Chapter VII -- The War Against Chaos
THE world is to-day the battleground of a titanic struggle.
This struggle has long been gathering. It is now
upon us and must be fought out. No land is immune.
Bolshevik Russia is merely the standard-bearer of a
revolt against civilization which girdles the globe. That
revolt was precipitated by the late war and has been
intensified by war's aftermath, but it was latent before
1914 and would have ultimately burst forth even if
Armageddon had been averted.
In the present revolt against civilization there is
nothing basically new. Viewed historically, it is merely one
of a series of similar destructive, retrograde movements.
What is new, however, is the elaboration of a revolutionary
philosophy which has fired and welded the rebellious
elements as never before. As Le Bon justly remarks:
"The Bolshevik mentality is as old as history. Cain, in
the Old Testament, had the mind of a Bolshevik. But
it is only in our days that this ancient mentality has
met with a political doctrine to justify it. This is the
reason of its rapid propagation, which has been undermining
the old social scaffolding." (1)
The modern philosophy of the Under-Man is at bottom
a mere "rationalizing" of the emotions of the
(1) Gustave Le Bon, The World in Revolt, p. 179 (New York, 1921 --
unadaptable, inferior, and degenerate elements, rebellious
against the civilization which irks them and longing to
revert to more primitive levels. We have already seen
how the revolutionary spirit assails every phase of our
civilization, the climax being the Bolshevik attempt to
substitute a "proletarian" culture." Most significant of
all are the attacks launched upon science, particularly
the science of biology. Revolutionists are coming to
realize that science, with its stern love of truth, is their
most dangerous enemy, and that the discoveries of biology
are relentlessly exposing their cleverest sophistries.
Accordingly, the champions of the Under-Man, extremists
and "moderates" alike, cling desperately to the
exploded doctrines of environmentalism and "natural
equality," and dub modern biology mere class snobbery
or capitalist propaganda. (1)
In fact, attempts have been made to invent a "new"
biology, more in accordance with proletarian maxims.
For example, some Socialist writers (2) have evolved the
theory that social and intellectual evolution is the cause of
physical evolution; in other words, that it is his customs
and tools which have made man, and not man his tools
and customs. Other writers have gone even farther and
maintain that "cell intelligence" (which they assume to
be present in all protoplasm) is the cause of all forms of
evolution. (3) The logical conclusion of this amazing
(1) For instances of this sort of criticism, see the articles by Doctor
Robert H. Lowie in the Radical weekly, The Freeman (New York), during 1920.
(2) See especially Samuel Butler, Erewhon (London, 1908); A.D. Darbishire,
Introduction to a Biology (New York, 1917).
(3) See especially N. Quevli, Cell Intelligence the Cause of Evolution,
hypothesis should apparently be that intelligence is not
confined to the brain but is diffused over the whole body.
Here is good proletarian biology, quite in accord with
the Bolshevik doctrine that so-called "superior" individuals
are merely expressions of the mass intelligence.
It is surprising that, so far as can be learned, the theory
of cell intelligence is not yet taught in the Soviet schools.
This is a serious omission -- but it can be remedied.
Naturally, these grotesque perversions of science, with
their resultant paradoxes worthy of Mr. Chesterton, are
easily disposed of by genuine biologists and the underlying
animus is clearly explained. Regarding proletarian
biology, Professor Conklin remarks: "Such a conception
not only confuses the different lines of evolution and their
causes, but it really denies all the facts and evidences in
the case by putting the highest and latest product of the
process into its earliest and most elemental stages. It is
not a theory of evolution but rather one of involution or
creation; it is not now a new conception of life and its origin
but the oldest known conception. . . Such essays evidently
owe their origin to emotion rather than to reason,
to sentiment rather than science; they are based upon
desire rather than evidence, and they appeal especially
to those who are able to believe what they desire to
Proletarian "science" having shown no signs of ability
to meet real science in intellectual combat, we may expect
to see the proletarian movement fall back upon its
(1) E.G. Conklin, The Direction of Human Evolution, pp. 73-74 (New
natural weapons -- passion and violence. What seems
certain is that science will become increasingly anathema
in social revolutionary eyes. The lists are in fact already
set for a battle royal between biology and Bolshevism.
We have already remarked that the more the Under-
Man realizes the significance of the new biological revelation,
the uglier grows his mood. Science having
stripped away its sentimental camouflage, the social
revolution will depend more and more upon brute force,
relying upon the materialism of numbers and racial
impoverishment to achieve final victory. More and more
the revolutionary watchword will be that of the French
Communist, Henri Barbusse "Le Couteau entre les
Dents!" -- "With Your Knife in Your Teeth!" (1)
How shall civilization meet the revolutionary onset?
By a combination of two methods: one palliative and
temporary; the other constructive and permanent.
Discussion of the second method will be deferred till the
next chapter. Suffice it here to say that it centres about
certain deep-going reforms, particularly the improvement
of the race itself. Forward-looking minds are coming to
realize that social revolutions are really social breakdowns,
caused (in the last analysis) by a dual process of racial
impoverishment -- the elimination of superior strains and
the multiplication of degenerates and inferiors. Inexorably
the decay of racial values corrodes the proudest
civilization, which engenders within itself those forces of
chaos that will one day work its ruin. Said shrewd old
(1) This is the title to Barbusse's latest book -- a fiery call to instant
and relentless class warfare.
Rivarol, viewing the French Revolution: "The most
civilized empires are as close to barbarism as the most
polished steel is to rust; nations, like metals, shine only
on the surface."
More and more we are coming to see that hatred of
civilization is mainly a matter of heredity; that Bolsheviks
are mostly born and not made. How can we expect
a man to support a social order which he instinctively
detests or which he is congenitally unable to achieve?
And how can society expect peaceful progress so long
as it spawns social rebels and laggards, and at the same
time sterilizes those creative superiors who are at once
its builders and preservers?
The fact is that construction and destruction, progress
and regress, evolution and revolution, are alike the
work of dynamic minorities. We have already seen how
numerically small are the talented elites which create
and advance civilizations; while Jacobin France
and Bolshevik Russia prove how a small but ruthless
revolutionary faction can wreck a social order and
tyrannize over a great population. Of course, these dynamic
groups are composed primarily of leaders -- they are the
officer's corps of much larger armies which mobilize
instinctively when crises arise. Take the present world
crisis. In every country the champions of the existing
order can count upon the resolute support of all those
who appreciate our civilization and wish to preserve it
from disruption. On the other hand, the revolutionary
leaders can count with equal confidence upon the
unadaptable, inferior, and degenerate elements, who
naturally dislike our civilization and welcome a summons
to its overthrow.
Such are the distinctively "superior" and "inferior"
groups -- the standing armies of civilization and of chaos.
But, even when fully mobilized, these armies are minorities.
Between them stands an intermediate mass of
mediocrity, which, even in the most civilized countries,
probably constitutes a majority of the whole people.
In the United States, for example, this intermediate mass
is typified by the various "C" grades of the Army
Intelligence Tests -- the men with mental ages of from twelve
to fifteen years, whom the tests indicated comprised 61 1/2
per cent of the total population. These people are
incapable of either creating or maintaining a high
civilization. For that they are dependent upon the superiors;
just as in the army they depend upon the "A" and "B"
grades of the officer's corps, without whom they would be
as sheep without a shepherd. However, these mediocres
are not "inferiors" in the technical sense; they are capable
of adapting themselves to the ordinary requirements
of civilization, and of profiting by the superior's creative
achievements -- profiting often so successfully that they
attain great wealth and influence.
In some respects the mediocre have their social value.
Their very lack of initiative renders them natural
conservers of whatever they adopt, and they thus act as
social ballast and as a brake to prevent the elite from
going too fast and getting out of touch with reality. They
also usually support the existing social order, and thus
tend to oppose revolution.
However, the mediocre have the defects of their qualities.
Their very conservatism is apt to be harmful, and
is frequently disastrous. This is because it is
unintelligent -- a mere clinging to things as they are, with no
discrimination between what is sound and what is
unsound or outworn; a mere blind aversion to change just
because it is change. This is sheer bourbonism. And
bourbonism is dangerous because it blocks progress,
prevents reform, perpetuates social evils, breeds
discontent, and thus engenders revolution.
The chief danger of bourbonism is that it is so
powerful. If society were really guided by its creative elite,
mediocrity might be useful as a sort of "constitutional
opposition" stabilizing and regulating progress.
Unfortunately, society is ruled largely by mediocrity. The
most cursory survey of our world is enough to show that
in politics, finance, business, and most other fields of
human activity, a large proportion of the most influential
figures are persons of decidedly mediocre intelligence and
character. The number of stupid reactionaries in high
places is depressing, and their stupidity is amazing when
we consider their opportunities. In fact, these opportunities
are the best proof of their inherent stupidity,
because the mere fact that so little has been brought
out shows that there was very little there to bring.
At first sight all this may seem to conflict with what
we have previously discovered: that superiors tend to
rise in the social scale, and that in advanced modern
societies there has been a marked concentration of
superiority in the middle and upper classes. But when we
look more closely, we see that there is no real discrepancy.
In the first place, the concentration of ability in the upper
social strata is not absolute, but relative. Relatively,
the upper and middle classes of society undoubtedly
contain a higher percentage of superiority than do the
lower classes. But this most emphatically does not mean
that the upper and middle classes are made up wholly of
superior persons while the lower social strata are
composed wholly of inferiors. On the contrary, the lower
social strata unquestionably contain multitudes of valuable
strains which have not yet displayed themselves by
rising in the social scale. This is particularly true where
the "social ladder" and assortative mating have not
drained the lower classes and sharply stratified the
population. For example, in the American Army Intelligence
Tests some of the best scores were made by illiterate,
ignorant Southern mountaineers who had never before
been outside their native valleys. In other words, primitive
conditions had held back a high-grade Anglo-Saxon
stock; but the intelligence was there, passed on from
generation to generation, and only waiting a favorable
opportunity to display itself.
We thus see that superior intelligence is not a monopoly
of the upper and middle social classes, albeit they do
possess a distinct relative advantage in this respect.
The next question which naturally arises is: What are
the proportions of superiors to mediocres and inferiors
within these classes? The question of inferiority need
not long detain us. The demands of modern life are
sufficiently great, and the social ladder works sufficiently
well to weed out most of the distinctly inferior individuals
who arise in the upper and middle strata of society
by socially sterilizing them as economic failures or
by forcing them down to lower social levels.
With mediocrity, however, it is quite otherwise. A
glance at social statistics is enough to prove that a large
proportion of both the upper and middle classes must
consist of mediocrities. Consider the relative size of
social groups. In most Western nations from 5 to 10
per cent of the population should certainly be counted
as belonging to the upper social classes, while the middle
classes (urban and rural) probably run between 20 and
40 per cent. Now compare these figures with the matter
of intelligence. We have already seen that biological,
sociological, and psychological researches have alike
revealed the fact that high intelligence is rare. The
American Army Intelligence Tests indicate that only 4 1/2 per
cent of the American population are of "very superior
intelligence" (Grade "A"), while only 9 per cent are of
"superior intelligence" (Grade "B"). We have also
seen that superior intelligence is by no means exclusively
confined to the upper and middle social strata. Yet,
even if superior intelligence were so confined, we have
every reason to believe that these strata would still
consist largely of mediocrities, for the very simple reason
that there would not be enough genuine superiors to go
This raises a third question: Within the upper social
strata, what is the relative status of superiors and
mediocres, measured by recognized standards of achievement
and by a direct influence in the community? This
is a matter of great importance. If high intelligence be
so rare, it is vital to social progress, and even to social
security, that it should function with the greatest possible
efficiency and should exert the greatest possible effect.
Now no unbiased student of modern life can doubt that
this is very far from being the case. The melancholy
truth is that our stock of high creative intelligence (all
to meagre at best) is in the main imperfectly utilized.
To be sure, those pessimists who assert that it is nearly
all wasted are wrong. In advanced modern societies the
genuine superior can usually rise, and in many fields, like
science, art, literature, and certain of the professions, he
may reasonably hope to rise to the very top.
In other fields, however, particularly in politics, finance,
and business, this is not the case. Here, too, creative
intelligence does tend to rise, and sometimes rises to the
top. But more frequently the highest posts are filled
by essentially mediocre personalities -- shrewd, aggressive,
acquisitive, yet lacking that constructive vision
which is the birthmark of true greatness.
Now this is a serious matter, because it is precisely
these fields wherein constructive leadership is supremely
important for social progress and social stability.
History proves conclusively that revolutions are precipitated
mainly by inefficient government and unwise finance.
Here more than anywhere else the guidance of superior
intelligence is a vital necessity. Were our political and
economic life to-day guided by our best minds, we should
have little to fear from social revolution. A series of
constructive reforms would safeguard the future, while
the present revolutionary onslaught would be summarily
repelled. High intelligence is nearly always well poised,
and can be depended upon in a crisis to keep cool and
do the right thing. Mediocrity, on the other hand, lacks
poise and vision. Yet governments are to-day everywhere
mainly in mediocre hands. Governments should
govern; should have faith in themselves and the
principles they stand for; and should meet the challenge of
aggressive minorities with intelligent foresight, instant
action, and unflinching courage. The mere fact that the
revolutionists are a minority is no safeguard, because it
is determined minorities, not passive majorities, that
get their way. The lesson of past revolutions, particularly
the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, is that a small
but resolute faction possesses the same decisive
tactical advantage as a small but highly disciplined and
enthusiastic army attacking a huge but ill-organized and
spiritless foe. In such cases the assailants have the
inestimable advantage of knowing what they want and
exactly where they mean to make their attack. The
defenders, on the contrary, not only do not know their own
minds, but also usually fail to see precisely where, when
and how the attack is coming. They stand, fearful and
irresolute, waiting to be hit -- beaten before they are
To avert this danger we need intelligent action. For
one thing, public opinion should be carefully informed
about the basic issues involved. When people appreciate
the true nature of social revolution, the irreparable
cultural and racial losses, the terrible setback to progress,
they will realize that all sections of the population
except the inferior and degenerate elements would be the
losers, and they will resolve determinedly to preserve
civilization from disruption.
By "information," however, I most emphatically do
not mean "propaganda." The truth about social revolution
is enough to open the eyes of all who believe in
orderly progress; while neither argument nor entreaty
can convert those temperamentally predisposed to
violent subversive action. We must clearly recognize that
there exists an irreconcilable minority of congenital
revolutionists -- born rebels against civilization, who can be
restrained only by superior force. This rebel minority
has, however, evolved a philosophy peculiarly enticing
in these troubled transition times when discontent is
rife, old beliefs shattered, and the new goals not yet
plainly in sight. Under these circumstances the
philosophy of revolt has attracted multitudes of persons
impatient of present ills and grasping at the hope of violent
short cuts to progress. This is particularly true of
certain types of emotional liberals, who play in with the
revolutionists -- and are used as catspaws. Here we
have the chief reasons for that idealization of revolution
which has such a vogue in many quarters. However,
these unwitting dupes are not at heart irreconcilable
enemies of society. They simply do not realize that they
are on a path which leads to chaos. If they came to realize
social revolution's inevitable consequences, most of
them would stop aiding the revolutionists in their
attacks on society, and would join forces with those who
are striving for constructive progress by evolutionary
methods. The real revolutionists would thus be deprived
of much of their present strength, and could be more
easily dealt with.
Now this may be accomplished by instructive
information. It cannot be accomplished by "propaganda."
Hysterical denunciations of Bolshevism, specializing in
atrocity stories and yarns like the "nationalization of
women," defeat their own object. They divert attention
from fundamentals to details, generate heat without
light, spread panic rather than resolution, and invite
blind reaction instead of discriminating action. Such
propaganda stirs up a multitude of silly people who run
around looking for Communists under the bed and calling
everybody a "Bolshevik" who happens to disagree with
them. This modern witch-finding is not only fatuous;
it is harmful as well. Many of those denounced as
"Bolsheviks" are not genuine social rebels at all, but people
so harassed by social ills or personal misfortunes that
they blindly take Bolshevism's false promises at their
face value. These people need education, not
persecution. To dragoon and insult them simply drives them
into the Bolshevik's arms. The thing to do is to understand
exactly who the real Bolsheviks are, attend to them
thoroughly, and then give suspects the benefit of the
The real social rebels should, of course, be given short
shrift. No misguided sentimentality should shield those
who plot the disruption of civilization and the degradation
of the race. Boasting, as they do, that they have
declared war upon the social order, let them be taken
at their word. These irreconcilables should be carefully
watched, strictly punished when they offend, and
where anything like revolution is attempted -- hunted
down and extirpated. They who take the sword against
society must perish by society's sword.
Yet we should not forget that repression, of itself,
solves nothing. Knowing, as we do, that Bolsheviks are
mostly born and not made, we must realize that new
social rebels will arise until their recruiting grounds are
eliminated. When society takes in hand the betterment
of the race, when degenerates and inferiors are no longer
permitted to breed like lice, the floods of chaos will soon
Until then repression must go on But we must know
exactly what we are about. Repression is a dangerous
weapon, which should be used only within strictly
defined limits -- and even then with regret.
Now what are the limits of repression? They are the
limits of action. Revolutionary action should be
instantly, inexorably repressed. There the dead-line should
be drawn, so clear and plain that all would know what
trespass means. But beyond that forbidden zone -- freedom!
No tampering with freedom of thought under any
circumstances, and no curtailment of free speech except
where it incites to violence and thus practically crosses
Society should say to its discontented: "You may
think what you please. You may discuss what you
please. You may advocate what you please, except it
involve violence, express or implied. If you preach or
insinuate violence, you will be punished. If you throw
bombs, you will be individually executed. If you try
revolutions, you will be collectively wiped out. But so
long as you avoid doing these forbidden things, you may
be watched, but you will not be interfered with."
At this point the timid or stupid reactionary may
exclaim: "But this is giving Bolshevism a chance to hide
behind legal technicalities!" Granted. "This will allow
revolutionists to conduct a camouflaged propaganda!"
Granted. "The results may be dangerous!" Granted;
all granted. And yet we cannot do otherwise, because
all the harm the Bolsheviks might do by clever abuse
of their freedom to think and speak, would be as nothing
to the harm done by denying them that freedom.
This harm would be manifold. In the first place, such
action would tend to defeat its own object and to encourage
rather than suppress revolutionary unrest, because
for every camouflaged Bolshevik who might be
smoked out and laid by the heels ten free spirits would
be impelled to become revolutionists, since in their eyes
(singular paradox!) Bolshevism would be associated
with liberty. In the second place, any serious curtailment
of free speech would render impossible the formation
of that intelligent public opinion which we have
already seen to be so necessary for comprehending
difficulties and conceiving effective remedies. Lastly, such
a policy would paralyze intellectual activity, enthrone
reaction, and block progress. To protect society from
disruption, however necessary, is merely part of a larger
whole. Social order must be preserved, because that is
the vital prerequisite of constructive progress. But --
constructive progress must take place. Things cannot be
left as they are, because under present conditions we are
headed toward racial impoverishment and cultural
decline. Our chief hope is the scientific spirit.
But that spirit thrives only on unfettered knowledge and
truth. Lacking this sustenance, it withers and decays.
One of Bolshevism's deadly sins is its brutal crushing of
intellectual freedom. Shall we be guilty of the very crime
we so abhor in our enemies? What a wretched outcome:
to escape the destructive tyranny of Bolshevism only
to fall under the petrifying tyranny of bourbonism!
Heaven be praised, humanity is not restricted to so
poor a choice. Another path lies open -- the path of race-
betterment. And science points the way. We already
know enough to make a sure start, and increasing knowledge
will guide our footsteps as we move on. That is
the hopeful aspect of the situation. We do not have to
guess. We know. All we need to do is to apply what
we have already learned and keep on using our brains.
The result will be such a combined increase of knowledge
and creative intelligence that many problems, to-day
insuperable, will solve themselves.
Furthermore, science, which points the path to the
future, gives us hope for the present as well. Materially
the forces of chaos may still be growing, especially
through racial impoverishment; but morally they are
being undermined. Science, especially biology, is cutting
the ground from under their feet. Even a decade ago,
when errors like environmentalism and "natural equality"
were generally accepted, the Under-Man was able
to make out a plausible case. To-day the basic importance
of heredity and the real nature of inferiority are
becoming more and more widely understood and appreciated.
Indeed, it is this very spread of scientific truth which
accounts largely for the growing violence of social
unrest. Consciously or instinctively the revolutionary
leaders feel that the "moral imponderables" have
deserted them, and that they must therefore rely more
and more upon force. Does not Bolshevism admit that
it cannot peacefully convert the world, but can triumph
only by the dictatorship of a ruthless minority, destroying
whole classes, and then forcibly transforming the
remaining population by a long process of intensive
propaganda extending perhaps for generations? What a
monstrous doctrine? But, also, what a monumental confession
of moral bankruptcy! This is the counsel of desperation,
not the assurance of victory.
That which maddens Bolshevism is, however, our
inspiration. To us science speaks. And her words are:
"Sursum corda! Lift up your hearts! Have faith in
yourselves; in your civilization; in your race. Tread
confidently the path I have revealed to you. Ye know
the truth, and the truth shall make you free!"
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