Matt Forney
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The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew by Malfew Seklew

gospel-malfew-seklewNietzsche is dead. God is alive.

I mean that in the same way that Nietzsche himself proclaimed God’s death. More than a century after the egoist movement launched by Nietzsche and continued by Dora Marsden, Ragnar Redbeard, H.L. Mencken and more, humanity remains steeped in collectivist ideologies that encourage mediocrity and victimhood. While our progressives and socialists no longer justify their corruption by appealing to a higher power, fundamentally they are no different than William Jennings Bryan, the temperance crusaders and the other Bible-thumping obscurantists of yesteryear. Feminists and progressives, knowing how weak and pitiful they are, seek only to drag others down to their level with witch hunts and government action.

What’s a budding supercrat to do?

You can start by reading The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew, one of the most influential and ignored treatises of early 20th century egoism. Brought back into print after a century by OVO publisher Trevor Blake, this volume is a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy and egoist thought.

But who was Malfew Seklew? Much like his contemporary Ragnar Redbeard, Seklew’s true identity and origins remain a mystery. Unlike Redbeard, who is assumed to be the pen name of a single man, an unknown number of people wrote under the “Malfew Seklew” alias, as shown by the Gospel’s constant alternations between English and American spelling. As Trevor explains in his introduction, Seklew’s writing was championed by an English prophet known only as “Sirfessor Wilkesbarre”:

At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, Sirfessor Wilkesbarre was a regular at the Dil Pickle Club in Chicago, Illinois. So was Ragnar Redbeard, and in fact the two shared 1353 North Clark Street (at least as a mailing address) in 1927. That same year the Dil Pickle Club published Might is Right by Redbeard and Wilkesbarre published The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew. Both men wrote for the egoist journal The Eagle and the Serpent. I imagine that Condo and Raper, the author and artist for the contemporary Chicago comic The Outbursts of Everett True, concocted central character Mr. True on Wilkesbarre’s looks and Redbeard’s thunder.

The Gospel comprises three sections, the first of which, the “Gospel” itself, is by far the largest. In it, Seklew explains his theory and philosophy of egoism. While a good deal of his ideas will ring familiar if you’ve read Redbeard or Nietzsche, Seklew comes up with a number of thoughtful innovations. For example, he argues that all humans are egoists by default, the main difference being that progressives and altruists are dishonest about their egotism:

Man never does anything except for self-approval or self-gratification. He is interested in everything he does. There is no such thing as disinterested action. He never does anything that will bring remorse. Remorse comes afterwards, because the result of the action is unsatisfactory to the doer. Remorse is the aftermath of folly. Folly is the foolish gratification of emotion or desire for the moment. A man gives a beggar a dime for the pleasure or kick he gets out of it. When a man passes a beggar and then turns back to give him something, he does so to ease his mind and feelings. He expresses his sympathy in this way, because he is full of self-pity at the sight of the beggar; for sympathy for others is pity for self. By giving he finds relief and passes along at peace with himself.

His argument reminds me of Ayn Rand, albeit without the circular moralizing and autistic logic that defines her work.

Seklew also explains the uselessness of charity, dividing the wealthy into “Fordanthropists” and philanthropists. According to his logic, philanthropists are innately inferior because they give away their money out of guilt (think Andrew Carnegie) and in such a way that it won’t actually improve anyone’s lives. This is contrasted with the philosophy of Henry Ford, who dictated that the workers in his factories should be paid well enough to afford the products that they created:

Fordanthropist socializes his joys; the Philanthropist collectivizes his agonies. The enlightened selfishness of the former creates new conditions and brings prosperity to millions of men and women, while the crude selfishness of the latter tends to perpetuate conditions and produce apathy and patience on the part of the poor.

Seklew’s writing is a joy to read, laced as it with constant rhyming and alliteration, like a right-wing version of Dr. Seuss. He occasionally slips into ridiculous purple prose, sounding like a Prohibition-era Heartiste, but those segments are rare. Seklew’s musical prose style makes flipping through the book—or at least the “Gospel” section—an absolute breeze.

The most valuable chapter in the Gospel by far is “What is Prohibition?” In it, Seklew lays into the eternal enemy of the enlightened egoist: the Puritan. Puritans are defective, broken human beings (Seklew later drives the point home by calling socialism a “brain disease”) whose perverse desire to be seen as good—as opposed to actually doing good—leads them to inflict immeasurable suffering on their fellow men:

Ask a purblind Prohibitionist to vote for the nullification of the 18th Amendment. He will certainly refuse, because his principles or his prejudice will not permit him to do so. Ask a parboiled Puritan to do something that he deems evil, even though it has been proven to be good for his fellow man, he will refuse, because his conscious would be outraged and pain would be his portion for the time being. All prohibitionists, Puritan and professional uplifters, are malicious, anti-social and meanly selfish when their pet prejudices (which they call principles) are opposed or exposed. That’s the reason why we have lynching bees and tar & feather parties in the moonlight, conducted by unripe thinkers and morbid moralists.

As Marx put it, history repeats itself first as tragedy and then as farce. Prohibition may be gone, but the same sick impulse that fueled it animates the modern left (and yes, Prohibition was a progressive program, despite leftists trying to rewrite history; the temperance movement and women’s suffrage movements were joined at the hip). Whether it’s increasingly punitive smoking bans, hysterical witch hunts against people who make “misogynistic” or “homophobic” statements, or the invention of victim classes out of whole cloth, the simpoleons (to use Seklew’s terminology) among us desire only to destroy that which better men than them have created. And no matter how many concessions they get, how many times we bend over backwards for them, they are never satisfied.

Their anger is a disease of the soul that can never be cured.

There are only two issues with the Gospel. The first is that the latter two sections, “Malfew Seklew Collected Works” and “Malfew Seklew Solves All Problems of Life,” are not nearly as compelling as the first part, as they largely comprise newspaper and journal articles about Seklew and Wilkesbarre. Fortunately, combined they only take up about a quarter of the book, so you can get through them relatively quickly.

My other issue with the Gospel is the skimpy Table of Contents. The only links in the Table go to the aforementioned sections of the book, Trevor’s introduction and the index. Given the length of the “Gospel,” some links to specific sections of it would have been helpful.

Despite all this, The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew is a must-read for those interested in egoist thought. Despite some of its anachronistic advice and claims (Seklew predicted that technological advances would make the working class obsolete and usher in a new era of enlightened egoism, among other things), the Gospel’s ideas and philosophy make it just as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago.

Click here to buy The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew.

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