clay of the artistic spirit. Thus does civilization tend to perpetuate the arts and sciences. Gloria in Excelsis ! Have a cigarette?

“De Maupassant: Vagabond Faun” by Benjamin DeCasseres

The following was published in Shadowland magazine for April, 1922.


De Maupassant: Vagabond Faun
by Benjamin DeCasseres

GUY DE MAUPASSANT was a strange ethereal beast, a satyr at sprawl amid the lilies, a star-ranging butterfly meshed in compost. His written works are the de profundis of a great spirit, a miserere chanted in a crypt. There is everywhere in his works the record of a great agony, a ceaseless conflict with devils, a sincerity pitiless and pitiful. His poetical fancy, as elusive as the sheen on the waterfall, bruised its gossamer envelope at every turn against some nameless Shape. This dread shadow blocked his path like a sewer-rat crouched on the path of a running child.

What is the secret of these souls that come into life with a sure knowledge of life’s worthlessness? Where are those secrets learned? On what worlds of magnificent possibilities had the spiritual eye of Flaubert, De Maupassant and Schopenhauer gazed that with the sure instinct which urges the average mortal to take his pleasure bade these men spurn what is here? What profound mystery lies behind the possession of powers that by no possibility can be used on this early stage, constructed for the marionettes of the instinctive, the, puppets of the sexual and the stomachic! From what mystic Utopia had De Maupassant fared that this earth seemed to him little else than a scudding ball of ordure and the days of man hierarchies of the petty? With what gods had he conversed that the speech of mankind was to him ape-chatter?

The great cynic and the great idealist—and a cynic is an idealist temporarily bankrupt—belong to an order of their own—and that order is not the earth-order. Their souls in some fine foretime, unfettered by inelastic flesh coverings, had hurtled thru super-lunar spaces in the ecstasy begotten of unlimited power ; a pause, a misstep, and they are immured in clay-wrappings and are condemned to live and record. Ignorance makes for happiness, and limits that the crowd believes to be ultimates, whether they be physical, intellectual, or religious —limits at which a priest or lawyer has affixed a flaming sword —numb the will and generate that easy acquiescence in things as they are. “Happy are those whom life satisfies, who are amused and content,” sighs De Maupassant. For him nothing, changed—the days were monotones strummed upon catgut. When he Went into the street, the same man met him who met him the day before; their gestures were the same; their faces differed from one another only in the degree of stupidity which the flesh records registered; they shuffled, they haggled, they drank, they ate, and haggled again, and, when the shadows of the sun grew long on the Parisian boulevards, they shambled, shuffled home by the million. “And for this, man was born?” asked the great French pessimist, brooding en the mob’s docility, its unchangeable stupidity, its indestructible illusions, its adamantine asininity.

With a diabolical prankishness he liked to peer at the people at play, at work, at .prayers ; dissect their virtues, which he knew to be masks for their sinister lusts ; wonder at their clinging to life like soft mud to a cart’s wheel—and tho the wheel and its endless gyrations flattened them to a slimy ooze, still they rebelled not ! He wondered at that great Policeman of the people whom they called God, with his Scotland Yard methods and Puck-like pranks. De Maupassant’s contempts were built up of impotent rage and a consciousness of his own transcendent vision—a vision that gave us’ the finest short story in the world—”The Necklace.”

Like Amiel, his soul was constantly gnawed by a consciousness of the Infinite—not that concept of the Infinite that terrorizes, but the Infinite split into infinite shadowy goals that some minds pass before they have begun the race, To these minds the infinite is a process, not a thing; not the water that runs thru the hand, but the spirit of elusiveness that animates the disappearing-reappearing, tantalizing flow. Mentally, they are inversions, not perversions. The commonplace, everyday being works from the layers of the concrete up to the abstract; his idea of time is founded on the clocks he has seen; life has first to batter his pate to a pulp before he can apprehend the idea of universal pain. But the order of beings of which Guy de Maupassant is a type evolves in a way that is diametrically opposed to the average mortal. Their souls at birth are a conflux of ideas, and they burrow their way down from the ideal to the real. They interpret, translate and create. The earth-child grubs.
De Maupassant was like an ant that has crawled accidentally from the light of day thru the air-hole of a boy’s rubber ball, there in the interior to spend his days meditating on the dark. The meanness of the universe astonished him ; the battledore and the shuttlecock of the planets was an insane pastime ; the music of the spheres was cosmic yawp. “We can at least be good animals,” he exclaims ironically. “My body is real, my lusts are pleasure-pregnant. There is always room for the lowest. Loaf and take thy sport, dear body. I feel thrilling within me the sensations of all the different species of animals, of all their instincts, of all the confused longings of inferior creatures.” Not as a poet does he love the earth, but as a beast. Like a pound where on certain nights the spirits of a myriad throttled beasts revivify and with snarl and claw and blood-smeared fangs live over their dead earth-selves, so did De Maupassant at regular intervals fling open the door of his nethers and lead forth the caged sleek couriers of our past and glut them at the sties of pleasure. But he writhed in his raptures, and his pastimes were crucifixions.

It is curious that what is beautiful has so much evil in it. It is often thru “sin” that spirituality is born, and what finer virtue halos the soul than the consciousness that it is always possible for us to do evil in thought and be the secret bridegroom to the throttled lusts which we style our ideals ? De Maupassant realized the beautiful thru the evil in him. He molded the rich fungi on his brain-walls to immortal little waxen images and pinched his heart until it gave out music—music as evil and beautiful as truth. Philostratus tells us of a dragon whose brain was a blazing gem. Such a brain inhabited the body of the man who called himself “a lascivious and vagabond faun.”

The grotesque cravings of this man ! He shivered in horror at the antique, ever-recurring whirr that shook him from his slumbers. Each day he wished to be his last and first. He would have had Death weave her dark mantua around him each night that his eyes should rest each morn on something new. Poetry, art, music, bring us nothing, for they merely record ourselves ; they are the lengthened shadows of dwarfs. A new series is needed to recreate the soul staled by its very uselessness. Not new worlds, but a new world, is the goal of the distraught. Art is a stained image, experience is like a romance with the woman left out, and pleasure is but an opiate for despair.

We are two. Children that spend hours talking to themselves are aware in a dim way of the duality of the individual. In each soul there slumbers this other self, this shadow of the soul that waxes and wanes with our consciousness. It is the house of defeated dreams, the shadowy rendezvous of our uncoffined hopes ; a weird specter of the Great Desire. There are kenneled in the breast of this alter ego the women we never possessed, the gigantic deeds we never did, the “best” we have left undone, the worst we have done, our abrogated acts. Builded day by day, in slumber and in day dream ; builded of infinite trifles, this Horla, this vast phantasm of a self that never was diswombed unto reality, is the custodian of an endless, inutile past. It holds for ay our brief against the Eternal and mocks us with its demon eyes and its reproaches, half-wail, half-sneer.

De Maupassant, from the vats and the slime-pools of despair, conjured up his double and made of it a living, palpable thing of terror. Like the apparition that appeared to Markheim, in Stevenson’s perfect story, it was both the scorekeeper and umpire of his soul. It visited him in the dead of the night and woke him with the dull thump of its ebon knuckles on his heart. “It spoke to me in a short’ whisper of all that my insatiable, poor and weak spirit had touched upon with a useless hope, all that toward which it had been tempted to soar, without being able to tear asunder the chains of ignorance that held it.”

Is this half-created thing which each of us has in him, this unmanageable It of our own fabrication, a promise or a retribution ? Come with it airs from heaven or blasts from hell? Is it the shadow of a real Higher or a sooty smoke shape of the past ? In the stupendous conflict of opposing wills which we call society, where our fine hopes are frost-killed or done to death by main force, there is always a reserve of force—or is it a residuum? And that same conflict that is repeated in miniature in the cells of the individual has bred its reserve or residuum. We call it alter ego, Horla, doppelganger, our better self, our worse self ; is it reserve or residuum ?—unused power or slime?

Tho one of the intellectual elect, one who knew the pain in things before he experienced life—a seer who knew that the Veil of Isis was only a drab’s dirty kerchief—the presence of the squalid, the distorted images of beggars, the obscene poverty of the masses, gave him pain for which he could find no cure. The banal, the trite, the garbage dumps called cities, tortured him and drove him to his boat, to the seashore, to long mountain tramps where he tried to shut out the horrible things that spawned in Paris —the City of Light and Darkness. He was visited at such moments by strange penitential scourgings that he should be among the “fortunate.” Why was he not yonder beggar or that lame thing that was a woman? These street pictures stood out year after year in his brain in an undying protest against himself. Of misfortune he made an image as of terror he made a Thing.
We have our judgments—but they are never final. Each brain is but an angle —no one has yet lived who has seen the Whole. Where does the beast in us end and the beatitudes begin? Can the dreams of the spirituel be separated from nerve-centers? Track spiritual impulse to its lair and we find ourselves in a den of beasts ; track the sensual impulse up the steeps of the ages and we find ourselves lost in psychic mists. Is the soul of a man a pallid, manacled, protesting, guest-prisoner at the feasts of the flesh, or are the feasts of the flesh the only banquet in which we shall ever participate? What a contrast there is between the tiger pacing his cage in the zoological gardens and that great blonde beast.roaming the forests for prey ! This transformation in the world of men is called “spiritualizing the instincts”—a contradiction in terms. The subjugation of the majestic is the occupation of mediocre minds and socialistic puritans. Impotent Modernity ! The race today has no character. We are lame in our lusts ; our spirit has one watery bloodshot eye, and from our armpits we have grown hooks so that we may better hold to that which we, ragpickers and old do’ men, have won in the refuse heaps of civilization.

The back-alley Captain Kidds, the buccaneers of ash-heaps, the trumpeters of half-and-half—that is, Respectability—will always decry from their vast Sunday heights the man De Maupassant, who was what he was to the hilt, who when Beauty called him gave himself up to her in his entirety, and when the Beast snarled cried, “Here am I,” and when the Intellect levied on him her tribute rendered up his brain-house and its treasures to her demands

“Mary Nash: Versatile Actress” by Benjamin DeCasseres

The following article on a young stage actress named Mary Nash (August 15, 1884 – December 3, 1976) was published in Shadowland magazine in April 1922. Wikipedia notes that “she started her Hollywood career in 1936, appearing in 18 films.”


“Mary Nash: Versatile Actress”
by Benjamin DeCasseres

If you’ve seen Mary Nash as Anna Valeska in “Captain Applejack”– that rip-roaring “kidded melodrama” which is partly “Peter Pan,” partly “Seven Keys to Baldpate,” and partly just itself– you have seen a quivering, vital personality, totally unlike the blonde, pretty-face heroine of the average Broadway play.

To follow her saps your strength. Her methods are more Continental than American or English. Her whole body acts– not merely her lips, her eyes and her gowns. She fires her role at you. It goes over with a rush and a roar.

When I went ino her dressing-room to interview her after the fall of teh final curtain of a certain Wednesday matinee, she was still Anna Valeska. She was still vibrating with the part, still pulsing tot he music of a fictional dream.

She is the dark, Spanish type of beauty– and every feature is fired by a cracking earnesness when she talks to you.No one is more perfectly natural and less stagy off-stage. One can see she enters con amore into her parts– she loves her art.

Humor threads all she says. Her eyes dance with laughter and over her face emotion after emotion– often contradictory– chase each other like thunderclouds mixed with golden sunshine.

a 1921 promotional photo of Mary Nash from “Captain Applejack”

When only seventeen years of age, Miss Nash was cast to play a child of fourteen by Clyde Fitch himself in “The City”– that astoundingly bold drama– for that time– which was produced after Fitch’s death. That was really her first part.

“I never had a bit of stage fright,” she said. “I took to acting naturally from the first time I faced an audience. From childhood I had been a play ‘fan,’ and while sitting on my seat I always conceived myself on the other side of the footlights doing the things that those actresses did which I admired. I could always project myself mentally into the parts I loved and, when my great moment came in ‘The City,’ I merely felt as tho I was taking posession of something that belonged to me– from before birth probably.

“Some actresses are born, some made, and others have their parts thrust upon them by producers. I was a born actress. Voila!”

Miss Nash has appeared with Ethel Barrymore and Grace George. She has appeared in plays by William de Mille and David Belasco.

“I have never played two parts alike in my life. I have never been and never want to be —- identified with any special role or any special school of acting. There is not only fun but health in versatility. I am avid. I am hungry, for all kinds of roles, serious -— comic, melodramatic, vamp and ingenue. No producer can say ‘That is a Mary Nash part.’ It doesn’t exist. But I always like them to say when they are stuck, “Let’s get Mary Nash– she can handle anything.”

I congratulated her on a healthy sense of self-appreciation, but she waved me off with a n’importe!

“What we need in this country badly,” she said with a quick pirouete of thought, “is soemthing like the Conservatiore in Paris. We need a national school of acting that will at least standardize our language. The stage here suffers from too many kinds of American brogue. We ave new England schools of acting, Southern schools, Western schools, New York schoos– all handling the same words with different prnunciations and enunciations. The American stage lacks an American tongue common to all.

“Then again technical training for the stage– in the sense that it exists in Europe– is almost unknown here. A born actress, of course, does not require much technical training. Acting is an art. It is not taken seriously enough here. Doing tricks of illusion on the stage is not acting. Before I learn my part, for instance, I know everbody elses part in the play. I play into the spirit of the drama or comedy in which I am cast. During the first week of a new play when I’m off stage, I watch the parts I’m not in from the wings, and make mental notes on where I can improve my own work. I want to fit perfectly into the spirit of the whole action– not merely ‘do a part.’ The latter is a fault of many of our actors and actresses, and savors too much of the movies—-”

“My cue!–the movies. (It’s always a cue in every conversation.)

“Yes—I love the movies—real movies. I do not go to the movies merely to see them—there is so much trash. I select—as I do plays and books and gowns.

“I was in one picture—a George Fitzmaurice picture ; but found that I could not act on the speaking stage and keep up my work in the pictures without doing myself and my employers an injustice. After one has spent the morning and afternoon in the studio doing pictures, one is totally—at least I was—unfit for work at night. I attribute a great deal of the inferior work of many of our actors and actresses on the speaking stage to the fact that they are played out by the picture work they are doing on the side.

“The pictures themselves I consider the most tremendous innovator and social influence of modern times. In the small towns thruout the country, for instance, they have become the glass of fashion for the young women. The pictures have taught them how to dress. They have brought to them new ideals of feminine charm and beauty. They all want to dress and smile like Norma Talmadge. The movies have revolutionized the wardrobes of the middle-class young woman.

“They are doing the same for furniture and interior decoration. I noticed in many Middle Western and Southern homes that rooms were furnished like movie sets. Imitative maybe—but it has raised the level.”

At the mention of “foreign pictures,” Miss Nash was all excitement again.

“Pola Negri !—she is an event. At her best she is one of the greatest actresses on or off the screen. She is a born actress. One does not believe she is acting to the directions of a megaphone or that she is conscious of the camera. She seems to be living her part, ejecting it from her very self, not from a scenario. Her vitality, her facial and bodily emotions swim right out of the screen. She does in the dumb world of the film what very few actresses have even been able to get over on the speaking stage. She conveys, in her parts, every nuance of the feminine soul. There is something great in that woman that I cannot describe. I only know it ‘gets you.’ It is genius.

“How different from the insipid, vapid, doll-baby stuff of most of our American screen actresses ! Pola Negri puts vital womanhood on the screen—not a director’s trick-bear.

“Personal habits—likes and dislikes ? I haven’t any outside of those I told you. I am not athletic or outdoors. In books I am hopelessly Mid-Victorian. I love my home. I love to embroider—and I love the play from an orchestra seat. I am at every odd matinee around town.

“I have embroidered whole luncheon sets on the stage in parts where I have used the basket and the knitting-needle. I believe I am the only actress who does this. And I never missed a cue. I cant embroider in my present part-but I hope my next part will enable me”I have embroidered whole luncheon sets on the stage in parts where I have used the basket and the knitting-needle. I believe I am the only actress who does this. And I never missed a cue. I cant embroider in my present part-but I hope my next part will enable me to complete on the stage ”

“Those two silk ties you promised me.” broke in Miss Nash’s husband, who had come in just in time to hear her last sentence.

The page facing the article contains this photograph with the caption “SHADOWS: Camera stufy by Edwin Bower Hesser”

The Unconquerable Jew (Harper’s Weekly, 1916)

as published in HARPER’S WEEKLY for May 6, 1916


THE UNCONQUERABLE JEW

BY BENJAMIN DE CASSERES

THE Jew is the enigma of history. A giant shadow out of the East, the mystery and the problem of his destiny confront his own mind with a force as great as it strikes the minds of Christians and agnostics.

The evolution of the Jew is the romance of the races. He carries the Cross that he spurned on Calvary. and on his face is the dust of his humiliation; but to the mind’s eye he wears about his form something of the splendor of deniers. His toga is a winding-sheet, but he wears it proudly. His neck wrung for ages under the heel of hatred and bigotry, he emerges unconquered and is broken anew in the iron coils of circumstance. He challenges with a sneer on his lips the while his mind holds mystic parlance with his dream.

His dream! It is that that keeps him alive. He is a wanderer on the face of the earth who fingers perpetually the amulets of hope. He sees each race with its country, each religion with its hierarchy. Only the Hebrews are scattered to the four winds of heaven—cut, drawn and quartered, yet, like the ameba, they multiply by fission. A vague nostalgia keeps them alive, and above their heads is flaunted the mirage of Zion.

The Jew is an egotist—and in this lies his grandeur. He believes that he is of the race of Chosen People—that the Eternal has elected his race to be its mouthpiece. The Hebrews believe that a special divinity watches over them, that their terrible God is trying them. testing the metal and fibers of their nature, and that they will somehow, through the grace of Jehovah. cross the threshold of the New Jerusalem to the fanfare of the acclaiming servitors of the Only God. To them, their history is the epic of the ages. An outrage against one is an affront to all. If you attack a Jew you attack his race. He is of the elan of God, and when you scoff at him you scoff at the soul of the race.

Despised, degraded, shackled, outlawed, he has fashioned for a weapon of revenge a cudgel of gold dug out. of the earth. The world is today in pawn to him. He has studied the weaknesses of his adversaries and measured his thrift and, acquisitiveness against their needs. He knows in his heart of hearts that his Christian conquerors are at bottom things of earth like himself, and that the dynasties of power in this world are dynasties fed from money-bags, that the joists of authority, whether it be at the Vatican or the Quirinal, are mortared with lucre. He knows that more men pray to the Dollar than to God.

Proud, humble. calculating, thrifty, dreaming, the Jew wanders up and down the ages preyed upon by the beasts of religious fanaticism and preying like a beast in turn. Rejecting the Cross, he, by a fine irony, has been transfixed to it since his rejection. Dreaming of Zion. lie erects his tent in Paris, London and New York, where he sits throned in a lustrous martyrdom. Driven out of the temple. he rules from the market-place. He is unconquerable and indissoluble. His blood is intellectual, and his intellect has bloody intents.

Little Scenarios

as published in The Smart Set magazine, Vol. LXI,  No. 3, MARCH, 1920.


By Benjamin De Casseres

I – Economics A SOCIALIST and an Individualist sit late into the night in a Fourteenth street restaurant arguing excitedly. The Socialist has his mouth full of mush and the Individualist has a pickle in his mouth. A man rises lightly from a table in back of them and pinches both of their overcoats.

II – Government The Board of Aldermen is in a solemn discussion over changing the license fee to carry a pistol from $2.00 to $2.25. The Board of Estimate in the next room is voting $400,000,000 in new building contracts. The Mayor sits in his private office between the two dictating a letter to the Commissioner of Licenses on the rights of peanut vendors.

III – God She trips along on French heels. A man passes her with waterlogged, heelless shoes. The pavement remains impersonal, neutral.

IV – The Onlooker His soul bubbled in the champagne of her beauty. Her soul aviated with him to the heights of his Olympian intellect. The teeth of their ten-year-old are in a hideous condition.

V – Crowds A great crowd of stars swarms through the streets of Space. A great crowd of people swarms the streets of Paris, London and New York. A great crowd of cells swarm through the brain of a poet looking at the other swarms and gives them meaning and beauty.

VI – Strata At the top of the Woolworth Tower stands the Prince looking at the greater city. At the base of the Tower, in Broadway, a panhandler is plying his trade. Between the two, in the eighteenth story, a man sits at his desk and writes an advertisement about his New Hampshire diamond mine.

VII – Peace He lounges in her luxurious boudoir and yawns about the inroads of Bolshevism over a fifty-cent cigarette. She is lacing her scented body for the evening in the Diamond Horseshoe. Under their window a boy yelps an extra about five deputy sheriffs and eight strikers dead in a riot.

6,000 Ways to Say It (book review)

This book review was published in  The Sun (city?) on July 20th, 1919.


By BENJAMIN DE CASSERES.
GIOVANNI PAPINI, the Italian iconoclastic and sometimes humorous, all too humorous, philosopher, has written an amusing sketch for one of the magazines called “The Satanic Genius.” It tells of the quest of a youthful worshipper of a world famous poet who lives in Paris. The poet’s Satanism has thrilled the world and made the gooseflesh vibrant where none had vibrated before.
The breathless disciple after many attempts at last stands face to face with the Master in the latter’s very commonplace apartment. And the Great Man is still more commonplace—a sort of baldheaded and bowlegged D’Annunzio.
To the killing astonishment of the believing boy the Genius relates just how be concocts his flights, aphorisms, demoniacal frenzies and super-vamps. Even shows him his catalogue of paradoxes, his dictionaries of obsolete phrases and words, his assortment of nude jokes, medical terms—in fact, all the trappings and Liberty Motors that beautify the outside and buzz inside of Pegasus!
He relates his money wrangles with his publishers and bows out the young man with a satanic grin after explaining that the water colors on the wall were painted by his wife.
This is the very triumph of Satanism, but the boy didn’t know it—and he probably bopped off the Pont Neuf forthwith.
In the age long controversy whether genius is a matter of infinite pains or inspiration, Signor Papini seems to go in for the infinite pains side. Inspiration, anyhow, is only the result of the infinite pains of our ancestors. All the words that Shakespeare used in his plays are in the dictionary. Take twenty thousand of them, sit down sonic Saturday afternoon and arrange them as Shakespeare knew the trick and—pouf !—you’ll have something bigger than Hamlet on your paper. Personally having been a genius up until my fortieth year, and having then given it up in order to live decently, I can now blazon the secret of the concoction of those great books that no publisher will publish—Roget’s Thesaurus, the Standard Dictionary, Walker’s Rhyming Dictionary, Smith’s Classical Dictionary, Woods’s Dictionary of Quotations and a briar root pipe, mixed with tea and rum.
But here comes another ready genius maker just as we were all going in for Bolshevism and root beer. It is A Dictionary of 6,000 Phrases, compiled and arranged by Edwin Hamlin Carr. It is an aid to ready and effective conversation and to social letter writing, with over 100 model social letters. It is (Papini, Pegasus and fooling aside) a valuable book for beginners in the art of conventionalizing their style if they flout the genius game. The author truly says “We think in phrases as well as words.” Can you deny it? And here is the phrase for any exigency, social, political, religious or literary.
A person that could memorize them all would go through the world as slickly as a kitten in a molasses factory. He would be a perfect genius of manners, poise, courtesy and grace, the Fourteen Points of elegance and the Ten Commandments of fashion. May I venture to suggest that with this book one could write a peace treaty that posterity would look on as a Magna Charta of Thought?
At the top of each page there is an index word. Suppose, for instance, you are interested in “Progress.” Page 203 is your cubbyhole. Here are “the chariot of progress,” “an aggressive movement,” “a thorough going reform,” &c. In fact there are 17,000 ready made editorials right on this page. Every man his own brisbane.
As I am seriously thinking of becoming a genius again, thanks, Mr. Editor, for this valuable book.


A DICTIONARY OF 6,000 PHRASES. Compiled by EDWIN HAMLIN (‘ARK. 0. P.
Putnam ‘s Sons.


And for the intrepid, I bring you:
Giovani Papini’s “The Satanic Genius.” Published in Vanity Fair, Vol. 12, No. 5, p. 47, July 1919.