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CIVILIZATION is the flowering of the human species. It is both a recent and a fragile thing. The first glimmering of genuine civilization appeared only eight or ten thousand years ago. This might seem a long time. It does not seem so long when we remember that behind civilization's dawn lies a vast night of barbarism, of savagery, of bestiality, estimated at half a million years, since the ape-man shambled forth from the steaming murk of tropical forests, and, scowling and blinking, raised his eyes to the stars. Civilization is complex. It involves the existence of human communities characterized by political and social organization; dominating and utilizing natural forces; adapting themselves to the new man-made environment thereby created; possessing knowledge, refinement, arts, and sciences; and (last, but emphatically not least) composed of individuals capable of sustaining this elaborate complex and of handing it on to a capable posterity. This last consideration is, in fact, the crux of the whole matter; the secret of success, the secret, likewise, of those tragic failures which perplex and sadden the student of history. Man's march athwart the ages has been, 2 not a steady advance, but rather a slow wandering, now breasting sunlit heights, yet anon plunging into dank swamps and gloomy valleys. Of the countless tribes of men, many have perished utterly while others have stopped by the wayside, apparently incapable of going forward, and have either vegetated or sunk into decadence. Man's trail is littered with the wrecks of dead civilizations and dotted with the graves of promising peoples stricken by an untimely end. Sharp and insistent comes the query: Why? Civilization seems so good a thing! It means relative protection from the blind and cruel forces of nature; abolition of the struggle against savage beasts and amelioration of the struggle between men; opportunity for comfort, leisure, and the development of the higher faculties. Why, then, do we find so many branches of the human species never attaining -- never really striving after -- these eminently desirable boons? Also (yet more noteworthy!) why do we find still other stocks, after having attained civilization, losing it and falling back to the lower levels of barbarism or even of savagery? Mysterious though this may at first sight appear, there is, nevertheless, an answer: Those stagnant or decadent peoples could not bear the burden of civilization. For civilization is a burden as well as a benefit. This is inevitable in a universe governed by laws which decree that something may not come out of nothing. Civilization is not a cause but an effect -- the effect of sustained human energy; and this energy, in turn, springs from the creative urge of superior germ-plasm. Civilization is 3 thus fundamentally conditioned by race. In any particular people, civilization will progress just so far as that people has the capacity to further it and the ability to bear the correlative burden which it entails. When this crucial point is reached, the civilization of that people either stagnates or retrogrades. Exactly how the process works becomes clear by a glance at human history. When the ape-man emerged from utter animality, he emerged with empty hands and an almost empty head. Ever since that far-off day, man has been filling both hands and head -- his hands with tools, his head with ideas. But the filling has proceeded most unequally, because capacity has varied greatly among the different branches of mankind. Whether all human varieties spring from a single original stock we do not know. What we do know is that the human species early appears divided into a number of different varieties contrasting markedly both in physical features and mental capacities. Thus differentiated and ever further differentiating, mankind plodded the long, long trail leading from bestiality to savagery, from savagery to barbarism, and from barbarism to civilization. Slowly the empty hands and heads began to fill. The hands grasped chance sticks and stones, then trimmed clubs and chipped flints, then a combination of the twain. These same hands presently fashioned the skins of beasts to clothe the body's nakedness against the cold, kindled fires for warmth and roasted food, modeled clay for pottery, tamed wild creatures into domestic animals. And behind the hand was the brain, not merely making these purely material inventions 4 but also discovering others of a higher order, like speech or even non-material concepts from which sprang the rudiments of social and political existence. All this occurred while man was still a savage. With the next stage -- barbarism -- came fresh discoveries, like agriculture and the smelting of metals, together with a variety of new ideas (especially the momentous art of writing), which brought mankind to the threshold of civilization. Now it is obvious that at this stage of his development man was a vastly different creature from the bestial being of earlier times. Starting from naked destitution and brutish ignorance, man had gradually gathered to himself an increasing mass of tools, possessions, and ideas. This made life much more comfortable and agreeable. But it also made life much more complex. Such a life required vastly more effort, intelligence, and character than had the instinctive, animal existence of primeval days. In other words, long before the dawn of true civilization, the burden of progress had begun to weigh upon mankind. Indeed, even the first light burdens had in some cases proved too heavy to be borne. Not all branches of the human species attained the threshold of civilization. Some, indeed, never reached even the limits of savagery. Existing survivals of low-type savage man, such as the Bushmen of South Africa and the Australian "Black-fellows," have vegetated for countless ages in primeval squalor and seem incapable of rising even to the level of barbarism, much less to that of civilization. It is 5 fortunate for the future of mankind that most of these survivals from the remote past are to-day on the verge of extinction. Their persistence and possible incorporation into higher stocks would produce the most depressive and retrogressive results. Much more serious is the problem presented by those far more numerous stocks, which, while transcending the plane of mere savagery, have stopped at some level of barbarism. Not only have these stocks never originated a civilization themselves, but they seem constitutionally incapable of assimilating the civilization of others. Deceptive veneers of civilization may be acquired, but reversion to congenital barbarism ultimately takes place. To such barbarian stocks belong many of the peoples of Asia, the American Indians, and the African negroes. These congenital barbarians have always been dangerous foes of progress. Many a promising civilization has been ravaged and ruined by barbarians without the wit to rebuild what they had destroyed. To-day, the progress of science may have freed our own civilization from the peril of armed conquest by barbarian hordes; nevertheless, these peoples still threaten us with the subtler menace of "pacific penetration." Usually highly prolific, often endowed with extraordinary physical vigor, and able to migrate easily, owing to modern facilities of transportation, the more backward peoples of the earth tend increasingly to seek the centres of civilization, attracted thither by the high wages and easier living conditions which there prevail. The influx of such lower elements into civilized societies is an unmitigated 6 disaster. It upsets living standards, socially sterilizes the higher native stocks, and if (as usually happens in the long run) interbreeding occurs, the racial foundations of civilization are undermined, and the mongrelized population, unable to bear the burden, sinks to a lower plane. So much for savagery and barbarism. Now what about civilization? For the last eight or ten thousand years civilizations have been appearing all the way from Eastern Asia to Europe and North Africa. At first these civilizations were local -- mere points of light in a vast night of barbarism and savagery. They were also isolated; the civilizations of Egypt, Chaldea, India, and China developing separately, with slight influence upon each other. But gradually civilizations spread, met, interacted, synthesized. Finally, in Europe, a great civilizing tide set in, first displaying itself in the "Classic" civilization of Greece and Rome, and persisting down to the "Western Civilization" of our days. A remarkable fact about civilization is its intensification of features already observed on the savage and barbarian planes. The civilized man has vastly more security, power, opportunity, comfort, leisure, than has the barbarian or savage; he has amassed a wealth of instruments, possessions, and ideas infinitely transcending the paltry hoards of earlier days; he lives in a "man-made" environment astoundingly different from the "state of nature." This is especially true of modern Western civilization. Our civilization may be inferior to others in some respects. It may lack the beauty of 7 the Greek, the durability of the Chinese, the spirituality of the Mediaeval. But in dynamic energy, in mastery over the forces of nature, and in all-round efficiency it far transcends anything the world has ever seen. In fact, within the past century we have broken the age-old tempo of material progress and have leaped clear over into a new self-made world. Down to a trifle over a century ago man's material progress had been a gradual -- a very gradual -- evolution. His tools, though more numerous, were mainly elaborations of those discovered by his remote ancestors. A few instruments like the printing press and the mariner's compass were about the only notable innovations. Man's control over natural resources had likewise not greatly expanded. With the exception of gunpowder, he had tapped no new sources of material energy since very ancient times. His chief source of power was muscle, animal and human (do we not still reckon in "horse-power"?), and, for the rest, he filled his sails with the breeze and turned clumsy water- wheels by using brooks and streams. But the ancients had done all these things. As for methods of communication, they had, if anything, deteriorated. In the year 1800, there was no system of highways which equalled the Roman roads, no posting-service as quick as Caesar's, no method of signaling which could compare with the semaphore "telegraphy" of the Persians, and probably no ship which could not have been overhauled by a Phoenician galley in a moderate sea. Suddenly, astoundingly, all was changed. The hidden forces of nature yielded themselves wholesale, as though 8 at the wave of a magician's wand. Steam, electricity, petrol, and a whole series of mysterious "rays" and "waves" gave man powers of which he had not even dreamed. These powers were promptly harnessed to innumerable machines which soon transformed every phase of human existence. Production and transportation were alike revolutionized, distance was well-nigh abolished, and the very planet shrunk to the measure of human hands. In other words, man suddenly entered a new material world, differing not merely in degree but in kind from that of his grandfathers. Now all of this inspired modern man with that spirit of confidence and optimistic hope in an illimitably glorious future which characterized the greater part of the nineteenth century. And yet, a little reflection and a modicum of historical knowledge should have made intelligent persons do some hard thinking. Modern civilization was not the first civilization. It was merely the last of a long series of civilizations which had bloomed gloriously -- and had then stagnated, decayed, or utterly perished. Furthermore, save for a few exceptional cases where civilizations were uprooted in their prime by a blast of foreign conquest, the basic cause of disaster was always a decline or breakdown from within. Here, obviously, was food for thought. And, as a matter of fact, a large number of thoughtful persons gave the matter their earnest consideration. Was our glorious modern civilization ultimately destined to be "one with Nineveh or Tyre"? So it might seem: unless, perchance, ours turned out to be the "exception 9 which proves the rule." But what, then, was this "rule" which foredoomed all civilizations to eventual decline? Despite much theorizing, the answers are not convincing. Certain thinkers elaborated "The Law of Civilization and Decay." This fatalistic theory asserted that civilizations, like individuals, have their cycle of youth, maturity, senescence, and death. But what was the cycle? Some civilizations, like those of Egypt and China, endured for thousands of years, others for centuries; still others for a few brief generations. Obviously, no statistical curve could be plotted, and the idea was discredited. Of course, other theories were elaborated. The ruin of civilizations was variously ascribed to luxury, vice, town life, irreligion, and much more besides. Yet all these theories somehow failed to satisfy. They might be shown to have been contributing causes in particular cases, but they could not account universally for the phenomena of declining civilization. Within the past two decades, however, the rapid progress of biological knowledge has thrown a flood of light on this vexed question, and has enabled us to frame a theory so in accordance with known facts that is seems to offer substantially the correct answer. And this answer is that, in the last analysis, civilization always depends upon the qualities of the people who are the bearers of it. All these vast accumulations of instruments and ideas, massed and welded into marvelous structures rising harmoniously in glittering majesty, rest upon living foundations -- upon the men and women who create and sustain them. So long as those men and 10 women are able to support it, the structure rises, broad- based and serene; but let the living foundations prove unequal to the task, and the mightiest civilization sags, cracks, and at last crashes down into chaotic ruin. Civilization thus depends absolutely upon the quality of its human supporters. Mere numbers mean nothing. The most brilliant civilization the world has ever seen arose in Athens -- a tiny community where the number of free- men (i.e., genuine Athenians) numbered perhaps 50,000 all told. We therefore see that, for civilization to arise at all, a superior human stock is first necessary; while to perfect, or even to maintain that civilization, the human stock must be kept superior. And these are requirements more exacting than might be imagined. Surveying human history, we find that superior stocks are the exception rather than the rule. We have already seen how many races of men have never risen above the planes of savagery or barbarism, while relatively few races have shown the ability to create high and enduring civilizations. Furthermore, even inside the superior racial groups there exists a similar differentiation. When we speak of a "superior race" we do not imply that all the members of that race stand on the same lofty plane. Of course, the average level runs higher than do the averages of less favored races. But besides this statistical consideration there is the even more important fact that within the higher group itself there exist a relatively large number of very superior individuals, characterized by unusual energy, ability, talent, or genius. It is this elite which leavens the group and initiates progress. Here, again, we 11 see the supreme importance of quality. In no human society has the percentage of really superior individuals even been large -- in fact, their percentage has been always statistically negligible. Their influence, however, has been incalculable. Athens was not made up of Platos or Xenophons: it had its quota of dullards, knaves, and fools -- as is vividly shown in the immortal satires of Aristophanes. Yet the dynamic power of its elite made Athens the glory of the world, and only when the Athenian stock ceased to produce superiors did Athens sink into insignificance. Thus we see that civilization depends absolutely upon quality, while quality, in turn, depends upon inheritance. Environment may bring out all there is in a man, but heredity predetermines what there is to bring. We now begin to see the fallacy of such fatalistic notions as "The Law of Civilization and Decay." Civilizations, unlike living organisms, have no appointed cycle of life and death. Given a high-type stock producing an adequate quota of superior individuals, and a civilization might be immortal. Why, then, has this never occurred? It has not occurred mainly because of three destructive tendencies which have always, sooner or later, brought civilizations to decline and ruin. These tendencies are: (1) the tendency to structural overloading; (2) the tendency to biological regression; (3) the tendency to atavistic revolt. Here are the three grim Nemeses that have dogged the footsteps of the most promising peoples. Let us consider them in turn. 12 We have observed how civilizations, as they progress, inevitably become more complex. Each succeeding generation elaborates the social environment of the past, makes fresh additions, and passes on to the next generation, which repeats the process in turn. This ability to transmit social acquirements, both material and mental, is one of the chief points marking man off from the animals. It has, in fact, been happily termed "social heredity." Because of "social heredity" each human generation is able to start at a higher environment level, and is not forced, like the animals, to depend upon instinct and blind experience. Indeed, "social heredity" forms the basis of all those theories which assert that environment is the chief factor in human progress and which minimize true (i.e., biological) heredity as a minor or even negligible factor. These "environmentalist" arguments, however, omit one essential fact which vitiates their conclusions. This fact is that, while hereditary qualities are implanted in the individual with no action on his part, social acquirements are taken over only at the cost of distinct effort. How great this effort may become is easily seen by the long years of strenuous mental labor required in modern youth to assimilate the knowledge already gained by adults. That old saying, "There is no royal road to learning," illustrates the hard fact that each successive generation must tread the same thorny path if the acquirements of the past are to be retained. Of course, it is obvious that the more acquirements increase, the longer and steeper the path must be. And this raises the 13 query: May there not come a point where the youthful traveller will be unable to scale the height -- where the effort required will be beyond his powers? Well, this is precisely what has happened numberless times in the past. It is happening to multitudes of individuals about us every day. When it occurs on a sufficiently grand scale we witness those social regressions of entire communities which we call a "decline in civilization." A "decline in civilization" means that the social environment has outrun inherited capacity. Furthermore, the grim frequency of such declines throughout history seems to show that in every highly developed society the increasingly massive, complex superstructure of civilization tends to overload the human foundations. Now why does this overloading in high civilizations always tend to take place? For the very simple reason that the complexity (and, therefore, the burden) of a civilization may increase with tremendous rapidity to an inconceivable degree; whereas the capacity of its human bearers remains virtually constant or positively declines. The sobering truth was until recently obscured by the wide-spread belief (first elaborated about a century ago by the French scientist Lamarck) that acquired characteristics were inherited. In other words, it used to be thought that the acquirements of one generation could be passed on by actual inheritance to the next. Lamarcks's theory excited enthusiastic hopes, and young men contemplating matrimony used to go in for "high thinking" in order to have brainy sons, while expectant mothers inspired their months of gestation by reading 14 the classics, confident that their offspring would be born with a marked taste for good literature. To-day this amiable doctrine is exploded, virtually all biologists now agreeing that acquired characteristics are not inherited. An abundant weight of evidence proves that, during the entire historic period at any rate, mankind has made no racial progress in either physical power or brain capacity. The skeletal remains of the ancients show them to have possessed brains and bodies fully equal to our own. And these anatomical observations are confirmed by the teachings of history. The earliest civilized peoples of whom we have any knowledge displayed capacities, initiative, and imagination quite comparable to ours. Of course, their stock of social experience was very much less than ours, but their inherent qualities cannot be deemed inferior. Certainly these ancient peoples produced their full share of great men. Can we show greater philosophers than Plato or Aristotle, greater scientists than Archimedes or Ptolemy, greater generals than Caesar or Alexander, greater poets than Homer or Hesiod, greater spiritual guides than Buddha or Jesus? Surely, the peoples who produced such immortal personalities ranked not beneath us in the biological scale. But if this is not so; if even the highest human types have made no perceptible biological advance during the last ten thousand years; what does this mean? It means that all the increasingly vast superstructures of civilization which have arisen during those millennia have been raised on similar human foundations. It means that men have been called upon to carry heavier loads 15 with no correlative increase of strength to bear them. The glitter of civilization has so blinded us to the inner truth of things that we have long believed that, as a civilization progressed, the quality of the human stock concerned in building it progressed too. In other words, we have imagined that we saw an improving race, whereas all we actually saw was a race expressing itself under improving conditions. A dangerous delusion this! Especially for us, whose civilization is the most complex the world has ever seen, and whose burden is, therefore, the heaviest ever borne. If past civilizations have crushed men beneath the load, what may happen to our civilization, and ourselves? Our analysis has thus far shown that civilizations tend toward structural overloading, both from their own increasing complexity and also from the influence of other civilizations, which add sudden strains and stresses hitherto unknown. Even if this were the only danger to which civilizations were exposed, the matter would be serious enough. But the problem is more complex. We have already indicated that other destructive tendencies exist. To the second of these tendencies -- biological regression -- let us now turn. 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, 16 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 17 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 18 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 19 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 20 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. Civilization depends upon superior racial stocks. But stocks are made up of individuals, who, far from being precisely equal, differ widely in qualities and capacities. At one end of the human scale are a number of superior individuals, at the other end a number of inferior individuals, while between the two extremes stands the mass of intermediate individuals, who likewise grade up or down the scale. Of course, these "superiors," "inferiors," and "intermediates," are not parked off by clear-cut lines; on the contrary, they shade imperceptibly into each other, and between the classes there lie intermediate zones composed of "border-line" individuals whose exact classification is hard to determine. Nevertheless, these classes do exist, just as day and night exist. At dawn or twilight, 21 we cannot say of any particular minute: "This is day, and next minute will be night." Yet day and night are facts of transcendent importance, and we accordingly grade the hours into categories of light and darkness which, though slightly arbitrary, are essentially true. Now, among our human categories we have observed that progress is primarily due to the superiors. It is they who found and further civilizations. As for the intermediate mass, it accepts the achievements of its creative pioneers. Its attitude is receptive. This receptivity is due to the fact that most of the intermediate grades are near enough to the superiors to understand and assimilate what the superiors have initiated. But what about the inferiors? Hitherto we have not analyzed their attitude. We have seen that they are incapable of either creating of furthering civilization, and are thus a negative hindrance to progress. But the inferiors are not mere negative factors in civilized life; they are also positive -- in an inverse, destructive sense. The inferior elements are, instinctively or consciously, the enemies of civilization. And they are its enemies, not by chance, but because they are more or less uncivilizable. We must remember that the level of society never coincides with the levels of its human units. The social level is a sort of compromise -- a balance of constituent forces. This very fact implies that the individuals must be differentially spaced. And so it is. Superior individuals stand above the social level; sometimes far above that level -- whence the saying about men "ahead of their times." But what about men "behind 22 their times"? They have always been numerous, and, the higher the civilization, the more of them there are apt to be. The truth is that as a civilization advances it leaves behind multitudes of human beings who have not the capacity to keep pace. The laggards, of course, vary greatly among themselves. Some are congenital savages or barbarians; men who could not fit into any civilization, and who consequently fall behind from the start. There are not "degenerates"; they are "primitives," carried over into a social environment in which they do not belong. They must be clearly distinguished from the true degenerates: the imbecile, the feeble-minded, the neurotic, the insane -- all those melancholy waste- products which every living species excretes but which are promptly extirpated in the state of nature, whereas in human societies they are too often preserved. Moreover, besides primitives and degenerates, civilization by its very advance automatically condemns fresh multitudes to the ranks of the "inferior." Just as "primitives" who would be quite at home in savage or barbarian environments are alien to any sort of civilization, so, many individuals who rub along well enough in civilization's early phases have neither the wit nor the moral fibre to meet the sterner demands of high, complex civilizations. Most poignant of all is the lot of the "border-liners: -- those who just fail to achieve a social order, which they can comprehend but in which they somehow cannot succeed. Such are the ranks of the inferior -- the vast army of 23 the unadaptable and the incapable. Let me again emphasize that "inferior" does not necessarily mean "degenerate." The degenerate are, of course, included, but the word "inferior" is a relative term signifying "below" or "beneath," in this case meaning persons beneath or below the standard of civilization. The word inferior has, however, been so often employed as a synonym for degenerate that it tends to produce confusion of thought, and to avoid this I have coined a term which seems to describe collectively all those kinds of persons whom I have just discussed. This term is The Under-Man -- the man who measures under the standards of capacity and adaptability imposed by the social order in which he lives. And this term I shall henceforth employ. Now how does the Under-Man look at civilization? This civilization offers him few benefits and fewer hopes. It usually affords him little beyond a meagre subsistence. And, sooner or later, he instinctively senses that he is a failure; that civilization's prizes are not for him. But this civilization, which withholds benefits, does not hesitate to impose burdens. We have previously stated that civilization's heaviest burdens are borne by the superior. Absolutely, this is true; relatively the Under-Man's intrinsically lighter burdens feel heavier because of his innate incapacity. The very discipline of the social order oppresses the Under-Man; it thwarts and chastises him at every turn. To wild natures society is a torment, while the congenital caveman, placed in civilization, is always in trouble and usually in jail. All this seems inevitable. But, in addition to 24 these social handicaps, the Under-Man often suffers from the action of better-placed individuals who take advantage of his weakness and incapacity to exploit him and drive him down to social levels even lower than those which he would normally occupy. Such is the Under-Man's unhappy lot. Now, what is his attitude toward that civilization from which he has so little to hope? What but instinctive opposition and discontent? These feelings, of course, vary all the way from dull, unreasoning dislike to flaming hatred and rebellion. But, in the last analysis, they are directed not merely against imperfections in the social order, but against the social order itself. This is a point which is rarely mentioned, and still more rarely understood. Yet it is the meat of the whole matter. We must realize clearly that the basic attitude of the Under-Man is an instinctive and natural revolt against civilization. The reform of abuses may diminish the intensity of social discontent. It may also diminish the numbers of the discontented, because social abuses precipitate into the depths many persons who do not really belong there; persons who were innately capable of achieving the social order if they had had a fair chance. But, excluding all such anomalous cases, there remains a vast residue of unadaptable, depreciated humanity, essentially uncivilizable and incorrigibly hostile to civilization. Every society engenders within itself hordes of savages and barbarians, ripe for revolt and ever ready to pour forth and destroy. In normal times these elements of chaos go almost 25 unperceived. Civilization automatically evolves strong social controls which keep down the antisocial elements. For one thing, the civilized man instinctively supports his civilization, just as the Under-Man instinctively opposes it; and when civilization is threatened, its supporters instantly rise in its defense. Again society maintains a permanent standing army (composed of policemen, soldiers, judges, and others), which is usually quite capable of keeping order. The mere presence of this standing army deters the antisocial elements from mass action. Desperate individuals, of course, break forth into crime, but society hunts them down and eliminates them by prison and the scaffold. The Under-Man may thus be controlled. But he remains; he multiplies; he bides his time. And, now and then, his time comes. When a civilization falters beneath its own weight and by the decay of its human foundations; when its structure is shaken by the storms of war, dissension, or calamity; then the long-repressed forces of atavistic revolt gather themselves together for a spring. And (noteworthy fact!) such revolts usually have able leaders. That is what makes them so formidable. This revolutionary officers-corps is mainly composed of three significant types: the "border-liner," the "disinherited," and the "misguided superior." Let us consider them in turn. We have already noted the "border-liner," the man who cannot quite "make good." We have seen how hard is his lot and how hotly he turns against that social order 26 which he just fails to achieve. Most of such persons fail because of some fatal defect -- a taint of character or a mental "twist." In other respects they may be very superior, and possess brilliant talents which they can use against society with powerful effect. We have also noted the "disinherited," the man innately capable of civilized success but cast into the depths by social injustice or individual wrong-doing. Deprived of their birthright, the disinherited are like-wise apt to be bitter foes of society. They enlist gladly in the army of chaos (where they do not really belong), and if they possess marked talents they may be very dangerous enemies. Lastly, there is the "misguided superior." He is a strange phenomenon! Placed by nature in the van of civilization, he goes over to its enemies. This seems inexplicable. Yet it can be explained. As the Under-Man revolts because civilization is so far ahead of him, so the misguided superior revolts because it is so far behind. Exasperated by its slow progress, shocked at its faults, and erroneously ascribing to mankind in general his own lofty impulses, the misguided superior dreams short cuts to the millennium and joins the forces of social revolt, not realizing that their ends are profoundly different even though their methods may be somewhat the same. The misguided superior is probably the most pathetic figure in human history. Flattered by designing scoundrels, used to sanctify sinister schemes, and pushed forward as a figurehead during the early stages of revolutionary agitation, the triumph of the revolution brings 27 him to a tragic end. Horrified at sight of barbarism's unmasked face, he tries to stay its destructive course. In vain! The Under-Man turns upon his former champion with a snarl and tramples him into the mud. The social revolution is now in full swing. Such upheavals are profoundly terrible. I have described them as "atavistic." And that is just what they are -- "throw backs" to a far lower social plane. The complex fabric of society, slowly and painfully woven, is torn to tatters; the social controls vanish, and civilization is left naked to the assaults of anarchy. In truth, disruption goes deeper still. Not only is society in the grip of its barbarians, but every individual falls more or less under the sway of his own lower instincts. For, in this respect, the individual is like society. Each of us has within him an "Under-Man," that primitive animality which is the heritage of our human, and even our prehuman, past. This Under-Man may be buried deep in the recesses of our being; but he is there, and psychoanalysis informs us of his latent power. This primitive animality, potentially present even in the noblest natures, continuously dominates the lower social strata, especially the pauper, criminal, and degenerate elements -- civilization's "inner barbarians." Now, when society's dregs boil to the top, a similar process takes place in individuals, to whatever social level they may belong. In virtually every member of the community there is a distinct resurgence of the brute and the savage, and the atavistic trend thus becomes practically universal. This explains most of the seemingly mysterious 28 phenomena of revolution. It accounts for the mental contagion which infects all classes; the wild elation with which the revolution is at first hailed; the way in which even well-poised men throw themselves into the stream, let it carry them whither it lists, and commit acts which they afterward not only cannot explain but cannot even remember. General atavistic resurgence also accounts for the ferocious temper displayed, not merely by the revolutionists, but by their counter-revolutionary opponents as well. However much they may differ in their principles, "Reds" and "Whites" display the same savage spirit and commit similar cruelties. This is because society and the individual have been alike rebarbarized. In time the revolutionary tempest passes. Civilized men will not forever endure the misrule of their own barbarians; they will not lastingly tolerate what Burke rightly termed the tyranny of a "base oligarchy." Sooner or later the Under-Man is again mastered, new social controls are forged, and a stable social order is once more established. But -- what sort of social order? It may well be one inferior to the old. Of course, few revolutions are wholly evil. Their very destructiveness implies a sweeping away of old abuses. Yet at what a cost! No other process is so terribly expensive as revolution. Both the social and the human losses are usually appalling, and are frequently irreparable. In his brief hour, the Under-Man does his work. Hating not merely civilization but also the civilized, the Under-Man wreaks his destructive fury on individuals as well as on institutions. And the superior are 29 always his special targets. His philosophy of life is ever a levelling "equality," and he tries to attain it by lopping off all heads which rise conspicuously above his own. The result of this "inverse selection" may be such a decrease of superior persons that the stock is permanently impoverished and cannot produce the talent and energy needed to repair the destruction which the revolutionary cataclysm has wrought. In such cases civilization has suffered a mortal wound and declines to a permanently lower plane. This is especially true of higher civilizations. The more complex the society and the more differentiated the stock, the graver the liability to irreparable disaster. Our own civilization is a striking example. The destruction to-day being wrought by the social revolution in Russia, great as it is, would pale beside the far greater destruction which such an upheaval would produce in the more advanced societies of western Europe and America. It would mean nothing short of ruin, and would almost infallibly spell permanent decadence. This grim peril to our civilization and our race future we will carefully examine in subsequent chapters. So ends our preliminary survey. We have sketched man's ascent from bestiality through savagery and barbarism to civilized life.* We have considered the basic reasons for his successes and his failures. Let us now pass to a more detailed examination of the great factors in human progress and decline, with special reference to the possibilities and perils of our own civilization. * For an excellent historical survey of racial movements, see Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race (Fourth Revised Edition with Documentary Supplement), New York, 1921.Back to Table of Contents or Patrick Henry On-Line?