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The Colored World-Revolution, Part 1

The French Revolution comes to Haiti

3,667 words

From The Hour of Decision (1933)

The Western Civilization of this century is threatened, not by one, but by two world revolutions of major dimensions. In both their real compass, their profundity, and their workings have so far escaped recognition. The one comes from below, the other from without: class war and race war. The one now lies to a large extent behind us, although its decisive blows — in the Anglo-American zone, for instance — are probably still to come. The other first became definite in the World War, and it is rapidly acquiring direction and form. In the next few centuries both will fight side by side, possibly as allies: it will be the severest crisis through which the white peoples will have to pass in common — whether united or not — if they intend to have any future.

Such a “revolution from without” has set itself up against each of the past Cultures also. It has arisen invariably among the hopeless downtrodden races of the outer ring — “savages” or “barbarians” — who were exploited without means of redress by the unassailable superiority of a group of Culture-nations which had reached high maturity in their political, military, economic, and intellectual forms and methods. This “colonial style” is present in every High Culture. But such hatred did not exclude a secret contempt for the alien life-form, which, as it gradually became more familiar, was scoffingly analyzed and in the end boldly evaluated according to the limits of its efficacy and no more. They, the outsiders, saw that many things could be imitated, and that others either could be rendered innocuous or were not so potent as had been supposed in the first panic (Jugurtha’s judgment of Rome). They looked on at the wars and revolutions occurring within this world of ruling nations and were perforce initiated into the mysteries of armaments (the Libyans and “seafaring nations” by the Egyptians of the New Empire, the Germans by Rome, the Turks by the Arabs, and the Negroes by France), economics, and diplomacy, and thus came at last to question the reality of the foreigners’ superiority. And once they detected a weakening in those foreigners’ resolution to command, they began to reflect on the possibilities of attack and victory for themselves. Thus it was in China in the third century B.C., when the barbarous peoples north and west of the Hwang Ho and south of the Yangtze-kiang were drawn into the decisive battles of the great powers, and in the Arabian world of the time of the Abbassids, where Turkish-Mongolian races appeared first as mercenaries and then as masters. And thus it was in the Classical Age above all, where we have an exact picture of events, which resemble at every point those towards which we are irrevocably moving.

The Barbarian attacks on the Classical world begin with the Celtic movements after 300 B.C., which invariably had Italy as their objective. In the decisive battle of Sentinum (295), Gallic races supported the Etruscans and Samnites against Rome, and they were also employed with success by Hannibal. About 280, other Celts conquered Macedonia and northern Greece, where, in consequence of internal political struggles, all State power had ceased to exist, and they were checked only at Delphi. In Thrace and Asia Minor they founded Barbarian empires over a Hellenized and partially Hellenic population. Somewhat later in the East of Alexander the Great’s decayed empire, the Barbarian reaction against the Hellenic culture set in, forcing it by innumerable insurrections (Eduard Meyer, Blüte und Niedergang des Hellenismus in Asien [1925]) to give ground step by step. Thus, from about 100 B.C. a Mithridrates, in alliance with South Russian “savages” (Scythians and Bastarnae) and counting upon the ever-increasing determination of the Parthians to push from Eastern Iran towards Syria, had reasonable expectations of destroying the Roman State, in the chaotic condition to which class wars had reduced it. Not until it reached Greece was his advance stopped. Athens and other cities joined him, as well as certain Celtic races which were still established in Macedonia. In the Roman armies there was open revolution. Individual sections fought against each other, and the commanders killed each other in the very presence of the enemy (Fimbria). It was then that the Roman army ceased to be a national body and transformed itself into a personal retinue of individuals. The soldiers that Hannibal had led against Rome in 218 were not really Carthaginians, but drawn in the main from the wild races of the Atlas mountains and southern Spain. And with those Rome had later, from 146 onward, to wage a terrible and never-ending struggle. (It was the losses of these wars that brought the Roman peasantry to revolt in the Gracchan disturbances.) With these same peoples, later still, the Roman Sertorius attempted to found a State in opposition to Rome. After 113 B.C. there came the Celtic-Germanic onset of the Cimbri and Teutones, which was only repulsed after whole Roman armies had been wiped out by the revolutionary leader, Marius, and he again had just returned from his victory over Jugurtha, who had armed Northern Africa against Rome and by bribing the Roman politicians had for years prevented any counteraction. About 60 B.C. there came a second Celtic-Germanic movement (Suevi, Helvetii), to forestall which Caesar conquered Gaul, and at the same time Crassus was defeated and killed by the Parthians. But that was the end of reaction by expansion. Caesar’s plan for reconquering the Alexandrian Empire and thereby removing the Parthian menace was never carried out. Tiberius had to set back the frontier in Germany after it had proved impossible to replace the troops annihilated in Varus’ defeat and the first great insurrection of the frontier legions had taken place on the death of Augustus. Thenceforward the policy was that of systematic defence. But the army was taking in more and more Barbarians. It became an independent power. Germans, Illyrians, Africans, Arabs, sprang up as leaders, while the men of the Imperium sank into the Fellahdom of “perpetual peace.” And when the great attacks came from North and West, it was not the civil population alone that treated with the invaders and passed voluntarily into a subject relation to them: the Late pacifism of a tired Civilization.

Yet for whole centuries it was possible to make a systematic defense against these conditions, because the orbis terrarum of the Roman Empire was an enclosed area with frontiers that could be guarded. The position of the present Imperium of the white nations, which embraces the whole globe and includes the colored races, is far more difficult. White humanity has scattered itself to all quarters in its ungovernable urge to infinite distance: over both Americas, South Africa, Australia, and innumerable strategic points between. The Yellow-Brown-Black-Red menace lurks within the field of the white power. It penetrates into and participates in the military and revolutionary agreements and disagreements of the white powers and threatens one day to take matters into its own hands.

What, then, does the “colored” world include? Not only Africa, the Indians — as well as the Negroes and half-breeds — of the whole of America, the Islamic nations, China, and India extending to Java, but, above all, Japan and Russia, which has again become an Asiatic, “Mongolian” State. When the Japanese beat Russia, a ray of hope shot up all over Asia: a young Asiatic State had, by Western methods, forced the greatest power of the West to its knees and thereby destroyed the aureole of invincibility which surrounded Europe. It was as a beacon, in India, in Turkey, even in Cape Colony and the Sahara. So it was possible to pay back the white peoples for all the pains and humiliations of a century! Since then the profound cunning of the Asiatics has been thinking out methods inaccessible to European thought and superior to it. And now Russia, after suffering in 1916 its second great defeat, from the West, has removed its “white” mask, to the mocking satisfaction of its ally England, has again become Asiatic with all its soul, and is filled with a burning hatred of Europe. It took with it the experiences of Europe’s internal weakness and used its knowledge to invent new and crafty methods of fighting, which it has instilled into the whole of the earth’s colored population, with the idea of a common resistance. This, side by side with the triumph of Labor-Socialism over Society among the white nations, is the second real consequence of the World War which brought us no nearer to understanding any one of the actual problems of world policy and has settled none. This war was a defeat of the white races, and the Peace of 1918 was the first great triumph of the colored world: symbolized by the fact that today it is allowed to have a say in the disputes of the white states among themselves in the Geneva League of Nations — which is nothing but a miserable symbol of shameful things.

The "Strange Fruit" of the Rights of Man

That Germans abroad should be ill-treated by colored people at the orders of English and French was not a surprisingly novel procedure. This method began in the Liberal Revolution of the eighteenth century: in 1775 the English enrolled men of Indian race to attack, burn, and scalp the American republicans, and it should not be forgotten how the Jacobins mobilized the Negroes of Haiti for the “Rights of Man.” But that colored men from all over the world should be massed on European soil to fight for whites against whites, that they came to know the secrets of the most modern war-methods and the limits of their efficacy, and were sent home with the conviction of having beaten white powers, all this fundamentally altered their view of the world’s power-distribution. They came to feel their own common strength and the weakness of the others; they began to despise the whites as erstwhile Jugurtha despised mighty Rome. It was not Germany that lost the World War; the West lost it when it lost the respect of the colored races.

The importance of this shift in the political center of gravity was first realized in Moscow. In Western Europe it is still not realized. The white ruling nations have abdicated from their former rank. They negotiate today where yesterday they would have commanded, and tomorrow they will have to flatter if they are even to negotiate. They have lost the feeling of the self-evidence of their power and are not even aware that they have lost it. In the “revolution from without” they have ceded the choice of the hour, to America and, above all, to Asia, whose frontier now lies along the Vistula and the Carpathians. For the first time since the siege of Vienna by the Turks they have again been put on the defensive, and they will have to commit great forces, both spiritual and military, into the hands of very great men if they intend to weather the first mighty storm, which will not be long in coming.

In Russia in 1917 both Revolutions, the White and the Colored, broke out together. The one, the shallow, urban Revolution of Labor-Socialism, rhetorical and literary through and through, with its Western faith in party and program, its littérateurs, academic proletarians, and Nihilistic agitators of the Bakunin type, and its alliance with the dregs of the great cities, killed off Petrine society, which was predominantly Western in origin, and staged a noisy cult of the “working man.” The technics of the machine, so alien to and hated by the Russian soul, became all at once a god and the meaning of life. But below all this the other Revolution of the muzhik, the village, the true Asiatic form of Bolshevism, was doggedly, silently rising, big with promise. The peasant’s eternal hunger for the land, which drove all the soldiers back from the front to take part in the great land-distribution, was the first expression of it. Labor-Socialism soon discovered the danger. After an initial alliance it used the hatred nursed by all urban parties, whether Liberal or Socialist, for the peasantry to wage war against this conservative element, which, in history, has invariably outlasted all the political, social, and economic formations of the city. It dispossessed the peasants, reintroduced in fact the serfdom and compulsory labor which Alexander II had abolished in 1862, and by its hostile and bureaucratic administration of agriculture — every Socialism, when it passes from theory to practice, soon becomes choked in bureaucracy — carried matters so far that today the fields are allowed to run wild, the abundant live-stock of the past has shrunk to a fraction, and starvation of the Asiatic order has become a permanent condition that only a weak-willed race, born to an existence of slavery, could endure.

But here “white” Bolshevism is rapidly on the wane. The Marxian face is only worn for the benefit of the outside world, for Southern Asia, Africa, America, where it is desired to let loose and direct rebellion against the white powers. A new Asiatic stratum of rulers has taken over from the Semi-Westerns. It again lives in the villas and palaces around Moscow, keeps its staff of servants, and already permits itself to indulge in a barbaric luxury worthy of predatory Mongolian khans of the fourteenth century. Here is “wealth,” in a new form that can be paraphrased in proletarian circumlocutions.

There will also be a return to peasant property, to private property in general. The fact of serfdom does not preclude this, and it can be done; for the army, and no longer the civilian “party,” has the power. The soldier is the one creature who does not go hungry in Russia, and he knows why this is so and for how long. This power is unassailable from abroad on account of the geographical extent of its empire, but it attacks itself. It has mercenaries and allies all over the world, disguised like itself. Its strongest weapon is the new revolutionary, truly Asiatic diplomacy which acts instead of negotiating, from below and from behind, by means of propaganda, murder, and insurrection, and this gives it a vast advantage over that of the white countries; for these, in spite of their politically-minded advocates and journalists, have not yet quite lost the aristocratic style that derives from the Escorial and counts Bismarck as its last great master.

Trotsky leading the non-white world against white domination

Russia is the lord of Asia. Russia is Asia. Japan belongs to Asia only geographically. From the ethnographical point of view it undoubtedly stands closer to the eastern Malayans, the Polynesians, and certain Indian peoples on the west side of America. But on the sea it is what Russia is on land: lord of a wide domain in which Western powers no longer count. England is not even remotely master of “her” Empire to the same extent, even in the colored “Crown”-colonies. Japan extends her influence over a wide radius. It is felt in Peru and on the Panama Canal. The alleged blood-relationship between Japanese and Mexicans has on occasion been emphasized and toasted on both sides (L. Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color (1920), pp. 131 et seq.). In Mexico, in the beginning of 1914, leading Indian circles plotted the “Plan of San Diego,” having for its object the invasion of Texas and Arizona by an army of Indians, Negroes, and Japanese. The white population was to be massacred, the Negro states were to become independent, and a greater Mexico was to arise as a State for the pure Indian race. (In Mexico City there stands a statue of the last Aztec emperor, Guatemozin. No one would dare to put up one of Cortez.) Had this plan been carried into execution, the World War would have started with a completely different distribution of the powers and been based on other problems. The Monroe Doctrine, in the form of dollar-imperialism, pointed towards Latin America, would have been wiped out by it. Russia and Japan are today the only active forces in the world. Through them Asia has become the decisive element in world happenings. The white powers are actuated by its pressure in their dealings and do not even know it.

This pressure consists in the activity of the Colored, racial Revolution, which is already using the White Revolution of the class war as its tool. We have already referred to the backgrounds of the economic catastrophe. After the revolution from below in the form of Labor-Socialism had with its weapon, the political wage, made the breach, colored economy, headed by Russia and Japan, pressed in with the lower wage, and it is now proceeding to complete the destruction.

(When we hear that in Java Japan sells bicycles for less than $3 and electric light bulbs for less than two cents, while white countries have to ask four times as much even to cover the cost to themselves; when the little Javanese peasant with his wife and family offer the self-harvested sack of rice at half the cost which the modern planter with his white officials is obliged to demand, then indeed we get a glimpse into the abysses of this struggle. Since Western technique is no longer secret and can be copied to perfection, the contrast is no longer in the method of construction, but only in the cost of that production.)

To this must be added political-social propaganda in enormous quantities, the true Asiatic diplomacy of our day. It pervades all India and Japan. It has led in Java and Sumatra to the erection of a race front against the Dutch and the disintegration of army and navy. It pays court, all the way from Eastern Asia, to the highly gifted Indian race living from Mexico to Chili, and it inculcates for the first time in the Negroes a community-feeling that is being directed against the white ruling nations.

Here, too, the White Revolution has since 1770 been preparing the soil for the Colored one. The literature of English Liberals like Mill and Spencer, whose trains of thought reach back into the eighteenth century, supplied the “world outlook” to the higher schools in India. And thence the way to Marx was easy for the young reformers themselves to find. Sun-Yat-Sen, the leader of the Chinese Revolution, found it in America. And out of it all there arose a revolutionary literature of which the Radicalism puts that of Marx and Borodin far into the shade.

Like the North American revolt against England, the independence movement in Spanish America, dating from Bolivar (1811), is unthinkable without the Anglo-French revolutionary literature of 1770 — plus the example of Napoleon. At first it was exclusively a struggle between whites, between the landowning Creole aristocracy, which had lived in the country for generations, and the Spanish bureaucracy, which kept up the lordly principle of colonial subordination. Bolivar, a pure-blooded white like Miranda and San Martín, conceived the plan of erecting a monarchy that would be supported by a purely white oligarchy. The Argentinian dictator, Rosas, a powerful figure in the “Prussian” style, also stood for this aristocracy against the Jacobinism which soon spread from Mexico to the extreme South, finding support in the anti-clerical Masonic lodges and demanding universal equality, even of race. With this began the movement of Indians, pure and half-breeds, not only against Spain, but against white blood generally. It has gone on without intermission, and today it is nearing its goal. Humboldt, even so far back, remarked the pride in Iberian descent exhibited there, and the tradition of a Visigothic and Basque ancestry is still found in Chile’s aristocratic families. (And from the forcibly converted Arabs and Jews — the Marranos — known by their strictly Catholic names, such as Santa Anna, Santa Maria, San Martín.) But the greater part of this aristocracy died out or found its way back to Europe during the reign of anarchy which began in the middle of the nineteenth century, and now policy is dictated by the “caudillos,” warlike demagogues from the coloured population. Among them are pure-breed Indians of great talent like Juárez and Porfirio Díaz. Apart from Argentina, the proportion of the upper classes which is white, or calls itself so, is from a quarter to one tenth of the population. In certain states the doctors, advocates, teachers, even officers, are exclusively Indians, who feel themselves akin to the half-breed proletariat of the towns (the “mechopelo”) in the hatred with which white property inspires them, whether it is in the hands of Creoles, Englishmen, or North Americans. In Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, Aymara is the second official and educational language. There is open practice of a cult based on the alleged Communism of the Incas, which receives encouragement from Moscow. The race ideal of a pure Indian rule is perhaps on the verge of realization.

In Africa it is the Christian missionary — above all, the English Methodist — who in all innocence, with his doctrine that all men are equal before God and that wealth is sinful, plows the soil on which the Bolshevist envoy sows and reaps. And from the North and the East the missionary of Islam follows up his tracks with great success, penetrating in these days as far as the Zambesi in Nyassaland. Where a Christian school stood yesterday, a mosque stands tomorrow. The warlike, manly spirit of this religion is more intelligible to the Negro than the doctrine of pity, which merely takes away his respect for the whites; and the Christian priest is suspected above all because he represents a white ruling race, against which Mohammedan propaganda, political rather than dogmatic, directs itself with cool decision. (But there is also an Ethiopian Methodist Church, which is anti-European and from its home in the United States carries out mission work that leads to revolts, as for instance in Natal in 1907 and in Nyassaland in 1915.)

Part 1 of 2. Click here for part 2.

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