Classic Essays

The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Underman (Part 12)

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

SUCH IS OUR RACIAL balance-sheet. And, be it remembered: our civilization, unlike its predecessors, cannot shift the burden to other shoulders, because there are no more untapped “racial reserves.” No “noble barbarians” wait to step forward as in the past; the barbarians and savages who still remain in the world are demonstrably of inferior caliber and can contribute little or nothing to the progress of civilization.

If, then, our civilization is to survive, it must conserve and foster its own race values. Happily our civilization possesses two great advantages over past times: scientific knowledge and the scientific spirit. To us have been revealed secrets of life our forebears never knew. And to us has been vouchsafed a passion for the truth such as the world has never seen. Other ages have sought truth from the lips of seers and prophets; our age seeks it from scientific proof. Other ages have had their saints and martyrs — dauntless souls who clung to the faith with unshakeable constancy. Yet our age has also had its saints and martyrs — heroes who can not only face death for their faith, but who can also scrap their faith when facts have proved it wrong. There, indeed, is courage! And therein lies our hope.

This matchless love of truth, this spirit of science which combines knowledge and faith in the synthesis of a higher wisdom, as yet inspires only the elite of our time. Most of us are still more or less under the spell of the past — the spell of passion, prejudice, and unreason. It is thus that ideas and ideals clearly disproved by science yet claim the allegiance of multitudes of worthy men.

The dead hand of false doctrines and fallacious hopes lies, indeed, heavy upon us. Laws, institutions, customs, ideas, and ideals are all stamped deep with its imprint. Our very minds and souls are imbued with delusions like environmentalism and “natural equality” from whose emotional grip it is hard to escape. Mighty as is the new truth, our eyes are yet blinded to its full meaning, our hearts shrink instinctively from its wider implications, and our feet falter on the path to higher destinies.

These reactionary forces stubbornly impede the progress of those deep-going eugenic reforms which must speedily be undertaken if our civilization is to be saved from decline and our race from decay.

This is serious enough. But there is something more serious still. The reactionary forces which we have just described, though, powerful, are, after all, essentially negative in character. With the spread of enlightenment they would soon wither — if they stood alone. But they do not stand alone. Behind them, sheltered by them, lurks a positive, aggressive force: The Under-Man!

The Under-Man is unconvertible. He will not bow to the new truth, because he knows that the new truth is not for him. Why should he work for a higher civilization, when even the present civilization is beyond his powers? What the Under-Man wants is, not progress, but regress — regress to more primitive conditions in which he would be at home. In fact, the more he grasps the significance of the new eugenic truth, the uglier grows his mood. So long as all men believed all men potentially equal, the Under-Man could delude himself into thinking that changed circumstances might rise him to the top. Now that nature herself proclaims him irremediably inferior, his hatred of superiority knows no bounds.

This hatred he has always instinctively felt. Envy and resentment of superiority have ever been the badges of base minds. Yet never have these badges been so fiercely flaunted, so defiantly worn, as to-day. This explains the seeming paradox that, just when the character of superiority becomes supremely manifest, the cry for levelling “equality” rises supremely shrill. The Under-Man revolts against progress! Nature herself having decreed him uncivilizable, the Under-Man declares war on civilization.

These are not pretty facts. But we had better face them, lest they face us, and catch us unawares. Let us, then, understand once and for all that we have among us a rebel army — the vast host of the unadaptable, the incapable, the envious, the discontented, filled with instinctive hatred of civilization and progress, and ready on the instant to rise in revolt.

Here are foes that need watching. Let us watch them.


RACIAL IMPOVERISHMENT IS the plague of civilization. This insidious disease, with its twin symptoms the extirpation of superior strains and the multiplication of inferiors, has ravaged humanity like a consuming fire, reducing the proudest societies to charred and squalid ruin.

We have already examined the life process which perpetuates both superiors and inferiors according to their kind, so we can now pass to a practical consideration of inferior types.

First of all, however, let us carefully distinguish between inferiority’s two aspects: physical inferiority and mental inferiority. It is mental inferiority which is our chief concern. Physically, the human species seems equal to all demands which are likely to he made upon it. Despite civilization’s deleterious aspects, and despite the combined action of modern medicine and philanthropy in keeping alive physically weak individuals, humanity does not appear to be threatened with general physical decay. We are heirs of a physical selection which goes back tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of years to the very origin of life, and its beneficial influence is so wide-spread and deep-going that a few millennia of partial escape from its workings have produced only superficial effects.

Far different is the case of mental inferiority. The special traits of intelligence which distinguish man from the animals appeared only a few hundred thousand years ago, and have developed strongly only in a few human stocks. Biologically speaking, therefore, high intelligence is a very recent trait, which is still comparatively rare and which may be easily lost.

The rarity of mental as compared with physical superiority in the human species is seen on every hand. Existing savage and barbarian races of a demonstrably low average level of intelligence, like the negroes, are physically vigorous, in fact, possess an animal vitality apparently greater than that of the intellectually higher races. The same is true of intellectually decadent peoples like those about the Mediterranean, whose loss of ancient mental greatness has been accompanied by no corresponding physical decline. Finally, even among the more civilized and progressive present-day populations, the great disparity between physical and mental superiority is clear. The recent American army intelligence tests are a striking example of this. Those 1,700,000 young men who were examined were nearly all physically fine specimens, yet less than one out of twenty (4 1/2 per cent) possessed really high intelligence. From all this it is evident that mental superiority is comparatively rare, most men being mentally either mediocre or inferior.

We have likewise seen how civilized life has hitherto tended to make mental superiority ever rarer and to increase the proportion of mediocre and inferior elements. Indeed, down to the biological discoveries of our own days, this was believed to he a normal, rather than an abnormal, phenomenon. Our forebears considered society’s withering away at the top and breeding from below as natural and inevitable. Take the attitude of the Romans, for example. Roman society was divided into six classes. The sixth, or lowest, social class, made up of paupers, vagabonds, and degenerates, was exempt from civic duties, military service, and the payment of taxes. But was this class debarred from having children? Not at all. On the contrary, it was positively encouraged to do so. These dregs of the Roman populace were termed “proletarians,” “producers of offspring”! In other words, a man might be incapable of civic duties, incapable of bearing arms, incapable of paying taxes, but was considered not only capable but specially apt for bearing children, who were accepted as his contribution to society. Think what an attitude on racial matters this implies! No wonder Rome fell! And yet — let us not forget that this was substantially the attitude of our grandfathers, and that it is still the attitude of millions of so-called “educated” persons. Here is once more evident the dead hand of the past, perpetuating old errors and blocking the effective spread of new truths.

This mingling of old and new forces is, in fact, mainly responsible for the peculiarly acute nature of our social and racial problems. Traditional influences making for racial decay are as active as ever, perhaps more so. On the other hand, many new factors like universal education, high standards, preventive medicine, and birth control, all of which may become powerful agents of race betterment, have thus far worked mainly in the direction of racial decay, by speeding up both the social sterilization of superior individuals, and the preservation of inferiors.

Perhaps never before have social conditions been so “dysgenic,” so destructive of racial values, as to-day. “In the earlier stages of society, man interfered little with natural selection. But during the last century the increase of the philanthropic spirit and the progress of medicine have done a great deal to interfere with the selective process. In some ways, selection in the human race has almost ceased; in many ways it is actually reversed, that is, it results in the survival of the inferior rather than the superior. In the olden days the criminal was summarily executed, the weakly child died soon after birth through lack of proper care and medical attention, the insane were dealt with so violently that if they were not killed by the treatment they were at least left hopelessly ‘incurable,’ and had little chance of becoming parents. Harsh measures, all of these; but they kept the germ-plasm of the race reasonably purified.

“To-day, how is it? The inefficients, the wastrels, the physical, mental, and moral cripples are carefully preserved at public expense. The criminal is turned out on parole after a few years, to become the father of a family. The insane is discharged as ‘cured,’ again to take up the duties of citizenship. The feeble-minded child is painfully ‘educated,’ often at the expense of his normal brother or sister. In short, the undesirables of the race, with whom the bloody hand of natural selection would have made short work early in life, are now nursed along to old age.” [25] And, as already stated, factors like birth control, education, and high social standards are simultaneously extirpating the superior elements at an unprecedented rate.

Such is the situation. Now, what is to he done? Return to the grim methods of “natural selection”? Of course not. No sensible person could possibly advocate such a thing. It would not only outrage our moral sense, but it would also yield results far inferior to other methods of race betterment which science has already discovered and elaborated. That is the hopeful aspect of the situation. Grave though our present plight may be, we do not have to waste precious time casting about for theoretical solutions. Science, especially that branch of science known as “Eugenics” or “Race Betterment,” shows us a way far more efficient as well as infinitely more humane than the crude, wasteful methods of natural selection, which, while killing out most of the bad, took many of the good at the same time. Science, therefore, offers us a way of escape from impending perils, not by a return to natural selection, but by way of an improved social selection based upon natural law instead of, as hitherto, upon ignorance and haphazard. Detailed discussion of the eugenic programme will be deferred till the concluding chapter of this book. At present, let us continue our survey of human inferiority, in order better to appreciate how imperative the speedy application of eugenic measures to society has come to be…


25. Popenoe and Johnson, pg. 148-149

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Source: Dissident Millennial

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