REVIEWS AND CRITIQUE
THE doctrine of force, the Gospel of brutalism, in the management of human affairs, arising directly from the God forgotten selfism of the individual, has been more or less dominant in the world ever since Cain slew Abel. But in recent centuries it has striven to conceal its loathsomeness beneath a thin veneer of counterfeit ethics, as if brutalism lost half its hideousness by hiding itself beneath disguising and specious names. Within a very recent period, however, it would seem as if evolutionary progression in social and political life had received a check, and reversion to type was becoming more prominent and more unblushingly avowed than it was half a century ago.
Better, perhaps, for the well-being of humanity, and for the world's moral development, that the leprous political and social sores which lie beneath the surface should burst into view, however repulsive they might seem to those who believe that the law of the Universe is founded upon a moral basis and that Might does not make Right, than that they should 'be left to spread than that they should be left to spread like an unsuspected gangrene, infecting the social and political life of a people and enfeebling, if not extinguishing, moral government in human affairs. It is not often, however, even in a time of lax public morality, when a debasing opportunism is the unconcealed creed of those in power, and when even the Christian Church is largely tainted and polluted by the virus, that such revolting avowals of brutalism as the law of human life, are unblushingly proclaimed by writers who can secure admission into the pages of Blackwood, or who can append LL.D. to their name.
A just published work,“The Survival of the Fittest; or, the Philosophy of Force,”which its publisher assures us “is the most remarkable publication that has appeared in Christendom for fifteen centuries,” advocates a doctrine as abhorrent as are the teachings of the writer in Blackwood. The Blackwood writer profoundly regrets that “we have let brutality die out too much,” and longs for the revival of those customs of inhumanity and savagery which characterised the sports, pastimes, and wars of the so-called civilised world some two or three centuries ago, but which evolutionary morality, not to mention the Sermon on the Mount, has taught the most advanced nations in progressive development formally to abandon, and some amongst the best and the noblest in those foremost nations to revolt against and shudder at.
The writer honoured with a place in the pages of Blackwood thinks that the survival of the fittest can only be adequately secured by a return to the baser brutalisms of our forefathers, “when they burned and marooned, and beheaded, and shot, and fought cocks,” and baited bulls, and had no more regard for human life, or for justice, and humanity, and right, than has the Ashanti savage of to-day. He likes his brutalities hot, plain, and unconcealed, and not hidden under obscuring and misleading names, such as “the smelling of witches,” or gilded with the tinsel, or decorated with the trappings of Messrs Rudyard Kipling and Company.
The Blackwood writer prefers to call a spade a spade and not an implement of agriculture. And so does Mr.Ragnar Redbeard, LL.D.—meet associate for theBlackwoodwriter, who, in his work, “The Survival of the Fittest,” commits himself unreservedly to the doctrine that Might makes Right, and that as the government of man over man originated in force, so by force it should continue. There is no such principle as Right in Dr. Redbeard's creed, apart from Might, and he inquires scoffingly what is Right and what makes Right? There is no such principle, he contends, as abstract Right anywhere, the strongest cannot do wrong because they propound the laws which they administer, and there is no moral principle above omnipotence to restrain omnipotence from doing what it pleases. By conquest men made Might, Right, and by conquest force, tyranny, and oppression if you will, they still make Might to be Right. The conquered are not worthy of a thought. Right is with the victors because they are victors, and no moral enactment can override the verdict of the strong. Indeed, in Dr. Redbeard's creed and in the creed of the writer in Blackwood, there is no place left for morality apart from Might, no room for a ray of the Sermon on the Mount or for Christian principles to penetrate into it because, as they allege, there are no principles above or apart from Might. The same doctrine is taught in a poem, byDr. Redbeard, entitled “The Logic of To-day.” Here is one of the verses:—
Cain's knotted club is sceptre still,
The “Rights of Man” is fraud;
Christ's ethics are for creeping things,
True manhood smiles at God.
For Might is Right when empires sink
In storms of steel and flame.
And it is right when weakling breeds
Are hunted down like game.
The doctrine looks hideous enough when thus openly stated without concealment and without hypocritical attempts to hide the true issue behind an obscuring veil of national prestige, national dignity, national interests, and national rights, which, in the majority of cases, are but salves to soothe the pricked consciences of those who believe that there is, despite all that can be said in opposition, a moral tribunal which sits as a Court of Appeal to try the validity of these pleas, which might possibly reverse them all. Meanwhile, it is of service to know what a tremendous price humanity has to pay for the“Survival of the Fittest”as it is defined by some of its modern advocates.
South Wales Daily News April 20, 1900