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- Mankind in the Making - 5/49 -


wide-reaching aims beneath his superficial effect of utter superficiality. His impersonation of an amiable, spirited, self- conscious, land-owning gentleman with a passion for justice in remote places and a whimsical dislike of motor cars in his immediate neighbourhood, may veil the operations of a stupendous intelligence bent upon the regeneration of the world. It may do, but if it does, it is a very amazing and purposeless impersonation. I at any rate do not believe that it does. I do not believe that he or any other Liberal leader or any Conservative minister has any comprehensive aim at all-- as we of the new generation measure comprehensiveness. These parties, and the phrases of party exposition--in America just as in England-- date from the days of the limited outlook. They display no consciousness of the new dissent. They are absorbed in the long standing game, the getting in, the turning out, the contests and governments, that has just about the same relation to the new perception of affairs, to the real drift of life, as the game of cricket with the wheel as a wicket would have to the destinies of a ship. They find their game highly interesting and no doubt they play it with remarkable wit, skill and spirit, but they entirely disregard the increasing number of passengers who are concerning themselves with the course and destination of the ship.

Those particular passengers in the figure, present the New Republic. It is a dissension, an inquiry, it is the vague unconsolidated matter for a new direction. "We who are young," says the spirit of the New Republic, "we who are in earnest can no more compass our lives under these old kingships and loyalties, under these old leaders and these old traditions, constitutions and pledges, with their party liabilities, their national superstitions, their rotting banners and their accumulating legacy of feuds and lies, than we can pretend we are indeed impassioned and wholly devoted subjects of King Edward, spending our lives in the service of his will. It is not that we have revolted from these things, it is not that we have grown askew to them and that patching and amendment will serve our need; it is that we have travelled outside them altogether--almost inadvertently, but quite beyond any chance of return to a simple acceptance again. We are no more disposed to call ourselves Liberals or Conservatives and to be stirred to party passion at the clash of these names, than we are to fight again the battles of the Factio Albata or the Factio Prasina. These current dramas, these current conflicts seem scarcely less factitious. Men without faith may be content to spend their lives for things only half believed in, and for causes that are contrived. But that is not our quality. We want reality because we have faith, we seek the beginning of realism in social and political life, we seek it and we are resolved to find it."

So we attempt to give a general expression to the forces that are new at this time, to render something at least of the spirit of the New Republic in a premature and experimental utterance. It is, at any rate, a spirit that finds itself out of intimacy and co-ordination with all the older movements of the world, that sees all pre-existing formulae and political constitutions and political parties and organizations rather as instruments or obstacles than as guiding lines and precedents for its new developing will, its will which will carry it at last irresistibly to the conscious and deliberate making of the future of man. "We are here to get better births and a better result from the births we get; each one of us is going to set himself immediately to that, using whatever power he finds to his hand," such is the form its will must take. And such being its will and spirit these papers will address themselves comprehensively to the problem, What will the New Republic do? All the rest of this series will be a discussion of the forces that go to the making of man, and how far and how such a New Republic might seek to lay its hands upon them.

It is for the adversary to explain how presumptuous such an enterprise must be. But presumption is ineradically interwoven with every beginning that the world has ever seen. I venture to think that even to a reader who does not accept or sympathize with the conception of this New Republic, a general review of current movements and current interpretations of morality from this new standpoint may be suggestive and interesting. Assuredly it is only by some such general revision, if not on these lines then on others, that a practicable way of escape is to be found for any one, from that base and shifty opportunism in public and social matters, that predominance of fluctuating aims and spiritless conformities, in which so many of us, without any great positive happiness at all to reward us for the sacrifice we are making, bury the solitary talents of our lives.

II

THE PROBLEM OF THE BIRTH SUPPLY

Within the last minute seven new citizens were born into that great English-speaking community which is scattered under various flags and governments throughout the world. And according to the line of thought developed in the previous paper we perceive that the real and ultimate business, so far as this world goes, of every statesman, every social organizer, every philanthropist, every business manager, every man who lifts his head for a moment from the mean pursuit of his immediate personal interests, from the gratification of his private desires, is, as the first and immediate thing, to do his best for these new-comers, to get the very best result, so far as his powers and activities can contribute to it, from their undeveloped possibilities. And in the next place, as a remoter, but perhaps finally more fundamental duty, he has to inquire what may be done individually or collectively to raise the standard and quality of the average birth. All the great concerns of life work out with a very little analysis to that, even our wars, our orgies of destruction, have, at the back of them, a claim, an intention, however futile in its conception and disastrous in its consequences, to establish a wider security, to destroy a standing menace, to open new paths and possibilities, in the interest of the generations still to come. One may present the whole matter in a simplified picture by imagining all our statesmen, our philanthropists and public men, our parties and institutions gathered into one great hall, and into this hall a huge spout, that no man can stop, discharges a baby every eight seconds. That is, I hold, a permissible picture of human life, and whatever is not represented at all in that picture is a divergent and secondary concern. Our success or failure with that unending stream of babies is the measure of our civilization; every institution stands or falls by its contribution to that result, by the improvement of the children born, or by the improvement in the quality of births attained under its influence.

To begin these speculations in logical order we must begin at the birth point, we must begin by asking how much may we hope, now or at a later time, to improve the supply of that raw material which is perpetually dumped upon our hands? Can we raise, and if so, what can we do to raise the quality of the average birth?

This speculation is as old at least as Plato, and as living as the seven or eight babies born into the English-speaking world since the reader began this Paper. The conclusion that if we could prevent or discourage the inferior sorts of people from having children, and if we could stimulate and encourage the superior sorts to increase and multiply, we should raise the general standard of the race, is so simple, so obvious, that in every age I suppose there have been voices asking in amazement, why the thing is not done? It is so usual to answer that it is not done on account of popular ignorance, public stupidity, religious prejudice or superstition, that I shall not apologize for giving some little space here to the suggestion that in reality it is not done for quite a different reason.

We blame the popular mind overmuch. Earnest but imperfect men, with honest and reasonable but imperfect proposals for bettering the world, are all too apt to raise this bitter cry of popular stupidity, of the sheep-like quality of common men. An unjustifiable persuasion of moral and intellectual superiority is one of the last infirmities of innovating minds. We may be right, but we must be provably, demonstrably and overpoweringly right before we are justified in calling the dissentient a fool. I am one of those who believe firmly in the invincible nature of truth, but a truth that is badly put is not a truth, but an infertile hybrid lie. Before we men of the study blame the general body of people for remaining unaffected by reforming proposals of an almost obvious advantage, it would be well if we were to change our standpoint and examine our machinery at the point of application. A rock-drilling machine may be excellently invented and in the most perfect order except for a want of hardness in the drill, and yet there will remain an unpierced rock as obdurate as the general public to so many of our innovations.

I believe that if a canvass of the entire civilized world were put to the vote in this matter, the proposition that it is desirable that the better sort of people should intermarry and have plentiful children, and that the inferior sort of people should abstain from multiplication, would be carried by an overwhelming majority. They might disagree with Plato's methods, [Footnote: _The Republic_, Bk. V.] but they would certainly agree to his principle. And that this is not a popular error Mr. Francis Galton has shown. He has devoted a very large amount of energy and capacity to the vivid and convincing presentation of this idea, and to its courageous propagation. His Huxley Lecture to the Anthropological Institute in 1901 [Footnote: _Nature_, vol. lxiv. p. 659.] puts the whole matter as vividly as it ever can be put. He classifies humanity about their average in classes which he indicates by the letters R S T U V rising above the average and r s t u v falling below, and he saturates the whole business in quantitative colour. Indeed, Mr. Galton has drawn up certain definite proposals. He has suggested that "noble families" should collect "fine specimens of humanity" around them, employing these fine specimens in menial occupations of a light and comfortable sort, that will leave a sufficient portion of their energies free for the multiplication of their superior type. "Promising young couples" might be given "healthy and convenient houses at low rentals," he suggests, and no doubt it could be contrived that they should pay their rent partly or entirely per stone of family annually produced. And he has also proposed that "diplomas" should be granted to young men and women of high class--big S and upward--and that they should be encouraged to intermarry young. A scheme of "dowries" for diploma holders would obviously be the simplest thing in the world. And only the rules for identifying your great S T U and V in adolescence, are wanting from the symmetrical completeness of his really very noble- spirited and high-class scheme.

At a more popular level Mrs. Victoria Woodhull Martin has battled bravely in the cause of the same foregone conclusion. The work of telling the world what it knows to be true will never want self- sacrificing workers. The _Humanitarian_ was her monthly organ of propaganda. Within its cover, which presented a luminiferous stark ideal of exemplary muscularity, popular preachers, popular bishops, and popular anthropologists vied with titled ladies of liberal outlook in the service of this conception. There was much therein about the Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit, a phrase never properly explained, and I must confess that the transitory presence of this instructive little magazine in my house, month after month (it is now, unhappily, dead), did much to direct my attention to the gaps and difficulties that intervene between the general proposition and its practical application by sober and honest men. One took it up and asked time after time, "Why should there be this queer flavour of absurdity and pretentiousness


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