Friday, 26 July 2013
BROTHERHOOD OF MAN.
IS IT IN DANGER?
“SCIENCE” OF HUMAN INEQUALITY.
Are we about to abandon the idea of brotherhood of man? Does modern science divide humanity permanently into inferior and superior races? "The real or pretended belief that underlies all slavery, that children of certain perfectly healthy human beings are bound to grow up inferior to the children of other human beings, has more followers in the civilised world to-day than it has had for a hundred years." Such is the startling statement with which Mr William E. Walling opens a long article in the "Independent" of New York. Mr. Walling is a writer whose thoughtful contributions upon labor and social topics have attracted much notice in America. He has just made a thorough study of the negro question, and this article is the result. Its great significance justifies the following questions from so comprehensive a treatment of a subject which is as vital to the British Empire as to the United States of America :—
THE REACTION IN AMERICA.
In the United States and Europe the belief in the existence of a "natural" hereditary aristocracy has gained the upper hand, and is now winning a foothold where it never had one before-that is, among political radicals and leaders of scientific and philosophical thought. The reader will readily recall the more and more cautious attitude assumed in public by the friends of the negro in the North. The portentous interest of this growing prejudice indicates a shifting in the whole basis of our political and social thought. For the fundamental and permanent inferiority of the negro to the white cannot be posited without conceding similar differences between other races and giving inevitable if indirect support to the whole theory of blood aristocracy and caste. This means nothing less than a revolutionary change in the most fundamental life principle on which our nation has been evolved.
EXIT LOWELL AND EMERSON.
Obviously this new theory of the dominance of the "fittest" races is a backward step from the ideas that prevailed among the intellectual elite of the North at the time of the emancipation—a renunciation of the most cherished and fundamental beliefs of Lowell, Phillips, and Emerson. The reaction is a return not only to the period before 1860, but to the European absolutism of the early eighteenth century. It is to forget all the lessons taught Europe by Rousseau and Danton, and America by Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine. At this early period, if the masses even of educated mankind were still unenlightened as to the wrong of human slavery, at least the philosophers were wholly against it. Now, it seems, philosophy and its great successor, science, are both quoted against the rights of man, while many of their leaders are actively taking part in the campaign against human freedom.
ENTER THE SCIENTISTS.
Aristocracies have always compared themselves to superior and well-bred animals, and the Southern aristocracy applied stock-breeding principles to the negroes. Thanks to the new doctrines of the survival of the fittest, these principles, anathematised by our revolutionary forefathers almost to the last man, are to be applied to the whole human race. Is it not significant of the new reactionary spirit of our time that the able and very often humane and advanced Socialist, Bernard Shaw, should be a leading expositor of "Eugenics," Galton's proposed science of human breeding? Shaw suggests only half-humorously that the future will see a lethal chamber for those who ought not to be allowed to breed. The subject has become a leading one in the British magazines, and, as might have been expected in this aristocracy-laden atmosphere, has received support from all directions, even from scientists like Prof. William Ridgeway, president of the Anthropological Section of the British Association.
RUDYARD KIPLING'S CREED.
The ''scientific" doctrine of human inequality was not born yesterday. It had its earliest origin in the middle of the century, after the abolition of slavery in Russia and the United States, when reactionaries needed some new basis for human servitude. The theory reaches its worst form, perhaps, among English-speaking writers. If it were not for this general scientific atmosphere, it might seems a mere eccentricity of genius that Rudyard Kipling should have adopted the creed of racial superiority in its most virulent and aggressive form. But the service which the inventor of the phrase "the white man's burden" has been able to render to the oppressors of the so-called "lower" races of the world over is due to forces entirely outside the writer's individual genius. The way was prepared for him by the scientists, and he has had no difficulty in finding authorities for those beliefs of his which sum up excellently the anti-social philosophy of our time. Kipling has now concentrated his ideas on human evolution into a single attack— for he who strikes at the unity of humanity strikes at the race itself. Into his latest story, "The Adventures of Melissa," recently published in “Collier's Weekly," he has poured all his bitterness and hatred against what has hitherto been our social faith. Kipling takes as his point of departure the fact that a hive of bees (read "A Human Society") is likely to degenerate. The degeneration itself is the original mystery, and all the ill ordering of the hive is not the cause of the degeneracy, but its effect. Because of this innate degeneracy or original sin of the hive, it is afflicted with parasites and all the other ills of human societies. To the unfortunate and degenerate, thus mysteriously and spontaneously created, Kipling applies every possible term of contempt. Nor does the author scruple to identify these oddities with the great mass of British working people. We shall not stop to show that, from the standpoint of the much more tho rough knowledge of the bee displayed in the special studies of Maeterlink, Kipling's science is fundamentally false. We only mean to point out again the misanthropy and the far worse than Machiavellian politics that it teaches. For the fate of a degenerating hive is, according to Kipling, destruction, certain and complete. The whole standpoint is, as he definitely avows, in no sense new, but simply a statement in modern scientific slang of the world-old principle of "tradition" against progress. It is thus Kipling himself who stands for the only really degenerating elements of modern civilisation, namely, the hoary old tradition that humanity has long ago been trying to slough off.
NIETZSCHE LEADS THE WAY.
The master genius of reaction is Friedrich Nietzsche, whose most violent misanthropies, not yet equalled, were attained a full decade in advance of Kipling's. For Nietzsche has been the most influential writer in the classical country of science for nearly two decades. And now that his influence has passed its climax in Germany, it is just reaching its full height in other countries on the Continent. Nietzsche believed, as is known, that the whole human race, not merely the race of his enemies, is degenerating, and the only hope lies in breeding a new and distinct species. Nietzsche is no coward; he dares to confess repeatedly that his school wants nothing less than world-wide slavery for the working class. And as there must be slaves, there must be masters. Humanity has not yet developed its super-man, but Napoleon and Cæsar Borgia were offered to fill the gap! In a word, the great German prophet of a degenerating humanity finds "the symptoms of declining life," to quote from his "Genealogy of Morals," "in the rising of democracy, of peace arbitraments in place of war, of the equality of woman with man, of the religion of sympathy (Christianity)." Have we not every reason for supposing Kipling to share these views, at least in large part, even if he expresses them some times in parables and allusions? Are they not secretly or openly avowed by a large and growing part of our intellectual elite?
NEXT THE ANTHROPOLOGISTS.
In England and America, in France and Germany, and in the other civilised countries, it is the "anthropologists" who have lent the most constant and active support to the false doctrines of caste and race; but they are at last thoroughly discredited. Among others the French writer Finot, in his book Race Prejudice, has shown the utterly untenable position of this pseudo-anthropology, even though it has filled thousands of volumes of more or less "scientific research." The book has already had a remarkable reception, and must exert a great influence for the truth. It has the triple value of summing up the theories of race prejudice, of showing their essential futility, and of proving the fundamental unity of the human race. As to human varieties, it was attempted at the time of the slavery controversy to classify them by the color of their skins, as white, yellow, black, red, and brown. Any educated person to day is able to prove the scientific inadequacy of any such classification even for the purpose of differentiating humanity in varieties, to say nothing of races. It is now discovered that among those races that are confessedly backward, and are therefore usually classed as most inferior, are the very ones with the longest skulls. The result has been that the advocates of the doctrine of racial inferiority are abandoning their skull measurements as a crucial test, and are now totally at sea for any psychological analyses, which Finot reduces mixture, is beneficial to humanity and leads, not to a reversion to an ancestral type but to the maximum of progress, for intermixture has been almost universal.
RESULTS OF RACE MIXTURE.
We do not need to recall the remarkable number of geniuses who have been of mixed blood. The very fact that the human race has advanced in the last few thousand years, as all anthropologists are agreed, strongly reinforces the belief that the most general race to an equal absurdity by mere quotations of endless contradictions from the various "authorities" on the subject.
Science not only denies the existence of any rational basis for a fundamental differentiation of human varieties, but refuses to admit that there exists in normal human beings an irrational feeling or instinct of racial antipathy against members of an alien race to which they are accustomed. Where considerably different and clearly marked varieties of mankind are living side by side (as in America), the temptation for the more developed to keep the more backward in permanent subjection seems, indeed, to be almost irresistible. The whole of the truth is that the whites, as a rule, hate to have the lower caste of the South, who happen to be blacks, on a level with themselves, As at least two reputable and conservative Southern Governors have clearly stated, what the respectable and artistocratic whites of the South want is to keep the negro in a position of inferiority. The North, too, is being tainted with the same inhuman caste spirit, and while the negroes enemies are aggressive his friends are benumbed by the new and undemocratic "culture" our universities and publicists have been importing from monarchical and aristocratic Europe. That same Europe which was almost at the feet of Washington and Lincoln is now become our political preceptor and given free reign to corrupt our literature and our youth.
A TITANIC STRUGGLE.
Here are two powerful world-movements, equally aggressive and vigorous; the movement toward democracy hitherto led by the United States and now newly shared by the people of Russia, Japan, Turkey, Persia, and by a growing minority in Egypt, China, and India; the movement for less democracy and more empire, supported by a bare majority of the English and Germans at the terrible expense of the lower classes of both countries and the ruin of the subjected peoples. Are we about to see the anti-democratic principle redouble its strength in England and Germany and obtain the upper hand in the stronghold of democracy? Or will the defenders of individual freedom, social justice, and human brotherhood awake in time to the danger of the most monstrous reversion in history since the foundation of the religions of human brotherhood and love? Has not the time arrived when something should be done, when the propaganda of hatred should be checked, when democrats and lovers of humanity must once more subordinate every cause to the great and underlying cause, and centre all their efforts, as of old, around the struggle for human brotherhood?