Wednesday, May 21, 2014


The internet is vast and deep. I had no idea such things as "neoreactionaries" or plans for a "Dark Enlightenment" existed until I read this article at The Baffler. Among the article's insights, these followers have an affection for Carlyle's essay on re-enslaving the recently freed slaves of the British in the Caribbean. But back in the day, another voice was heard from, a week later in the same magazine.

SIR,— Your last month's number contains a speech against the "rights of Negroes," the doctrines and spirit of which ought not to pass without remonstrance. The author issues his opinions, or rather ordinances, under imposing auspices no less than those of the "immortal gods." "The Powers," "the Destinies," announce, through him, not only what will be, but what shall be done; what they "have decided upon, passed their eternal act of parliament for." This is speaking "as one having authority;" but authority from whom l If by the quality of the message we may judge of those who sent it, not from any powers to whom just or good men acknowledge allegiance. This so-called "eternal act of parliament" is no new law, but the old law of the strongest — a law against which the great teachers of mankind have in all ages protested — it is the law of force and cunning; the law that whoever is more powerful than an other, is "born lord" of that other, the other being born his "servant," who must be "compelled to work" for him by "beneficent whip," if "other methods avail not." I see nothing divine in this injunction. If  "the gods" will this, it is the first duty of human beings to resist such gods. Omnipotent these "gods" are not, for powers which demand human tyranny and injustice cannot accomplish their purpose unless human beings coƶperate. The history of human improvement is the record of a struggle by which inch after inch of ground has been wrung from these maleficent powers, and more and more of human life rescued from the iniquitous dominion of the law of might. Much, very much of this work still remains to do; but the progress made in it is the best and greatest achievement yet performed by mankind, and it was hardly to be expected at this period of the world that we should be enjoined, by way of a great reform in human affair, to begin undoing it.
"The Negro Question"
by John Stuart Mill
Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country, 1850
It is an exhilarating thing to read, but you must make allowances for the 160 year old prose, which can seem dense at times. This is part of my  heritage as a progressive. We have deep roots.