PART II - The Ebbing Tide of White
THE BEGINNING OF THE EBB
THE Russo-Japanese War is one of those landmarks in human history whose significance increases with the lapse of time. That war was momentous, not only for what it did, but even more for what it revealed. The legend of white invincibility was shattered, the veil of prestige that draped white civilization was torn aside, and the white world's manifold ills were laid bare for candid examination.
Of course previous blindness to the trend of things had not been universal. The white world had had its Cassandras, while keen-sighted Asiatics had discerned symptoms of white weakness. Nevertheless, so imposing was the white world's aspect and so unbroken its triumphant progress that these seers had been a small and discredited minority. The mass of mankind, white and non-white alike, remained oblivious to signs of change.
This, after all, was but natural. Not only had the white advance been continuous, but its tempo had been ever increasing. The nineteenth century, in particular, witnessed an unprecedented outburst of white activity. We have already surveyed white territorial gains, both as to area of settlement and sphere of political control. But along many other lines white expansion was equally remarkable. White race-increase - the basis of all else - was truly phenomenal. In the year 1500 the white race (then confined to Europe) could not have numbered more than 70,000,000. In 1800 the population of Europe was 150,000,000, while the whites living outside Europe numbered over 10,000,000. The white race had thus a trifle more than doubled its numbers in three centuries. But in the year 1900 the population of Europe was nearly 450,000,000, while the extra European whites numbered fully 100,000,000. Thus the whites had increased threefold in the European homeland, while in the new areas of settlement outside Europe they had increased tenfold. The total number of whites at the end of the nineteenth century was thus nearly 550,000,000 - a gain in numbers of almost 400,000,000, or over 400 per cent. This spelled an increase six times as great as that of the preceding three centuries.
White race-growth is most strikingly exemplified by the increase of its most expansive and successful branch - the Anglo-Saxons. In 1480, as already seen, the population of England proper was not much over 2,000,000. Of course this figure was abnormally low even for mediaeval times, it being due to the terrible vital losses of the Wars of the Roses, then drawing to a close. A century later, under Elizabeth, the population of England had risen to 4,000,000. In 1900 the population of England was 31,000,000, and in 1910 it was 35,000,000, the population of the British Isles at the latter date being 45,500,000. But in the intervening centuries British blood had migrated to the ends of the earth, so that the total number of Anglo-Saxons in the world to-day cannot be much less than 100,000,000. This figure includes Scotch and Scotch Irish strains (which are of course identical with English in the Anglo-Saxon sense), and adopts the current estimate that some 50,000,000 of people in the United States are predominantly of Anglo-Saxon origin. Thus, in four centuries, the Anglo-Saxons multiplied between forty and fifty fold.
The prodigious increase of the white race during the nineteenth century was due not only to territorial expansion but even more to those astounding triumphs of science and invention which gave the race unprecedented mastery over the resources of nature. This material advance is usually known as the "industrial revolution." The industrial revolution began in the later decades of the eighteenth century, but it matured during the first half of the nineteenth century, when it swiftly and utterly transformed the face of things.
This transformation was, indeed, absolutely unprecedented in the world's history. Hitherto man's material progress had been a gradual evolution. With the exception of gunpowder, he had tapped no new sources of material energy since very ancient times. The horse-drawn mail-coach of our great-grandfathers was merely a logical elaboration of the horse-drawn Egyptian chariot; the wind-driven clipper-ship traced its line unbroken to Ulysses's lateen bark before Troy; while industry still relied on the brawn of man and beast or upon the simple action of wind and waterfall. Suddenly all was changed. Steam, electricity, petrol, the Hertzian wave, harnessed nature's hidden powers, conquered distance, and shrunk the terrestrial globe to the measure of human hands. Man entered a new material world, differing not merely in degree but in kind from that of previous generations.
When I say "Man," I mean, so far as the nineteenth century was concerned, the white man. It was the white man's brain which had conceived all this, and it was the white man alone who at first reaped the benefits. The two outstanding features of the new order were the rise of machine industry with its incalculable acceleration of mass-production, and the correlative development of cheap and rapid transportation. Both these factors favored a prodigious increase in population, particularly in Europe, since Europe became the workshop of the world. In fact, during the nineteenth century, Europe was transformed from a semi-rural continent into a swarming hive of industry, gorged with goods, capital, and men, pouring forth its wares to the remotest corners of the earth, and drawing thence fresh stores of raw material for new fabrication and exchange. The amount of wealth amassed by the white world in general and by Europe in particular since the beginning of the nineteenth century is simply incalculable. Some faint conception of it can be gathered from the growth of world-trade. In the year 1818 the entire volume of international commerce was valued at only $2,000,000,000. In other words, after countless millenniums of human life upon our globe, man had been able to produce only that relatively modest volume of world-exchange. In 1850 the volume of world-trade had grown to $4,000,000,000. In 1900 it had increased to $20,000,000,000, and in 1913 it swelled to the inconceivable total of $40,000,000,000-a twentyfold increase in a short hundred years.
Such were the splendid achievements of nineteenth century civilization. But there was a seamy side to this cloth of gold. The vices of our age have been portrayed by a thousand censorious pens, and there is no need here to recapitulate them. They can mostly be summed up by the word "Materialism." That absorption in material questions and neglect of idealistic values which characterized the nineteenth century has been variously accounted for. But, after all, was it not primarily due to the profound disturbance caused by drastic environmental change? Civilized man had just entered a new material world, differing not merely in degree but in kind from that of his ancestors. It is a scientific truism that every living organism, in order to survive, must adapt itself to its environment. Therefore any change of environment must evoke an immediate readjustment on the part of the organism, and the more pronounced the environmental change, the more rapid and thoroughgoing the organic readjustment must be. Above all, speed is essential. Nature brooks no delay, and the disharmonic organism must attune itself or perish.
Now, is not readaptation precisely the problem with which civilized man has been increasingly confronted for the past hundred years? No one surely can deny that our present environment differs vastly from that of our ancestors. But if this be so, the necessity for profound and rapid adaptation becomes equally true. In fact, the race has instinctively sensed this necessity, and has bent its best energies to the task, particularly on the materialistic side. That was only natural. The pioneer's preoccupation with material matters in opening up new country is self-evident, but what is not so generally recognized is the fact that nineteenth-century Europe and the eastern United States are in many respects environmentally "newer" than remote backwoods settlements.
Of course the changed character of our civilization called for idealistic adaptations no less sweeping. These were neglected, because their necessity was not so compellingly patent. Indeed, man was distinctly attached to his existing idealistic outfit, to the elaboration of which he had so assiduously devoted himself in former days, and which had fairly served the requirements of his simpler past. Therefore nineteenth century man concentrated intensively, exclusively upon materialistic problems, feeling that he could thus concentrate because he believed that the idealistic conquests of preceding epochs had given him sound moral bases upon which to build the new material edifice.
Unfortunately, that which had at first been merely a means to an end presently became an end in itself.
Losing sight of his idealisms, nineteenth-century man evolved a thoroughly materialistic philosophy. The upshot was a warped, one-sided development which quickly revealed its unsoundness. The fact that man was much less culpable for his errors than many moralists aver is quite beside the point, so far as consequences are concerned. Nature takes no excuses. She demands results, and when these are not forthcoming she inexorably inflicts her penalties.
As the nineteenth century drew toward its close the symptoms of a profound malaise appeared on every side. Even those most fundamental of all factors, the vitality and quality of the race, were not immune. Vital statistics began to display features highly disquieting to thoughtful minds. The most striking of these phenomena was the declining birth-rate which affected nearly all the white nations toward the close of the nineteenth century and which in France resulted in a virtually stationary population.
Of course the mere fact of a lessened birth-rate, taken by itself, is not the unmixed evil which many persons assume. Man's potential reproductive capacity, like that of all other species, is very great. In fact, the whole course of biological progress has been marked by a steady checking of that reproductive exuberance which ran riot at the beginning of life on earth. As Havelock Ellis well says: "Of one minute organism it is estimated that, if its reproduction were not checked by death or destruction, in thirty days it would form a mass a million times larger than the sun.
The conger-eel lays 15,000,000 eggs, and if they all grew up, and reproduced themselves on the same scale, in two years the whole sea would become a wriggling mass of fish. As we approach the higher forms of life reproduction gradually dies down. The animals nearest to man produce few offspring, but they surround them with parental care, until they are able to lead independent lives with a fair chance of surviving. The whole process may be regarded as a mechanism for slowly subordinating quantity to quality, and so promoting the evolution of life to ever higher stages."1
While man's reproductive power is slight from the standpoint of bacteria and conger-eels, it is yet far from negligible, as is shown by the birth-rate of the less-advanced human types at all times, and by the birth-rate of the higher types under exceptionally favorable circumstances. The nineteenth century was one of these favorable occasions. In the new areas of settlement outside Europe, vast regions practically untenanted by colored competitors invited the white colonists to increase and multiply; while Europe itself, though historically "old country," was so transformed environmentally by the industrial revolution that it suddenly became capable of supporting a much larger population than heretofore. By the close of the century, however, the most pressing economic stimuli to rapid multiplication had waned in Europe and in many of the race dependencies.
1 Havelock Ellis, "Essays in War-Time," p. 198 (American Edition, Boston, 1917).
Therefore the rate of increase, even under the most favorable biological circumstances, should have shown a decline.
The troubIe was that this diminishing human output was of less and less biological value. Wherever one looked in the white world, it was precisely those peoples of highest genetic worth whose birth-rate fell off most sharply, while within the ranks of the several peoples it was those social classes containing the highest proportion of able strains which were contributing the smallest quotas to the population. Everywhere the better types (on which the future of the race depends) were numerically stationary or dwindling, while conversely, the lower types were gaining ground, their birth-rate showing relatively slight diminution.
This "disgenic" trend, so ominous for the future of the race, is a melancholy commonplace of our time, and many efforts have been made to measure its progress in economic or social terms. One of the most striking and easily measured examples, however, is furnished by the category of race. As explained in the Introduction, the white race divides into three main sub-species - the Nordics, the Alpines, and the Mediterraneans. All three are good stocks, ranking in genetic worth well above the various colored races. However, there seems to be no question that the Nordic is far and away the most valuable type; standing, indeed, at the head of the whole human genus. As Madison Grant well expresses it, the Nordic is "The Great Race."
Now it is the Nordics who are most affected by the disgenic aspects of our civilization. In the newer areas of white settlement like our Pacific coast or the Canadian Northwest, to be sure, the Nordics even now thrive and multiply. But in all those regions which typify the transformation of the industrial revolution, the Nordics do not fit into the altered environment as well as either Alpines or Mediterraneans, and hence tend to disappear. Before the industrial revolution the Nordic's chief eliminator was war. His pre-eminent fighting ability, together with the position of leadership which he had generally acquired, threw on his shoulders the brunt of battle and exposed him to the greatest losses, whereas the more stolid Alpine and the less robust Mediterranean stayed at home and reproduced their kind. The chronic turmoil of both the mediaeval and modern periods imposed a perpetual drain on the Nordic stock, while the era of discovery and colonization which began with the sixteenth century further depleted the Nordic ranks in Europe, since it was adventurous Nordics who formed the overwhelming majority of explorers and pioneers to new lands. Thus, even at the end of the eighteenth century, Europe was much less Nordic than it had been a thousand years before.
Nevertheless, down to the close of the eighteenth century, the Nordics suffered from no other notable handicaps than war and migration, and even enjoyed some marked advantages. Being a high type, the Nordic is naturally a "high standard" man. He requires healthful living conditions, and quickly pines when deprived of good food, fresh air, and exercise. Down to the close of the eighteenth century, Europe was predominantly agricultural. In cool northern and central Europe, therefore, environment actually favored the big, blond Nordics, especially as against the slighter, less muscular Mediterranean; while in the hotter south the Nordic upper class, being the rulers, were protected from field labor, and thus survived as an aristocracy. In peaceful times, therefore, the Nordics multiplied and repaired the gaps wrought by proscription and war.
The industrial revolution, however, profoundly modified this state of things. Europe was transformed from an agricultural to an urbanized, industrial area. Numberless cities and manufacturing centres grew up, where men were close packed and were subjected to all the evils of congested living. Of course such conditions are not ideal for any stock. NevertheIess, the Nordic suffered more than any one else. The cramped factory and the crowded city weeded out the big, blond Nordic with portentous rapidity, whereas the little brunet Mediterranean, in particular, adapted himself to the operative's bench or the clerk's stool, prospered - and reproduced his kind.
The result of these new handicaps, combined with the continuance of the traditional handicaps (war and migration), has been a startling decrease of Nordics all over Europe throughout the nineteenth century, with a corresponding resurgence of the Alpine, and still more of the Mediterranean, elements. In the United States it has been the same story. Our country, originally settled almost exclusively by Nordics, was toward the close of the nineteenth century invaded by hordes of immigrant Alpines and Mediterraneans, not to mention Asiatic elements like Levantines and Jews. As a result, the Nordic native American has been crowded out with amazing rapidity by these swarming, prolific aliens, and after two short generations he has in many of our urban areas become almost extinct.
The racial displacements induced by a changed economic or social environment are, indeed, almost incalculable. Contrary to the popular belief, nothing is more unstable than the ethnic make-up of a people. Above all, there is no more absurd fallacy than the shibboleth of the "melting-pot." As a matter of fact, the melting-pot may mix but does not melt. Each race-type, formed ages ago, and "set" by millenniums of isolation and inbreeding, is a stubbornly persistent entity. Each type possesses a special set of characters: not merely the physical characters visible to the naked eye, but moral, intellectual, and spiritual characters as well. All these characters are transmitted substantially unchanged from generation to generation. To be sure, where members of the same race-stock intermarry (as English and Swedish Nordics, or French and British Mediterraneans), there seems to be genuine amalgamation. In most other cases, however, the result is not a blend but a mechanical mixture. Where the parent stocks are very diverse, as in matings between whites, negroes, and Amerindians, the offspring is a mongreI - a walking chaos, so consumed by his jarring heredities that he is quite worthless. We have already viewed the mongrel and his works in Latin America.
Such are the two extremes. Where intermarriage takes place between stocks relatively near together, as in crossings between the main divisions of the white species, the result may not be bad, and is sometimes distinctly good. Nevertheless, there is no true amalgamation. The different race-characters remain distinct in the mixed offspring. If the race-types have generally intermarried, the country is really occupied by two or more races, the races always tending to sort themselves out again as pure types by Mendelian inheritance. Now one of these race-types will be favored by the environment, and it will accordingly tend to gain at the other's expense, while conversely the other types will tend to be bred out and to disappear. Sometimes a modification of the environment through social changes will suddenly reverse this process and will penalize a hitherto favored type. We then witness a "resurgence," or increase, of the previously submerged element.
A striking instance of this is going on in England. England is inhabited by two race-stocks - Nordics and Mediterraneans. Down to the eighteenth century, England, being an agricultural country with a cool climate, favored the Nordics, and but for the Nordic handicaps of war and migration the Mediterraneans might have been entirely eliminated. Two hundred years ago the Mediterranean element in England was probably very small. The industrial revolution, however, reversed the selective process, and today the small, dark types in England increase noticeably with every generation. The swart "cockney" is a resurgence of the primitive Mediterranean stock, and is probably a faithful replica of his ancestors of Neolithic times.
Such was the ominous "seamy side" of nineteenth-century civilization. The regressive trend was, in fact, a vicious circle. An ill-balanced, faulty environment penalized the superior strains and favored the inferior types; while, conversely, the impoverishing race-stocks, drained of their geniuses and overloading with dullards and degenerates, were increasingly unable to evolve environmental remedies.
Thus, by action and reaction, the situation grew steadily worse, disclosing its parlous state by numberless symptoms of social ill-health. All the unlovely fin de siecle phenomena, such as the decay of ideals, rampant materialism, political disruption, social unrest, and the "decadence" of art and literature, were merely manifestations of the same basic ills.
Of course a thoughtful minority, undazzled by the prevalent optimism, pointed out evils and suggested remedies. Unfortunately these "remedies" were superficial, because the reformers confused manifestations with causes and combated symptoms instead of fighting the disease. For example: the white world's troubles were widely ascribed to the loss of its traditional ideals, especially the decay of religious faith. But, as the Belgian sociologist Rene Gerard acutely remarks, "to reason in this manner is, we think, to mistake the effect for the cause. To believe that philosophic and religious doctrines create morals and civilizations is a seductive error, but a fatal one. To transplant the beliefs and the institutions of a people to new regions in the hope of transplanting thither their virtues and their civilization as well is the vainest of follies.... The greater or less degree of vigor in a people depends on the power of its vital instinct, of its greater or less faculty for adapting itself to and dominating the conditions of the moment. When the vital instinct of a people is healthy, it readily suggests to the people the religious and moral doctrines which assure its survival. It is not, therefore, because a people possesses a definite belief that it is healthy and vigorous, but rather because the people is healthy and vigorous that it adopts or invents the belief which is useful to itself. In this way, it is not because it ceases to believe that it falls into decay, it is because it is in decay that it abandons the fertile dream of its ancestors without replacing this by a new dream, equally fortifying and creative of energy." (Rene Gerard, "Civilization in Danger," The Hibbert Journal, January, 1912.)
Thus we return once more to the basic principle of race. For what is "vital instinct" but the imperious urge of superior heredity? As Madison Grant well says: " The lesson is always the same, namely, that race is everything. Without race there can be nothing except the slave wearing his master's clothes, stealing his master's proud name, adopting his master's tongue, and living in the crumbling ruins of his master's palace." (Grant, op. cit., p. 100.)
The disastrous consequences of failure to realize this basic truth is nowhere more strikingly exemplified than in the field of white world-politics during the half-century preceding the Great War. That period was dominated by two antithetical schools of political thinking: national-imperialism and internationalism. Swayed by the ill-balanced spirit of the times, both schools developed extremist tendencies; the former producing such monstrous aberrations as Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism, the latter evolving almost equally vicious concepts like cosmopolitanism and proletarianism. The adherents of these rival schools combated one another and wrangled among themselves. They both disregarded the basic significance of race, together with its immediate corollary, the essential solidarity of the white world.
As a matter of fact, white solidarity has been one of the great constants of history. For ages the white peoples have possessed a true "symbiosis" or common life, ceaselessly mingling their bloods and exchanging their ideas. Accordingly, the various white nations which are the race's political expression may be regarded as so many planets gravitating about the sun of a common civilization. No such sustained and intimate race-solidarity has ever before been recorded in human annals. Not even the solidarity of the yellow peoples is comparable in scope.
Of course the white world's internal frictions have been legion, and at certain times these frictions have become so acute that white men have been led to disregard or even to deny their fundamental unity. This is perhaps also because white solidarity is so pervasive that we live in it, and thus ordinarily do not perceive it any more than we do the air we breathe. Should white men ever really lose their instinct of race-solidarity, they would asphyxiate racially as swiftly and surely as they would asphyxiate physically if the atmospheric oxygen should suddenly be withdrawn. However, down to 1914 at least, the white world never came within measurable distance of this fatal possibility. On the contrary, the white peoples were continually expressing their fundamental solidarity by various unifying concepts like the "Pax Romana" of antiquity, the "Civitas Dei" or Christian commonwealth of the Middle Ages, and the "European Concert" of nineteenth-century diplomacy.
It was typical of the malaise which was overtaking the white world that the close of the nineteenth century should have witnessed an ominous ignoring of white solidarity; that national-imperialists should have breathed mutual slaughter while internationalists caressed visions of " human solidarity " culminating in universal race-amalgamation; lastly, that Asia's incipient revolt against white supremacy, typified by the Russo-Japanese War, should have found zealous white sponsors and abetters.
Nothing, indeed, better illustrates the white world's unsoundness at the beginning of the present century than its reaction to the Russo-Japanese conflict. The tremendous significance of that event was no more lost upon the whites than it was upon the colored peoples. Most far-seeing white men recognized it as an omen of evil import for their race-future. And yet, even in the first access of apprehension, these same persons generally admitted that they saw no prospect of healing, constructive action to remedy the ills which were driving the white world along the downward path. Analyzing the possibility of Europe's presenting a common front to the perils disclosed by the Japanese victories, the French publicist Rene Pinon sadly concluded in the negative, believing that political passions, social hates, and national rivalries would speak louder than the general interest. "Contemporary Europe," he wrote, in 1905, "is probably not ready to receive and understand the lesson of the war. What are the examples of history to those gigantic commercial houses, uneasy for their New Year's balances, which are our modern nations? It is in the nature of States founded on mercantilism to content themselves with a hand-to-mouth policy, without general views or idealism, satisfied with immediate gains and unable to prepare against a distant future.
"Whence, in the Europe of to-day, could come the principle of an entente, and on what could it be based? Too many divergent interests, too many rival ambitions, too many festering hates, too many 'dead who speak,' are present to stifle the voice of Europe's conscience.
"However menacing the external danger, we fear that political rancors would not down; that the enemy from without would find accomplices, or at least unconscious auxiliaries, within. Far more than in its regiments and battleships, the power of Japan lies in our discords, in the absence of an ideal capable of lifting the European peoples above the daily pursuit of immediate interests, capable of stirring their hearts with the thrill of a common emotion. The true 'Yellow Peril' lies within us." (Rene Pinon, "La Lutte pour le Pacifique," pp. 184-185.)
Rene Pinon was a true prophet. Not only was the "writing on the wall" not taken to heart, the decade following the Russo-Japanese conflict witnessed a prodigious aggravation of all the ills which had afflicted white civilization during the nineteenth century. As if scourged by a tragic fate, the white world hurtled along the downward path, until it entered the fell shadow of - the modern Peloponnesian War.