Classic Essays

The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Underman (Part 23)

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, BRIEFLY, is the process of race cleansing known as “negative” eugenics. Many earnest believers in race betterment are inclined to minimize eugenics’ “negative” aspect. Such persons declare that the vital problem is the increase of superiors, and that the “positive” pluses of the eugenic programme must, therefore, be equally emphasized from the start.

Now in this I think they are mistaken. Of course, the increase of superior types is an absolute prerequisite to the perfecting of the race. But race perfecting is a much more difficult matter than race cleansing and involves measures for most of which public opinion is not yet prepared. Also, besides questions of expediency, there is the more fundamental point that race cleansing will do more than anything else to assure that social and intellectual stability which will constitute the sure foundation on which race building can take place. . .

Picture a society where the overwhelming majority of the population possessed sound minds in sound bodies; where the “tainted genius” and the “unemployable” wastrel were alike virtually unknown. Even though the bulk of the population were still of mediocre intelligence, the gain for both stability and progress would be enormous. The elimination of neurotic, irrational, vicious personalities, weak-brained and weak-willed, would render social cataclysms impossible; because even those who could not think far would tend to think straight, and would realize that social disruption could not really benefit any one who stood to gain by social order and progress. Of course, the mediocre masses would be decidedly conservative and would hold back progress; but their conservatism would be much more leavened by common sense, cooperation, and public spirit than is now the case, and constructive proposals would thus get a fairer hearing and stand a better chance of adoption.

Now when we contrast this picture with our present-day world, disorganized, seething, threatened with down-right chaos, I submit that some such stabilization as I have described must first be attained before we can devote ourselves to creating a super race. Our particular job is stopping the prodigious spread of inferiority which is now going on. We may be losing our best stocks, but we are losing them much more slowly than we are multiplying our worst. Our study of differential birth-rates [98] showed us that if these remain unchanged our most intelligent stocks will diminish from one-third to two-thirds in the next hundred years; it also showed that our least intelligent stocks will increase from six to tenfold in the same time. Obviously, it is this prodigious spawning of inferiors which must at all costs be prevented if society is to be saved from disruption and dissolution. Race cleansing is apparently the only thing that can stop it. Therefore, race cleansing must be our first concern.

Of course, this does not mean that race building should be neglected. On the contrary, we should be thinking along those lines. Only, for the immediate present, we should concentrate our energies upon the pressing problem of degeneracy until we have actually in operation legal measures which will fairly promise to get it under control. Meanwhile, the very fact that we are thinking eugenically at all will of itself produce important positive results. These may not take the form of legal enactments, but they will be powerfully reflected in changed ideals and standards of social conduct. The development of that “eugenic conscience” which, as we have already seen, promises to play so important a part in the elimination of the higher grades of degeneracy, will also impel the well-endowed to raise larger families, prefer children to luxuries, and discriminate between the high cost of living and the cost of high living. People will think less about “rights” and more about “duties,” will come to consider their race much as they do their country, and will make sacrifices for posterity such as they now make for patriotism.

In fact, such an attitude will soon render public opinion ripe for considering definite eugenic measures of a constructive character. One of these measures, which is already foreshadowed, is a remission of taxation proportionate to the number of children in families [99]. Later on society may offer rewards for the production of desirable children. Such action will, however, have to be very carefully safeguarded. Any indiscriminate subsidizing of large families regardless of their racial value would be extremely disastrous. It would mean merely another tax burden upon the thrifty and capable for the stimulation of the unfit — who need no stimulating! Only where the racial superiority of the couples in question is clearly apparent, as shown by proven ability, psychological tests, and sound heredity, should such subsidies be granted.

These and a few other kindred matters are probably the only definitely constructive legal measures for which public opinion is even partially prepared. But there is nothing discouraging in that. The great thing, as already stated, is to get people thinking racially. With the development of a “eugenic conscience” and the curbing of degeneracy, plans for race building will almost formulate themselves. There is the inestimable advantage of a movement based on the evolutionary principle and inspired by the scientific spirit. Such a movement does not, like a scheme for utopia, have to spring forth in detailed perfection from the imagination of its creator like Minerva from the brow of Zeus. On the contrary, it can evolve, steadily but surely, moving along many lines, testing its own soundness at every step, and winning favor by proofs instead of promises. . .

If social stability can be maintained and a cataclysm averted, there is every reason to believe that our world will soon take a decided turn for the better. The new biological revelation is already accepted by large numbers of thinking men and women all over the civilized world, and when it becomes firmly fixed in the popular consciousness it will work a literally amazing transformation in the ordering of the world’s affairs. . .

The one deadly peril to the cause of race betterment is the possibility of social disruption by the antisocial elements — instinctively hostile to eugenics as they are to every other phase of progressive civilization. If this peril can be averted, the triumph of race betterment is practically certain, because eugenics can “deliver the goods.” When public opinion once realizes this, public opinion will be not merely willing but anxious that the goods be delivered. When society realizes the incalculable value of superior stocks, it will take precious good care that its racial treasures are preserved and fostered. Superior stock will then be cherished, not only for its high average value, but because it is also the seed-bed from which alone can arise those rare personalities of genius who tower like mountain peaks above the human plain and to whose creative influence progress is primarily due. . .

The Edwards family record illustrates a principle of vital importance: the infinite diversity of ability. Many ill-informed or prejudiced critics have asserted that eugenics visualizes a specific type of “superman” and wants to “breed for points.” This is arrant nonsense. No real eugenist wants to do anything of the sort, for the very good reason that the eugenist realizes better than any one else that the fundamental quality of superior germ-plasm is its generalized creative urge — expressing itself in a multitude of specific activities.

What eugenics wants is

more physically sound men and women with greater ability in any valuable way. Whatever the actual goal of evolution may be, it can hardly be assumed by any except the professional pessimist that a race made up of such men and women is going to be handicapped by their presence.

The correlation of abilities is as well attested as any fact in psychology. Those who decry eugenics on the ground that it is impossible to establish any “standard of perfection,” since society needs many diverse kinds of people, are overlooking this fact. Any plan which increases the production of children in able families of various types will thereby produce more ability of all kinds since if a family is particularly gifted in one way, it is likely to be gifted above the average in several other desirable ways.

Eugenics sets up no specific superman as a type to which the rest of the race must be made to conform. It is not looking forward to the cessation of its work in a eugenic millennium. It is a perpetual process, which seeks only to raise the level of the race by the production of fewer people with physical and mental defects, and more people with physical and mental excellences. Such a race should be able to perpetuate itself, to subdue nature, to improve its environment progressively; its members should be happy and productive. To establish such a goal seems justified by the knowledge of evolution which is now available; and to make progress toward it is possible. [100]

The eugenic ideal is thus seen to be an ever-perfecting super race. Not the “superman” of Nietzsche — that brilliant yet baleful vision of a master caste, blooming like a gorgeous but parasitic orchid on a rotting trunk of servile degradation; but a super race, cleansing itself throughout by the elimination of its defects, and raising itself throughout by the cultivation of its qualities.

Such a race will imply a new civilization. Of course, even under the most favorable circumstances, neither this race nor this civilization can come today or to-morrow — perhaps not for many generations; because, like all really enduring creations, they will be the products of a progressive, evolutionary process, not of flaming revolution or numbing reaction.

Yet this evolutionary process, however gradual, must ultimately produce changes almost beyond our dreams. Every phase of human existence will be transformed: laws and customs, arts and sciences, ideas and ideals, even man’s conception of the Infinite.

How shall we characterize this society of the future? I believe it may be best visualized by one word: Neo-Aristocracy. The ideal of race perfection combines and harmonizes into a higher synthesis the hitherto conflicting ideas of aristocracy and democracy. I am here referring not to the specific political aspects which those ideas have at various times assumed, but to their broader aspects as philosophies of life and conduct.

Viewed in this fundamental light, we see democracy based upon the concept of human similarity, and aristocracy based upon the concept of human differentiation. Of course, both concepts are, in a sense, valid. Compared to the vast differences between mankind and other life forms, human differences sink to insignificance and mankind appears a substantial unity. Compared with each other, the wide differences between men themselves stand out, and mankind becomes an almost infinite diversity.

If these distinctions had been clearly recognized, democracy and aristocracy would have been viewed as parts of a larger truth, and there might have been no deep antagonism between them. Unfortunately, both concepts were formulated long ago, when science was in its infancy and when the laws of life were virtually unknown. Accordingly, both were founded largely on false notions: democracy upon the fallacy of natural equality; aristocracy upon the fallacy of artificial inequality.

Thus based on error, both democracy and aristocracy worked badly in practice: democracy tending to produce a destructive, levelling equality; aristocracy tending to produce an unjust oppressive inequality. This merely increased the antagonism between the two systems; because one was continually invoked to cure the harm wrought by the other, and because social ills were ascribed exclusively to the defeated party, instead of being diagnosed as a joint product.

For the past half century the democratic idea has gained an unparalleled ascendancy in the world, while the aristocratic idea has been correspondingly discredited. Indeed, so complete has been democracy’s triumph that it has been accorded a superstitious veneration, and any criticism of its fundamental perfection is widely regarded as a sort of lèse-majesté or even heresy.

Now, this is an unhealthy state of affairs, because the democratic idea is not perfect but is a mixture of truth with errors like “natural equality” which modern science has proved to be dearly unsound. Such a situation is unworthy of an age claiming to be inspired by that scientific spirit whose basic quality is unflinching love of truth. In a scientific age no idea should be sacrosanct, no facts above analysis and criticism. Of course, criticism and analysis should be measured and scientific — not mere outbursts of emotion. Traditional ideas should receive just consideration, with due regard for the fact that they must contain much truth to have established and maintained themselves. In like manner, new ideas should also receive just consideration so long as their advocates strive to persuade people and do not try to knock their brains out. But, new or old, no idea should be made a fetich — and democracy is no exception to the rule. As an idea, democracy should be thoughtfully, even respectfully, considered, as something which contains a deal of truth and which has done much good in the world. As a fetich, democracy has no more virtue than Mumbo-Jumbo or a West African ju-ju.

The fact is that modern science is unquestionably bringing the democratic dogma under review. And it is high time that scientists said so frankly. Nothing would be more laughable, if it were not so pathetic, than the way scientists interlard their writings (which clearly imply criticism of the democratic philosophy) with asides like: “Of course, this isn’t really against democracy, you know.”

Now these little pinches of incense cast upon the democratic altar may keep near-heretics in good standing. But it is unworthy of the scientific spirit, and (what is more important) it seriously retards progress. Genuine progress results from combining old and new truth into a higher synthesis which, bound by inherent affinity, will, like a chemical combination, “stay put.” Arbitrarily coupling truth and error, however, results in something which compares, not to chemical synthesis, but to a mechanical mixture about as stable as oil and water, which will be forever separating and must be continually shaken up. Obviously, out of such a mixture no new synthesis can ever come.

When, therefore, believers in race betterment are accused of being “undemocratic,” they should answer:

“Right you are! Science, especially biology, has disclosed the falsity of certain ideas like ‘natural equality,’ and the omnipotence of environment, on which the democratic concept is largely based. We aim to take the sound elements in both the traditional democratic and aristocratic philosophies and combine them in a higher synthesis — a new philosophy worthy of the race and the civilization that we visualize.”

Of course, it may be asked why, if this new philosophy is such a synthesis, it might not be called “Aristo-democracy,” or even “Neo-Democracy.” To which I would answer that I have no basic objection, provided we all agree on the facts. Labels matter comparatively little. It is the things labelled which count.

Yet, after all, labels do have a certain value. If they mean precisely what they say, this in turn means exact information as to the facts and hence avoids the possibility of unsound reasoning based on faulty premises. Now I believe that, for the time being at any rate, the new philosophy should he called “Neo-Aristocracy”; because it involves first of all the disestablishment of the democratic cult and the rehabilitation of the discredited aristocratic idea. For, despite its many unsound elements, the aristocratic idea does contain something ennobling which must be preserved and incorporated into the philosophy of the morrow. Today, therefore, the value of the aristocratic principle should be emphasized as a healthy intellectual reaction against the overweening preponderance of the democratic idea. Generations hence, when the elimination of degeneracy, and even of mediocrity shall have produced something like generalized superiority, the approach to real equality between men will have become so evident that their philosophy of life may better be termed “Neo-Democracy.” Other times, other fashions. Let us not usurp the future.

One last point should be carefully noted. When I speak of Neo-Aristocracy as applicable to-day, I refer to outlook, not practice. At present no basic political changes are either possible or desirable. Certainly, any thought of our existing social upper classes as “Neo-Aristocracies” would be, to put it mildly, a bad joke. We have already seen that, while these classes do unquestionably contain the largest percentage of superior strains, they are yet loaded down with mediocrities and are peppered with degenerates and inferiors. We must absolutely banish the notion that Neo-Aristocracy will perpetuate that cardinal vice of traditional aristocracy — caste. Classes there probably will be; but these classes, however defined their functions, will be extremely fluid as regards the individuals who compose them. No true superior, wherever born, will be denied admission to the highest class; no person, whenever born, can stay in a class unless he measures up to specifications.

The attainment of Neo-Aristocracy implies a long political evolution, the exact course of which is probably unpredictable. However a recognition of the goal and of the fundamental principles involved should help us on our way.

That way will assuredly be long. At best, it will probably take many generations. It may take many centuries. Who knows whether our present hopes are not dreams; whether the forces of chaos will not disrupt civilization and plunge us into a “Dark Age.”

Well, even so, there would be left — faith. For, may we not believe that those majestic laws of life which now stand revealed will no more pass utterly from human ken than have other great discoveries like the sowing of grain and the control of fire? And, therefore, may we not hope that, if not to-day, then in some better time, the race will insure its own regeneration? To doubt this would be to deny that mysterious, primal urge which, raising man from the beast, lifts his eyes to the stars.



98. In Chapter III.

99. For example: The United States Federal Income Tax grants a larger exemption to married than to single persons, and allows further deductions for “dependents,” including, of course, minor children.

100. Popenoe and Johnson, pg. 166

* * *

Source: Dissident Millennial

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