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A Case for Optimism

Eli Lotar, Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts, 1928.

1,129 words

Editor’s Note: The following is a subchapter from Wilmot Robertson’s book, The Ethnostate. It may provide some encouragement in these trying times. For more on Robertson, see Spencer J. Quinn’s review of The Ethnostate [1]and all posts tagged Wilmot Robertson [2].

Pessimism is a vital ingredient of tragedy, which is the highest form of drama and the dominant theme in great literature, art, and music. No optimist could possibly have created characters like Oedipus, Lear, and Faust. Still, optimism is a major force for great deeds in the real world. Few will struggle to perform heroic feats unless they feel that “the world,” their country, their community, their family, or themselves will be the better for it. The authentic hero is driven by more than ambition and egotism.

Today, far too many of us are in a pessimistic, sterile mood. To overcome this negative state of mind we should devote more of our thoughts to the mysterious subject of time. Every decade or so geologists tell us that the earth is much older than previously suspected. When we recall that Archbishop Ussher’s 4004 B.C. date for the Creation was widely believed a few centuries ago, the latest estimate of eight billion years for the earth’s age is quite a backward leap in chronology. Since the various species of man rate a barely visible notch on this scale, the time span of civilized or civilizable man is almost imperceptible. If only 50,000 years or so were needed to move up to Isaac Newton from Homo neanderthalis, the imagination reels at what might be accomplished in the billions of years that, barring some cosmic catastrophe, still remain on our evolutionary clock. Accordingly, we have good reason to give credence to the most optimistic of optimistic cliches: “The sky’s the limit.” No matter how many setbacks man faces, he still has more than enough time — hundreds of millions, if not billions, of years — to rectify the cruelest mistakes and overcome the worst setbacks of his earthly existence. This does not mean that modern man should rely on time alone to save him from himself. As an individual, as a living being at the mercy of a fast-ticking biological clock, he must act quickly or not at all. If he does nothing or not enough and drags the world under with him, his only hope is that, given enough time, what has happened once may happen again; that the West in some far-off millennium will rise once again: that Nietzsche’s Eternal Return, in this case shortened to a billion years or so, may come to the rescue. There is even a soupçon of immortality in such lavish helpings of time. But none of these otherworldly panaceas can compete with the high expectations inherent in the religious promise of life after death.

If evolution made the jump from ape to man in 12 million years — no more than a grain of sand in the geological hourglass — then every human being on earth could perish tomorrow and other primates would still have hundreds of opportunities, hundreds of 12-million-year cycles to get back on the evolutionary track and re-evolve into man. The mutations that once operated so successfully on primates would have almost unlimited opportunities to repeat the process.

Short-term pessimism and long-term optimism would appear to be the proper combination of moods for contemporary Western man. The Westerners who are obsessed with the dismaying dysgeny of the modem world and refuse to consider the time factor and its restorative powers are simply not being realistic. There is a mountain of optimism out there for people who take the long view.

Men and women of European descent who note the decline in their numbers have a right to worry about the future, since numerically most other peoples are either holding their own or increasing. But even here there is room for optimism. Accepting 800 million as the current world population of Europeans, either in their original homelands or overseas, this figure is at least eight times higher than it was half a millennium ago. If a race can octuple itself in five centuries and reduce its size by half in three or four generations, as now looks to be the case, the least that can be said about it is that it has a very flexible birthrate. Such flexibility might enable it to reverse its present decline by increasing its current fertility rate by only 30%.

Europeans seem to go through cycles of massive energy outputs — the Dorian invasion of Greece, the folk wanderings that ended the Roman Empire, the settlement of North America and Australasia, the overrunning of Africa and considerable parts of Asia. Who can say that we have seen the last of such racial dynamism? But if it is to recur, let all the energy be directed inward towards the conquest of the mind, not the conquest of territory; towards genetic engineering and space exploration, not more affirmative action legislation. Albert J. Nock, the wise old American political philosopher, once tried to boost the morale of serious reformers, not the professional do-gooders and world-savers, by citing Isaiah (1:9), who referred to a “very small remnant” of good people in the world. Few of us ever meet them. Few of us ever know who they are or how many of them exist. But they are there, and they are always ready to help restore a sick people to health, just as in ancient times, according to the Old Testament, the Hebrew remnant rebuilt their ravaged and scorched Promised Land. Nock’s Panglossian view is a tonic to depressed members of white majorities. But it is hardly enough for the people who want immediate and tangible results from their labors.

A more effective and enduring way to lift spirits might go like this: I’m right, so I will go ahead, come what may. If no one listens, so what? I would do what I’m doing even if I knew that my people were finished and didn’t have a chance of a comeback. Yes, my ship of state, my West, may be going down, but if she goes, I’m going to make sure that at least one member of the crew is still hoisting sail as she sinks. Say to yourself, if you must, that you are a prisoner of destiny, that you have little or no choice. But also say that since you are locked into the struggle, you may as well make the best of it.

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