of the great lake which separates nations, to the vine-covered house on the hillside, long since occupied by others. There the shadows of dark despair had once fallen across his path, in those dreadful weeks of autumn, when he had not known which way to turn, and when he had believed he would never been able to find what he sought and what he now possessed.
If he wanted company he was always certain to find it, he needed only to cross the lake for a few hours to the town which he had become so fond of. Here he could sit with a glass of wine and enjoy good conversation. He could rely on the willingness of his young employer to also discuss things other than business, although their views were very different as to where social reforms should be introduced, how far they should go and how far they were necessary.
DURING THESE YEARS IT BECAME MORE AND MORE CLEAR TO HIM that all social awareness must stem from the individual — the concrete ego ~ if it was to be founded on realities and to lead to tangible results. It should not derive from such abstract ideas as "community", "nation" and "the people".
Although no ego was the centre of the world, nevertheless every ego was the centre of its own world, and there was one instinct in it stronger than all others — that of self-preservation.
Every ego was a world in itself, an organic entity set on earth to live out its life until its time was fulfilled. To stand firmly upon one's feet, to assert oneself, in fact to live — this was the mainspring of all activity and the reason for every manifestation of life. It was this instinct for self-preservation, the egoism, which sustained the life of the individual.
To deny egoism, therefore, was to deny life. Everybody was an egoist. Everybody, whether consciously or unconsciously, by instinct or by calculation, acted, without exception, in accordance with one maxim — "Every act of mine must gain for me the greatest possible measure of happiness".
Wherever they sought happiness, whether in themselves or in others, in self-aggrandisement or in self-degradation, in self-sacrifice or in sacrificing others, in serving or in ruling or in none of these, all people were, and remained, "egoists".
People do not act as they want to but as they must. They do what they can and they leave undone what they must because they are unable to do otherwise. They are driven by the demands of their natures and they must bow to what these dictate.