This man was the most-read revolutionary Socialist in American history, agitating for violent overthrow of the government and the assassination of political leaders—and he is remembered now for writing a cute story about a dog. It's as if the Black Panthers were remembered, a century from now, for adding a pink tint to their afros. . . .I wonder if I should explain this to the teachers some time.
And yet there is an infected scar running across his politics that is hard to ignore. "I am first of all a white man, and only then a socialist," he said, and he meant it. His socialism followed a strict apartheid: It was for his pigmentary group alone. Every other ethnic group, he said, should be subjugated—or exterminated. "The history of civilization is a history of wandering—a wandering, sword in hand, of strong breeds, clearing away and hewing down the weak and less fit," he said coolly. "The dominant races are robbing and slaying in every corner of the globe." This was a good thing, because "they were unable to stand the concentration and sustained effort which pre-eminently mark the races best fitted to live in this world."
Monday, August 16, 2010
The Call of the Wild is a staple of the middle school curriculum in my safe, friendly suburb, which I find a little bit weird. There is an environmental, pro-wilderness theme, I suppose, but for me the main impression was one of a stark competition for survival in a harsh world where the losers die, and deservedly so. And this is not surprising, since Jack London was a political agitator who advocated bloody revolution, and an even more violent racist. From Johann Hari's review of a new biography by James L. Haley: