EVOLUTION AND ETHICS
by Sir Arthur Keith
WITH A PREFACE BY
Earnest A. Hooton
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York
Copyright, 1946, 1947, by Sir Arthur Keith
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must
not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Manufactured in the United States of America
VAN REES PRESS NEW YORK
Published in England under the title
Essays on Human Evolution
THE name of Sir Arthur Keith deserves to be associated with those of Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley in the study of the evolution of man. During the last half century, Keith has been the foremost British student of human phylogeny and of fossil man, and, in the opinion of many, has exhibited the greatest mastery of this subject shown by any anthropologist. In his early career Sir Arthur acquired a sound knowledge of anatomy of the great apes which he subsequently utilized in interpreting the fragmentary remains of fossil man and demonstrating their relationships to each other and to subhuman primates. Sir Arthur has always displayed an insight into the physiological, functional aspects of primate evolution almost unique among morphologists. His boldly original theories have sometimes been condemned as fantastic by more pedestrian students of human origins, but subsequent discoveries have vindicated Keith far oftener than they have confuted him. For example, he was for many years the solitary champion of the theory that anatomically modern man, Homo sapiens, existed early in the Pleistocene period, before apelike Neanderthal man lived in the caves of western Europe. This theory has been substantiated by the recent find of the Swanscombe man.
I became, in some sense, a disciple of Arthur Keith when I was a student of anthropology at Oxford nearly thirty‑five years ago and was making my first essay at studying the bones of ancient man. I was working upon a collection housed in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, of which Professor Arthur Keith was then Conservator. Although Dr. Keith had no formal teaching duties, he was always ready to instruct and to guide aspiring young students. He had the faculty of building up
the self‑confidence of the ignorant neophyte by insinuating his own ideas and apposite excerpts from his own vast knowledge into the problem of his pupil, in such a way that the latter imagined that the solution was his own and not Keith’s. Among the several great teachers I have had, none was his superior.
Few eminent anthropologists have engaged in scientific controversy as often as Sir Arthur Keith, and I know no other who has shown such consistent tolerance, fairness, and courtesy in the face of acrimonious criticism. In the present book, Sir Arthur Keith steps out of his usual role as the interpreter of man’s anatomical evolution to present his conclusions upon the relation of evolution to ethics and the function of war in evolution. The findings of Sir Arthur will afford little comfort to facile political idealists who refuse to recognize the brutal and predatory course of man’s rise from apedom. For those who believe that it is better to be optimistic and wrong than realistic and right, Sir Arthur’s cogent essays, presented at the age of eighty years, will be unpalatable and even subversive. For myself, I have so often begun upon a theory of Keith with the opinion that he was wrong and have had to admit in the end that he was right that I may as well come forward at once to the mourners’ bench without waiting for a reconviction of personal sin.
EARNEST A. HOOTON
July 21, 1946
I BEGAN to write this volume in the autumn of 1942, amid surroundings which are briefly described in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1. I was then living in retirement, with my study shelves packed with the unused gleanings of a lifetime ‑ gleanings I had gathered because they seemed to me to throw new light on the origin and evolution of mankind. The gatherings on my shelves may be regarded as my “rickyard” or “stackyard”; I have intended these twenty years past to put them through the mill to thresh, winnow, and dress them, and so to learn what my harvest amounted to. But always, when I was minded to go threshing, some occasion would come along which promised a few additional sheaves; and so it has come about that my final act of husbandry has been postponed to dangerously late in the winter of my days.
There are three main themes on which I believe I can throw light. The first theme relates to the manner in which the final stages of man’s evolution or ascent was accomplished. Most anthropologists conceive a sort of Jacob’s Ladder up which mankind has ascended, rung upon rung, to reach his present estate; whereas I am convinced that the evidence is now sufficient to permit us to draw a reliable and circumstantial picture of the conditions in which humanity lived while its major evolutionary changes were taking place. My second theme relates to the current conception of race and of nation. Most of my colleagues regard a nation as a political unit, with which anthropologists have no concern; whereas I regard a nation as an “evolutionary unit,” with which anthropologists ought to be greatly concerned. The only live races in Europe today are its nations. My third theme relates to war ‑ “the greatest evil of the modern world.”
I have sought to trace this evil to its evolutionary roots; these roots descend to prehuman times. War made its appearance as part of the machinery of human evolution. The origin of war, its evolutionary significance, and its development from a border raid of tribal times to the fierce organized wars of modern days are discussed in the eleven final chapters of the present volume.
The natural order in which my three themes should have been handled was to give first an exposition of my theory of human evolution; then to trace the origin of nations, of races, and of the varieties and subspecies of mankind; and lastly to deal with the origin of man’s morality and of war. It so happened, however, that in the autumn of 1942 the scientific journal Nature was giving prominence to a claim made by Dr. C. H. Waddington-viz., that science was in a position to provide mankind with a true system of ethics. This system is to be based on a knowledge of evolution ‑ a knowledge of the direction in which mankind is now evolving. Any circumstance or condition which helps man along his evolutionary course is to be counted morally good or ethical; anything which hinders man’s evolutionary course is to be regarded as morally bad or evil. Now this idea of finding guidance to right behavior in a knowledge of human evolution had engaged my attention for a number of years, and I had found that the evolutionary finger posts were often not only ambiguous, but gave no guidance to what most men count civilized behavior. So much was I in disagreement with Dr. Waddington’s thesis that I resolved to reverse my plan, and deal first with the origin of human morality, of human ethics, of human behavior, and in particular with that most unethical of all forms of human behavior ‑ war.
Such were the circumstances which induced me to write the present volume. It is with humility that I have to acknowledge that my task was almost half done before I discovered that Herbert Spencer had studied evolution for a lifetime in the hope of finding an absolute standard of what must be counted virtue and what must be regarded as vice; when he came to write the preface to the second volume of his Principles of Ethics, in 1893 (he was then seventy‑three years of age), he had to confess that his search had been in vain.
In the year 1896 there appeared a book with the title Pioneers of Evolution, by Mr. Edward Clodd (1840‑1930). Mr. Clodd was a successful banker, a thinker, a man of letters, with a gift of happy expression, and was an authority on the myths which man has brought with him from prehistoric times. Early in January 1897, Pioneers of Evolution was reviewed in the illustrated London News; the opening sentences of the review run as follows:
Evolution is a donkey that nearly everybody drives to market now-a‑days. No beast in recent years has been so over‑driven, so overridden, and so over‑burdened as this poor moke; none has become a more fit subject for the Society for Prevention of Cruelty; never was a beast in such demand.
I blush when I read the words in which this barbarous attack on a worthy book was couched, for I was the writer of the review. A just retribution has overtaken me, for here am I leading the same old donkey to market, and showing off his paces, in the year 1944. By way of extenuation I would plead that the beast I am now exhibiting is sounder, more warrantworthy, than the one I belabored in 1897.
The word “evolution,” which appears so frequently in these chapters, is one with a wide variety of meaning. The sense in which I have sought to use the term is explained in Chapter 23. Readers may find it profitable to consult this chapter before beginning on the others. Another word of uncertain connotation I have employed very frequently‑viz., “Nature.” What I have in mind when I use this term is defined in an appendix (p. 239).
Chapters 1 to 18 appeared as monthly installments in the Literary Guide from January 1943 to July 1944; Chapter 24 was published in the Rationalist Annual of 1944; the remaining chapters make their first appearance. The chapters that appeared in the Literary Guide met with a mixed reception. My answers to the main criticisms were contributed in the form of an article to the Literary Guide of August 1944. This article forms an appendix to the present volume.
1. Introductory 3
2. Evolution and Ethics 6
3. The Behavior of Germany Considered From an Evolutionary
Point of View in 1942 10
4. Human Life: Its purpose or ultimate end 14
5. Life: Its ultimate purpose 18
6. Life’s Purpose as Seen by the Evoutionist 22
7. Virtue and Vice as Factors in Evolution 26
8. National Independece and Individual Liberty:
Their Place in the Scheme of Human Evolution 31
9. Desire for Individual Liberty and Its Evolutionary Implications 35
10. Is Man a Domesticated Animal? 40
11. Slavery: an Evolutionary Crime 45
12. Universalism: A world Brotherhood 49
13. Universalism in Theory and in Practice 54
14. Criticisms of Universalism 58
15. Can Christianity be Harmonized with Evolution? 63
16. Christian Ethics Versus Evolution 67
17. Christianity Versus Evolution 72
18. Civilization: Its Dawn and Progress 76
19. The Rise of Civilization in England 81
20. The Influence of Civilization on Man’s Evolution 85
21. Civilization Seeks to Suppress the Evolutionary
Elements of Man’s Mentality 90
22. Civilization and Human Evolution Aim at Divergent Goals 95
23. Evolution: An Interpolation 102
24. Can War be Regarded as an Ethical Process? 107
25. The Importance of Realizing that the Behavior of
The Natural Man is Regulated by a Double Code
of Morals 114
26. The Interrelationship Between War and Civilization 121
27. The Civilized Mind Seeks to Eliminate Warlike Qualities 127
28. How War Came to be Accepted by Christianity 134
29. How the Author Came to Link War to Evolution 140
30. War, Evolution, and Race 147
31. Man’s Enmity Complex and Its Role in Human Evolution 154
32. The Evolution of Patriotism and of War 160
33. War as Practiced by Tribal Groups of Primitive Humanity 168
34. The Coming of Fierce War and its Effects on Human
35. War is a Manifestation of a Hidden and Unrecognized Force 184
36. Concerning Pacifica Peoples 194
37. The Conditions which have made for Peace in China and
38. The Pros and Cons of War 209
39. The Pros and Cons of Peace 218
40. An Evolutionary Interpretation of The Second World War 226
Appendix – Replies to Critics 236
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR FOUND ME IN MY seventy‑fourth year, occupying a cottage on the Darwin estate, in the county of Kent, my landlord being the British Association, to whom I pay rent quarterly. Next door to my cottage the Royal College of Surgeons of England has built an institution for surgical research hy means of a great gift made to it eleven years ago by Sir Buckston Browne. I have certain duties in connection with this institution, mainly honorary. All the research men were speedily called away (some, alas, never to return), and thus I am left with more spare time than ever before to devote to accumulations on the shelves of my study‑accumulations of observations and annotations bearing on the evolution of mankind which are the harvest of a full half‑century of fairly active years. It is now October 1942; the war has entered its fourth year; my task of extracting my facts, of classifying them under multitudinous headings, and of stowing them away in accessible portfolios is almost finished, and if strength is left I hope soon to begin writing. It is when one comes to composition that the significance of such gatherings becomes fully apparent.
There is another preliminary matter which I should like to mention before entering on my full text. All through my life, which has been that of a student, the needs of the physical man would continue to assert themselves. I had to seek the open country from time to time to find restoration in active physical exercise. I became madly infatuated with golf in my early manhood, and had the hope that some day I might become proficient at the game ‑ a hope which never materialized: a lively knowledge of the human body proved a handicap rather than a help.
On my arrival in my present abode, links in a neighboring valley
offered my heart all its desired opportunities; I could take a club and a few balls, cross a field, and have an hour’s game at any time. With the war the spirit for golf disappeared; the links returned to pasturage, but, fortunately for me, a new exit for my energies forced itself on me. I had become a farmer in a small way ‑ or rather a “grazier.” Our pasturage had been permitted to “run wild”; neighboring farmers counted they conferred a favor by turning their cattle into our fields. I bought eight bullocks and two sheep, and began to manure the fields and at the same time to hand‑hoe them‑a very ancient practice, digging out the weeds and encouraging our native grasses. This daily field game, which I owe to Nazidom, proved to be infinitely more exhilarating than golf. My readers may think it a small matter that my bullocks now number ten and my sheep twelve, but the increase represents the meat rations of twenty adults for a whole year. And so I salve my war conscience by working in the fields in the mornings, and my anthropological conscience by spending my nights in my study. All would be well but for the anxieties and sorrow which war has brought to all our homes.
I belong to the thinning ranks of the “grandfather” generation of anthropologists, and, as is the way of grandfathers, center my hopes on the rising race of grandchildren. Since the last war I have seen a galaxy of young talent appear ‑ not bred, to be sure, to the study of orthodox anthropology, but pursuing special lines of research, out of which the advance of anthropology in the future will emerge ‑ students of heredity and of that wonderful microcosm in the nucleus of the fertilized ovum where reside chromosomes and genes, the machinery of creative evolution. I venture to name some of those ripening or ripe hopes of the present or future: R. A. Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane, Julian Huxley, Lancelot Hogben, C. D. Darlington, Joseph Needham, and C. H. Waddington. All of them are bold men of great energy and enterprise, resolved to find answers to questions we older men were almost afraid to frame. The manner in which human beings should behave toward each other in their tribes or nations has been determined hitherto by the Church, which claims to have a revelation of the divine will touching this matter, or by moral philosophers, who base the rules of right and wrong on the
accumulated experience of mankind, ancient and modern. Dr. Waddington, who is a fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, where Darwin was a student in the twenties of last century, startled the readers of Nature (September 6, 1941, p. 270)1 by claiming that science was now in a position to formulate the principles of ethics ‑ that is, the manner in which members of a community should comport themselves. He assumes, and I think his assumption is justifiable, that the object or business of life is to evolve. He therefore holds that everything which helps man along his evolutionary path is ethically good and therefore a virtue, while everything which retards is an evil ‑ a vice. “The business of Science,” he declared, “is to reveal the character and direction of the evolutionary process in the world as a whole.”
This, then, was the outfit with which Dr. Waddington set out in a search for scientific guidance in the management of human affairs: a knowledge of how evolution is working out its effects in our midst must provide the laws regulating our social behavior. He gained immediate support from Darlington, Huxley, and Needham. The Bishop of Birmingham, Dr. Barnes, was also in agreement, but since he regarded evolution as a manifestation of the Creator’s purpose, evolutionary ethics might still be regarded as of divine origin. The Dean of St. Paul’s, Dr. Matthews, was shocked by Dr. Waddington’s proposal. “It was,” he held, “a disastrous error to suppose that natural science can solve the central problem of ethics.” Nor were the natural philosophers convinced; Professor Ritchie, Dr. de Burgh, and Dr. Joad rejected evolution as a source of ethics out of hand. Although Dr. Haldane took no part in this symposium, I infer he would have been in opposition. In Science and Ethics (1928) he wrote: “Science cannot answer . . . why I should be good.” This would certainly have been the verdict of the great Huxley; it is also the opinion of Leonard Darwin, in his ninety‑third year. “Science can offer no finality,” wrote Professor H. Levy.2
Now, the problem discussed by Dr. Waddington and his colleagues in the pages of Nature is one which has engaged my
attention for over a quarter of a century. We shall all agree, I think, that what for lack of a better term we may call man’s “natural behavior” is regulated and instigated by those emotions, feelings, tendencies, and predilections which collectively make up “human nature.” We shall agree, too, that human nature has been built up bit by bit, under the operation of evolutionary processes in past times, and even now in all human societies hereditable changes are being effected in man’s basal mentality. Early in my inquiries I came to the conclusion, which my later work has confirmed, that human nature has not only been built up by evolution, but that every element in it might serve as a part of the machinery which brings about the further development of a tribe or community. Every reaction of our nature which works for the integration of the tribe and for its perpetuation – for without integrity and perpetuation there can be no evolutionary achievement ‑ we may call good; its action, in respect of the tribe, we may call virtuous. All those reactions which tend to undo mutual respect and sympathy, or which weaken that reproductive altruism on which the perpetuation of a community, tribe, or nation depends, we may speak of as evil; from an evolutionary point of view they constitute vice. With all this which I hold in common with Dr. Waddington, I disagree with him in supposing that evolutionary knowledge can provide a basis for modern ethics.
Evolution and Ethics
IN ORDER THAT I MAY DEVELOP MY REASON OR reasons for thinking that a knowledge of evolution will never enable a man to reduce ethics to a scientific formula, I must (1) touch upon the manner in which evolution worked in long-past ages, when mankind became broken up into a multitude of races, some of which survive; and (2) note the manner of its operations in a modern community such as the people of Germany. It is possible that many are still misled, as I myself was at one time, by the evolutionary teaching of the great Huxley.
He was the St. Paul of Darwinism, and, like the proselytizing apostle, gave a personal twist to the doctrine of the master in his teaching. In 1893, just two years before his death, Huxley gave the Romanes Lecture in the University of Oxford, choosing the very subject I am now discussing ‑ evolution and ethics. In that famous lecture he maintained that man’s ethical nature, far from being favored by evolution, was at war with it. Huxley pictured the early evolutionary human struggle as being of the nature of an individual contest ‑ man against man. This is not the theory or doctrine which Darwin expounded in The Descent of Man (1871); he supposed that man, before he even emerged from apedom, was already a social being, living in small scattered communities. Evolution in his eyes was carried out mainly as a struggle between communities ‑ team against team, tribe against tribe. Inside each team or tribe the “ethical cosmos” was at work, forging and strengthening the social bonds which made the members of such a team a co‑operative whole. These mental bonds, Darwin supposed, had been evolved from those inborn ties that link members of a family together ‑ the love of parents for their children, of children for parents, and of children for each other. Thus in the early stages of human evolution we find competition and co‑operation as constituent elements of the evolutionary process; Huxley’s “cosmic process” and “ethical process” working not in opposition, but in harmony, to produce the races of the modern world.
Co‑operation and unity give strength to a team or tribe; but why did neighboring tribes refuse so stubbornly to amalgamate? If united, they would have got rid of competition and struggle. Why do human tribes instinctively repel every thought of amalgamation, and prize above all things independence, the control of their destiny, their sovereignty? Here we have to look beneath the surface of things and formulate a theory to explain tribal behavior. How does a tribe fulfill an evolutionary purpose? A tribe is a “corporate body,” which Nature has entrusted with an assortment of human seed or genes, the assortment differing in some degree from that entrusted to every other tribe. If the genes are to work out their evolutionary effects, then it is necessary that the tribe or corporation should maintain its integrity through
an infinity of generations. If a tribe loses its integrity by a slackening of social bonds, or by disintegration of the parental instincts, or by lack of courage or of skill to defend itself from the aggression of neighboring tribes, or by free interbreeding with neighbors and thus scattering its genes, then that tribe as an evolutionary venture has come to an untimely end. For evolutionary purposes it has proved a failure. I shall use a simile to illustrate my meaning. In modern times members of a wealthy family tend to intermarry, and thus prevent the disintegration of family property. Ancient and modern tribes did, and do, the same thing to conserve the potentialities of their genes.
Let us look for a moment at the means which Nature has adopted to secure the integration, separation, and isolation of her evolutionary units or tribes. Seas, mountains, and deserts serve to separate communities; but it is not on physical barriers that Nature depends for the isolation of tribes. The barrier on which she depends has grown up, or been evolved, in the basal parts of man’s mental constitution. We may speak of this barrier as tribal mentality, with which I have dealt at some length elsewhere.1 Tribal mentality is dual, or double, in its action; at one moment it acts intratribally, thus serving the co‑operative welfare of the tribal members. This we may call the good or virtuous constituent of human nature. Then at another moment, when directed toward neighboring tribes, its action is reversed; it becomes intertribal or extratribal; friendship turns to enmity. Tribal mentality in its intertribal manifestations, although good from an evolutionary point of view, must be counted evil or vicious in any conceivable system of ethics, for its action is cruel, merciless, and completely immoral. The reader will now realize why I hold out no hope of gaining a scientific standard of ethics from a study of evolution ‑ at least so long as evolution is Nature‑controlled, as it has been in the world of humanity hitherto.
Before we approach the study of evolution as manifest in the modern world, particularly among the nations of Europe, it is necessary, for the purpose of my argument, to touch on two
of the more important bonds which serve to unite members of a tribe or a nation into a corporate body. The first of these relates to the soil ‑ the tribal territory. Every tribe, no matter how primitive or how small it may be, claims to occupy and own a certain area of country, the frontiers of which are known to every tribesman. Tribesmen are bound to their native soil by a strong emotional bond; they regard its integrity as a sacred trust; if the life of a tribe is to continue, frontiers must be preserved. The second intratribal bond I must mention is that of common kinship, real or assumed, sometimes spoken of as the “blood bond.” The inborn emotions generated by kinship supply the bonds of mutual sympathy and mutual service, which emotions are active only inside the limits of a community, tribe, or nation. Such are some of the ways in which evolution works.
When history raises the curtain on Germany, in the century which preceded the dawn of Christianity, we find her population divided into some forty independent tribes, warring with each other and with the outside world. No doubt the tribes which the Romans met with, or heard of, represented federations or compulsory amalgamations of earlier smaller tribes. If Germany had been like the rest of Europe before the practice of agriculture reached her, which was late in the fourth millennium B.C., her territory must have been divided among some 150 or 200 small local tribes or communities. Thus, when our historical record begins, modern evolutionary progress, as indicated by reduction in number and increase in size of tribal units, had made a very considerable advance. In the centuries which followed the Roman period local self‑determination must have flourished, for by the seventeenth century there were 250 independent states established within the frontiers of what is now modern Germany. In the eighteenth century, under the sword of Frederick the Great, the number was reduced, mainly by the absorptive power and capacity of Prussia, so that in 1814 they numbered thirty‑nine. By 1871, under Bismarck, only twenty-five states retained their independence. With the coming of Hitler and the establishment of the Third Reich, in 1933, Germany suddenly emerged as a unitary state ‑ a single tribe or
nation numbering over eighty millions,2 with a single leader and a central government; but for the strength of religious consciences she would have had a single national church. Under no stretch of imagination can war be regarded as an ethical process;3 yet war, force, terror, and propaganda were the evolutionary means employed to weld the German people into a tribal whole. No, the modern methods of evolution are, from an ethical point of view, immoral.
The Behavior of Germany Considered from an Evolutionary Point of View in 1942
VISITORS TO GERMANY IN 1934 FOUND AN emotional storm sweeping through masses of the people, particularly the more educated. The movement had much in common with a religious revival. The preacher in this case was Adolf Hitler; his doctrine was, and is, tribalism; he had stirred in the emotional depths of the German people those long-dormant tribal feelings which find release and relief in mutual service; men and women who had been leading selfish lives or were drifting aimlessly were given a new purpose in life: service to their country ‑ the Third Reich. It is worth noting that Hitler uses a double designation for his tribal doctrine ‑ National Socialism: Socialism standing for the good side of the tribal spirit (that which works within the Reich); aud Nationalism for the ethically vicious part, which dominates policy at and outside the German frontiers.
The leader of Germany is an evolutionist not only in theory, but, as millions know to their cost, in the rigor of its practice. For him the national “front” of Europe is also the evolutionary “front”; he regards himself, and is regarded, as the incarnation of the will of Germany, the purpose of that will being to guide the evolutionary destiny of its people. He has brought into
modern life the tribal and evolutionary mentality of prehistoric times. Hitler has confronted the statesmen of the world with an evolutionary problem of an unprecedented magnitude. What is the world to do with a united aggressive tribe numbering eighty millions!
We must not lose sight of the purpose of our visit to Germany; it was to see how far modern evolutionary practice can provide us with a scientific basis for ethical or moral behavior. As a source of information concerning Hitler’s evolutionary and ethical doctrines I have before me Mein Kampf, extracts from The Times covering German affairs during the last twenty years, and the monthly journal R.F.C. (Racio‑Political Foreign Correspondenee), published by the German Bureau for Human Betterment and Eugenics and circulated by that bureau for the enlightenment of anthropologists living abroad. In the number of that journal for July 1937, there appears in English the text of a speech given by the German Fuhrer on January 30, 1937, in reply to a statement made by Mr. Anthony Eden that “the German race theory” stood in the way of a common discussion of European problems. Hitler maintained his theory would have an opposite effect; “it will bring about a real understanding for the first time.” “It is not for men,” said the Fuhrer, “to discuss the question of why Providence created different races, but rather to recognize that it punishes those who disregard its work of creation.” I may remark incidentally that in this passage, as in many others, the German Fuhrer, like Bishop Barnes and many of our more intellectual clergy, regards evolution as God’s mode of creation. God having created races, it is therefore “the noblest and most sacred duty for each racial species of mankind to preserve the purity of the blood which God has given it.” Here we have expounded the perfectly sound doctrine of evolutionary isolation; even as an ethical doctrine it should not be condemned. No German must be guilty of the “greatest racial sin” ‑ that of bringing the fruits of hybridity into the world. The reproductive “genes” which circulate within the frontiers of Germany must be kept uncontaminated, so that they may work out the racial destiny of the German people without impediment. Hitler is also a eugenist. Germans who suffer from
hereditable imperfections of mind or of body must be rendered infertile, so that “the strong may not be plagued by the weak.” Sir Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics, taught a somewhat similar evolutionary doctrine ‑ namely, that if our nation was to prosper we must give encouragement to the strong rather than to the weak; a saving which may be justified by evolution, but not by ethics as recognized and practiced by civilized peoples. The liberties of German women are to be sacrificed; they must devote their activities to their households, especially to the sacred duty of raising succeeding generations. The birth rate was stimulated by bounties and subsidies so that the German tribe might grow in numbers and in strength. In all these matters the Nazi doctrine is evolutionist.
Hitler has sought on every occasion and in every way to heighten the national consciousness of the German people ‑ or, what is the same thing, to make them racially conscious; to give them unity of spirit and unity of purpose. Neighborly approaches of adjacent nations are and were repelled; the German people were deliberately isolated. Cosmopolitanism, liberality of opinion, affectation of foreign manners and dress were unsparingly condemned. The old tribal bonds (love of the Fatherland, feeling of mutual kinship), the bonds of “soil and blood,” became “the main plank in the National‑Social program.” “Germany was for the Germans” was another plank. Foreign policy was “good or bad according to its beneficial or harmful effects on the German folk ‑ now or hereafter.” “Charity and humility are only for home consumption” ‑ a statement in which Hitler gives an exact expression of the law which limits sympathy to its tribe. “Humanitarianism is an evil . . . a creeping poison.” “The most cruel methods are humane if they give a speedy victory” is Hitler’s echo of a maxim attributed to Moltke. Such are the ways of evolution when applied to human affairs.
I have said nothing about the methods employed by the Nazi leaders to secure tribal unity in Germany ‑ methods of brutal compulsion, bloody force, and the concentration camp. Such methods cannot be brought within even a Machiavellian system of ethics, and yet may be justified by their evolutionary result.
Even in that result we may harbor a doubt: can unity obtained by such methods be relied on to endure?
There are other aspects of Nazi policy which raise points which may be legitimate subjects of ethical debate. In recent years British men of science have debated this ethical problem: an important discovery having been made ‑ a new poison gas, for example ‑ is it not the duty of the discoverer to suppress it if there is a possibility of its being used for an evil purpose? My personal conviction is that science is concerned wholly with truth, not with ethics. A man of science is responsible for the accuracy of his observations and of his inferences, not for the results which may follow therefrom. Under no circumstances should the truth be suppressed; yet suppression and distortion of the truth is a deliberate part of Nazi policy. Every anthropologist in Germany, be he German or Jew, was and is silenced in Nazi Germany unless the Hitlerian racial doctrine is accepted without any reservation whatsoever. Authors, artists, preachers, and editors are undone if they stray beyond the limits of the National‑Socialist tether. Individual liberty of thought and of its expression is completely suppressed. An effective tribal unity is thus attained ‑ at the expense of truth. And yet has not the Church in past times persecuted science just in this Hitlerian way? There was a time, and not so long ago, when it was dangerous for a biologist to harbor a thought that clashed in any way with the Mosaic theory of creation.
No aspect of Hitler’s policy proclaims the antagonism between evolution and ethics so forcibly as his treatment of the Jewish people in Germany. So strong are the feelings roused that it is difficult for even science to approach the issues so raised with an unclouded judgment. Ethically the Hitlerian treatment of the Jews stands condemned out of hand. Hitler is cruel, but I do not think that his policy can be explained by attributing it to a mere satisfaction of a lust, or to a search for a scapegoat on which Germany can wreak her wrath for the ills which followed her defeat of 1918. The Church in Spain subjected the Jews to the cruelty of the Inquisition, but no one ever sought to explain the Church’s behavior by suggesting that she had a
lust for cruelty which had to be satisfied. The Church adopted the Inquisition as a policy; it was a means of securing unity of mind in her flock. Hitler is an uncompromising evolutionist, and we must seek for an evolutionary explanation if we are to understand his actions. When the Huguenots fled to Germany they mingled their “genes” with those of their host and disappeared as an entity. The Jews are made of other stuff: for two thousand years, living amid European communities, they have maintained their identity; it is an article of their creed, as it is of Hitler’s, to breed true. They, too, practice an evolutionary doctrine. Is it possible for two peoples living within the same frontiers, dwelling side by side, to work out harmoniously their separate evolutionary destinies? Apparently Hitler believes this to be impossible; we in Britain and in America believe it to be not only possible, but also profitable.
It must not be thought that in seeking to explain Hitler’s actions I am seeking to justify them. The opposite is the case. I have made this brief survey of public policy in modern Germany with a definite object: to show that Dr. Waddington is in error when he seeks to place ethics on a scientific basis by a knowledge of evolutionary tendencies and practice.
Human Life: Its Purpose or Ultimate End
IN THE COURSE OF GATHERING INFORMATION concerning man’s morality and the part it has played and is playing in his evolution, I found it necessary to provide space for slips which were labeled “Life: Its Ultimate and Proximate Purposes.” Only those who have devoted some special attention to this matter are aware of the multitude of reasons given for the appearance of man on earth. Here I shall touch on only a few of them; to deal with all would require a big book. The reader may exclaim: Why deal with any of them! What has ultimate purpose got to do with ethics and evolution! Let a man with a clearer head and a nimbler pen than mine reply. He is Edward Carpenter, who wrote Civilization: Its Cause and Cure (1889).
It is from the sixteenth edition (1923) I am to quote, p. 249:
If we have decided what the final purpose or Life of Man is, then we may say that what is good for that purpose is finally “good” and what is bad for that purpose is finally “evil.”
If the final purpose of our existence is that which has been and is being worked out under the discipline of evolutionary law, then, although we are quite unconscious of the end result, we ought, as Dr. Waddington has urged, to help on “that which tends to promote the ultimate course of evolution.” If we do so, then we have to abandon the hope of ever attaining a universal system of ethics; for, as we have just seen, the ways of national evolution, both in the past and in the present, are cruel, brutal, ruthless, and without mercy. Dr. Waddington has not grasped the implications of Nature’s method of evolution, for in his summing up (Nature, 1941, 150, p. 535) he writes “that the ethical principles formulated by Christ . . . are those which have tended towards the further evolution of mankind, and that they will continue to do so.” Here a question of the highest interest is raised: the relationship which exists between evolution and Christianity; so important, it seems to me, that I shall devote to it a separate chapter. Meantime let me say that the conclusion I have come to is this: the law of Christ is incompatible with the law of evolution ‑ as far as the law of evolution has worked hitherto. Nay, the two laws are at war with each other; the law of Christ can never prevail until the law of evolution is destroyed. Clearly the form of evolution which Dr. Waddington has in mind is not that which has hitherto prevailed; what he has in mind is a man‑made system of evolution. In brief, instead of seeking ethical guidance from evolution, he now proposes to impose a system of ethics on evolution and so bring humanity ultimately to a safe and final anchorage in a Christian haven.
The late Dr. Edward Westermarck, a profound student of morality and of evolutionary method, regarded man’s search for a final purpose as an outstanding example of human weakness and vanity. In Memories of My Life (1929), he relates how
three of his women students at the London School of Economics came to him and put this question: “Why are we here?” He replied: “Such a question should not be asked; here we are, and cannot alter it; questions which cannot be answered should not be asked.” Wherein Dr. Westermarck revealed that, although he had mastered human morality, he remained ignorant of human nature. Since ever man became a conscious being he has asked this question, and will continue to demand an answer to the end of time. The Westminster divines who were assembled at Westminster by Charles I were not afraid to ask the question, and also to answer it. They made it the first question of the Shorter Catechism, “What is man’s chief end?” and replied: “To glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” As far back as I can remember, I was word‑perfect in that question and its answer. Even today, after brooding for a long lifetime over the explanation given by the divines of why I am here, I have failed to master the full meaning of its words. If such is a true answer to the question, then why has man been given a nature which is so incapable of fulfilling such a mode of life? No human community could observe this injunction with any degree of strictness, not even one day in seven, and survive on this earth as we know it. No; the “chief end” cannot be as the Westminster divines formulated it.
Then there is the explanation given by St. Augustine. According to this father of the Church we have been sent into the world to make it into a “City of God,” to bring all mankind under the beneficent law of Christ, to establish a perpetual reign of peace, and ultimately to provide the Creator with an abundant harvest of human souls. The Church has been seeking to establish such a City for well‑nigh two thousand years. Why has St. Augustine’s science made so little headway up to this present time? Is it not because human mentality is so aptly fitted to carry out the law of evolution, and so ill framed to carry out the law of Christ? If St. Augustine’s scheme had been also that of Nature, then she would have fashioned the instinctive basis of human mentality in conformity with the Augustinian scheme; it is axiomatic in the making of human laws that they must be framed in conformity with human nature if their
observance is to be secured. We can scarcely suppose that this elementary consideration was overlooked when Nature’s evolutionary scheme of things was established.
Let us look for a moment at what Dr. Julian Huxley has to say about “Divine Purpose.” In his latest work, Evolution (Harper, 1942, p. 576), we find the following passage:
The purpose manifested in evolution, whether in adaptation, specialization, or biological progress, is only an apparent purpose. lt is just as much a product of blind forces as is the falling of a stone to earth or the ebb and flow of the tides. It is we who have read purpose into evolution, as earlier men projected will and emotion into inorganic phenomena like storm or earthquake. If we wish to work towards a purpose for the future of man, we must formulate that purpose ourselves. Purposes in life are made, not found.
In brief, man’s appearance on earth is accidental, not purposive.1 Now, I admit at once that there is a certain amount of truth in Julian Huxley’s contention, but it is not the whole truth. Let us take a concrete illustration. Early in the eighth century B.C. certain local tribal communities on the banks of the Tiber became consolidated, built a city, and began to bring neighboring rival tribes and communities into subjection. Every move produced unforeseen opportunities, which may be regarded as the result of accident or chance; such opportunities the Romans seized and utilized. The purpose of securing a safe frontier was continued for eight centuries, and the Roman Empire came into existence. Was the growth of the Empire accidental or purposive? It was both; as events happened they were utilized by the Roman intellect for a purpose. To take another example: yesterday I was stung by a wasp; my enemy no doubt acted reflexly and unconsciously, nevertheless purposively, for I was driven from its nest; and the sting and poison bag seemed to me cleverly adapted for their purpose, whether the sharp‑thrusting sting came into existence in a planless scheme of evolution or not. Evolution cannot be planless for this reason. Living protoplasm, even in its simplest form, is purposive; unless it can absorb food, assimilate it, turn it into energy, rid itself of by-products,
and reproduce itself, it cannot live. I feel certain that sooner or later it will be found that the “genes” themselves, which determine us body and soul, are really physiological and therefore purposive in their action. Nature, in short, is fundamentally purposive in all its doings.
Life: Its Ultimate Purpose
IT IS PROBABLE THAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN Dr. Julian Huxley and myself, discussed at the end of my last chapter, is due to a difference in the meaning we each have attached to “purpose.” I suspect he reserves the word for a plan or scheme which has been thought out and then applied, just as an architect’s thought materializes in a building; whereas I use the word to indicate anything which serves a purpose, no matter how that thing or quality has arisen. The human hand, in this sense, is definitely and wonderfully purposive. However this may be, Dr. Huxley is not alone in denying purpose to the advent of man. Thomas Hobbes was also of his opinion; in the eleventh chapter of Leviathan (1651) he asserts that there is “no finis, no summum bonum, no Greatest Good.” Professor Malinowski (1884‑1942) gave his verdict in these words: “A human society has no biological aim or needs of its own.”1 Perhaps it would have been more accurate if he had written “has no conscious biological aim.” The writer of a leader in Nature2 is more cautious. This is his statement: “The aim of society must be to insure not its own formal permanence . . . but the maintenance of such conditions as will best keep open a way for man to the attainment of his ultimate destiny, whatever that destiny may be.” Men whose opinion on this matter deserves our respect see a plan in life, but, like the writer in Nature, find its interpretation beyond them. Dr. Gilbert Murray, in Religio Grammatici (1918), expresses his conviction thus: “The great unknown purpose which the eternal spirit of man seems to be working
out on earth.” And this from Sir Francis Galton, eugenist and evolutionist: “We are exceedingly ignorant of the reason why we exist, confident only that individual life is a portion of some vaster system that struggles arduously onwards, towards ends that are dimly seen or wholly unknown to us . . . carried on by innumerable personalities who ceaselessly succeed each other:”3 Here I add the opinion of a man I hold in high esteem ‑ that of Leonard Darwin, sole surviving son of Charles Darwin.4 In a letter to me dated April 1, 1935, occurs the following passage:
I feel that the Universe is an unsatisfactory affair if our striving to do good has nothing behind it. Science cannot serve as a guide to conduct. Human improvement must come by evolutionary methods. If there is free will there must be something outside science.
In a subsequent letter (March 14, 1938) he touches on what our aims should be: “to strive for the maximum welfare of all sentient beings” ‑ an ideal very similar to that expressed by his father (Descent of Man, Chap. IV, p. 188). Even Herbert Spencer “perceived the dim outline of a gigantic plan . . . tending always towards perfection.”
It was useless for Dr. Westermarck to declare that it is illegitimate, in a scientific sense, to ask the question, “Why are we here?” or for Dr. Huxley to declare that the purpose is only apparent, not real. Thinking men will ask this question and continue to ask it until the end of time. And if science cannot give an answer, then such inquiries will assuredly fall back on those who claim that the final purpose of human existence has been vouchsafed to them by a direct revelation from the Creator. Those who accept an answer from this source will do well to remember that revelation, when it condescended to describe the manner of man’s creation, went sadly astray, and it is not impossible that it may be equally in error as to the meaning of man’s existence. We may entertain a lively hope that as our knowledge of the economy of the universe grows in amount and in precision, science may make a closer and closer approach to the solution of the mystery of final purpose.
Since the days of ancient Greece until now there have been
philosophers who maintain that the purpose of human life is to, develop personality to its fullest possible degree; that every child is born to bring to full stature the potentialities of its mind and body. If it fails, then the purpose of life has failed or been misused. We may go to the writings of the late Professor L. T. Hobhouse for a modern statement of the “personality theory” of life:5 “The good for each man lies in the realization of what is in him . . . but only as far as the common good makes this possible . . . the rights of each are such as it is good for all to maintain.”
Carlyle’s statement is more emphatic6 and no doubt reflects his acquaintance with German philosophy: “The meaning of Life here on earth might be defined as consisting in this: to unfold your self, to work what thing you have a faculty for. It is a necessity for the human being, the first law of our existence.”
Huxley was of opinion that the mystery of life lay beyond the reach of the human intellect, but nevertheless in his Romanes Lecture7 touches on the matter with which we are now dealing. The passage runs: “Creation of conditions more favorable than those of the state of Nature . . . to the end of facilitating the free expansion of the innate faculties of the citizen so far as it is consistent with the general good.”
Huxley, in this passage, regards “the free expansion of the innate faculties,” not as a “purpose,” but as a means of producing “an organized polity, in which and by which man may develop a worthy civilization, capable of maintaining and constantly improving itself until the evolution of the globe shall have entered its downward course . . . and once more the state of Nature prevails.” In this remarkable passage Huxley appears to regard the development of a “worthy civilization” as the final purpose of man on earth. He writes as if the evolution of man were already completed. For Galton and for Karl Pearson the future evolution of man is the problem of problems; that, too, is my opinion.
Mr. Clive Bell8 develops a theory of human existence which
has much in common with that of Huxley; only stress is laid, not on the development of a material civilization, but of a civilized state of mind, one whose aesthetic and ethical qualities would bourgeon in the sunshine of an ideal state of society.
Let me give, as briefly as I may, the names of famous men who have regarded the development of personality as the purpose of existence. Aristotle:9 “Now with us reason and intelligence are the end of Nature.” Dante: “Right constitutions work for freedom in order that men may exist for their own sakes.” Kant: “. . . not happiness . . . but the evolution of all the germs God has implanted in man’s nature.” The Marquis of Halifax (1633‑95): “The free development of human personality is the purpose of earthly existence. . . . Free‑will is the method deliberately chosen by God.” Herbert Spencer:10 “Social life will have no other end than to maintain the completest sphere for individual life.” “Man exists in order that he may develop his soul” is a theological explanation of life’s purpose. As “soul” is a component of “personality,” the theological explanation falls within the present category.
The development of personality as an explanation of human existence could never have entered the thoughts of mankind living under an evolutionary or tribal discipline. The life and security of a tribesman depend on the life, strength, and integrity of his tribe; without its protection he is undone, and his mentality is fashioned to its membership. If he had postulated a purpose in life it would have been the endurance, or perpetuity, and betterment of his tribe. With the coming of civilization, some seven thousand years ago, and the segregation of tribesmen in cities, tribal organization was broken up. Statutes and codes of written law replaced the customary automatic tribal law. The degree of individual liberty we who live in great cities and under protective governments now enjoy (in time of peace) are conditions totally new to mankind. It was the detribalization of mankind that made the formulation of a personal or individual purpose possible.
Life’s Purpose as Seen by the Evolutionist
IN MY PORTFOLIO OF “ULTIMATES” THERE IS A compartment labeled “Hedonistic,” reserved for annotations of those who regard happiness as the main aim of human existence. I shall deal briefly with them, for I regard happiness not as an end, but as a means to an end. The ideal of Jeremy Bentham (1748‑1832) to give “the greatest happiness to the greatest number” is rather an instruction to a government than the formulation of a final purpose. His contemporary, the Rev. T. R. Malthus, held that the Creator’s purpose for man was to “replenish the earth” and enjoy “the greatest sum of human happiness.” “The ultimate purpose of creation,” wrote Herbert Spencer, “is to provide the greatest amount of happiness.” Side by side with this I may set Jane Welsh Carlyle’s view of happiness: “I have everything here to make me happy except the facalty of being happy.”1 I agree with Hume in regarding the feeling of happiness “as a gift of Nature.”2 Aristotle was essentially a hedonist: if a line of conduct gave the doer happiness, then it was right or “good”; if not, then it was wrong.3 Clearly Aristotle regarded happiness not as an end, but as a means toward the “Good Life.” To which I may append Nietzsche’s query: “Good for what?”
Another compartment in my portfolio of “Ultimates” is labeled “Miscellaneous,” in which we find unusual reasons given in explanation of a final purpose. When men approach serious questions they are apt to bring with them a relieving breath of wit or humor. Novikow4 suggests that man’s purpose is “to have the maximum of enjoyment with the minimum of work.” Justice Holmes, son of Oliver Wendell Holmes, said this: “The chief end of man is to frame general propositions, and such propositions are not worth a damn.” Oakesmith5 regarded peace, universal
and perpetual, as the major purpose of human life. Malthus attributes to Mohammed “procreation of worshippers” as the final purpose of life; as a practice, if not as a purpose, the Church of Rome anticipated Mohammed.
All the theories or explanations of human existence which I have reviewed so briefly and so inadequately fail in this: they throw no light upon human nature ‑ man’s instinctive urges, social aptitudes, impulses, tendencies, feelings, desires, emotions, and passions, which are inherited and transmitted by every child born into the world. When we see a man dressed in a soldier’s uniform and equipped with arms and ammunition we at once infer what his “purpose” in life is: victory is his goal. If we are to discover a purpose for humanity we have to apply the same mode of reasoning. We have to study the birth equipment of humanity, particularly that part of its mentality which lies below the level of the fully lighted field of consciousness ‑ namely, the basal part which makes itself known and active only when it rises into the conscious field. It is from a study of the manifestations which come from the basal or unconscious field of man’s mentality that we are likely to get clues to his evolutionary equipment and destiny. We may not reach a vision of his final victory or goal, but we shall discover the way along which Nature means him to go ‑ toward a goal. And, seeing that under the discipline of Nature he has moved in the course of a few millions of years from a place among the apes to his present unique position in the Kingdom of Life, we have every reason to hope that, if an evolutionary discipline is maintained, he may still continue on a rising course.
Whichever theory we adopt to give a rational explanation of human existence, that theory must take into account and explain the mental nature we see at work in all modern communities. We have to take account of the good or virtuous gifts with which man’s nature has been endowed, and also those inborn proclivities which we regard as evil, antisocial, or vicious. Now, man’s good gifts require no “bush”; they are apparent and acknowledged ‑ his power to love his fellows and to sympathize with them in their sorrows; his unbounded capacity for unselfishness or altruism. Does not every generation labor without thought of
repayment to rear, feed, clothe, and educate the generation which in due time will take its place? Our present task, rather, is to account for man’s inborn evil predispositions, his power to hate, to demand an eye for an eye, to slake his thirst for revenge, to explain his ruthless, merciless, cruel passions. There are, too, his ambitions, his hunger for priority, for place, for rank, for power, for profit, for praise. Why are most men competitive, aggressive, pugnacious, covetous, envious, and self-seeking? Man is apt to blame and to find fault with his rivals, to pour on them scorn and contempt. Then we must take account of his personal pride, his vanity, his snobbishness, his egoism, his intolerance, and his fanaticism, as well as his vigorous lusts of the flesh always seeking to break bounds. Why is he so predisposed to accommodate his conscience to his desires, to be partial to all that is his own ‑ his family, his party, his community? All these traits, and many more, may be grouped under the heading of “Original Sin.” The theological mind accounts for the presence of such vicious traits in our nature by a childish myth attributed to a hypothetical garden. I was under the impression that no serious‑minded inquirer gave a thought to the theological theory. In this I find I am mistaken. At the moment of writing there came into my hands The Times’ Literary Supplement of October 17, 1942 (p. 508), where a writer ends his review of Dr. Julian Huxley’s Evolution with this question: “Must we appeal, with the theologians, to a fundamental falling away of the universe from its destined purpose ‑ in short, to ‘Original Sin’?”
Now, if the reader will put down in column form my abbreviated list of “original sins” he will find that in human nature there is an opposite virtue ‑ inborn desires or predispositions which produce a contrary result. Against hate we must place love; against egoism, altruism; against cruelty, mercy; against ambition, humility; against pugnacity, pacifism; against lust, purity; against nationalism, cosmopolitanism. It is the duality of our mental make‑up which has led to the diversity of opinion regarding man’s nature. Man, it is asserted, is peaceful; he has also been described as essentially militant. Both statements are true; our verdict depends on which side of the mental coin is
uppermost to our view; the man who is a pacifist at one moment may be a pugilist the next. A good tribesman clings to his fellows and tells them the truth; he repels men of neighboring tribes and tells them lies. The real problem which faces us is this: How can the duality of human nature be explained? The evolutionist can offer an explanation which is agreeable to reason; the theologian has to appeal to superstition for an answer.
It is only when we realize the conditions under which the later stages of the evolution of man were carried out that we come by a clue to the duality of his mental nature. Conceive, for a moment, what these conditions were. Throughout all the final stages of our evolution, mankind throughout the whole earth was segregated into small local communities or tribes. This was certainly so during the entire Pleistocene period, which at a moderate estimate endured for half a million years ‑ perhaps a million. Tribalism was everywhere down to the beginnings of the fifth millennium B.C., when somewhere in southwest Asia agriculture was discovered, town‑building and detribalization set in, and the era of civilization began. Tribalism was Nature’s method in bringing about the evolution of man. I have already explained what a tribe really is ‑ a corporation of human beings entrusted with a certain capital of genes. The business of such a corporation is to nurse and develop its stock of genes ‑ to bring them to an evolutionary fruition. To reach such an end a tribal corporation had to comply with two conditions: (1) it had to endure for a long age; (2) it had to remain intact and separate from all neighboring and competing tribes. Human nature was fashioned or evolved just to secure these two conditions ‑ continuity through time and separation in space. Hence the duality of man’s nature ‑ the good, social, or virtuous traits serving intratribal economy; the evil, vicious, or antisocial qualities serving the intertribal economy and the policy of keeping its genes apart. Human nature is the basal part of the machinery used for the evolution of man. When you know the history of our basal mentality ‑ one fitted for tribal life ‑ do you wonder at the disorder and turmoil which now afflict the detribalized part of the world?
What, then, is the explanation which the student of human
evolution has to offer as a final purpose for man’s existence? It is not, as the Victorian scientists thought, to permit the individual man or woman to develop his latent potentialities; but to permit a closed society, be it tribe or nation, to develop its collective potentialities of brain and of body as an evolutionary unit. It is only when we make the assumption that evolution aims at the production of societies not of individuals that we come by a satisfying explanation of man’s dual mentality, and the constituent elements of human nature.
Virtue and Vice as Factors in Evolution
MORAL PHILOSOPHERS, ANCIENT AND MODERN, are dominated by the conviction that the moral law is “written in the human heart.” By this I understand them to mean that every child born in the world has a fundamental part of its brain ingrained in such a way that when it comes into full activity it favors certain lines of conduct and tends to reject other lines. When such inborn tendencies materialize and rise up into the field of consciousness there comes into action another mental mechanism which “reviews” the intention or action, the “reviewer” being what is named “conscience.” Conscience is not confined to man, but in him it has become developed to a supreme degree of watchfulness and power. If a man’s conscience is satisfied, he regards an action as virtuous; if dissatisfied, vicious.
So much for the machinery of morality. We have now to note the role of morality so far as it affects the processes concerned in human evolution. It is never safe, in an inquiry of this kind, to neglect Aristotle; he was a biological philosopher of the highest rank, often dropping a profound truth as if it were a mere afterthought. Take this as an example: “Even in the lower animals there is some natural ‘good’ principle above themselves which aims at the good peculiar to them.”1 Put into modern thought: “The evolutionary destiny of a species is guided by an
instinctive control of conduct.” Or this from Politics:2 “The ‘good’ of anything is that which preserves it” ‑ i.e., gives it a “survival value.” “Morality contributes to world purpose,” said Professor Henry Sturt.3 “Propensities work for the preservation of the individual or of the race” (Adam Ferguson, 1722‑1816). In Moral Sentiments Adam Smith4 asks his readers to “admire how everything is contrived for advancing the two great purposes of Nature ‑ the support of the individual and the propagation of the species.” And again:5 “Nature, however, when she implanted the seeds of irregularity in the human breast, seems, as upon all other occasions, to have intended the happiness and perfection of the species.” We may, therefore, say that in the year 1759 Adam Smith regarded human morality as part of Nature’s machinery for securing man’s perfection or evolution. Or take this statement of Gibbon, the historian:6 “The Wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart … as instruments to execute its purpose” ‑ a truth which is illustrated in the evolutionary development of modern nations. A quotation from A. Rivarol (1788) brings us nearer to the line of my argument: “Virtues are so because they are useful to the human race.” The converse must be equally true of vices. Hartmann (1842-1906), whom I regret to quote at secondhand, wrote thus: “Instinct, which is the conscious willing to an unconscious purpose, has to do with the preservation of the individual and with the perfection and ennoblement of the species”7 ‑ in other words, with the evolution of the species.
Now, these opinions regarding the nature of instinctive tendencies, and of virtue and vice, are very near to the conclusions to which my researches have led me ‑ namely, that such morality or ethical behavior as favors the evolutionary growth and progress of a tribe is approved by the tribal conscience and is regarded
as a virtue, while an opposite kind of behavior is not approved and is named a vice. “Nature,” as Gibbon might have written, “has not entrusted human destiny to man’s unfettered reason, but has heavily biased his judgment to serve her own evolutionary purpose.” “The individual is foolish,” said Burke, “but the species is wise.”
The theory seems so straightforward and simple in its implication. Conduct or deeds which help on the evolutionary welfare of a tribe or nation are to be regarded as virtues; the opposite, as vices. Listen to what Hobbes has to say on this matter (1651): “The good or evil thereof [deeds or conduct] depend on the foresight of a long chain of consequences of which very seldom any man is able to see the end.”8
Now, what Hobbes has to say regarding measures devised by government to bring about a destiny such as it had in view for its subjects may be true; a civilized government is unlikely to take notice of the destiny toward which evolution is working. Conduct which is beneficial to a tribe at one phase of its development may work for evil in another. Virtue and vice are relative, not absolute, terms. But this is true: through long aeons natural selection has been favoring those tribes which possess inborn predispositions that best serve the destiny toward which evolution works. Man’s instinctive aptitudes and predispositions, if they cannot serve as finger posts as to what is right or wrong, must receive the most serious consideration, whether we adopt the laissez‑faire policy of nature or seek to guide evolution in a direction devised by man. We have to frame our laws to go with the grain of human nature, not against it. Only to this limited extent does a knowledge of evolution help us to devise a system of ethics or to discriminate virtue from vice.
To see evolutionary measures and tribal morality being applied rigorously to the affairs of a great modern nation we must turn again to Germany of 1942. We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution provides the only real basis for a national policy. Long before he had reduced greater Germany to a tribal unit he gave this as a “national ultimate”:9 “To fight for security and
increase of our race and people . . . so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator.” In the words of Dr. Waddington, Hitler accepted “the direction of evolution as good simply because it is good.” The means he adopted to secure the destiny of his race and people were organized slaughter, which has drenched Europe in blood. I shall return to the part which war plays and has played in the evolution of mankind; meantime let me quote from a speech which Goebbels has just delivered:10 “We conquer territory in order to organize it for ourselves . . . not for prestige, but for reasons of state and nation.” Such conduct is highly immoral as measured by every scale of ethics, yet Germany justifies it; it is consonant with tribal or evolutionary morality. Germany has reverted to the tribal past, and is demonstrating to the world, in their naked ferocity, the methods of evolution, with this difference ‑ what were mere border forays between tribes have become the clash of massed millions using the forked lightning of modern science. She protects her own people and nurses her own Kultur while she seeks to undo all other people and to destroy their civilization.
Take our own case ‑ the British case ‑ for a contrast. Like the people of Laish, whom the spies of Dan prospected, we “dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure.” We talked much of evolution, but never dreamed of enacting it in our national policy. We were internationally minded; we had, or have, a sense of race, but sought to make all equal in the eye of the law. We were detribalized to a great extent; we valued our individual liberties. But under the impact of war our liberties have had to be surrendered, and have been compelled to adopt a tribal organization and a tribal morality. In spite of ourselves we have had to revert to the sanguinary methods of evolution, in no other way could, nor can, we maintain the population of these islands as an intact, living, and enduring corporation to carry to destiny our amassed inheritance.
The truth is that the ways of natural evolution are incompatible with those of a common and universal civilization. We
can have one or other as a mode of life, but we cannot have both. To this matter I shall return in a later chapter.
Up to this point I have been using Dr. Waddington’s proposal, that science should seek for a fixed standard of ethics by a study of the ways of evolution, as a text for a rather long sermon on the futility of such a search. Before turning to some subsidiary matters, I must touch upon a very widely spread antipathy to consider evolution in any of its forms, particularly in the derivation of man from a simian ancestry. I have had occasion already to mention Mr. Clive Bell; he is a man with an agile brain and a nimble pen; in Civilization he has given the world an aesthete’s opinion of evolution and of man’s true purpose in life. I quote from the Pelican edition (1938), p. 56:
“And if we reply, the sole end and purpose of man’s existence be but to continue his species, if the individual have no value, save as a means to that end, does it matter? That any given race of apes should become extinct signifies not a straw, and if a man is to live for no other purpose than that for which apes live, his continued existence becomes equally unimportant.”
It matters to this extent: if a certain optimistic branch of Miocene apedom had become extinct, then there would have been no Clive Bell, no Civilization, and the world would have been all the poorer. I feel confident that, if evolution had succeeded in tracing man from a fallen angel and not from a risen ape, Mr. Bell’s antagonism to evolution would have gone by the board. Darwin, in the last paragraph of The Descent of Man, has already answered Mr. Bell:
“Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future.”
National Independence and Individual Liberty: Their Place in the Scheme of Human Evolution
THE CONCLUSION REACHED IN MY LAST CHAPTER namely, that modern civilization is at war with natural evolution ‑ has been given a terse expression by Professor S. J. Holmes:1 “Racial advancement may be nature’s way, but it certainly is not man’s.” We may give this thesis a concrete illustration if we consider the significance of a word that is ever on our national lips ‑ independence, or absolute sovereignty. The League of Nations had a rational and beneficent aim ‑ namely, to bring the nations of Europe under a common law and thus secure peace and prosperity for the peoples of Europe. The League failed. There is no need to cite witnesses as to the cause of the failure; the League failed because every nation concerned refused to surrender even a jot of its full independence or absolute sovereignty. The nations of Europe preferred to remain under the law of natural evolution rather than submit to the dictates of reason.
Now, when we find the most learned nations in the world behaving in a way which to a civilized mind seems utterly irrational we must seek for an explanation below the levels where reason holds sway. Let us apply to national behavior the theory I have been advocating in former chapters ‑ namely, that human nature has been framed to serve the evolutionary processes which are molding mankind in the present, and will continue to mold them in the future, just as they have done in the distant past. Now, the instinctive feelings which have been enslaved for the purposes of evolution either lie outside the reach of reason or are so strong in themselves that they bring reason into subjection. The application of the theory to national behavior gives irrationality a rational place in the scheme of things, and should bring home to statesmen the obdurate fortifications which
have to be leveled in the minds of men before federation can conquer evolutionary purpose in Europe.
To see a modern people in the throes of evolution, let us go to Finland in the critical spring of 1940. Listen to the leader of the trade unionists as he described the situation:2
“The Finnish people cannot be said to have agreed among themselves in peace‑time. But the moment a real danger threatened us like a thunder‑cloud, a mighty wind swept over our nation, erasing even the most deep‑seated differences of opinion and directed the gaze of every citizen to the one all‑important matter‑namely, the defense of our liberty and independence and the protection of our women and children…. We shall continue the struggle so long as there is a single man left who is capable of wielding a weapon.”
Let us see if we can obtain a reasonable explanation of the state of mind which had been roused in the people of Finland by certain demands made on their country by powerful Russia. At first there was no threat against the corporate life of the Finns; they were requested to surrender certain strong points which were coveted by Russia for defensive purposes. Now, suppose the ultimate purpose of human existence had been such as we have passed in review ‑ the development of personality, the provision of greatest happiness to the greatest number, the growth of the soul, glorification of the Creator, security, peace, prosperity; then the Finns ought gratefully to have accepted the demands of Russia. Could not all of these objectives in life have been developed more freely and fully under the protection of Russia than under the weaker power of the smaller state? We receive no explanation from the accepted theories of life. But if we turn to the theory that I have put forward ‑ namely, that human nature has been fashioned to advance the cause of evolution ‑ then we obtain a ready and sufficient explanation. An evolutionary unit, be it a community, tribe, or a nation, must, to fulfill its destiny, maintain not only its organization and its continuity, but also its independence ‑ its right to work out its own destiny. If a nation loses its independence, then it has no longer the power to develop its separate destiny or to pursue the policy of self‑determination. Thus I regard the spirit of independence
which we have seen roused in the hearts of the Finnish people as a fundamental part of the machinery of human evolution.
In every man there is an instinctive and passionate reaction if his person or liberty is attacked. It is not so clearly recognized that a threat to the life or to the independence of a tribe or of a nation calls forth a mass reaction still more powerful and passionate. How strong that reaction can be is seen in the case of Finland. A warlike spirit flamed up; life, individual liberty, ease, and wealth were sacrificed in the passionate hope that the nation might be free to pursue its way to a self‑appointed destiny. In such reactions the civilized mind sees only a mass hysteria, a form of madness. The rationalist, on the other hand, who has more extended acquaintance with the ways of Nature, will see in the warlike spirit which rises in a nation when its independence is threatened, not a manifestation of madness, but a demonstration of the stern measures used by Nature to carry out her evolutionary purpose. If madness it be, then there is only one cure ‑ to bring to an end the methods pursued hitherto by Nature for human advancement. Civilization and Nature are at war.
I have cited the case of Finland to illustrate my evolutionary explanation of “Independence.” Many other recent instances are at my disposal, but I shall use only a few of them. There is the case of Yugoslavia. On the morning of March 27, 1941, Mr. Winston Churchill broadcast this announcement: “Early this morning the Yugoslav nation found its soul. . . . Yesterday its freedom and honour were signed away.” All the world knows the price in blood and treasure Yugoslavia has paid and is paying for finding her “soul;” yet all the free peoples of the world thrilled approval when she resolved to fight rather than submit to aggressive Germany. Submission would have brought on her the contempt of even the aggressor powers. No spectacle evokes the applause of the world so much as a little nation fighting against overwhelming odds for its right to guide its own destiny. Does not this go to prove how deeply seated the “soul of independence” is in human nature?
Or we may touch on the cases of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey. In The Times (September 19, 1939) we read: “Poland today lies under the heel of her two invaders, having won immortal
glory. . . . There is no finis Poloniae.” Or this from a speech by Mr. Anthony Eden:3 “But one factor remains constant, and that is Turkey’s firm determination to preserve against any aggressor the greatest treasure any nation can possess ‑ her independence.” One other example, chosen from ancient times, and I have finished with my evidence relating to the value which tribes and nations attach to a state of independence. Early in the first century of our era Pliny made this observation on a German tribe ‑ the Chauci, who lived on the coastal swamps north of the country which is now Holland: “Here the miserable inhabitants live in wave‑swept cabins. Yet this nation, if conquered by the Romans, would deem their lot of servitude the greatest calamity. Thus does fortune indulge many for their own punishment.” In Pliny’s verdict on the Chauci’s love of independence we detect an anticipation of the outlook of the modern civilized mind.
In the compartment of a portfolio where I keep my observations and notes on “Independence,” “Freedom,” and “Liberty,” I find two almost opposite subjects represented by my gatherings. There are, in the first place, those annotations which relate to the independence or sovereignty of a tribe or people, the evolutionary significance of which has just been discussed. There are, in the second place, those which deal with the freedom or liberty of the individual ‑ the extent to which a tribesman or a citizen may speak his thoughts and act as seems good to him. Every tribesman has to serve two masters: one his tribe, the other his own self. He has to serve his tribe so that its life, its integrity, and above all its independence will be maintained. His nature is such that this service is rendered easy for him because it is given almost instinctively. He has also to serve himself: to secure an adequate share of what meat, drink, clothing, etc., are available; to save his “face”; to earn the good opinion of his fellows; to develop his personality, his intelligence, particularly his skill, so that he may become an asset and not a liability to his tribe, and so assist in its evolutionary advancement. If he serves his tribe with the utmost zeal and fidelity, he must sacrifice self; if his own rights come first, tribal interests
have to go. There is thus a secret antagonism between the development of tribal independence and of personal liberty.
In a tribal organization, even in time of peace, service to tribe or state predominates over all self‑seeking; in war, service for the tribe or state becomes supreme, and personal liberty is suspended. Germany went onto a war footing, and thus assumed a tribal organization, as soon as Hitler came to power (1933); freedom to join or belong to societies, clubs, unions, political parties, or religious congregations was withheld or placed under Nazi control; the entire population was massed for the service of the state. In Britain, where the fullest personal liberty has become an established tradition, 1939 found us still enjoying and guarding our liberties. To survive against the tribal might of Germany we had to forgo bit by bit most of our privileges and revert to a tribal or evolutionary state. Thus we had brought home to us in barbarous realism the opposition between national independence and personal freedom.
Desire for Individual Liberty and its Evolutionary Implications
SO IMPORTANT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF INDIVIDUAL liberty in our modern eyes that its consideration cannot be dismissed with the brief statement given to it in my last chapter. Mr. Clive Bell (loc. cit.) goes so far as to say that the greater the freedom which a state permits to its citizens, the higher is the civilization of that state. To a certain extent there is truth in this statement. Presently, when I take up the rise and spread of civilization and consider the manner in which civilization has clogged Nature’s machinery of evolution, I shall have something to add to Mr. Bell’s statement. Meantime I want to concentrate on the part which personal freedom, in thought and in purpose, has played in the evolution of mankind.
In an inquiry of this kind we cannot neglect Darwin. When The Descent of Man was published, in 1871, John Morley criticized Darwin’s conception of human morality. Darwin replied:1
I have endeavoured to show how the struggle for existence between tribe and tribe depends on an advance in the moral and intellectual qualities of the members, and not merely on their capacity of obtaining food. . . . Undoubtedly the great principle of acting for the good of all the members of the same community, and therefore the good of the species, would still hold sovereign sway.
Elsewhere Darwin points out that “no tribe could hold together if murder, robbery, or treachery were common” within its rank.2 Then, in a subsequent passage,3 we find him alive to the fact that a tribe in which there abounds “patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, sympathy, mutual aid, readiness to sacrifice for the common good” will be victorious (and therefore be “selected”) over a tribe poorer in these qualities. It is noticeable that individual freedom is not specified; he knew well that such freedom was of limited extent in every tribal community. Darwin’s own life was a demonstration of the advantage which may follow the liberties which attend civilization. Fortune made it possible for him to spend his life, his freedom, in teaching not only his own nation, but all the world, how Nature turns the wheel of evolution.
Professor Malinowski approached closer to the heart of the problem of how individual needs are adjusted to public welfare in a tribal community. He spent some time in a group of islands, the Trobriands ‑ which lie some distance to the northeast of New Guinea ‑ studying the manner in which life is regulated in their native communities.4 The Trobrianders have a civilization of a kind; they know how to make land and sea produce food for themselves and goods for exchange with neighboring communities. Their mode of exchange ‑ that of giving and of receiving gifts ‑ offers temptations to private avarice, but it is held in check by another, even stronger, passion or desire in the heart of the islander ‑ that of standing high in the eyes of his fellows. The desire for private gain is balanced against that for public reputation. The individual Trobriander, like the rest of us, has personal cravings which demand satisfaction ‑ cravings for food, for drink, for love, for social contacts. He is also dominated by an
even stronger craving ‑ that of standing well in the public eye; public or tribal approval is given only for contributions to the public weal. This is human nature constituted for a dual service ‑ to self and to tribe.
In a former chapter I have said that in discussing any point in human nature it is always profitable to know what Aristotle had thought of it. There is another authority always worthy of reference ‑ Gibbon the historian. I will quote two short passages from Chapter IX of the Decline and Fall, the first bearing on the manner in which German tribes governed themselves. It runs thus:
“Civil governments, in their first institution, are voluntary associations for mutual defence. To obtain the desired end it is absolutely necessary that each individual should conceive himself obliged to submit his private opinion and actions to the judgment of the greater number of his associates.”
Thus we see in tribal Germany, as in the Trobriands, the welfare of a community was controlled by public opinion, against which only the strongest natures can remain defiant. If Darwin’s writings had been at the disposal of Gibbon, how differently he would have worded the opening sentence! Tribes are of hoary antiquity, and are not voluntary but involuntary associations; birth determines membership, although adoption and slavery were practiced to some extent by German tribes. One may be sure, seeing that individual freedom was regulated by tribal opinion, that any indulgence of liberty by the individual, in word or deed, would be frowned on by the tribe unless it answered to a tribal need.
In a subsequent instructive paragraph Gibbon contrasts the “tribal life” with that seen “in a civilized state”:
“The most numerous portion of it is employed in constant and useful labour. The select few, placed by fortune above that necessity, can, however, fill up their time by the pursuits of interest or glory, by the improvement of their estate or of their understanding, by the duties the pleasures, and even the follies, of social life.”
Apparently Gibbon was content to see the exercise of freedom confined to the privileged few. No doubt learning was advanced by the few; yet, if we are to measure life by the extent to which it is enjoyed and by the satisfaction given by service to the
community, it is probable that the humble cobbler had more to his share than he who sought his pleasure in the “follies of social life.”
Thus we see that tribal life is inimical to personal freedom; it favors tradition, convention, and conservatism. Nevertheless it was under conditions of tribal life that man came by his most distinctive attribute of mind and body. It was under such circumstances that he came by his great brain, by which he measures the stars, by which he sweeps his imagination along the remote horizons of the past and the distant horizons of the future. The conservatism of tribal life seems hard to reconcile with man’s evolutionary advancement. It would be, if past advance depended on a conscious planning by men. Consciousness has played a part, but it has been conscious reason, subject to the working in that nether world of his brain ‑ the nether world in which his inborn tendencies and impulses hold sway. As Darwin said in concluding his work on human descent: “Man has risen . . . not through his own exertions.” Perhaps he ought to have written: “not through his conscious exertions.”
Germany in 1933, and Italy in 1922, reverted to tribal states; personal liberty was suspended in both countries. What effect will that have on the evolutionary development of their peoples? The only law in Germany of 1942 is Hitler’s will. Mussolini has described liberty as “a stinking corpse.” Recently a group of authors have discussed the meaning of “freedom.”5 Croce, in this volume, makes this pronouncement: “Totalitarianism. . . kills free mind ultimately.” Every increase of central power gives a diminished peripheral freedom. “Aggressive peoples have no free institutions” (L. T. Hobhouse). It was the opinion of Hume, the philosopher, that “tyranny, despotism, could give no advance. . . big despotisms tend to the debasement of the human species.” “There is,” said J. L. Garvin in 1935, “an uprising of the human spirit against the regime of submission.” “The great military despotisms of Europe regard our freedom as the greatest danger as well as reproach to themselves” (J. S. Mill). Free peoples value their liberties above all else save one thing: that one exception is the integrity and independence of the tribe or nation of
which they form part. National independence has, as we have seen, an evolutionary significance. If the nation is in danger, individual liberty has to be surrendered to obtain unity of action.
I am a rank individualist. I prize the conditions under which I have lived because they have permitted me to choose my opportunities, to inquire into such matters as interested me, and to publish what I believed to be true, uncontrolled by any central authority. In common with my fellow scientists in Britain, I am convinced that any central control of scientific or other form of inquiry would hamper the increase of knowledge, the progress of civilization, and ultimately the evolutionary power and place of the nation to which we belong. We who surrender our privileges voluntarily, and can therefore resume them when the emergency has passed, should be stronger nationally than a totalitarian state, which employs compulsion to deprive its citizens of their liberties. Even in those long‑past days when tribalism was universal, would not the tribes which permitted their members the free exercise of their brains be in a stronger position than those tribes which suppressed individual endeavor? Thus I hold that individual liberties, so long as they do not endanger the unity and welfare of the community or tribe, have an evolutionary value.
The proper balance between individual liberty and central authority is a very ancient problem. Ever since human communities came into existence there has gone on in them a silent struggle between the individual seeking to develop his desires and needs and, at the same time, satisfy the collective requirements of his tribe or state. On the one hand we find the German philosopher Hegel (1770‑1831) enunciating the theory that the individual exists to supply the needs of the state; on the other we find the English philosopher Herbert Spencer (1828‑1903) formulating the opposite opinion ‑ that the state exists to protect the liberties of the individual. We have already discussed the evils which attend Hegel’s totalitarianism. No tribe could maintain its unity for even a day if it were to practice Spencer’s individualism, for every man has his own ideas as to how his needs should best be met. Even in liberty‑loving Britain ‑ and the same may be said of the United States ‑ government is carried
on by so modifying tribalism as to serve a national purpose. For are not our political parties tribal in their mentality, organization, and outlook? Our system works best when there are only two contending parties. When parties become multiplied, as in France and Germany between 1920 and 1930, frustration follows and government becomes ineffective. We succeed because we have found a way of applying our ancient tribal mentality to the needs of a modern nation.
In conclusion I would pass in brief review some of the conceptions of freedom formulated by high minds. Take that given in a recent lecture at the Royal Institution by Dr. Gilbert Murray:6 “We stand for freedom, for man’s right to use his supreme gifts of thought, speech, creative art, as the spirit moves . . . we stand for law . . . to seek the truth.” “Obey God’s will,” said Hobbes, “and you are free.” Man’s difficulty has always been to interpret aright what the divine will really is. “Obedience is freedom,” said Hegel; Houston Chamberlain put Hegel’s conception into other words: “To be free you must serve; hence loyalty gives freedom.” It would give me no consolation if I were in prison to be told that I had perfect freedom as long as I kept within the walls of my cell. A Scottish philosopher, Thomas Reid, whom I hold in high esteem, had a better conception of freedom than his contemporary Hegel. In 1788 he wrote: “Obedience that flows from opinion is real freedom; obedience which is extorted is slavery.” And the secret of freedom, as Pericles held, is a brave heart.
Is Man a Domesticated Animal?
WE SAY AN ANIMAL IS “WILD” IF IT IS AT LIBERTY to live its life under the guidance of its own instinctive or inborn mentality; we also say that the community or species of which such an individual is a unit is “wild” or in a “state of nature” if it is free to work out its own evolutionary destiny. If we say an animal is “domesticated,” such as the horse or dog,
we imply that it has surrendered its liberties; it is no longer the slave of Nature, but becomes that of man. It is no longer “free” to work out Nature’s evolutionary scheme, but has to submit to whatever purpose man may impose on it.
I hold that man, with exceptions to be noted later, is not a “domesticated” or “tame” animal; he is still wild and free if any animal that lives under the domination of the evolutionary process can be said to be both wild and free. If we turn to Darwin we find that his opinion, as expressed in The Descent of Man, is in harmony with that just given. Here we read: “In another and very important respect man differs widely from any strictly domesticated animal; for his breeding has never long been controlled, either by methodical or unconscious selection.”1 Darwin regarded control of mating as a criterion of domesticity. Again, when discussing the possible origin of the breeds of dogs from several wild species, he adds:2 “With man no such question can arise, for he cannot be said to have been domesticated at any particular period.” The opinion expressed in another passage3 is somewhat different: “We might, therefore, expect that civilized men, who in one sense are highly domesticated, would be more prolific than wild men.” Here Darwin uses the term “domesticated” in a different sense ‑ one I shall return to presently. Dr. Julian Huxley4 expresses his opinion thus: “Man is by far the most variable wild species known.”
In the citation just given Darwin uses domestication as a term to cover two conditions which, in their purpose, are quite different: (1) the mental condition which man has bred into animals kept and controlled to serve his purpose; (2) the mental state which men have established in themselves, and to serve their own needs, by living together under the dictates of civilized behavior. It is in the latter sense that most anthropologists use the term “domestication.” For instance, the eminent American anthropologist Dr. Franz Boas5 gives his opinion thus: “Civilization has domesticated the European and changed his racial
type.” For Boas a European is a tame type, a Bushman a wild one. In later publications6 he carries the process of human domestication back to the days of early cave man. Eminent German anthropologists, such as Dr. Eugen Fischer and Dr. B. Klatt, regard human races as “domestic” breeds. In a recent issue of Nature7 Dr. T. T. Paterson wrote thus: “After all, man, especially in primitive societies, is essentially a domesticated animal, subject to similar selective processes.” No doubt there are primitive peoples who are tame‑minded; they are subject, like all other communities, to the rigors of natural selection. Dr. Paterson forgets to observe that there is all the difference in the world between such a people and a herd of domestic animals. In the one, selection is carried on unconsciously by the people; in the herd, selection is imposed by an owner.
Civilization seeks to suppress all those primitive instincts in man which formed the main part of the machinery of his evolution in earlier times. Rules of good breeding have to be observed: the animal within must make no appearance on social occasions; all outward manifestations of evolutionary conflict ‑ drive, storm, stress, contest ‑ are suppressed. And yet, beyond a doubt, civilization is a powerful selective agency; she is favoring those who willingly obey her behests. How many individuals ‑ nay, whole communities and races ‑ have succumbed because they were either unable or unwilling to shoulder her yoke? For civilization is based on labor, hard labor of body as well as of mind. We shall never understand the present “earthquakes” that shake humanity until we realize that natural selection and evolution are at war with man‑made civilization.
If civilization, as a selective agency, is eliminating ferocity, cunning, treachery, cruelty, and all the other “wild” traits originally planted in man’s mentality, how comes it that the standardbearers of modern civilization ‑ the people of Japan in the Far East, the European nations of the West and the descendants of European nations which now inhabit the Americas ‑ are the most warlike, the fiercest, and the wildest of all racial stocks? When
war strips from them the veneer of civilization there is then revealed the old evolutionary equipment of original man. We cannot say that such peoples are tamed or domesticated. It may be pointed out that the peoples just named have come under the sway of civilization so recently that selection has not had time as yet to eliminate what is wild and antisocial. Certain it is that all the peoples who hoisted the banner of civilization in Asia and Europe from the earliest Sumerian times to the last days of the Roman Empire have fallen out of the evolutionary contest ‑ all but three, or perhaps I should say four (the people of China, of India, of Egypt, and the people who at one time inhabited Palestine ‑ the Jews). They have survived, not because they were warlike, but rather because they were more or less domesticated or tamed. (See Chaps. 36, 37.)
Should man’s nature be rebuilt so as to make him a domesticated animal in the full sense of the term? Let us look into the methods man has employed to tame the mentality of his domestic animals. All the animals he has brought under his control have this in common: the ox, the horse, sheep, and dogs, when living in the wild state, are members of a herd, flock, or pack; they are social animals. Now, social animals have, as man has, a dual mentality ‑ one side of it is smooth, kindly, social, for home use; the other side is rough, fierce, cruel, for outside or “foreign” use. Man has, century after century, selected for breeding purposes those individuals in which the social or tame traits predominate over those which are fierce or wild. Individuals which struggle against confinement and refuse to give up any part of their passion for freedom are rejected. In this way the social, tame traits have been strengthened, the wild and fierce eliminated, but not altogether. Man still finds it necessary to apply a surgical operation to the stallion and bull to make them really domesticated.
An eminent Russian anthropologist, Dr. Shirokogoroff, lived for some years among the Tungus and has recorded very instructive facts about the herds of tame reindeer kept by that Mongolian people.8 The tame reindeer is mild and friendly and willingly submits to burden or rider. In the rutting season the
male turns intractable and for the time is unserviceable. The female, on the other hand, in rut becomes tamer and more submissive. There are also herds of wild reindeer, and occasionally a wild male seeks out the domestic herd and leaves progeny. Such hybrid progeny are intractable, seek their freedom when opportunity offers, and join the wild herd. From which we learn that the desire for freedom is an inborn hereditary quality in the mentality of reindeer.
In the dog family man has succeeded in breeding out many wild traits ‑ ferocity, cunning, and suspiciousness ‑ and has strengthened others, such as affection and intelligence. Breeds have been brought into existence in which certain aptitudes of the wild dog have been given dominance; thus we have come to have watchdogs, sheep dogs, bloodhounds, retrievers, pointers, setters, etc. It is noticeable, too, that domestication may engender a depravity of the dog’s sexual instincts. Greyhounds had their courage strengthened by a bulldog cross.
No doubt the selective methods which have been used to tame animals for domestic purposes could be applied to man. Man’s “wild” characters could thus be eliminated and true domestic breeds brought into existence. The wild “gene” is dominant to its tame mutant.9 Consider for a moment what man’s chief “wild” trait is; it is his inborn instinctive desire for freedom, for individual liberty. General Smuts, in his rectorial address to the students of the University of St. Andrews,10 declared that “freedom is the most ineradicable craving of human nature.” More than a century and a half earlier a famous professor of the University of Aberdeen, James Dunbar, said this in a book still deserving of study:11 “The love of liberty is the most stubborn principle of the human heart.” As early as 1871 Sir Francis Galton proposed that man would be better without his herd instinct (a wild trait), and that it should therefore be bred out of him. He could not have realized the implications of his proposal, for the herd instinct is but an exaggeration of those social aptitudes which bind men into a community or society. If we could breed
out the herd instinct from a community, we should reduce it to a conglomeration of asocial individuals. Suppose we could domesticate man by breeding out his love of freedom, then consider what his attitude to life would be. He would become as an ox in the stall, which, protected by his owner, has no purpose in life save to live. A man without a purpose in life is already half dead. No! Man is not a domestic animal; if we could make him one, we should undo him. Nevertheless, as we shall see in the chapter that follows, there are degrees of submissiveness and of tractability in the races of mankind.
Slavery: An Evolutionary Crime
IN MY LAST CHAPTER I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION that man is neither a domesticated animal nor a tame one. There is one condition, however, I did not mention ‑ that of slavery. A slave, like an ox, could be bought or sold, he could be hired out; in some cases he was castrated; he was a chattel: Plato regarded him as an “animate instrument.” His right or freedom to take part in the evolutionary drama of his kith and kin was surrendered to his owners. So far as I have been able to discover, no owner ever attempted to establish a slave breed or race. At all times it was found cheaper to buy than to rear slaves.
Eumaeus, the swineherd of Ulysses, was kidnaped as a child by Phoenician pirates. Caesar, after one of the battles fought during the conquest of Gaul, sold 53,000 Belgae into slavery. In the fifth century B.C. the Greeks enslaved 20,000 Persians captured in battle. In Roman times the island of Delos was the center of the slave trade; 10,000 would enter and leave the market in a day.
Sir Henry Maine, in his classical work, Ancient Law,1 speaks of slavery as being “as old as human nature,” its institution being, as it were, part of man’s original sin. It is a sin unpracticed among primitive peoples; they depend for a living on what falls from Nature’s table. What use would a slave be to an aborigine of
Australia? The slave would have no leisure to spare for his master; it would take him all his time to gather or kill enough for himself. If we regard the discovery and practice of agriculture as the beginning of civilization, then we may say that slavery and civilization came together. Civilization is based on physical toil, the sweat of the brow; it was only then that opportunities for the employment of servile labor came into existence. Instead of killing the enemy captured in battle, the conqueror gave his captive life ‑ and slavery. When civilization comes within the reach of history, slavery is found to be an established practice in all cities, kingdoms, and empires. And so it persisted everywhere until after the fall of the Roman Empire. It continued, but in an ever‑diminishing extent, until 1863, when the U.S.A., the last of the great nations to own slaves, set them free.
In their treatment of slaves, nations were guided by what may be called a racial principle. The Hebrew of Palestine was commanded2 to buy his bondmen and bondmaids from neighboring heathen peoples. Such slaves were a “possession” forever. It was otherwise with the unfortunate Hebrew who had to surrender his liberty; he was to receive considerate treatment during his service and be set free after serving until the year of Jubilee came. A similar rule held for Arab peoples; infidels were, for them, the proper subjects for slavery. Greeks made the same distinction; there was one law for themselves, another for the barbarian. Human nature found it easier to be harsh to members of an enemy tribe or nation than to a fellow tribesman or fellow citizen.
Are there men and women who are slaves by nature? Aristotle thought so; perhaps it was an opinion framed to satisfy his conscience and justify the practice of slavery, which so abounded in Athens. Herbert Spencer held that human nature was malleable; if this were true, which I do not believe to be the case, then a free nature might become that of a slave. Dean Swift thought the wildest natures could be tamed to a certain extent. In Gulliver’s Travels we read that “every houyhnhnm kept two young yahoos in a kennel and brought them to such a degree of tameness as an animal so savage by nature can be capable
of acquiring.” Xenophon declared that “man was the hardest animal to govern.” The truth is that in all races and among all peoples there are men of varying degrees of nature: there are those who are so possessed by a passion for freedom that they would rather surrender life itself than any part of their liberty; and there are those who readily sacrifice freedom for an easy and quiet life. But there are also races and peoples in which the fiercely independent predominate in numbers, and there are others in which the submissive are in the majority. Columbus, when he landed in the Antilles, found two races of natives quite different in their natures. One was the Arawak ‑ peaceful, timid, friendly, submissive; the other the Caribs, who were recent arrivals ‑ warlike, cruel, aggressive, and independent. The American Indians rejected service under the dominion of the white settlers; they sacrificed their lives rather than submit to slavery. The natives of Africa proved more tractable. Valentin3 has estimated that about nine millions were carried from Africa and sold in the New World in the latter half of the eighteenth century! The Damaras of southwest Africa were described by Sir Francis Galton as “courting slavery,” and that they “follow a master as a spaniel would.” On the other hand, Francis Rodd found the Tuaregs of the Sahara to be a people of “intractable character.” The peoples of Outer Mongolia are warlike; the Chinese are naturally of a pacific disposition. One has but to compare the warlike, wild tribes of the Northwest Frontier of India with the tame, submissive tribes of Bombay or Madras to realize how differently the passion for freedom can be developed in peoples living in the same subcontinent.
Are there, then, peoples from which the wild instincts, the passion for liberty, have been bred out so that they have become submissive, almost slavelike, in nature? Before coming to such a conclusion let us see if there can be another explanation. England was inhabited by warlike tribes when the Romans came. They were soon brought into a state of subjection, and after being “protected” for nearly four centuries had lost their powers of defense to such an extent that they became an easy prey to Saxon invaders. The native peoples of Gaul were reduced to
a defenseless state by the same method and at the same historical period. The British Government has protected and thus “tamed” native peoples so that they, too, have become incapable of maintaining their independence. Yet in all these peoples we cannot believe that the wild “genes” have been eliminated – that the passion for freedom has been eliminated; it lies latent because opportunities for its activity have been withheld. But, taking all these circumstances into consideration, we must still conclude that a warlike spirit ‑ a passion for liberty ‑ finds a much more powerful development in the nature of some peoples than in that of others.
All authorities agree that it is under despotic or totalitarian governments that the independent‑minded and freedom‑loving men and women are suppressed or liquidated, and the submissive favored and advanced. If a despotic government endures over a sufficient number of centuries the ultimate result should be a slave‑minded population. A free democracy works so as to produce an opposite result, selecting the individuals of courage and of enterprise, and so favoring the growth of a stronger and more enduring people.
During the American Civil War (1861‑65) men’s minds, both in the Old World and the New, were much exercised to find such a justification for slavery as would salve their consciences and leave their purses untouched. A similar problem vexes minds of a tender nature in the matter of keeping domestic animals for slaughter. How is such a practice to be justified so that conscience will not be stricken when a joint appears on the table? I will not touch on extravagant forms of justification such as that which assigns the Negro to a separate act of creation, or that which regards the ox as designed to serve man’s needs. The more familiar justification of the slaveowner was that under him the slave had no anxieties or responsibilities: food, clothing, shelter, peace, security were guaranteed; in a state of freedom he sacrificed all these advantages. The domestic ox enjoys all the privileges of a slave; in a state of nature his livelihood is precarious and his life in constant danger. If life were an end in itself, the slave and ox lead lives which might
be envied; but evolution demands more of her votaries than merely to live ‑ each has its evolutionary purpose to fulfill.
Nothing roused Darwin’s anger to such a pitch as any kind of attempt to justify slavery. In The Descent of Man he writes:4 “Slavery, although in some ways beneficial in ancient times, is a great crime.” Walter Bagehot, who in Physics and Politics (1869) was the first to apply Darwinism to political problems, said of slavery: “An early food . . . it becomes a late poison.” The charge I would bring against slavery is that it is not only wrong from a moral and from an economic point of view, but it is wrong from the point of view of an evolutionist. Consider the state of the people of ancient Athens ‑ half of them free, the other half enslaved. “A city divided against itself cannot stand” is true under the law of evolution as well as under the law of man. A people can fulfill its evolutionary destiny only if it forms a unity in the fate of which every member is involved. Or take the case of the Spartans ‑ a Herrenvolk supported by a subject population of serfs. Such a state could not endure. Evolution demands a single tribal feeling, a single morality. There can be neither of these if there is a separate slave class. Slavery is a crime against the law of evolution.
Universalism: A World Brotherhood
THE SUBJECT OF THIS CHAPTER AND OF TWO THAT are to follow is perhaps the loftiest ideal which has ever seized upon man’s imagination ‑ the union of men and women and children of all nations and of all tribes into a single worldwide community. The world community now numbers over two billion souls; how are we to make this vast population subject to a common law and responsible to a single central government? The project of bringing this ideal into being I shall speak of as Universalism. This is the project which Mr. H. G. Wells urged upon the world, in season and out of season, during the past quarter of a century. If an advocacy which is at once powerful,
courageous, clear, and cogent could advance a great cause, then that which Mr. Wells had so closely at heart should have won by now a secure place in the minds of those statesmen who direct the destinies of mankind. It has not yet won for itself such a place. Why? A scheme which would free mankind from the scourge of war, which would ensure perpetual peace and prosperity, which would give security of life and living to all, which would open the resources of the earth ‑ its mines, its plantations, and its factories ‑ to every community in need of them ‑ a scheme so reasonable and so advantageous ought to make an instant conquest of every living soul. Mankind hangs back; the glad tidings of the new evangel fall on unreceptive hearts. Is there, then, a counterforce at work in human mentality, one which man in the mass cannot control but is obliged to obey? I believe this to be the case. Whether or not this counterforce can be weeded out is another matter ‑ one we shall consider in due course.
Readers may be puzzled to know why I pass directly from slavery, dealt with in my last chapter, to Universalism, considered in this, and why my portfolios, swollen with “Universalist” slips, should be interposed between “slavery” on the one hand and that devoted to “war” on the other. The connection between these three subjects is this: slavery implies the deprivation of individual freedom; Universalism is possible only if nations and tribes are deprived of their independence or sovereign rights; war is a means of asserting, maintaining, or extending national or tribal independence. All three subjects relate to freedom – individual freedom in the case of the slave, mass freedom or independence in the case of the nation or tribe. Now, we have already touched upon national independence in the natural scheme of evolution (Chap. 8); it is the pivot, as it were, round which the wheel of evolution turns and has turned ever since man made his exodus from apedom. If we bring in a world wide Universalism, we destroy Nature’s scheme of evolution; a fatally new order of things is introduced. Alas, man’s inherited mentality has been framed and fashioned to subserve an evolutionary purpose; our desired Utopia demands not only a new order of government, but a new human mentality, one in which
the evolutionary instinctive tendencies and impulses have been eradicated or brought under the government of reason. Hitherto it has been the innate powers of the subconscious that have been the governors of man’s destiny; human reason has had little share in bringing humanity to its present state of body or of mind. Mr. Wells has recognized this difficulty and has expressed it in the following passage:1 “The Universalist idea . . . runs counter to the normal instincts of mankind. Nationalism is in our bones ‑ in our tradition, in our habits, in our blood.” But neither Mr. Wells nor anyone else that I know of has perceived the magnitude of the revolution that the institution of Universalism implies. It means that in the realm of mankind the natural law which has ruled the destiny of living things since the first appearance of life on the earth is thrown overboard. The modern school of biologists see no harm in this. “Why should not human destiny be man‑managed?” they ask. Mankind placed in charge of its own destiny will be faced with problems just as difficult and as desperate as those now met with under the natural law of evolution.
The other day a clerical friend sketched for me a vivid picture of what our earth would be like if Universalism became triumphant. “Look,” said he, “at that sunlit scene which comes to us from Palestine in the days of King Solomon. Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even unto Beersheba. And let us suppose,” he went on, “that these good Hebrews had anticipated Isaiah and beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and that already nation no longer lifted up the sword against nation, neither learned the art of war any more. Add to this domestic scene another detail borrowed from Isaiah ‑ ‘and the calf and the young lion and the fatling shall lie down together; and a little child shall lead them.’ Is this not an alluring picture of human life? Now,” he continued, “let us suppose that Dan has receded to the North Pole and Beersheba to the South, and all the earth is spread out before us. There is room in the earth for four thousand Palestines; each Palestine has become the home of just such a domestic bliss as we have seen in the original picture.
What a world to look out on! The frontiers behind which sixty nations, tribes beyond number, and races are now entrenched have vanished; the earth below is as free as the sky above; among the peoples there is no longer any color bar; a common tongue has swept through the earth as in the palmy days of Babel. Tariff walls have been overthrown; there are no passports, no dues, no patriotism, for every living soul is a citizen of the world, free to come and go, free to trade as needs compel or moods suggest. There are no armies, no navies, for there is no longer any warlike spirit in human nature. Only a central airborne police to see that the one universal code of law is observed. There will be no competition, no rivalry, and hence no malice, envy, or evil ambition. Jerusalem shall take her place as the world’s capital ‑ a center of power and uplift, in touch with all communities. One state, one government, one law, and one God.” And here my friend hesitated. “One church?” I suggested. “No,” he replied, “the religious conscience must be free to choose such church and creed as best satisfies the spiritual needs of the individual.” “Look on this picture and on that ‑ a Universalist world giving peace, prosperity, plenty, and an evolutionary world always in a state of unrest, or war, and of poverty – who can hesitate in their choice?” “The choice lies between heaven and hell.”
Universalism as an ideal is as old as ‑ nay, is probably much more ancient than ‑ the Christian ideal. Yet see how different they are in penetrating power. Christianity has a momentum of its own which has carried it over a large part of the earth’s surface; Universalism has no drive, no momentum; it is not contagious; it has behind it no missionary enthusiasm. And yet this strange fact remains: Universalism, not as an ideal but as a political practice, has been and is at work in all parts of the Earth. Nowhere is Universalism welcomed and encouraged by a people; everywhere governments have forced and are forcing Universalism upon unwilling and resistant subjects. There is something in the Universalist ideal which runs against the grain of human nature. Force and fear are the driving power behind this regional kind of Universalism. Love and brotherhood have had no part in its spread.
Let us review, in as few words as possible, how Universalism as a practice has spread, and is spreading, in the earth’s carpet of humanity. Before the discovery of agriculture, which heralded our civilization, mankind was everywhere living in small isolated communities ‑ “parish races” as Walter Bagehot (1869) somewhere names them. Our earliest historical records tell how these small units have been welded by war and by conquest into bigger and bigger units. Nowhere can we see Universalist measures at work better than at the beginning of the Christian era, among the tribal peoples of France, Germany, and Britain. Tribes are being swollen by conquest, weaker tribes are driven by fear to unite and so withstand their conquering neighbor. By war, force, terror, and diplomacy, local “universalisms” have been accomplished in Europe; in place of a thousand independent tribes we have some twenty‑six nations‑some weak, some very strong. Having accomplished so much, why not let the beneficent process go on and reduce Europe to one unit? That would be a big step toward the final goal of the Universalist ‑ a world state. Is not2 the acknowledged aim of Germany the unification of Europe under her domination? And are not hers the usual brutal methods ‑ the application of total war, cruelty, and terror? The Allies are at war with Germany to preserve their own integrity and to restore independence to the small nations now under the heel of Germany and set them free to work out their destinies.
I have been describing the present battle of the world as it presents itself to the mind of an evolutionist. The fight for the Universalist ideal is being waged under two different flags one is the flag of naked force, the other is the flag of freedom. The one offers Europe a tyranny; the other an agreed federation. Yet neither the aim of the Allies, and much less that of Germany, is of the kind which moved the minds of early Universalist philosophers. They hoped that a sweet reasonableness and a feeling of brotherliness would conquer the world for their ideal. How are we to reconcile our sense of right and of justice
to these ever‑recurring frustrations of our hopes? I know of only one way ‑ a better understanding of the laws of evolution and of the workings of man’s inborn mentality.
Universalism in Theory and Practice
THIS IS NOT A TREATISE ON UNIVERSALISM; HENCE it is not necessary for me to name the great minds which have entertained the idea through the ages ‑ intellectualists such as Condorcet, of eighteenth‑century France, or humanitarians such as William Godwin1 and Edward Carpenter.2 My aim is to see if we can assign a place to Universalism in any scheme of beneficent evolution. Darwin seems to have had no difficulty in giving it such a place. In The Descent of Man3 occur these oft‑cited passages:
“As man advances in civilization and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation . . .; this point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races . . . unfortunately experience shows us how long it is before we look on them as fellow creatures . . . sympathy beyond the confines of man ‑ that is, humanity to the lower animals ‑ seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. This virtue [humanity] seems to rise incidentally from our sympathies ‘becoming more tender and more widely diffused until they extend to all sentient beings.’”
These passages leave us in no doubt as to Darwin’s wholehearted humanitarianism, of which an ultimate Universalism forms part. Darwin was the man who taught that man had evolved and reached his high place in a struggle that had endured for long ages‑tribe competing for survival against tribe and nation against nation. How are we to reconcile Darwin the Evolutionist with Darwin the Universalist? Did he mean that
the races of mankind which Nature had built up after a prolonged struggle were to be thrown down and again cast into Nature’s melting pot? I think not, for in a later passage4 he wrote: “Man . . . has no right to expect an immunity from the evil consequent on the struggle for existence.” ‑ And again:5 “If he [man] is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted.” Clearly in these passages Darwin the Universalist expected that the law of evolution was still to prevail in the world of mankind.
A deeply implanted feeling, particularly one which rises into consciousness as an ideal ‑ such as Universalism ‑ can enslave scientific reason just as powerfully as can an ordinary selfish prejudice such as that in favor of one’s own family or country. W. G. Sumner (1840‑1910) was professor of political and social science at Yale; his Essays have been recently published by Professor M. R. Davie (1942). In one essay we read: “The fashion of forming ideals corrupts the mind and injures character.” We have seen how strongly Darwin felt about the iniquity of slavery, and in the passages just quoted we appear to see his scientific judgment in thrall to another feeling or ideal ‑ that of Universalism. It seems to me that Darwin’s Universalism was closely akin to the sentiment which Adam Smith named “universal benevolence” (Moral Sentiments, sect. ii, chap. iii). The opening sentence of this chapter reads thus:
“Though our effectual good offices can very seldom be extended to any wider society than that of our own country, our goodwill is circumscribed by no boundary, but may embrace the immensity of the universe.”
The sentiment or liberality of outlook to which Adam Smith gives expression in the above passage is an expression of Universalism as a theory ‑ not as an idea which is to be applied in practice, but as a feeling which it was fitting for enlightened men and women to entertain in the eighteenth century. It was this feeling and not its application that swayed Darwin’s judgment
when he wrote that only an “artificial barrier” prevented a man’s “sympathies extending to men of all nations and races.” No one knew better than Darwin that in the tribal world a man’s sympathies are strictly confined within the limits of his own tribe or community.6
There are very few men and women in whom a Universalist feeling is altogether lacking; its prevalence suggests that it must be part of our inborn nature and have a place in Nature’s scheme of evolution. Darwin has given us a clue to its genesis. Social affections, which make the members of a tribe into a living unity, are an extension of the inborn affections or sympathies which bind together members of a family‑mother to child, children to each other and to both parents. Consider for a moment what the condition would be if family affection were confined to the family and did not spread beyond its circle. Then there would be no society; each family would be an isolated unit. Family affection, to become diffusible and thus bring other families into union with it, must have had an exuberant or expansive quality; a power to overflow the family boundary and thus bring in all men of the tribe as brothers, all its women as sisters, until its evolutionary boundary was reached ‑ the limits of the tribe. And there the brotherly or Universalist wave of affection was stayed until civilization began to place its levers among the spokes of the revolving wheel of evolution. With the union of smaller into larger tribes, and larger tribes into nations, the open hand of brotherhood slowly groped its way until the limits of nationhood were reached. It is still unsated, and seems now to be beckoning for a universal brotherhood.
Some of the obstacles which stand between Adam Smith’s universal benevolence and its application to the world as a political practice have already been mentioned. Others will be brought up for consideration later. Meanwhile I want to dwell for a moment on a matter relating to the early family ‑ the family over which a patriarch is supposed to have presided. No manifestation of human nature has been more discussed than the family horror of incest. If we ask, How did such a feeling arise? We have to answer that we are ignorant; only a full knowledge
of the evolutionary history of the human brain and of its “unconscious” manifestations will answer this question. But if we ask not how ‑ but why ‑ it came into being, the answer is clear. If family incest had been practiced, then there would have been no society, no tribe, for each family would have remained as an isolated breeding unit. The fear of incest served the same purpose as the overflow of brotherly feeling. Both were means of securing an evolutionary unit of sufficient size. Why introduce Freud’s mythological explanation ‑ the Oedipus complex ‑ to explain a straightforward evolutionary situation? At root all the tribal systems of marriage ‑ the system of exogamy or “outmarriage” ‑ serve the same purpose, the extension and growth in size of the tribal group. The higher the civilization, the wider is the marriage net spread. In the Roman Empire marriage had to be made beyond the seventh degree of relationship.
I now return to the consideration of the spread of the Federalist or Universalist idea or spirit; its limits at present are national frontiers. In the present century there has been a marked exacerbation of national feeling. Ever since the eleventh century the large tribal or local units which make up the populations of Britain and France have been welded more and more firmly to form two nations. In England, as generation succeeded generation, the feeling of a common destiny, of a free brotherhood, grew in strength. The growth of unity has been favored by many circumstances ‑ intercommunication by road, rail, and sea, by post and telegraph, by press and radio, by a common government, a common law, a common flag, a common national anthem, and, above all, by a common tongue. The result has been that the bonds which serve as the cement of modern nations give them a tribal solidarity as well as a tribal mentality. The nation has become the evolutionary unit of the modern world.
The benefits which have accrued to the peoples of Europe by the spread of a limited “Universalist” ideal, although still confined by national boundaries, are manifest. Nations have secured internal peace; tribal wars and raids have vanished; internal trade has prospered; new co‑operations have replaced old antagonisms and rivalries; civilization has become an integral part of the mind and of the home. These are real and solid benefits.
But then consider the liabilities which our heightened nationalism has hung round our necks. To preserve our national integrity has involved us in wars infinitely more deadly and cruel than ever afflicted any people in tribal times. We have been made the victims of ruthless war, both militaristic and economic.
We have now (1943) reached what I may call an evolutionary impasse. Germany, the most recent of tribal federations, seeks to solve the evolutionary deadlock by the brutal artillery of war. She is the apostle of force, and has applied it to her internal affairs and now to the affairs of Europe. The Allies have had to arm and to apply force in the hope that ultimately there will emerge a Europe in which the Universalist or Federalist idea may take root. The internal federation of Britain and of France occupied the greater part of a millennium, and their federation is a child’s task compared to the problem presented by the diverse nationalities of Europe. There is no cheap and easy way to universal peace. As Wilfred Trotter exclaimed:7 “The intellect can provide no permanent defence against a vigorous barbarism.” Still intellect, if backed by vigorous and sustained courage, is worthy of trial. Lack of physical courage, or a presumed lack of it, is the commonest cause of war.
Criticisms of Universalism
IT WAS MY INTENTION TO BRING THE CONSIDERATION of Universalism ‑ a world brotherhood of mankind, the lofty ideal on the realization of which so many have set their heart ‑ within the brief compass of the two preceding chapters. But I find I have scarcely touched the surface of the evidence I have gathered, nor have I cited the opinions of the many who are advocates of Universalism, nor of the few who have not a good word to say for it. And, what is more to the purpose, I have not given a clear answer to the question: “What do I, after giving half a century to the study of human faces, of human nature,
and of human evolution ‑ what do I think of Universalism as a scheme for the future? Is it a feasible scheme ‑ one which can be put into practice? If put into practice, would its Utopian expectations be fulfilled?” My answer is “No” in both cases. My reasons will become apparent as I proceed.
Let us note first what the elder Huxley thought of Universalism; he was a man of clear vision. This is his verdict, given in 1894, the year before his death:1
“Even should the whole human race be absorbed in one vast polity, within which absolute political justice reigns, the struggle for existence with the state of nature outside it and the tendency to the return of the struggle within in consequence of over ‑ multiplication will remain . . . every child will bring into the world the instinct of unlimited self‑assertion . . . the prospect of attaining untroubled happiness or of a State which can, even remotely, deserve the title of perfection appears to me to be as misleading an illusion as ever was dangled before the eyes of poor humanity.”
Huxley condemned Universalism; it was an illusion. More than a century earlier J. J. Rousseau gave an equally unsparing verdict; it was a “veritable chimera.” But the reasons they gave for their condemnation were not the same. Huxley’s judgment was founded on the belief that no sooner would Universalism be established than evolution would again raise her hoary head, pitting local group against local group, and that soon mankind would reassume its evil evolutionary ways. Rousseau’s reason was very different. For him nationalism was the source of all that is good: “If people would be virtuous . . . let them love their own country . . . If it is a home for everyone . . . It is a home for no one.”
Sir George Knibbs, register general for Australia, has reviewed (1928) some of the difficulties which the central government of a universal commonwealth will be faced with. Let me summarize some of the difficulties. Suppose we begin with a world population of two billion, giving an addition of one per hundred annually. This implies that accommodation has to be found for an addition of twenty million a year. Even if the freest movement of the population is permitted, sooner or later an elaborate universal system of birth control will have to be instituted.
There are the further difficulties of building a population out of a diversity of races, each at a different stage of cultural evolution, some in need of restraint, many in need of protection; everywhere a bewildering Babel of tongues. The greatest difficulty of all is human nature itself. The earlier generations of Universalists would be the progeny of evolutionary forebears; they must begin with a mentality which, in its fundamental parts, has been organized to serve the purpose of evolution. As Sir George Knibbs has said, a new human spirit must be evolved, one tuned to the highest and noblest ideals. A uniform Universalist system of schools could do much in the attaining of such ideals, but the old instincts would be merely suppressed, not eliminated. To eliminate them, and so secure stability for the Universalist state, breeding and marriage must be controlled everywhere so that individuals of a warlike spirit, individuals who are evolutionary‑minded ‑ that is, competitive, combative, strong‑willed, ambitious. or jealous ‑ are prevented from handing on their qualities to the coming generation. In this way mankind could be domesticated, tamed, and made suitable subjects for a Universal state. If we desire universal peace we must be prepared to surrender our evolutionary birthright. I for one would prefer to keep my birthright and use the gifts which Nature has given me for its maintenance, the chief of which is courage ‑ courage and self‑sacrifice.
As I write there comes back to me the memory of a congress held in London in 1911. It was attended by Von Luschan, then the leading anthropologist in Germany, a breezy, outspoken, and attractive man. Into the proceedings of this congress, which was indulging, as was then usually the case, in a free exchange of pacific sentiments, Von Luschan broke with a strident note: “Brotherhood is good,” he exclaimed, “but struggle is better. Nations will come and go, but racial and national antagonisms will remain. Without its national ambition, mankind would become a mere flock of sheep.” Clearly Von Luschan would be out of place in a universal commonwealth. What would the Universalists do with the many millions of Von Luschans that still flourish in Europe?
In the year 1911 we still wore the plumes of nationalism with
an easy air; we thought civilization had tamed the hounds of war. I am a Scot, and, although I have enjoyed the liberties of England for over half a century, am still a Scot at heart. In the year 1911 I saw no incongruity in our national poet Burns firing our nationalism with one song and extolling Universalism in another. In the national song we have:
Wha’ for Scotland’s King and Law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or Freeman fa’,
Let him follow me.
In the international:
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That man to man the world o’er
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
Like the poet, I was both Scot and Universalist. I had seen brothers and relatives sail away and begin life in new countries and under new flags. Millions of people were leaving their old nationalities in Europe and assuming new ones in America or elsewhere. Internationalism seemed about to dawn. So thought most of us, even those of us who indulged in the art of anthropological forecast. There was one man in England, however, who saw what was coming more clearly than anyone else, and he was not an anthropologist. He was Mr. Ch. H. Pearson, educationalist and historian, who in 1893 wrote and published National Life and Character (second edition, 1894). On page 232 we find this prophecy: “At no distant date the mass of men will have to regard the country they were born in as their home for life . . . attached to it by interest as well as by sentiment.” Intending migrants, Mr. Pearson anticipated, would perforce have to stay at home because all national doors would be locked against them. I came across Mr. Pearson’s forecast for the first time in 1938, when studying the vast literature which discusses the problems of nationalism, internationalism, and Universalism. The passage I have just cited was an anticipation of a conclusion which was being formulated in my mind in 1911 ‑ namely,
that nations are evolutionary units, and that evolution in the modern world was being worked out in a team contest of nation against nation, or combination of nations against other combinations. I saw that the national front was also the evolutionary front. Everything that aided national power was exalted into a virtue, and everything which worked against that power was regarded as a vice. The most recent gifts of civilization ‑ broadcasting, speedy intercommunication between all parts of the world by air, by sea, by land, international postal and telegraphic services, the cinema, literature, the daily dissemination of news ‑ were hailed by almost every writer as heralding the dawn of internationalization and Universalism. What these inventions really have done is to quicken national life. Aristotle2 regarded a community numbering a hundred thousand as an impossibility; by means of the inventions just mentioned a nation numbering a hundred millions and more can be given the unity of a small primitive tribe. Far from events moving in a Universalist direction, they are moving in an opposite direction. Nationalism is being ever exaggerated. The world suffers from an evolutionary exacerbation.
A criticism passed by Mr. G. G. Coulton on pacifism in 19163 may be equally applied to Universalism. “Pacifists,” wrote Mr. Coulton, “cheaply assume that the internationalist is more highly developed than the nationalist, just as they take for granted that the man who is unwilling to fight is more civilized than his combative fellow . . . a number catch at internationalism as an escape from national duties and obligations.” Many British men of science are convinced that internationalism is an immense step in advance on nationalism. They have seen how knowledge grows and prospers under international control. If mankind existed for the sole purpose of producing knowledge or wealth and prosperity, then clearly Universalism is a most desirable goal to aim at. But, as we have already seen, nations exist for another and less material purpose; they are subject to the compelling law of evolution ‑ a fact of which most of my British colleagues
are totally ignorant. Literary men of all countries are strongly Universalist. In a recent publication in which thirty‑eight authors of international repute stated their creeds, twenty‑eight were in favor of a Universalist state. No man of letters has given a more vivid account of the changes which mankind has to undergo before a Universalist state becomes possible than Aldous Huxley,4 grandson of Thomas Huxley. In Ends and Means (1938), and also in Brave New World (1932), he describes the devastating changes which human nature must undergo, but does not observe that the mental qualities which have to be cast aside are those concerned in evolution. Dr. Julian Huxley, his elder brother, also advocates Universalism,5 though in a form from which evolutionary changes are not excluded. American scientists, almost to a man, favor Universalism; so also do all Jewish anthropologists; but concerning Universalism most statesmen are usually reticent. There are, however, exceptions: General Smuts, for example, and also Mr. Anthony Eden.
Can Christianity be Harmonized with Evolution?
WE MUST FOR A MOMENT RETURN TO MY FIRST chapter, where Dr. Waddington was introduced to explain how evolution itself might be made to provide humanity with a scientific code of morality. Dr. Joseph Needham, of Cambridge University, who joined in the discussion,1 suggested that the evolutionary goal to be aimed at should be a Regnum Dei ‑ a Kingdom of God based on Justice and Love. He quoted with approval a belief entertained by the late Dr. Henry Drummond ‑ namely, that the goal of evolution “was love and the good life.” Dr. Needham’s suggestion was welcomed by Dr. Waddington, who premised2 “that the ethical principles formulated by Christ . . . are those . . . which have tended toward the further
evolution of mankind, and that they will continue to do so in the present and future.”
The calm assurance with which these statements are made by our younger scientists is sufficient to make the ghost of fearless Huxley rub its eyes and doubt its ears; even I, who stand midway between them in time as well as in status, was moved to wonder whether all science is founded on the rock of truth or the quicksands of opinion. For all my inquiries had led me to the conclusion that the ethic of Christianity is in fierce opposition to that sponsored by human nature ‑ the human nature which has been fashioned in the course of evolution for evolutionary purposes. After rubbing my eyes and refreshing my memory of evolutionary processes, so far as they affect mankind, I was compelled to return to my former verdict ‑ namely, that Christianity, so victorious as an ideal, so hopeless as an international policy, has failed just because it is at war with the law of evolution.
In the three preceding essays we have considered the possibility of incorporating mankind as a single family, living under a single secular government. We found that the rock on which all Utopian schemes of this kind were wrecked was human nature; man is evolutionary‑minded. Where a secular scheme has failed, can one which is based on a common religious or spiritual feeling succeed? A glance at a map of the world in which areas are colored to show the conquests of the main forms of religious beliefs brings a hope that where secularism has failed religion might succeed in reaching a Universalist triumph. On this map Europe and the New World bear a Christian color; northern Africa, Asia central and southwestern, carry the crescent of Mohammed; India is the home of Hinduism; while eastern and Mongolian Asia are in the trains of Buddha and of Confucius. No single secular government can rival any one of the four triumphant spiritualities either in continuity of area or in mass of population. We have to note, however, that, although religion works against the law of evolution, all of the four great religions, as they have spread and prospered, have been mercilessly subjected to the operations of that law. The tree of Christianity, whose small seed was planted and watered in Palestine, has
divided into a myriad of branches and twigs; and it is so also with the three others; in particular is it true of Hinduism. This susceptibility of religion to local evolutionary change militates against any single religion ever becoming permanently Universalist in character. We have to note, too, that the area of the world over which the Prince of Peace is alleged to preside is the most nationally minded part of all the world ‑ the part where fierce war is endemic. Christianity has not conquered nationalism; the opposite has been the case ‑ nationalism has made Christianity its footstool. And if I am right in regarding nations as units which the law of evolution has brought into being to fulfill an evolutionary purpose, then we may also assert that so far evolution has triumphed over Christianity.
The failure of Christianity may be due not to any defect in the code of human behavior taught by Jesus of Nazareth, but to corruptions of his original text introduced at later times by his followers. We shall go to the Gospels according to St. Matthew and to St. Luke for the original code of Christian morals. We must also look rather closely at the Palestine into which Jesus was born, and especially must we note his nation, one of the most tenaciously exclusive the world has ever seen. Some sixty‑five years before Jesus was born, the Roman Empire threw its eastern arm round Syria and Palestine, and thus the doors of ordered Europe were opened to Jew and Gentile and to Eastern religions and beliefs. For six centuries before Jesus appeared on the scene his nation had been broken and dispersed; they had been under the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and Greek harrow in turn, and were in Christ’s time under the protection of Rome. Under six centuries of such treatment most nations would have disappeared in the general mass of local population. How did the Jews manage to survive that ordeal and come down, still nationally minded, to this day? It is because their religion, their law, and their mentality are conformable to the law of evolution; isolation and inbreeding are the chief factors in the production of special peoples or races. The Jews were God’s chosen people; they were commanded to keep themselves apart from all other peoples and to replenish the earth; they were forbidden to contract marriage outside their own ranks. It was into this bigoted
race, fanned and winnowed for centuries by the winds of evolutionary adversity, that the Savior of the world was born.
We shall never understand the ethical system taught by Jesus unless we realize that he was a Jew, not only by birth, but that he lived and taught as a Jew; the Sermon on the Mount was addressed to his distracted fellow nationals. He upheld the law of Moses: “On these two commandments [to love God, to love your neighbor] hang all the law and the prophets.” “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” He was the Messiah, but not the Liberator so earnestly longed for by his people ‑ a Messiah who would restore for them the material Kingdom of David. The kingdom he offered them was one of the spirit. “The kingdom of Heaven is within you,” they were told. The Jews were intensely national; the new doctrine never became deeply rooted in the land of its birth; within a century of its birth Christian Judaism was dead in Palestine.
Before making a brief review of the items included in the code of ethics taught by Christ it is necessary that we look more closely at the nature of his promised “kingdom.” It is a kingdom based on Jewish family life. The Jewish family is now, and always has been, distinguished by the strength, warmth, and intensity of the bonds of affection and of love which unite all of its members into a co‑operative whole. The kingdom pictured for us by Christ is a limitless expansion of such a family ‑ one in which love abounds and from which hate is excluded. In this family or kingdom, God takes his place as the loving Father; Jesus is the Son, the mediator, the redeemer; all who believe do automatically join the Christian family circle. Such a conception is clearly capable of a Universalist application. The Christian ideal, then, is to knit mankind, from pole to pole, into a single family by the bonds of love. The Roman Empire provided Christianity with a flying start.
Christian Ethics Versus Evolution
THE READER MUST NOT FORGET THE OBJECT I have now in view; it is to examine the system of ethics taught by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:6), and to consider how far each item can serve modern men and women, grouped as they now are in tribes and nationalities, as guides to “right” behavior. We must remember, too, that the Sermon was not addressed to a free people, but to one living under the protection of Rome. The Roman legions stood between this people and all outside aggression; the Jews had no share in organizing central or local governments. Their duty was to pay the dues and taxes which were levied on them. Jesus paid the taxes exacted from him and advised his hearers to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” The Sermon on the Mount does not touch on matters which so closely concern modern people ‑ home and foreign policy, national independence, or individual liberty in thought and speech. If only we could escape into the “Kingdom of the Spirit,” so regally commended to the Jews by Christ, we would escape from our political perplexities; we are compelled, however, to recognize that we live in an evolutionary world which will not permit us to turn aside from the responsibilities of nationality. Here Christ has no guidance to give us.
Since I wrote the preceding paragraph, much has happened both inside my study and outside it. The leaves have fallen from my orchard, bringing into close view the home in which Darwin lived. Enheartening tidings have at last begun to come in from the war fronts in Africa, Russia, and the Pacific. General Smuts has proclaimed the universal rule of law as the major aim of the Allies,1 and the Leader of the House of Commons (Sir Stafford Cripps) has brought forward Christianity as a scaffolding on which a peaceful international settlement might be built,2 but
admitted “that the application of Christian ethic to our daily living conditions was not easy,” an admission which bears on the proposal made by Drs. Waddington and Needham ‑ namely, that Christian ethics should be taken as a standard of human behavior. Such were some of the happenings outside my study. Inside it my stove burns brightly; my bed, moved from summer quarters, is now ensconced among my books. More important for the task I have in hand is the fact that in the interval I have read Mr. Archibald Robertson’s clear and scholarly exposition of the light thrown on the various books of the Bible by the “Higher Critics.”3
I was not surprised to learn from Mr. Robertson that much attributed to Christ in the Sermon on the Mount had been taught in the synagogues of Palestine long before the coming of the Saviour. Indeed, the central command, which is the basis of Christian ethics ‑ “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” ‑ is acknowledged as being “the law and the prophets.” “Do as you would be done by” is a human practice: much older than the Bible; no family, no tribe, be it ever so primitive, no nation, could resist disruption if this rule were not the basis of conduct. It is immaterial for our present purpose whether the Sermon on the Mount does represent the actual words of Christ or not; the Sermon teaches the accepted code of Christian ethics, and our present business is to ascertain how far such teaching, if adopted by a human community, will favor or forward the processes of evolution in that community. Above all, we have to make sure that the ethical shoes we are to wear will, in some measure, fit our mental feet. If the shoes do not fit we shall develop mental corns and bunions, and sooner or later we shall fall back on Nature and walk barefoot. Or, perhaps, we shall wear our Christian shoes to church and don a better‑fitting ethical make for everyday occasions. One thing is certain: a system of ethics which is to serve an evolutionary purpose must be in harmony with the deepest desires feelings, and instinctive reactions of human nature.
The Sermon opens by commending, and also offering comfort to, certain moods and dispositions ‑ the downtrodden (poor in
spirit), the mourners, the diffident or meek; the men who hunger and thirst after righteousness; the merciful, the honest‑minded (pure in heart), the peacemakers. Self‑reliance, independence of judgment, happiness of disposition receive no commendation. Anger “without a cause” is condemned. Adultery is condemned, and so is the mere thought of it. The old tribal law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is replaced by Christ thus: “But I say unto you that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek turn to him the other also.” If a litigant wants your coat, “let him have your cloke as well.” Here I would ask: Is it possible for a normally constituted human being, be he pagan or Christian, to suffer an injustice, a slander on himself or on others, or be the victim of a blow or of fraud, without being moved to anger? And are not such natural manifestations of passion salutary for public as well as personal weal? Anger is a handmaid of justice. If under modern government the law comes forth as our avenger, can we any the less, whatever be our degree of Christianity, suppress the desire for retaliation? Retaliation was a tribal method of defense; a way ‑ a very bloody way – of securing intertribal justice. It served an evolutionary purpose. Its suppression by law has given us civil peace within composite tribes and within nations, but has also brought on us international wars of colossal proportions. On this point Christ’s teaching is at variance with our human predispositions, and is in direct opposition to the law of evolution. On the other hand, it is in harmony with our conception of civilization. Christ’s way, as always, is a way of appeasement and of peace.
Then follows a statement of the old tribal injunction: “Thou shalt love thy neighbors”” (fellow tribesmen) “and hate thine enemy” (members of alien tribes). The restatement is: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” In this amendment of the tribal law Christ annihilates the law of evolution; he throws a bomb right into the very heart of the machinery by which and through which Nature has sought to build up races or breeds of mankind. For, as I have already pointed out, tribes and nations are the competing units or teams by means of which Nature has sought to work out
her evolutionary ends. Every tribe has a core and a crust; the core, which holds a tribe together, is compounded of love and co‑operation; the crust, which safeguards the separation and independence of the tribes, is a compound of antagonisms, of rivalries, of ill feelings which reach their climax in hate. If under the sunshine of Christ’s teaching the crust of tribal hate were to dissolve, then tribe would fuse with tribe, nation would merge with nation, and in course of time the population of the world would become one flock and the earth one fold. After nineteen centuries of Christianity the tribal crust of hate is as strong as ever. Is not this failure due to the fact that Christian ethics are out of harmony with human nature and are secretly antagonistic to Nature’s scheme of evolution?
The reader must not think that I am an evolutionist so hardboiled that I insist on man being forever subservient to the tyranny of Nature. Man, since he first reached a human status, has been setting Nature at defiance; his rebellion began as soon as he discovered how to make fire, and that is at least half a million of years ago. What I want to bring into the full light of day at the present moment is the ignorance of those evolutionists who glibly propose to apply Christian ethics to further the processes of human evolution. Human nature will have to be remade from top to bottom, and a man‑made scheme of evolution devised, before we can hope to yoke Christian ethics to the purposes of human development.
I have permitted the above homily to escape from my pen before I have completed my survey of the ethics presented for our guidance in the Sermon on the Mount. I must touch now on certain other items of evolutionary interest. We live in an age which is beset with economic necessities. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon”; “Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor what ye shall put on…. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” If these be Christian ethics, then they are such as could not be practiced in any earthly kingdom. Certain it is that a nation could not be Christian in this respect and survive. Are not the nations now engaged on planning for the future on a colossal scale?
Lastly, the Sermon on the Mount condemns another important
tribal law, which may be stated thus: “Judge your neighbor and be judged by him.” In this way tribal opinion comes to be formulated and made valid; through tribal opinion individual behavior is regulated, and the will of the tribe finds expression in action. Christ’s amendment of the tribal law reads: “Judge not that ye be not judged.” And yet he judged the Scribes and Pharisees with great acerbity. Tribal or national opinion, in so far as it regulates the behavior and actions of tribes and nations, is a powerful factor in evolution. Here again we find Christian ethics seeking, not to favor evolution, but to bring it to an end.
The opposition between evolution and Christian ethics has been neatly and truthfully epigrammatized by Sir Charles Sherrington4 thus: “Nature represents in the case of man a revulsion of the product against the process.” Here product stands for modern or evolved man; the process for the means used by Nature in his creation. The civilized mind, fuming round and marking the repellent nature of the rungs of the ladder by which it has made its ascent, desires to kick that ladder down and substitute one with Christian steps. The Sermon on the Mount is a condemnation of the evolutionary ladder. “Christian religion,” wrote Edward Carpenter,5 “as a real inspiration of practical life and conduct is dead.” In The Gospel of Rationalism,6 by Charles T. Gorham, will be found this verdict: “Christianity’s peculiar precepts are its least practicable and sensible precepts.” We may say of Christian ethics what Gibbon said of a philosophic doctrine of the immortality of the soul: “A doctrine thus removed beyond the senses and experience of mankind . . . was soon obliterated by the commerce and business of active life”;7 and this8 : “But the human character . . . will return by degrees to its proper and natural level, and will resume those passions that seem the most adapted to its present condition.” The additional experience of two more centuries goes to confirm the truth of the observation made by Edward Gibbon on the stability of human nature.
Christianity Versus Evolution
THE ARRIVAL OF CHRISTIANITY IN EUROPE AND ITS spread westward from city to city of the Roman Empire present matters of interest to the student of evolution as well as to the historian. Christianity sprang from the loins of Judaism; both the Jews and the Gospel which they rejected gradually filtered out from Palestine, both passing westward along trade routes; their fates were very different. The Jews, a chosen people, were safeguarded from outside contamination by their religion, by their law, by their system of marriage, and by their spiritual and national exclusiveness. From the European turmoil of nineteen centuries they have emerged still a separate people and greatly multiplied in numbers. Let us consider for a moment how different their fate would have been had they accepted the salvation which Jesus had so freely offered to them. As we have just seen, one of the chief effects of Christianity is to dissolve the crust of tribalism and to permit tribal peoples to fuse in a fellowship of mutual love. The Jews, had they been converted to Christianity, would in a short time have merged in the peoples among whom they lived. The Jew preferred to shoulder his racial burden and save his evolutionary soul.
But for St. Paul Christianity would have been dead to the world. The Gospel which Christ’s own people had rejected was offered by him to the Gentiles; it was he who proclaimed (Col. 3:11): “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision ‑ Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free ‑ but Christ is all and in all.” The new creed was thus thrown open to all mankind. Christianity makes no distinction of race or of color; it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce? May we not say, then, that Christianity is anti‑evolutionary in its aim? This may be a merit, but
if so it is one which has not been openly acknowledged by Christian philosophers.
St. Paul was by birth a “citizen of Rome”; in proclaiming the equal eligibility of men of all races to the fellowship of Christ he was but following the practice of the government of Rome. In that empire men of all colors and of every race were, as in the British Empire, equal in the eye of the law. The Romans drew no line between races, but did sharply discriminate between the bond and the free. Here St. Paul departed from the Roman practice ‑ a definite advance in the spirit of humanity. The racial differences among the peoples of the Roman Empire were chiefly of a cultural nature; much less were they of a physical character. So much were they alike physically that hybrid progeny would have been hard to distinguish from the racial originals which gave birth to it. The far‑flung British Empire is different; it includes races so divergent that hybrid progeny differs from both originals and is unmistakable. No doubt Christianity has favored hybridization in some parts of the world ‑ in South America, for example, and in Portuguese colonies ‑ but in many instances mongrelization has been due not to Christian teaching, but to a failure of that teaching. Good men, whether they be Christians or rationalists, do not desire to discriminate between races, but the distinctions implanted by Nature are too conspicuous to escape the observation of our senses. Even the late Lord Bryce, a statesman and historian of sober judgment, let this escape from him:1 “In the meeting of White and Black, Christian brotherhood does not work.”
In its origin and spread, Christianity, although anti‑evolutionary in its aim, has adopted tribal or evolutionary methods in its mode of growth and development. The essential character of a tribal group is its isolation, its separateness, its social exclusiveness. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” so commanded St. Paul (II Cor. 6:14). Later, in the same chapter, he is still more emphatic and Judaic: ‘Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.’” Christ, too, teaches a tribal doctrine: “Blessed are ye when men shall hate
you and when they shall separate you from their company . . . for the Son of Man’s sake” (Luke 6:22). For a tribe is maintained intact not only by the positive love within it, but also by the enmity which surrounds it. “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you” is from the same chapter of St. Luke (6:26), and has the same tribal implication as the more direct statement. Tolerance, praise, and commendation tend to break down tribal barriers; criticism, hate, and persecution strengthen them. Jesus voiced the milder law of tribal warfare when he said: “He that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:48), and the more rigorous in: “He that is not with us is against us” (Luke 9:22). Outlawry was the most drastic means of maintaining tribal discipline; to be outlawed in tribal times meant death or slavery to the victim. “Whosoever will not receive you . . . shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them” (Luke 9:5). “And if he will not hear thee . . . let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:17). Christ’s sentence of outlawry not only held for the present life, but was carried over to the next. The backslider’s portion in the next life is “. . .outside the gate, amidst weeping and gnashing of teeth . . . hell‑fire.” Christ was ruthless in his divine purpose. He did not hesitate to propose that the ties of affection which bind families into natural groups should be burst asunder if such ties hindered the growth of the tribe of which he was the Saviour-chief. Baptism stood for the tribal rite of initiation.
Christ gave his followers a call which was both clear and conquering. He gave a definite purpose to their lives; it was so to live in this world as would gain for them a crown of immortality in the next. To win it they had to have faith in him and to be loyal to him as their chief. A clansman’s first duty is to have faith in his chief and to be loyal to him. A sense of sin and the emotional fervor which attends the act of repentance have been worked into the texture of the Christian faith, but are infinitely older than that faith. The emotional fervor which attends conversion is but another aspect of the spirit of repentance. The emotional storms which break out at every tribal crisis ‑ in peace and in war ‑ are of the same nature as that which
accompanies individual conversion. Germany was swept by such a storm when Hitler took her destiny in hand.
The establishment of the Christian religion within the framework of a church in Europe followed lines with which anthropologists are familiar‑namely, those which lead to the building of tribes into nations. In the first century Christianity became domesticated in local communities; in the second century the local communities, having attained the strength of tribes, came to be organized at chief seats of government, such as Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome. Such provincial tribal aggregations may be regarded as having reached a stage in growth or evolution corresponding to that of nations. Then in the third century the Western churches became hammered into one great central organization or empire ‑ the Church of Rome. Early in the fourth century Christianity became the established religion of the Empire. The welding of tribes into nationalities is never a peaceful process; the means used are always those of compulsion, force, and war; the impulse which leads to union never springs from the rank and file, but is always planned and managed by those who have assumed or been given the position of leaders. Such means attended the evolution of the Universal Church. Persecution and bloody martyrdom served to strengthen the growing tribal faith. The process of amalgamation was accompanied by prolonged strife among the leaders, so bitter, so worldly, so ferocious, that it is difficult to believe that they were animated by the spirit of Christ. To secure a unified tribal faith in the Church, its leaders had to make use of the savage tribal instrument of outlawry, ostracism, excommunication. A Churchman might have full faith in the divinity of Christ, but if he strayed in his conception of the Trinity, then he was a heretic and a greater sinner than he who broke all the commandments of Moses. The Church resorted to persecution and to naked force to secure unanimity of tribal faith among the members of its congregation.
With the breakup of the Roman Empire, all the local forces of evolution, which had been suppressed in the greater part of Europe for a period of four centuries or more, broke loose, and in the course of time brought into existence the national states
we now see in Europe. Each and all profess to be followers of Christ, but each and all have modified the practice of his doctrine to suit their national needs. The group of experts who issued A Report on Nationalism (1939) came to this conclusion: “No political action can be fully Christian” (p. 301). The late Sir Martin Conway,2 a statesman and scholar, came to the conclusion that nationality and Christianity are incompatible. The churchman who edifies the readers of The Times every Saturday confessed3 that “the Christian Church is faced with two powerful and insidious foes ‑ Nationalism and Secularism.” In 1934 Lord Lang, then Archbishop of Canterbury, got very near to the cause which makes nationalism antagonistic to Christianity when he said: “Nationalism feeds on the most primary and still untamed instincts of the human race.”
Human nature, as manifested in tribalism and nationalism, provides the momentum of the machinery of human evolution. The Church has failed to bend human nature so as to make it subservient to Christianity; nationalism, on the other hand, finds it easy of exploitation. The explanation I offer of these opposite effects is based on a knowledge of evolution. Christianity has failed because its methods are discordant with human nature, and are therefore anti‑evolutionary. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a growing force because it is in harmony with human nature, and therefore pro‑evolutionary.
Civlization: Its Dawn and Progress
READERS MAY BE MOVED TO ASK: YOU HAVE BEEN considering two high human ideals ‑ Universalism and Christianity ‑ and now you pass on to a brief review of civilization. What is the connection between these subjects? Civilization, we shall find, like Universalism and Christianity, is anti‑evolutionary in its effects; it works against the laws and conditions which regulated the earlier stages of man’s ascent. In these earlier
stages man’s inborn mental proclivities served in the process of evolution or ascent. Man was then tribal‑minded, for the original separation of mankind into local self‑governing groups or tribes was an essential part of Nature’s evolutionary machinery. Detribalization is the most important of all the transmutations which a savage community undergoes in its passage toward civilization. Tribal life comes automatically to an end when a primitive people begins to live in a town or a city, for sooner or later a tribal organization is found to be incompatible with life in a city. We may say, then, when a people comes to build towns, to live under an ordered government, and to submit to a code of written laws, it has at least attained to the outward appearances of a civilized life. The evidence, as it stands at present, indicates that by the middle of the fifth millennium before Christ various communities living in southwestern Asia, between the eastern end of the Mediterranean and the valley of the Indus, began to build towns and thus to initiate that mode of life we name civilization. In southwest Asia, then, civilization has been at work, with many rises and falls, for at least 6,500 years, which is but a mere fraction of the total human period.
Between the darkness of night and the full dawn of day the changes are so gradual that we cannot fix a point which will separate darkness from light. So it is with the passage from savagery to civility; the one state passes so imperceptibly into the other that there is no point in the history of a people at which we can say that here it was savage, and there it was civilized. Civilization never stands still; if in one country it is falling back, in another it is changing, evolving, becoming more complicated, bringing fresh experience to body and mind, breeding new desires, and exploiting Nature’s cupboard for their satisfaction. It is just because civilization is ever evolving, changing, and becoming more complicated, that experts find it so difficult to define it in explicit terms. A thousand definitions have been proposed. We have only to look at an English standard dictionary to realize how complex our civilization is, for every word in it is a symbol which is, or has been, in use in daily life. But this we may say: civilization is a living process, which in the course of time has made the progeny of savages into citizens.
And yet as I make this statement I recall Von Luschan’s aphorism: “There are no savages, only people whose cultures differ from ours.” It will be nearer to stark reality to say: “In the world of humanity there are only savages, who differ in the degree to which they have masked their original nature in the cloak of civilization.” It was the recognition of this truth that made that astute physician, Sir William Osler, exclaim (1915) during the First World War: “Beneath a skin‑deep civilization were the same old elemental passions ready to burst forth.” For when the modern European goes to war his original nature bursts the constraints which civilization has imposed on it, and in his dealings with the enemy comes again under “savage” domination. Thus we come back to my thesis ‑ namely, that civilization exercises a constraint on man’s original or tribal nature, and in so far as it does so is anti‑evolutionary in its effects.
Instead of discussing the rise of civilization in general terms, the influence it has exerted on human mentality, and the extent to which it has altered the manner of man’s evolution, let us take a specific case ‑ the growth of civilization in the British Isles. Somewhere toward the end of the fourth millennium, about the time that saw Egypt emerge for the first time as a united kingdom, the civilization of the East began to be carried in two streams to Europe ‑ up the valley of the Danube and westward along the Mediterranean.1 More than a thousand years later, early in the third millennium, the advance guards of these two armies of primitive civilization began to effect settlements in Britain. They were pastoralists rather than agriculturists, and were no doubt organized in small tribal militaristic groups. These settlers, or invaders, having crossed the Channel, found themselves in a land already divided into a myriad of territories, each inhabited by its group of natives, who lived, as their forefathers had done since the retreat of the last ice sheet, on what they could wrest from Nature’s store. We may be certain, from what we know of primitive man, that the native Britons did not welcome the new settlers, but retreated sullenly, refusing to copy their ways of life. And so it came about that parts of England which before supported only a hundred natives (two square
miles per head is a good average allowance for those who are the slaves of Nature) could provide a home for a thousand of the new settlers, who had begun to learn how to enslave Nature.
The discovery of agriculture was the first big step toward a civilized life. We have to wait a further two thousand years to find an agricultural people really established in England. Early in the first millennium B.C., Celtic settlers began to arrive in England in tribal groups, bringing with them the civilization which then existed in west central Europe and in northern France. How Britain prospered in the centuries which preceded the birth of Christ we learn from the Romans. When they began the conquest of the country (A.D. 43) they found what is now England divided into fifteen territories, each occupied by a sovereign tribe. When we look into the constitution of these tribes we find they were really confederacies. There must have been originally about a hundred tribes, but under the stress of war these had become reduced to some fifteen in number. The same process of confederation had been at work in France; some five hundred tribes had become welded by warfare into sixty “independent peoples”; in Germany amalgamation had reduced the tribal confederacies to about forty. Tribal fusion had proceeded at a slower rate in Scotland (sixteen), Ireland (sixteen) and in Wales, where forty‑nine tribes had been united in four confederacies.2 Thus we see that in the centuries which precede our era, under the influence of a growing if still early civilization, the evolutionary units (tribes) in England and throughout western Europe had become greatly reduced in number and greatly increased in size. Civilization can prosper only in large units.
Rome gave England her first unity. She did more: she made England share in a civilization which extended from the Euphrates to the Irish Sea. All the tribes were brought into subjection, and if those in the North and in Wales were permitted to live on their original territories, those of the greater part of the country were deprived of their lands, which were parceled out among strangers. Tribal organization was broken; tribesmen became serfs on what had been their own soil. The
presence of four legions ensured the conditions necessary for the growth of civilization ‑ viz., security of life and property and a code of laws was maintained and administered by governors and magistrates. Roads were made; cities, built on the Roman pattern, replaced ramshackle tribal towns; arts and crafts were introduced; trade flourished; native produce was carried to the Continent; luxuries, literature, and vice came back in exchange. Native youths of promise were taught in Latin; they learned to wear the toga, acquired with zest the Roman ways of life, and merged their British nativity in the wider fraternity of the Empire.
Thus for three centuries and a half England basked in the sun of Roman civilization. We must note, however, that civilization may come to a people in two ways, which give different results. A people may import a civilization, as the Japanese did in the last half of the nineteenth century, or it may have a civilization thrust on it by a superior power. It was in the latter way that Roman civilization came to England; it was offered to her on the point of the sword. She was civilized not for the benefit of her inhabitants, numbering some two millions before the debacle set in, early in the fifth decade, but for the aggrandizement of Rome. We must note with the eye of an anthropologist the chief effect which was produced on the mentality of the inhabitants of England by these centuries of Roman civilization. The people were detribalized and disarmed; they had come to depend, for the safety of their lives and the maintenance of their civilization, not on their own right arm, but on the armed power of foreign legionaires. Hence, when the legions were recalled (A.D. 406), they were left a helpless prey to any tribal people who had the will and power to attack them. And they were attacked, in a way which will be described in another essay. We may assert, then, that if civilization unified and domesticated the Celtic inhabitants of England, it also led them to their doom and brought their evolutionary career to a disastrous end.
As I read the proofs of this chapter, some three years after it was written, I realized the grounds on which my
friends have accused me of championing the cause of evolution against that of Christianity, civilization, and Universalism. Such was not my intention; my aim was to demonstrate that the giant these three great ideals of humanity have to overcome is human nature, and that human nature, having arisen in the service of evolution, has to be remade if it is to serve the three ideals. See also Chapter 23.
The Rise of Civilization in England
WE ARE DISCUSSING THE RISE OF A MODERN civilization ‑ that of England. Now, the conditions I have been describing in Roman England ‑ the existence of an organized government, of a written code of laws, protection of life and of property ‑ do not constitute civilization; they are the conditions which are necessary for its existence ‑ its growth. There are also other conditions which I did not mention in the preceding chapter because I am uncertain if they existed in Roman England ‑ namely, individual liberty, individual responsibility, and individual justice. Such liberties and rights are not compatible with tribal life. Another change which has accompanied the rise of all civilizations has been the breaking up and alienation of tribal lands. All these conditions disappeared from England when she was forsaken by Rome; it cost her nine centuries of bloody endeavor to recover them ‑ that is, until the reign of Edward III (1327‑77). This time civilization was not imposed: she made it; much of it she absorbed; all of it she molded. A civilization, like a race, has to evolve in semi‑isolation if it is to attain those special characteristics which give it specific rank.
At the time of the Roman departure there lived on the opposite shorelands of the Continent, from Jutland in the north to the estuary of the Rhine in the south, a fighting, pagan, farming people, of strong build of body and of a resolute, courageous spirit. Their organization was tribal; each local group had its township; the township within a definite tract of territory recognized an overlord or leader. These were the people who, sword
in hand, began to colonize England in the year 449; they continued to land on the eastern and southern coasts for at least a century and a half, feeding settlements already planted and held; they annexed native lands, farmed them, established townships and tribal territories, each with its own leader or overlord. Some twelve centuries later the Christianized descendants of these pagan colonists repeated the process in America; in this case thirteen colonies emerged, whereas in post‑Roman England the number was seven, such colonies being described as kingdoms. Kingdoms arose by the federation of local tribes; for example, six tribes were included in the Kingdom of Wessex. In America the thirteen colonies reluctantly agreed to be subservient, in all major matters, to a common government; but in Saxon England it cost Wessex three centuries of grim fighting before King Eadred could proclaim himself (954) “Caesar of all Britain.” Even then the challenge of the Danish host had to be met, England for a time (1016‑42) was an appanage of the Danish King. Unity was finally attained, as everyone knows, under William of Normandy (1066). And so the stage was again set for the growth of civilization in England.
Several of the changes introduced by the Normans concern us. There is first the reassignment of the land and the regrouping of the people. Tribal territories passed into the possession of William’s lords ‑ lords of the manor ‑ tribesmen became serfs on the land which had been owned by their ancestors. Under the lords of the manor, burghs and towns grew up; the townsmen claimed, and were given, certain liberties, privileges, and responsibilities. Craftsmen and traders arrived from France. Traveling scholars came, and so did learned Norman prelates who made monasteries centers for the diffusion of Continental knowledge. If civilization is to prosper in a country, there must be some of its inhabitants who have leisure; and to have leisure men must have capital or the command of capital, as well as an inborn love of learning. The Church had wealth, which it used not only in the encouragement of scholars, but also in the erection of ecclesiastical architectural fabrics which are still the glory of England. Under the aegis of the Church, schools grew up in Oxford and Cambridge which, by the thirteenth century, took
a place among the foremost universities of the Continent. In spite of her many wars, England of the thirteenth century was rapidly acquiring a civilized mentality. It was in the thirteenth century ‑ during the lifetime of the earliest of English scholars, Roger Bacon ‑ that a significant change took place in the law of England. Down to 1267 a man could claim a tribesman’s right to execute private vengeance; that became the prerogative of the King. Thus passed the last vestige of tribal law from England. In Wales it was more persistent; although that country was conquered by Edward I (1272‑1307) and divided into shires, Welsh tribalism was sufficiently alive a century later to produce the patriot-rebel Owen Glendower. In the Highlands of Scotland tribal organization held sway in the hearts of the people until the rebellion of 1745 ‑ after which it was suppressed by cruel laws and a barbarous application of force. In Ireland tribalism was so strong, down to the end of the seventeenth century, that English colonists, planted in native territories to facilitate detribalization, became in time more tribal – minded than even the Irish themselves. The inhabitants of Ireland, particularly of south Ireland (Eire), have lost their original tribal proclivities of mind to a smaller degree than any other people in Europe. It is just because they have retained so much of the “natural man” that they have parted from the national fraternity of Britain and set out on the perilous endeavor of carving for themselves a separate evolutionary destiny, and at the same time to clothe themselves in a civilization they can call their own. And in fashioning this new garment they strive to make it distinctively different from all neighboring patterns. Civilization can change a nation; but a nation can and does change its civilization so that it will become nationally distinctive.
From this little aside on tribalism and its bearing on the growth of civilization I return to the main thread of my story ‑ England in the reign of Edward III (1327‑77). I refer to this reign because it marks the beginning of English government and law as we now have them, and also because the English tongue came to be spoken by the rich as well as by the poor. I also refer to this reign because of what happened to the estates and fields of England. Land could now be sold and bought and big feudal
estates broken up, so that there gradually came into existence a multitude of private owners and free tenants. With the passing of feudal estates and compulsory service a new form of individual liberty was born, the incentive of private profit, repressed under tribal and feudal conditions, was released. These conditions, so essential for the development of a civilization, did not come to England until the fourteenth century. It was in this century that Chaucer laid the foundation of England’s literary treasury; every century since Chaucer’s time has added to our heritage. In Queen Elizabeth’s reign we are in the heyday of England’s civilization; it was Shakespeare’s time; English ships were in every sea; London had become the emporium of the world. Size of a population gives no indication of the standard of a civilization, but civilization prospers only in a growing population. Our population (1942) is 41 millions; it was about 5 millions in Queen Elizabeth’s time. In the intervening centuries, if we have not increased in mental stature, we have certainly added enormously to the amenities of our minds and bodies.
Tolerance is held to be a condition of mind which is encouraged by, and is necessary for, civilization. England cannot be said to have come by this virtue prematurely, for it was not until 1829 that she recognized the right of Catholics to sit in Parliament; Jews acquired the same right in 1858. And still, after all these centuries of civilization, the Englishman has much of the old Adam in him. Let an expert give his verdict ‑ the late H. A. L. Fisher. After dealing with the events of the reign of Queen Mary of England, in his History of Europe,1 he interposes this passage: “In moments of excitement the English were capable of great savagery.” He also notes “a strong prejudice against foreigners,” which is certainly a tribal attribute. Even philosophers at times betray the old Adam which lurks within them. I am thinking of David Hume, the most accomplished thinker and scholar that Scotland has produced. In a moment of irritation he said this of the Englishman: “. . . so rude a beast, a bad animal, corrupted by centuries of licentiousness”2 wherein we see that
in David Hume neither philosophy nor civilization had conquered the “natural man.”
The Influence of Civlization on Man’s Evolution
IN ORDER THAT WE MAY DISCUSS THE EFFECTS OF civilization on the evolution of humanity I have taken a concrete case ‑ that of England. But first my readers and I must come to an understanding as to what civilization really is. I regard civilization as implying not only a product, but also as the process which gives rise to that product. When we speak of agriculture we include not only plowing and sowing (the process), but also the crop ‑ the harvest ‑ the product. Civilization, then, is that which in the course of less than 5,000 years has changed the virgin downs, glades, forests, and moors of England into a land of fields and orchards, with villages, towns, and cities; with mines and manufactories; with churches and cinemas; with communications by road, rail, sea, and air. Civilization is also that which has changed the manner in which the primitive inhabitants of England lived, moved, and had their being into the infinite diversity of ways in which we now spend our days and nights. It is also that which has built up a living tradition of language, knowledge, customs, habits, and behavior. Into this tradition every English child is born: he absorbs it in his home, in his school; in the street and in church or chapel; in theaters; in universities; in the playing fields; from the daily press and from books. And, above all, civilization is also a state of mind, of which more anon.
I have kept the chief change to the last because it is the one which most concerns us now. Civilization is that which has transformed the population of England; the isolated local groups of men, women, and children who 5,000 years ago eked out a livelihood from the natural produce of their localities, and who in their totality did not equal in number the inhabitants of a small modern town, have been replaced by a single society, united in a common destiny and numbering upwards of 41
millions ‑ the English nation. Civilization has transformed a scattered population made up of a multitude of small, weak, isolated, competing evolutionary units into a huge and powerful evolutionary unit ‑ a nation. Civilization, then, is the process which turned primitive England into modern England. Our present civilization is the resultant or product of that process. The outlook of each local group was bounded by its own territory ‑ not more than would now be embraced within a minor county. The outlook of modern England extends to the most distant lands of the earth; nay, it extends beyond the earth; looks back into a remote past and forward to a distant future.
We must come to a better understanding of these small isolated local groups of primitive humanity. Before the discovery of agriculture mankind was everywhere so divided, the size of each group being determined by the natural fertility of its locality. Each group represented an evolutionary unit competing for survival against all neighboring groups. It was during the prolonged prehistoric period, when arranged in a mosaic of isolated communities, that man came by his present frame of body and full size of brain. The brain which has fashioned civilization is that which was in existence before civilization began. Nothing could be more misleading than Hobbes’s oft‑repeated statement: “The life of man in nature was. . . solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Even Huxley described the life of natural man as unethical ‑ as a reign of tooth and claw. Darwin knew better. He recognized that the bond which linked together the members of each local group was formed out of maternal love and family affection; that at the core of such groups was a primitive system of kindly pagan ethics, and that only the isolating crust was savage. Darwin also realized that it was civilization that has welded tribes into nations. What civilization did for England, then, was to weld, step by step, the ethical cores of a multitude of small local tribes into one great central core ‑ the heart of a mighty nation ‑ and to cover that core with a crust of national antagonisms. For the people of England represent a tribe bound together by certain ties and separated from the rest of mankind by certain antagonisms.
Presently we shall have to deal with the evolution of nations
and nationalism, and the extent to which the creation of large units, such as nations, has altered the course of human evolution. Meantime it is germane to my present purpose to note the means used by civilization to bring about fusion of tribes into nations.
No tribe unites with another of its own free will. It will surrender its independence only if first conquered by force, or in the face of a powerful and aggressive opponent it may be driven to unite with other tribes to resist a common enemy. Every tribe seeks to ensure its safety and its continuance by increasing its power above that of its competitive neighbors by an increase of its numbers or of its territory, or by both of these ways. Fear and force are the chief means by which civilization welds tribes into nations. The same means are employed to weld small competitive businesses into large combines. In both cases ‑ in the tribal world and in the business world ‑ we see man’s competitive nature at work; it is the propelling power behind civilization. Competition has been, and is, one of the chief factors in bringing about change ‑ evolution. “Every advance in civilization,” wrote Mr. G. G. Coulton in 1916, “means an advance also in potential physical force.”1 The main force used in the evolving world of humanity has hitherto been applied in the form of war.
Has civilization really changed man’s mentality ‑ the mentality of the English, for example? My friend Professor John Murphy, of Manchester University, in a series of articles has maintained that a change has been effected; that under civilization the old tribal mentality has been replaced by the “civilized mind” ‑ one which has a capacity for abstract thought, ethical judgment, and in which an individual consciousness has replaced the old tribal collective consciousness.2 Now, for 5,000 years Englishmen have been increasingly subjected to the new conditions of life which were created by civilization; at least 150 generations of men, women, and children, the progeny of uncivilized ancestors, have had to bend their necks to the new yoke. There must have been an intense process of selection, favoring those who took kindly and successfully to new opportunities and eliminating
those who refused to bend the neck. In this way those of industrious and prudent habits of mind may have increased in numbers, but I cannot see that those possessing the gifts instanced by Professor Murphy would have been favored. Do we not see today the sons of shepherds or of farmers who have inherited an ability used for countless generations in the tending of flocks or raising of crops, use that same ability to raise themselves to the highest places in learning, science, and statesmanship? Civilization has not increased the mental capacity of its subjects; what it has done is to supply men with the opportunities, the leisure, and the means to develop the mental gifts already attained by man while living in a state of nature. We altogether underestimate the mental and emotional outfit required by people living in a state of nature. “Civilization,” said the Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid (1710‑1796), “brings to light principles which lie hid in the savage state.”3
Civilization, by breaking up the English tribes and by combining them to form a single nation, altered the conditions in which evolution works in another and very important respect. With the coming of nationality, individuals attained to a degree of liberty unknown to tribesmen. A child born into a tribe becomes heir to all the responsibilities of its kin; the tribe is responsible for a lad’s behavior and for his deeds, and hence tribal opinion keeps him under a close surveillance. He has to learn to accommodate his personal desires to his tribal duties. A child born into a democratic nation becomes the heir of a wide degree of individual liberty; he may, in his manhood, choose his friends and his occupation; he is free to think and express his own thoughts in words or deeds so long as these do not upset the peace of neighbors and do not violate the written law of the land. “Progress.” said Herbert Spencer, “has been from compulsory (tribal) service to voluntary (national) service.” Sir Henry Maine (Armient Law, 1861) expressed the same thought thus: “Progress has been from status (a place in society fixed by birth) to contract, a place in society fixed by agreement.” The late Professor L. T. Hobhouse regarded the passage from a tribal to a national state as a change from collective to individual
responsibility; from forced contract to free contract. Mr. Clive Bell goes so far as to say that “a movement of liberation from the herd instinct is the unfailing accompaniment of an advance in civilization; indeed, it might stand almost as its measure.”4 “Intimacy ‑ the free expression of what is felt and thought ‑ is the mark of a very high civilization.”5 “The essence of liberty . . . is that condition, status, or quality which individual personality must possess in order that it may translate itself from what it is to what it has the capacity of becoming.”6 Civilization then, tends to give freedom to the individual, to safeguard the individual conscience, to regard individual life as a sacred trust in brief, civilization, usually, has been an agent of liberalism. It was this spirit of liberalism which permitted men to devote their abilities, which in former times were absorbed by tribal affairs to the investigation of the affairs of nature and thus to extend knowledge and lay the basis of science. The men who maintained the genealogy and legends of the tribe, who composed or sang its songs, provided it with music and with dance, who expounded its mythology and manipulated its superstitions, who drew its pictures and fashioned its Venuses, now, under the dispensations of civilization, have become our historians, our poets and novelists, our musicians, our theologians and priests, our painters and our sculptors. Civilization has provided them with leisure and with opportunities to exploit such gifts as may have fallen to them. Indeed, so largely do the affairs of civilization occupy the modern mind that many have come to regard the advance of civilization and the development of a perfectly civilized society as the true and sole object of human existence.
All thought of Nature’s ancient evolutionary purpose has been dismissed from the civilized mind. May there not be a nemesis awaiting us? The late Lord Acton was apparently of this opinion. Overindividualization he regarded as equivalent to decadence. “The individual triumphs at the expense of the community . . . the national self‑conscious individual is the triumph of civilization; he may be the symptom of civilization disease.”
England, in building up her civilization, replaced tribalism by, nationalism; she thus substituted one evolutionary mechanism for another. Now, the behavior of one European nation to another is, as the late Mr. Morley Roberts asserted, “uncivilized.”7 If a true cosmopolitan or universal civilization is to arise, nationalism must be tamed. To attain this objective the perfectly civilized visionary has turned his back on evolution. In his Conway Lecture (1932) Professor H. J. Laski said: “National states make civilization impossible.” Mr. Clive Bell8 regards “nationalism as a terrible enemy to civility . . . a mother of barbarous woes . . . a modern manifestation of the herd instinct.” The expert editors of the National Report9 came to the conclusion that nationalism threatens civilization. “The ideas of civilization and nationalism are disunited,” wrote G. Ferrero, the Italian philosopher. In the strife between nationalism and civilization ‑ which is to prove victor? We shall come back to this query when we compare English and German civilizations.
If civilization has left man’s intellectual capacities much as it found them, it is otherwise with his emotional reactions; a civilized disposition of mind has been produced; this we shall have occasion to note when we come to discuss the ethics of war.
Civilization Seeks to Suppress the Evolutionary Elements of Man’s Mentality
IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTER THERE IS NO MENTION of a profound change which civilization brought about in the grouping of the population of England, and which, to an evolutionist, is of high importance. In tribal times the population formed ‑ except for chiefs and leaders ‑ a single stratum; civilization made this single stratum into a pyramid of strata ‑ beginning with a great basal block and rising through rapidly contracting middle tiers to end in a cupola of the elite. Now,
civilization has affected the rising steps of the pyramid to a very different degree; those in the great basal block, being concerned in daily toil, have little leisure, even if they have the inclination, to share in the privileges of education; but they do participate in, and enjoy, the material benefits with which civilization has surrounded their lives. As we ascend the pyramid leisure and the privileges which wealth confers increase; and if inclination and capacity keep company with leisure and wealth as we ascend, then indeed we should reach a perfect crown of civilization. Fortunately such combinations of favorable opportunities do occur in the rising grade of classes in English society, and so the flag of civilization is kept flying. Gibbon drew a somber picture of an eighteenth‑century pyramid of civilization: “Such is the constitution of civil society that while a few persons are distinguished by riches, honours, knowledge, the body of the people is condemned to obscurity, ignorance, and poverty.”1 English society of our time differs from that described by Gibbon by an increase in its division into horizontal strata or classes. It is this horizontal stratification into classes which is our immediate interest. What is its significance from an evolutionary point of view? Is it a new biological phenomenon? My interpretation is this: classes are produced by those instincts or mental proclivities which make a tribe into a closed society, for exclusiveness is a tribal characteristic. Much of our tribal spirit was converted into our national spirit, but much was left over and gains release by seeking to create classes on tribal lines. We find a similar occurrence in the ancient societies of India, where the old evolutionary or tribal spirit finds expression in the creation and maintenance of castes. Class and caste formation, although evolutionary products, run counter to Nature’s scheme of human evolution.
Now, I was under the impression that our English pyramid of civilization was like Jacob’s ladder ‑ a free two‑way construction: there was a continual ascent and descent of its elements, the strata thus being intermingled. Investigations made by Professor Morris Ginsberg2 undeceived me on this point. He found
that in English society the traffic on the social ladder affected only 4 or 5 per cent of the population. The classes in England are nearer being “closed societies” than I had suspected. Besides building classes, there are scores of other ways in which tribal instincts or proclivities find expression. Our political parties are tribal organizations impelled by an implacable tribal mentality.
(As long as there are only two opposing political tribes, government is effective ‑ as in Britain and the U.S.A.; but when they become multiplied in number, as they did in France, Germany, and Italy ‑ before dictatorships were set up ‑ orderly government becomes impossible. Under the stress of war we have become uni-tribal of our own resolve; Germany and Italy have become uni-tribal by compulsion. In many other ways our inherited tribal mentality finds an exit: in trade unions, in religious sects, in our schools and universities, and above all in our sports. In cricket my interest was involved in prewar days in the fortunes of the county in which I live ‑ that of Kent; and, like millions more, I followed the rise and fall of famous football teams. All of such irrational proclivities I attribute, in my own case and in that of millions of others, to our comparatively recent origin from tribal ancestors. To “take sides” is a sure sign of tribal mentality. Even we rationalists, who claim to be under the dictates of reason, are not infrequently guilty of the irrational habit of “taking sides.” But, of course, we take the “right” side.)
We are discussing the effects produced on the people of England by the coming of civilization, and how far the changes thus introduced have altered the progress of their natural evolution. One result, as we have seen, was a great increase in their number; the other was the assortment of the population into a pyramid of classes. But I have said nothing of how men and women who, in tribal times, stood in a single rank became, in civilized times, sorted out into strata or classes. There was just as great a variety of intellect, feelings and emotions among tribal people as among the civilized. There were tribesmen who were hungry for personal recognition, for status; humble men, men weighed by ambition, by envy, by greed, and public-minded men who placed tribal interests above those of self. All of these inborn mental tendencies were kept under restraint
by the dominant rule of tribal opinion. With the establishment of civilized government and the relaxation of personal restraint, all of these personal qualities were free to express themselves, which they did, and thus brought into being a social ladder and an assortment into classes. The qualities which made one man a successful “climber” and kept another on the bottom rung are numerous and various. Some ascend by using their capacity in the accumulation of wealth; others by rendering public service. There are hundreds of ways by which an artisan’s son may attain the dignity of a seat in the House of Lords. The social pyramid is a wonderful structure, and yet from an evolutionary point of view it is a perilous one. No doubt it affords those mental qualities which were suppressed in tribal times, opportunities for a full expression. Those in the upper tiers are apt to regard the “social game” as the sole reason for the existence of their nation; they are exposed to the temptation which leisure and wealth thrust on them; the inheritance of customs, precepts, and opportunities they derived from a preceding generation they often hand on to the next in an impoverished state. A new generation is raised on the altruism ‑ the capital ‑ of the parent generation. When individual selfishness eats into this capital of altruism, then the pyramid of civilization begins to crumble. Collapse of the social pyramid is the fine which evolution exacts from peoples who transgress her laws. We shall return to this point when discussing the rise and fall of civilized nations and empires.
I have assigned to civilization the totality of changes which have taken place in England ‑ changes in the country, changes in the ways of life, changes in the mentality of her population – since she ceased to be the home of a people living in a state of nature. Many authorities, however, would restrict the term to a change in mentality. For example, a leader written in Nature3 defines civilization as “self‑discipline; its advance is measured by man’s gradual mastery of his more savage instincts.” I may remark, in passing, that no society, be it civilized or uncivilized, is possible if savage instincts are in the ascendant. The aim of civilization, said Fichte, the German philosopher, in 1805, is “to
free reason from the domination of the instincts”; and as instincts are, or were, the agents of evolution, this is tantamount to saying that the aim of civilization is to free man from the domination of evolution. Arthur de Gobineau (1854) regarded a civilization as “the higher the more the head is used to replace force”: in brief, a developed intelligence is the sole agent of civilization. This, too, was the opinion of H. T. Buckle.4 On the other hand, Dean Swift in Gulliver’s Travels5 alleges that man has used his “reason to aggravate natural corruptions and to acquire new ones” ‑ which is certainly true; but man has also used reason for other and less objectionable purposes. In a recent book, by Professor Powicke,6 we find civilization defined as “Life regulated by reason”; the more life is so regulated “the higher is the civilization.” In an older work, but one still of outstanding merit ‑Alexander Sutherland’s The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instincts (1898) ‑ we find “self‑control” as the central factor of civilization. To this factor is added an “increase in the manifestation of man’s social sympathy.” Thus we have civilization regarded as a taming of human nature effected by giving reason domination over man’s inherited savage and tribal instincts.
What are these savage instincts which educated reason has to control? We must enumerate them, because every one of them formed part of the machinery employed by Nature in bringing about man’s evolution. All of them belong to the animal side of human nature. There are first the instincts connected with sex and reproduction, round which human mentality has been developed. In dealing with these instincts civilized man finds himself between the “devil and the deep sea.” If he abuses his sexual desires, or suppresses them, or even overcontrols them, he brings to an end both his civilization and his nation. If he leads the life of a libertine, or even exercises his normal powers to the full, his civilization will crash from a surplus of population. But it is under compulsion rather than by an act of free will that civilized man has accepted the discipline of sexual control.
Reason has not tamed desire: it is as strong as ever. A people in
which desire has become weakened is, both it and its civilization on the road to extinction. When we come to deal with “human nature” we shall have to review the remaining list of man’s primitive instincts ‑ his hunger for food, his thirst for drink, his love of life, his pugnacity, his passion for revenge, his party or tribal spirit, his hunger for self‑aggrandizement or status, his spirit of competition, his ambition, his jealousy, his covetousness, his pride of family, tribe, nation, and his affection for his native locality and land. Now, all of these “savage” instincts, appetites, passions, and desires are supposed to be suppressed, controlled, or at least masked, in people who claim to be civilized nay, in society their mere mention or expression is counted a breach of good manners. From all of these circumstances readers will realize that the civilized mind does not work with, but against, the old powers of evolution. Indeed, one may say that the more anti‑evolutionary the disposition of a man is, the higher does he stand in the mental scale of civilization.
There are certain other ancient and “savage” instincts I have not mentioned ‑ maternal love, family affection, and fellow sympathy. Even these, as we shall see, are “scowled on” by some of the protagonists of the “highest” civilization. John Hunter (1728‑93), who is justly counted the founder of rational surgery, said this of civilization: “Damn civilization; it makes sows and cats eat their young, hens eat their own eggs, and women send their children to nurse.”
Civilization and Human Evolution Aim at Divergent Goals
THE STUDENT OF HUMAN EVOLUTION, WHEN HE comes to measure the merits of a civilization, applies a yardstick which is very different from that used by the man of letters. The man of letters acclaims the civilization which is crowned by intellectual achievement, even should it, like the civilizations of Greece and of Rome, endure for only a few centuries. On the other hand, such civilizations the student of evolution counts failures; for, if evolution is to work out its full effects, a civilization
must not only be plastic, it must above all things be durable. To recur again to the conception of civilization as a social cooperative pyramid, held together by mental bonds: if these social bonds give way, the pyramid will collapse, precipitating its component human units to the ground. A society, nation, or empire which is so cast down is an experiment in human evolution which has failed. Its members, if they survive, have to pick themselves up, just as Greeks and Romans did, and again begin the evolutionary game on a new footing. Mr. Arnold Toynbee1 has enumerated twenty‑one civilizations which in past times have risen, flourished, and ultimately decayed, leaving their votaries as evolutionary derelicts.
It will help us to detect the weak points in the social pyramids built by civilization if we note the cultural features which have been specially commended by scholars. Edward Gibbon,2 writing of the Roman Empire of the first century of our era, “the most numerous society that has ever been united under the same system of government,” informs his readers: “In this state of general security, the leisure as well as the opulence both of the Prince and people were devoted to improve and to adorn the Roman Empire.” Improvement and adornment are the features which are emphasized by Gibbon. Then, in a later chapter,3 he refuses to recognize the Germans of the Roman period as civilized on the ground that “they were unacquainted with the use of letters.”
The use of letters [he continues] is the principal circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of savages incapable of knowledge and reflection . . . calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection, multiplies his own experience and lives in distant ages and remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little his fellow‑labourer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental faculties.
Gibbon was content, like Plato, to look upon peasant, artisan, and laborer as existing to form a mighty plinth on which a minority is superimposed in order that it might enjoy the blessings
of civilization. Look at the size and composition of the Roman plinth in the time of the Emperor Claudius. Gibbon estimates that the population of the Empire was then 120 million; Over 100 millions should go to form the plinth, and probably one‑third of these were slaves representing races alien to Italy. Now, a social pyramid such as that erected by the Romans may serve as an excellent structure for the growth of civilization, but as a structure designed to carry a great people onward in its evolutionary journey, it is as badly constructed as is anthropologically possible. It is not top‑heavy; it is worse ‑ it is bottom‑heavy. A social pyramid which is to endure must be made up of individual human units, preferably of common racial origin, who, from bottom to top of the pyramid, are conscious of a common evolutionary destiny and work together to attain it. The Roman Empire may now provide scholars with a harvest; it provides only warning to the evolutionary‑minded anthropologist.
No modern Englishman has given such a vigorous and outspoken expression of a scholar’s conception of civilization as that contained in the small book which Mr. Clive Bell published in 1928 under the title Civilization. Mr. Bell, like Plato and Gibbon, regards the social pyramid as resting on a wide basis formed by the laboring classes. “Civilization,” he points out,5 “requires the existence of a leisured class, and a leisured class requires the existence of slaves ‑ of people, I mean, who give some part of their surplus time and energy to the support of others.” Even the classes who compose the rising tiers are, in Mr. Bell’s opinion, only imperfectly civilized. To become perfectly or “highly” civilized men and women “must be born with ability to discover for themselves that world of thought and feeling whence come our choicest pleasures.”6 He who aspires to reach the small but select group of the highly civilized “must have liberty ‑ economic liberty, which will put him above the soul ‑ destroying dominion of circumstance and permit him to live how and where he will, and spiritual liberty ‑ liberty to
think, to feel, to express, to experiment.”7 He must undergo a “deliberate and self‑conscious training” and so attain “delicate and highly trained sensibilities,” and “so reach a mood to savour the subtler manifestations of the spirit.”8 That such a “highly civilized” group should exist and attain to “good states of mind” is the end for which civilization exists. In brief, the whole social pyramid of English civilization has come into existence in order that a small group of people may indulge in a kind of daydreaming.
Mr. Bell is one of the few authors known to me who has clearly realized that, in their ways and aims, civilization and evolution are in opposition. “By a civilized society,” he says, “we do not mean a species perfectly organized for its own preservation.” No society or nation could endure which puts into practice Mr. Bell’s conception of civilization, for he is of opinion that all services rendered by a woman to the cradle and to the home “will indispose so delicate a creature for that prolonged study and serious application which to the highest culture are indispensable.”9 Mr. Bell’s recipe for civilization, like that prescribed by Mr. Aldous Huxley,10 contains ingredients which, if swallowed, act as national poisons.
There is one anthropological aspect of civilization which is often debated, but on which I have not touched ‑ namely, the relationship of race to civilization. The debate on this matter was opened by Arthur de Gobineau, a professor in Montpellier University, by the publication, in 1854, of a work which in the English translation (1915) is entitled The Inequality of Human Races. The Frenchman’s thesis was twofold: (1) The Aryans were the sole creators of civilization; (2) the decay of European civilization is due to hybridization ‑ to the dilution or substitution of Aryan blood by that of an “inferior” race. This twofold doctrine falls as grateful tidings on the ears of modern Germans, for many of them are convinced that their nation is heir of the Aryans and the creator of European civilization. De
Gobineau’s thesis will come up again when we consider the races of Europe; but the second part of his thesis ‑ namely, that mixture of race causes a decay of civilization ‑ must be glanced at now. The evidence I have gathered has not convinced me that there is any race or nation in Europe which is more capable of modifying or maintaining a civilization than another nor is there convincing evidence that hybridization between the races of Europe has in any way affected their capacity for civilization. It is a strange thing that many of my colleagues are of opinion that racial mixture, far from causing a blight, is the source to which the highest displays of civilization are to be traced. The late Sir Flinders Petrie, in Revolutions in Civilization, 1911,11 traced the rise of each great period of civilization in the history of ancient Egypt to the arrival of a fresh race of invaders; but he had to postulate that the mixture of the fresh blood with the old took four to six centuries before the cycle bloomed into full flower. Mr. O. G. S. Crawford expanded and endorsed Petrie’s theory;12 Professor John Murphy has extended its application;13 Lord Raglan also commends Petrie’s explanation.14 We shall have occasion, when reviewing the rise of the great peoples of antiquity, to apply the Petrie theory to explain their histories. In the meantime let us test how it suits the case of England, taking her first period of efflorescence ‑ that which was crowned by the appearance of Shakespeare. Five centuries had come and gone since the Conqueror gave her a national unity. All the races which went to the formation of the English amalgam ‑ Normans, Danes, Norse, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts, longbarrow people, round‑barrow people ‑ with the exception of the round‑barrow people ‑ were so alike in structure and features that the anthropologist has to rely on the evidence of “grave goods” to distinguish the remains of one people from those of another. They were all drawn from the stock of western Europe; each had developed its own tongue and culture; their differences were cultural rather than physical. Now, it is quite true, and
Darwin was well aware of the fact, that when certain breeds of cattle are crossed, the first crosses have a remarkable vigor of growth. The farmers in the part of Aberdeenshire where I spent my youth crossed shorthorns with black‑polled and got very “beefy” animals, but the production of beef and of brains are very different problems. If crossing gives men of high capacity, why had England to wait five centuries to get her Shakespearian period? Much had happened in England during these centuries besides the mingling of hereditary genes; wealth, leisure, opportunities, books, education, and stability had provided the conditions in which individual ability might find realization in the realms of civilization. Are not the known effects of environment, rather than a presumed effect of hybridity, the more likely cause of a cultural exaltation?
There is, however, one piece of evidence in England which gives some support to the Petrie theory. Galton, in English Men of Science (1874), mapped the birthplaces of Englishmen who had won distinction in science. There is rather a dense belt of such births where England and Wales meet ‑ which I spoke of as a “brain belt” in a lecture given in memory of Dr. John Beddoe, the anthropologist.15 It is tempting to suppose that this belt may be connected with the mingling of English and Welsh blood. But, then, East Anglia is also a center of distinguished births, and from a racial point of view this is one of the purest English areas. Along the Highland line of Scotland, where Saxon and Gael meet, there is no belt of genius. No! There is a lack of evidence to prove that mixture of European races or peoples either helps or hinders the production of men of outstanding capacity or of high civilization.
I have reached the end of the space I had allotted to a resume of the evidence I have collected bearing on the influence of civilization on human evolution. Much of it I have to leave in its portfolios unused, but perhaps opportunities may arise which will send me back to my gatherings. I intended to deal with the effects which civilization is having on our bodies. Quite 20 percent of modern English people show change in their jaws, faces, and limb bones which rarely appear in those who lived
before the sixteenth century. Then I also wanted to consider the attitude of national governments to civilization and to evolution. Under the Nazi regime, evolution is made to dominate civilization in Germany, and religion is being made subservient to national policy. In England civilization seeks to tame evolution; national policy is tempered by religion. To illustrate the policy of educated orthodox England I am tempted, notwithstanding poverty of space, to give a quotation from the leader in a recent issue of The Times:16
“This war represents a crisis in civilization. The free spirit of man itself is being crucified. Through a long and painful past the community of civilized mankind has been evolving, and in varying degrees establishing, fundamental and precious principles of conduct and relations . . . among the first and finest that of a respect for human life and of tolerance for the essential rights of human personality. The systematic rejection and violation of these principles by Nazi philosophy and Nazi practice is a cardinal crime against civilization and against humanity itself.”
Here England vindicates the superiority of the ways of civilization to the evolutionary path now trodden by Nazi Germany. It is said, and truthfully said, that anti‑Semitism may be used as a measure of civilization; its prevalence is a measure of barbarism ‑ a reversion to evolutionary behavior. Then I also wanted to discuss the assertion so often made in our press and in our pulpits: “We are fighting this war to save civilization” ‑ sometimes specified as “Western civilization”; at others as “Christian civilization.” I find it hard to reconcile a savage use of bombs with the form of civilization commended by Christ. The relationship of war to civilization will come up again, for the chapters which follow will deal with war and with peace and the respective roles they play in human evolution.
I reach this point in my narrative just as the critical year 1942 is at an end. And as I sit among my books or work in the fields, my thoughts often stray across the Channel to friends under the Nazi heel ‑ in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Norway. But for the vigilance and dauntless courage of our younger men, I should now be as my foreign friends are.
Evolution: An Interpolation
THE PRECEDING CHAPTER WAS FINISHED IN THE last days of 1942; I begin this essay in the early days of August 1943. Seven fateful months have come and gone in the interval ‑ months which have brought tidings of the crowning mercies vouchsafed to the Allies at Stalingrad and in Tunisia. As I write, Orel is being encircled by the Russians, while an American-British army is storming the flanks of Mount Etna. These have been months which have seen the prospects of the Allies brighten visibly, while those of the Axis become black as night. Mussolini, the dictator, has fallen from power; the people of Italy clamor for peace. We feel we are on the eve of great events.
I have seen other things happen in these seven months. In December, when I laid my pen aside, the boughs in my orchards were bare. I have seen buds appear on them, then leaves and blossom; and now most of the trees, responding to the war effort expected of all of us, are heavy with fruit. Honeysuckle, which a month ago arched my gateway with gold, is now crowned with berries of a brilliant red. In December mornings my bullocks, lean and scraggy, crowded round their haystacks as if they were out‑of‑works awaiting payment of the dole. With only a breakfast of hay they had to work hard all the short winter day to make a living on their frostbitten grazing. Now they are smooth‑skinned, well‑fleshed, and would be very contented with life were there no flies in it. The shed which I built for them for winter shelter they never go near save in the hottest days of summer, when they crowd sweltering in to escape the flies. My little flock of sheep is in the orchard. Sheep are the cheapest “mowers” available in wartime. In December my flock numbered twelve; since then the mothers of the family have been busy and have increased the number to twenty.
My chief reason for laying aside my pen seven months ago was really this: When I began to write this volume, almost a year ago now, I had assorted only part of the material that has
accumulated in my portfolios during the past thirty years. Now that I am to take an important step forward and open an attack on the fiery problem of war, it behooves me, like a prudent modern commander, to see that my ammunition is assembled and arranged in convenient dumps. This I have now done. There were, too, outstanding authors, both ancient and modern, whose works demanded, and have now received, my close attention. In particular I wanted to ascertain how far they agreed with me, and how far they differed with me, in the answers I am to give to three cardinal questions relating to war. These questions are: (1) How did war come into the world? (2) Why did it come? (3) Why has mankind failed, hitherto, to rid itself of it? The problem of war is so strongly entrenched in the civilized way of life that a solution will never be obtained by a direct frontal attack; numerous outworks have to be demolished first. The preceding chapters, twenty‑two in number, have carried us some way toward the central bastion, but several more are still to be leveled before we can train our evolutionary artillery on the main position.
Before I proceed to these additional chapters it will be profitable to turn aside, for the remainder of this chapter, to answer two very pertinent queries put to me by one who has had an opportunity of reading the foregoing chapters in manuscript. Here is an extract from her letter:
“I feel rather as if I’ve started in the middle of a serial story and am having to guess some of the major points and identify the chief characters as I go along. First, What exactly do you mean by ‘evolution’? Second, Is ‘evolution’ of mankind the correct method of procedure? Sometimes I think you say it is, and then a little later you appear to contradict it and give me the impression that it is not the right way. If evolution is the correct procedure, and if Germany is presenting a perfect picture of ‘evolving,’ then Germany’s mode of life is to be applauded; then a little later on you make it quite clear that you do not approve of her methods. At one moment I seem to see clearly what you mean, and then, in the next sentence, you seem to contradict the one which went before.”
If an acute intelligence has encountered these obscurities in my writing, most of my readers are likely to experience the same difficulties. I must therefore try to make the meaning I attach
to my technical terms clear and definite. I shall be compelled, also, to scrutinize the picture which arises in my mind when I use the word “evolution,” to make sure that the word I have used habitually these sixty years has not now become an empty symbol. We have two English verbs ‑ to “evolve” and to “develop” ‑ which have the same root meaning ‑ viz., to unfold. A rosebud “develops,” or “evolves,” into a full‑blown rose. We say “development,” or “evolution,” has, by a series of changes, turned the bud into a flower. Development, or evolution, is the process of change we see taking place in living things, turning a seed into a plant or a human ovum into a child. These outward changes we see occurring in seedling and embryo are reflections of the creative powers and processes which are inherent in the living substance or tissue of every seedling or embryo. These internal processes which bring about the external development or evolutionary changes may be spoken of as the “machinery” of development or of evolution; at least they represent the chief parts of that machinery. The older evolutionists of the nineteenth century often spoke of the theory of evolution as the “development hypothesis.” Soon, however, it was agreed to use the term “development’ for the changes which take place in the human womb and which convert the ovum into a fully formed child. The term “evolution,” on the other hand, is applied to the changes which occur in the people of a tribe or of a nation as they pass, generation after generation, on this earth, through the womb of time. If, as the result of an injury, the womb casts out its fruit, then development comes to an end. If a tribe or nation is attacked, scattered, or kept in subjection, then, so far as regards that tribe or nation, evolution has come to an end. In order that favorable evolutionary changes may accumulate, and so strengthen the tribe or nation, the integrity of that tribe or nation must be defended through hundreds of generations. Man’s nature ‑ his passions, his feelings, his emotions ‑ has been molded, has been evolved, for this main purpose ‑ viz., to maintain and to defend the life and the integrity of the tribe or nation to which he belongs. From this you see the approach which I am to make to the problem of war. I am to regard it as part of the
“machinery” of evolution. This is a heresy for the majority of anthropologists.
There is another very important factor which forms part of the machinery of evolution ‑ namely, man’s inborn competitive spirit or nature. Man is by nature competitive, combative, ambitious, jealous, envious, and vengeful. These are the qualities which make men the slaves of evolution. We are all familiar with the rivalry between man and man in civil life; but is not the competition, the rivalry between the nations of Europe even more intense? The “struggle for survival” ‑ I think it would be more accurate to say, the “struggle for integrity” ‑ often reaches such an extremity that decisions can be reached only by the use of force ‑ by resorting to war. Here again I bracket evolution and war together.
I come now to the crucial question put to me by my correspondent: “Is evolution of mankind the correct method of procedure?” No one with a spark of humanity in him could approve of the bloody spectacle which meets his eye in all parts of the earth today. If war be the progeny of evolution ‑ and I am convinced that it is ‑ then evolution has “gone mad,” reaching such a height of ferocity as must frustrate its proper role in the world of life ‑ which is the advancement of her competing “units,” these being tribes, nations, or races of mankind.
There is no way of getting rid of war save one, and that is to rid human nature of the sanctions imposed on it by the law of evolution. Can man, by taking thought, render the law of evolution null and void? That is a question which awaits discussion in another chapter. Meantime I may say that I have discovered no way that is at once possible and practicable. “There is no escape from human nature.”1
Because Germany has drunk the vat of evolution to its last dregs, and in her evolutionary debauch has plunged Europe into a bath of blood, that is no proof that the law of evolution is evil. A law which brought man out of the jungle and made him king of beasts cannot be altogether bad. A drunkard is one thing, and a temperate man is quite another. That is how I
would compare Germany’s observance of the evolutionary law with the allegiance given to it by Britain. British policy, particularly in more recent years, has been temperate in its application of evolutionary means to governmental needs. That evolution is the proper procedure is recognized by statesmen. In framing a new law they know that it will not be obeyed unless it is in harmony with human nature ‑ that is, in harmony with evolution. This, too, is a matter to which I shall recur.
There is one personal aspect of my case which I would beg my correspondent, and such readers as regard this book as a serious attempt to extend knowledge, to keep constantly before them. As I sit in my study composing these words, I am a dual personality. In the first place, I am a British subject, with my heart passionately engaged on the side of the Allied nations and in the fortunes of my fellow countrymen who give their lives that we at home may live ‑ pained when our armies meet with reverses; elated in their successes. In the second place, I am an anthropologist ‑ a judge on the bench of science, laying aside, as far as in me lies, my national and other prejudices; examining, assorting, weighing my evidence, searching for the truth whether I like it or not, never ceasing to hope and believe that those who make the same search that I have made will agree with my conclusions. It is the impersonal role of the man of science which most puzzles the lay mind. Most of us are tribal in this sense; when differences arise we are inclined by nature to “take sides.” For the man of science there is only one “side” ‑ the side of truth.
And now I return to pursue my discourse, trusting that the explanations I have just given may be of some aid to my readers. As I have already said, I am making my way toward the great problem of war. But first I must clear the way by discussing the relationship of war to ethics: then to civilization; and then to Christianity.
Can War be Regarded as an Ethical Process?
THE SECOND OF THESE CHAPTERS, WHEN IT WAS published in the Literary Guide,1 raised doubts in the mind of my friend Rear Admiral Charles M. Beadnell as to my “ethical” orthodoxy as regards war. The offending passage occurs at the end of that chapter (p. 10). Let me reproduce first the passage in question and then extracts from his letter to me, which will place the reader in possession of the essential point wherein we seem to differ. He held that a just war is “ethical,” whereas my conception of “ethical” will not fit any kind of war, good or bad. First, then, for the questionable passage; it runs thus: “Under no stretch of the imagination can war be regarded as an ethical process; yet war, force, terror, and propaganda were the evolutionary means employed to weld the German people into a tribal whole. No, the modern methods of [human] evolution are, from an ethical point of view, immoral.” And now the most important passages from Admiral Beadnell’s letter:
If a hangman executes a notorious murderer and rapist of little girls, if a soldier, airman, or sailor kills a man in the service of Hitler, who, if he wins the war, you must admit, will set back the hands of the clock of ethical advance, then surely these several “slayers,” these several war agents, are ipso facto engaged in an ethical process. Surely when one soldier bayonets a militant Hitlerite he is doing a good, commendable act and is furthering ethical progress as we see it – not, of course, as Hitler sees it. I cannot follow that cry, so popular with some people ‑ “All war is bad.” One side of the belligerents may be bad, but surely one side may be good. Either our fighting the Germans is good or it is evil. I am confident that you, like myself, must on careful thought admit that our war effort is good, and that it tends to eradicate an evil. If this is so, can one legitimately say that war cannot be regarded as an ethical process?
I should like to have seen in your last line but one the word human qualifying the word evolution. 99.9 per cent of evolution is surely amoral.
I have gladly accepted my friend’s suggestion, so that my “last line but one” now reads “human evolution”; and if I agree that 99.9 per cent or 100 per cent of (human) evolution has been, or is, amoral, I would also like to emphasize the fact that evolution has worked well for mankind, for have not the good qualities in human nature been evolved as well as those which we call evil? And do not the good preponderate over the bad?
The disagreement between Admiral Beadnell and myself lies in the meaning which he attaches to the word “ethical” and the meaning which I attach to it. My first business is to make the nature of our difference plain to the reader. I use the word to imply the kind of behavior we expect to find among civilized human beings living in a state of peace‑giving to ethical behavior the full friendly brotherly flavor it has come to bear more and more during the past sixty years. The kind of behavior which is seen in war and also in the suppression of crime, the application of naked, brutal physical force to impose “right conduct” on a nation, a community, or on an individual, belongs not to an ethical code of morals but to a totally different one ‑ the code which T. H. Huxley (1893) named cosmic. I prefer to use the older form of the adjective, cosmical, for this second code of human morality.
Admiral Beadnell, on the other hand, makes ethics and ethical cover both of these codes of morals, for which he can find ample justification in the definitions given in standard English dictionaries, where ethics is most commonly defined as the “science of human behavior” or the science of morality, both good and bad. Even a wider definition is given by Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904); in The Science of Ethics (1882) ethics is described as “the science of human nature.” More to the point is the verdict of the Oxford moralist Professor T. H. Green (1886‑82), who wrote:2 “The distinction between the good will and the bad lies at the basis of ethics.” No matter what means are used, if the doer’s intention is good, then his action is “ethical,” thus covering my friend’s use of the word. He could have cited, to prove the “ethical” virtue of war, a recent statement by the Cambridge
biologist Dr. Joseph Needham, “The good is that which gives social solidity,”3 for has not the present war given Britain an unprecedented degree of social solidity? After Pearl Harbor (December 1941) there was but one voice in the U.S.A. Sir Richard Gregory’s Conway Lecture (1943)4 affords evidence in support of Admiral Beadnell’s conception of ethics, and there are also passages in my favor. For example, in a passage where the lecturer is speaking of civilization, he defined “good” as “what contributes to the attainment . . . of a state in which the arts of living are combined with social refinement and intellectual enlightenment to promote general human welfare.” Such a statement exemplifies one aspect of what I regard as the true ethical code. Take for contrast his other statement:5 “In a biological sense, qualities which enable a species to increase and survive are good, while those which enfeeble it are harmful.” Now, on more than one occasion Mr. Churchill has declared that we (the British Commonwealth) are fighting for our survival, for our life, which was particularly true of our position in the earlier stages of the present war. Recently Dr. Goebbels has said the same is true of the German Reich ‑ it is fighting for life and survival ‑ and one may reasonably wish that the peril to the Reich may grow as months pass. As thus interpreted, Sir Richard’s statement implies that war is “good” in a “biological sense,” while it justifies Admiral Beadnell’s inclusion of the practice of war in the code of ethics, whereas I assign war to a totally different category ‑ the code of cosmics.
Before passing on to the exposition of my main theme ‑ namely, that a double code of morals (the ethical and cosmical) are entrenched in man’s nature or mentality, and that without this duality there could have been no organized and effective evolution of humanity, I want to call two more witnesses’ both of them Americans, to enlighten my path. The first is Dr. Charles E. Woodruff, whose writings on evolution in the earlier part of the present century seem to have passed into an undeserved
oblivion. I am to quote from an article he wrote in 1911:6 “Ethics divides conduct into selfish and altruistic” ‑ a division which corresponds closely to the two codes I am discussing, the cosmical and ethical. He was an evolutionist and regarded a nation as an “evolutionary unit” in competition with other similar units. “The welfare of the nation,” he wrote, “be it right or wrong, is the supreme test of goodness or badness of every action” an assumption very similar to that made by the younger generation of Cambridge biologists of today.7 The evolutionary destiny of a nation is fashioned by the operation of both codes, but his final conclusion, that “in the future the welfare of mankind will be the test,” shows that Dr. Woodruff believed that ultimately the “ethical” code would oust the “cosmical,” and that the nations and races of the world would become merged in one universal whole ‑ a consummation which is now regarded as desirable by most men of science, both in Britain and America. That ideal I shall return to later on; meantime I must call my second witness, Professor Wm. Graham Sumner (1840‑1910), who taught political science to the students of Yale. I am ashamed to say that it is only in recent years I have come to know his books. Folkways (1906) is a compendium of original thinking on problems relating to the way in which place, time, and race alter human behavior. Recently (1942) his pupil and successor, Professor M. R. Davie, published Select Essays by his master. Professor Davie has also written the best book on war known to me ‑ The Evolution of War (1929) . In Folkways we find ethics defined as “the right way for a given people.” Here we have a frank recognition that the earth is divided into a mosaic of “ethical” fields; each encircling frontier, be it national or tribal, encloses its own system of morals. One system differs from another chiefly in the proportion in which the “cosmical” code is mingled with the ethical. “Ethics,” said Aristotle, “must be based on experience and observation of life, not on theory.” I do think it is important that in these passing centuries we should recognize, as Sumner did, that no standard of ethics has more than a local validity. Virtues and vices have not the universal
values which moral idealists have sought to impose on them. The idealist school has always been strong in England. We have Henry Sidgwick (1838‑1900), for example, defining ethics as the “study of any rational procedure by which we determine what individual human beings ‘ought’ to do, or what is ‘right’ for them to do, or to seek to realize by voluntary action.” That definition clearly excludes from ethics the use of physical or brute force ‑ such as war. Indeed, Sidgwick regarded “the collective action of organized government” as belonging to a separate branch of knowledge and practice ‑ politics.8 Sidgwick relegated the cosmical or evolutionary code of morals to politics, and not to ethics.
It was Huxley (1825‑95) who taught me to distinguish between what he named the “ethical process” in man’s evolution (which I have assigned to an “ethical code” of behavior) and the “cosmic process” in human evolution, which makes up my “cosmical code” of human behavior. Evolution and Ethics was the title he gave to his Romanes Lecture (1893), his last major contribution to knowledge. We must note first the definition he gave to ethics: “to furnish us with a reasoned rule of life; to tell us what is right action and why it is so.”9 Later he speaks of “the ethical ideal of the just and the good.”10 We must note, too, his conception of the ethical process: “I have termed this evolution . . . [of] the organized and personified sympathy we call conscience, the ethical process.”11 With the evolution of conscience ethical man made his first appearance ‑ at least Huxley was of that opinion. The “cosmic process, on the other hand, is represented by the action of those qualities best fitted for giving survival” in the evolutionary struggle; it includes man’s “ape and tiger traits, which are not reconcilable with sound ethical principles.” “The cosmos works through the lower nature of man, not for righteousness, but against it.” Huxley regarded the ethical process as the antagonist of the cosmical process; the cosmic process had brought about the evolution of man;
then the ethical process, becoming dominant, brought man’s physical evolution to an end!
During the fifty years which have come and gone since Huxley delivered his Romanes Lecture our knowledge of the conditions under which the earlier stages of man’s evolution were carried out has greatly increased, entailing a revision of several of Huxley’s more important conclusions. We may no longer think of the cosmic process or code as being in sole charge of man’s evolutionary progress until a comparatively recent date, when conscience and the ethical process or code stepped in to take a hand. Both are equally old, as in our two‑party British political system, both codes took a hand in shaping man’s evolutionary progress. Both are to be seen at work in all communities of social vertebrate animals. At this present moment, under my study window, a hen is tending the feeding of her brood, and at the same time is engaged in chasing away intruders from an older brood. At one moment she is under the domination of the ethical (maternal) code; at the next she is under the cosmical (pugnacious) code. My watchdog applies both codes ‑ is ethically minded when she welcomes members of her household; cosmically minded when strangers come. My small herd of bullocks and my flock of sheep receive added strangers in a cosmical mood. I have known my bullocks to keep up this discrimination for a whole summer. Plato and Aristotle expected soldiers “to be mild and tender to their own; severe and cruel to all others,” thus exercising both codes, which is the normal behavior of tribesmen. These soldiers were, just as we are, the descendants of tribesmen, both of us being the inheritors of a tribal mentality. Our present‑day problem is, as Walter Bagehot might have surmised, how to be civilized and savage at the same time. Our difficulties are the greater if we confuse the two codes ‑ the ethical with the cosmical.
Huxley also made a serious error in supposing that until the dawn of the ethical process men lived in a continual state of strife, brawl, and anarchy. That was not so; all the higher primates, of which man is a member, are social animals living in small groups, each group dominated by the dual evolutionary law. Until the introduction of civilization some 8,000 to 10,000
years ago, man lived throughout the world in small, isolated communities or tribes, each under the dual evolutionary code. Its “home affairs” were under the control of the ethical code, observing the Ten Commandments, encouraging co‑operation, friendliness, and sympathy. Its “foreign affairs” were in the hands of the cosmical code, taking every measure and employing physical force, if necessary, to ensure tribal independence, integrity, and continuance, reversing the commandments relating to killing, stealing, and lying when such conduct was advantageous for tribal welfare. Every tribe, we may say, had its ethical core of co‑operation and its cosmical crust of antagonism. Out of that crust war was born. Civilization has brought both good and evil to mankind; under its aegis the small evolutionary (tribal) units have become fused into the monstrous evolutionary units we call nations. The generations of humanity which carried mankind from a tribal to a national estate brought with them the “old Adam” ‑ the dual evolutionary code. The ethical core has been mightily strengthened by the free diffusion of the spoken and the written word. Alas, the cosmical crust has also expanded, at a rate even more prodigious than that of the ethical core; it has strengthened itself by the adoption of power politics, while modern science has armed it. We got rid of small wars by the fusion of combative tribes, only to find ourselves overwhelmed with the colossal wars of this present time.
But that is another story. My main object has been to prove that the difference between Admiral Beadnell and myself is not a merely verbal one relating to the meaning we should attach to “ethical”; it goes much deeper than that. There can be no clear thinking about war or any other matter bearing on the relationship of one nation to another until we draw a sharp distinction between the twofold code under which the nations of the world live, move, and have their being ‑ the ethical code of civilized behavior and the cosmical code of savage behavior. In war we are under the domination of the cosmical code.
The Importance of Realizing that the Behavior of the Natural Man is Regulated by a Double Code of Morals
JUST AFTER THE PRECEDING CHAPTER WAS FINISHED I had occasion to consult two books by my friend Alfred Machin ‑ The Ascent of Man (1925), Darwin’s Theory Applied to Mankind (1937) ‑ and, as I searched for the facts of which I was in need, came across passages which sent me hotfoot to Herbert Spencer’s Principles of Ethics. With this work, the first volume of which appeared in 1892, the second in 1893, Spencer, being then seventy‑three years of age, completed his vast system of philosophy, the beginnings of which he traced back to 1842. He had hoped, like the Cambridge biologists of 1941, to find, in his studies of evolution, a code which would serve to place human conduct, or ethics, on a scientific basis. Spencer found, as I discovered long after him, that evolution, as seen at work in human communities, speaks with two voices, each voice enunciating a separate code. One he named the code of Amity, corresponding to my ethical code; the other he called the code of Enmity, which is my cosmical code. Let me cite brief passages from the Principles of Ethics which will give the reader an account of Spencer’s fundamental discovery in ethics ‑ the dual code of human conduct ‑ in his own words:
Rude tribes and civilized societies have had continually to carry on an external self‑defence and internal co‑operation, external antagonism and internal friendship. Hence their members have acquired two different sets of sentiments and ideas, adjusted to these two kinds of activity.1
A life of constant external enmity generates a code in which aggression, conquest, and revenge are inculcated, while peaceful occupations are reprobated. Conversely a life of settled internal amity generates a code inculcating the virtues conducing to a harmonious co‑operation ‑ justice, honesty, veracity, regard for each other’s claims.2
As the ethics of enmity and the ethics of amity arise in connection with external and internal conditions respectively, have to be simultaneously entertained, there is formed an assemblage of utterly inconsistent sentiments and ideas.3
There thus come to be two classes of duties and virtues, condemned and approved in similar ways, but one of which (code of Amity) is associated with ethical conceptions, and the other (code of Enmity) not. To speak of the ethics of enmity seems absurd.4
Spencer had landed himself in an ethical crux from which he saw no way out. He was a thorough‑paced evolutionist and defined “evolutionary ethics” thus: “The acts which subserve the maintenance of the individual and the preservation of the race, are classed by us as right and regarded with a certain approbation.”5 He had hoped that his studies of evolution would provide sure guidance as to how man, individually and collectively, “ought” to behave, and found two codes which he regarded as antagonistic and irreconcilable. And so found no guidance. But suppose he had searched for a clue, not as to how men “ought” to conduct themselves, but as to how they do actually behave, then the result would have been quite different. It is only when we realize that men are dominated by these two evolutionary codes ‑ the ethical (amity) code and the cosmical (enmity) code ‑ that we can explain their actions in the modern world.
We shall obtain light on the manner in which these two codes rule in the world of human affairs if I touch for a moment on the points wherein Spencer’s experience and outlook differ from my own. He encountered these two codes in the course of his prolonged inquiries; whereas I, some thirty years ago, set out deliberately to look for them. The reason of my search was this: Suppose new and advantageous characters had appeared in a local community or tribe, how were these characters to be retained and advanced in that community or tribe? If the tribe or community married freely with neighboring communities, then the seeds or genes of the advantageous traits would be scattered and submerged; all evolutionary advantage to the original community would be lost. If there was to be an evolutionary advantage
there must be some means of circumscribing and of isolating the tribe or community, thus favoring inbreeding. A detailed study of tribal organization throughout the earth gave me what I was in search of.6 All inhabited lands are demarcated into tribal or national areas; each such area was a separate ethical territory; within its frontiers an ethical code prevailed; at and beyond the frontiers the cosmical code came into play. Tribal isolation was thus maintained, not by geographical barriers such as mountains or seas, but by a mental mechanism built into the framework of the human brain, its activities being manifest in obeying the behests of the dual code.
Spencer, like Huxley, regarded the cosmical code as antagonistic to the ethical. That is not necessarily so; not even usually so. In the present war, from 1939 onward, as the cosmical code was increased in rigor against our enemies, the ethical code, giving co‑operation and unity within our ranks, gained a redoubled force. And, were a contemporary Nazi to seize my pen, he would write that this was equally true of Germany. As a matter of fact. there is no more opposition between the ethical and cosmical codes than between the Home Office and Foreign Office of a government; the one reacts on the other. The effect of their combined activity determines a nation’s evolutionary path and destiny.
There is another important difference between Spencer and myself which I must now touch on. He regarded our mental subserviency to the dual code as of recent origin; the code had been practiced and ultimately grafted into our inherited nature. He was confident that the cosmical code would die out and that the ethical code would be left in sole control of our actions. I, on the other hand, look on the brain mechanism which subserves the dual code as of extreme antiquity, for it is obeyed instinctively by social animals low in the animal scale; it is deeply entrenched in human nature. Man’s emotions, his feelings, and his inherited predispositions are so contrived as to make him responsive to its behests. It is true that man differs from all other social animals in having reason, and therefore can strive to control his actions. It is just when we apply our reason to
the dual code and seek to reduce it to a single ethical code that all our difficulties begin. I know of only one way of coming by a single code, and that is by bringing evolution to an end in the world of humanity.
That the conduct of peoples living in tribes and in nations is regulated by the dual code has been recognized by many writers: Sir Henry Maine has described its tribal action;7 Professor M. R. Davie defines it very clearly;8 Sir E. B. Tylor also notices it.9 So far as I know, the late Professor Karl Pearson was the only author who saw that the cosmical code co‑operated with the ethical code to produce an evolutionary result. When Aristotle remarked, “Now all [human] virtues require either Society or War for their working,”10 he must have been convinced that human nature was so framed as to carry out the behests of both codes ‑ ethical (social) and cosmical (war). He was also aware of the confusion created by the two codes when he observed: “Conquest cannot be lawful which is done not only justly but unjustly also.”11 Spencer, as we have seen, felt this confusion. So did Edward Carpenter, author of Civilization: Its Cause and Cure, in which we read:12 “Confusion [is produced] in the popular mind between what is really good or evil for the race.” Edward Carpenter proceeds to explain this confusion by supposing that “actions which had been good in one age” had become “injurious in the next.”
We shall obtain some light on the “ethical confusion with which the popular mind is perplexed” if we scan for a moment the writings of those who, applying only the ethical code to the problem of war, denounce it as a crime or as a monstrous vice. “War,” said Seneca, “is a glorious crime.” Condorcet: “It is a heinous crime.” “Great generals,” exclaimed Mencius, “are great criminals.” All of which verdicts are true, on the basis of an ethical code. When Thomas Hobbes states, in Leviathan (1651), that “in war, force and fraud are cardinal virtues,” he is basing
his judgment on the cosmical code. When he affirms that “by nature man is both faithful and false,” he evinces his belief in the duality of man’s mental constitution. The popular saying, “All is fair in love and war,” is a recognition of the cosmical code. Napoleon was cosmically minded: “In war,” he said, “all things are moral.”13 So was Hindenburg: “War,” he declared, “suits me like a visit to a health resort.” So was Bismarck. The late Mr. J. M. Robertson made this reflection on German “national ethics” in 1912: “There has been a recrudescence of the barbaric ethic of the Napoleonic period by Bismarck.”14 Had Mr. Robertson been alive now (1943), he would certainly have used a much stronger epithet than “barbaric” to express his opinion of Nazi ethics. And yet under Hitler, as under Bismarck, Germany was ruled by the dual code; her own folk by the ethical, and all others (save her satellites) by the cosmical code.
Sir Henry Maine, in Ancient Law,15 writes as a lawyer when he informs us that “sovereign states live in a state of nature.” This means that each state is ruled within by the ethical code, and that their external affairs are controlled by the cosmical code. The cosmical code is based on compulsion ‑ on force, and in the last resort, on war. A state applies the cosmical code not only to enemies outside its frontier, but also to enemies ‑ such as criminals and rebels ‑ which are in its midst. Hermann Mannheim, in War and Crime,16 institutes an elaborate comparison of war with crime, tracing both to the same root cause. To reach this conclusion he assumed that the citizen who becomes a criminal and the citizen who becomes a soldier are under the same code ‑ the ethical. This is not the case. The criminal, because of his nefarious activities, has been excluded from the ethical code of his country and has his life or liberty taken from him so that his nation may enjoy internal peace. The soldier, on the other hand, gives his life in order that his country may have security and external peace; the moment he shoulders arms he passes from the ethical to the cosmical code. Under that code
it becomes his duty to reverse every item of the ethical code – to kill, to deceive, to lie, to destroy, to damage the enemy by every means in his power. Particularly noticeable is the reversal of his sense of justice: “home” justice is no longer valid. In war, said David Hume, “we recall our sense of justice and sympathy and permit injustice and enmity to take their place.”17 My readers may remember that famous Piraeus party of ancient Greece when Socrates asked his companions for their definition of justice. “Justice,” answered Polemarchus, “is helping friends and harming enemies.”18 This answer, which conformed to the cosmical code, was rejected by Socrates; he and his pupil, Plato, were in search of an ideal justice, a justice which had a quality which was both universal and eternal. Yet ancient Greece, like the modern world, was divided into a multitude of political fields, each swayed by the dual code. Justice, under the ethical code, is one thing ‑ under the cosmical code it is quite another. Under the cosmical code justice is that which is enforced by political measures or by the might of arms. Here I take no note of what “ought” to be, but only of what has been and now is.
If we consider the “ethics” of bombing from the air we shall find evidence of the power which the cosmical code exercises over even highly civilized minds. When the Disarmament Conference assembled in Geneva, in 1933, business went swimmingly19 until a motion came up to outlaw bombing from the air. British representatives stood out. They looked at the motion through the cosmical spectacles of their country. How could the wild tribes on the Northwest Frontier of India and the hill tribes of Iraq be controlled ‑ and civilized ‑ if bombing were outlawed? We chose the cosmical code in 1933, and a few years later had “to take it,” as the saying goes. On the night of Sunday, May 16, 1943, our British airmen bombed and breached two great dams in the upper valleys of the Ruhr and Weser, with the result that floods swept down, drowning men, women, and children in their homes. We applauded the act; the enemy condemned it. The cosmical code justified it; the innocent were
made to suffer with the guilty. Under the ethical code justice is individual; each man is made to suffer only for his own misdeeds. Under the cosmical code justice is collective; the tribe or community has to suffer for a crime of any one of its members. In all their wars the Germans have terrorized conquered peoples by a ruthless application of the law of “collective justice” sanctioned by the cosmical code.
In spite of the fact that this chapter has already exceeded the space allotted to it, the reader must bear with me if I add two illustrative instances bearing on the ease with which the human mind can change from an ethical to a cosmical mood. My first instance is taken from Russia ‑ Russia, with her back to the wall, in the autumn of 1942. “The Russian people,” said Marshal Stalin, “are naturally a peaceful people, but the atrocious cruelties inflicted on them by the Germans have aroused them to such a fury of indignation that their whole nature is transformed.”20 War called the cosmical code into action in the minds of the Russian people; neither education nor propaganda was needed. My second instance is taken from England ‑ England of the early summer of the same year, 1942. The practice of taking recruits to slaughterhouses, so that they might become accustomed to warlike deeds, had just been abolished. The military correspondent of The Times21 made this “moral” comment on the practice: “Advancing civilization makes the act of killing, and indeed of all violence, foreign to man’s nature. . . . The moral is the only sure means of awakening the soldier to his responsibilities.” Here we see the English “civilized mind,” by attempting to throw the glamour of the ethical code over the cosmical code, laying itself open to the charge of hypocrisy. Would it not be more honest to recognize that both codes are constituent parts of human nature?
The Interrelationship Between War and Civilization
TOWARD THE END OF THE LAST CHAPTER BUT ONE the following passage escaped from my pen: “The ethical core has been mightily strengthened by the free diffusion of the spoken and the written word. Alas, the cosmical crust has also been expanded, at a rate even more prodigious than that of the ethical core; it has strengthened itself by the adoption of power politics, while modern science has armed it. We got rid of small wars by the fusion of combative tribes, only to find ourselves overwhelmed with the colossal wars of this present time. But that is another story.” It is “that” story I propose to take up now ‑ the paradoxical story of the marriage of war to civilization. Our historians and philosophers declare that war (the husband) has provided a home for civilization (the wife), and that, whenever outside danger has threatened, he (war) has always been at hand to protect her. On the other hand, a vast multitude of observant and learned men and women proclaim that such a marriage is outrageous, that he is her enemy, and that if he is not got out of the way he will certainly kill her. At least a divorce must be obtained; many are determined that this present time of battle (1943) will see the divorce made absolute. Let us see, first, how war prepared a “home” for civilization. The latter being a word of so many meanings, it is necessary that the reader should know what I have in mind when I use it. I shall use it, as I did in Chapters 19 and 20, to signify the surroundings and circumstances in which the present people of England live, move, and have their being, in body as well as in soul. We may regard the welding of the seven Saxon kingdoms in the eighth and ninth centuries, the hammerings of the Danes in the tenth, and the overlordship of the Normans in the eleventh as the series of events which gave civilization a united home in England. The instrument used was war. By war the seven separate Saxon political fields, each swayed by its own dual code, were merged into a single field, dominated by a common
ethical code and a common cosmical code. The forced union was attended by two advantages: (1) recurring internal petty wars were got rid of; (2) the mergence of peoples and of their cosmical codes gave the united state a greatly increased power to carry on war. Unity of the English field of civilization has been safeguarded by war: in the fifteenth century (War of the Roses); in the strife between the Crown and Parliament in the seventeenth century; and to suppress the Jacobite rebellions of the eighteenth. A succession of wars with France, with Spain, with Holland, and latterly with Germany has permitted us to maintain and to develop our civilization, both in peace and in war. Napoleon ‑ and the same is true of Hitler ‑ served as an instrument to invigorate our dual code: the ethical which is concerned with our internal affairs; and the cosmical, which dominates our outside relations.
When we survey the wide national fields of civilization on the Continent, where the Great Powers of Europe have their homes, we find that all of them have been forged by war, just as has been the case in our country. The rise of France, like that of England, is a tale of forced fusion of neighboring warring states; their rise was stimulated by an antagonism which began between France and England in the eleventh century and lasted until the twentieth. And it was civilization which armed their cosmical codes for conflict. Unity came first to Spain late in the fifteenth century, by marriage as well as by war. The discrete states and civilizations of Italy were brought together in the nineteenth century under the pressure of war. Peter the Great (1672‑1715) gave unity to Russia. Fusion of the troop of German states to form a Reich is a tale of war, but war used in an indirect and cunning manner, first by Bismarck, later by Hitler. In France, as in England, fusion was forced by one of the contending states becoming sufficiently powerful to ultimately overthrow and dominate all the others. Bismarck attained the same end in another way; he adopted a policy which surrounded the German states with a ring of enemies and involved them in a succession of wars. Out of such wars was born a German unity of purpose and a common destiny. To this policy Hitler added strength to the internal “ethical code” by concentration camps and the free
use of the loaded stick. With the powerful civilization of Germany he armed the Reich for war. Thus we see that the creation of wide fields of civilization by the fusion of petty states has had a twofold result: wars between petty states have been abolished; wars between great and powerful states have taken their place.
In the war which began in 1914, and again in that which broke out in 1939, it was often repeated by our leading men that we, the British, were fighting for our civilization, sometimes qualified by the adjectives “Western” or “Christian.” Germany, too, adopted “War to Save Civilization” as a battle cry. When she attacked Russia in the summer of 1941 it was to save “European
civilization” from Communistic contamination. In 1942, when English‑speaking armies began to mass in the Mediterranean, Hitler declared it was to save Europe from the “ideals of plutodemocratic peoples.” Between these two world wars, men whose words carried weight in Britain repeatedly expressed the fear that another war would finish civilization; we should be stripped of all we valued and driven to lead the lives of cavemen.
It would be impossible to reproduce from my portfolios a tithe of the statements which speakers and writers have made bearing on these problems; I shall restrict myself to the testimony of three men. First, let the eighteenth‑century philosopher David Hume give his opinion: “What is profitable to every mortal, and in common life when once discovered, can scarcely fall into oblivion but by total subversion of society.”1 We cannot conceive war, or any other form of calamity, causing more than local wounds in the great body of civilization, which, when the assault is over, are healed kindly by the living and healthy neighboring tissues.
Although civilization cannot be killed, it may be gravely injured by war. We shall hear what a ripe scholar, Dr. Gilbert Murray, has to say on this point: “We Europeans are trustees for the human race of a great treasure ‑ a treasure built up slowly by the efforts of human souls in Greece, Rome, and Jerusalem, and in the free nations of modern times. We must see that it is not lost. War is deadly to a civilization like ours. A Nazi victory
would utterly destroy it.”2 My third witness is a scholar and poet, Mr. T. S. Eliot. He believes that in this second world war “everything won in centuries of travail is at stake: the aspiration of fellowship, men’s dignity, principles of right, freedom of arts, courtesies, pity, and common human affection ‑ the whole tradition of humanism is involved.”3
Such are the evils which men of letters fear from a Nazi victory. How would the ordinary British citizen be affected? For he, too, is a participator in our civilization. Let us imagine for a little what our condition would have been if Germany had been the victor in 1918. We should have had to surrender our navy, our colonies, and our shipping. The current of trade, on which our mode of life so much depends, would have been diverted to German ports; the standard of living would have been grievously lowered. German armies would have been quartered on us; a puppet government would have been set up in Whitehall; Gauleiter would have appeared in every part of the country, each with his concentration camp at hand. Industrial Britain would have become an adjunct of Germany. We should have been controlled and censored from morning to night; we should have had to surrender all the liberties we had enjoyed. And yet the work of our fields, family life in our homes, the activities of our cities, would have gone on; even our universities, our newspapers, our theaters and cinemas, and our publishers might have continued ‑ if they had submitted to the yoke imposed on them by our defeat. We should have retained a civilization of a kind, the kind which appears to be acceptable to Germans. We should have had what so many polite authors long for ‑ peace, an imposed German peace, from which every soul among us would have sought to escape, no matter what the sacrifice. By resorting to brutal war we should have striven to regain the more precious elements of our old civilization. War can damage a civilization, but cannot destroy it.
At the beginning of this essay the relationship of war (Mars) to civilization (Athena) was described as that of husband and wife. My friend the late Sir Grafton Elliot Smith maintained,
from 1917 until his death in 1937, at the age of sixty‑five, that the relationship was not husband and wife; he held that in reality Mars was the child ‑ the son ‑ of Athena. He preached, very vigorously, the doctrine that primitive man was “peaceful, honest, truthful, and well disposed to his fellow men” until the stage of civilization was entered. It was then that man’s “golden age” vanished. Man then became jealous and quarrelsome ‑ gold and injustice were at the root of his troubles. “It is important to recognize,” he wrote, “that instead of bringing enlightenment and appeasement, civilization is responsible for most cruelties and barbarities,” and for war.4 In a later chapter I shall have occasion to deal with the evidence on which Elliot Smith based his conception of human nature as having been originally peaceful. Meantime it may be stated that it is possible to hold this conception of human nature only by concentrating attention on its ethical or peaceful side and overlooking the equally old side – the cosmical or warlike. There is evidence of strife in the world long before civilization came to it. Yet to this extent Elliot Smith was undoubtedly right: it was civilization which made organized war possible and multiplied the occasions which give rise to it. “War,” said the late Dr. Malinowski, “is nothing but an unmitigated disease of civilization,” thus indicating the close relationship between the two. Wilfred Trotter recognized their relationship. He held that the Great War (1914‑18) “was evidence of the unsoundness of our civilization.”5 In a letter to The Times6 he ascribed the Second World War (1939) to the incompatibility of the German and British types of civilization. Professor J. C. Flugel, also, in his Conway Lecture (The Moral Paradox of Peace and War, 1941) insists on the interrelationship of war and civilization: “War is an almost universal feature of human life, where populations are sufficiently dense and culture sufficiently advanced.” If those are right who maintain that it is for civilization that we fight, then indeed is it a paradox that we should fight for that which gives rise to war.
Walter Bagehot (1826‑77), who looked at political problems with the eye of an evolutionist and was usually so right in his judgments, went somewhat astray when he wrote: “Civilization begins, because the beginning of civilization is a military advantage.”7 Certainly the community which discovered how to domesticate plants and animals was thereby enabled to increase in numbers and therefore in power. The military advantage accrued; that was not what men had sought for when they took to agriculture. We shall gain light on this matter if we glance at the manner in which uncivilized peoples, such as the aborigines of Australia, carry on war. Their tribes have not the means, nor the desire, to carry on anything of the nature of an organized campaign. An intertribal melee, accompanied more by noise than by actual loss of life, usually suffices to settle differences. Mobile pastoral peoples, such as the tribes of Arabia, of Turkestan, or of Mongolia, accustomed to move flocks, herds, and homes from winter quarters to summer grazings and back again, could easily mobilize for warfare and at small expense. It was not until the fifth millennium B.C., when city‑states began to appear in the lands which lie between the Indus and the Nile, that men had the capital and skill to equip and organize a disciplined force of armed men. The will to war was in existence long before the dawn of civilization; the latter, therefore, is not the cause of war, but it did provoke the conditions which make calamitous wars possible.
Wealth, the fruit of civilization, if it be weakly protected, may indirectly provoke war. “A wealthy nation,” wrote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations,8 “is the most likely to be attacked.” It was the wealth and the lassitude of Rome which brought the barbarians of the North to her gates. The same temptation drew the Hyksos to Egypt, the Kassites to Babylonia, and the Aryans to India. “It is only by means of a standing army that the civilization of any country can be perpetuated, or even preserved for any length of time” (Adam Smith).
The Civilized Mind Seeks to Eliminate Warlike Qualities
IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTER WE ARRIVED AT TWO unexpected conclusions: (1) that war prepares the way for civilization; (2) that civilization prepares the way for war. These conclusions are the more surprising when it is remembered that war is a manifestation of the cosmical code ‑ the code of enmity; while civilization is based on the ethical code ‑ the code of amity or of sympathy. We should have expected the manifestations of opposite moral codes to have been in constant conflict with each other. And indeed so they are. Again and again we find Herbert Spencer (1820‑1903), both in his Principles of Sociology and in his Principles of Ethics, expressing the belief that the ethical code will conquer the cosmical code and oust it from man’s nature. “An ethical sentiment, rightly so called, produces repugnance to war.”1 “Civilization guarantees the rights and safety of all and gives liberty to the individual.”2 Civilization renders the cosmical code unnecessary. Spencer believed that a sufficiently prolonged peace would change man’s nature. Such was the belief in which we Victorians were reared. Darwin shared in it: “Civilization . . . renders imagination . . . sympathies, more sensitive . . . more widely diffused.”3 Tennyson gave expression to it: “Move upward and working out the beast, and let the ape and tiger die.” We find it in Westermarck’s authoritative work, Origin and Development of Moral Ideas (1906): “Civilization tends more or less to lower or pull down the barriers between separate races, nations, religions, and classes . . . the fighting instinct is chilled.”4 In another excellent treatise (Alexander Sutherland’s The Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct, 1898) there occurs this passage: “The growth of human sympathies is nowhere more distinctly seen than in the
long story of the lessening ferocity of warfare.”5 And this from the pen of another able Victorian ‑ Ch. H. Pearson: “As the nations of the world become more and more enlightened the barbarism of war will tend more and more to be discarded.”6
Then came 1914, and we Victorians awoke to find that civilization, far from having purged the European mind of its cosmical code, had but lulled it to sleep ‑ a sleep from which the events of 1914 roused it to a renewed ferocity and brutality.
And yet, although civilization leaves mind in the mass untouched, it does reach the heart of the individuals who seek it with ardor and diligence; it exalts in them the ethical code until it triumphantly expels the cosmical code; the children of “sweetness and light” are those who have but one code, the ethical. “Culture,” wrote Matthew Arnold (1822‑88), “seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere; to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light, where they may use ideas, as it uses them itself, freely nourished, and not bound by them. This is the social idea.”7 This, I may add, is an exposition of the “cultured” ethical code.
Let me here cite a few instances to illustrate the extent to which culture can affect the lives of particular men, subduing, even eliminating from their nature those qualities which sustain the cosmical code. We shall take our first instance from the life of Goethe (1740‑1832). His biographer G. H. Lewes tells us that when Eckermann “alluded to the reproach against him [the poet] for not writing war songs,” Goethe’s answer was: “How could I take up arms without hatred, and how could I hate without youth?” “National hatred,” said Goethe, “is strongest and most violent in the lowest stages of culture.”8 David Hume (1711‑76), who belonged to the generation which preceded Goethe’s, was in the full sense of the term a cultured man. When stricken with his last illness he made his will and wrote this of himself: “I was, I say, a man of mild dispositions, of command
of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions. Even my love of literary fame, my ruling passion, never soured my temper, in spite of my frequent disappointments.”9 Civilization had conquered the cosmical code in Hume and brought his nature under a single code ‑ the ethical. And now for an instance, a modern one, of what may be named the hypercivilized state of mind. It is to be found in Civilization by Mr. Clive Bell. There we learn that civilization is essentially a state of mind, one from which the cosmical code has been completely eradicated. “A perfectly trained and disciplined soldier,” writes Mr. Bell, “cannot be a perfectly civilized human being.”10 “The perfectly civilized are essentially defenceless . . . Unless their fellow citizens . . . think it worth while to support and defend them, they cannot exist.” Herein we see that the hypercivilized mind rejects the cosmical code. By rejecting all forms of worldly struggle and defense, men are made mere flotsam and jetsam on the tide of life; they have become rebels to the law of evolution. In the instances just cited, then, there can be no doubt that civilization is antagonistic to war.
Such, then, is the effect of culture on the warlike disposition of individual men. But what is its effect on the mass of a population? Adam Smith, who was usually so right in his judgments, thought that under civilization “the natural habits of the people render them altogether incapable of defending themselves.”11 Then, in the same chapter, he admits that when war came between us and Spain in 1789, after twenty‑eight years of peace, “peace had not corrupted our soldiers.” And so it was in 1914 and in 1939, although the British people had not experienced total war since ancient tribal times, their warlike spirit came out in full strength; they were still as much cosmically minded as they were ethically disposed. “Nor need we fear,” said David Hume, “that men, by losing their ferocity, will lose their martial spirit, or become less undaunted and vigorous in defence of
their country or of their liberties.”12 “Civilization,” said Bagehot, “no longer makes men effeminate.”13 Yet he acknowledged that “since war ceased men have become more tender to each other.” On the other hand, it is generally admitted that civilization did corrupt the martial qualities of the Romans. In his History of Europe (1936) Fisher states that “by the time of Hadrian (117-138) the fighting spirit had gone.”14 This may be partly explained by the following passage from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall: “In the third century the rough trade of war had been abandoned to the peasants and barbarians of the frontier,” thus permitting the home residents to allow their cosmical code to go fallow. At least there can be no doubt that the types of civilization practiced in old countries, such as Egypt, India, and China, do favor the growth of a pacific spirit. We cannot well suppose that the pacific spirit in these countries has been produced by luxury which has enervated the cosmical fiber of their populations, for they are in the main made up of poor, hardworking peasants. Civilization may have produced pacifist populations from warlike ancestors by acting as an unconscious selector. Selection has converted wild animals into domestic breeds; those possessing strong “ethical” instincts were preserved to rear progeny, while others, strong on the “cosmical” side of their nature, were rejected from the herd. Similarly in old countries. Through hundreds of generations the social arrangements of Egypt, of India, of China, have tended to preserve the ethically minded and to eliminate those of a cosmical disposition.
Is it not a strange thing that very few people ever do discover that their conduct is under the control of two moral codes, each with a different standard of justice? “The heart of man,” said Hume, “is made so as to reconcile contradictions.”15 Both codes are built into the framework of man’s mentality; each is used in turn as if it were part of his nature. As a soldier, Socrates used both codes and yet apparently found no difficulty in reconciling them. His pupil, Plato (428‑348 B.C.), condemned the cosmical
code. “Conduct is approved,” he affirmed, “according as it tends to subdue the brutish parts of our nature.” Aristotle, in turn, when in search of the highest form of happiness, abandoned both codes and took to contemplation ‑ a form of mental activity which is free from moral codes of every sort.16 Sooner or later the overcivilized mind detects the dual code in its make‑up, becomes conscious of the contradictions involved, and so lands itseff in a maze of worldly perplexities. Take a modern case ‑ that of a distinguished author, Aldous Huxley. In Brave New World (1932) and in Ends and Means (1938) he gives his reasons for abandoning the cosmical code. “The only road to social security,” he concludes in the latter book, “is non‑violence and decentralization. . . . We must detach ourselves from power, possessions, bodily sensations, fame.” In brief, become the subjects of only one code, the ethical. The classical case of conversion from a dual to a single code is that of Tolstoy (1828‑1910). In his more youthful years he had been soldier and man of the world, responsive to both codes. War and Peace was published in 1860, when he was thirty‑two years of age. We can see in that work how perplexed he was by a compelling power which is embedded in man’s nature. He saw that it so controlled collective human action that men marched in their millions to fight and to die. They were driven, so Tolstoy thought, by what he named “a wordly code,” which is the cosmical code of these pages. He was just past his fiftieth year when, in a mood of deep emotional distress, he resolved to root out from his conduct all that was of the tyrannical, worldly, cosmical code and to live singly and purely in the light of one code, the ethical, as exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount.17 We shall meet Tolstoy again when the relationship of Christianity to war is discussed. The members of the Society of Friends seek to regulate their lives by a single code. Those who refuse to bear arms for their country do so because they have gone off the cosmical standard. Conscientious scruples to the taking up of arms win a ready advocate in the most powerful of all instincts‑that of self‑preservation. The civilized mind is definitely antiwar.
Many writers put to the credit side of war that it is a means of spreading civilization. The civilized mind of Swift castigated the cosmical law most unmercifully in many passages of Gulliver’s Travels ‑ this for an example: “It is held lawful to kill one half of a population and enslave the other half to civilize them.” Gibbon was also civilized, but his outlook was cosmical, and certainly, in the history of the Roman Empire, he had brought before him many instances where war had been the means of extending Roman civilization. Rome was “lupine,”18 “Rome trampled liberties under foot to pave the way for civilization” (Professor James Dunbar, 1787). “Grim and terrible,” wrote Fisher in his History of Europe (1936), “as was the process of Roman conquest, it brought happiness and prosperity in its train.” By war Alexander the Great carried the civilization of Greece into all the lands between the Levant and the Indus. War also spreads barbarism, as when the tribes of Germany swept into Empire territory, the tribes of Arabia into Syria and Egypt, the Turks into lands where Greek civilization had once held sway, and when the Aryan hordes descended on India.
Let us look for a moment at the problems and difficulties which face the British and Indian governments on the Northwest Frontier of India. In the mountainous valleys which separate the Indus from the eastern frontier of Afghanistan there live some five million people divided into a myriad of tribes, each at war with the other save when they combine against the common enemy, the Anglo‑Indian forces cantoned on their threshold. The affairs of each tribe are controlled by the dual code. What each tribe values above everything is its independence ‑ the right to guide and guard its evolutionary destiny. Sir Thomas Holdich knew these tribes well; in 1899 he reported on one of them ‑ the Afridis:19 “They are good fellows in private life,” but against their enemies they are “cruel, treacherous, and vindictive.” They are “learning civilized warfare” and are A1 marksmen.
The Afridis and other tribal peoples of the Northwest Frontier present the British and Indian governments with one of their more pressing problems: the tribesmen threaten the peace and
security of India; they could muster a quarter of a million warriors. Government policy aims at removing the danger by “detribalization and civilization”; these are being imposed by means of war. War, then, is still employed to extend civilization. “Only by civilizing the tribes can the tribal system be broken down,” writes The Times.20 In the autumn of 1935 the Italians set out to civilize the Abyssinians by means of war; 95 per cent of the population of Italy is said to have given a fervid assent.21 The entry into Addis Ababa, in May 1936, was proclaimed by the Duce as “a triumph of civilization over barbarism.”22 Mr. Bernard Shaw was almost alone when he came to the support of the Duce.23 Lord Olivier stigmatized the Abyssinian war as “a crime against civilized humanity”;24 and this was the general verdict of the British people. The taming of the frontier tribes of India and those of the mountains of Abyssinia were very similar undertakings. In the former case we were 95 per cent in favor of taming by war; in the latter, 95 per cent against it. I mention these facts as evidence that culture has not yet affected our primal codes of justice; they still work in watertight compartments. We view the affairs of our enemies (in northwest India) through our cosmical spectacles, but the affairs of our friends in Abyssinia through our ethical glasses.
In this essay I have discussed only two of the ways in which war bears on civilization: (1) how far it has produced a “civilized mind” which is antagonistic to war; and (2) the strangest of all human policies ‑ the waging of war against a people to civilize them. It was only when I came to deal with the latter subject that I discovered how much my prolonged life as a student has borne in on my inner nature; I found my heart going out to the tribesmen, longing for a single personal code ‑ ethical‑pacifist. From this my head rescued me; it reminded me that it was by the co‑operative and selective action of the dual code, cosmical and ethical, which has raised man so high above all other animals.
Should we, then, kick down the ladder by which we have made our ascent? My head answered, “No.” But this is another story, to which we shall return in due course.
How War Came to be Accepted by Christianity
IN THE YEAR 597 AUGUSTINE BROUGHT THE SERMON on the Mount to England. In this sermon Christ expounds his system of ethics; he taught a single ethical code, one in which love and brotherliness are made dominant in thought, word, and deed, and from which hate and selfishness in their every mood and tense must be resolutely excluded. The Christian code teaches men how to behave if they would live at peace with each other. Enmities are to be overcome by acts of love; offenses by forgiveness. Men must aim at being last, not first. They are to obey their rules, save when such obedience involves them in disloyalty to the Prince of Peace. Then they must face, if needs be, martyrdom. If men accept the ethics of Christ in all their implications, then they must regulate their every thought and act by the single ethical code of the Sermon. From the Sermon, not only is the cosmical code excluded, but its every manifestation is forbidden and condemned. In every parish and pulpit in England that sermon and its code of ethics have been preached for thirteen long centuries; yet when the call came in 1914, and again in 1939, the congregations of England arose in all their pristine warlike strength. Thirteen centuries of preaching had failed to touch the dual code in the mentality of the people. No matter which Christian parish on the continent of Europe we visit, we shall find that the cosmical code remains intact, just as in England.
I regard the attempt to impose the ethics of Christ on English mentality as a crucial experiment; one which has been carried out earnestly, vigorously, and uninterruptedly for thirteen centuries. The inference I draw is that the dual code is so deeply entrenched in human nature that it cannot be rooted out; by effort and education the individual may control the cosmical
side of his nature, but he cannot annihilate it. The apparent indestructibility of the cosmical side of human nature has an important bearing on the problems I am discussing in these pages. One of these is the problem of human evolution ‑ how it is being carried out under modern conditions of life. The Cambridge school of biologists suggested that, if evolving humanity based its conduct on Christian ethics, then all would be well with it. I devoted Chapters 15, 16, and 17 to the relationship of Christianity to evolution. The conclusion I came to was that if men were to base their conduct on Christ’s teaching, then evolution, as seen in the world hitherto, must come to an end.
The problem I am now approaching is that of war. If we can discover how Christianity ‑ a gospel of peace ‑ has come to be associated with war, and has come to accept war as an instrument of policy, we shall probably obtain light on the cause and nature of war. The most instructive circumstance known to me regarding this matter is that 99 per cent of men and women are dominated by the dual code; and yet believe they are good Christians; they find no difficulty in reconciling war with the Sermon on the Mount. Let me give one or two recent instances. The leader‑writers of The Times are representative of educated Englishmen. Here is what one of them wrote:1 “By common consent we are fighting to uphold the law of Christ against the law of paganism and brute force.” The writer was apparently unconscious of the fact that he was advocating the upholding of Christ’s law by a breach of it. Some two weeks earlier2 the preacher who contributes every Saturday a sermonette to The Times sought to reconcile the Sermon on the Mount with war. “The Sermon,” said he, “has no precepts; it is its spirit which has to be applied.” There must be some powerful bias at work in the mind which can read into the most pacifist document extant an excuse for war. “Christianity,” says the Dean of Wells, “can only be learned as a foreign language is learned. . . a new outlook and a new way of thinking . . . must be acquired.”3 The Dean has realized how difficult it is for human nature to pass
from a bicodal to a unicodal system of living ethics. His difficulty receives an additional emphasis in the “Statement of Christian Belief” issued by our Church leaders:4 “We can all see the Christian way is the right way. But we do not follow it. And when we try, we find we cannot.” Let us see if a knowledge of human evolution can throw any light on this Christian problem.
The Old Testament is the checkered history of a chosen people, set apart from all others, and encompassed by a special system of divine laws, all of them so framed as to ensure the Children of Israel a successful and isolated evolutionary journey in the millennia which loomed ahead of them. In the Old Testament we are in an evolutionary atmosphere; life is regulated by the dual code. Even the nature ascribed to Jehovah is of the dual order. He is a God of Hate as well as of Love; he can be moved to anger and to vengeance. He is a God of War. Toward his chosen people his behavior is ethical; toward all neighboring nations it is cosmical. Few students of the Bible note, as they read the Ten Commandments, that these represent only the ethical part of the divine code. “Thou shalt not kill,” the Lord commands in Deut. 5:17. That command becomes reversed cosmical ‑ in Deut. 7:2: “Thou shalt smite them [the natives of Canaan] and utterly destroy them.” “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in shine heart,” in Lev. 19:17, becomes “Thou shalt make no covenant with them [Canaanites], nor shew mercy unto them” in Deut. 7:2. The God of Israel and his people were rigid dualists. Even when kings and armies had departed and integrity could no longer be assured by armed might ‑ when Palestine had been harried in turn by Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman ‑ the remnant clung tenaciously to the practice of the dual code.
Into this people ‑ rigid observers of the dual law, factious, contentious, holding themselves aloof from all who were not of their faith and blood ‑ Jesus was born. In the New Testament, which is a history of his life, teaching, and works, we breathe another atmosphere, one suffused through and through by a code of conduct which is single, rigid, and ethical. Jehovah is
now a God of Love: affection, forgiveness, and humility have been made the basis of a system of ethics never before practiced in Palestine. This system it was that Christ offered to his fellow Jews. If they had accepted and assimilated it, they would have experienced a peace such as they had never known before. Only a handful accepted and adopted the Christian way of life. A time came when both Jews and Christians departed from Palestine; the Jews to seek lodgings in many strange countries where, by a strict observance of their law, and although destitute of every form of armed defense, they yet emerged into the present, increased in numbers and in power. Christian history is very different; it is a tale of a peace‑loving sect which, although it suffered greatly and refused to inflict suffering, yet prospered exceedingly. In the fourth century, when the Western Empire was moving fast toward its doom, Christians came to a point where their road forked: the right‑hand fork carried them along the way of the single code of passive peace, whereas the lefthand carried them to an alliance with the state, with the supreme earthly power. Their leaders chose the left‑hand road and justified their choice against those who maintained that the other was the only way possible for Christians. Now, every state which exists at the present time, or has existed in the past, has practiced the dual code and defended itself by armed force. Thus it came about that some three centuries after the death of Christ his followers had to find a way of reconciling their creed with the dual code and the bearing of arms. Out of the chaos which followed the collapse of the Western Empire arose the nations of Europe, every one of them professing to be Christian, every one of them practicing the art of war. Here, then, is a strange thing: the ethical creed of a peaceful sect now serves the needs of the warrior nations of Europe. “A good religion, says Bagehot,5 “makes a winner among nations.”
It is beyond the scope of these pages to cite the evidence of the early fathers dealing with the right of a Christian to bear arms ‑ men like Origen (186‑254), who maintained that prayer was the only legitimate weapon for a Christian; and men like St. Augustine, who held that there were occasions when the
use of the sword was needed. More to our present purpose is it to note the interpretation which the modern, massive intellect of Tolstoy (1828‑1910) gave of the Sermon on the Mount. It will be found in My Religion, published in 1884, and translated into English in 1889. Until his fifty‑first year (1879) he had regulated his life by the dual code. What he names the “worldly doctrine” is our cosmical code; his “doctrine of Jesus” is our ethical code; the evil which he observed in the world, and which weighed so heavily on him, he could see only one way of bringing to an end ‑ to sweep away the cosmical code and all its manifestations, particularly war. We must note, too, that he studied the Bible, especially the Sermon on the Mount, not to ascertain what he ought to believe, but to know how he ought to act. He interpreted the Sermon in the light of his reason; he claimed to be a rationalist; he made the same claim for Jesus; for him the Sermon was a revelation of truth which, if assimilated and acted on, would make earth a paradise. It came to him as a flash of insight that the core of Christ’s doctrine lay in three words, “Resist not evil” (Matt. 5:39). He proceeded to model his own life by a strict observance of this injunction and immediately found himself in open antagonism to all instruments of government, not only to its armed force, but to its magistrates and to its laws. If his example had been widely followed, then the community in which he lived would have been reduced to a state of anarchy. My opinion is that Tolstoy gave the right interpretation of Christ’s doctrine of ethics, and his courageous but vain attempt to put it into practice is a proof that human society on a unicodal system of ethics is an impossibility.
Tolstoy approached the problem of conduct, taking reason as his guide; he based his verdict on the evidence which he had assembled. He accepted the special creation of man; all evidence derived from nature and from evolution was rejected with scorn. It is only when we approach the problem with the eye of an evolutionist that we realize that not only has the nerve basis of human conduct been evolved, but has been so fashioned as to serve the purposes of evolution. Our brain ‑ our mentality ‑ is organized to subserve a bicodal system of ethics. In justice to Tolstoy I have to admit that in his insistence on primacy of
the precept “Resist not evil” he has the support of an outstanding English rationalist, Bertrand Russell. In 1915 the latter wrote:
The evils suffered during a hostile invasion are suffered because resistance is offered. . . . No resistance would seem not only a distant religious ideal, but the course of practical wisdom. Only pride and fear stand in the way of its adoption.6
Those who adopt this course commit evolutionary suicide. Nature has armed men not only against suicide in the flesh, but also against suicide in the spirit, which is evolutionary suicide.
The strife which began in the fourth century between the early or Eo‑Christians, who fought only with the sword of the spirit, and the new or Neo‑Christians, who permitted the sword of steel to supplement the spiritual weapon, still goes on, as may be illustrated by recent happenings in the Church of England. Dr. Temple, a stalwart Neo‑Christian, when Archbishop of York, did not seek to hide his attitude to war. “The law of love,” he declared, “is not applicable to nations consisting in large measure of unconverted or imperfectly converted citizens.”7 For which declaration he was accused of apostasy by Canon Raven, who represents the remnant of Neo‑Christians now found within the Church. When he became a primate of England, Dr. Temple showed a sound national heart in giving “thanks to the Almighty for victory.”8 Two months later, he declared: “There is no possible peace for the world except a Christian peace.”9 Seeing that Dr. Temple was ruled, like the rest of us, by the dual code, it is hard to see wherein his kind of peace differs from our kind of peace. Dr. Garbett, who succeeded Dr. Temple in the See of York, is also a robust Christian, as may be gathered from the following extract:10 “Some of those who write to me in impassioned terms about the sufferings of Germans in bombed cities forget the prolonged and awful sufferings of the Poles, Czechs, Jews. . . . Bombing shortens the war and saves the
lives of soldiers.” I do not blame the Archbishop for holding and uttering such sentiments, but I do keep wondering how his heart can accommodate them and the Sermon on the Mount at the same moment.
“The Church,” wrote Gibbon,11 “concealed a multitude of Christians who endeavoured to reconcile the interests of the present with those of a future life.” Gibbon here brings against Christians a charge of conscious hypocrisy. I have been discussing the attitude of Christians to war, not to bring a charge against them, not even that of unconscious hypocrisy, but to review the age‑long battle which has been waged for man’s soul ‑ the drawn‑out, arduous campaign between the old cosmical Adam entrenched in our nature and the new ethical Adam of the Mount. Of the result of that battle there can be no doubt; the old Adam still occupies his ancient seat. At the best the new Adam has been received as a visitor, whereas the old Adam has been cherished as an abiding guest. Presently we shall be discussing the ways which lead to war and the ways which lead to peace. And when we do so we must keep in mind what we have learned in this chapter ‑ the apparently impregnable position of the cosmical man within each of us.
How the Author Came to Link War to Evolution
UNTIL THE FIRST WORLD WAR DESCENDED ON us in 1914, I had taken only a patriotic and personal interest in war. The one thing which seemed to me then to be certain was that war could take no part in advancing or promoting the evolution of a nation, for a calamity which deprives a nation of the best and bravest of its manhood must render that nation less fit to carry on its struggle for existence in the world. In this opinion I was in agreement with my fellows. In the present chapter I propose to lay before my readers the sequence of events and the train of reasoning which have led me to the conclusion that war is concerned in human evolution ‑ that it is
part of the machinery which has determined, and is now determining, the fate of nations and of races.
To begin my account I must go back to the year 1908. I was then forty‑two years of age; for thirteen years I had been teaching anatomy to the students of the London Hospital. I was now placed in charge of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England ‑ a museum filled with such things as the heart of a student of human evolution most desires, situated in one of the largest squares in the West Central district of London. I must touch on a change which was then affecting my outlook on man’s distant past. I had supposed that man’s ascent had been made by a series of succeeding stages which may be compared to those which change infancy into manhood. One of these stages, the most recent, was preserved for us by the fossil bones of Neanderthal man ‑ an early denizen of Europe. Just then, discoveries were being made in France1 which to my mind proved that Neanderthal man could no longer be regarded as an ancestor; the stratum containing his fossil bones was followed at once by one containing the fossil bone of our type ‑ the modern type. Apparently we moderns had invaded Europe and exterminated Neanderthal man ‑ in quite the modern manner. Other discoveries compelled me to picture the ancient prehistoric world as occupied by a multitude of racial types; so I perceived that man’s evolution had not been a direct ascent, stage succeeding stage, but had been made by a series of zigzags, one progressive local type encroaching on, and ultimately exterminating, a neighboring less progressive type.
Another discovery, of a totally different kind, was then (1908) throwing light on the problem of man’s evolution, particularly on the origin of diverse human races. This was the discovery of hormones,2 substances which circulate in the blood and which regulate the form and features of our bodies ‑ just those features and appearances wherein one race of mankind differs from another. I became interested in the action of some of these hormones, particularly those formed by the testicle, by the pituitary
body (attached to the base of the brain), and in those thrown into the circulation by the thyroid gland. I made elaborate studies of the skulls, skeletons, and bodies of men and women who had been afflicted by a wild disorder of the pituitary, leading to a radical transformation of their features and of their general appearance.3 I saw that many of the characters of Neanderthal man could be explained by supposing that in him the pituitary had been vigorous ‑ not diseased ‑ in its action. I also knew of families in whom appearances bespoke a strong action of their pituitaries. Clearly a knowledge of the action of hormones helped us to explain the differentiation of mankind into races. I immediately came up against this difficulty: Suppose a small community in which there are many individuals with a pituitary caste of countenance; if this community is to become a special breed it must be isolated; it must be cut off from surrounding communities; especially as regards marriage. How does nature isolate her primitive human communities or tribes?
In search of the mechanism of isolation, I made a study of the accounts which anthropologists and travelers had brought back from tribal lands, records describing how tribes living outside the civilized areas of the earth maintain their separateness or isolation. The results of this study, entitled “Certain Factors Concerned in the Evolution of Human Races,” provided the text of my presidential address to the Royal Anthroplogical Institute in 1915.4 Isolation, I found, was maintained by certain mental attributes which I sometimes spoke of as the “tribal spirit,” sometimes as “clannishness.” Clannishness is compounded out of those inborn mental tendencies which incline men of a social group or tribe toward each other and make them averse from men of other groups or tribes. In stressing the importance of isolation as a factor in evolution I followed in the steps of many authorities, but, so far as I know, no one had previously suggested that the mechanism of isolation was lodged in the human brain. It may have occurred to some of my readers that clannishness is in reality only another name for the dual code (see Chapter 24); and so it is. It comprises the ethical code, which gives
a spirit of fraternity and of co‑operation to a tribe and also includes the cosmical code, which ensures the isolation and defense of the tribe. In 1915 I did not distinguish between ethical and cosmical reactions; I simply lumped the two together under the one term ‑ clannishness.
Such, then, was the evolutionary outfit with which I made my approach to the study of war in the years 1914‑15. Instead of taking my data from the Great War in which we were then involved, I harked back to that which was waged between Germany and France in 1870‑71. As an aftermath of that war came a bitter and unfruitful controversy between the anthropologists of the two countries. Before the end of 1915 I gave the results of my inquiries as a lecture;5 an extract will put my readers in possession of my chief conclusion:
I have introduced the dispute between the French and German anthropologists as a means of opening up the question, What has war to do with the evolution of human races? . . . In the production of a new variety ‑ or race, isolation of the individuals which are to form that race is the first and most important condition. Let us apply this conception to the two nationalities concerned in the Franco-German War ‑ taking the German nation first. Bismarck found a semi-isolated assortment of states; they were bound by a common tongue and literature, and separated by their individual traditions, their political organizations, and their customs. There were also degrees of racial difference, for the people of Prussia differ from the natives of Bavaria, and the Frieslanders ‑ the classical German type ‑ differ from both of these. Each of these German states, in an evolutionary sense, represented a local attempt at race formation. The makers of united Germany ‑ Pan‑Germanists we may call them ‑ found a number of states already boumd by a common tongue, a bond which isolated them from all other peoples. From 1864, when the Prussian armies were set in motion against Denmark, until the ceremony in the Great Hall at Versailles, those states were welded together and isolated from all surrounding states by war ‑ the bond of blood and iron. . . . The statesmen of Germany accepted as a truth that the essential factor in the evolution of a new race was that of isolation. The bonds which bound also served to isolate.
Readers will probably note that I stress only one evolutionary aspect of war ‑ namely, its isolating effect. There were other and
more intimate relations, which I came to recognize as years went by; these I shall mention presently. In their policy of isolation, Nazis have out‑Bismarcked Bismarck. I am glad that my lecture of 1915 was published, otherwise I might have been accused of plagiarism from Mein Kampf.
It would take me too far afield to cite the opinions held by biologists regarding war in 1915; suffice it to say that almost to a man they held that war served no biological or evolutionary purpose. How far their best‑founded opinions agreed with mine, and how far they differed from them, may be learned if we turn for a moment to the pages of Evolution and the War (1915), a book written by my friend and contemporary Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell. He agreed with me as to the importance of isolation: “Naturalists have long realized the importance of isolation, Darwin’s cornerstone of the breeder’s art.”6 He is also with me when he writes: “Nations, if not actually distinct species, may be varieties of the human race on the way to acquire specific distinction.”7 And this: “The German nation is a biological unit at this critical stage of its evolution.”8 So far our author and I have been in agreement; but at p. 62, where he states (quite correctly) “that the political divisions of Europe do not correspond with the racial types of their inhabitants,” we reach a point where I join issue with him. While Sir Peter regards a nation as a political, nonracial group, I regard a nation as a unit which has both an evolutionary and racial significance. This difference between my friend and me is one of great importance, and I shall return to it in my next chapter. Meantime let me state that Sir Peter’s final verdict was dead against me: “I know no grounds for interpreting Darwin’s metaphorical phrase, ‘The struggle for existence,’ in any sense that would make it a justification for war between nations.”9 Having rejected an evolutionary explanation of war, Sir Peter had to find another, which was this: “The struggle between nations is in truth a war of
culture, a resistance by England and France, Russia and Belgium, to the attempt to force on the world one particular conception of civilization.”10 I have already considered civilization as a war objective, and found reason for rejecting its validity (Chapter 26). I have to admit, however, that Wilfred Trotter (1872‑1939) was against me. On p. 129 of Insincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1916) this acute biologist and philosopher wrote:
The object of each of the two adversaries would be to impose its will on the other and to destroy in it all that was especially individual, all the type of activity and capacity which were the most characteristic of its civilization and therefore the cause of hostility.
These, in my opinion, are some of the calamities of war, not its objective. This author rejected with contumely the “famous doctrine that war is a biological necessity” (p. 126).
I now return to my own case ‑ to give a brief account of how the opinions relating to the part played by war in the evolution of mankind, which I held in 1915, have expanded into those which I hold now (1943). It was not until I got rid of the racial obsession which exercises such a tyrannical influence over the anthropological mind ‑ the obsession that evolution is concerned only in contests of species with species ‑ that I came to see my way clear before me. The contest or struggle in all forms of social animals is between isolated, independent groups of the same species, or it may be between two groups each of which belongs to a different species. A nation is an isolated group; it is an evolutionary unit. My next step forward came to me when I realized that in man’s mental nature there is not only a powerful instinct which serves to protect the individual ‑ self-preservation ‑ but an even more powerful one which serves to protect and perpetuate the tribe or nation of which that individual is a member. The nature and cause of war then became clear to me: any threat of injury to the life or integrity of a nation, any attack on its homeland or on its means of supply, calls forth the old defensive mechanism which Nature has implanted for the protection and perpetuation of her evolutionary
units. War is indeed a factor, and a very powerful one, in the evolution of mankind. A statement which I made in 1931, when I gave my rectorial address to the students of Aberdeen University, The Place of Prejudice in Modern Civilization,11 shows that even then my ideas were still immature. “Nature throughout the past has demanded that a people who seeks independence as well as peace can obtain these privileges only in one way – by being prepared to sacrifice their blood to secure them. Nature keeps her human orchards healthy by pruning; war is her pruning hook.” That was an ill‑chosen simile, for pruning is but a subsidiary function of war. What I should have said is, “War is the life preserver of nations.” An observant and thoughtful layman, Alfred Machin, in his Ascent of Man (1925), said this of war: “War between human societies corresponds largely to the struggle for existence in nature. And the arbitrament of war is final and decisive” (p. 171). In a later work, Darwin’s Theory Applied to Mankind (1937), he made this somber forecast: “Future wars . . twill be between whole peoples and the vital concern of every man and woman in the State. Every fit man will be a soldier of necessity” (p. 280).
At the end of this chapter I return to the problem posed as I began it: How can war, which deprives a nation of its flower of manhood, serve any salutary or evolutionary purpose whatsoever? Let us suppose for a moment that our young men and women had shared the pacific ideals which had been preached to them by so many of our men of letters and had refused to bear arms, and so left England open to the enemy. England would then have ceased to be the home of a free and independent nation ‑ the English as an evolutionary unit would have been erased from the map of Europe; their destiny would have passed into the hands of the enemy ‑ into the hands of Germany ‑ for a time at least. In war, then, a nation sacrifices its best blood in order that it may maintain its integrity and perpetuity, and so fulfills its destiny under the law of evolution. If it fails in this, then an end has come to its existence as a free evolutionary unit. Hitherto nations have lived under the tyranny of Nature’s law of evolution; the only escape is the substitution of “natural evolution”
by a “planned evolution,” administered by a central world government. To the feasibility of such a scheme I shall return. Meantime I should note that the writer who comes nearest to my conception of the evolutionary significance of a national war is Dr. C. R. Carpenter: “In defence . . . members of a group are killed, but the group survives and the species is perpetuated.”12
War, Evolution, and Race
ALTHOUGH IN 1915 BIOLOGISTS REFUSED TO SEE any evolutionary significance in the war then raging, it was otherwise with the lay mind, which at that time, and at earlier dates, interpreted events in Darwinian terms. When in 1914 the Hon. J. W. Fortescue published his Military History and defined war as “the strife of communities for self‑preservation or expansion, expressed through arms,” he was clearly speaking in terms of evolution. We see the same intention in Darwinism and Polities, published in 1891, by David G. Ritchie, a fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. “War,” said he, “is natural only in the sense of being the primitive form of the struggle between races and nations . . . not in the sense of something which ought to be.” “War,” said Walter Bagehot,1 “is the recurring competitive examination” between nations; “martial merit is real merit” (1865). Herbert Spencer, the pioneer in social evolution, although he detested war and hoped to see it abolished, admitted that the “preservation of society takes precedence of individual preservation.”2 President Theodore Roosevelt declared that “fear of national destruction will prompt men to do almost anything.”3 How evolutionary‑minded the great sociologist Gumplowicz was in 1898 may be learned from the following: “The state is responsible for the destiny of its subjects. . . . All reactions between states are determined by the law of self‑preservation . . . impelled
thereto by instinct. Pressure of population is the force which drives to war.”4 Leonardo da Vinci (1452‑1519), although he regarded war as “the most bestial madness,” yet admitted that it was “a means of offence and defence to preserve the chief gift of nature ‑ liberty.”5 By liberty he apparently meant “independence” ‑ national sovereignty. The direct relationship of “independence” to national evolution has already been discussed (Chapter 8).
Among recent authors who have regarded war as part of the machinery of evolution I would commend two books by my close friend of many years, Morley Roberts (1858‑1942) ‑ Biopolitics (1938) and the Behaviour of Nations (1941); Alfred Machin’s works have already been mentioned. I can cite very few professional names in my support. Professor M. R. Davie, in The Evolution of War (1929), defines war as “a contest by force between political groups arising from the competition for life” (p. 46). War, he thinks, may have been “beneficial and selective in primitive times” (p. 233), but not war under modern conditions. Another sociologist, Professor F. H. Hankins, wrote in 1931: “At the same time we may see in this spirit of clannishness both a consequence of, and an aid in, the group struggle for existence.”6 Professor Hankins regards war “as the greatest evil of the modern world.”
The Descent of Man appeared in 1871, just when Germany had brought France to her knees; yet Darwin had very little to say about modern war. Statements scattered in the text of the Descent7 permit us to see what his attitude was in regard to war. “The finest young men are taken by conscription or are enlisted. They are thus exposed to death during war . . . are prevented from marrying. . . feebler men are left at home . . . have a much better chance of propagating their kind” ( p. 207). Clearly he was of opinion that modern war did not enrich, but impoverished, the manhood of a nation; but nowhere does he consider
how a nation would fare if its men refused to make the supreme sacrifice. In another passage we read: “With highly civilized nations, continued progress depends in a subordinate degree on natural selection; for such nations do not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes” (p. 220). From this one infers that he regarded war as an effective factor only in tribal evolution. His most illuminating statement is to be found in the section of Descent which treats of sexual selection (p. 909):
Let us suppose the members of a tribe, practicing some form of marriage, to spread over an unoccupied continent; they would soon split up into distinct hordes, separated from each other by various barriers, and still more effectually by the incessant wars between all barbarous nations. . . . Thus the differences between tribes, at first very slight, would gradually and inevitably be more or less increased.
Here we note that Darwin emphasizes the importance of isolation as a factor in tribal (and human) evolution and the part which war plays in securing and in maintaining isolation ‑ the very same factors which started me thinking about the evolutionary effects of war in 1914. One other extract is necessary to complete an understanding of Darwin’s attitude to war; it is taken from his final summary (p. 945):
Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared he must remain subject to a severe struggle.
Now Darwin agreed with Malthus that “rapid multiplication” in numbers was one of the causes of war; hence this passage seems to me to imply that Darwin did not envisage a warless world. And yet, as we have seen from a passage already quoted (Chapter 13), Darwin’s humanitarianism was such that he eonceived it possible that man’s social sympathies might so expand as ultimately to take in “all nations and races.”
It was often said in 1914 that Darwin’s doctrine of evolution had bred war in Europe, particularly in Germany. An expression of this belief is still to be met with. In 1935 a committee of psychologists, representing thirty nations, issued a manifesto in
which it was stated that “war is the necessary outcome of Darwin’s theory.”8 Let us look into this matter in the briefest manner. Newton propounded the law of gravity to explain the events of the physical universe; Darwin formulated his law of evolution to explain happenings in the world of living things. It is because the law of gravity is valid that bombs descend on us; but no one dreams of holding Newton responsible for the mischief done. He discovered the law, but he did not create it. The law of evolution, as formulated by Darwin, provides an explanation of wars between nations, the only reasonable explanation known to me. The law was in existence, and wars were waged, for aeons of time before Darwin was born; he did not invent the law, he only made it known to his fellow men. Were our statesmen influenced by Darwinism in April 1939, when they gave an unconditional promise to Poland to come to her aid if attacked by Germany? Or was Hitler so influenced in June 1941, when he invaded Russia? Or Stalin, when in October 1942 he began on the Volga the great drive which thrust the invaders from the soil of Russia? No! They were the unconscious instruments of Darwin’s law.
We now return to a matter raised in the preceding chapter. If wars are evolutionary in their purpose, then they should be waged, not between nations, but between races. Anthropologists have sought to divide the population of Europe into three races: the dark Mediterraneans in the south; the round‑headed Alpines in the middle; and the fair Nordics in the north. Now, battle fronts are never formed across Europe between these racial zones; the nations which confront each other are drawn from one or more of the three zones. Therefore national wars can in no wise advance the interests of the races of Europe, and cannot, therefore, be evolutionary in their effects. This misconception of war is held not only by zoologists; it has permeated the educated English mind, as may be learned from the following quotation from a leader in The Times (July 1, 1940): “The nearest approach, in Mein Kampf, to a philosophy, other than the right of the stronger, is the theory of Nordic man, and even this is jettisoned in a war which ranges Germany with Italy against
Britain, Norway, and Holland.” The mistake made here is that war among social animals, as among men, is never waged by one species as a whole, but by isolated communities, tribes, or nations of that species, most frequently the opposing tribes being of the same race or species, or they may belong to different races or species.
That the conflict or struggle is between communities of the same species or race is emphasized by Darwin in The Descent of Man again and again:9 “It is no argument against savage man being a social animal, that the tribes inhabiting adjacent districts are almost always at war with each other; for the social instincts never extend to all the individuals of the same species” (p. 166). Again, on p. 150: “The social instincts . . . are by no means extended to all individuals of the same species, only to those of the same association.” A few pages later he again stresses this distribution: “Sympathy is directed solely towards members of the same community” (p. 163). The circumscription of tribal sympathies is again alluded to on p. 183: “The chief cause of the low morality of savages, as judged by our standards, are firstly the confinement of sympathy to the same tribe.” From this one may infer that Darwin regarded the practice of the cosmical code, which keeps tribes and nations apart, as evidence of “a low morality.”
The next point we have to note, if we are to understand Darwin’s scheme of human evolution, is the part played by tribes; they are his evolutionary units. “And natural selection arising from the competition of tribe with tribe . . . would, under favourable conditions, have sufficed to raise man to his present high position in the organic scale” (p. 97). The following passage explains how tribal selection brings about evolutionary change: “Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, and race with race” (p. 282). Instead of “race with race” I would have expected him to write “nation with nation,” for he has already explained that the contest never involves the whole species, but only the isolated communities or tribes which are its contesting teams. He was well aware that tribes had been fused into nations, as the following brief extract proves: “As man
advances into civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation.” We have seen (Chapter 26) that war is the instrument employed to bring about the union of tribes; it takes centuries after the first union has been affected for a single tribal spirit to embrace a whole nation. The point I seek to emphasize is that nations succeeded tribes as evolutionary units, and that what Darwin has said of tribes is also true of nations.
It may help to clinch the rightness of Darwin’s conception if I cite a few illustrative instances from the ancient world. Greeks fought among themselves with almost the same ferocity as they attacked the tribes they called barbarians. In pre‑Roman Italy, like and unlike peoples were at war with one another; the Celtic tribes of France, the Iberian tribes of Spain, the warlike tribes of Germany, the Celtic tribes of England, of Wales, of Scotland, and of Ireland were engaged in an internecine war. And yet I do think that wars waged between peoples which are of different race, especially if the physical differences are unmistakable, are not only more bitter but more lethal than wars between peoples of the same racial origin.
I have entered at some length into the theory of human evolution set forth by Darwin in The Descent of Man for several reasons. First, because most anthropologists have failed to grasp his conception; second, because his is the only theory which gives a rational explanation of war. War has been hitherto the ultimate means of settling the claims between evolutionary contestants, be they tribes, nations, commonwealths, or empires. Thirdly, to remove the misapprehension from the minds of those who deny the evolutionary nature of war, on the ground that nations of the same racial character may be on opposite sides, while peoples of quite different racial origin may fight side by side on the same front.
To remove all doubt under the latter head, let us note what happened when the First World War came to an end. France, Italy, Great Britain, the rising nationalities of Canada, of Australia, of New Zealand, of South Africa, racial representations
from India, and from Africa, Japan, and ultimately the United States of America, after having overthrown the might of Germany and her allies, returned each to their homes, each to resume their independent evolutionary careers. All obtained what they fought for ‑ security; some added to their patrimony. If Germany and her partners had won, the evolutionary face of the world would have been transformed. Or take the war that rages now (1943). Along the thousand‑mile Russian front, Russians, Ukrainians, Turkomans, Uzbegs, Kazakhs, and Mongols fight side by side. When victory comes, as come it will, all who survive the ordeal of war will return to their respective homes, feeling, no doubt, that the bonds with the mother Soviet have been strengthened. And so with the numerous national and racial units which are now fighting under the British flag; they are fighting to secure their home destinies. It is not the United Nations, but Germany and Japan, who are fighting to redraw the racial map of the world. War has become a means of obtaining collective racial security.
One important matter bearing on the classification of human races I shall merely touch upon now; it will come up for fuller consideration later. It is this: When anthropologists seek to discriminate human races by the methods used by zoologists, they forget that man differs from all other animals in a very essential respect. Animals have no names for their families and races; they are passive in the hands of the zoologists, and are even unconscious of the names given to them. With man it is different; he is the self‑naming animal. Every tribal child soon learns the name of his tribe; that, for him, is his race, no matter how decisively the anthropologist thrusts a technical name upon him. When Jonah was asked by the Phoenician sailors, “Of what people art thou?” he replied, “I am an Hebrew.” Were we to ask the same question of natives of Spain, or Italy, or of Greece, they would reply, not that they were of the Mediterranean race, but that they were Spaniard, Italian, or Greek, as the case might be. For nations are incipient races.
Man’s Enmity Complex and Its Role in His Evolution
WE HAVE BEEN APPROACHING THE PROBLEM OF war by degrees. In Chapters 24 and 25 we considered war from an ethical point of view and found it necessary to recognize that man’s behavior is regulated by a dual code of morals ‑ the ethical and cosmical codes ‑ which, although antagonistic in their action, yet co‑operate in bringing about evolutionary changes. Man’s warlike behavior is dominated by the cosmical code. Then, in Chapters 26 and 27, we discussed the relationship of war to civilization, and found that, although these two are antagonistic in their aims, yet it was civilization which had armed modern war and made it so formidable. Then, in Chapter 28, we compared the Christian code with the cosmical code and inferred that they were irreconcilable; yet so compelling is the cosmical code that layman and priest alike, when the crisis of war is upon them, accept it as a rule of behavior. In the last two chapters (29, 30) we have approached the problem of war from an altogether different point of view ‑ that of the student of man’s evolution. I have explained the circumstances which drew me into the study of war and how the conviction grew on me that it is, or at least had been, part of the machinery which brought about man’s evolution. Then, having cleared away a misapprehension concerning the relationship of race to war, I have reached the present point, which is to discuss the origin and characteristics of what is usually called man’s “fighting instinct,” but which, for reasons to be given presently, I prefer to speak of as man’s “enmity complex.” The enmity complex is an essential and important element of man’s mental nature; it is the executor of the cosmical code and the actuator of war. In order that we may observe the enmity complex at work I propose to reconstruct and bring before my readers an “evolutionary unit” ‑ an isolated tribe of humanity such as still survives in outlying parts of the earth and which was universal in those days when man was
dependent for a livelihood on what fell from the wild table of Nature.
Before entering on this part of my task I think it will help me in explaining certain tribal attributes if I first cite observations recorded by some of my predecessors. Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), a Darwinian‑minded man of letters, in his Life of Hobbes, said this of war: “From war proceed slaughter, solitude, and the want of all things. All men know these things to be evil; why then do wars continue? Because men do not know the causes of war and peace” (p. 85). Stephen’s observation, to my way of thinking, is still valid. I had in my portfolio’s notes made from fifty‑eight authors who have written recently on war; hardly two of them agreed as to the cause of war; altogether twenty‑six different causes are cited. Multiplicity of cause is usually a measure of ignorance. It is my hope that the method I am now pursuing may lessen our degree of ignorance.
Among the characters which I attribute to the representative tribe I am about to introduce to my readers there are two which demand emphasis: these are its social isolation and its demarcated territory. Malthus (1766‑1834), Darwin’s forerunner, shows in his Essay on Population that he was aware of the isolated or “closed” condition of tribes and of nations, as illustrated by the following passage: “A savage tribe in America, surrounded by enemies, or a civilized and populous nation hemmed in by others, is in the same state . . . as islanders.”1 More to the point is an excerpt from an address given in 1921 by the late Sir Baldwin Spencer (1860‑1929), who, more than any other investigator, made known to us how the aboriginal tribes of Australia live, move, and have their being. “The extraordinary number of tribes,” he said, “each with its own dialect and occupying its own country, is one of the most difficult things to explain in Australian Ethnology.”2 And yet if he had turned to a book which must have been on his study shelves, Darwin and After Darwin, by G. J. Romanes (1897), he might have read this, set
out in large type: “WITHOUT ISOLATION OR THE PREVENTION OF FREE INTERCROSSING, ORGANIC EVOLUTION IS IN NO CASE POSSIBLE” (p. 145). The tribal conditions, described by Spencer, in Australia present the students of human evolution with a paradise; they are the conditions which I postulated when I set out on my preliminary inquiries in 1910. They are not peculiar to Australia, but prevail among tribal communities in every part of the earth. But not even Romanes guessed that tribal isolation is produced and maintained by a psychological instrument; for the cosmical code, the ordinance of tribal isolation, is dictated by centers lodged in the most ancient parts of the brain.
The representative tribe I am now to introduce to my readers numbers 400 souls ‑ men, women, and children ‑ made up of a score of “extended” families. The tribe is endogamous. Our representative tribe is an inbreeding unit ‑ tribal opinion is adamant on this point. The territory occupied by our tribe, toward which it nurses a jealous affection, measures twenty miles long and twenty miles broad, and thus contains four hundred square miles, being an allowance of one square mile per head, which implies that our tribe occupies a fertile hunting country. Our tribe has thus four frontiers, on each of which it marches with a neighboring tribe.
At the moment of survey our central tribe is at peace with all its neighbors; why, then, does it maintain its aloofness, its separation, its independence? To preserve its isolation demands a continual vigilance; why does it not abandon its vigilance and fuse with its neighbors? If it does so, then the particular stock of seeds or genes of which the tribe is the trustee is scattered, and thus an evolutionary experiment which, if it had gone on, might have aided in the “ascent of man” is brought to a premature end. “Nature has not entrusted the preservation of the race to precarious will or intention of those most closely concerned,” said the wise Scottish philosopher Adam Ferguson;3 and so it is with the preservation of a tribe. Fear is the tribal sentinel. Fear the oldest and most universal of protective mechanisms ‑ fear, which becomes manifested by every human child before the end
of its third month, is called into play whenever the integrity, welfare, or perpetuation of tribal life is threatened. Tribal extermination is the greatest dread of the tribal mind. Fear, we shall find, is the basis of the enmity complex. The cosmical code is rooted in fear.4
Our tribe and its neighbors are outwardly at peace. Each tribe is dominated by the dual code. A core of social unity is secured by ethical behavior; a cosmical crust serves as an isolating armament. Even at peace, fear is not asleep; it peers out in a hundred ways. Tribal eyes are wakeful, tribal ears are credulous, tribal minds are suspicious. Toward its neighbors our tribe has an aversion – an unsleeping dislike, a silent animosity, a distrust, even a contempt. There is no neutrality in the tribal mind. Every stranger met with is judged by either the ethical or the cosmical code; there is no neutral space between the two codes where tolerance might hold sway. Animosity between our tribe and its neighbors is intensified by individual blood feuds. Here we see fear pass into resentment, resentment into revenge, and revenge into “wild justice.” Magical practices also serve to keep tribes apart; when our young tribesmen go headhunting the objective is primarily magical.
I have been describing the behavior of our tribe in times of peace. Let me now turn to it when it has been roused to war. We have here an opportunity of noting how the enmity complex is brought into action. Collective tribal fear, arising from an imminent danger to tribal existence, serves to arouse and arm the enmity complex. Animal societies are equipped with fear for their preservation; but human fear? in the results it produces, reaches a magnitude unknown in the animal world. In our tribesman, fear rises into a vast field of consciousness in which are pictured the present, the past, and the future. As it rises it has at its command an army of emotions, feelings, and passions which it sets in urgent motion. Unlike the animal, man knows what death means. Human fear, too, is vocable; it can be conveyed from mind to mind by words. Tribal fear is contagious. Fear places the cosmical code in command and arms
it with the feelings, passions, and actions which make man a fighter.
Fear, then, having been aroused in our tribesman’s mind by a sudden threat to his home or tribe, quickly passes into resentment; resentment into anger; anger forces the will into that state of resolution which is called courage; courage moves to action, to defense. The feeling of exaltation, evoked by situations of the greatest peril, gives courage absolute mastery of the warrior’s will. The instinct of self‑preservation, the most powerful of all
individual impulses, is cast out, and our tribesman, urged onward by the fanatical power of his courage, risks or gives his life in order that his tribe may live. In this state of warlike exaltation there is pressed into action a passion to destroy, to kill, to exterminate the enemy, to terrify him by acts of cruelty and of inhumanity. It may be, if danger is more distant, that anger passes, not into immediate resolution and action, but into that delayed form of anger which is called hate. Hate, under the guidance of reason, awaits relief in an act of retaliation. Such, then, is the enmity complex with which our tribesman is armed; it is rooted in fear and becomes manifest in resentment, hate, anger, resolution, courage, action, destruction, cruelty, murder, or heroism. It must also be borne in mind that in all emergencies tribal needs are given an instinctive precedence over those of the individual.
Fear is the expectation of evil, of injury, of death. In our tribesman’s armory there is a balancing presentiment or expectation ‑ the expectation of good, of help, of survival, of life ‑ the sentiment of hope. The odds against our warrior may be so overwhelming that there is no hope; only despair or abject fear. “His heart melts; his hands become feeble; his spirit faints; his knees weak as water.”5 He throws his arms down and submits himself to the will of the conqueror, his tribal enemy. Or he and his fellows may take to flight. In either case the tribe is broken and its evolutionary life is ended.
Let us turn to another aspect of tribal warfare. Let us suppose our tribe, which we have observed fighting on the defensive, to have entered on a period of prosperity, with swelling
numbers and a growing confidence in tribal power. A neighboring tribe owns a tract of country which would meet the needs of our tribe. Our tribe turns to the offensive and invades the coveted territory. In this case the enmity complex is aroused and called in, not by an expectation of evil‑fear ‑ but by an expectation of good ‑ that is, of hope. This powerful expectation is backed by one of the most compelling of human passions – ambition. Ambition sways tribes as well as individuals. Ambition has in its retinue several accessory but potent passions ‑ viz., emulation, jealousy, envy, and avarice. The master passion, ambition, and its attendant passions make up what may be called the “competitive complex.” When the competitive complex of a tribe is thwarted, it summons to its aid the enmity complex and, in the state of emotional exaltation which ensues, forces the tribal will and so dominates tribal action. The tribe is now in the throes of an emotional war fever.
How strong the competitive spirit is in men may be learned from the zeal with which the public of Britain and America follow the fate of league teams engaged in a vast variety of competitive games. Some teams are spurred on by the fear of relegation; others are spurred by the hope of advancement. Tribes are evolutionary teams engaged in the greatest of earthly league games ‑ the game in which the pawns are lives. War is the final arbiter in settling their position in the evolutionary league. Some fight from fear ‑ fear of relegation from the evolutionary struggle; others to advance their position in that struggle.
I have mentioned the state of exaltation which takes possession of tribesmen when the war fever is on them. It is blind to reason; it is overmastering. It is of the same kind as the crisis which seizes a mother when she sees her child in peril; under its influence she risks or gives her life to save it. When men fear that their tribal or national cradles are in danger, the war fever takes hold of them.
In this chapter I have sought to trace war to two complexes which are instinctive inmates of every normal human brain. The inward activities of these complexes ‑ the competitive complex and the enmity complex ‑ make their outward manifestations in contest, in struggle, and ultimately in brutal war. These complexes
are the essential parts of the machinery which has given the world its surviving tribes and races. War is the instrument of these complexes, and is therefore evolutionary in origin and in nature. What I have said of war between tribes is also true of war between nations, for nations are in the scheme of evolution, and lineal successors of tribes. The aphorism which Aristotle enunciated twenty‑three centuries ago still holds true: “Those who cannot face danger are the slaves of those who can.”
As a tailpiece to this essay I shall introduce a passage from the “Essay on Justice” by David Hume (1711‑76). He is describing human nature in the Golden Age of the poets:
Tempests were not alone removed from nature; but those more furious tempests were unknown to human breasts which now cause such uproar, and engender confusion. Avarice, ambition, cruelty, selfishness, were never heard of; cordial affection, compassion, sympathy, were the only movements with which the mind was acquainted.6
Hume, it will be noticed, excluded from Utopia the two principal factors of the competitive complex ‑ ambition and avarice. The exclusion of these two ensured that Utopia was to enjoy perpetual peace.
The Evolution of Patriotism and of War
IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTER, WHILE PORTRAYING the isolated life of a representative tribe, I emphasized the fact that it lived, moved, and had its being within a demarcated area of land ‑ its territory. Surrounding tribes are similarly situated; thus we have a series of human communities living and evolving side by side yet remaining apart. My attention was first drawn to the relationship of tribes to territory during the investigations I began in 1916.1 My search of the literature then available
brought me no exception to the rule, “Every tribe has its own demarcated territory or homeland.” I found, too, that tribesmen were bound to their land by a strange prejudice ‑ a peculiar affection, often regarded as of a sacred nature. Tribesmen look on their land as a part of the life of their tribe: as indeed it is. This attachment to the soil is part of an emotional exaltation which induces a tribesman to believe his people are “the People”; to boast of his tribe, to be jealous of its name, fame, and welfare; and prompts him to give his life for it, should occasion arise. To this bundle of prejudices which leads a man to exalt his tribe, and all that belongs to it, we give the name ‑ patriotism. Territory and patriotism, we shall discover, lie at the very root of war.
When I made my preliminary survey of tribal life I labored under the misapprehension that territory and patriotism were peculiar to human societies. Mr. H. Eliot Howard had not then published his observations on territory in bird life;2 nor had the late Dr. Tate Regan made us familiar with the fact that each race of fish has its homeland in the waters and at the bottom of seas.3 As observations accumulated it became apparent that “territorialism ‑ isolation” was an effective agency in the evolution of all kinds of living things, particularly of animals which live in social groups. My friend Dr. Walter Heape, who made such important contributions to our knowledge of the “rut” or sexual season of mammals, devoted the latter years of his life (he died in 1929, at the age of seventy‑four) to bringing together observations, which had been published, on “Territorialism,” and also on “Migration” and “Emigration,” in animals. After his death his papers were edited by Dr. Marshall and published in 1931.4 Dr. Heape distinguished three sorts of territory: (a) home territory, “essentially associated with the deposition of eggs, or parturition, and with the rearing of young”; (b) hunting territory, “common to the whole species. Rights of ownership over
such territory . . . are guarded against interlopers and fought for by the owners”; (c) neutral territory, “where families or colonies of widely different species will live amicably together.” The blackbird which I saw fly out from the hedge under my study window in the early summer to attack a marauding cat and so save her brood of nestlings was fighting for her home territory. My dog, who makes war on all strange dogs which come within my (his) gates, is moved by the ancient instinct given him to guard his home territory. Outside this territory his behavior changes; he is then on neutral territory. Had he been a member of a pack of wild dogs, he would have shared with the pack in the ownership of a hunting territory and would have taken his part in the defense of that territory.
Man’s sense of territory differs from that of all other animals in three respects: (a) Its exact boundaries are part of the knowledge which every tribesman absorbs in childhood: frontier stones, bushes, trees, and rivulets have a name and a place in his memory. (b) Home territory and hunting territory are one. (c) There is no neutral territory. To (c), however, there are certain exceptions. Readers will recall the case of the Biblical patriarchs; they seem to have had the right to lead their herds and flocks over many lands at certain seasons of the year. Arab tribesmen still retain the right to leave their home territories and drive their flocks to pasturage in lands which lie to the east of Palestine. Kirghiz pastoralists, whose home territories are in central Asia, to the west of the Tien Shan range, seek summer grazing in northern steppes, a thousand miles from their true home.
Dr. Heape summed up the result of his inquiry into territorialism in the following words (p. 74):
There can be no doubt that the desire for the acquisition of a definite territorial area, the determination to hold it by fighting, if necessary, and the recognition of the individual as well as of tribal territorial rights by others, are dominant characteristics in all animals. In fact it may be held that the recognition of territorial rights, one of the most significant attributes of civilization, was not evolved by man but has ever been an inherent factor in the life history of all animals.
With the opinions thus expressed by Dr. Heape I am in complete agreement. We have to recognize, then, that the conditions
which give rise to war ‑ the separation of animals into social groups, the “right” of each group to its own area, and the evolution of an enmity complex to defend such areas ‑ were on the earth long before man made his appearance. These three factors form part of the machinery of evolution.
Seeing the relationship in which man stands to anthropoid apes, it was natural for me, during my inquiries of 1916,5 to seek among them for the three factors just mentioned. Although I had lived in the jungles of Siam from 1889 until 1892, and was familiar with the troops of gibbons and of semnopithecs of the districts in which I was stationed, yet I never noted the limits of their wanderings, for I was then ignorant of the part played by territory and group separation in the evolution of new breeds. My evidence for the localization of anthropoid groups in 1916 was based, not on direct observation. but on the fact that in all four kinds of anthropoids ‑ gorillas, chimpanzees, orangs, and gibbons ‑ local varieties occurred; such could not have arisen if groups wandered indiscriminately hither and thither. Since 1916 our knowledge of the life led by anthropoid apes in their native jungles has been greatly increased; biologists in America have led the way. Dr. C. R. Carpenter of Columbia University and Dr. H. K. Coolidge of Harvard University were members of an expedition which set out in 1937 to study gibbon life in the jungles of Siam and of neighboring countries. Later Dr. Coolidge reported: “Each group of gibbons has its own territory in which it lives.”6 Mr. Carpenter “mapped the estates of eleven different groups.”7 He also observed that if one group was in possession of a tree, no other group of the same species joined it. Although they fight “frequently and savagely,” open strife between two neighboring groups is not actually seen. “Gibbons hang and strike with feet or hands so swiftly that
you cannot even see the blows, let alone dodge them . . . they will swoop or dive from a perch, inflict a deep gash with their canines, and be gone before one sees what has happened.” Thus we learn that the most primitive of living anthropoids, one whose descent is traced from the same basal stock as gave rise to man, lives in a home territory; and although at most times gentle and capable of affection, yet can, on the sudden, become a fierce fighter.
When we seek to visualize the social conditions under which dawning humanity lived, it is not to the small anthropoids we should go, but to the great ‑ the gorilla and chimpanzee of the jungle‑covered areas of tropical Africa and to the orang of Borneo-Sumatra. We shall concentrate on the gorilla, for on the whole he stands nearest to man, although the chimpanzee is the more manlike in sociability and size of group. Numerous additions have been made in recent years to our knowledge of the kind of life led by the gorilla in his native haunts.8 The group, apparently of the nature of a family, is a small one, being made up of father ‑ a patriarchal male ‑ two or three wives, and four or five children at various stages of growth. Each group represents a stable or “closed” association, with, however, one important exception: The patriarch’s leadership may be challenged by a rising young male ‑ presumably his son; in the fight which follows, father or son is turned out to become a wander male which, it is presumed, may form a new group by seducing the allegiance of females from neighboring groups. That is guesswork, but the evidence that each group confines its wanderings to a definite area of jungle is trustworthy.9 From the sleeping place of one night to that of the next night is a distance of only two or three miles; between these points the animals spend the day filling their capacious stomachs with a rough vegetarian dietary, bamboo shoots being a staple article. The male gorilla is the king
of primates; no son of woman is his match in strength, in muscle, or in a wrestling bout. Some have described him as peaceable; others as ferocious. Both descriptions are true. He is peaceable as long as his life and that of his group are not threatened. This is what Prince William of Sweden had to say of the Kivu, or Highland gorilla of the eastern Congo: “They generally fly before men, and only turn when wounded. The only gorilla I shot rushed at me with lightning speed before I had fired. I believe this was to defend his retreating comrades.”10 This may be accepted as representative of the opinion of those who have studied or hunted the gorilla in his native habitat. The male gorilla is a warrior, but never an aggressor; purely a defender. If the way is open for a retreat, he retreats. If not, then fear brings into being a most powerful enmity complex. His face and body become armed with an intimidating ferocity: anger passes into rage; rage into a fury of destructive action. Here, then, in a species which is near to the human line of descent, we have two of the factors which go to the making of war ‑ a social breeding group to be defended, and a warlike defender. The third factor is missing ‑ the aggressor. No gorilla group has ever been seen to attack another group. Aggression is coupled with competition. There is no intergroup competition in Gorillaland; there is room for all and to spare. There is an easy intergroup equilibrium such as we find between the tribes of aborigines in Australia.
I have said that open conflict between anthropoid groups has not as yet been observed. Dr. C. R. Carpenter, who has done more than anyone to place our interpretation of primate behavior on a scientific basis, has witnessed conflicts between groups or clans of howlers, a genus of New World monkeys. He spent eight months on an island reserve where clans of howlers were free to lead their natural lives.11 He noted that when a “clan gets out to the edge of its territory, it becomes slowed up from unfamiliarity with the roads, and a good deal of milling about and frustration results, so that it eventually turns back to the known pathways and haunts. . . . Different clans, as a rule, avoid
contact, but when they do come close, the males advance and howl at each other. These combats rarely end in real tooth‑and-nail encounters. After a while both clans retreat. There is little or no competition for feeding places.”12 Such, then, are the border forays between clans of howler monkeys; in them lies the incipient stage of true war. Patient and prolonged observation is likely to discover similar group clashes throughout the whole order of primates.
Dr. Carpenter was able to throw a new and important light on the manner in which group boundaries are determined by monkey communities.13 He had access to a small island in the West Indies where colonies of the Rhesus monkey, or macaque of India, have been imported and now run wild. Each group is led by one or more males which have fought their way from the ranks to a position of “dominance.” When the dominant male of a group was trapped and removed, “the territorial range of the group was markedly restricted. The group organization became more fluid and there was an increase of intra‑group fights.” Thus, among apes, territory is determined, not by settled landmarks, but by prowess. Such fluid frontiers must be a source of constant conflict.
Dr. Carpenter also established another point which seems of high importance to such as regard isolation of a group as a condition necessary for its natural evolution. If members of a group were free to change their allegiance, strict isolation would come to an end. Dr. Carpenter followed the fate of several young males who sought entrance to a new group; only by the most persistent and solicitous endeavors were they ever successful. “Gate‑crashing” females were usually killed. H. O. Forbes14 relates the case of a captive gibbon which was released in a Sumatran jungle near a wild troop of her own species: she was driven away. Here, then, we find separation of groups of monkeys and of apes being maintained by the same instinctive reactions as keep apart tribes and nations of mankind; the
enmity complex, the servant of the cosmical code, is the agent employed.
A monkey group, as portrayed by Dr. Carpenter, is a highly organized society of intolerant individuals. The young, when they escape from maternal supervision, have to establish a relationship with every other member of their group. Each knows the others. Place and rank are settled by individual prowess, prowess won and lost by vigorous use of nail and tooth. In a monkey group, as in a human tribe, behavior is regulated by the dual code. But there is this difference: in a monkey group the ethical code is masked by the strength of the cosmical code. Ruthless competition is a manifestation of the cosmical code. In a monkey group the competitive spirit is so largely expended in settling the individual status of the members of the group that there is only a minor share left over to continue the struggle between groups. In a human tribe the incidence of the competitive spirit is reversed; individual competition is suppressed in order that the intertribal struggle may be fortified. Herein we obtain some light on the intensity of human warfare.
In this essay I have carried the search for the beginnings of war into the order of animals of which man is a member ‑ the order of primates. Among the lower members of the order we have not encountered actual war, but we have found a group organization and a group mentality which carry m them the seeds of war. The conditions were set for war in a prehuman world. Dr. Carpenter knew nothing of my investigations and I knew nothing of his, yet we arrived at the same result.
Those activities [wrote Dr. Carpenter in 1942]15 which are ethically accepted, such as altruism, strong emotional affection, and cooperation, are attributed to man’s higher intellectual processes, if not to superhuman origins. The naturalistic approach to the study of human behavior, competitive and co‑operative, egoistic and antagonistic, have roots at a prehuman level. . . . Defensive actions may involve the close co‑ordination of all group members in a concerted attack. In these attacks, individuals are killed, but this is incidental to the fact that the group survives and the species is perpetuated.
War as Practiced by Tribal Groups of Primitive Humanity
IN THIS CHAPTER, AS IN THE LAST, WE ARE IN search of the beginnings of organized war. In our visit to the tropical jungles of Africa we found man’s nearest congeners, the gorilla and chimpanzee, living in small separate communities, which instinctively maintained their isolation, and, when in situations of extreme danger, were defended by the ferocity of their males; but we found no evidence that a group of anthropoids ever became aggressive and sought to injure or exterminate another group by attack. We are now to dive into the heart of the continent of Australia to seek for manifestations of warlike behavior among such tribes of the aborigines as still retain their seclusion, or did so when observations were made on them. I may say at once we shall find no evidence that any tribe of aborigines ever made aggressive, deliberate, or organized war on another tribe,1 and yet we shall find in the mentality of the aborigines, in a latent or in an active state, all those passions which lie at the root of “organized warfare.”
Before we visit Australian tribes, in search of the beginnings of human warfare, it may be well to review certain circumstances relating to the history of their race and of their homeland; for circumstances connected with these will, I think, enhance the interest of our search. The evidence is now such that we are justified in tracing the descent of the aborigines of Australia from the early Pleistocene fossil men of Java, the type which was named by its discoverer, Eugene Dubois, Pithecanthropus; and that they and their dog, the dingo, have been the sole mammalian occupants of Australia for many thousands of years. No doubt the aborigines have had cultural contacts with the
outside world, but it is among them rather than in any other surviving primitive people that we are most likely to find the warring ways of early man.2
The second matter that I want to call to mind is the Australia of Captain Cook’s day and the reception which he met with when, on April 27, 1770, he landed at Botany Bay.
“They sailed to the northward, where they discovered several people on the shore. They brandished their weapons and threw themselves into threatening attitudes. . . . The people in the boats now landed, imagining that the wound which this man had received would put an end to the contest; in this, however, they were mistaken, for he immediately returned with a kind of shield, and advancing with great intrepidity, both the assailant and his companion discharged their lances at the boat’s crew.”
We know, although Captain Cook did not, that this hostile reception was brought on his party because it had broken a fundamental law of tribal Australia; it had entered the territory of a tribe without first having asked for, and obtained, permission. Nor could he have guessed, as we have learned since his time, that the whole continent, nearly three million square miles in extent, was a mosaic of such territories, not one of which could be entered except at risk of life unless the ceremony, due before admission, had been gone through. It is worth our pains to try to form a rough estimate of the size and number of tribes and territories throughout the continent. The number of aborigines in Captain Cook’s time is usually estimated at 250,000, probably an underestimate. Taking one tribe with another, the average tribe may be given 100 souls. These numbers imply that there were 2,500 tribes, each occupying its own demarcated territory. Professor Griffith Taylor has estimated that half of the continent is desert steppe; only one fifth is to be regarded as good land.3 A tribe of 100 aborigines requires 100 square miles of good land for sustenance; the same size of tribe in the barren blocks may need 30,000 square miles. The Aruntu tribe, in central
Australia, which numbered 2,000, occupied a territory equal in area to England and Wales combined. Within these separate territories tribes have shaped their evolutionary destinies for endless ages. Our present business is to ascertain what part war has played in shaping these destinies and what kind of war prevailed.
The third preliminary matter on which I want to touch is the peril now threatening the white Dominion of Australia. As I write, on the last day of November 1943, news surges home to us daily from the fighting front which has been established for nearly two years now in the archipelago of lands stretching along the northern horizon of Australia. Japan has seized, and proposes to retain, all the lands and seas which lie between her own shores and those of the great southern continent. By land, by sea, and by air, men of Australia and of America are engaged in the stiff and bloody business of ejecting her from these southern strongholds. Modern war is being waged with the most destructive of weapons, backed by daring, skill, courage, and unhesitating self‑sacrifice. Modern warfare has been brought to the threshold of Australia. It is very different from the war practiced by the aborigines. It is our business to ascertain how and why the one kind of war became transmuted into the other.
Our first guide to Australian tribal life is Sir Baldwin Spencer (1860‑1929), who, while holding the chair of zoology in the University of Melbourne, began (1895) to spend his vacations among the tribes of the central area. There he was joined by the Resident Magistrate, Mr. F. J. Gillen. After nearly twenty years of experience, Sir Baldwin gave the following definition of a tribe:4 “A tribe is a group of individuals speaking a common dialect, differing in the nature of its words from that of other groups, and regarded as owning a definite tract of country, the boundaries of which are known to them and recognized by the members of other tribes.” He omits from his definition a circumstance of great evolutionary significance ‑ namely, that a tribe is an inbreeding unit. A boundary across which there is free marriage is not a tribal boundary. This omission, however,
does not concern us now; we are in search of the conditions which lead to warlike conduct. “The real test of a tribal territory,” Sir Baldwin adds, “is that a tribesman may wander over the country owned by his tribe.” No one else may do so unless he has waited patiently on the frontier and, after due ceremony, has been formally invited to enter. All authorities agree that everywhere throughout tribal Australia uninvited strangers are killed at sight. Here we have displayed before us the same instinctive animosity which compels anthropoid groups to exclude strangers from their communities. Societies of primitive humanity, like those of apes, are “closed”; the only legitimate entry is by birth.
The native is not afraid of the physical violence of the enemy, but he does fear “the evil magic of another tribe; hence the suspicion and distrust between tribes.” And as the native attributes every death in his immediate group to magic practiced by an enemy tribe, and accepts as a sacred ordinance the duty of avenging it, there arise between tribes vendettas which serve to stir up mutual animosities between them and so preserve tribal separation and integrity.
All authorities agree with Spencer and Gillen that a whole tribe never makes a concerted attack upon another tribe; only a local group of one tribe attacks the local group of another tribe, and indiscriminate slaughter is unknown. There is scarcely an instance of seizure of territory; every territory is inhabited by the ancestral spirits of its tribe, so manifestly it could not serve as a home for an enemy tribe. “There is no such thing,” wrote Spencer and Gillen, “as one tribe being in a constant state of enmity with another tribe.”5 Mutual animosity, however, is sufficiently intense to keep tribes apart, for I have found no record of a frontier being obliterated by fusion of two tribes.
We have been discussing tribal life in central Australia. Let us now glance at the mode of living pursued by the Keriera tribe of western Australia. Its ways were studied in 1913 by Professor A. Radcliffe Brown.6 He found that the Keriera had a name of its own, a language of its own, and a territory of its
own. As is usual in all regions of the continent, the Keriera is broken up into local groups, each group occupying its own particular part of the tribal territory. When strife arose, only local groups were involved; never the whole tribe. “A man could not exchange his group; just as his country belonged to him so he belonged to it.” Every Keriera child was related to every other member of the tribe; if a “stranger” was not a relative, he was an enemy. Here again we meet with strict tribal isolation, and yet there was no organized war. Notwithstanding, the men of all of these native peoples carry weapons; they kill game and occasionally each other.
Only in the northern parts of Australia which point toward New Guinea do we find men of a fighting, bloodthirsty spirit; they provide the continent with a protective shield from the outside world. Their mode of killing cannot be accounted “organized warfare.” In Queensland, as elsewhere, every tribe, even the nomadic, has its own territory. Dr. Donald F. Thomson gave (1989) a description of a “nomadic” tribe in northern Queensland which should help to remove a prevalent misconception.7 “Too often the nomadic movements of such a people have been regarded as merely aimless or random wanderings; it cannot be emphasized too strongly that these movements are each circumscribed and conducted within well‑defined limits and definitely related to a seasonal food supply.” The tribe owns the land it wanders over, and the children of the tribe inherit it. We see, then, that throughout the whole continent each tribe has its homeland, is sovereign within it, will fight to defend it, but never fights to extend it.
The aborigines are not destitute of a fighting spirit; every boy, as he attains youth, has to pass through the secret and sacred ordeals of initiation, in the course of which he is “sworn in” to be loyal to the elders of his tribe, to observe its customs, particularly those which relate to tribal revenge. The youths of a Queensland tribe ‑ the Yuins ‑ “were exhorted to put away childish things, to show no fear or surprise at anything, to quit them like men.”8 In these injunctions there is no trace of pacifism.
“Most of the children’s games,” reports Dr. Cleland, “are directed towards practical purposes. Thus sheets of bark may be hurled at each other and dexterously avoided in preparation for the combats of adult life. A mimic battle took place between a group of small boys and some of the younger men, the weapons being firm stems of grasses.”9
How different, how fierce, was the warfare which Captain Cook observed in New Zealand between the Maori tribes, compared with that our survey has met with in Australia. In February 1777 Captain Cook reports of the Maori people:
“From my own observations, and from the information of Taweiharooa and others, it appears to me that the New Zealanders must live under perpetual apprehensions of being destroyed by each other; there being few of their tribes that have not, as they think, sustained wrong from some other tribe, which they are continually upon the watch to revenge. One hardly ever finds a New Zealander off his guard, either by night or by day. . . . Their contentions are perpetual; for it appears from their number of weapons, and dexterity in using them, that war is their principal profession.”
If we could explain why the warlike behavior of the Maoris of New Zealand differed from that of the aborigines of Australia we should be on the way to solve the problem of war, or at least an important stage in the evolution of war. The more primitive tribe ‑ the Australian ‑ was presided over by the older men, the council of elders, and was organized for peace rather than for war. The more evolved tribe ‑ the Maori ‑ was led by a chief, and its organization permitted an easy mobilization for war. Between the Australian tribes there was (and is) a state of easy equilibrium; there is no intertribal struggle, no strenuous competition. The process of evolution, as among the anthropoids, was permitted to drift along, not forced along, by intergroup strife. Among the Maori tribes there were rivalry, fierce competition, and endless struggle; evolution was quickened by the application of naked brutal physical force ‑ war. Now, these striking differences in the tribal behavior of Australians and of Maoris I regard as outward manifestations of an inborn difference in
their mentalities. The Australian lineage we have traced to an ancient type evolved in Java and subsequently shaped in the seclusion of its continent. The Maori type, on the other hand, was evolved in the open competition of tribal Asia; from the eastern seaboard of that continent the Maoris fought their way southward through the islands of the Pacific, ultimately reaching New Zealand. It was not a difference in their tribal organization that made the Australian tribe defensive in its behavior and the Maori offensive; the difference in their tribal organization reflected an inherited difference in their mentalities. That inherited difference became manifest in the nineteenth century, when both became enveloped in the invading, competitive, Anglo‑Saxon civilization. The noncompetitive natives of Australia crumbled before the invasion, while the competitive-minded Maori reacted and ultimately held its own.
Dr. H. K. Fry has had exceptional opportunities of observing the mentality of the Australian aborigines in their native haunts.10 He noted that “parental feelings are strong; children are indulged and seldom punished.” Filial devotion to aged parents is also strongly developed. There is an intense reverence for sacred ceremonies, legends, and objects. This sentiment is the basis for the prestige of the old men, who are the living repositories of the sacred lore. Whether food be scarce or plentiful, they share it. The ethical core of an aboriginal group is ever present and vigorous ‑ very different from the unmannerly individual squabble which makes up the core of an anthropoid group. The intergroup competition, although more strenuous than in the anthropoid world, is nonaggressive. Captain Trench,11 who made his observations in early days (1793), noted the “intrepidity of the natives, their levity, their passionate extravagance. . . . They are indeed sudden and quick in quarrel, but if their resentment is easily roused, their thirst for revenge is not implacable.” In their easily roused passions, inconsequent conduct, and in their quick change from anger to appeasement, they recall the behavior of lower primates. Between the Maori
groups, on the other hand, competition is fierce; hate is fostered and impels tribes along their evolutionary course.
In this essay I have sought to trace man’s warlike mentality back to the instinctive reactions which keep social groups of apes of the same species apart. War has thus a long pedigree and is part of an evolutionary complex ‑ the enmity complex. Between the manifestations of this complex in a group of gorillas and those we have met with in a group of Australian aborigines are many missing stages ‑ stages we must postulate, for we cannot hope to meet them in life. Between the warlike behavior of an Australian tribe and that of a Maori tribe there are also many stages, but these we shall meet with when we come to survey the peoples of New Guinea and Melanesia. To pass from the Maori stage to that represented by war between modern nations is not difficult, for all intermediate stages are still to be found in diverse regions of the earth.
The Coming of Fierce War and Its Effects on Human Evolution
TO STUDY A PEOPLE AMONG WHOM FIERCE AND bloody war had long been endemic, we turn now to the continent of Asia; to that part which is inhabited by Mongolian tribes ‑ Outer Mongolia ‑ not as it is today, but as it was when Genghis Khan was alive (A.D. 1162‑1227). Outer Mongolia is a vast land, measuring from east to west, from Manchuria to the Altai Mountains, about 2,000 miles, and from north to south about 500 miles. This country, at the time of which I write, was divided, like aboriginal Australia, into a mosaic of areas, each inhabited by a horde or tribe, there being some 226 demarcated areas. Toward the west these areas were occupied by tribes which were Turkish in speech and in appearance.
The manner in which the tribes obtained a livelihood was very different from that we have just seen among the aborigines of Australia. There the size of a tribe was regulated by the natural produce of its territory; here, on the other hand, among both Mongols and Turks, the number of souls in a tribe was
regulated by the size of the tribal herds, for the tribesmen we are to pass in review were proud pastoralists, regarding the tilling of the soil as fitting only for serfs and slaves. The size of the herds, which represented the capital of a tribe, depended on the extent of its territory and the richness of the pasturage. In passing from Australia to Mongolia it is not the difference in the mode of life which seizes our attention, but the different tempo at which life was lived. In Australia the amount of competition was just sufficient to keep tribes alive and apart; but here, in Mongolia, tribal life was fiercely competitive, and also actively aggressive. This multitude of tribal units, all actuated to a greater or lesser degree by a competitive spirit, were held in the toils of a vicious circle. The strength or power of a tribe depended on the number and quality of its fighting manhood. The number of mouths which could be filled was regulated by the size of the tribal herds, and that, in turn, by the extent of the tribal territory. The aim of every tribe was to be strong enough, not only to protect its own land, but powerful enough to add to it, and thus gain a more dominant position. And the instrument employed to carry out this policy was war; not of the mild, ineffective kind practiced between Australian tribes, but of the fierce, bloody kind which aimed at the extermination of the enemy and the annexation of his homeland.
How long had this competitive struggle between the tribal peoples of Mongolia been going on before the appearance of Genghis Khan in the twelfth century? A neighboring Mongolian people ‑ the Chinese ‑ had taken to tilling the soil some 3,000 years before the beginning of the Christian era. We may presume that the Mongolian tribes had begun to domesticate the horse, the ox, and the sheep at an equally early date. Thus, before Genghis was born (A.D. 1162) an intertribal struggle had been going on for at least 4,000 years, during which period we should expect 120 generations or more to come by birth and to go by death. In this prolonged competition the tribes which bred men who were warlike both by nature and by training would prevail over those whose manhood was of a more pacific nature; and thus a warrior race would and did come into being.
There is however another side to this evolutionary problem.
No matter how warlike a Mongolian tribe might be, if it did not enjoy a unity at home it could not prevail. Hence we find that the Mongolian warrior, while harsh, stern, ruthless, and vindictive toward his enemies, was mild and kind when at home; he loved, and was loved by, his family circle; he helped, entertained, and cherished his friends. His behavior was regulated by a rigorous application of the dual code, the amity‑enmity code. He was one man to his enemies; he was quite another to his friends. In brief, the intertribal struggle which endured so long among the Mongolian pastoralists favored the evolution of men who combined two antagonistic qualities in their natures – kindness and cruelty.
Darwin must have had in mind a picture such as I am seeking to draw of the tribes of Mongolia when he wrote the following sentence:1 “A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection.” It will be noticed that Darwin makes no mention of the part played by war in this process of selection; among the Mongols war was the final arbiter in the struggle for survival.
There was one factor in the life of a Mongolian tribe which fitted it to wage war outside its home territory. Every spring the tribes, with their families, flocks, and household goods, set out in a great trek toward the north, to summer pastures often 1,000 miles or more from their homelands.2 There every tribe claimed a right of pasturage and, if need be, could enforce this right by warlike means. At the end of the grazing season the tribes trekked home again. Thus every Mongolian tribe was a mobile unit; it was organized, disciplined, and led; its safety, both at home and while on the trek, was guaranteed by mounted, armed tribesmen. Such a tribe may be said to be on a permanent war footing.
Yesukai, the father of Genghis,3 was chief of a strong Mongolian
tribe whose wide territory was situated near the northeast corner of Outer Mongolia, lying between two rivers whose waters ultimately find their way to the Amur ‑ the Kerulen to the south of the territory, the Onon to its north. Yesukai was chief, not only of his own tribe, but of others which he, or his forebears, had forced into a confederation, the subsidiary chiefs recognizing Yesukai as paramount. His death in 1175 threw his tribe into a state of confusion from which his son, then a mere lad of thirteen, had to flee for his life. Thus Genghis’s early training was outside his homeland in the hard school of adversity; he grew up into a daring rider and hunter, afraid of nothing; he became a joyous and bold fighter; his personality served as a magnet to draw to him young men of like qualities. He fought his way back to his rightful chieftainship, and his tribesmen were soon made aware that a born leader of men had returned to them. He read the minds of those with whom he was brought in contact as if they were open books, and yet he could not read a page of print. He employed terror rather than friendship as an instrument of policy. Even those whom he knew to be loyal to him he kept on the tenterhooks of hope and fear. He was as much at home in the council chamber as in the field of battle; he made no mistakes, either in policy or in action. As soon as he had drilled and disciplined his men, he took the field with a light heart, offering recalcitrant neighboring tribes, one after another, a choice between extermination and immediate submission to his will. Whichever decision they made, the result, so far as the extension of the power of Genghis was concerned, was uniformly successful. Thus it came about that in 1206, when the conquering chief was forty‑four years of age, he was hailed throughout the whole of Mongolia as Khan of Khans, King of Kings. Tribes which are said to have numbered 2264 and had become grouped into some thirty confederations had been brought under the sway of a single warlord, who thus was in a position to place an army of 400,000 men in the field, a greater power than any other ruler then alive.
There were two stages in the quest of Genghis Khan for name, fame, and power. We have reached the end of the first
stage. A student of civilization, when he surveys the results achieved in this stage, will be moved to acclaim Genghis Khan. He had brought order and peace into a land which had been the scene of bloodshed and turmoil. Even the student of human evolution can scarcely lodge a protest. A land occupied by a multitude of tribes, competing against one another and yet remaining separate, provides the evolutionary process with favorable conditions for producing new types of manhood. The conquest by Genghis Khan tended to break down tribal boundaries and to destroy the original scheme. The student of evolution, however, can console himself with the thought that under the old scheme warlike men and tribes were favored, while under conquered conditions peace‑loving men and tribes were given fresh opportunities to live and to multiply.
We now proceed to give a brief review of the second stage in Genghis Khan’s career of conquest. At this stage students both of civilization and of human evolution must stand aghast. In 1211 Genghis launched his first major war of conquest by leading an army of 100,000 mounted men against China: or, rather, against north China, for at this time the Chinese to the north of the Yellow River were ruled by a dynasty of Manchu origin, while those to the south of that river were under a native dynasty, the Sung Dynasty. After four years of storming cities, slaughtering their terrorized inhabitants, robbing, spoiling, and destroying, Genghis added north China to his dominions. He returned to his tribal homeland, his warriors laden with booty, while he himself was pleased to think that he had added bright jewels to his crown of conquest.
In 1218 Genghis, then in his fifty‑sixth year, set out on the greatest of all his campaigns. He led an army of a quarter of a million trained men across the 2,000 miles of steppe country which lies between Mongolia and central Turkestan, then the seat of the Kharizmian Empire. After destroying the army of that empire, he laid siege to city after city. The invariable choice offered to citizens was either instant submission or certain death. The inhabitants of Herat, for example, had manifested a rebellious disposition. He caused them to be exterminated. When the deed was done his excuse was: “What do those people matter
to me?”5 He made terror stalk before him so that men’s hearts might be quelled. He gathered round him poets, artists, scholars, and sages. He entertained lavishly; but his guests knew that, behind the tent in which they banqueted, a gallows had been erected on which, at any moment, their bodies might dangle as corpses. In campaigns extending from 1218 to 1225 he brought under subjection all the lands and peoples from the Indus in the east to the Dnieper in the west, imposing on them submission and tribute and maintaining among them order and peace.
The conquest of this vast empire in Asia, far from slaking his thirst for dominion, seems merely to have stimulated it. In 1225 he led his army northward, to enter on his third and last campaign, this time against greater China ‑ China to the south of the Yellow River. In the second year of that campaign, in the sixty‑fifth year of his life, he fell a victim to the greatest conqueror of all ‑ King Death, to whom he is said to have sacrificed six millions of his fellow men.
Before reviewing the effects of war, as waged by Genghis Khan, on the evolutionary destinies of the races of mankind, let us see if we can get a closer glimpse of the objectives which dominated his life. Such a glimpse we do obtain in the will he left for the guidance of his four sons. The pertinent clauses are the following:6 “With Heaven’s aid, I have conquered for you a huge empire. My life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you. . . . Be of one mind, one faith, conquer and lead long and happy lives.” Genghis considered himself a devout man. When he assumed the title King of Kings he informed his followers that “Heaven has appointed me to rule all Nations.” It is not for us, who in this year of grace 1944 acknowledge that a main objective of our present war is to give the world a single central government, to scoff at the objective by which Genghis was obsessed. But when we take into account all aspects of his career, we are compelled to admit that he was a man possessed by an imperious and colossal ambition, and that he used his ambition, not for the welfare of mankind, but for his own personal aggrandizement.
This is how I, a student of the evolution of human races, view his career: He was the product of the violently competitive system which had prevailed among the Mongolian tribes over a long period of time. A tribe which had in its midst a gifted family, one in which men appeared from time to time endowed with qualities of leadership, would fare better than less fortunate tribes. In a competitive system ambition is a powerful asset. In the first stage of his career we cannot say that Genghis used his ambition and gifts of leadership illegitimately; he mobilized the warlike qualities of his men to maintain the integrity and perpetuation of his tribe. Nor may a student of evolution blame him when he carried war outside his own territory, thus becoming an aggressor. Where there is no aggression, as among the Australian aborigines, evolution tends to become stationary; Genghis sought, by means of aggressive war, to force the pace at which his tribe advanced. But when in the second phase of his career he armed his mad ambition with a sword fashioned out of the warlike qualities of Mongolia, and used that sword as an instrument of terror and of sheer destruction, he utilized the forces of normal evolution to make a holocaust of humanity. To explain the second phase in the career of the Mongolian conqueror we may suppose that in the fierce and prolonged intertribal struggle the forces of evolution had overshot the mark, and that qualities have, like the overgrown antlers of certain deer, become instruments, not of defense and offense, but of self-destruction.
Let us glance for a moment at Asia when the calamitous storm raised by Genghis had passed away. The dynasty founded in China by one son came to an end in 1368. The tribal army which another son led to the west, for the conquest of Russia, settled on the banks of the Volga and became the nucleus of the “Golden Horde.” By 1502 this horde had disappeared in the Slav population of eastern Russia, and it is therefore quite possible that some of the victorious Russian generals of today may have in them qualities which, if not directly inherited from Genghis Khan, may yet have been derived from the same source as that from which he drew his gifts of generalship. The Central Asiatic Empire, inherited by a third son, broke up, and in 1359
its Genghis dynasty was at an end. Most instructive of all was the fate of Genghis’s own tribe and people. They were the heirloom of a fourth son, who thus became trustee for the safety of the tribal cradle in which Genghis had been reared. In 1388 China broke that cradle into pieces ‑ an event in which we may see a measure of retributive justice.
The change in mood of the Mongolian tribes – after their downfall is worthy of a note here because it illustrates an emotional conversion often seen in a defeated people. They greedily absorbed the teachings of Buddha; the sons of warriors became priests and retired to monasteries. A pious spirit replaced that of war. Are, then, the warlike qualities so loosely entrenched in human nature that in the course of a generation or two they can be replaced by those of peace and piety? I think they are not replaced, but merely masked; for in The Times of 1911 one who had traveled among the tribes of Outer Mongolia reported7 “that their old fire and fierceness were re‑awakened . . . that they felt one in flesh and in destiny . . . still dreaming of Genghis and world dominion.”
Genghis was not an isolated Mongolian phenomenon; he represented a recurrent Mongolian type. A century after his death, Timberline (1334‑1405), also the son of a Mongolian chief, reincarnated all his qualities, both good and bad. He was born between the Onus and Jaxartes in the emirate of Trans‑Oxiania; by intrigue and assassination he made himself emir of that empire at the age of thirty‑five. By training and by nature he was both statesman and soldier. In his mentality the dual code found an easy lodgment: at one moment his words breathed humanity, consideration, and kindness; next moment he touched the nadir of hate and cruelty.8 He was sanely, and also insanely, ambitious; his hero and exemplar was not Genghis, but Alexander the Great. By his forty‑fourth year he had extended his dominion from India to Russia ‑ he had subdued twenty‑seven Asiatic powers. He stormed, burned, devastated, slaughtered, and terrorized his prospective subjects by the infliction of the most fiendish cruelties the world has ever known. Even in his seventy‑first year his
thirst for conquest was unslaked. On the eve of setting out for the conquest of China, the fate to which he had doomed so many millions of defenseless people overtook him. And so passed a human monster whose deeds not even a Machiavelli could justify, much less a student of human evolution. Timberline inflicted a grievous wound on Asia, but it duly healed, and all that remained of his doings was an ugly memory.
The scene of the present chapter was laid in Mongolia in order that my readers might become acquainted with a type of war infinitely more deadly than that met with in aboriginal Australia. The tribes of Mongolia, unlike those of Australia, were animated by a competitive and warlike spirit which, in the hands of able leaders, had been forged into a mighty weapon of war. Although every tribe loved its homeland and looked on it as sacred, yet from time to time there arose, in particular tribes, a spirit of aggression ‑ a spirit of adventure which impelled them to take to the open road and seek for a new home. A thousand years before the days of Genghis Khan ‑ perhaps much longer ‑ armed, migratory tribal hordes were setting out from Mongolia in search of spoil as well as of territory. In the year A.D. 375 one of these hordes made its way westward across southern Russia. The rank and file were chiefly Turkish and the leaders mostly Mongols, a combination which came to be known as Huns. The people then dominant in south Russia were the Ostrogoths, one of the most warlike of the Germanic tribes. The Huns drove the Germans in front of them and fought their way to central Europe and effected a settlement in that country we now call Hungary, where they established their royal camp.
In the year 403 Attila was born in this camp. At the age of thirty he succeeded his uncle as Lord or King of the Huns.9 In his person and in his mentality we find all those marks and qualities which many centuries later went to the making of Genghis and of Timberline: all might have been peas from the same pod. He was indulgent to his children, affectionate to his wives, a father to his people, openhanded and openhearted to his friends. He was brave, but his valor was regulated by cunning as well as by prudence. He was a daring and consummate
leader of men. Cruelty and terror were among his weapons of conquest. He talked soothingly to his enemies while he sharpened the sword by which he was to slay them. The rank and file of the Huns retained their pristine warlike qualities.
His empire had been carved out of central Europe; many Germanic tribes had been conquered and subjected. At the age of forty‑three “the implacable fury of his arms” carried him to the gates of Constantinople; at the age of forty‑seven he led his armies to ravage and slaughter the citizens of Gaul. That campaign brought against him the combined forces of Rome and of Gaul. After a bloody battle on the plains of Chalons (451) he retreated with sufficient strength to carry carnage and terror into Italy in the following year. After his Italian campaign he repaired to his headquarters in Hungary to die ‑ at the age of fifty. With his death the Hun empire fell to pieces.
A student of war cannot help being impressed by the feat that at times and in places so far apart the warlike genius of the Mongolian race should assume the same monstrous growth. In the hand of Attila war became both fierce and monstrous; he prostituted the warlike qualities of his people to satisfy their love of booty, and for his own personal glorification. A critic may well ask: In what way could Attila have used the valorous spirit of his people in a manner which might be regarded as both legitimate and evolutionary? My answer is: By employing their fighting spirit to establish a permanent homeland in Hungary wherein he and his people might abide and prosper in the security of their sword and so become a nation among nations. Such would have been a worthy memorial of a warlike king.
War Is a Manifestation of a Hidden and Unrecognized Force
IN CARRYING MY INQUIRIES INTO THE ORIGIN OF fierce war, with its attendant tyrannies, cruelties, and brutalities, into a second chapter, I have a particular objective in view – to lay bare the roots from which modern wars have arisen. The transition from fierce war, as waged between Mongolian tribes,
to war as waged by modern nations has been made by Japan. By arming her inborn militant Mongolian spirit with the products of our Western civilization, she has raised herself to a high place among the warlike powers of the world. Modern warfare, then, is not really new; it is just the fierce war of ancient tribal days equipped by science and civilization. And so our chief quest, the origin of fierce war, remains unsatisfied. An appeal for guidance from two authorities of long standing may help us on our way. Let us hear, first, what that clear‑minded English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588‑1679) had to say about the origin of war. His biographer Sir Leslie Stephen has epitomized Hobbes’s final opinion thus:1 “From war proceed slaughter, solitude, and the want of all things. All men know these things to be evil. Why, then, do wars continue? Because men do not know the causes of war and peace.” I ought to have underlined the last sentence, for, so far as I know, Hobbes is the only philosopher who has perceived that war is a manifestation of an unrecognized and hidden force. It was Darwin, in reality, who unmasked that force.
The second philosopher to lend us guidance is Thucydides (460-400 B.C. ), the war historian of early Greece, born more than 2,000 years before Hobbes. “For those,” he wrote,2 “who have a choice and whose fortunes are not at stake . . . war is the greatest of follies.” How often in recent decades have we heard that ancient verdict re‑echoed by modern men of letters! Then follow these pregnant words: “But if the only choice is between submission with loss of [national] independence, and war, with the hope of preserving it, who will not accept the risk?” Herein Thucydides recognized that a threat to the integrity or sovereignty of a tribe or of a nation is the commonest cause of war ‑ an observation of the highest interest to a student of human evolution like myself. If the Greek historian or the English philosopher had seen the problem of tribal or national independence with Darwin’s eyes, he would have been aware that the fate of a broken tribe or a nation is that of relegation to the lumber heap on which evolutionary failures are cast. And if he had
inquired still further he would have discovered that tribal and national mentality are so constituted that any threat to life or independence calls out an instinctive protective reaction in the form of war. War, then, is deeply rooted in the history of human evolution.
Mongolia, the scene of the preceding chapter, was, in early historical times, part of a great tribal zone which, beginning at the eastern shores of Japan, swept its 7,000‑mile course across the Old World to end on the western shores of Ireland. We are now to turn our attention to that part of this zone which came to form the German Empire. The German zone, like the Mongolian, was divided into a mosaic of territories. These, when history throws her first light on Germany, were about forty in number. In some cases isolation between neighboring tribes was emphasized by their boundaries being turned into zones of devastation. Although the inhabitants of these tribal areas were of a different stock from the Mongol, yet it is the similarities of the ancient German to the ancient Mongol, both in mentality and in ways of life, rather than the differences, which have impressed the historian. In both there were the same excess of a warlike spirit; the same violent competition between tribes; the same resort to fierce war as the final arbiter of tribal destiny. Perhaps the German was less disposed than the Mongol to exploit “frightfulness” and fanatical cruelty as a policy, but he exceeded him in his readiness to sacrifice his life to secure the independence of his tribe and the preservation of his individual liberty. The arts of agriculture and of domestication of cattle seem to have reached the German and Mongol about the same time ‑ about the beginning of the third millennium; but, whereas the Mongol became purely pastoralist, the German, although he kept “monstrous herds of cattle,” was also farmer. Germany, then, when Tacitus turns the light of history on her in the first century of our era, was the home of a congeries of separate fighting farming peoples.
In ancient Germany, as in Mongolia, behavior was regulated by a rigorous observance of the dual code. At home the German was “mild and docile,” proud of his wife and children, loyal to his chief and to his comrades. Courage he counted the highest
of virtues, and cowardice the most heinous of sins. Outside his homeland he was dominated by the enmity code, seeking for the blood of enemies wherewith to slake his thirst for vengeance. In two respects the “Home Front” among Germans differed from that which prevailed among the Mongols. Women were given a higher place; wives were the comrades of their husbands. In another and more important respect there was a difference: the German tribesman retained his right to share in tribal deliberations, a right which the followers of Genghis never claimed.
If the ancient Germans had devoted some of the zest they gave to living and fighting to the writing of history, how different would their picture have been from that which the highly civilized minds of Tacitus and of Gibbon have painted for posterity. But even a native bard could not have extolled the fighting spirit of the ancient Germans in a loftier note than that reached by the two great historians. War was part of their German religion; death on the field of battle was an open sesame to Valhalla. “All who were of age to bear arms were of a temper to use them,” wrote Gibbon. “Wounds, weapons, everything connected with war, were regarded with respect and esteem.” “Gifts worthy of soldiers” were the “warlike steed, the bloody and ever‑victorious lance.” Gibbon paints a stirring picture of the warlike spirit which prevailed at a tribal deliberation:3
“They turned away with indignant contempt from the remonstrance of justice and policy, and it was their practice to signify by a hollow murmur their dislike of such timid counsels. But whenever a more popular orator proposed to vindicate the meanest citizen (sic) from either foreign or domestic injury, whenever he called upon his fellow countrymen to assert the national honour, or to pursue some enterprise full of danger and glory, a loud clashing of shields and spears expressed the eager applause of the assembly.”
There is evidence, too, of a strong intertribal competitive spirit.4
“The noblest youths blushed not to be numbered among the faithful companions of some renowned chief, to whom they devoted their arms and their service. A noble emulation prevailed among the companions to obtain the first place in the esteem of their chief; amongst the chiefs, to acquire the greatest number of valiant companions.”
In ancient Germany, with its population broken up into separate tribal communities, each community animated by a vigorous fighting spirit and driven on by a restless competitive passion, the stage was set for war ‑ war of the fiercest kind.
In order to illustrate the ferocity with which the ancient Germans fought, and to exemplify the degree to which fierce war affected the evolutionary destinies of their tribes, I shall cite a few examples from the pages of Tacitus.5 At an early date the Romans were taught that an invasion of Germany was an undertaking fraught with peril. In the ninth year of our era Varus led an army of some 15,000 men across the Rhine and penetrated to that region which lies between the Teutoburger Wald and the Elbe, now known as Hanover, but then the home of a confederation of six tribes, the Cherusci. There the Roman expeditionary force was surrounded and massacred by the Cheruscans, leaving scarcely a straggler to carry back the tale of disaster. This victory seems to have had a disastrous effect on the warlike temper of the Cheruscans, for a generation or two later they are described as “enervated and sunk in sloth. Unmolested by their neighbors they enjoyed the sweets of peace, forgetting that among powerful and ambitious neighbors the repose which you enjoy serves only to lull you into a calm, always pleasing, but deceitful in the end.”
The Cherusci had as their neighbors, toward the north and west, a confederation of five tribes, of which the Chauci were the chief. The Chaucian war policy is worthy of note. It was a defensive policy, not aggressive, as was the usual tribal outlook. “Loving moderation, yet uniting it to a warlike spirit, they are ever ready to unsheath the sword in a just cause. Their armies are soon in the field.” Such were the neighbors whom the Cheruscans had along their northwest frontier. Of a very different temper were their southern neighbors, the Catti. The territory of the Catti, a confederation of five tribes, is now represented by that part of Westphalia which lies between the Weser and the Rhine. “This people,” wrote Tacitus, “are robust and hardy; their limbs well braced; their countenance fierce; their minds endowed with vigor beyond the rest of their countrymen. Considered as Germans, their understanding is quick and penetrating. They
elect officers to command, and obey them implicitly.” It was only when a Cattian had “killed his man” that he was permitted to shave off his beard. “Over the spoils and the blood of the vanquished, the face of the warrior is, for the first time, displayed. The Cattian then exults; he has now answered the true end of his being, and has proved himself worthy of his parents and of his country.”
The Cheruscans, pursuing the paths of peace, were set upon by their warlike southern neighbors. This is how Tacitus describes the result:
“When the sword is drawn, and the power of the strongest is to decide, you talk in vain of equity and moderation; these virtues always belong to the conqueror. Thus it happened to the Cheruscans; they were just and upright; now they are called fools and cowards. Victory has transferred every virtue to the Catuans, and oppression takes the name of wisdom.”
The histories of these three tribal peoples of ancient Germany illustrate the varying roles played by war in shaping tribal and national destinies. The Chauci put war to a use which, on evolutionary grounds, was perfectly legitimate ‑ namely, the maintenance of tribal integrity and independence. The Cherusci failed because they had neglected this tribal duty. The Catti used war aggressively and increased their power at the expense of a neighbor ‑ a kind of behavior which may not be justifiable on moral grounds, but is perfectly in accord with evolutionary practice. To this small gallery let me add a fourth tribal picture ‑ that of the Bructeri. Their territory was in that part of Germany which now abuts on the confines of Holland. The insolent pride of the Bructeri brought on their heads the wrath of neighboring tribes, who “invaded the country, and pursued the ancient settlers with exterminating fury.” The Bructeri ceased to exist as an evolutionary unit; 60,000 of them were slaughtered. In these several ways war served as an important factor in determining survival and extinction of the tribal peoples of ancient Germany.
Ancient Germany was divided into a mosaic of tribal territories. Now, wherever in the world we find such territories
inhabited by competitive and warlike peoples, we observe that the “principle of collective security” always comes into operation. If one tribe becomes more powerful than surrounding tribes, two or more of the weaker tribes seek security, not in fusion, but as a free, fighting confederation. And so the game goes on, each confederation calling out a stronger combination. It seems highly probable that the struggle for collective security among; the German tribes had been in progress for at least 1,000 years before the legions of Rome reached the Rhine. When the Romans appeared on the scene there were then only some five or six confederations. The most powerful of these, the Suevi, embraced ten tribes. Besides the process of confederation, another equally potent process was at work ‑ that of tribal fusion; the stronger tribes conquered and assimilated the weaker. Indeed, in some cases, such as that of the Goths, a tribe had attained almost a national status long before the fall of Rome. Thus we see that war, particularly of the fierce German kind, leads ever to an increase in size and power of the units participating. War, then, alters the conditions under which evolution proceeds even in peacetime, for the size of a unit alters profoundly the results of the evolutionary process.
How are we to reconcile the intense affection which German tribesmen bore to their homelands, and their readiness to sacrifice the last drop of their blood in defense of hearth and home, with the migratory impulse which seized so many of them from time to time? Gibbon6 sought for an explanation in “the operation of instinct,” which he regarded “as more sure and simple than that of reason.” Those, however, who prefer causes which are definite and near at hand to those which are obscure and remote will remind us that the migratory impulse which seized the Germans always led them toward the warmer and richer lands of the south, and that their avarice was sufficiently potent to cause such movements. Among the Mongolian tribes we found the same contrary impulses ‑ a desire for adventure abroad in conflict with a home‑loving nature. In their case we were prepared to believe that the habit of seasonal migration might be an accessory factor in preparing the way for a permanent migration.
In the case of the German tribes there were no seasonal changes of abode. One important circumstance we must note: a tribe, to undertake a migration, must be sufficiently strong, armed, and warlike to force its way through the cordon of tribes by which its homeland is encircled, and then to make an extended march among strange people until the land of its choice is reached. There our migratory tribe, by right of conquest, establishes itself as ruler of a subjected but civilized people. Such migrations ultimately bring about a transformation in the racial constitution of a continent. In this way fierce war serves as a factor in the evolution of human races.
To trace the ultimate evolutionary effects of these warlike tribal migrations I shall content myself by citing only two instances. The Saxon and associated tribes which colonized the greater part of Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries retained their tongue, their customs, their laws, and their warlike nature in their new home. They became, and remain, the solid nucleus round which the power of Britain developed. Their progeny now provide Europe with one of its strongest national units. In contrast, let us take the case of the Goths, one of the strongest and most numerous of German tribes. By the end of the third century they had spread as a ruling, conquering people into the greater part of southeastern Europe. By the end of the sixth century they were lording it over the peoples of Spain, over many of those of France, Italy, and the Balkans. Where are the Goths now? They have been swallowed up by their subject peoples, and thus, from an evolutionist’s point of view, have been exterminated ‑ the very fate which a good tribesman most dreads. The end which awaited the German invaders of Europe was that which overtook the Mongolian invaders of Asia: both were ultimately immolated in the mass of their subject populations; both were victims of their aggressive warlike qualities.
The dire fate of invading tribes is not often described in the evolutionary terms I have used. Politicians, historians, and most anthropologists take a much more favorable view of such a fate. Let us hear what Oscar Peschel, the leading anthropologist in Germany during the middle part of the nineteenth century, said
on this point:7 “Invasions by barbarian hordes into the territory of civilized nations are usually regarded as great calamities to mankind; but perhaps a little reflection will convince us that most, if not all of them, have proved beneficial.” The verdict which we return will depend on our outlook on the future of mankind. If we desire all national and racial frontiers to be broken down, and humanity to be united into one vast world state, then we shall count the submergence of one people in another as beneficial or good; but if we desire a world studded with free and independent nations, engaged in friendly and peaceful rivalry, then we shall regard the interminglings of peoples, whether by conquest or by peaceful penetration, as prejudicial or evil. I hold that, if mankind is to be vigorous in mind and progressive in spirit, its division into nation and races must be maintained.
Our search for the origin of fierce warfare has taken us to that great zone of the Euro‑Asiatic continent which stretches from Ireland to Japan. Among the early tribal peoples of that zone fierce war was endemic. Aristotle (384‑322 B.C.) had heard of the warlike nature of the north European. “Those,” he records “who live in cold countries, as the north of Europe, are full of courage, but wanting in understanding and the arts; therefore they are very tenacious of liberty.”8 The Asiatics of the south, he thought, lacked courage, but were quick of understanding. To his fellow Greeks he gave both courage and good sense. “No native of uncivilized countries,” wrote Kropotkin, “can bear comparison with Europeans . . . in physical strength.”9 “White men,” said Lord Bryce, “have force of will and tenacity of purpose” qualities essential for a warrior. Nor can we overlook the fact that the most ferocious fighters of today are the descendants of the fierce peoples of the tribal zone.
My readers will have perceived by now that the thesis I am seeking to prove is that fierce war must be attributed to an inborn fierce nature which has been developed in tribes long subjected
to the rigors of competitive evolution. Such a view will be strenuously opposed by scientists such as Professor W. C. Allee,10 who regards war as an acquired habit; and by Dr. Carr-Saunders,11 who traces war, not to the inheritance of warlike qualities, but to the handing on of a warlike tradition. Now, I agree with both of them that if a Mongol child or a German child had been removed from tribal surroundings during infancy and brought up in a home in China, or within the confines of an Indian caste, those children would have grown into peaceful, law‑abiding citizens. But this admission does not imply that these children would have lost their warlike aptitudes; only that the conditions which call out such qualities would be lacking. We have still to explain how such a fierce tradition arose along the vast tribal zone of the Old World and endured over thousands of years. I cannot conceive that a tribe, be it Mongolian or German, could tolerate over a long period of time a tradition which was antagonistic to its true nature. Tradition is molded to fit the mentality which fashions it. not the other way around.
Another explanation of the origin of war, put forward by the late Sir G. Elliot Smith12 and by Dr. W. J. Perry,13 may be conveniently mentioned now. They sought to prove that primitive man ‑ man living in his original natural state ‑ was kind and peaceful, and that it was only after he took to civilized life that he acquired warlike habits. The ancient Mongols had reached the pastoral stage of civilization. The ancient Germans were farmers; they fought fiercely to defend their homelands and herds and their independence. But we find tribes who own neither fields nor herds doing the same thing. Wars which the ancient Germans waged among themselves were quite as fierce as those they fought when they crossed the Rhine to plunder the civilization of Gaul. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that, far from serving as an ameliorating agency, civilization has vastly intensified and extended the evils of war.
Concerning Pacific Peoples
IN THE TWO PRECEDING CHAPTERS WE HAVE BEEN examining peoples in whom there has been developed a fierce, aggressive, warlike nature ‑ a nature which inclines them to war as a means of advancing their prospects and position among the inhabitants of the world. In this essay I propose to devote attention to peoples of an opposite nature: peoples like those which inhabit China, India, and Egypt, who, although quite unwarlike in nature, have made a safe and successful evolutionary journey from a remote past down to the present day, and have thus outlived many of their warlike contemporaries. These pacific peoples have absorbed conqueror after conqueror, and yet have gone on, generation after generation, their unbroken way.
Let us first seek an answer to this query, Which of these two peoples ‑ the warlike or the peaceful ‑ represents mankind as originally constituted? The late Sir G. Elliot Smith1 and his able lieutenant, Dr. W. J. Perry,2 had no doubt as to the answer. From the time of the First World War and onward they affirmed, with conviction and pertinacity, that early man, in all his journeyings through time, was friendly, amiable, and peaceful; and so he remained until civilization corrupted his original nature and made him the warring animal he now is. Let us look into the evidence on which this opinion is based. The protagonists of peace maintained that man’s original nature could still be studied; it had been retained by certain peoples who live in remote parts of the earth, such as the Eskimo, the Yahgans of Tierra del Fuego, and numerous but small tribes whose homes are in the jungle recesses of India, Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, and the Philippines. Now, all of these folk are timid, kindly, and peaceful; they are ignorant of war. Professor L. T. Hobhouse counted them and found twelve
such peoples.3 My list runs to thirty names; but even if the Australian aborigines are included, the total census of primitive pacifist peoples would number a bare half million. Although they form only 1 in 4,000 of the earth’s population, they may well have retained man’s original nature. But is it not possible ‑ nay, highly probable ‑ that these peoples, just because of their unwarlike disposition, have been driven to, or have sought out, the less desirable lands to escape from their more aggressive neighbors? In which case these surviving groups of amiable primitive peoples must be regarded as “escapists,” and not as representative samples of original mankind. That is how I regard these primitive folks. In this I am in agreement with Professor E. A. Hooton of Harvard.4
Just as I sat down to write this chapter, in the summer of 1944, there reached me a record of evidence which threw a sinister light on the nature of early man. This evidence is contained in a voluminous and fully documented monograph5 in which Dr. Franz Weidenreich summed up his studies on the fossil bones of the oldest inhabitants of China. They were alive at the beginning of the Pleistocene period, which, on the most conservative scale of reckoning, gives them an antiquity of about 500,000 years. So unlike were they to modern races, so primitive were they in build of body, that their discoverer, Dr. Davidson Black, thought it necessary to distinguish this ancient type of man by a special name ‑ Sinanthropus pekinensis. These Sinanthrops frequented the rambling caves in a small limestone hill at Chou Kou Tien, which is situated 37 miles to the southwest of Peking. These caves became filled up and their walls collapsed, and thus the limestone hill became a mausoleum in which a sample of the early Pleistocene inhabitants of China were entombed. Fossil remains of at least forty individuals came to light during ten years of excavation. But how are we to account for the fact that very few bones of the body or the limbs were found; almost all were parts of the head? Dr. Weidenreich observed, in the few cases where the skull had been preserved in a more or less complete
state, that the base had been removed, thus giving free access to the brain. Some of the skulls, too, bore external marks of violence. So cogent was the evidence that Dr. Weidenreich was forced to the conclusion ‑ one which was repugnant to him, as to every civilized mind ‑ that the Sinanthrops were cannibals, and that the cave skulls represented the heads of decapitated victims. Similar evidence is afforded by the fossil remains of the ancient men of Java.6 We cannot fit the Sinanthrops nor the Javanthrops into the idyllic picture which Elliot Smith and Perry drew of primitive man.
We obtain evidence of a like ugly character at sites where later representatives of Pleistocene man have been discovered. In 1939 Dr. T. D. McCown and I published an account7 of people who were buried in the caves of Mt. Carmel during the last (Riss‑Wurm) interglacial period, which, on the Zeuner8 scheme of chronology, gives them an antiquity of 140,000 or 150,000 years. In one man, a tall fellow of lusty build, we found the left hip joint shattered by a wooden spear which had been driven with such force that its point had entered the pelvis, where it became snapped off. Before the wooden point had decayed, lime salts had collected round it, forming so perfect a mold that we were able to take from it a cast showing in all its details the pointed form of this ancient weapon of war. The warrior who inflicted that wound must have had a strong arm and a fierce, passionate, and violent temper.
Three sites in Europe, all of them of about the same degree of antiquity as that at Mt. Carmel, have yielded evidence of murderous or cannibalistic practices; at all three sites the fossil remains were of men of the Neanderthal breed. Near the ancient hearths of the Krapinians, of Croatia,9 there were found the limb bones of animals, now extinct, split open for the removal of their marrow. Some human bones seem to have been treated in a similar manner. The skull of the Ehringsdorf man, found deep
in a limestone quarry near Weimar, had been split open by five powerful blows while still in a fresh state.10 The third site is at Monte Circeo, a coastal bastion of the Pontine Marshes, by‑passed only the other day by the Allied armies in their victorious advance on Rome. This site was visited in legendary times by Ulysses; but more to our present purpose is the visit paid to it by Count A. C. Blanc in 1938.11 He made his way into a virgin cave to find within it the fossil skull of a Neanderthalian. In Dr. Weidenreich’s opinion this skull had been mutilated at death in the same manner as that practiced by the Sinanthrops.
As a pendant to this list of prehistoric crime I would add two further instances. Rhodesian man represents a very ancient African type; his fossil skull shows a healing perforated wound apparently caused by a sharp‑pointed weapon.12 The second people we are now concerned with are the Natufians, whose fossil remains were discovered by Professor Dorothy Garrod13 at the foot of Mt. Carmel in 1929. Their importance lies in the fact that they represent the people of Palestine at or just before the dawn of civilization. The skulls and skeletons of some of them bear marks of violence inflicted at death. The conclusion we must draw from the evidence just cited concerning the nature of our early forerunners is that, if some were kindly and peaceful, there were others who were certainly cruel and violent.
We must again examine the mental qualities which Elliot Smith ascribed to primitive man. In the forefront of living examples he placed the Punans,14 a people of Mongoloid affinities which inhabits jungle tracts in the interior of Borneo. As is the way with all primitive peoples, they live in small local groups, each numbering from thirty to fifty souls. Each group claims the area in which it lives as its own. From the natural produce of its area each group derives its sustenance. All speak dialects of the same tongue. Each group recognizes an affinity to other Punan groups and separates itself from surrounding peoples which are
not of this affinity. Each group is self‑governed. Here is Elliot Smith’s description of the Punans:
“These people are incredibly shy, and seem always to be on the alert and prepared for an unpleasant emergency. They are like wild animals ‑timid but friendly, and ready at any moment to fight for life. A Punan will never wantonly slay or attack a man, and never goes on the warpath unless he happens to be caught by some other tribe and compelled to fight. Nevertheless, if he is attacked he will not only protect himself with vigor, but he will also call other Punans to his assistance.”15
The Punans, then, are not pacifists; their behavior, like that of all the other peaceful primitive peoples cited by Elliot Smith, is regulated by the dual code. Within his group a man’s conduct is controlled by the code of amity; outside his group by the code of enmity. If his own life or liberty is in danger, or if the life or liberty of his group is threatened, then the enmity code comes into action automatically; anger and resentment well up within him and vent themselves in violence. The Punan differs from the more warlike tribesmen who surround him in possessing a disposition which strongly favors the code of amity, and is driven to the code of enmity only in cases of dire necessity; whereas, in the case of his warlike neighbors, the code of enmity is given a freer rein because it has at call a higher development of courage, pride, and enterprise. We must come, then, to the conclusion that those who maintain human nature to be essentially pacific, and those who affirm the opposite, are equally in error, the truth being that man’s nature, like that of every social animal, is dual: it is fitted both for war and for peace. We must also come to the conclusion, so I think, that races and peoples differ very greatly in the relative development of those qualities which incline to peace on the one hand, and those which make for war on the other.
This chapter, so far, is intended to serve as an introduction to the study of the inhabitants of China ‑ a study which is to keep a certain objective in view. We are to look at the Chinese with the eye of a student of human evolution, and the standard we are to measure them by is an evolutionary standard. We are to
mark the extent and security of their footing among the peoples who now inhabit the earth and to note how far they possess those qualities of mind and body which are needed to ensure a safe and successful journey into the turmoil of the future. My measure is totally different from that applied by the humanist. My distinguished contemporary Dr. Gilbert Murray finds his ideal people in Athens of the fourth century B.C.; whereas, according to my standard, the Athenians were evolutionary failures ‑ they sacrificed themselves on the altar of civilization. Nor, from my point of view, were their contemporaries of Sparta more fortunate, they were undone by an abuse of their warlike qualities, Of all living peoples the Chinese come nearest to the evolutionist’s ideal. So deeply and firmly are they rooted in life and in the soil, such a vast forest of humanity do they represent, that they seem invulnerable to all the ordinary storms which overwhelm peoples. And this position they have attained, not because of their warlike qualities, but rather because of their lack of them.
China lies at the eastern end of the Old World; Europe at its western end. We shall learn much concerning China if we compare it with Europe. The area of China proper is a million and a half square miles; its inhabitants number upwards of 400 millions. Europe, if we exclude Russia, has a slightly larger area, but its population is almost the same ‑ upwards of 400 millions. But, whereas in Europe this population is broken up into twenty five competing, elbowing, warring nationalities, the inhabitants of China form one continuous uniform mass. Prehistory and history throw light on how this difference between East and West arose. Civilization, as we have seen, began to reach western Europe about the middle of the third millennium B.C.; it took hold at widely separated places and times. Its earliest votaries combined agriculture with herd‑keeping. Civilization reached China at an earlier date than it came to western Europe. How much earlier we need not stop to consider now. The important fact to note is that the place of its arrival was north China, the valley of the Yellow River and of its lower tributaries, and particularly the great alluvial plains laid down by that great river. We may reasonably assume that the tribal peoples who inhabited north China early in the third millennium B.C. were akin to the
Mongols, and, like them, were warlike and averse from any form of manual labor. Those of their number who bent their necks to the yoke of industrialism must have been individuals of a special nature ‑ a nature that found both pleasure and recompense in digging, sowing, and reaping. Here I am postulating evolution at work, favoring and selecting those of a quiet and industrious disposition who, as they extended their hold on the rich alluvial lands, would greatly multiply in numbers and would hand on their mental qualities to a large proportion of their descendants. It is in this evolutionary way that I seek to explain the spirit of peace and of industry which has prevailed among the Chinese for at least 2,000 years. The traveler who makes the 1,200‑mile journey from Peking, in the north, to Canton, in the south, is struck by the uniformity of the population he meets with. It is true that as he goes south the skin darkens, and different tongues and dialect are heard. This gradual transition from north to south is as it should be if we accept the guidance of tradition and of history. From them we learn that colonists and settlers from the Yellow River carried their ways of life southward to the valley and plains of the Yangtse, where they again prospered and spread, and in due time their descendants continued the southward march. I do not imply that the pioneers exterminated the original inhabitants; these were absorbed and in most cases their languages adopted by the new settlers.
My brief description may have conveyed the impression that the adoption of industrial life by the early Chinese had ousted from their nature all those qualities which go to make up the fighting complex; that the code of amity had gained a complete ascendancy over that of enmity. Such an impression would be altogether misleading. Throughout all the earlier stages of her history China was divided into warring principalities; the milestone which marks her passage toward a pacifist state of mind is the building of a northern rampart ‑ the Great Wall ‑ in the last decade of the third century B.C. The Great Wall was intended to shut out war; it is the most colossal “war shelter” that the world has yet known. It speaks of a united kingdom with millions of artisans at its command. From end to end, if we include all its windings, it measures about 2,000 miles. The sages reared
by China in the centuries which preceded the building of the Wall were the heralds of its foundations. Confucius (551‑478 B.C.) and the sage who preceded him, as well as those who followed, never ceased condemning the enmity code and extolling that of amity. To Mencius (871‑288 B.C.) are attributed the sayings: “Great generals are great criminals”; “There is no such thing as a righteous war.” Thus it will be seen that some seven centuries before the pacifist doctrine of Christ was preached in western Europe the Chinese had adopted peace as a practical philosophy. And yet, as we shall see in the next chapter, their warlike qualities, although submerged, have not been eliminated.
The Conditions which have made for Peace in China and India
ALTHOUGH THE CODE OF AMITY DOMINATES THE behavior of the Chinese, they still retain those qualities which provide the code of enmity with its arsenal. A spirit of revenge is one of the oldest weapons stocked in that arsenal. “A deep‑seated spirit of revenge animates all classes,” writes Dr. Giles;1 “it is the most overmastering passion to which the Chinese mind is subject.” The Chinese are mindful of kindnesses; they “are as constant in their hates as in their friendships.” Their lives, like those of all pacific peoples, are regulated by the dual code; but the code of amity is their first choice. They prefer the advice of Confucius (551‑478 B.C.) to “requite evil by justice,” to that of Lao‑tse (early sixth century B.C.) to “requite evil by kindness.” A flagrant act of injustice, such as the imposition of an exorbitant tax by a Mandarin, rouses their warlike qualities; “coercion is met at once by a general closing of shops and stoppage of trade, or, in more serious cases, by an attack on the official residence of the offending Mandarin.”2
There is still actively alive in them one of the oldest of those mental reactions which go to make up the “enmity complex” ‑ the, aversion from strangers from abroad. We have already noted
the fact (Chapter 32) that in all communities of social animals the intrusion of strangers is resented; their presence is a cause of conflict. “A Chinaman may love you,” Dr. Giles has noted, “but you are a devil all the same.” The Boxer Rebellion of 1906 was an open and ferocious manifestation of the Chinese hatred of foreigners. This antipathy permeates the population of China from end to end; the existence of this feeling bears witness to the fact that the Chinese, 400 million strong, are conscious of a kinship to each other and an equally strong feeling of being different and separate from all other peoples. In brief, the Chinese represent the largest exclusive human unit the world has yet seen.
In the preceding chapter I contrasted the broken‑up, nationalistic population of western Europe with the solid array presented by that of China. In the evolution of a European nation three stages are to be recognized. First, there is the local group stage, each group being “captain of its own destiny.” Second, there is the tribal stage: this stage is reached when the local groups amalgamated in it become so united that they feel and act as one body. Third, there is the national stage, when tribes and principalities which have been drawn into, or forced within, the confines of a single state have lived and worked together long enough to share in a common mentality and in a common fate; then a nation has come into being. Now, China never passed through these three stages. Her social organization is that of local groups; her village communities, of which she has over half a million, represent local communities.3 And yet we must suppose that the early Chinese who occupied the valley of the Yellow River near the beginning of the third millennium B.C., and who provided the first recruits for agriculture, had already reached a tribal stage. It seems most probable that, as the primitive agriculturists spread into the richer alluvial lands, they relapsed into local self‑managing groups, leaving to their warlike chiefs and followers the duty of collecting taxes and of providing protection ‑ a division of governmental powers which China retains to this day. The attention of village communities is wholly occupied
with its own affairs; taxation, protection, and policy are the concern of another and remote order of beings.
The social organization of a village community provides a clue to the pacific nature of its inhabitants. A typical village has a population of from 300 to 500, recruited from 6 to 10 resident families. The main concern of these families is to make certain that the gift of life received from ancestors will be handed on in full measure to descendants; to lack an heir is the greatest calamity that can overtake a Chinaman. In this way the perpetuity of the vast population is guaranteed. The spirit which pervades each community is based on the code of amity; a family feeling prevails; loyalty and co‑operation temper the daily task; the machinery of social intercourse is lubricated by an elaborate respect for manners. The crust of enmity which keeps primitive tribal communities apart has been reduced by the villagers to a mere veneer of amiable indifference; competition, the soul of evolutionary progress, is held in abeyance. Each village community is dominated by an alert public opinion to which its inhabitants are keenly sensitive; acts of violence, whether committed by hand or by tongue, are scowled on. Thus throughout the ages there has been at work in the village communities of China a selective machinery which favors those who are law‑abiding, peaceably minded, loyal, and filially faithful, and tending to eliminate those who are given to violence and antisocial conduct. The pacific soul of China has been evolved, not created.
At this present juncture of World War II ‑ June 1944 ‑ an army of Japanese, estimated at a million strong, dominates three fourths of China and more than 300 million of its population. If we ask, ‘How has such a surprising situation become possible?’ we shall find the answer in two considerations. First, Japan, at all stages in her progress toward her present heightened aggressive spirit of nationality, has favored her warlike children. She is organized for war rather than for peace; she can thus strike with a single deadly mailed fist. Second, China is organized for peace; she has favored the law‑abiders; she trusts to the mere bulk and inertia of her population as being sufficient to absorb the painful shocks of war. Here, then, in modern China the
student of evolution is brought face to face with a vast experiment which will ultimately solve the relative merits of war and of peace in determining the advancement of peoples. Let us suppose for the moment ‑ as might well have been the case if Allied support had been withheld from China ‑ that Japan is victorious and subjects her victim. Would Japan have been the final winner? China absorbed the Manchus. Would she not also swallow the Japanese if she failed to eject them? In which case China would be the ultimate victor, and pacifism as an evolutionary policy would be vindicated. Peace and survival, obtained by the pursuit of a long and devious course, cost just as much in treasure and in suffering as if they had been secured by war. Nor need China have pursued such a course if she had retained something of her original warlike spirit.
In China, as we have just seen, pacifism has been favored by the division of the population into a vast number of village communities, each representing a self‑contained and self‑governed evolutionary unit, each bent on maintaining its integrity and its perpetuation. A large part of the population of India has reached the same end, but in a different way. In this case village communities are replaced by a multitude of self‑contained, self-governing exclusive social groups known as castes. A caste is an evolutionary unit; it seeks to maintain integrity and perpetuity. The public spirit, the patriotism, the passions, and predisposition of the members of a caste are wholly absorbed in the affairs and the concerns of their own particular society. Castes keep apart; there is between them a certain degree of the spirit of rivalry, but it never reaches that fierce degree of jealousy, competition, and strife which so mars international life in Europe. Caste helps to absorb or disperse all those elements in human nature which make for war.
In two respects, in population and in area, India and China are not unlike. The population of China is above the 400 million mark. In this month of June 1944, the population of India, increasing at the rate of 6 million per annum,4 has almost reached that mark. The area of India proper is 1.7 million square miles, and is thus somewhat larger than China. But in all other respects
they are totally different. Instead of a population that is wonderfully uniform in type, we meet in India a vast variety of physical types, grading from the Negroid hill type of the south to the pure Aryan type of the northwest. We find men and women in all stages of civilization, from jungle tribes living in the precarious way their forefathers did 10,000 years ago, to leisured classes enjoying all the privileges and luxuries of modern life. We meet with peoples on all rungs of the evolutionary ladder, from the local jungle group on the lower step, to the full‑blown nationality on the highest. In brief, India is the most replete anthropological museum in all the world.
China is blessed by the tolerance and uniformity of her religious beliefs and practices. India, on the other hand, is cursed by religious division. That part of the population which accepts or professes Hinduism numbers 252 million. Its many sects, although scrupulous as to their own beliefs and ritual, are, like the followers of Confucius, tolerant of other religions. It is otherwise with the Mohammedans, who number 92 million; for them there is only one religion. Some 30 million in India still retain and practice the pagan beliefs of their ancestors. These are the people who still remain in a tribal state or are outcasts from that state. The population is also broken by a diversity of speech; seventy‑five languages are in use, to say nothing of dialects. There is also a diversity of government. While three quarters of the inhabitants of India are under British rule, the remaining quarter is scattered in native states, nearly 600 in number; most of them are of small size, but several are large principalities. The village communities are even more numerous than in China; there are said to be 650,000 in number.5 Throughout the whole of China there is hatred of foreigners; this is not true of India as a whole. The Brahman turns away from the European with aversion and contempt, but this is a manifestation of caste pride rather than of national or racial antipathy. Indeed, at this present time the only bond between the political parties of India is their common distrust of their British rulers.
In so large a land as India, with its vast population divided into a multitude of evolutionary units, some at the group stage,
others at a tribal stage, and still others at varying stages of nationality, we expect to find a continuous struggle between them, a struggle for survival. There is no such struggle in India; the chief struggle is for a subsistence. But if the peoples of India had been animated by the warlike spirit we met with among the Germanic and Mongolian tribes, no foreign government could have prevented them from flying at each other’s throats. No doubt but that India owes her present peaceful condition to British rule, but that government has been made possible because of two conditions which are native to India. These are: (1) the innate pacific disposition of the major part of her native population; (2) her “invention” of a novel form of evolutionary unit‑caste. These factors, which work for peace, we shall now consider.
The Abbe Dubois (1770‑1848), who made a close study of the castes and tribes of south India in the earlier decades of the nineteenth century, describes the Hindus as “the gentlest and most submissive people in the world.”6 The native tribes of India, south of the Indus‑Gangetic plain, possess all those pacific qualities which Elliot Smith attributed to primitive man. Here is the Abbe’s description of them: “All these wild tribes are gentle and peaceful by nature. They do not understand the use of weapons of any sort, and the sight of a stranger is sometimes sufficient to put to flight a whole community. They fear most the loss of their liberty and independence.” Now, through the whole population of India, save in the lands that lie in the northwestern and northeastern corners of the peninsula, we find running the same physical type as we find in the tribes of the south; the major part of the population has been fashioned out of these pacific tribes. “The peaceable and docile inhabitants of the fertile plains,” writes the Abbe,7 “were unable to offer effectual resistance to invaders. . . . The readiness with which they bent their necks beneath the oppressor’s yoke, and the feebleness of the efforts they put forth to recover their independence, prove how inferior they were to the proud Tartars.” Yet an infringement
of their rights, an insult to their temple, to their religion, or to their caste, will turn these born pacifists into a furious, howling, bloodthirsty mob. Usually their warfare is conducted more in accordance with their true nature ‑ the warfare of passive and peaceable resistance.
The fighting peoples of India ‑ the Sikhs of the Punjab, the Rajputs of Rajputana, the Mahrattas, highlanders from the upper tributaries of the Godavari ‑ have all the marks of an extraneous origin; physically and mentally they are not Hindus. At the present time (1944) an army of two million has been raised from the whole of India. Half of this army was recruited from the Punjab, with only 28 million inhabitants; while Bengal, with a population more than double that of the Punjab, provided only a fiftieth part. Thus I am regarding the peaceable nature of the Hindu as an inheritance from a primitive peaceable ancestry; whereas I ascribed the pacific nature of the Chinese to a process of selection from a warlike ancestry.
How has it come about that the total Hindu population of India, more than 250 million strong, has separated itself into nearly 3,000 self‑contained, self‑governing, and self‑propagating societies or castes? We obtain light by noting what is still taking place: a tribe, by adopting the religious beliefs, observances, and rites of the Hindu faith, becomes a caste.8 Tribal life remains intact. The tribe still continues as an intermarrying, inbreeding unit: the only entrance to its ranks is by birth; the only exit by death. The social bonds which hold the members of a family together are those which bind the members of a tribe or of a caste into a whole and keep them apart from neighboring tribes or castes. Within the tribe or caste, as within a family, cooperation prevails; members are ever ready to stand up for, or if necessary to fight for, the rights and privileges of each other or of their tribe or caste. The members of a tribe or caste regard themselves as the custodians of a tradition which must be handed on intact from a generation that is passing to one which is coming. It is counted a disgrace to be childless. Patriotic feelings which in
Europe go out to the nation as a whole are here confined to the narrow circles of the tribe or caste. The rule of the elders of a caste, as of a tribe, is supported and enforced by the alert and censorious opinion of its members; to be outlawed, to become an outcast or pariah, is the cruelest sentence which can befall a member of a caste or tribe. Thus it will be seen that a caste is just a tribe, a tribe which has added to its tradition the faith and morals of the Hindu religion.
There is one point about the constitution of Hindu castes and tribes which is particularly worthy of note: they are destitute of the means of offering a physical defense; they are not clad in a robe of enmity. Now, a tribe or caste which is not organized for defense could not survive unless it is protected by an overlord or governing power. We may conclude, therefore, that castes did not come into existence in India until large areas of that country were under the dominion of an invading power which brought with it a new religion. The conversion of native Hindu tribes would provide, so I infer, the first caste communities. Such communities, if pacific and self‑governing, would be regarded as acceptable subjects by a usurping power. Caste formation spread into all walks of life. Guilds which in Europe supervise and control arts and crafts became, in India, when Hindus began to live in towns and in cities, castes or tribes, supervising and ruling, not only the work of artisans, but also the lives of their wives and families. Pride and the spirit of emulation, which expend themselves in separating European populations into classes, go into caste formation in India. Priestly castes take the highest rank; then, on the downward grade, come the warrior castes, then the merchant castes; and last the peasant castes, whose privilege is to labor that the higher castes may live. Thus India is divided into a myriad of separate societies or castes, each indifferent to the welfare of the other. The tide of passion which floods a European nationality and sweeps it into war is, when it arises in India, broken into numerous side eddies among the castes, tribes, and nationalities, and is thus dissipated. A nation organized into castes is incapable of offering an effective defense.
Caste formation interests the student who seeks for the ways that lead to peace. It is also of interest to the student of human
evolution. War is a way of forcing the pace of evolution; here, among the Hindus, war is excluded. But to a certain degree evolution is also excluded. Each caste represents the plants of a garden enclosed within its own protecting walls; there is no struggle between the plants, only with conditions imposed on them by Nature. In such gardens evolution will go on slowly; it is a peaceable and static form of evolution. As long as the walls of caste stand firm, all is well; but when a hurricane of aggressive inhuman war levels the walls to the ground, then the weakness of the caste system becomes only too apparent.
The Egyptians have maintained their integrity in much the same way as the Chinese. The Jews, since their dispersion, have never had recourse to war, either to advance their position or to maintain their integrity.
The Pros and Cons of War
I BEGIN THIS CHAPTER ON JUNE 28, 1944. JUST OVER three weeks ago the armies of the Allied nations began to land in Normandy; yesterday American soldiers became masters of Cherbourg. My study window, at which I sit, looks out toward Normandy and that part of France from which, these two weeks past, Hitler has been hurling his “winged bombs” on London, many of which speed overhead to keep their trysts with death. A few hundred yards from my window a large cabled balloon swings in mid‑air; it is intended to serve as a bomb trap. If it succeeds, then I shall have balloon and bomb on my doorstep, and so there will be an end to this chapter on the pros and cons of war. Thus, as I attempt to balance the manifest evils of war against some of its beneficial effects, my judgments are the more likely to be sobered by the actualities of war which surround me.
Two compartments of my war portfolio are bursting with their contents: one is that which is filled with condemnations and execrations of war; the other is the one in which war is extolled‑by some it is even regarded as a divine institution. My
object is neither to praise war nor to condemn it, but to examine it and to seek to discover how it has come to have such a strangle hold on the world of humanity. From Chapter 29 onward I have been tracing the rise of war between human communities. War was inherent in the scheme of human evolution from the very beginning. That each group or community may fulfill its evolutionary destiny, it stays apart and in antagonism to every other group. The device which keeps groups apart has been built into the very soul of human nature. For human nature is so constituted that it reacts in one way when the home affairs of a community are involved, and in quite another way when its foreign affairs are in question. Now, the evolutionary groups of modern Europe are represented by nations. As is the way with evolutionary units, they are, in varying degrees, ambitious, emulative, jealous, envious, and competitive; the behavior of each is under the domination of a dual code, the ethical (amity) code, being applied to home affairs, the cosmical (enmity) code to foreign affairs. Therein lie all the elements which go to the making of war. We are now to measure the effects of war on nations, not as weighed by calculating politicians, nor as measured by the idealistic standards of humanists, but as they appear to the somber eye of the anthropologist.
War is dysgenic: a nation must be impoverished in every sense if part of its manhood, particularly if it be the best part, is destroyed. “For it can never be,” wrote Hobbes, “that war shall preserve life and peace destroy it.” Darwin agreed that modern wars are dysgenic; “the finest young men are taken . . . the feebler are left at home” to breed.1 He was also of the opinion that in tribal warfare “the bravest men, who were always willing to come to the front in war, and who freely risked their lives for others, would, on an average, perish in larger numbers than other men.”2 But he also recognized another and very important aspect of this problem: the tribes which were rich in families noted for bravery were the more likely to conquer and survive. German anthropologists are fully aware of the destructive effects of war
on their own nation. In an official journal3 which upheld the Nazi creed of anthropology, the damage sustained by Germany in the war of 1914‑18 is summed up thus: she lost two million of that part of manhood which was distinguished for its “energy, courage, enterprise, endurance, and fighting spirits”; she was deprived, through the blockade, of 800,000 new lives; the mortality among her officers was twice that of the rank and file; the Nordic element of her manhood was particularly hard hit, and thus her “cultural potentiality” suffered. “War,” this German authority declared, “is the greatest enemy of the Racial Hygenist and that Germany must work for peace “so far as honour permits.” This was in 1936, when Germany assumed the mien of a cooing dove. Such was the damage suffered by the German people in the First World War; yet when she entered the Second World War that damage was no longer apparent.
A power of recuperation must not be permitted to hide the fact that war is dysgenic. Why, then, should a nation expend the treasure of its blood in war? British records of the present war supply an answer. In February 1944 Mr. Churchill informed Parliament that 38,300 of our air pilots had fallen fighting;4 they were the elite of British youth. Why, then, had their lives been sacrificed? Let us suppose that in the autumn of 1940, when the Battle of Britain was being fought in the skies of southern England, our airmen had sought to save their lives rather than to give them, and that our sailors had preferred safety to danger, would not our fate have been that which overtook France? We should have been no longer in charge of our national destiny or evolution. Germany would have controlled it. not for our good, but for her own. The youth of a nation sacrifices itself in war in order that its nation may live, move, and have its being, remaining safe and free to work out its own evolutionary destiny. Youth pays the premium of national safety and integrity. That truth, although often forgotten, is freely acknowledged by those who
have studied the evolutionary effects of war.5 Dr. C. R. Carpenter, for example, writing in 1943, noted that in war “members of a group are killed, but the group survives and the species is perpetrated.”6 “Fear of national destruction,” exclaimed Theodore Roosevelt,7 “will prompt men to do almost anything.”
We must measure the effects of war, not as they fall on the individual, but as they fall on a nation as a whole. An old pupil of mine8 has written: “It is the fittest army which survives.” By “fittest,” I suppose him to mean the army which had pooled its resources of mind, body, and material and had put them to the best advantage on every opportunity. In fitness must be included co‑operation and good will; leadership and discipline; courage and endurance; strength of will and a spirit of sacrifice ‑ in brief, a successful combination of all those qualities which go to make an army an effective instrument of war. War, particularly war as now waged, is the ultimate test, not only of armies, but also of nations. The whole national fabric is tested. Modern wars are waged on two fronts ‑ a fighting front and a home front; both are equally important and equally vulnerable. If numbers and resources are approximately equal, then we expect victory to go to the nation which wholeheartedly and unitedly mobilizes its resources and resolutely and doggedly applies them to secure the end for which war is being waged. Thus we must measure the effects of war, not by the length of our casualty lists, but by the degree to which we have succeeded in responding to the demands of war as a national whole.
War is the most terrible of ordeals; it is also the most powerful factor of national integration. The trials which a nation has to face in a time of peace may be resolved in several ways; hence a division of a nation into political parties. In the ordeal of war there is only one policy ‑ unity. “The nation is in danger” is still the most potent of rallying cries. Wilfred Trotter (1873‑1939),
who regarded war as the greatest of evils and believed that “universal peace was ultimately inevitable,” drew a faithful picture of the mental state into which a nation is thrown by war.9 “War sets in motion a tide of common feeling by the power of which union and energy of purpose and self‑sacrifice for the good of the social unit become possible to a degree unknown under any other circumstance.” Political parties in the U.S.A. were divided in their war policy until December 7, 1941; on that date the Japanese made their treacherous attack on the U.S. fleet assembled in Pearl Harbor. Thereafter there was but one policy ‑ war against Japan and against Germany. After Britain declared war on Germany, on September 3, 1939, political parties dropped their differences and rallied to the support of a single government and a single policy. The dominions crowded round the mother country; their feelings toward her were deepened and strengthened. In France it was otherwise; the exigencies of war left her party differences unhealed. The common fear which pervades the soul of a nation in wartime softens and tends to break down the antagonism between social classes. A generous social mood is engendered, with the result that a social legislation accomplishes more in years of war than it would have done in decades of peace. Such a result, however, must be placed to the debit side of human nature rather than to the credit side of war.
One might well expect that civilized minds, under the impact and stress of war, would give way, and that our asylums would become overfilled and our out‑patients departments overcrowded with neurasthenics. Such has not been the case in Britain during the present war. Our Minister of Health reported (The Times, October 30, 1943): “Our experience up to the present confirms that of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, that stresses in themselves do not increase the incidence of psychosis.” Yet the national mind is exposed during the years of war to a crossfire of propaganda, our home government seeking to instill hope and courage in the home breast by insisting on the righteousness of our cause and the wickedness and atrocious cruelty of the enemy, while the enemy brings his battery of wiles, cajolery, and threats upon us to make us believe just the opposite. Fortunately the
national mind is protected by a safety mechanism. That mechanism is the untutored bias of the national mind; it accepts home propaganda as probably true and rejects foreign as almost certainly false. Were it not so, the mind would be destroyed by distraction.
The observation just made throws an ugly side light on the war mind of the natural man. The morality and ethics of war have been discussed in Chapters 24 and 25. I would not mention them again but for the fact that our double morality ‑ the dual code which regulates human behavior ‑ is closely concerned in the pros and cons of war: in war both ends of the dual code are strengthened, the ethical (amity) end to support the home front, the cosmical (enmity) to reinforce the fighting front. Even the civilized mind which keeps the enmity code normally in abeyance awakens at the impact of war. It is the use of the double code which gives rise to what Professor Flugel has called “the moral paradox of war.”10 He enunciates the paradox thus: “The fact that, while on the one hand war is utterly opposed to all the recognized canons of morality, it yet elicits qualities which are agreed to be of the highest moral value and induces in the belligerent populations a sort of moral fervour which is hard to bring about by any other means.” That a soldier should, in the same moment, seek to kill an opponent and, overcoming the strongest instinct in his nature ‑ that of self‑preservation ‑ should offer his own life to save his nation, is certainly a paradox; but of its paradoxical aspect the soldier is quite unconscious: to act under the dual code is, for him, in the natural order of things. Christ sought to impose a single code of morality on his followers ‑ the ethical code. Yet his modern followers, even the most devout of Christian clergymen, become double‑codists when the war fever sweeps their nations, so strongly entrenched in human nature is the double code of morality. The most unhappy of men and women are those who, watching their conduct very closely and finding within themselves the double code, seek to regulate their behavior by a single code ‑ the ethical. From such an ordeal men and women emerge as conscientious objectors. Their lot is
a particularly hard one; in seeking to purify their morality they discover that they have become the outcasts of their society. The civilized mind, which assumes that the ethical code should rule human conduct in all circumstances, heaps execrations on war because it is such a flagrant breach of that code. Here I am not concerned with what ought to be, but with what has been and still is. If a single ethical code is to prevail in the world the law of evolution will have to be redrafted and human nature remade.
It is often assumed and asserted by men and women who condemn war that those who participate in it emerge with a damaged sense of morality. These critics are misled by the proverb, “He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith”; they forget that the soldier has two pairs of gloves ‑ a cosmical pair which he dons when handling the pitch of war and an ethical pair which he wears in times of peace. The British soldiers who went through the First World War returned to civilian life with hearts unseared and characters untarnished. John Ruskin,11 speaking of the veterans of the Crimean War and of the Indian Mutiny, applied these adjectives to them: “thoughtful,” “good,” “noble.” Bagehot recognized the virtues of war. ‘War,” he wrote, “both needs and generates certain virtues; not the highest, but what may be called the preliminary virtues, as valour, veracity, the spirit of obedience, the habit of discipline.”12 The Rev. F. Denison Maurice, in 1862, commended soldiers as “servants of the living God”; he ascribed to them “justice, gentleness, and tenderness.” Nor is their religious sense lessened by war; indeed, Bagehot regarded religion as a “military advantage.” A young airman who gave his life for his country left behind him a testament. A sentence taken from this testament will reveal the spirit which animated him: “I shall maintain that this war is a very good thing; every individual is having the chance to give and dare all for his principle like the martyrs of old.”13 The old calumny that the professional soldier is neither thoughtful nor scholarly should be finally scotched by the experience of the
present war. War does indeed provide opportunities for those who are already becoming more inhumane; but those who are humane before they enter on war emerge from it with their humanity strengthened.
War, in spite of certain redeeming features, is a great evil. Why, then, do nations permit themselves to be drawn into it? “No one chooses war,” wrote Aristotle (384‑322 B.C.), “nor prepares for war for war’s sake.”14 That, I think, is still essentially true, for war is resorted to by a nation not for the sake of war, but because war is considered the lesser of two evils by which it finds itself confronted. Let us consider the choice pressed upon the islanders of Melos by the Athenians in the year 416 B.C. as recorded by Thucydides.15 The Athenians desired to include Melos in their empire. They landed an army on the island and called the Melians to a parley. “We see,” said the Melians, “that you have come to be yourselves the judges of the debate, and that its natural conclusion for us will be slavery.” To which the Athenians replied: “We are seeking the safety of your state; for we wish you to become our subjects with the least trouble to ourselves. . . . You know and we know, as practical men, that the question of justice arises only between parties equal in strength, and that the strong do as they like and the weak have to submit.” To which the Melians answered: “It may be your interest to be our masters, but how can it be ours to be your slaves?” The Melians chose to fight for their independence, with the result that they ceased to exist as a people.
In this incident, taken from the history of Athens, are illustrated all the pros and cons of war. In the opening negotiations we find Athens basing her claims on the cosmical code ‑ the right of might ‑ while the Melians appeal to the ethical code ‑ the right of justice. Thucydides states the case so as to favor the Melians. A modern professor of economics would have put up a stronger case for the Athenians. The Aegean islands, instead of working harmoniously together, were at sixes and sevens. By compelling the union of the islanders, Athens gave them prosperity, security,
and peace, and at the same time advanced the cause of civilization. The Melians were undone by their pigheadedness. What the economist calls pigheadedness, the student of human evolution calls a spirit of independence ‑ an essential part of the mechanism of man’s evolution. Thus in this ancient Melian incident we find conflict between two codes of morality and two conceptions of life ‑ namely, civilization versus evolution. And it is still so in the war now being waged.
On May 10, 1940, Germany presented her neighbors Holland and Belgium with the same choice of evils as the Athenians had placed before the Melians ‑ peace if they submitted, war if they refused. Like the Melians, they ‑ the Dutch and the Belgians – chose to fight rather than surrender their right to maintain their independence. At this moment (July 2, 1944) Germany, like Athens, is fighting to compel the smaller nations of Europe to unite under her aegis, while the Allies have, as one of their major objectives, the restoration of the independence of these same nations.
War has many other effects on the peoples who engage in it beyond those I have touched on in this essay. Our individual liberties are curtailed; our lives are regulated, services are exacted; we are disciplined. “Human inventiveness is fanned by the fierce wings of war.”16 War has become a mother of invention; it is also the begetter of planning on a national scale. Industry, commerce, and economics have to be transformed so as to serve the needs of the state rather than the interests of individuals. In brief, modern war is an integrator of national life.
I may add, by way of postscript, that this chapter has been brought to an end without any untoward incident, but there have been several close shaves, and so I am free to proceed to the next chapter, which is to deal with the pros and cons of peace.
The Pros and Cons of Peace
PEACE APPEARS TO STAND IN NO NEED OF commendation. At least the compartment of my portfolios to which such commendations are assigned is poorly filled, whereas that which contains its alleged evils is moderately full, while a third compartment labeled “The Fight for Peace” is bursting with annotations. It may be, as William Penn1 remarked in 1693, that “the advantages of peace and the mischiefs of war are so many and sensible to every capacity under all governments” that there has been no need to emphasize the advantages which peace brings to a people.
What is man’s normal state ‑ that of peace or of war? Thomas Hobbes (1588‑1679) was of opinion that man’s natural state is that of war;2 I agree with those who hold an opposite opinion – namely, that man’s normal ‑ I do not say natural ‑ state is that of peace. Let me make my meaning quite clear by the help of a simile. What is the normal state of the sea? It may be stormtossed by a gale or it may be at rest and calm; both states are “natural,” but its normal state is that of rest. The living human brain is a sea: it may be storm‑tossed by passion, as in war. After the storm it subsides to a state of calm, which is to be regarded as its normal or usual condition. This opinion is in keeping with what was observed among primitive peoples (Chapter 33): their usual state was that of peace; it was only when they were disturbed or threatened that their mood became warlike.
Peace seems to be such a simple and straightforward state; but when we seek to define that state we find ourselves surrounded by difficulties. Take the case of individual man. When may we say he is at peace? His conscience must be satisfied; he must have done what he considers his duty by his family, by his neighbors, by his fellow citizens, and by his God. Such a state
can only be momentary; it is reached during an emotional crisis ‑ such as happens at a stage of love, of religious conversation, or of alcoholic intoxication. At most times he will count himself at peace if his needs, his wishes, his desires, his aspirations are not fulfilled ‑ but in a fair way to being satisfied. Conditions which satisfy one man fail to produce a feeling of peace in another. Hence in defining individual peace we are driven, as we shall be when we come to define collective or national peace, to content ourselves with a negative definition and say a man is at peace when he is not at war either with himself or with anyone within or without his gates. His peace is at once broken if there is a threat to his life, livelihood, home, reputation, or liberty ‑ liberty to think, speak, act, or worship as his conscience may dictate.
And a nation ‑ when may we say that it is at peace? I would say that it is when all its individuals, all its classes and political parties work harmoniously and successfully together to accomplish a national purpose ‑ a condition of things reached, in the irony of worldly affairs, only when a nation is at war! In a nation at peace an enormous assortment of contending interests have to be satisfied by political, economic, and social contentions. As long as these are accomplished without resort to armed force, a nation is said to be at peace. It is by the satisfaction of wants felt within a nation that progress is made, or, as I would prefer to say, that national evolution is accomplished. A nation may be carrying on a violent and lethal economic war with its neighbors by means of tariffs, cartels, and “most-favored‑nation” clauses and yet be said to be at peace. Only when a nation takes up arms to defend, or to secure, what it regards as a “vital interest,” and proceeds to bend the will of the enemy by means of its armed forces, does it pass from the state of peace to that of war. A nation, then, is at peace as long as it does not use its armed power to implement its policy.
Let us look, for a moment, at the evils which peace is alleged to bring on a people. Here is what John Ruskin had to say about them in 1865:3 “The common notion that peace and the virtues of civil life flourished together, I found to be wholly untenable.
Peace and the vices of civil life only flourish together. We talk of peace and learning, and of peace and plenty, and of peace and civilization; but I found that those were not the words which the Muse of History coupled together; that on her lips the words were ‑ peace and sensuality ‑ peace and selfishness ‑ peace and death.” There is more rhetoric than truth in the allegations here made against peace; and yet, if Ruskin had so wished, he could have claimed support from philosophers both ancient and modern. Plato for example, held that “luxury and softness exercise a relaxing and slackening effect . . . on the soul.”4 “The mind,” said David Hume, “when left to its self [in peace] immediately languishes, and in order to preserve its ardour, must be every moment supported by a new flow of passion.”5 Aristotle came nearer the mark I am aiming at when he touched on the virtues needed by a people living in a state of perfect peace.6 “If there are, as poets tell us, any inhabitants of the Happy Isles, to them a higher degree of philosophy, temperance, and justice will be necessary, as they live at their ease in the full plenty of every sensual pleasure.” Here Aristotle recognizes that the human mind has to be fortified for peace as well as for war; a nation can remain strong in peace as well as in war.
Much more dangerous to a nation than the luxuries of peace is the philosophy of individualism. This can be preached and practiced only in times of peace. It is in reality a philosophy of libertinism ‑ one which regards the accident of birth, which should bind a man to his nation, as an injustice, and holds that a man should be free to pick his place of abode and his nation; it is held that nations exist to provide a framework wherein men and women may develop their complete personalities. Extreme individualists also hold that, while it is the duty of states and of nations to give them protection and opportunities, they owe nothing in return beyond the payment of rates and taxes. Peace certainly does provide libertinism with a license that is withheld in times of war. A young German is not likely to be permitted
to forget his national duties, and fortunately very few young Britons need to be reminded of them.
The opinion expressed by Professor H. J. Laski, in his Conway Lecture of 1932, is in opposition to that we have cited from the writings of Ruskin. “Only in peace,” Professor Laski affirmed, “can the virtues of a nation achieve their rightful reward.”7 This, too, was the opinion so vigorously advocated by the Rt. Hon. J. M. Robertson in 1916.8 The virtues which are developed in peace are not those which are fostered in war; if a nation exists in order to develop all its virtues, it must experience both war and peace. Nations can remain at peace for long periods of time without damage to their warlike qualities (see p. 129).
Peace being not only the normal but also the most pleasant state of mind ‑ the state which every people longs to enjoy – why, then, is it ever exchanged for that which brings the trials and perils of war? The explanation of this paradox, the only satisfying explanation known to me, has been found by those who have studied the conditions under which diverse races of mankind have come into existence. It is when we approach the pros and cons of peace from an evolutionary point of view that we begin to understand the magnitude of the obstacles that stand between our desire for peace and its attainment. Meantime, let us confine our attention to Europe; we have already discussed the problems of peace so far as they relate to two of the largest communities of Asia (Chapters 36 and 37). The population of Europe, numbering 530 million (1939), is divided into twenty‑six national groups.9 These groups vary in size and in power: the Russians in Europe, for example, number 133 million, the Germans 80 million, the French 42, the British 47.2, the Dutch 8.5, the Danes 3.7 million. They also vary in degree of organization, some of the smaller nations being the most highly organized. Every one of the nationalities of Europe bears the marks of being an evolutionary unit; that is to say, each nation is
conscious of being a separate people; each claims sovereignty – the right to manage its own affairs and to control its own evolutionary destiny; each has recourse to war if its integrity is threatened; each regulates its behavior on the rules of the dual code ‑ the co‑operative, ethical, friendly code for home affairs, the hard‑calculating, cosmical code for foreign affairs. The nations of Europe claim to be under the law of Christ: in reality they are under the law of evolution. The nations of Europe are evolutionary‑minded; they are emulative, envious, jealous, selfish, and, above all, competitive. It has to be remembered, too, that the nations of the northern half of Europe are the progeny of tribes noted for their fierce warlike qualities. Nowhere else in the world of humanity has the battle of evolution been waged so hotly as in Europe; war is being used to force the pace of evolution. No wonder, then, the evangel of peace has made so poor progress in Europe.
If such is the state of Europe, if her ailments are really of an evolutionary nature, as I think, in what direction are we to seek for peace? There is one approach which at first sight seems promising. National behavior is bicodal: internally, a nation moves on co‑operative, ethical lines; externally, on cosmical, antagonistic lines. If, then, nations were to become unicodal, if the ethical code were to become dominant, cosmical antagonism would disappear and nations would become friendly and cooperative. Alas, this plan has been tried and has failed; for twelve centuries and more Europeans have had preached to them the single code of Christ, and yet wars have gone on. An international authority has declared: “Christianity has had no influence in the present war.”10 In times of war, clergymen preach and practice the bicodalism of the Old Testament. Leaders of the religious denominations of England, in seeking for the foundations of peace, have, quite unconsciously, recognized the evolutionary origin of war.11 “Rivalries and strife, which culminate in war,” they declare, “spring from sources in human nature too deep to be controlled by human planning. Nations must give up rivalry and set common good as their goal.” In
other words, they must give up the law of evolution as practiced hitherto.
There is another approach to peace in an evolutionary world which I shall discuss from a personal point of view. I was born and bred in Scotland, and in my home, my schools, and university absorbed the love of my country ‑ my patriotism. I know that if I had been born in France, or Germany, or Russia, or China, I would have absorbed, would have inherited, the traditions of these several countries. I should have inherited, or not, fighting spirit, if it was part of a national tradition.12 If, then, we could deprive the nations of Europe of their “inherited traditions” and substitute for them a common love of humanity, then they would cease their rivalries and bury their swords. They would be denationalized, and all would base their behavior on one code, the ethical code of peace. To attain this state nations would have to burn their schoolbooks, their histories, a great part of their literature, and their works of art and their flags; forget their anthems; place their pacifists in places of honor and their victorious generals on stools of repentance. For my own part I cannot conceive an existence in which my own people, my home, my parish, and my country, do not hold a special place in my affections. My living and vital interests are centered in them; to give them up is too heavy a price to exact merely to give me peace.
After the First World War there was a movement among the schoolteachers of England to put the policy just discussed into practice. If that movement had prevailed, what condition would the youth of England have been in to face the threatening might of Germany in 1939? In seeking to create conditions favorable to peace, no nation can afford to move by itself; a nation dare not abide by a single ethical code if its neighbors remain on the dual code. “If any State,” wrote Macaulay, “forms a great regular army the bordering State must imitate the example or must submit to a foreign yoke.”13
There is another approach to peace in an evolutionary world
which must be considered ‑ one advocated by Bertrand Russell during the First World War. It is a policy of militant pacifism. “The evils suffered during hostile invasion,” he affirmed, “are suffered because resistance is offered. . . . As between civilized nations, therefore, non-resistance would seem not only a distant religious ideal, but the course of practical wisdom. Only pride and fear stand in the way of its adoption.”14 In order that we may realize how such a policy would work out in practice, let us suppose that when Hitler invaded Russia on June 22, 1941, the destinies of that country had been in the hands, not of Stalin, but of Bertrand Russell or of Mr. Gandhi. Without firing a single shot Hitler would have been in command of the whole realm of Russia. Bertrand Russell assumes that the Russians would have gone on living just as they did before Hitler’s arrival. They would, as long as they were content to work, not for themselves and their country, but for the aggrandizement of the Germans and of Germany. They would have obtained peace at the cost of enslavement. Under Stalin. Russians gave their lives by the million to escape that fate.
Let us agree, then, that men desire to lead their lives under conditions of peace. The problem which has to be solved is, What price are they prepared to pay for it? The price must be one which human nature can pay without suffering damage; the price must not bring mankind greater troubles than it has to bear now.
There are three possible ways of obtaining and of keeping the peace. The first is the way nations have practiced hitherto viz.: (1) By armed might to win peace and by a continuation of armed might to retain it. (2) To avoid war by giving no occasion for it. This means that a nation must no longer be evolutionary‑minded; it must cease to be ambitious, competitive, enterprising; it must be humble‑minded, turning the other cheek to the smiter and offering the national coat to the neighboring nation which has already taken its cloke. Such is the policy and practice of pacifism. (3) To establish a supranational government which has at its disposal sufficient armed power to enforce
international law and justice. If scheme (1) is adopted the evolutionary procedure will remain unchanged; if either (2) or (3) is accepted, then the conditions of human evolution will undergo a radical change.
So far as Europe is concerned ‑ and it is the way to peace in Europe I am considering now ‑ we need not entertain the policy of pacifism; its tenets are alien to European nature; the price we should have to pay is too great. We have seen the results of a prolonged policy of pacifism in China and in India (Chapters 25 and 37). On the other hand, the idea of a central supranational government for Europe has a strong appeal for all forward‑looking minds; it is a cheap way of obtaining peace and looks an easy way. “Kings,” wrote Hobbes in 1651, “secure peace at home by laws; abroad by wars.” It seems common sense, then, to secure peace abroad by international law administered by an international authority. Let us glance at what must be the constitution of such an authority. At the present time (July 1944) the three great Allied Powers ‑ the U.S.S.R., the U.S.A., and the B.C.N. (British Commonwealth of Nations) ‑ are on the way to victory; Germany on the road to defeat. The imposition and maintenance of peace will fall on the three Great Powers. On them, too, will fall the task of constituting a central authority. The representation of nations on that central authority must be based on the armed strength which each nation is capable of putting into the common pool. In such a central authority the struggle for power would still continue; Europe would still remain an armed camp. If one of the Great Powers were disposed to withdraw from such a pact what force except that of war would compel her to abide by it?
The defeat of Germany will not solve the problem of peace. A warlike nation, 80 million strong, cannot be held down by force for any length of time. No display of armed strength can force her to co‑operate. If her mood changes, it will be because she herself has realized that a policy of peace is the wisest policy. Until that mood comes, Europe has to remain under arms. At its best a central government can give Europe only an armed peace.
To ask the nations of Europe to abandon their sovereignties, the independence for which their forefathers fought, the right to
guide their own destinies, for an armed peace which at the best is only problematical in its endurance is to ask them to pay too heavy a premium for an insurance against the risks of war. A national spirit, if a possible source of war, is also an eternal source of national strength. It was not an excess of nationalism which led us British astray after the First World War, but a lack of it. We behaved as if we had been defeated; we disarmed; we sought an easy peace behind the League ‑ a Maginot Line. There is no cheap road to peace; it can be secured only by a nation trained and ready to stand to arms at any time. We must have courage and still more courage; we must offer to other nations the justice we expect to receive from them. We may expect to find in a free world other peoples who share our ideals, and who, unbound by any written and signed agreement, will join us in keeping order and peace in Europe. The bond between the nations of the British Commonwealth is unwritten, and it is just because it is unwritten that it has proved effective. Why not depend on a similar bond holding peace ‑ loving allies together? Weaker nations must trust to stronger neighbors seeing that justice is done to them. Thus my recipe for peace in Europe is to seek it by each nation being prepared for war and ready to give its blood and its treasure to maintain peace. I hold that a world of free nations, each responsible for its own conduct, each in control of its own destiny, each making its contribution to the cause of humanity, each making its contribution to the cause of peace, is still the world in which most men desire to live.
An Evolutionary Interpretation of the Second World War
IT IS TUESDAY, JULY 17, 1944. EXACTLY SIX WEEKS ago the Allied armies began an invasion of Normandy; the bridgehead they have established there runs from St.‑Lo to Caen ‑ the nucleus of a western front. The Germans are resisting vigorously; nevertheless, we expect that soon we shall see them retreating toward the Rhine before a greatly expanded western front. In Italy the Germans are retreating northward
before the forces of the Allied nations; hard fighting is now taking place along a line that runs from Leghorn on the west coast to Ancona on the east. In Russia miracles have just happened. The German line, stretching from the Baltic to the Carpathians, has broken before the fearful onslaught of the Russians, who are now pushing deeply into Galicia, Poland, and racing toward East Prussia and the Baltic. In the Far East the war against the Japanese goes more slowly; for two and a half years they have been reaping the harvests sown by the French, British, and Dutch peoples in the tropical lands of the East. They are stubborn fighters; from the outposts they had established in the islands to the north and northeast of Australia they have been driven, or are being destroyed, at the cost of much Allied blood and treasure. Their attempted invasion of Manipur from north Burma has just been thrown back with heavy loss for them.
Such, then, is the stage at which the Second World War now is. What has a student of human evolution got to say about it? In preceding chapters I have been seeking to trace a connection between war and evolution; to prove that war was originally part of the machinery of human evolution. If that be so, then it may be asked, What evolutionary results may be expected to issue from the great war now being waged? In this chapter I propose to summarize the objectives the various combatants have in view, and to estimate how far the results we expect to issue from this war are likely to alter the evolutionary position of the various contestants.
We shall obtain light on the present war if we glance at the account given by Thucydides of the conditions which prevailed in ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War (431‑404 B.C.). Ancient Greece, measuring little more than a third of England, was divided into eighteen territories, or states, most of them of about the size of our smaller English counties. The inhabitants of each territory regarded themselves as a separate people or nation; they were in competition with one another; each, like the nations of modern Europe, represented an evolutionary unit. But, whereas the individuals in a modern nation or unit are numbered by the million, those of ancient Greece were numbered by the thousand. Like the nations of modern Europe,
those of Greece varied in ambition and in power. Some of them, such as Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, reckoned themselves Great Powers; most of them sought to steer a neutral course. Sir Richard Livingstone, in a preface to an edition of Thucydides which he brought out in 1943, has this to say about the conditions which prevailed among the ancient Greeks: “Athens, Sparta, and Corinth behave like modern peoples, and are moved to war by the same motives of jealousy, ambition, rivalry, fear, political and economic interest.”1 Here Sir Richard names passions and emotions which form a constituent part of human nature and also of national nature: ambition, jealousy, and rivalry are parts of the machinery of human evolution; they represent its driving power. Fear is the signal which automatically arises within the national breast when security is threatened; and fear keeps vigilance ever on the alert. The nations of ancient Greece were involved, like those of modern Europe, in an evolutionary struggle; out of such struggles proceed wars.
How did the British peoples become involved in the present war? Why did we, on April 3, 1939, give an unconditional promise to Poland that if she were attacked by Germany we would come to her rescue? Our attitude toward Germany in 1939 was that of Sparta toward Athens in the year 431 B.C. This is how Thucydides explained the situation: “The real but unavowed cause I consider to have been the growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm [fear] which it inspired in Sparta; this made war inevitable.”2 Were our fears of German power and intentions justified? The events of 1940 proved that they were. By the middle of June we were fighting for our existence as a nation; the armies of France had been broken. After June 21 the destinies of France were in Hitler’s keeping, and the nations of the British Commonwealth were brought face to face with a crisis in their fate. But for the skill and devotion of our airmen and our sailors, our fate in 1940 would have been that of France. Hitler would have used our workshops, our tools, and our men to turn out guns and ammunition for the slaughter of his enemies and our
friends; we should have become hewers of wood and drawers of water for Germany. In this war, then, we fought at first for sheer existence; and now we are fighting for our national security and for the security of such nations as are friendly to our cause. We are fighting so that the British peoples may continue their unbroken evolutionary careers. If they are left free to choose, it will be the path of peace, not that of war, they will pursue.
Let us now consider the case of Germany. What is she fighting for? In her case we must judge, not by her words, but by her deeds. She had a peace pact with Poland. Nevertheless, she invaded that country on September 1, 1939, and in four weeks the Poles were broken and powerless; they were told to regard themselves as an inferior and subservient people. Then, after lassoing the peoples of Denmark and Norway in the spring of 1940, Hitler turned on Holland, Belgium, and France; he conquered and subjected them. His victories brought into his train of followers Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria. A swift invasion of the Balkans in the spring of 1941 broke the power of Yugoslavia and of Greece; the British were bundled out of southeast Europe neck and crop. It was at this time (May 8, 1941) that Hitler assured Europe that he was to give her a 1,000‑year peace. The kind of peace he had in mind may be inferred from an announcement made by his Reichsminister of Economics (Funk) in July 1940. “The peacetime economy,” he said, “must guarantee to the Greater German Reich a maximum of security and to the German people a maximum of consumption of goods, in order to increase their welfare.”3 In 1941, then, Germany was fighting for the domination of Europe; the Herrenvolk were to manage the affairs of Europe for the benefit of their Reich.
Fortunately for Europe, Hitler intended to make Russia part of his citadel. On June 22, 1941, his armies invaded that country; on December 10 of that same year he proclaimed to the world that Europe “from the Atlantic to the Volga belongs to the Axis.” Germany’s first year in Russia was one of victories and of expanding ambitions. Her second and third years brought her only reverses; her hopes began to recede and her price to fall. In the opening month of 1943, for example, Hitler, broadcasting to
his people, told them: “The struggle forced on us is a struggle to decide the continued existence or the destruction of our people.”4 In July 1944 Goebbels put Germany’s war aims thus: “The question ‑ Why continue the war? ‑ is out of place for a nation defending its very life.”5 When Germany invaded Russia in the summer of 1941, her war aim was the conquest of Europe. By the summer of 1944 she had to confess that she no longer sought for conquest, but for mere existence.
The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution. He has failed, not because the theory of evolution is false, but because he has made three fatal blunders in its application. The first was in forcing the pace of evolution among his own people; he raised their warlike passions to such a heat that the only relief possible was that of aggressive war. His second mistake lay in his misconception of the evolutionary value of power. All that a sane evolutionist demands of power is that it should be sufficient to guarantee the security of a nation; more than that is an evolutionary abuse of power. When Hitler set out to conquer Europe, he had entered on that course which brought about the evolutionary destruction of Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes (see Chapter 34). His third and greatest mistake was his failure to realize that such a monopoly of power meant insecurity for Britain, Russia, and America. His three great antagonists, although they do not preach the doctrine of evolution, are very consistent exponents of its tenets.
In what way will Germany’s evolutionary position be affected if she is utterly defeated in this war? She will be placed in the dock, tried, and sentenced; she will be disarmed. But can the mentality of a strong and resolute people be disarmed? Only in one way: by Germany herself changing her outlook on the world and pursuing her destiny along the evolutionary paths of peace in preference to those of war.
What of Russia? In 1917 Russia threw overboard all the ties which bind a nation to its soil. Communism was adopted as a
way of life; it was all that was worth living for and dying for. In 1934 came a change of mood; events in Germany and in Japan were then moving in a direction which threatened Soviet security. There was a sudden change of policy; the evolutionary assets of old Russia were reintroduced6 . The Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R. began to preach a “New Patriotism.”
Pravda, the leading organ of the Communist party, extolled the virtues of love of country; “The defense of the Fatherland,” it proclaimed, “is the highest law of life.” This doctrine was taught to schoolchildren; competitions, examinations, and prizes were brought back into school life. In the spring of 1934 “orders were given to create a wave of patriotic enthusiasm among the masses of Russia, and since then a vigorous new tone dominates public utterances and the press of Russia. Poets and musicians have been ordered to make new songs about the Fatherland. Internationalism . . . is being challenged by a comprehensive official nationalism.”7 The population of Great Russia, 173 million in number, were being thus prepared for the defense of their country and for the impact of war.
There is no need to say what the Russians are fighting for; it was in the first place to drive the Germans from the soil of their country. That involved them in a bloody but victorious struggle extending over three years; it emptied their treasuries and cost them millions of their best lives ‑ all that they might retain their integrity as an evolutionary unit, or rather as a confederation of units, for in 1944 sixteen independent Soviet republics were recognized. These will emerge from the war with the bonds which link them together greatly strengthened. Russia will attend the peace congress as the strongest of military powers. The massiveness of her population, the vast extent and continuity of her territories, promise for her a dominant position among the peoples of the world. The evolutionist can see only two obstacles in her path: Can she ensure a succession of Stalins? Can a confederacy, made up of so many diverse elements of humanity, diverse in tradition and custom and diverse in speech, be kept together over a long period of time?
The United States of America ‑ how did it become involved in the Second World War? When the war broke out in September 1939, the Americans were resolved to keep out of a quarrel which seemed to concern Europe alone. Alarm began to dawn on the American mind when, in the first week of June 1940, the British were thrown out of France; the danger of having as their Atlantic neighbors the aggressive and warlike Germans, instead of the “live and let live” pacific British, then became very real. The government of the United States declared its neutrality; nevertheless, in 1941 it became a silent participant in the war. In the opening months of that year it promised supplies to Britain; in the spring it instituted a “lease and lend” system to help the British to arm. Britain placed sites for airbases at America’s disposal. In the summer the German consulates in the U.S.A. were closed. This state of neutrality was suddenly ended on Sunday, December 7, 1941, by the treacherous attack which Japan made on the American fleet in Pearl Harbor. This brought the policy of isolation to an end; war was declared against both Japan and Germany.
What sort of “fear” was it that brought the U.S.A. into the war? It was the fear of what would happen if Germany were in command of the Atlantic and Japan in command of the Pacific. American liberties would have then been gravely curtailed. President Roosevelt, reviewing the war (January 8, 1943), said it was one of “survival”’; they were fighting “to retain a great past… and to attain a greater future.” Later (February 13, 1945) the President used these words: “Ask our soldiers what they are fighting for, and every one of them will say ‘I am fighting for my country.’”
“And what,” the reader will ask, “has all this to do with evolution?” In the following ways: This war has helped to knit the vast population (131 million) of the United States into a single people, into a united nation, enthused by a common patriotism and making it conscious of its place among the communities of the world. The people of the U.S.A. will emerge from the war as the most powerful of all single evolutionary units. The workshops of the U.S.A., built for the pursuits of peace, have been turned into the greatest of arsenals. Industrialism, far from being
a guarantee of peace, as Herbert Spencer thought, has become the greatest of assets in war.
Of all the peoples engaged in the present war the Japanese are the most consistent exponents of the doctrine of evolution as applied to human affairs. Their national organization is that of a single tribe; they represent the perfect evolutionary unit. They regard their emperor as divine; they worship by offering him their loyalty; their religion and patriotism are one. They are both ambitious and exclusive. No people give their lives so resolutely in their country’s cause. Japan has retained the warlike spirit of the tribal Mongols (see Chapters 34 and 35) and has armed that spirit with the most deadly of modern weapons.
The vaulting ambition of the leaders of Japan is illustrated by the following sentence taken from a book which Mr. Matsuoka published in 1941: “I do believe that the great mission which Heaven has imposed on Japan is to save humanity . . . by extending the Emperor’s rule to the four corners of the earth.” As to Japan’s objective in the present war, we may accept that which Shigemitsu, her Foreign Minister, gave in 1942: “This is a war of liberation to defend East Asia, our home; to rescue it from exploitation [!], and to establish peace and stability and to bring common prosperity to it.”
Japan took the following steps in anticipation of war: In 1931 she refused to limit the size of her navy. In 1936 she left the League of Nations in order that she might be free to exploit the adjacent mainland. In 1937 she began her invasion of China. In 1940 she allied herself with Germany and Italy. On July 23, 1941, she invaded French Indo‑China. In the spring of 1942 the frontiers of her empire extended to the mid‑Pacific on the east, to the borders of Australia in the south, and to those of India in the west. In employing war to further her evolutionary policy Japan made the same mistakes as Germany. She used war to force the pace of her progress. She used power, not for the defense of her integrity, but for her aggrandizement. Her avarice led her to swallow so much territory that, if she were allowed to retain it, she herself would in time be swallowed by it. She underestimated the power, warlike qualities, resolution, and endurance of the United States.
The empire which she has annexed, like that which Great Britain has built up in the course of centuries, is vulnerable; its integrity depends on command of all adjacent seas. When the crisis comes, her fleet will never withstand the impact of the united naval power of America and Britain; the life line of her empire will be broken. Like Germany, she will be placed ultimately in the dock; but whether or not she will leave it with a better understanding of the laws of human evolution, only the future can tell.
What of France ‑ unhappy, unfortunate France? What has been the matter with her? Some light is thrown on her prewar state of mind by a soldier who visited France in the spring of 1936 to watch her army maneuvers.8 He found that the soldiers were bored with the work they were called to do; maneuvers were regarded by the French public as a nuisance. In Germany he found an opposite state. At that time France was demanding security, security against Germany. Her demands fell on deaf ears. She longed for peace without having to fight for it. She could get no stability of government: her political parties were numerous; party interests prevailed over those of national safety. While primitive tribalism was conquering the German mind, that of France was being undone by the impact of civilization. Coercive tribalism made Germany of one mind. Civilization, with its liberty of thought, its individualism, made France many minded. When the crisis came, in June 1940, she was still party-driven. The party which stepped forward and signed the Armistice on June 21 sought security and safety for France, not in fighting Germany, but in collaborating with her. Germany could give her immediate protection; Great Britain could not. The flag of independence was hauled down; that was evidence that the evolutionary spirit had departed from France, for the flag of independence is the emblem of evolution.
My friend the late Mr. Morley Roberts (1857‑1942), writing of France, expressed the opinion “that the weakness of democratic empires lay in the incapacity of all advanced civilizations to stand up against tribal movements.”9 Germany has reverted to their
ancestral tribalism. Can France regain something of the spirit which animated the tribes of ancient Gaul? In this way only can she expect to keep the flag of independence flying.
For twenty years Mussolini sought to impose a tribal warlike spirit on the population of Italy, and failed. He led his country into war (June 10, 1940) on the side of Germany, after France had received her mortal wound. He was dethroned on July 25, 1945. His enemies surrendered Italy to the Allied nations on September 8 of the same year. Italy, when Mussolini came to power, was distracted by a multiplicity of contending parties: socialism and communism were rampant. When he fell from power and a new government had to be formed, all the old parties and contentions reappeared. Men’s minds were preoccupied with the problems of how the fruits of civilization can best be plucked, forgetting that national security must first be assured before these fruits can be enjoyed. Italy, laid waste by the war, can resume her place as an evolutionary unit among the nations of Europe only by becoming enthused with a common tribal public spirit. Can she stage such a comeback?
What of the other nations which have been ravaged, despoiled, and oppressed by the might of Germany ‑ particularly the small nations? The future of small nations is too large a subject to embark on at the end of a chapter already too long. In another volume, in which the evolution of nationality will be traced, I shall have much to say in favor of small nations: they come nearest to what I think an evolutionary unit should be in an ideal world. Economists have stigmatized small nations as out of date, as anachronisms, and as anomalies. In very truth, it is not small nations, but the great ones, which are anomalous; they have been created in the fierce struggle for power and ever more power. Small nations have succeeded in maintaining their independence, their sovereignty, not because of their power, but because of the strength and resolution of their national spirit; also by the jealousy between the Great Powers. I do earnestly hope that, when peace comes, means will be devised whereby small nations may participate in keeping the peace, and, if need be, of participating in war for their collective security and independence.
APPENDIX ‑ REPLIES TO CRITICS
I HAVE BEFORE ME SEVENTEEN PUBLISHED articles which a fellow rationalist, Mr. Jack Benjamin of New York, has devoted to a severe but not unhelpful criticism of the eighteen chapters I have contributed to the Literary Guide. Manifestly I cannot reply to all his criticisms in the space at my disposal. His chief charge against me is this: “The issues raised by Sir Arthur Keith are not alone the very life‑blood of Rationalism, but they are the essence of what we consider Science. The interpretation he offers relegates Rationalism and pure thought to the realm of limbo . . .” His “placing faith in tribal mentality, evolutionary purpose ‑ in short, allowing what we term emotion to have full sway and to eschew reason ‑ is to throw Rationality overboard.” My friend, as will be learned from the above quotations, is a robust rationalist; reason, he believes, if mankind would accept it as a sole guide, would bring peace and salvation to the world. I, too, claim to be a rationalist, but I find myself living in a world that is swayed by a multitude of impulses which are regarded as irrational because we cannot explain them. It seems to me that my first duty as a rationalist is not to sweep these irrationalities aside, but to study them, to note the part they play in social life, and so come by a better knowledge of the meaning of human behavior. I find men are moved by feelings, desires, hopes, fears, and emotional ideals rather than by intellectual judgments; indeed, reason is more frequently the slave of feeling than its master. Many of the irrationalities in man’s behavior receive an explanation when the scheme of human evolution is grasped in all its details; unfortunately that scheme is very imperfectly understood by most anthropologists. My intention in making these contributions to the Literary Guide was to prove that prejudice had a place in evolution as well as in civilization. Incidentally, I may mention that Mr. Benjamin has said very hard things about my book “On the Place of Prejudice in Modern Civilization.”
Many of the objections lodged by Mr. Benjamin and other critics against my exposition of evolution as applied to humanity find an answer in later writings, so that I may pass them by in the meantime. There is, however, one misunderstanding I must try to clear up now. I find myself laid open to a charge that was brought against Darwin ‑ viz., that he was responsible not only for the existence of evolution, but also for its application to human affairs. The process of evolution had been at work from the beginning of time; all that Darwin did was to draw the attention of humanity to their existence. My critics hold, particularly Mr. Archibald Robertson (Freethinker, May 14, 1943, p. 198), that my account of Hitler’s evolutionary methods was tantamount to a justification of his brutal cruelties. It seemed to them that to fit Hitler’s conduct into the framework of evolution was an outrage on evolution. Hitler’s method of war is that practiced by ancient German tribes, by Attila, by Genghis Khan, and by Tamerlane. Were I to give a vivid account of a criminal trial, that should not lay me open to the charge of being in complicity with the criminal; yet it is on such a charge that Mr. Robertson places me in the dock.
Mr. Robertson is shocked by the mentality I have attributed to tribes, especially that aspect of it which keeps tribes apart. He asserts that tribes do unite of their own free will. Well, I have been searching anthropological literature for examples of such fusion these thirty years past and have not found one. What I have found are tribes broken by war seeking protection from stronger tribes; I have found temporary union for defense and for attack. Tribal fusion is brought about by coercive war; it was so that the various states of England were united, it was so that the various states of France were united. Mr. Robertson cites the voluntary union of England and Scotland, but he forgets that this is a union of crowns, not a fusion of peoples. The English the Scots, the Welsh, and the north Irish are still separate peoples who have wisely confederated to their mutual advantage. He cites the cantons of Switzerland: their union was a result of Austrian oppression; the inhabitants of the cantons still remain separate. He cites the union of the thirteen American states – the progeny of one mother; he is, no doubt, familiar with the
exclamation of one of the independents: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” I am defending my account of tribal mentality at some length because it lies at the base of my theory of human evolution, to which these chapters provide merely a prelude.
Both Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Robertson object to the meaning which I attach to the word “purpose.” They agree with Dr. Julian Huxley that purpose should be reserved for a plan or end emanating from the living conscious human brain. What are we to say, then, about such a complicated and efficient instrument as the human eye? If it had been made of wood, brass, and glass, it would have been said to have been planned for a purpose, but because it has been “evolved,” is made up of living tissues, and came into existence without a preliminary “blueprint,” it is not purposive. Are not my critics, by the use of a verbal quibble, seeking a sophist’s escape from a real difficulty? Would it not be more honest to say that the finer purposive adaptations we see in plants and animals remain, as yet, unexplained? The eye has been evolved; that much is quite certain; the living vital forces which have molded it are probably still at work, but as yet we have not isolated them. I could as easily believe the theory of the Trinity as one which maintains that living, developing protoplasm, by mere throws of chance, brought the human eye into existence. The essence of living protoplasm is its purposiveness.
Mr. Robertson agrees that “evolution has occurred,” but adds that “we have no reason to think it has occurred with a purpose, or to feel any obligation to further such a purpose.” Dr. Waddington, on the other hand, is of opinion that we should note the direction in which evolution is carrying us and aid the process to the best of our ability. Dr. Waddington recognizes a trend or tendency in evolutionary changes; so do I. Now, when statesmen control human affairs so that they move toward a definite end, we say that a policy is being pursued. Do not the trends and tendencies we note in evolutionary changes represent a policy, although no council meeting has been held and no written draft ever prepared? I hold that the factors which control evolutionary events are so regulated as to produce automatically the direction
of change, giving all the appearance of a devised policy. Mr. Robertson and I agree that man has been evolved, but whereas he regards man’s evolution as a result of chance, I see in it the successful result of a trend or policy which affected progressively the development and equipment of the human brain. The brain, from being an instrument fit for anthropoids, passed on to a state in which the range of feeling, understanding, and of manipulative skill became fit for men. To ask me to believe that the evolution of man has been determined by a series of chance events is to invite me to give credit to what is biologically unbelievable.
Both my critics hold me guilty of a misuse of the word “Nature.” For a long time I have been interested in the many senses in which this word is used. I hold that the great Huxley did this word a grave injury when he expanded its meaning to include, not only all living things and the processes which go on in them, but also the processes which take place in the living human brain and the results which issue from these processes in the form of thought and of invention. Thus Huxley brought civilization and art into the realm of Nature! Nature, of course, includes all within the universe; but here I am mainly concerned with its application to living things. It is best to begin by defining what we mean by “art” or “artificial.” It was man who brought art and artificiality into the world; all the changes which human activity has introduced belong to the realm of art; all that was in existence in the world of life before that activity began I assign to the realm of Nature. I have just affirmed that there are evolutionary processes inherent in living things and therefore in Nature ‑ trends of change which are akin to human purpose and human policy. When I have used the word “Nature” in my articles I have had in mind the regulative, creative powers which are inherent in living things, and also the interplay between these living things and their environment. Mr. Robertson holds that such a use of the word is “anthropomorphic.” If he means by “anthropomorphic” the personification of a real thing I am content, but if he means that I have imputed to Nature and evolution a personification of the creative magic which flourished in the Garden of Eden, he is making a grave mistake. Unless
there are creative powers inherent in Nature there can be no evolution. After all, my conception of Nature is very close to that held by Goethe.
If my destructive critics have moved me to renewed thought, I have had other onlookers who have helped me with corroborative evidence, particularly Miss M. E. Durham.1 She is a trained observer and has had a long and firsthand experience of the tribal peoples of the Balkans. She is in agreement with me as to the mentality and behavior of tribal peoples. Only lack of space keeps me from relating now some of the more telling observations she has placed at my disposal.
Acton, Lord, 89
Agriculture, discovery of, 79
Allee, W. C., 193
Allies, objectives of, 58, 67
Amity, code of, 114
Ancient Law (Maine), 45, 88, 118
Anthropoids, sense of territory among, 163
Anthropologist as a dual personality, 106
Anti‑Semitism, 13-4, 101
Area needed per head, 78‑9
Aristotle, 21, 22, 46, 62, 110, 117, 131,
192, 216, 220
as biologist, 26
Arnold, Matthew, 128
Ascent of Man (Machin), 114, 146
Athens, 49, 199, 216, 228
Atilla, 183‑4, 237
Australia, tribes and warfare, 168‑9, 170‑1
in Captain Cook’s time, 169
Bagehot; Walter, 49, 53, 112, 126, 130,
Barbarian invasions, 191‑2
Barbarism spread by war, 132
Barnes, Dr., Bishop of Birmingham, 5, 11
Beadnell, Rear Admiral Charles M., 107‑9, 113
Behavior, natural, 6
Behaviour of Nations (Roberts), 148
Bell, Clive, 20‑1, 30, 35, 89, 90, 97‑8, 129
Benjamin, Jack, 236‑8
Bentham, Jeremy, 22
Biopolitics (Roberts), 148
Bismarck, 9, 118, 122
Black, Dr. Davidson, 195
Blanc, Count A. C., 197
Boas, Dr. Franz, 41, 42
Bombing, ethics of, 119‑20
Boxer Rebellion, 202
Brave New World (A. Huxley), 131
Breeding, development of desirable
characteristics in dogs by, 44
Britain, growth of civilization in, 78‑80
war objectives of, 228‑9
weakness of, 234
British Commonwealth as a means
to peace, 226
British doctrine of evolution, 29
Brown, A. Radcliffe, 171
Browne, Sir Buckston, 3
Bryce, Ford, 73, 192
Buckle, H. T., 94
Burke, Edmund, 28
Burns, Robert, 61
Carlyle, Jane Welsh, 22
Carlyle, Thomas, 20
on life’s purpose, 22
Carpenter; Dr. C. R., 147, 163, 165, 166,
Carpenter, Edward, 14, 54, 71, 117
Carr‑Saunders, A. M. 193
Caste formation, 90‑1 208‑9
system, 205, 207‑8
Chalons, battle of, 184
Chamberlain, Houston, 40
Chaucer, Geoffrey, 84
Chauci, 34, 188, 189
civilization of, 198‑201
China and Europe compared, 199‑202
China’s power of absorption, 204
Chinese as an evolutionary success, 199
as warriors, 176
warlike qualities of, 201
Christian ethics, 63‑76
Christianity and civilization, 69
and evolution, 63‑76
and human nature, 64, 68, 71
and nationalism, 64‑5, 75‑6
and race, 72‑3
and uiniversalism compared, 52
and war, 134‑40, 214
Church and war, 137
as civilizing agency, 82
as persecutor 13‑4
growth of, 5
Churchill, Winston, 33, 109, 211
City‑states and war, 126
Civilization (Bell), 30, 97 129
Civilization and ferocity, 42‑3
and slavery, 45‑9
and war, 121‑6
as cause of war, 125‑6
as objective of war, 101, 123
as selective agency, 42, 87‑8
at war with Nature, 33, 42
based on ethical code, 127
conditions necessary for, 81
cycles of, 99‑100
dawn and progress of, 76‑80
defined, 77, 85‑6, 93‑4
effects of, 21, 25
infiuence on mind, 25, 87‑90, 127‑34
measures of, 95‑6
Clan, see Tribe Clannishness, 142‑3
Class formation, 90‑1
Cleland, Dr. J. Burton, 173
Clodd Edward, ix
Closed societies, 170‑1
Colonization of Saxons, 81‑2, 191
Columbus, Christopher, 47
and co‑operation harmonized, 7
between groups, 151
fierce, 175‑6, 183
Competitive complex, 159
Condorcet 54, 117
evolution of, 111
Conscientious objectors, 131, 214‑5
Conversion, religious, 74‑5
to peace, 182
Conway, Sir Martin, 76
Cook, Captain James, 169, 173
Coolidge, Dr. H. K., 163
in evolution, 7
Cosmical code defined, 108
Coulton, G. G., 62, 87
Courage, 58, 60, 158
Cripps, Sir Stafford, 67
Croce, Benedetto, 38
Culture, effects of, 128
Danish challenge to Britain, 82
Darlington, C. D., 4, 5
Darwin Charles, v, 5, 7, 19, 30, 35, 36,
45, 55, 56, 86, 100, 144
on domestication, 41
on group selection, 36
on human evolution, 7
on slavery, 49
on Universalism, 54
on war, 148
Darwin, Leonard, 5
on purpose of life, 19
Darwin and After Darwin (Romanes), 155
Darwinism and Politics (Ritchie), 147
Darwinism as cause of war, 149‑50
Darwin’s Theory Applied to Mankind (Machin), 114, 146
Davie, M. R., 55 110, 117, 148
Da Vinci, Leonardo, 148
De Burgh, Dr., 5
De Gobineau, Arthur, 94, 98‑9
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Gibbon), 37, 130
Descent of Man (Darwin), 7, 19, 30, 35, 41, 49, 54, 148, 149, 151, 152
Despotism, 38, 48
Destiny see Purpose
in Britain, 82
Dogs, effects of breeding in, 44
Domestication by selection, 42‑5
Dominance among monkeys, 166
Drummond, Dr. Henry, 63