Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams
notebuyer

Jack London (Not About White Fang)

An interesting book review from Slate on Jack London. I call your attention particularly to this:

The richer London became, the more radical his politics were. He was soon praising the assassination of Russia's political leaders and saying socialism would inevitably come to America. Even as he employed small battalions of servants, he insisted he was a Robin Hood figure: They would be made to wait on the tramps and trade unionists he invited to his mansion.

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."

And for those who are not "best fitted to live in this world"? In his 1910 short story "The Unparalleled Invasion," the United States—with the author's plain approval—wages biological warfare on China to decimate its population. It then invades and takes it over. It is, the story says, "the only possible solution to the Chinese problem." Haley, in an otherwise solid and competent biography, is horribly soft on London's racism, saying only that he thought the races should be separate. He didn't: He frequently thought whites should kill the rest.


He was known as an outspoken Socialist: I hadn't heard this side of his Oeuvre before. Have to say it goes with what I know about Progressives in the early XXth century in America. No idea if that was an international standard.
Tags: literature, politics
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