Menticulture - Slaves Or Freemen
( Originally Published 1901 )
Within the memory of many now living, Society was dominated by the belief that human body-slavery was a Divine institution.
Thirty-five years ago a great war was waged against the institution in this country, at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives, and thou-sands of millions of dollars worth of property.
That war resulted not only in killing the institution itself, but also in the extirpation of the idea of its Divine origin.
It is no longer a question of debate in any part of the civilized word, but an established international under-standing, that slavery is not only unjust to the enslaved, but an evil, the effects of which are shared by the master.
Negro slavery in America was, how-ever, a mild and beneficent institution, as compared to the voluntary servitude to Mercenary Fashion, which enthrals so many at the present time. Mercenary Fashion places burdens oh rich and poor alike, and costs Society more lives and property yearly, than all that was wasted during the war of the Rebellion.
Most of the masters of the negro were kindly and considerate, and not a few of the negro uncles and aunties now living, regret the "good old times when marster and missus did all the plannin' and pervidin', and all we uns had to do was work, and sing and dance."
On the other hand, Mercenary Fashion has headquarters in Paris, in London, in Vienna, and in Berlin; and sets its traps all over the world, baited with styles of such absurd taste and uselessness that interest in them can only be brief. It is part of its deliberate policy, not to suggest any form or style that has merit sufficient to make it desirable a second season. It avoids any approach to the simple and beautiful and comfortable drapery used by the ancient Greeks, because of fear that its trade will be ruined by the stability of the wares. Ostentation is the ever-ready victim to take the poisonous bait; and then, there is a mad rush of the mimicking slaves, to assume the fetters which bind them to constant toil. Dishonor, infamy, and shame, are braved by men and women alike, in following the allurements of Mercenary Fashion.
Fear (of criticism) and Envy are the two phases of the root passions, that are the most powerful and active agents in securing victims for Mercenary Fashion; but, if Emancipation were the established rule of life, these agents would not exist; Ostentation would not be followed; and Taste, and Usefulness, and Permanence, would be the leaders instead and a state of cooperation which might properly be named Good Fashion, or God Fashion, would succeed the tyrant of the present ; and Fashion, under such conditions, would be a blessing instead of a curse as at present.
Mercenary Fashion has met with a formidable adversary in the bicycle. The absurd costumes inflicted by it on a servile world, seem as ridiculous when mounted on a bicycle, as if they were placed on the David of Michael Angelo, or on the Venus de Milo. Bicycle costumes for women may not displace all others; but, with the freedom of movement enjoyed on the wheel, in a costume suitable to the unhampered action of a biped; with the constant restraint of position rendered necessary by the wearing of skirts removed, woman may soon be-come free to move and act as Nature designed that she should move and act, and enjoyment of this new freedom will greatly modify her slavery to Mercenary Fashion.
Fashion (or mimicry) is good, if properly led.
If it were fashionable to believe that anger and worry were unnecessary weeds of the mind, were blemishes that could be removed from the disposition, were habits that were unbecoming to civilized man, and were handicaps to energy and happiness that could be put aside at will, the world could follow that fashion to a state of Emancipation, with all the enthusiasm it could muster, and benefit itself by being fashionable.
And, should a just appreciation of the power within us become fashion-able, the tendency to mimicry; which is now the connecting link of resemblance between us and the monkey from which we have evolved, would become an element of strength, instead of an element of weakness.
We, as individuals, support the fashions, but we do not suggest them. We support waste and discomfort, for the benefit of mercenary and designing fashion-makers, with the product of never-ending toil, because we ape Ostentation, cringe before Fear, and encourage Envy as an attribute of Pride.
We are slaves indeed! not only in the matter of clothes, but in the matter of the distribution of the necessities and luxuries of life and comfort. We do some things more cleverly than the rest of the world, but in others we excel in clumsiness and inconsistency. In Mexico (our nearest neighbor), a sharpened stick is still used for plowing; but, that is not nearly as crude, of its kind, as some of the business methods that we support in this country are of their kind; and in matters of utmost importance, too. For in-stance: in the city of Montgomery, Alabama, there is a square, or rather a diamond, around which, and within a block of which, there are eight or nine drug stores. This may not be an unusual bunching of druggists, but, as Montgomery is a meeting point of several terminal railroads, and trains from all directions are usually detained there one or two hours, I have had abundant opportunity to study this constellation of red and green lights, that blink and stare at all who visit the park they look on. They all seem to be full fledged, and fully equipped drug stores, and not devoted to special-ties, as one would suppose as a reason for there being so many of them.
As it is, there are eight stores, eight stocks of goods, eight sets of clerks, eight insurance policies, eight computations of interest, eight gas or electric light bills, and probably eight many-other items of expense chargeable to the profits on the sales, and supported by the public, when one establishment would serve all the people of Montgomery better than the eight do now.
If these stores were scattered about the city, the matter of convenience could be urged for their existence. To support such prodigality, profits ranging from one hundred to one thousand per cent. have to be charged, and the public evidently pays them, for their existence from year to year is evidence of support from some one. Suppose the Corporation of the City of Montgomery were to vote an appropriation of fifty thousand (or perhaps only twenty thousand) dollars, for the purpose of establishing a first class dispensary of medicines, etc., and should put it in charge of a. competent chemist, who would know what medicines were good, and what compounds were not good? The patronage of the citizens would support such an establishment on a ten per cent. basis of profit, and pay ten percent. interest on the investment without doubt, and the citizens would not be at the mercy of chance or imposition, in a matter of prime importance to health, as they are liable to be, under any but the most perfect system of selecting and dispensing drugs and patent medicines.
This is a single instance among thou-sands, of the unintelligent application of the doctrine of laissez faire to matters of vital social interest; and is given here to illustrate a form of slavery to inconvenience and waste, that would be cleared away like mist before the sun, as the result of evolution, from the standpoint of Emancipation.
It required a million guns, and the assistance of several million men, with all the waste and blood which war carries with it, to free the negro; and the advance of humanity the world over, was a fruit, worth the cost of the war; but slavery of the individual to the parasite passions, will not enlist the rescue of arms, although it entails greater hardship than was ever suffered by the average negro slave. Each individual must gain for himself this freedom ; no one else can aid him except through suggestion and moral help. It is his birthright however, and awaits his call.
The face of the martyr glowed with radiant happiness, when he exclaimed to his jailers from the confines of his chains, "You have bound my body, but you cannot bind my soul! Kill my body if you like ! it will only give greater freedom to my soul." But the so-called free citizen of to-day; who smothers himself under the blanket of worry; or, who spits angry in-justice at a self-created-phantom-cause for resentment, is a weak and pitiable wretch, as compared with the bonden martyr or negro of long ago.
Emancipation, or, a perfectly de-angered and de-worryized mind, can only be secured through conviction of its possibility, and not simply through an intellectual admission of its possibility, Faith is the prerequisite of every successful accomplishment in life. An axiom of the circus ring warns an acrobat, or a gymnast, never to attempt a feat, unless he has perfect confidence in his ability to perform it successfully. Knowledge and the appreciation of the power of the mind over phantoms of its own creation, and confidence to expel them, is as necessary in menticulture as is the confidence of the gymnast in performing wonderful feats of menti-physical skill. The condition required for growth to Emancipation, is that of perfect faith and confidence, born of knowledge of the power God has given us to "cast out evil," and in that condition, Emancipation, when attained, can be anchored safely, protected from any of the battling and surging elements of discord from without.
The researches of many scientific societies along the lines of Psychic Phenomena, endorsed by every utterance of Christ, reveal the fact that faith is a pre-requisite to subjection, or control, of the mind. The best subjects in scientific hypnotism are the strongest minded (who believe through knowledge), and the weakest minded (who believe through credulity); while the creatures of vacillating impulses, are hopeless dolts in the hands of the hypnotist, and will be those who will have to acquire Mental Emancipation because it is fashionable, and not be-cause it is sensible.
The condition of Emancipation is one of faith in the beginning ; but, as soon as it is attained, there is no desire to replant mental weeds, and no struggle to repress them, for there are no roots or seeds from which to grow them.
Faith must precede, but examples of Emancipation are sure to develop in every community, and soon the atmosphere will be pregnant with the possibility of it. Then it will be easy to follow the fashion and dismiss anger and worry; and, after a little, shame will attach to the possession of them.
Growth and happiness will result from the elimination of the germs of strife; natural cooperation will follow natural growth; and we will catch up with Mr. Bellamy's prophecy, long before the time specified in "Looking Backward," by the simple unraveling of a silken skein of endless possibilities from the free end within ourselves.
Fear that individuality will be lost in cooperation, is one of the hot shot missiles of mendacity, that is being fired at Cooperation from the citadel of the condemned passions, by the slaves of the tottering house of Can't, but will fall, harmless, before the armor of Emancipation,
Does it lessen the individuality of the gardener to weed his soil? Does it weaken the individuality of a patient to cut out the root of his cancer? Does it militate against the power of a cause, to rid it of its faults? Will the runner run less swiftly, or the jumper jump less far, if they remove the handicap?