The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Underman (Part 4)
As part of our commitment to the celebration of forgotten classics—i.e., great works of the past which have been intentionally flushed down the memory hole by our Orwellian overlords—National Vanguard is proud to present a condensed edition of Lothrop Stoddard’s pioneering treatise The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Underman, originally published in 1922.
To appreciate the significance of this work, one must understand that in his day Stoddard was a certified member of America’s (now-former) WASP establishment. An old-stock Yankee from Brookline, Massachusetts, Stoddard held a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University and was one of the most prominent intellectuals in the country prior to the Second World War. It is only because of the triumph of Jewish propaganda from that war that racialists like Stoddard have since been relegated to obscurity.
by Lothrop Stoddard
UP TO THIS POINT we have viewed civilization mainly in its structural aspect. We have estimated its pressure upon the human foundations, and have provisionally treated these foundations as fixed quantities. But that is only one phase of the problem, because civilization exerts upon its living bearers not merely mechanical, but also vital influences of the profoundest significance. And, unfortunately, these total influences are mainly of a destructive character. The stern truth of the matter is that civilization tends to impair the innate qualities of its human bearers; to use up strong stocks; to unmake those very racial values which first enabled a people to undertake its civilizing task.
Let us see how this comes about.
Consider, first, man’s condition before the advent of civilization. Far, far back in its life history the human species underwent a profound differentiation. Fossil bones ten of thousands of years old, show mankind already divided into distinct races differing markedly not merely in bodily structure but also in brain capacity, and hence in intelligence. This differentiation probably began early and proceeded rapidly, since biology teaches us that species are plastic when new, gradually losing this plasticity as they “set” with time and development.
However, at the rate it proceeded, differentiation went on for untold ages, operating not only between separate races but also within the various stocks, so that each stock came to consist of many “strains” varying considerably from one another in both physical and mental capacity.
Now the fate of these strains depended, not upon chance, but upon the very practical question whether or not they could survive. And since man was then living in the “state of nature,” qualities like strength, intelligence, and vigor were absolutely necessary for life, while weakness, dullness, and degeneracy spelled speedy death. Accordingly, individuals endowed with the former qualities survived and bred freely, whereas those handicapped by the latter qualities perished oftener and left fewer offspring. Thus, age after age, nature imposed upon man her individually stern but racially beneficent will; eliminating the weak, and preserving and multiplying the strong. Surely, it is the most striking proof of human differentiation that races should display such inequalities after undergoing so long a selective process so much the same.
However, differentiated mankind remained, and at last the more gifted races began to create civilizations. Now civilization wrought profound changes, the most important of which was a modification of the process of selection for survival. So long as man was a savage, or even a barbarian, nature continued to select virtually unhindered according to her immemorial plan — that of eliminating the weak and preserving the strong. But civilization meant a change from a “natural” to a more or less artificial, man-made environment, in which natural selection was increasingly modified by “social” selection. And social selection altered survival values all along the line. In the first place, it enabled many weak, stupid, and degenerate persons to live and beget children who would have certainly perished in the state of nature, or even on the savage and barbarian planes. Upon the strong the effect of social selection was more subtle but equally important. The strong individual survived even better than before — but he tended to have fewer children.
The reason for this lessened fecundity of the superior was that civilization opened up to them a whole new range of opportunities and responsibilities. Under primitive conditions, opportunities for self-expression were few and simple, the most prized being desirable mates and sturdy offspring. Among savages and barbarians the choicest women and many children are the acknowledged perquisites of the successful, and the successful are those men endowed with qualities like strength, vigor, and resourceful intelligence, which are not only essential for continued survival under primitive conditions, but which are equally essential for the upbuilding and maintenance of civilization. In short, when a people enters the stage of civilization it is in the pink of condition, because natural selection has for ages been multiplying superior strains and eliminating inferiors. Such was the high biological level of the selected stocks which attained the plane of civilization. But, as time passed, the situation altered. The successful superiors who stood in the vanguard of progress were alike allured and constrained by a host of novel influences. Power, wealth, luxury, leisure, art, science, learning, government — these and many other matters increasingly complicated life. And, good or bad, temptations or responsibilities, they all had this in common: that they tended to divert human energy from racial ends to individual and social ends.
Now this diverted energy flowed mainly from the superior strains in the population. Upon the successful superior, civilization laid both her highest gifts and her heaviest burdens. The effect upon the individual was, of course, striking. Powerfully stimulated, he put forth his inherited energies. Glowing with the fire of achievement, he advanced both himself and his civilization. But, in this very fire, he was apt to be racially consumed. Absorbed in personal and social matters, racial matters were neglected. Late marriage, fewer children, and celibacy combined to thin the ranks of the successful, diminish the number of superior strains, and thus gradually impoverish the race.
Meanwhile, as the numbers of the superior diminished, the numbers of the inferior increased. No longer ruthlessly weeded by natural selection, the inferior survived and multiplied.
Here, then, was what had come to pass: instead of dying off at the base and growing at the top, civilized society was dying at the top and spreading out below. The result of this dual process was, of course, as disastrous as it was inevitable. Drained of its superiors, and saturated with dullards and degenerates, the stock could no longer support its civilization. And, the upper layers of the human foundation having withered away, the civilization either sank to a lower level or collapsed in utter ruin. The stock had regressed, “gone back,” and the civilization went back too.
Such are the workings of that fatal tendency to biological regression which has blighted past civilizations. Its effects on our civilization and the peculiar perils which these entail will be discussed in subsequent chapters. One further point should, however, be here noted. This is the irreparable character of racial impoverishment. Once a stock has been thoroughly drained of its superior strains, it sinks into permanent mediocrity, and can never again either create or support a high civilization. Physically, the stock may survive; unfortunately for human progress, it only too often does survive, to contaminate better breeds of men. But mentally and spiritually it is played out and can never revive — save, perchance, through some age-long process of biological restoration akin to that seen in the slow reforesting of a mountain range stripped to the bare rock.
We have observed that civilizations tend to fall both by their own increasing weight and by the decay of their human foundations. But we have indicated that there exists yet another destructive tendency, which may be termed “atavistic revolt.” Let us see precisely what this implies…
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Source: Dissident Millennial