Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

Beyond Good and Evil

by Revilo P. Oliver

WE NEED TO BE reminded from time to time of the crucial problem that must be solved if our race is to survive, the Jews’ subversion and inversion of our morality that Nietzsche so clearly analysed in Zur Genealogie der Moral.(1) A novel that marginally touches upon that problem was republished in England late last year. The author, who styles himself Bill Hopkins,(2) was one of the seven young Englishmen who, distressed by the suicide of the British Empire and moral squalor of the Little Britain, were collectively known as the “Angry Young Men.” Hopkins, to judge by his chapter in the manifesto entitled Declaration (London, 1957), was the most original and incisive thinker in the group, although the member of it who is now best known was Malcolm Muggeridge, who ended his career by making Christians purr over a book about Jesus they did not understand.

(1. There are several English translations of The Genealogy of Morals, the most fundamental of all of Nietzsche’s works. The two best known are by Horace B. Samuel and Francis Golfing. I have collated neither with the German text and so cannot express an opinion about their relative merits.)

(2. I do not know whether ‘Bill’ is the old and rare English name, derived from Anglo-Saxon bill, a falchion or halberd, which now survives as a name for a kind of pruning-hook and as a surname, or is the nickname that is accepted as a hypocoristic substitute for ‘William,’ although it probably arose from some confusion with the dialectical or colloquial ‘billy,’ which is still occasionally heard in the phrase “his billies and titties,” i.e., his brothers and sisters, although it is obsolete in the sense of ‘fellow, boon companion.’)

Also in 1957, Hopkins’ novel, The Divine and the Decay, was issued by a pusillanimous publisher, who promptly suppressed it and destroyed all unsold copies when the Judaized jackals of the press began to howl that it was — oh, horrors! — “Fascistic.” It has now been republished, with a new preface by the author and an introduction by Colin Wilson (London, Deverell & Birdsey, 1984).

The Divine and the Decay is unsatisfactory, both as a novel and as a discussion of the moral problem. The promise of the opening situation is not fulfilled. The protagonist, a highly intelligent and seemingly ruthless young man named Plowart, had joined, five years before the story begins, a middle-aged and well-known conservative, Sir Gregory Bourcey, in founding the New Britain League,(3) and they attracted so large a following that their first candidate, Plowart, is almost certain to be elected to the Parliament in a proximate by-election. Plowart, who sees the need for a radical renaissance of his decadent nation, finds that Sir Gregory, who was so useful in building up the party, is only a politician whose limited mentality does not go beyond an ambition to be the leader of just another political party that will play the game of corruption and national futility that is called “democracy.” Sir Gregory has therefore become an obstacle in the way of a radical restoration of British courage and will, such as is possible only under the command of a “Fuehrer.” Plowart accordingly instructs some of his own devoted followers to murder Sir Gregory, and he prepares an alibi for himself by going to Vachau, one of the smallest of the Channel Islands, some distance from Guernsey.

(3. You must not suppose that Hopkins intended to allude to any of the patriotic organizations that were active in Britain in 1957. There is no basis for the gratuitous suggestion by a gossiping journalist that Sir Gregory was modeled on Sir Oswald Mosley. It is true that Mosley, after his long persecution by the Jews and British traitors, so modified and compromised his former and sounder principles that many of his former adherents regarded him as an impediment to effective political action, but the situation and characters in the novel are entirely different.)

The narrative opens with Plowart on his way to Vachau, where he will make himself conspicuous before the murder of which he will be the obvious beneficiary. The situation is obviously one pregnant with possibilities of both dramatic action and a psychological exploration of a man who has deliberately made his body subordinate to his will, and whose politico-social fanaticism is based on a justified contempt for ordinary mankind.

There is action and adventure, but a reader with exacting literary standards will be displeased, because the action depends almost entirely on the oddity of the place that Plowart has chosen for establishing his alibi. Vachau has a total of seventy permanent residents. Only three are cultivated and intelligent persons, and each of them is peculiar in his own way to the very limit of credibility. The most nearly normal is the adult but unmarried daughter of the absent Seigneur, to whom Plowart is, of course, attracted. There is a wealthy and highly intelligent Englishman who has stupidly married a libidinous, romantically self-deceiving, and profligate woman, and, seeking consolation in alcohol, has crippled himself and come close to madness. The wife’s paramour, although central to the plot of the story, is a mere ruffian. The rest of the inhabitants of the island are clannish peasants and most of them show the genetic deterioration that is popularly supposed to be the consequence of inbreeding in a small group. But much of the story is made possible only by the odd behavior of the insular peasants.

Plowart’s character is exhibited in detail and with some psychological skill. He certainly is no Ubermensch, and his confidence in his own strength is something of which he has convinced himself by assertion even while his subconscious mind is aware that it is pretence. As a potential Fuehrer, he is so flawed by several weaknesses that the reader takes it for granted that the New Britain League will never become politically formidable, even if Plowart survives and becomes its dictatorial master. Whether he survives or not, we do not know. The author has chosen to end his narrative with a question, in the manner of Stockton’s celebrated short story, The Lady or the Tiger.

What is important is that we are also left with the crucial ethical question posed by the assassination of Sir Gregory Bourcey. Readers who squawk that there can be no question because of the “sacredness of human life” disqualify themselves for serious thought on matters of political or historical moment.

* * *

Source: Liberty Bell magazine, December 1985

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