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Race in Utopia

Section 1.

Above the sphere of the elemental cravings and necessities, the soul
of man is in a perpetual vacillation between two conflicting
impulses: the desire to assert his individual differences, the
desire for distinction, and his terror of isolation. He wants to
stand out, but not too far out, and, on the contrary, he wants
to merge himself with a group, with some larger body, but not
altogether. Through all the things of life runs this tortuous
compromise, men follow the fashions but resent ready-made uniforms
on every plane of their being. The disposition to form aggregations
and to imagine aggregations is part of the incurable nature of man;
it is one of the great natural forces the statesman must utilise,
and against which he must construct effectual defences. The study of
the aggregations and of the ideals of aggregations about which men's
sympathies will twine, and upon which they will base a large
proportion of their conduct and personal policy, is the legitimate
definition of sociology.

Now the sort of aggregation to which men and women will refer
themselves is determined partly by the strength and idiosyncrasy of
the individual imagination, and partly by the reek of ideas that
chances to be in the air at the time. Men and women may vary greatly
both in their innate and their acquired disposition towards this
sort of larger body or that, to which their social reference can be
made. The "natural" social reference of a man is probably to some
rather vaguely conceived tribe, as the "natural" social reference of
a dog is to a pack. But just as the social reference of a dog may be
educated until the reference to a pack is completely replaced by a
reference to an owner, so on his higher plane of educability the
social reference of the civilised man undergoes the most remarkable
transformations. But the power and scope of his imagination and the
need he has of response sets limits to this process. A highly
intellectualised mature mind may refer for its data very
consistently to ideas of a higher being so remote and indefinable as
God, so comprehensive as humanity, so far-reaching as the purpose in
things. I write "may," but I doubt if this exaltation of reference
is ever permanently sustained. Comte, in his Positive Polity,
exposes his soul with great freedom, and the curious may trace how,
while he professes and quite honestly intends to refer himself
always to his "Greater Being" Humanity, he narrows constantly to his
projected "Western Republic" of civilised men, and quite frequently
to the minute indefinite body of Positivist subscribers. And the
history of the Christian Church, with its development of orders and
cults, sects and dissents, the history of fashionable society with
its cliques and sets and every political history with its cabals and
inner cabinets, witness to the struggle that goes on in the minds of
men to adjust themselves to a body larger indeed than themselves,
but which still does not strain and escape their imaginative

The statesman, both for himself and others, must recognise this
inadequacy of grasp, and the necessity for real and imaginary
aggregations to sustain men in their practical service of the order
of the world. He must be a sociologist; he must study the whole
science of aggregations in relation to that World State to which his
reason and his maturest thought direct him. He must lend himself to
the development of aggregatory ideas that favour the civilising
process, and he must do his best to promote the disintegration of
aggregations and the effacement of aggregatory ideas, that keep men
narrow and unreasonably prejudiced one against another.

He will, of course, know that few men are even rudely consistent in
such matters, that the same man in different moods and on different
occasions, is capable of referring himself in perfect good faith,
not only to different, but to contradictory larger beings, and that
the more important thing about an aggregatory idea from the State
maker's point of view is not so much what it explicitly involves as
what it implicitly repudiates. The natural man does not feel he is
aggregating at all, unless he aggregates _against something. He
refers himself to the tribe; he is loyal to the tribe, and quite
inseparably he fears or dislikes those others outside the tribe. The
tribe is always at least defensively hostile and usually actively
hostile to humanity beyond the aggregation. The Anti-idea, it would
seem, is inseparable from the aggregatory idea; it is a necessity of
the human mind. When we think of the class A as desirable, we think
of Not-A as undesirable. The two things are as inevitably connected
as the tendons of our hands, so that when we flatten down our little
fingers on our palms, the fourth digit, whether we want it or not,
comes down halfway. All real working gods, one may remark, all gods
that are worshipped emotionally, are tribal gods, and every attempt
to universalise the idea of God trails dualism and the devil after
it as a moral necessity.

When we inquire, as well as the unformed condition of terrestrial
sociology permits, into the aggregatory ideas that seem to satisfy
men, we find a remarkable complex, a disorderly complex, in the
minds of nearly all our civilised contemporaries. For example, all
sorts of aggregatory ideas come and go across the chameleon surfaces
of my botanist's mind. He has a strong feeling for systematic
botanists as against plant physiologists, whom he regards as lewd
and evil scoundrels in this relation, but he has a strong feeling
for all botanists, and, indeed, all biologists, as against
physicists, and those who profess the exact sciences, all of whom he
regards as dull, mechanical, ugly-minded scoundrels in this
relation; but he has a strong feeling for all who profess what is
called Science as against psychologists, sociologists, philosophers,
and literary men, whom he regards as wild, foolish, immoral
scoundrels in this relation; but he has a strong feeling for all
educated men as against the working man, whom he regards as a
cheating, lying, loafing, drunken, thievish, dirty scoundrel in this
relation; but so soon as the working man is comprehended together
with those others, as Englishmen--which includes, in this case, I
may remark, the Scottish and Welsh--he holds them superior to all
other sorts of European, whom he regards, &c....

Now one perceives in all these aggregatory ideas and rearrangements
of the sympathies one of the chief vices of human thought, due to
its obsession by classificatory suggestions. [Footnote: See Chapter
the First, section 5, and the Appendix.] The necessity for marking
our classes has brought with it a bias for false and excessive
contrast, and we never invent a term but we are at once cramming it
with implications beyond its legitimate content. There is no feat of
irrelevance that people will not perform quite easily in this way;
there is no class, however accidental, to which they will not at
once ascribe deeply distinctive qualities. The seventh sons of
seventh sons have remarkable powers of insight; people with a
certain sort of ear commit crimes of violence; people with red hair
have souls of fire; all democratic socialists are trustworthy
persons; all people born in Ireland have vivid imaginations and all
Englishmen are clods; all Hindoos are cowardly liars; all
curly-haired people are good-natured; all hunch-backs are energetic
and wicked, and all Frenchmen eat frogs. Such stupid generalisations
have been believed with the utmost readiness, and acted upon by
great numbers of sane, respectable people. And when the class is
one's own class, when it expresses one of the aggregations to which
one refers one's own activities, then the disposition to divide all
qualities between this class and its converse, and to cram one's own
class with every desirable distinction, becomes overwhelming.

It is part of the training of the philosopher to regard all such
generalisations with suspicion; it is part of the training of the
Utopist and statesman, and all good statesmen are Utopists, to
mingle something very like animosity with that suspicion. For crude
classifications and false generalisations are the curse of all
organised human life.


Section 2.

Disregarding classes, cliques, sets, castes, and the like minor
aggregations, concerned for the most part with details and minor
aspects of life, one finds among the civilised peoples of the world
certain broad types of aggregatory idea. There are, firstly, the
national ideas, ideas which, in their perfection, require a
uniformity of physical and mental type, a common idiom, a common
religion, a distinctive style of costume, decoration, and thought,
and a compact organisation acting with complete external unity. Like
the Gothic cathedral, the national idea is never found complete with
all its parts; but one has in Russia, with her insistence on
political and religious orthodoxy, something approaching it pretty
closely, and again in the inland and typical provinces of China,
where even a strange pattern of hat arouses hostility. We had it in
vigorous struggle to exist in England under the earlier Georges in
the minds of those who supported the Established Church. The idea of
the fundamental nature of nationality is so ingrained in thought,
with all the usual exaggeration of implication, that no one laughs
at talk about Swedish painting or American literature. And I will
confess and point out that my own detachment from these delusions is
so imperfect and discontinuous that in another passage I have
committed myself to a short assertion of the exceptionally noble
quality of the English imagination. [Footnote: Chapter the Seventh,
section 6.] I am constantly gratified by flattering untruths about
English superiority which I should reject indignantly were the
application bluntly personal, and I am ever ready to believe the
scenery of England, the poetry of England, even the decoration and
music of England, in some mystic and impregnable way, the best. This
habit of intensifying all class definitions, and particularly those
in which one has a personal interest, is in the very constitution of
man's mind. It is part of the defect of that instrument. We may
watch against it and prevent it doing any great injustices, or
leading us into follies, but to eradicate it is an altogether
different matter. There it is, to be reckoned with, like the coccyx,
the pineal eye, and the vermiform appendix. And a too consistent
attack on it may lead simply to its inversion, to a vindictively
pro-foreigner attitude that is equally unwise.

The second sort of aggregatory ideas, running very often across the
boundaries of national ideas and in conflict with them, are
religious ideas. In Western Europe true national ideas only emerged
to their present hectic vigour after the shock of the Reformation
had liberated men from the great tradition of a Latin-speaking
Christendom, a tradition the Roman Catholic Church has sustained as
its modification of the old Latin-speaking Imperialism in the rule
of the pontifex maximus. There was, and there remains to this day, a
profound disregard of local dialect and race in the Roman Catholic
tradition, which has made that Church a persistently disintegrating
influence in national life. Equally spacious and equally regardless
of tongues and peoples is the great Arabic-speaking religion of
Mahomet. Both Christendom and Islam are indeed on their secular
sides imperfect realisations of a Utopian World State. But the
secular side was the weaker side of these cults; they produced no
sufficiently great statesmen to realise their spiritual forces, and
it is not in Rome under pontifical rule, nor in Munster under the
Anabaptists, but rather in Thomas a Kempis and Saint Augustin's City
of God that we must seek for the Utopias of Christianity.

In the last hundred years a novel development of material forces,
and especially of means of communication, has done very much to
break up the isolations in which nationality perfected its
prejudices and so to render possible the extension and consolidation
of such a world-wide culture as mediaeval Christendom and Islam
foreshadowed. The first onset of these expansive developments has
been marked in the world of mind by an expansion of political
ideals--Comte's "Western Republic" (1848) was the first Utopia that
involved the synthesis of numerous States--by the development of
"Imperialisms" in the place of national policies, and by the search
for a basis for wider political unions in racial traditions and
linguistic affinities. Anglo-Saxonism, Pan-Germanism, and the like
are such synthetic ideas. Until the eighties, the general tendency
of progressive thought was at one with the older Christian tradition
which ignored "race," and the aim of the expansive liberalism
movement, so far as it had a clear aim, was to Europeanise the
world, to extend the franchise to negroes, put Polynesians into
trousers, and train the teeming myriads of India to appreciate the
exquisite lilt of The Lady of the Lake. There is always some
absurdity mixed with human greatness, and we must not let the fact
that the middle Victorians counted Scott, the suffrage and
pantaloons among the supreme blessings of life, conceal from us the
very real nobility of their dream of England's mission to the

We of this generation have seen a flood of reaction against such
universalism. The great intellectual developments that centre upon
the work of Darwin have exacerbated the realisation that life is a
conflict between superior and inferior types, it has underlined the
idea that specific survival rates are of primary significance in the
world's development, and a swarm of inferior intelligences has
applied to human problems elaborated and exaggerated versions of
these generalisations. These social and political followers of
Darwin have fallen into an obvious confusion between race and
nationality, and into the natural trap of patriotic conceit. The
dissent of the Indian and Colonial governing class to the first
crude applications of liberal propositions in India has found a
voice of unparalleled penetration in Mr. Kipling, whose want of
intellectual deliberation is only equalled by his poietic power. The
search for a basis for a new political synthesis in adaptable
sympathies based on linguistic affinities, was greatly influenced by
Max Muller's unaccountable assumption that language indicated
kindred, and led straight to wildly speculative ethnology, to the
discovery that there was a Keltic race, a Teutonic race, an
Indo-European race, and so forth. A book that has had enormous
influence in this matter, because of its use in teaching, is J. R.
Green's Short History of the English People, with its grotesque
insistence upon Anglo-Saxonism. And just now, the world is in a sort
of delirium about race and the racial struggle. The Briton
forgetting his Defoe, [Footnote: The True-born Englishman.] the Jew
forgetting the very word proselyte, the German forgetting his
anthropometric variations, and the Italian forgetting everything,
are obsessed by the singular purity of their blood, and the danger
of contamination the mere continuance of other races involves. True
to the law that all human aggregation involves the development of a
spirit of opposition to whatever is external to the aggregation,
extraordinary intensifications of racial definition are going on;
the vileness, the inhumanity, the incompatibility of alien races is
being steadily exaggerated. The natural tendency of every human
being towards a stupid conceit in himself and his kind, a stupid
depreciation of all unlikeness, is traded upon by this bastard
science. With the weakening of national references, and with the
pause before reconstruction in religious belief, these new arbitrary
and unsubstantial race prejudices become daily more formidable. They
are shaping policies and modifying laws, and they will certainly be
responsible for a large proportion of the wars, hardships, and
cruelties the immediate future holds in store for our earth.

No generalisations about race are too extravagant for the inflamed
credulity of the present time. No attempt is ever made to
distinguish differences in inherent quality--the true racial
differences--from artificial differences due to culture. No lesson
seems ever to be drawn from history of the fluctuating incidence of
the civilising process first upon this race and then upon that. The
politically ascendant peoples of the present phase are understood to
be the superior races, including such types as the Sussex farm
labourer, the Bowery tough, the London hooligan, and the Paris
apache; the races not at present prospering politically, such as the
Egyptians, the Greeks, the Spanish, the Moors, the Chinese, the
Hindoos, the Peruvians, and all uncivilised people are represented
as the inferior races, unfit to associate with the former on terms
of equality, unfit to intermarry with them on any terms, unfit for
any decisive voice in human affairs. In the popular imagination of
Western Europe, the Chinese are becoming bright gamboge in colour,
and unspeakably abominable in every respect; the people who are
black--the people who have fuzzy hair and flattish noses, and no
calves to speak of--are no longer held to be within the pale of
humanity. These superstitions work out along the obvious lines of
the popular logic. The depopulation of the Congo Free State by the
Belgians, the horrible massacres of Chinese by European soldiery
during the Pekin expedition, are condoned as a painful but necessary
part of the civilising process of the world. The world-wide
repudiation of slavery in the nineteenth century was done against a
vast sullen force of ignorant pride, which, reinvigorated by the
new delusions, swings back again to power.

"Science" is supposed to lend its sanction to race mania, but it is
only "science" as it is understood by very illiterate people that
does anything of the sort--"scientists'" science, in fact. What
science has to tell about "The Races of Man" will be found compactly
set forth by Doctor J. Deinker, in the book published under that
title. [Footnote: See also an excellent paper in the American
Journal of Sociology for March, 1904, The Psychology of Race
Prejudice, by W. I. Thomas.] From that book one may learn the
beginnings of race charity. Save for a few isolated pools of savage
humanity, there is probably no pure race in the whole world. The
great continental populations are all complex mixtures of numerous
and fluctuating types. Even the Jews present every kind of skull
that is supposed to be racially distinctive, a vast range of
complexion--from blackness in Goa, to extreme fairness in
Holland--and a vast mental and physical diversity. Were the Jews
to discontinue all intermarriage with "other races" henceforth
for ever, it would depend upon quite unknown laws of fecundity,
prepotency, and variability, what their final type would be, or,
indeed, whether any particular type would ever prevail over
diversity. And, without going beyond the natives of the British
Isles, one can discover an enormous range of types, tall and short,
straight-haired and curly, fair and dark, supremely intelligent and
unteachably stupid, straightforward, disingenuous, and what not. The
natural tendency is to forget all this range directly "race" comes
under discussion, to take either an average or some quite arbitrary
ideal as the type, and think only of that. The more difficult thing
to do, but the thing that must be done if we are to get just results
in this discussion, is to do one's best to bear the range in

Let us admit that the average Chinaman is probably different in
complexion, and, indeed, in all his physical and psychical
proportions, from the average Englishman. Does that render their
association upon terms of equality in a World State impossible? What
the average Chinaman or Englishman may be, is of no importance
whatever to our plan of a World State. It is not averages that
exist, but individuals. The average Chinaman will never meet the
average Englishman anywhere; only individual Chinamen will meet
individual Englishmen. Now among Chinamen will be found a range of
variety as extensive as among Englishmen, and there is no single
trait presented by all Chinamen and no Englishman, or vice versa.
Even the oblique eye is not universal in China, and there are
probably many Chinamen who might have been "changed at birth," taken
away and educated into quite passable Englishmen. Even after we have
separated out and allowed for the differences in carriage, physique,
moral prepossessions, and so forth, due to their entirely divergent
cultures, there remains, no doubt, a very great difference between
the average Chinaman and the average Englishman; but would that
amount to a wider difference than is to be found between extreme
types of Englishmen?

For my own part I do not think that it would. But it is evident that
any precise answer can be made only when anthropology has adopted
much more exact and exhaustive methods of inquiry, and a far more
precise analysis than its present resources permit.

Be it remembered how doubtful and tainted is the bulk of our
evidence in these matters. These are extraordinarily subtle
inquiries, from which few men succeed in disentangling the threads
of their personal associations--the curiously interwoven strands of
self-love and self-interest that affect their inquiries. One might
almost say that instinct fights against such investigations, as it
does undoubtedly against many necessary medical researches. But
while a long special training, a high tradition and the possibility
of reward and distinction, enable the medical student to face many
tasks that are at once undignified and physically repulsive, the
people from whom we get our anthropological information are rarely
men of more than average intelligence, and of no mental training at
all. And the problems are far more elusive. It surely needs at least
the gifts and training of a first-class novelist, combined with a
sedulous patience that probably cannot be hoped for in combination
with these, to gauge the all-round differences between man and man.
Even where there are no barriers of language and colour,
understanding may be nearly impossible. How few educated people seem
to understand the servant class in England, or the working men!
Except for Mr. Bart Kennedy's A Man Adrift, I know of scarcely any
book that shows a really sympathetic and living understanding of the
navvy, the longshore sailor man, the rough chap of our own race.
Caricatures, luridly tragic or gaily comic, in which the
misconceptions of the author blend with the preconceptions of the
reader and achieve success, are, of course, common enough. And then
consider the sort of people who pronounce judgments on the moral and
intellectual capacity of the negro, the Malay, or the Chinaman. You
have missionaries, native schoolmasters, employers of coolies,
traders, simple downright men, who scarcely suspect the existence
of any sources of error in their verdicts, who are incapable of
understanding the difference between what is innate and what is
acquired, much less of distinguishing them in their interplay. Now
and then one seems to have a glimpse of something really living--in
Mary Kingsley's buoyant work, for instance--and even that may be no
more than my illusion.

For my own part I am disposed to discount all adverse judgments and
all statements of insurmountable differences between race and race.
I talk upon racial qualities to all men who have had opportunities
of close observation, and I find that their insistence upon these
differences is usually in inverse proportion to their intelligence.
It may be the chance of my encounters, but that is my clear
impression. Common sailors will generalise in the profoundest way
about Irishmen, and Scotchmen, and Yankees, and Nova Scotians, and
"Dutchies," until one might think one talked of different species of
animal, but the educated explorer flings clear of all these
delusions. To him men present themselves individualised, and if they
classify it is by some skin-deep accident of tint, some trick of the
tongue, or habit of gesture, or such-like superficiality. And after
all there exists to-day available one kind at least of unbiassed
anthropological evidence. There are photographs. Let the reader turn
over the pages of some such copiously illustrated work as The Living
Races of Mankind, [Footnote: The Living Races of Mankind, by H. N.
Hutchinson, J. W. Gregory, and R. Lydekker. (Hutchinson.)] and look
into the eyes of one alien face after another. Are they not very
like the people one knows? For the most part, one finds it hard to
believe that, with a common language and common social traditions,
one would not get on very well with these people. Here or there is
a brutish or evil face, but you can find as brutish and evil in
the Strand on any afternoon. There are differences no doubt, but
fundamental incompatibilities--no! And very many of them send out
a ray of special resemblance and remind one more strongly of this
friend or that, than they do of their own kind. One notes with
surprise that one's good friend and neighbour X and an anonymous
naked Gold Coast negro belong to one type, as distinguished from
one's dear friend Y and a beaming individual from Somaliland, who
as certainly belong to another.

In one matter the careless and prejudiced nature of accepted racial
generalisations is particularly marked. A great and increasing
number of people are persuaded that "half-breeds" are peculiarly
evil creatures--as hunchbacks and bastards were supposed to be in
the middle ages. The full legend of the wickedness of the half-breed
is best to be learnt from a drunken mean white from Virginia or the
Cape. The half-breed, one hears, combines all the vices of either
parent, he is wretchedly poor in health and spirit, but vindictive,
powerful, and dangerous to an extreme degree, his morals--the mean
white has high and exacting standards--are indescribable even in
whispers in a saloon, and so on, and so on. There is really not an
atom of evidence an unprejudiced mind would accept to sustain any
belief of the sort. There is nothing to show that the children of
racial admixture are, as a class, inherently either better or worse
in any respect than either parent. There is an equally baseless
theory that they are better, a theory displayed to a fine degree of
foolishness in the article on Shakespeare in the Encyclopaedia
Britannica. Both theories belong to the vast edifice of sham science
that smothers the realities of modern knowledge. It may be that most
"half-breeds" are failures in life, but that proves nothing. They
are, in an enormous number of cases, illegitimate and outcast from
the normal education of either race; they are brought up in homes
that are the battle-grounds of conflicting cultures; they labour
under a heavy premium of disadvantage. There is, of course, a
passing suggestion of Darwin's to account for atavism that might go
to support the theory of the vileness of half-breeds, if it had ever
been proved. But, then, it never has been proved. There is no proof
in the matter at all.


Section 3.

Suppose, now, there is such a thing as an all-round inferior race.
Is that any reason why we should propose to preserve it for ever in
a condition of tutelage? Whether there is a race so inferior I do
not know, but certainly there is no race so superior as to be
trusted with human charges. The true answer to Aristotle's plea for
slavery, that there are "natural slaves," lies in the fact that
there are no "natural" masters. Power is no more to be committed to
men without discipline and restriction than alcohol. The true
objection to slavery is not that it is unjust to the inferior but
that it corrupts the superior. There is only one sane and logical
thing to be done with a really inferior race, and that is to
exterminate it.

Now there are various ways of exterminating a race, and most of them
are cruel. You may end it with fire and sword after the old Hebrew
fashion; you may enslave it and work it to death, as the Spaniards
did the Caribs; you may set it boundaries and then poison it slowly
with deleterious commodities, as the Americans do with most of their
Indians; you may incite it to wear clothing to which it is not
accustomed and to live under new and strange conditions that will
expose it to infectious diseases to which you yourselves are immune,
as the missionaries do the Polynesians; you may resort to honest
simple murder, as we English did with the Tasmanians; or you can
maintain such conditions as conduce to "race suicide," as the
British administration does in Fiji. Suppose, then, for a moment,
that there is an all-round inferior race; a Modern Utopia is under
the hard logic of life, and it would have to exterminate such a race
as quickly as it could. On the whole, the Fijian device seems the
least cruel. But Utopia would do that without any clumsiness of race
distinction, in exactly the same manner, and by the same machinery,
as it exterminates all its own defective and inferior strains; that
is to say, as we have already discussed in Chapter the Fifth,
section 1, by its marriage laws, and by the laws of the minimum
wage. That extinction need never be discriminatory. If any of the
race did, after all, prove to be fit to survive, they would
survive--they would be picked out with a sure and automatic justice
from the over-ready condemnation of all their kind.

Is there, however, an all-round inferior race in the world? Even the
Australian black-fellow is, perhaps, not quite so entirely eligible
for extinction as a good, wholesome, horse-racing, sheep-farming
Australian white may think. These queer little races, the
black-fellows, the Pigmies, the Bushmen, may have their little
gifts, a greater keenness, a greater fineness of this sense or that,
a quaintness of the imagination or what not, that may serve as their
little unique addition to the totality of our Utopian civilisation.
We are supposing that every individual alive on earth is alive in
Utopia, and so all the surviving "black-fellows" are there. Every
one of them in Utopia has had what none have had on earth, a fair
education and fair treatment, justice, and opportunity. Suppose that
the common idea is right about the general inferiority of these
people, then it would follow that in Utopia most of them are
childless, and working at or about the minimum wage, and some will
have passed out of all possibility of offspring under the hand of
the offended law; but still--cannot we imagine some few of these
little people--whom you must suppose neither naked nor clothed in
the European style, but robed in the Utopian fashion--may have found
some delicate art to practise, some peculiar sort of carving, for
example, that justifies God in creating them? Utopia has sound
sanitary laws, sound social laws, sound economic laws; what harm are
these people going to do?

Some may be even prosperous and admired, may have married women of
their own or some other race, and so may be transmitting that
distinctive thin thread of excellence, to take its due place in the
great synthesis of the future.

And, indeed, coming along that terrace in Utopia, I see a little
figure, a little bright-eyed, bearded man, inky black, frizzy
haired, and clad in a white tunic and black hose, and with a mantle
of lemon yellow wrapped about his shoulders. He walks, as most
Utopians walk, as though he had reason to be proud of something, as
though he had no reason to be afraid of anything in the world. He
carries a portfolio in his hand. It is that, I suppose, as much as
his hair, that recalls the Quartier Latin to my mind.


Section 4.

I had already discussed the question of race with the botanist at

"But you would not like," he cried in horror, "your daughter to
marry a Chinaman or a negro?"

"Of course," said I, "when you say Chinaman, you think of a creature
with a pigtail, long nails, and insanitary habits, and when you say
negro you think of a filthy-headed, black creature in an old hat.
You do this because your imagination is too feeble to disentangle
the inherent qualities of a thing from its habitual associations."

"Insult isn't argument," said the botanist.

"Neither is unsound implication. You make a question of race into a
question of unequal cultures. You would not like your daughter to
marry the sort of negro who steals hens, but then you would also not
like your daughter to marry a pure English hunchback with a squint,
or a drunken cab tout of Norman blood. As a matter of fact, very few
well-bred English girls do commit that sort of indiscretion. But you
don't think it necessary to generalise against men of your own race
because there are drunken cab touts, and why should you generalise
against negroes? Because the proportion of undesirables is higher
among negroes, that does not justify a sweeping condemnation. You
may have to condemn most, but why _all_? There may be--neither of us
knows enough to deny--negroes who are handsome, capable,

"Ugh!" said the botanist.

"How detestable you must find Othello!"

It is my Utopia, and for a moment I could almost find it in my heart
to spite the botanist by creating a modern Desdemona and her lover
sooty black to the lips, there before our eyes. But I am not so sure
of my case as that, and for the moment there shall come nothing more
than a swart-faced, dusky Burmese woman in the dress of the Greater
Rule, with her tall Englishman (as he might be on earth) at her
side. That, however, is a digression from my conversation with the

"And the Chinaman?" said the botanist.

"I think we shall have all the buff and yellow peoples intermingling
pretty freely."

"Chinamen and white women, for example."

"Yes," I said, "you've got to swallow that, anyhow; you _shall_
swallow that."

He finds the idea too revolting for comment.

I try and make the thing seem easier for him. "Do try," I said, "to
grasp a Modern Utopian's conditions. The Chinaman will speak the
same language as his wife--whatever her race may be--he will wear
costume of the common civilised fashion, he will have much the same
education as his European rival, read the same literature, bow to
the same traditions. And you must remember a wife in Utopia is
singularly not subject to her husband...."

The botanist proclaims his invincible conclusion: "Everyone would
cut her!"

"This is Utopia," I said, and then sought once more to tranquillise
his mind. "No doubt among the vulgar, coarse-minded people outside
the Rule there may be something of the sort. Every earthly moral
blockhead, a little educated, perhaps, is to be found in Utopia. You
will, no doubt, find the 'cut' and the 'boycott,' and all those nice
little devices by which dull people get a keen edge on life, in
their place here, and their place here is somewhere----"

I turned a thumb earthward. "There!"

The botanist did not answer for a little while. Then he said, with
some temper and great emphasis: "Well, I'm jolly glad anyhow that
I'm not to be a permanent resident in this Utopia, if our daughters
are to be married to Hottentots by regulation. I'm jolly glad."

He turned his back on me.

Now did I say anything of the sort? ...

I had to bring him, I suppose; there's no getting away from him in
this life. But, as I have already observed, the happy ancients went
to their Utopias without this sort of company.


Section 5.

What gives the botanist so great an advantage in all his
Anti-Utopian utterances is his unconsciousness of his own
limitations. He thinks in little pieces that lie about loose, and
nothing has any necessary link with anything else in his mind. So
that I cannot retort upon him by asking him, if he objects to this
synthesis of all nations, tongues and peoples in a World State, what
alternative ideal he proposes.

People of this sort do not even feel the need of alternatives.
Beyond the scope of a few personal projects, meeting Her again, and
things like that, they do not feel that there is a future. They are
unencumbered by any baggage of convictions whatever, in relation to
that. That, at least, is the only way in which I can explain our
friend's high intellectual mobility. Attempts to correlate
statesmanship, which they regard with interest as a dramatic
interplay of personalities, with any secular movement of humanity,
they class with the differential calculus and Darwinism, as things
far too difficult to be anything but finally and subtly wrong.

So the argument must pass into a direct address to the reader.

If you are not prepared to regard a world-wide synthesis of all
cultures and polities and races into one World State as the
desirable end upon which all civilising efforts converge, what do
you regard as the desirable end? Synthesis, one may remark in
passing, does not necessarily mean fusion, nor does it mean

The alternatives fall roughly under three headings. The first is to
assume there is a best race, to define as well as one can that best
race, and to regard all other races as material for extermination.
This has a fine, modern, biological air ("Survival of the Fittest").
If you are one of those queer German professors who write insanity
about Welt-Politik, you assume the best race is the "Teutonic";
Cecil Rhodes affected that triumph of creative imagination, the
"Anglo-Saxon race"; my friend, Moses Cohen, thinks there is much to
be said for the Jew. On its premises, this is a perfectly sound and
reasonable policy, and it opens out a brilliant prospect for the
scientific inventor for what one might call Welt-Apparat in the
future, for national harrowing and reaping machines, and
race-destroying fumigations. The great plain of China ("Yellow
Peril") lends itself particularly to some striking wholesale
undertaking; it might, for example, be flooded for a few days, and
then disinfected with volcanic chlorine. Whether, when all the
inferior races have been stamped out, the superior race would not
proceed at once, or after a brief millennial period of social
harmony, to divide itself into sub-classes, and begin the business
over again at a higher level, is an interesting residual question
into which we need not now penetrate.

That complete development of a scientific Welt-Politik is not,
however, very widely advocated at present, no doubt from a want of
confidence in the public imagination. We have, however, a very
audible and influential school, the Modern Imperialist school, which
distinguishes its own race--there is a German, a British, and an
Anglo-Saxon section in the school, and a wider teaching which
embraces the whole "white race" in one remarkable tolerance--as the
superior race, as one, indeed, superior enough to own slaves,
collectively, if not individually; and the exponents of this
doctrine look with a resolute, truculent, but slightly indistinct
eye to a future in which all the rest of the world will be in
subjection to these elect. The ideals of this type are set forth
pretty clearly in Mr. Kidd's Control of the Tropics. The whole world
is to be administered by the "white" Powers--Mr. Kidd did not
anticipate Japan--who will see to it that their subjects do not
"prevent the utilisation of the immense natural resources which they
have in charge." Those other races are to be regarded as children,
recalcitrant children at times, and without any of the tender
emotions of paternity. It is a little doubtful whether the races
lacking "in the elementary qualities of social efficiency" are
expected to acquire them under the chastening hands of those races
which, through "strength and energy of character, humanity, probity,
and integrity, and a single-minded devotion to conceptions of duty,"
are developing "the resources of the richest regions of the earth"
over their heads, or whether this is the ultimate ideal.

Next comes the rather incoherent alternative that one associates in
England with official Liberalism.

Liberalism in England is not quite the same thing as Liberalism in
the rest of the world; it is woven of two strands. There is
Whiggism, the powerful tradition of seventeenth-century Protestant
and republican England, with its great debt to republican Rome, its
strong constructive and disciplinary bias, its broad and originally
very living and intelligent outlook; and interwoven with this there
is the sentimental and logical Liberalism that sprang from the
stresses of the eighteenth century, that finds its early scarce
differentiated expression in Harrington's Oceana, and after fresh
draughts of the tradition of Brutus and Cato and some elegant
trifling with noble savages, budded in La Cite Morellyste, flowered
in the emotional democratic naturalism of Rousseau, and bore
abundant fruit in the French Revolution. These are two very distinct
strands. Directly they were freed in America from the grip of
conflict with British Toryism, they came apart as the Republican and
Democratic parties respectively. Their continued union in Great
Britain is a political accident. Because of this mixture, the whole
career of English-speaking Liberalism, though it has gone to one
unbroken strain of eloquence, has never produced a clear statement
of policy in relation to other peoples politically less fortunate.
It has developed no definite ideas at all about the future of
mankind. The Whig disposition, which once had some play in India,
was certainly to attempt to anglicise the "native," to assimilate
his culture, and then to assimilate his political status with that
of his temporary ruler. But interwoven with this anglicising
tendency, which was also, by the bye, a Christianising tendency, was
a strong disposition, derived from the Rousseau strand, to leave
other peoples alone, to facilitate even the separation and autonomy
of detached portions of our own peoples, to disintegrate finally
into perfect, because lawless, individuals. The official exposition
of British "Liberalism" to-day still wriggles unstably because of
these conflicting constituents, but on the whole the Whig strand now
seems the weaker. The contemporary Liberal politician offers cogent
criticism upon the brutality and conceit of modern imperialisms, but
that seems to be the limit of his service. Taking what they do not
say and do not propose as an indication of Liberal intentions, it
would seem that the ideal of the British Liberals and of the
American Democrats is to favour the existence of just as many petty,
loosely allied, or quite independent nationalities as possible, just
as many languages as possible, to deprecate armies and all controls,
and to trust to the innate goodness of disorder and the powers of an
ardent sentimentality to keep the world clean and sweet. The
Liberals will not face the plain consequence that such a state of
affairs is hopelessly unstable, that it involves the maximum risk of
war with the minimum of permanent benefit and public order. They
will not reflect that the stars in their courses rule inexorably
against it. It is a vague, impossible ideal, with a rude sort of
unworldly moral beauty, like the gospel of the Doukhobors. Besides
that charm it has this most seductive quality to an official British
Liberal, that it does not exact intellectual activity nor indeed
activity of any sort whatever. It is, by virtue of that alone, a far
less mischievous doctrine than the crude and violent Imperialism of
the popular Press.

Neither of these two schools of policy, neither the international
laisser faire of the Liberals, nor "hustle to the top" Imperialism,
promise any reality of permanent progress for the world of men. They
are the resort, the moral reference, of those who will not think
frankly and exhaustively over the whole field of this question. Do
that, insist upon solutions of more than accidental applicability,
and you emerge with one or other of two contrasted solutions, as the
consciousness of kind or the consciousness of individuality prevails
in your mind. In the former case you will adopt aggressive
Imperialism, but you will carry it out to its "thorough" degree of
extermination. You will seek to develop the culture and power of
your kind of men and women to the utmost in order to shoulder all
other kinds from the earth. If on the other hand you appreciate the
unique, you will aim at such a synthesis as this Utopia displays, a
synthesis far more credible and possible than any other
Welt-Politik. In spite of all the pageant of modern war, synthesis
is in the trend of the world. To aid and develop it, could be made
the open and secure policy of any great modern empire now. Modern
war, modern international hostility is, I believe, possible only
through the stupid illiteracy of the mass of men and the conceit and
intellectual indolence of rulers and those who feed the public mind.
Were the will of the mass of men lit and conscious, I am firmly
convinced it would now burn steadily for synthesis and peace.

It would be so easy to bring about a world peace within a few
decades, was there but the will for it among men! The great empires
that exist need but a little speech and frankness one with another.
Within, the riddles of social order are already half solved in books
and thought, there are the common people and the subject peoples to
be educated and drilled, to be led to a common speech and a common
literature, to be assimilated and made citizens; without, there is
the possibility of treaties. Why, for example, should Britain and
France, or either and the United States, or Sweden and Norway, or
Holland, or Denmark, or Italy, fight any more for ever? And if there
is no reason, how foolish and dangerous it is still to sustain
linguistic differences and custom houses, and all sorts of foolish
and irritating distinctions between their various citizens! Why
should not all these peoples agree to teach some common language,
French, for example, in their common schools, or to teach each
other's languages reciprocally? Why should they not aim at a common
literature, and bring their various common laws, their marriage
laws, and so on, into uniformity? Why should they not work for a
uniform minimum of labour conditions through all their communities?
Why, then, should they not--except in the interests of a few rascal
plutocrats--trade freely and exchange their citizenship freely
throughout their common boundaries? No doubt there are difficulties
to be found, but they are quite finite difficulties. What is there
to prevent a parallel movement of all the civilised Powers in the
world towards a common ideal and assimilation?

Stupidity--nothing but stupidity, a stupid brute jealousy, aimless
and unjustifiable.

The coarser conceptions of aggregation are at hand, the hostile,
jealous patriotisms, the blare of trumpets and the pride of fools;
they serve the daily need though they lead towards disaster. The
real and the immediate has us in its grip, the accidental personal
thing. The little effort of thought, the brief sustained effort of
will, is too much for the contemporary mind. Such treaties, such
sympathetic international movements, are but dream stuff yet on
earth, though Utopia has realised them long since and already passed
them by.

H.G. Wells

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