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Remembering Jack London:
January 12, 1876–November 22, 1916

372 words

Jack London was born John Griffith Chaney in San Francisco on January 12, 1876. An adventurer and Jack of all trades in his youth, London achieved fame and fortune as a fiction writer and journalist. But he never forgot his working class roots and remained a life-long advocate of workers’ rights, unionism, and revolutionary socialism. (See his essay “What Life Means to Me.”)

But Jack London was no ordinary leftist, for he was acutely racially conscious (see, for example, “The Yellow Peril“) and had a such a marked Nietzschean/Social Darwinist ethical sensibility that Ragar Redbeard’s infamous Might is Right or The Survival of the Fittest was widely, though mistakenly, attributed to him. Thus London is also a favorite writer of New Rightists and White Nationalists, particularly West-Coast White Nationalists and those who hope for the re-emergence of a racially conscious left.

Jack London, age 9, with his dog Rollo

London’s best known books are Call of the Wild and White Fang, drawing upon his experiences in the Klondike Gold Rush; The Sea-Wolf, a psychological thriller and portrait of a brutal sea captain; and The Iron Heel, a dystopian novel about oligarchy and revolutionary socialism which became one of the literary inspirations of William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries.

The Library of America has published two handsome hardcover volumes of London’s principal works: Novels and Stories: Call of the Wild, White Fang, The Sea-Wolf, Klondike and Other Stories and Novels and Social Writings: The People of the Abyss, The Road, The Iron Heel, Martin Eden, John Barleycorn. The Portable Jack London is a well-chosen single-volume paperback selection of his writings. James L. Haley’s recent biography Wolf: The Lives of Jack London is a true tale as exciting as London’s best fiction. The best online resource on Jack London is The World of Jack London, http://www.jacklondons.net/index.html, which contains virtually all of his writings plus invaluable secondary literature.

In 1905, Jack London bought a ranch in Sonoma County where he experimented with ecologically sustainable farming and ranching techniques. In 1916, Jack London died of kidney failure. He was only 40 years old. He left two daughters, plus 20 novels, 10 collections of short stories, three plays, three collections of essays, two autobiographical memoirs, and countless other works.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Andrew Hamilton
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    One of my favorite London works is the superlative short story “To Build a Fire” (1908). Not explicitly political or racial in any way (I think it is fair to say that it is to a high degree implicitly white), “To Build a Fire” is a deceptively simple and straightforward tale about a man slowly freezing to death in the Yukon wilderness.

    London made an interesting comment about racial altruism in a letter he wrote at age 23 in 1899:

    “Where am I to draw the line [on altruism]? At the White. From the family unit, through the tribal drawing, to the race aggregation, you may trace the rise of altruism, very similar for all its various manifestations. The line stops there. If a man would save an animal from pain, another kind of altruism is brought to bear; the same if he saves a nigger, or a red, a yellow, or a brown. But let Mr. White meet another white hemmed in by dangers from other colors—these whites will not need to know each other—but they will heed the call of blood and stand back to back. . . . [T]he race with the highest altruism will endure—the highest altruism considered from the standpoint of merciless natural law, which never concedes nor alters.” –Quoted in “The Soul of Jack London,” National Vanguard No. 109, April-May 1988

  2. Posted January 13, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    “The cruise of the Snark” is a very pleasant read.

  3. Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    London wrote his astounding Unparalleled Invasion 100 years ago, predating Jean Raspail’s better known, foreboding classic, Camp of the Saints, by half a century. A must read for White race-thinkers, especially considering Yellow Man’s recent ascendancy, and White Man’s near terminal reversal of fortune in those 100 years.

    THE UNPARALLELED INVASION

    It was in the year 1976 that the trouble between the world and China reached its culmination. It was because of this that the celebration of the Second Centennial of American Liberty was deferred. Many other plans of the nations of the earth were twisted and tangled and postponed for the same reason. The world awoke rather abruptly to its danger; but for over seventy years, unperceived, affairs had been shaping toward this very end.

    The year 1904 logically marks the beginning of the development that, seventy years later, was to bring consternation to the whole world. The Japanese-Russian War took place in 1904, and the historians of the time gravely noted it down that that event marked the entrance of Japan into the comity of nations. What it really did mark was the awakening of China. This awakening, long expected, had finally been given up. The Western nations had tried to arouse China, and they had failed. Out of their native optimism and race-egotism they had therefore concluded that the task was impossible, that China would never awaken.

    What they had failed to take into account was this: that between them and China was no common psychological speech. Their thought-processes were radically dissimilar. There was no intimate vocabulary. The Western mind penetrated the Chinese mind but a short distance when it found itself in a fathomless maze. The Chinese mind penetrated the Western mind an equally short distance when it fetched up against a blank, incomprehensible wall. It was all a matter of language. There was no way to communicate Western ideas to the Chinese mind. China remained asleep. The material achievement and progress of the West was a closed book to her; nor could the West open the book. Back and deep down on the tie-ribs of consciousness, in the mind, say, of the English-speaking race, was a capacity to thrill to short, Saxon words; back and deep down on the tie-ribs of consciousness of the Chinese mind was a capacity to thrill to its own hieroglyphics; but the Chinese mind could not thrill to short, Saxon words; nor could the English-speaking mind thrill to hieroglyphics. The fabrics of their minds were woven from totally different stuffs. They were mental aliens. And so it was that Western material achievement and progress made no dent on the rounded sleep of China.

    Came Japan and her victory over Russia in 1904. Now the Japanese race was the freak and paradox among Eastern peoples. In some strange way Japan was receptive to all the West had to offer. Japan swiftly assimilated the Western ideas, and digested them, and so capably applied them that she suddenly burst forth, full-panoplied, a world-power. There is no explaining this peculiar openness of Japan to the alien culture of the West. As well might be explained any biological sport in the animal kingdom.

    Having decisively thrashed the great Russian Empire, Japan promptly set about dreaming a colossal dream of empire for herself. Korea she had made into a granary and a colony; treaty privileges and vulpine diplomacy gave her the monopoly of Manchuria. But Japan was not satisfied. She turned her eyes upon China. There lay a vast territory, and in that territory were the hugest deposits in the world of iron and coal—the backbone of industrial civilization. Given natural resources, the other great factor in industry is labour. In that territory was a population of 400,000,000 souls—one quarter of the then total population of the earth. Furthermore, the Chinese were excellent workers, while their fatalistic philosophy (or religion) and their stolid nervous organization constituted them splendid soldiers—if they were properly managed. Needless to say, Japan was prepared to furnish that management.

    But best of all, from the standpoint of Japan, the Chinese was a kindred race. The baffling enigma of the Chinese character to the West was no baffling enigma to the Japanese. The Japanese understood as we could never school ourselves or hope to understand. Their mental processes were the same. The Japanese thought with the same thought-symbols as did the Chinese, and they thought in the same peculiar grooves. Into the Chinese mind the Japanese went on where we were balked by the obstacle of incomprehension…

    Talk about the inscrutable mind of Yellow Man…

    Go enjoy the rest of this astonishing short story — my personal favorite — here:
    http://www.jacklondons.net/writings/StrengthStrong/invasion.html

  4. Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a short racist London read, The Inevitable White Man:

    “The black will never understand the white, nor the white the black, as long as black is black and white is white.”

    So said Captain Woodward. We sat in the parlor of Charley Roberts’ pub in Apia, drinking long Abu Hameds compounded and shared with us by the aforesaid Charley Roberts, who claimed the recipe direct from Stevens, famous for having invented the Abu Hamed at a time when he was spurred on by Nile thirst–the Stevens who was responsible for “With Kitchener to Kartoun,” and who passed out at the siege of Ladysmith.

    Captain Woodward, short and squat, elderly, burned by forty years of tropic sun, and with the most beautiful liquid brown eyes I ever saw in a man, spoke from a vast experience. The crisscross of scars on his bald pate bespoke a tomahawk intimacy with the black, and of equal intimacy was the advertisement, front and rear, on the right side of his neck, where an arrow had at one time entered and been pulled clean through. As he explained, he had been in a hurry on that occasion–the arrow impeded his running–and he felt that he could not take the time to break off the head and pull out the shaft the way it had come in. At the present moment he was commander of the Savaii, the big steamer that recruited labor from the westward for the German plantations on Samoa.

    “Half the trouble is the stupidity of the whites,” said Roberts, pausing to take a swig from his glass and to curse the Samoan bar-boy in affectionate terms. “If the white man would lay himself out a bit to understand the workings of the black man’s mind, most of the messes would be avoided.”

    “I’ve seen a few who claimed they understood niggers,” Captain Woodward retorted, “and I always took notice that they were the first to be kai-kai’d (eaten). Look at the missionaries in New Guinea and the New Hebrides–the martyr isle of Erromanga and all the rest. Look at the Austrian expedition that was cut to pieces in the Solomons, in the bush of Guadalcanar. And look at the traders themselves, with a score of years’ experience, making their brag that no nigger would ever get them, and whose heads to this day are ornamenting the rafters of the canoe houses. There was old Johnny Simons–twenty-six years on the raw edges of Melanesia, swore he knew the niggers like a book and that they’d never do for him, and he passed out at Marovo Lagoon, New Georgia, had his head sawed off by a black Mary (woman) and an old nigger with only one leg, having left the other leg in the mouth of a shark while diving for dynamited fish. There was Billy Watts, horrible reputation as a nigger killer, a man to scare the devil. I remember lying at Cape Little, New Ireland you know, when the niggers stole half a case of trade-tobacco–cost him about three dollars and a half. In retaliation he turned out, shot six niggers, smashed up their war canoes and burned two villages. And it was at Cape Little, four years afterward, that he was jumped along with fifty Buku boys he had with him fishing beche-de-mer. In five minutes they were all dead, with the exception of three boys who got away in a canoe. Don’t talk to me about understanding the nigger. The white man’s mission is to farm the world, and it’s a big enough job cut out for him. What time has he got left to understand niggers anyway?”

    “Just so,” said Roberts. “And somehow it doesn’t seem necessary, after all, to understand the niggers. In direct proportion to the white man’s stupidity is his success in farming the world–”

    “And putting the fear of God into the nigger’s heart,” Captain Woodward blurted out. “Perhaps you’re right, Roberts. Perhaps it’s his stupidity that makes him succeed, and surely one phase of his stupidity is his inability to understand the niggers. But there’s one thing sure, the white has to run the niggers whether he understands them or not. It’s inevitable. It’s fate.”

    “And of course the white man is inevitable–it’s the niggers’ fate,” Roberts broke in. “Tell the white man there’s pearl shell in some lagoon infested by ten-thousand howling cannibals, and he’ll head there all by his lonely, with half a dozen kanaka divers and a tin alarm clock for chronometer, all packed like sardines on a commodious, five-ton ketch. Whisper that there’s a gold strike at the North Pole, and that same inevitable white-skinned creature will set out at once, armed with pick and shovel, a side of bacon, and the latest patent rocker–and what’s more, he’ll get there. Tip it off to him that there’s diamonds on the red-hot ramparts of hell, and Mr. White Man will storm the ramparts and set old Satan himself to pick-and-shovel work. That’s what comes of being stupid and inevitable.”

    “But I wonder what the black man must think of the–the inevitableness,” I said.

    Captain Woodward broke into quiet laughter. His eyes had a reminiscent gleam.

    “I’m just wondering what the niggers of Malu thought and still must be thinking of the one inevitable white man we had on board when we visited them in the Duchess,” he explained…

    Read the rest of this short story, here:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/23/AR2010042302947.html

  5. Jan L
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    I recommend The Iron Heel. It is a perfect description of ZOG, i.e. what ZOG looked like a hundred years ago. The protagonist Ernest Everhard is an absolutely illusionless activist and fighter. We can learn a lot from Everhard/London’s outlook.

  6. White Republican
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    There’s a good discussion of Jack London’s racial views in Conway Zirkle’s book, Evolution, Marxian Biology, and the Social Scene (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959). London is also the subject of an article in the June 1978 issue of Instauration, which is available online at:

    http://www.instaurationonline.com/pdf-files/Instauration-1978-06-June.pdf

  7. Posted January 12, 2011 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for reminding me of this, Greg. Jack London is one of my absolute favourite authors. Almost no one knows how to express the Aryan race soul like him.

    I put a link to this article on my new blog, Thoughts Against Time:
    http://thoughtsagainsttime.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/vi-minns-jack-london/

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