Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

Is There Intelligent Life on Earth? (part 14)

by Revilo P. Oliver

A Question of Taxonomy

THE READER WILL have noticed what was illogical and literally untrue in the foregoing section, and will have made allowance for the vagaries of our language, but the point deserves comment.

On the basis of the report in Mr. Dieckmann’s book, I made a statement that Mr. Patrick was not human. Now, although I said so, I could not have meant that he did not belong to the species that biologists sarcastically call Homo sapiens, and, so far as I know, he may have belonged to the subspecies that Vacher de Lapouge called Homo Europaeus and Günther and Coon prefer to call Nordicus. What was worse, I implied that he was a beast, and that was wholesale slander of all other mammals.

As a matter of fact, we belong to the only species of animal that takes pleasure in witnessing and inflicting pain and in making its victims suffer. The tiger — a magnificent animal, as the learned Savitri Devi remarks in her Impeachment of Man — kills only when he is hungry, and indeed kills in the most efficient way within his power, never making his victims suffer unnecessarily. You may remember from Robert Ardrey’s Social Contract the piteous cries of the wart-hog that had been run down by a pack of lycaones, commonly called African hunting dogs, but Ardrey also points out that the killers had no means of killing more expeditiously, no way of making their prey suffer less. Cats, it is true, play with mice, and we suppose that the mouse suffers fear, as we would, but the cat is merely exercising herself, and certainly does not consider the mouse’s putative emotions. The genus Homo includes all the animals that derive a psychic satisfaction from the agonies of others, whether of their own or other genera.

That distinctively human trait may be only natural. In every region in which wild life has not yet been exterminated, you would hear rifles cracking every day in the year, if some efforts to protect free animals were not being made. Other mammals kill because they must, to eat or to avoid being eaten; men kill because they enjoy it. In one of his well-known essays, Mark Twain commented on a British Earl, who had gone hunting on our western plains and had happily slaughtered a whole herd of bison. He contrasted the earl’s conduct with the habits of a python, and concluded that the earl must have descended from the python — descended a long way.

Mark Twain’s indignation is understandable, but we should note that the British huntsman, however regrettable his venatic enthusiasm, killed the buffalo cleanly with accurately-aimed bullets, and did not merely wound them in order to gloat over their death agonies.

What I meant when I said Patrick was not human was only that he evidently did not have the sentiments that are more or less instinctive in our race and are regarded as foolish or incomprehensible by others. We all know that it is only natural for innately savage races, especially Congoids and the American Indians, to take a great (and, for them, hilarious) delight in both torturing their captives and watching them suffer — not only White men, for whom they have a racial hatred, but even their own kind — and the females seem even more vicious than the males. What does astonish us at first is that the Mongolians, who have created a civilization of their own, seem quite without compassion for human beings as such; the Chinese invented the most atrocious form of execution, ling ch’ih, the “lingering death,” often called the “death of a thousand slices,” inflicted with such skill that the victim is kept conscious for hours as he is slowly dissected before a fascinated audience; and we are repelled by the common practice (witnessed, for example, and well described by Frank Harris in his Undreamed-of Shores) of punishing a clerk who has embezzled a few cents by crushing his foot in the court room and letting him crawl away until he dies of gangrene. The cruelty of Semites is proverbial and among their innovations we especially remember the practice of burying a man to his neck in the ground and smearing his face with honey to attract hungry ants. The cruelty of Jews seems somewhat different as it is exemplified by their gloating over the atrocities their ferocious god supposedly inflicted on the Egyptians, or by their ingenuity in torturing the hated Aryans to death during the great Jewish Conspiracy of A.D. 117, for those examples seem to show an affirmation of their vast racial superiority over lower animals, rather than mere enjoyment of a spectacle of agony for its own sake — although their ingenuity in crucifying their own dissidents makes one wonder.

Our own race’s record is not exemplary. One may think, of course, of the dungeons of the Inquisition and the practice of burning witches (such as Jeanne d’Arc) alive, but there we have the influence of Christianity at work, and even so, the Puritans of New England, although God-fearing, mercifully hanged their witches. Such things as breaking on the wheel and drawing-and-quartering (before death) for particularly heinous crimes are hard to forgive, but, generally speaking, the normal modes of execution are hanging and beheading, which produce death speedily and with a minimum of suffering, and it is noteworthy that even the blood-thirsty egalitarians of the French Revolution used the guillotine and made it famous. Recently, we have decided that cyanide gas is even less painful and have adopted it, although the administration of it requires a rather complicated procedure, of which the Jews did not trouble to inform themselves when they decided to substitute cyanide gas for mass electrocutions in their fiction about a “Holocaust” of God’s Own People.

Although Aryans have been capable of monstrous excesses, especially when excited by religion or personal grief, our peculiar racial instinct is normally revolted by the infliction of unnecessary pain on even condemned criminals. And we view the foul physical degradation inflicted in Communist “re-education”62 and American “sensitivity training” as equally repulsive. We seem to have, as did the Greeks, a deep and innate feeling that violating the integrity of a fellow human being (of our race and usually of other races also) is hybris, an offense against nature, a wanton transgression of the limits within which men are confined by being human. Hybris is the crime of a man who has forgotten his own humanity — it is inhuman.

That essentially Aryan idea (which, of course, has nothing to do with Christianity) is the source of the meaning we often attach to ‘inhuman,’ but it reached us through the somewhat illogical Roman amplification of it, which has introduced into our vocabulary an even more confusing use of words derived from the same root. That deserves some explanation.

In the writings of Cicero, which have so profoundly moulded our own culture, humanitas, which etymologically should designate what is generally found among human beings or at least in all or almost all of the members of our race, took on the meaning of the highest culture to which a select minority of our race could attain, the quality that marks an intellectual aristocracy. Such a use of the word by Cicero and his contemporaries sprang from the idea that such a quality was potentially inherent in all Greeks and Romans, but consider, for example, Cicero’s definition of a cultured man in the Tusculanae, V.23.66: qui cum Musis, id est cum humanitate et cum doctrina, habeat aliquod commercium: ‘A man who has a certain familiarity with the Muses (all nine, from Calliope and Euterpe to Clio and Urania, from epic and lyric poetry to history and astronomy), that is to say, a man who has such familiarity with humanitas and philosophical thinking.’ A cultured man, thus defined, Cicero goes on to say, esteems Archimedes, the Syracusan mathematician, far above Dionysis I, the celebrated tyrant of Syracuse, who attained adroitly the virtually absolute power that he held prosperously until his death (and, incidentally, seems to have enjoyed the loyalty of his subjects, the disgruntled Plato notwithstanding).

We have, of course, come fantastically far from the notion of a quality that is actually possessed by human beings in general. Whatever may be their theoretical potential, in practice humanitas has been restricted to a comparatively small number of human beings who have a high degree of innate intelligence and have been able to enjoy the comparatively long and arduous education requisite to develop it. But that is still one of the meanings we commonly associate with words denoting the quality of being human.

Since the Renaissance identified Greek and Latin literature as the studia humanitatis, the ‘Humanities’ are Greek and Latin, although cheap substitutes are now on sale in every diploma-mill. ‘Humanism,’ strictly speaking, was succinctly defined by the late Ernest H. Wilkins, President of Oberlin College, as “a scholarly and initially reactive enthusiasm for classic culture, accompanied by creative writing in Latin on classic lines.” The Professor of Humanity in a Scottish university is the ranking professor of the Classics. A cultivated man, according to Cicero’s definition, his mind and perceptions enhanced by humanitas, will naturally abhor the vulgar cruelty that we improperly call ‘brutal.’ So since the studia humanitatis are also termed ‘humane learning,’ a ‘humane man’ is not one who is merely kind, but properly speaking, one whose enlightened kindness is associated with a certain culture. All of this, however, has merely added to the general confusion, and it must be more than a decade ago that I saw a learned journal defaced with an article by an ostensibly educated professor, who cited an English writer of the Seventeenth Century as having called King James I cruel, whereas all that the writer said was that King James was a poor Latinist (he had “but little humanity”).

This highly specialized use of the word has to some extent colored even our more reasonable use of ‘humane’ and ‘human’ to designate the kind of character that our race would like to see in all of its members (as it has little chance of ever doing!). In this extremely common sense of the word, ‘inhuman’ simply means ‘un-Aryan,’ i.e., not what we like to think of as characteristic of Aryans. And when we call an individual ‘inhuman’ or ‘brutal,’ what we mean in biological fact is that he is all too human. I think some perception of this enters into our feeling for the beauty of unspoiled nature and of landscapes

Where every prospect pleases
And only man is vile.

When we speak of submissiveness as ‘inhuman’ or ‘animal-like,’ we are on somewhat firmer ground. Our great cunning enables us to dominate most other mammals, and in circuses one commonly sees a tiger leap through a burning hoop at the command of a man whom the tiger could eviscerate with one sweep of his claws. By the techniques of circuration, we have domesticated species especially useful to us. The docility of cows (though not of bulls) is proverbial, and thousands of herds daily yield their milk to their human parasites. Horses may pose a special problem in mammalian psychology, for Elwyn Hartley Edwards63 believes that some quirk in the equine mind makes a horse accept man as the surrogate of the stallion who would lead and govern a small herd. Our wool is taken from sheep, who are notoriously the most stupid of all mammals and were accordingly taken as their mental models by the Christians, who want to be thoughtless sheep herded by their pastors (pastores!) or by bishops whose symbol of authority is the shepherd’s crook.

This Christian yearning reappears, I need not say, in the “Liberal”-Marxist-Technocrat dream of reducing mankind to billions of fat sheep, who will graze forever in green pastures, eating and copulating, with never a moment’s need to think or fight.

It is much too late to reform our language, but when we draw the spurious antithesis “human:bestial,” let us remember what we really mean.

* * *

Source: Liberty Bell publications; transcribed by Racial Idealism

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