"The very idea of "Labour" is in chains and yokes. There is no dignity in a bent back, no glory in a perspiring brow, no honour in greasy, copper-riveted rags. There is nothing very delectable in picks, shovels, and calloused paws. 'Dignity of Labour!'—Dignity of hell!

—Ragnar Redbeard.


Might is Right A UNIQUE PUBLICATION by Ragnar Redbeard and published by Ross’s Book Service, is a remarkable book. Originally published in 1890, it has run through five editions, and has had an extraordinary influence on the minds of its readers. The audacity, candour and brutality of the author right through his work alternately attracts and repels the reader,

“Might is Right" is a dangerous book in the hands of the very ignorant, but can be read, with profit by those who have cultivated the habit of thinking for themselves. Redbeard has a supreme contempt for the most of mankind.

A Thousand Books of Fame

He says:

The great mass of men who inhabit the world of to-day have no initiative, no originality or independence of thought, but are mere subjective individualities, who have never had the slightest voice in fashioning the ideals that they formally revere. Although the average man has taken no part in manufacturing moral codes and statute laws, yet how he obeys them with dog-like submissiveness! He is trained to obedience like oxen are broken to the yoke of their masters. He is a born thrall, habituated from childhood to be governed by others.

For men and women to be really free, Redbeard maintains that: It is clear, therefore, that, the man or nation that would retain liberty, or be really safe, must accept no formula as final—must trust in nothing, written or unwritten, living or dead—must believe neither in spectral Jehovah’s, nor weeping Saviours—neither in raging devils, nor in devilish philosophies—neither in ghosts, nor in idols; not in laws—nor in woman nor in man. . . .

The rules of life are not to be found in Korans, Bibles, Decalogue’s and Constitutions; but rather the rules of decadence and death. The 'law of laws' is not written in Hebrew consonants or upon tablets of brass and stone, but IN every man’s own heart. He who obeys any standard of right and wrong but the one set up by his own conscience betrays himself into the hands of his enemies, who are ever laying in wait to bind him to their millstones. And generally a man’s most dangerous enemies are his neighbours.

The People as they are according to Redbeard are totally incapable of real freedom, and if it was granted to them they would straightway vote themselves a master, or a thousand masters, within twenty-four hours. Mastership is right—Mastership is natural—Mastership is eternal. But only for those who cannot overthrow it and trample it beneath their boots.

It is not a fact that in actual life the ballot-box votes of ten million subjective personalities are as thistledown in the balance, when weighed against the far-seeing thought and material prowess of, say, ten strong, silent men! “. . . The slave-owner’s whip cracked from the beginning and it will crack till the day of doom… Human rights and wrongs are not determined by Justice, but by Might. Disguise it as you may, the naked sword is still king-maker and king-breaker, as of yore. All other theories are lies and—lures.

Continuing in this strain, he goes on to say: “Liberty without property is a myth, a nursery tale, believable only by babbling babies and ‘fools-I’-the-forest’ — ‘fools-I’-the-city also. “LIBERTY REGULATED BY LAW” is in practice tyranny of the darkest and foulest description, because so impersonal. What is viler than a Government of slaves and usurious Jews?” asks Redbeard “What is grander than a Government of the noblest and the best—who have proven their fitness on the plains of Death! . . . The Constitution, under which all other laws are born, was accepted, not by us, but by bewigged individuals who are long since rotten.

We are ruled, in fact, by cadavers—the inhabitants of tombs. Why should agreements made by coffined, dead men bind and mortgage living, pulsing, and breathing beings! . . . This is a truism. Robbery under arms laid the corner-stone of every courthouse in Christendom and elsewhere. . . . All judges are authorized avengers, armed to the teeth, an all hangmen are licenced assassins, trained to kill.”

As could be expected, Redbeard writes of the working class in terms of withering scorn, and goes on to say: “No one can study the labourers on a farm, the ‘hands’ in a big foundry or factory, the seamen in a large seaport, the nomadic hirelings on a railroad construction gang, or the clerks and salesmen in a city warehouse, without perceiving at a glance that the vast majority of them are extremely poor specimens of humanity. . . .

A crown of thorns on every brow—that IS the wage they’re earning now. . . . Hard, continuous, methodical labour destroys courage, saps vitality, and demoralises character. It tames and subdues men, just as it tames and subdues the wild steer or the young colt. Men who labour hard and continuously have no power to think. It requires all their vital force to keep their muscles in trim.

Indeed, the civilised city workingman and workingwoman are the lowest and worst type of animal ever evolved from dust and slime and oxygen. They actually worship Work, and bow down before Law as an ox-team crouches and strains under the lash. Look upon their shrunken cheeks, their thin lips, their narrow, retreating, , irresolute jaws, their decayed teeth, sharp puny noses, small watery eyes, yellow bloodless complexions, bent shoulders, dry hair, tending to baldness, struggling thin beard; the women with pinched features, waspish fragile waists, want of bust development, consumptive, neurotic, artificially barren, emaciated, hungry, dwarfed, hysterical.

Our educational system as a process of mental mutilation is vigorously condemned in this following terms:—Young men are mentally mutilated, systematically 'educated' by schools, press and literature, upon fundamental hallucinations, pyrotechnic shams and glittering illusions—illusions that are the perennial source of fruitless servile uprisings, social heart-burnings, internecine unpleasantness, and sundry other secondary symptoms of social cancer. "Our Government educational systems are absolutely under the direct control of politicians. These priests-of-the-State select and train the teachers, vote the salaries, and dictate what Truths and Lies the text-books shall contain. . . .

'Come right in here, and we'll improve your minds free of cost,' suavely saithe the high priests of this New Idolatry, this devouring dragon, this impersonal State. So the pure-hearted, rosy-cheeked little ones enter unsuspectingly. Gradually, as they are 'brought under the influence,' the grey brain-pulp is forced out of plastic young skulls, and lies—nice, pretty, poetic lies (mixed with unavoidable facts and perverted truths)—skilfully Injected. Did you ever see medical students extract the brain of a frog and then fill up the vacuum with pith? The frog does not die; it lives, hops about quite lively, and seems to possess its former intelligence and vitality; but it is all illusion. What experimental vivisectionists do to frogs, State-priests do to the children of men.

“Bit by bit, with dates and lists and emancipated histories, the iniquitous, brain wrecking deviltry proceeds. When completed, young men and women are turned out with addled brains into warring world, incapables, semi-imbeciles, unable to defend or assert themselves—footballs of fate, ready to serve anyone. It is not notorious the ineptitude, mechanical imitativeness, and want of initiative displayed by State-educated young men! Instead of being urged to THINK and ACT for themselves, they are taught, like well-drilled slaves, to believe and obey. They are even trained to glorify and worship idols, with strident shouts and modulated canticles—not honest idols of wood and stone, but idols of sheepskin, bound pamphlets, variegated rags, and the falsified renown of dead scoundrels, i.e., statement.”

Redbeard insists that “liberty or death is NOT a meaningless phrase, and is of tremendous import to all those who comprehend.” Proceeding, he asks: “What is death that it should make cowards of us all? What is life that it should be valued so highly? There are worse things than death, and among them is a life of dishonour. All men lead dishonourable lives who serve a master with hand or brain.

“Life itself is but a spark in the gloom that flashes out and disappears. Why, therefore, not make the most of it here and now—Here and now!”

“. . . . Every attempt made to organize the future must necessarily collapse. The present is our domain, and our chief duty is to take immediate possession thereof upon strict business principles.”

Unlike most writers,Redbeardis not chivalrous in the orthodox sense, and his analysis and condemnation of women is just merciless as that of men. He asserts that “women as agents provocateurs have never been surpassed by men. Cornelia trained up her two brilliant sons with a view to hurl them against and overturn the Roman Oligarchs; a city harlot led the SANS-CULLOTERS of the French Revolution, Queen Boadicea led her own army of painted Britons against the then-all-conquering legions of Rome. A female epileptoid (since canonised) dressed herself in iron armour, mounted a war-horse, and urged her demoralised countrymen—to the forcible expulsion of an alien army . . . .

Herod’s wife and daughter, and their secret alliance for getting John the Baptist’s head chopped off, must not be overlooked, nor the calculated ‘brutality’ with which Jael drove that tent-peg into General Sisera’s cranium when he slept. . . . In many respects women have proved themselves more cruel, avaricious, bloodthirsty, and revengeful than men.

“Women are also remarkably good liars. Deception is an essential and necessary part of their mental equipment. They are inherently deceitful. Men, however, reckon upon that, and discount it well in advance. Without deception of some sort a woman would have no defence whatever against rivals, lovers or husbands. We must not forget that women really hate each other intensely.”

In the concluding chapter of Might is Right the author stigmatises wageworkers as men and women who live from hand to mouth like mangy curs, and then sets out to say: All hireling labour is corroding, corrupting, degrading, devilish. Cursed is the brow that sweats for hire, and the back that bends to a master's burden. Calloused hands imply calloused minds. 'Virtue in bondage!' What an insane paradox! . . . . Soiled hands (if soiled for market hire or the payment of tribute) imply a soiled manhood—a biological organism of 'low degree.'

Labour performed for oneself is passable; when performed for others it is utterly debasing, ruinous to brain and body. . . . Hirelings are nearly always on the verge of pauperdom, always praying, howling and weeping before their TASKMASTERS, crying out with a loud voice, like spoilt babies: 'O, don't hurt us, don't hurt us—we are so 'good,' so law-abiding—we love Jesus so!' Capitalists, kings and presidents never take these servile hounds into consideration—NOR DO SENSIBLE WOMEN. In grand affairs hirelings are merely inventoried as so much raw material or so many head of cattle, and in sexual affairs they must of necessity mate themselves with second-rate women, who cannot possibly find anything more to their taste. What woman in her senses desires to be a breeder of drudges, lunatics, and sans-cullotes?

The very idea of "Labour" is in chains and yokes. There is no dignity in a bent back, no glory in a perspiring brow, no honour in greasy, copper-riveted rags. There is nothing very delectable in picks, shovels, and calloused paws. 'Dignity of Labour!'—Dignity of hell!

WHAT IS GRAND in a horny hand?

WHAT IS FREE in a bended knee?

WHAT IS BRAVE in a pauper grave?

WHAT IS BOLD in a lack of Gold?

“O ye generations of Christ-deluded imbeciles! Ye swarms of moonstruck meeklings! Ye burnt-out cinders of men! Ye bleeding lambs! One day! One day! Ye shall be flung to the lions! Behold! I spit upon your idols, your opinions! Now would I pour molten hell through the ventricles of your soul.

Copies of this amazing exposition can be obtained at our Book shop, price 3/-, post 3d extra.

The Socialist 12-08-1921

Robert Carmonius


Archive & Publisher