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Forum Post: Jack London “[Speaking to a group of wealthy New Yorkers]

Posted 11 years ago on Aug. 4, 2012, 3:39 p.m. EST by flip (7101)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

"A million years ago, the cave man, without tools, with small brain, and with nothing but the strength of his body, managed to feed his wife and children, so that through him the race survived. You on the other hand, armed with all the modern means of production, multiplying the productive capacity of the cave man a million times — you are incompetents and muddlers, you are unable to secure to millions even the paltry amount of bread that would sustain their physical life. You have mismanaged the world, and it shall be taken from you. ”



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[-] 1 points by ctami (1) 11 years ago

The Berkeley Daily Planet article, besides exhibiting the usual disdain and concern-trolling that Berkeleyites have for Oaklanders, betrays Mr. Allen-Taylor's ignorance of London's total literary output. It also ignores the context of the times London lived in. London wrote many stories that both implicitly and explicitly condemn white colonial rule, featuring non-white heroes who outsmart and defeat white oppressors; The Mexican, Mauki and Koolau the Leper come to mind. Very few, if any writers of London's time were writing with any enlightenment on race. (The example the author cites of Harriet Beecher Stowe is perhaps the only exception, and it was written specifically as an abolitionist tract. It also, unfortunately, created many African-American stereotypes that persist today.) London wrote about racial topics quite frequently (for better or worse) when he did not have to. Popular literature of that time was written only for white audiences, hence the use of racial patois to add "realism." When London wrote expressly for money (as was the case with Adventure, Tales of the Fish Patrol or some of his dispatches for Hearst) the racism appears more frequently, in line with what the white audiences of the time expected. When London wrote his more personal and experimental works (such as the ones I cited above) he often writes from a non-white perspective. This is not to say that London did not start out a racist, or more accurately a racialist; his mother indoctrinated him with those views. But as he traveled and experienced different cultures firsthand, London evolved greatly in his racial attitudes, especially after re-visiting Hawaii in 1907 on his round-the-world sailing trip.

Mr. Allen-Taylor's stance is not unusual. Many people read a piece or two by Jack London and think they know everything about the man, since he is such a popular and accessible author. The truth, as is often the case, is much more complicated.

[-] 1 points by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY 11 years ago


Racial views

London shared common Californian concerns about Asian immigration and "the yellow peril", which he used as the title of a 1904 essay.[50] This theme was also the subject of a story he wrote in 1910 called "The Unparalleled Invasion". Presented as a historical essay narrating events between 1976 and 1987, the story describes a China with an ever-increasing population taking over and colonizing its neighbors, with the intention of taking over the entire Earth. The western nations respond with biological warfare and bombard China with dozens of the most infectious diseases.[51]

Many of London's short stories are notable for their empathetic portrayal of Mexican ("The Mexican"), Asian ("The Chinago"), and Hawaiian ("Koolau the Leper") characters. London's war correspondence from the Russo-Japanese War, as well as his unfinished novel Cherry, show he admired much about Japanese customs and capabilities.[citation needed]

In London's 1902 novel Daughter of the Snows, the character Frona Welse has a speech about Teutonic virtues in contrast to the characteristics of other "races". The scholar Andrew Furer, in a long essay exploring the complexity of London's views, says there is no doubt that Frona Welse is acting as a mouthpiece for London in this passage.[citation needed]:

London's 1904 essay, "The Yellow Peril",[50] criticizes Asians. He admits, "[I]t must be taken into consideration that the above postulate is itself a product of Western race-egotism, urged by our belief in our own righteousness and fostered by a faith in ourselves which may be as erroneous as are most fond race fancies." In "Koolau the Leper", London describes Koolau, who is a Hawaiian leper—and thus a very different sort of "superman" than Martin Eden—and who fights off an entire cavalry troop to elude capture, as "indomitable spiritually—a ... magnificent rebel". This character is based on Hawaiian leper Kaluaikoolau who revolted and resisted capture from forces of the Provisional Government of Hawaii in the Kalalau Valley in 1893.

Jeffries (left) vs. Johnson, 1910 An amateur boxer and avid boxing fan, London reported on the 1910 Johnson-Jeffries fight, in which the black boxer Jack Johnson vanquished Jim Jeffries, the "Great White Hope". In 1908, according to Furer, London praised Johnson highly, contrasting the black boxer's coolness and intellectual style, with the apelike appearance and fighting style of his white opponent, Tommy Burns: "what . . . [won] on Saturday was bigness, coolness, quickness, cleverness, and vast physical superiority... Because a white man wishes a white man to win, this should not prevent him from giving absolute credit to the best man, even when that best man was black. All hail to Johnson." Johnson was "superb. He was impregnable . . . as inaccessible as Mont Blanc."[citation needed] Those who defend London against charges of racism cite the letter he wrote to the Japanese-American Commercial Weekly in 1913: In reply to yours of August 16, 1913. First of all, I should say by stopping the stupid newspaper from always fomenting race prejudice. This of course, being impossible, I would say, next, by educating the people of Japan so that they will be too intelligently tolerant to respond to any call to race prejudice. And, finally, by realizing, in industry and government, of socialism—which last word is merely a word that stands for the actual application of in the affairs of men of the theory of the Brotherhood of Man.

In the meantime the nations and races are only unruly boys who have not yet grown to the stature of men. So we must expect them to do unruly and boisterous things at times. And, just as boys grow up, so the races of mankind will grow up and laugh when they look back upon their childish quarrels.[52]

In Yukon in 1996, after the City of Whitehorse renamed two streets to honor London and Robert W. Service, protests over London's racialist views forced the city to change the name of "Jack London Boulevard" back to "Two-mile Hill".[53]

This is a part of the history of the American left. If we want to think about why we are in the box we are in we ought to think about this among other things.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 11 years ago

i am aware of his racism - does that mean what he said is not valid? i assume you realize that hitler did many good things and fdr turned away the st louis. do you have a point?

[-] 1 points by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY 11 years ago

I don't think the article I linked to advocates that Jack London's name and memory be banished. I think it advocates that his racism not be forgotten about. Important elements of what could be called "the white American left" is wobbly on white privilege. You can see that in comments and discussions on this forum. Quoting London while forgetting his racism is an indication of that tendency. Also, knowing the truth in what London told those one percenters so many decades ago it's fair to look at ourselves to find what may be lacking in order to understand why after all that time since those true words were spoken the left is so weak and messed up.

[-] 1 points by marvelpym (-184) 11 years ago

Who was worse, Jack London or Chairman Mao?

[-] 1 points by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY 11 years ago

I never thought about that. Silly question, don't you think so?

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 11 years ago

Ah, yes, maybe we could unleash Wolf Larsen, the superman and captain of The Sea Wolf on the 1%. Of course Larsen might be as unpredictable as a revolution.

[-] 1 points by FreedomReigns (72) 11 years ago

Brilliant !!!

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 11 years ago

i agree but he is a bit off the mark - they were able to feed their whole clan or tribe or whatever they lived in not just their family - the point remains that we are a mess


[-] -1 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 11 years ago

He said this 100 years ago.

Maybe we should return to a society where men, women and children are responsible for their own survival, and that of their immediate family members who are elderly or infirm.

Because obviously growing an enormous government and implementing hundreds of social programs, and increasing taxes etc hasn't solved the problem has it?

[-] 3 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 11 years ago

"Scientists said Monday they had uncovered evidence suggesting cave dwellers who lived in northern Spain some 500,000 years ago took care of their elderly and infirm.

University of Madrid palaeontologists discovered the partial skeleton of a male of a European species ancestral to the Neanderthals who suffered from a stoop and possibly needed a stick to remain upright, they said in a statement.

"This individual would be probably impaired for hunting, among other activities. His survival during a considerable period with these impairments allows us to hypothesize that the nomadic group of which this individual was part would provide special care to aged individuals," it said.

The remains suggested the cave dweller died when he was over 45. They were found at Atapuerca in northern Spain's Burgos province, the site of several caves containing evidence of prehistoric human occupation.

The results of the study have been accepted for publication in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the scientists said."

Scientists find sign cave dwellers took care of elderly (AFP) – Oct 11, 2010


Seems many of us are still not this advanced.

[-] 1 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 11 years ago

So what do scientists think is the reason that the human race has devolved from the above social system in the past 500,000 years?

If we haven't evolved past this in 500,000 years to date, what hope do we have of changing this situation anytime soon???

[-] 2 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 11 years ago

The philosophy of conservatism, keeping the status quo, anti-progressive, anti-social, me and my property come first and foremost, the rest of the tribe can fend for themselves... might be a good starting place to answer your question.

[-] -1 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 11 years ago

So...one partial skeleton, who suffered from a stoop and "POSSIBLY" needed a stick to remain upright" was "probably impaired for hunting, among other activities" was most likely taken care of by the "nomadic group he was part of" and the starting point for your theory is that the entire world of Neanderthals was most likely made of compassionate, progressive, socialist Neanderthals?

Why did you leave out the part that says:

"An earlier study carried out at the same site in 2009 concluded that the cave dwellers who lived there were cannibals who valued the flesh of children and adolescents."

(Hint...using science selectively to support one's personal agenda is what makes people distrust science)

So what did Darwin say about species that failed to evolve or even devolved?

[-] 3 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 11 years ago

Darwins theory was about adaptation, no matter what direction it took, gaining abilities or losing abilities. Social interactions weren't considered by Darwin, just physiological changes.

The earlier study I left out because it had been disproved. You can look up the details in the anthropology journals. The bones in the Madrid 2010 study were examined for not just for breakages, but the nutritional aspects of the subjects. That the disabled, elder member had the same nutritional indicators as the rest of his group.... they shared what they had equally.

the starting point for your theory is that the entire world of Neanderthals was most likely made of compassionate, progressive, socialist Neanderthals?

thats not my theory but what the anthropologist implied.

[-] 1 points by FreedomReigns (72) 11 years ago

Yes, therefore it stands to reason that with all the advances in the last 100 years, it is even more true today than it was then. HOW, can a government and and the globalists make such gross blunders and f#ck it up so bad?

Answer: Because 'they' have done it intentionally !! How else are they going to get their one world government? They'll use the excuse that we have done such a piss poor job of looking after our world, that they have no choice but to come in and "save us".

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

international banks may be that government

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 11 years ago

Exactly, let's get rid of all vertical government. Let's implement a true horizontal government such as Marx, or Kropotkin, or even Bakunin envisioned. Let's rid ourselves of the parasite, capitalist government once and for all.