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Surely the arrogance and avarice of the nobility in apportioning to
themselves the most and the best of the land in certain countries is as
nothing compared with the attitude of the white races toward those of a
different hue."[2]

The bitter resentment of white predominance and exclusiveness awakened in
many colored breasts is typified by the following lines penned by a brown
man, a British-educated Afghan, shortly before the European War.
Inveighing against our "racial prejudice, that cowardly, wretched
caste-mark of the European and the American the world over," he exultantly
predicts "a coming struggle between Asia, all Asia, against Europe and
America. You are heaping up material for a Jehad, a Pan-Islam, a Pan-Asia
Holy War, a gigantic day of reckoning, an invasion of a new Attila and
Tamerlane - who will use rifles and bullets, instead of lances and spears.
You are deaf to the voice of reason and fairness, and so you must be
taught with the whirring swish of the sword when it is red."[3]

Of course in these statements there is nothing either exceptional or
novel. The colored races never welcomed white predominance and were always
restive under white control. Down to the close of the nineteenth century,
however, they generally accepted white hegemony as a disagreeable but
inevitable fact. For four hundred years the white man had added continent
to continent in his imperial progress, equipped with resistless sea-power
and armed with a mechanical superiority that crushed down all local
efforts at resistance. In time, therefore, the colored races accorded to
white supremacy a fatalistic acquiescence, and, though never loved, the
white man was usually respected and universally feared.

During the closing decades of the nineteenth century, to be sure,
premonitory signs of a change in attitude began to appear. The yellow and
brown races, at least, stirred by the very impact of Western ideas,
measured the white man with a more critical eye and commenced to wonder
whether his superiority was due to anything more than a fortuitous
combination of circumstances which might be altered by efforts of their
own. Japan put this theory to the test by going sedulously to the white
man's school. The upshot was the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, an event the
momentous character of which is even now not fully appreciated. Of course,
that war was merely the sign-manual of a whole nexus of forces making for
a revivified Asia. But it dramatized and clarified ideas which had been
germinating half-unconsciously in millions of colored minds, and both Asia
and Africa thrilled with joy and hope. Above all, the legend of white
invincibility lay, a fallen idol, in the dust. Nevertheless, though freed
from imaginary terrors, the colored world accurately gauged the white
man's practical strength and appreciated the magnitude of the task
involved in overthrowing white supremacy. That supremacy was no longer
acquiesced in as inevitable and hopes of ultimate success were confidently
entertained, but the process was usually conceived as a slow and difficult
one. Fear of white power and respect for white civilization thus remained
potent restraining factors.

Then came the Great War. The colored world suddenly saw the white peoples
which, in racial matters had hitherto maintained something of a united
front, locked in an internecine death-grapple of unparalleled ferocity; it
saw those same peoples put one another furiously to the ban as
irreconcilable foes; it saw white race-unity cleft by political and moral
gulfs which white men themselves continuously iterated would never be
filled. As colored men realized the significance of it all, they looked
into each other's eyes and there saw the light of undreamed-of hopes. The
white world was tearing itself to pieces. White solidarity was riven and
shattered. And - fear of white power and respect for white civilization
together dropped away like garments outworn. Through the bazaars of Asia
ran the sibilant whisper: "The East will see the West to bed!"

The chorus of mingled exultation, hate, and scorn sounded from every
portion of the colored world. Chinese scholars, Japanese professors, Hindu
pundits, Turkish journalists, and Afro-American editors, one and all
voiced drastic criticisms of white civilization and hailed the war as a
well-merited Nemesis on white arrogance and greed. This is how the
Constantinople _Tanine_, the most serious Turkish newspaper, characterized
the European Powers: "They would not look at the evils in their own
countries or elsewhere, but interfered at the slightest incident in our
borders; every day they would gnaw at some part of our rights and our
sovereignty; they would perform vivisection on our quivering flesh and cut
off great pieces of it. And we, with a forcibly controlled spirit of
rebellion in our hearts and with clinched but powerless fists, silent and
depressed, would murmur as the fire burned within: 'Oh, that they might
fall out with one another! Oh, that they might eat one another up!' And
lo! to-day they are eating each other up, just as the Turk wished they

The Afro-American author, W. E. Burghardt Dubois, wrote of the colored
world: "These nations and races, composing as they do a vast majority of
humanity, are going to endure this treatment just as long as they must and
not a moment longer. Then they are going to fight, and the War of the
Color Line will outdo in savage inhumanity any war this world has yet
seen. For colored folk have much to remember and they will not forget."[5]

"What does the European War mean to us Orientals?" queried the Japanese
writer, Yone Noguchi. "It means the saddest downfall of the so-called
western civilization; our belief that it was builded upon a higher and
sounder footing than ours was at once knocked down and killed; we are
sorry that we somehow overestimated its happy possibility and were
deceived and cheated by its superficial glory. My recent western journey
confirmed me that the so-called dynamic western civilization was all
against the Asiatic belief. And when one does not respect the others,
there will be only one thing to come, that is, fight, in action or


Such was the colored world's reaction to the white death-grapple, and as
the long struggle dragged on both Asia and Africa stirred to their very
depths. To be sure, no great explosions occurred during the war years,
albeit lifting veils of censorship reveal how narrowly such explosions
were averted. Nevertheless, Asia and Africa are to-day in acute ferment,
and we must not forget that this ferment is not primarily due to the war.
The war merely accelerated a movement already existent long before 1914.
Even if the Great War had been averted, the twentieth century must have
been a time of wide-spread racial readjustments in which the white man's
present position of political world-domination would have been sensibly
modified, especially in Asia. However, had the white race and white
civilization been spared the terrific material and moral losses involved
in the Great War and its still unliquidated aftermath, the process of
racial readjustment would have been far more gradual and would have been
fraught with far fewer cataclysmic possibilities. Had white strength
remained intact it would have acted as a powerful shock-absorber, taking
up and distributing the various colored impacts. As a result, the coming
modification of the world's racial equilibrium, though inevitable, would
have been so graduated that it would have seemed more an evolution than a
revolution. Such violent breaches as did occur might have been localized,
and anything like a general race-cataclysm would probably have been

But it was not to be. The heart of the white world was divided against
itself, and on the fateful 1st of August, 1914, the white race, forgetting
ties of blood and culture, heedless of the growing pressure of the colored
world without, locked in a battle to the death. An ominous cycle opened
whose end no man can foresee. Armageddon engendered Versailles; earth's
worst war closed with an unconstructive peace which left old sores
unhealed and even dealt fresh wounds. The white world to-day lies
debilitated and uncured; the colored world views conditions which are a
standing incitement to rash dreams and violent action.

Such is the present status of the world's race-problem, expressed in
general terms. The analysis of the specific elements in that complex
problem will form the subject of the succeeding chapters.



Yellow Man's Land is the Far East. Here the group of kindred stocks
usually termed Mongolian have dwelt for unnumbered ages. Down to the most
recent times the yellows lived virtually a life apart. Sundered from the
rest of mankind by stupendous mountains, burning deserts, and the
illimitable ocean, the Far East constituted a world in itself, living its
own life and developing its own peculiar civilization. Only the wild
nomads of its northern marches - Huns, Mongols, Tartars, and the
like - succeeded in gaining direct contact with the brown and white worlds
to the West.

The ethnic focus of the yellow world has always been China. Since the dawn
of history this immense human ganglion has been the centre from which
civilization has radiated throughout the Far East. About this "Middle
Kingdom," as it sapiently styled itself, the other yellow folk were
disposed - Japanese and Koreans to the east; Siamese, Annamites, and
Cambodians to the south; and to the north the nomad Mongols and Manchus.
To all these peoples China was the august preceptor, sometimes chastising
their presumption, yet always instilling the principles of its ordered
civilization. However diverse may have been the individual developments
of the various Far Eastern peoples, they spring from a common Chinese
foundation. Despite modern Japan's meteoric rise to political mastery of
the Far East, it must not be forgotten that China remains not only the
cultural but also the territorial and racial centre of the yellow world.
Four-fifths of the yellow race is concentrated in China, there being
nearly 400,000,000 Chinese as against 60,000,000 Japanese, 16,000,000
Koreans, 26,000,000 Indo-Chinese, and perhaps 10,000,000 people of
non-Chinese stocks included within China's political frontiers.

The age-long seclusion of the yellow world, first decreed by nature, was
subsequently maintained by the voluntary decision of the yellow peoples
themselves. The great expansive movement of the white race which began
four centuries ago soon brought white men to the Far East, by sea in the
persons of the Portuguese navigators and by land with the Cossack
adventurers ranging through the empty spaces of Siberia. Yet after a brief
acquaintance with the white strangers the yellow world decided that it
wanted none of them, and they were rigidly excluded. This exclusion policy
was not a Chinese peculiarity; it was common to all the yellow peoples and
was adopted spontaneously at about the same time. In China, Japan, Korea,
and Indo-China, the same reaction produced the same results. The yellow
world instinctively felt the white man to be a destructive, dissolving
influence on its highly specialized line of evolution, which it wished to
maintain unaltered. For three centuries the yellow world succeeded in
maintaining its isolation, then, in the middle of the last century,
insistent white pressure broke down the barriers and forced the yellow
races into full contact with the outer world.

At the moment, the "opening" of the Far East was hailed by white men with
general approval, but of late years many white observers have regretted
this forcible dragging of reluctant races into the full stream of world
affairs. As an Australian writer, J. Liddell Kelly, remarks: "We have
erred grievously by prematurely forcing ourselves upon Asiatic races. The
instinct of the Asiatic in desiring isolation and separation from other
forms of civilization was much more correct than our craze for imposing
our forms of religion, morals, and industrialism upon them. It is not
race-hatred, nor even race-antagonism, that is at the root of this
attitude; it is an unerring intuition, which in years gone by has taught
the Asiatic that his evolution in the scale of civilization could best be
accomplished by his being allowed to develop on his own lines. Pernicious
European compulsion has led him to abandon that attitude. Let us not be
ashamed to confess that he was right and we were wrong."[7]

However, rightly or wrongly, the deed was done, and the yellow races,
forced into the world-arena, proceeded to adapt themselves to their new
political environment and to learn the correct methods of survival under
the strenuous conditions which there prevailed. In place of their
traditional equilibrated, self-sufficient order, the yellow peoples now
felt the ubiquitous impacts of the dynamic Western spirit, insistent upon
rapid material progress and forceful, expansive evolution. Japan was the
first yellow people to go methodically to the white man's school, and
Japan's rapid acquirement of the white man's technology soon showed itself
in dramatic demonstrations like her military triumphs over China in 1894,
and over Russia a decade later.

Japan's easy victory over huge China astounded the whole world. That these
"highly intelligent children," as one of the early British ministers to
Japan had characterized them, should have so rapidly acquired the
technique of Western methods was almost unbelievable. Indeed, the full
significance of the lesson was not immediately grasped, and the power of
New Japan was still underestimated. A good example of Europe's
underestimation of Japanese strength was the proposal a Dutch writer made
in 1896 to curb possible Japanese aggression on the Dutch Indies by taking
from Japan the island of Formosa which Japan had acquired from China as
one of the fruits of victory. "Holland," asserted this writer, "must take
possession of Formosa."[8] The grotesqueness of this dictum as it appears
to us in the light of subsequent history shows how the world has moved in
twenty-five years.

But even at that time Japan's expansionist tendencies were well
developed, and voices were warning against Japanese imperialism. In the
very month when our Hollander was advocating a Dutch seizure of Formosa,
an Australian wrote the following lines in a Melbourne newspaper
concerning his recent travels in Japan: "While in a car with several
Japanese officers, they were conversing about Australia, saying that it
was a fine, large country, with great forests and excellent soil for the
cultivation of rice and other products. The whites settled in Australia,
so thought these officers, are like the dog in the manger. Some one will
have to take a good part of Australia to develop it, for it is a pity to
see so fine a country lying waste. If any ill-feeling arose between the
two countries, it would be a wise thing to send some battleships to
Australia and annex part of it."[9]

Whatever may have been the world's misreading of the Chino-Japanese
conflict, the same cannot be said of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. The
echoes of that yellow triumph over one of the great white Powers
reverberated to the ends of the earth and started obscure trains of
consequences even to-day not yet fully disclosed. The war's reactions in
these remoter fields will be discussed in later chapters. Its effect upon
the Far East is our present concern. And the well-nigh unanimous opinion
of both natives and resident Europeans was that the war signified a
body-blow to white ascendancy. So profound an English student of the
Orient as Meredith Townsend wrote: "It may be taken as certain that the
victory of Japan will be profoundly felt by the majority of European
states. With the exception of Austria, all European countries have
implicated themselves in the great effort to conquer Asia, which has now
been going on for two centuries, but which, as this author thinks, must
now terminate.... The disposition, therefore, to edge out intrusive
Europeans from their Asiatic possessions is certain to exist even if it is
not manifested in Tokio, and it may be fostered by a movement of which, as
yet, but little has been said. No one who has ever studied the question
doubts that as there is a comity of Europe, so there is a comity of Asia,
a disposition to believe that Asia belongs of right to Asiatics, and that
any event which brings that right nearer to realization is to all Asiatics
a pleasurable one. Japanese victories will give new heart and energy to
all the Asiatic nations and tribes which now fret under European rule,
will inspire in them a new confidence in their own power to resist, and
will spread through them a strong impulse to avail themselves of Japanese
instruction. It will take, of course, many years to bring this new force
into play; but time matters nothing to Asiatics, and they all possess that
capacity for complete secrecy which the Japanese displayed."[10]

That Meredith Townsend was reading the Asiatic mind aright seems clear
from the pronouncements of Orientals themselves. For example, _Buddhism_,
of Rangoon, Burmah, a country of the Indo-Chinese borderland between the
yellow and brown worlds, expressed hopes for an Oriental alliance against
the whites. "It would, we think," said this paper, "be no great wonder if
a few years after the conclusion of this war saw the completion of a
defensive alliance between Japan, China, and not impossibly Siam - the
formulation of a new Monroe Doctrine for the Far East, guaranteeing the
integrity of existing states against further aggression from the West. The
West has justified - perhaps with some reason - every aggression on weaker
races by the doctrine of the Survival of the Fittest; on the ground that
it is best for future humanity that the unfit should be eliminated and
give place to the most able race. That doctrine applies equally well to
any possible struggle between Aryan and Mongolian - whichever survives,
should it ever come to a struggle between the two for world-mastery, will,
on their own doctrine, be the one most fit to do so, and if the survivor
be the Mongolian, then is the Mongolian no 'peril' to humanity, but the
better part of it."[11]

The decade which elapsed between the Russo-Japanese and European Wars saw
in the Far East another event of the first magnitude: the Chinese
Revolution of 1911. Toward the close of the nineteenth century the world
had been earnestly discussing the "break-up" of China. The huge empire,
with its 400,000,000 of people, one-fourth the entire human race, seemed
at that time plunged in so hopeless a lethargy as to be foredoomed to
speedy ruin. About the apparently moribund carcass the eagles of the earth
were already gathered, planning a "partition of China" analogous to the
recent partition of Africa. The partition of China, however, never came
off. The prodigious moral shock of the Japanese War roused China's élite
to the imminence of their country's peril. First attempts at reform were
blocked by the Dowager Empress, but her reactionary lurch ended in the
Boxer nightmare and the frightful Occidental chastisement of 1900. This
time the lesson was learned. China was at last shaken broad awake. The
Bourbon Manchu court, it is true, wavered, but popular pressure forced it
to keep the upward path. Every year after 1900 saw increasingly rapid
reform - reform, be it noted, not imposed upon the country from above but
forced upon the rulers from below. When the slow-footed Manchus showed
themselves congenitally incapable of keeping step with the quickening
national pace, the rising tide of national life overwhelmed them in the
Republican Revolution of 1911, and they were no more.

Even with the Manchu handicap, the rate of progress during those years was
such as to amaze the wisest foreign observers. "Could the sage, Confucius,
have returned a decade ago," wrote that "old China hand," W. R. Manning,
in 1910, "he would have felt almost as much at home as when he departed
twenty-five centuries before. Should he return a decade hence he will feel
almost as much out of place as Rip Van Winkle, if the recent rate of
progress continues."[12] Toward the close of 1909 a close student of
things Chinese, Harlan P. Beach, remarked: "Those who, like myself, can
compare the China of twenty-five years ago with the China of this year,
can hardly believe our senses."[13] It was on top of all this that there
came the revolution, a happening hailed by so sophisticated an observer as
Doctor Dillon as "the most momentous event in a thousand years."[14]
Whatever may have been the political blunders of the revolutionists (and
they were many), the revolution's moral results were stupendous. The
stream of Western innovation flowed at a vastly accelerated pace into
every Chinese province. The popular masses were for the first time
awakened to genuine interest in political, as distinguished from economic
or personal, questions. Lastly, the semi-religious feeling of family
kinship, which in the past had been almost the sole recognized bond of
Chinese race-solidarity, was powerfully supplemented by those
distinctively modern concepts, national self-consciousness and articulate

Here was the Far Eastern situation at the outbreak of the Great War - a
thoroughly modernized, powerful Japan, and a thoroughly aroused, but still
disorganized, China. The Great War automatically made Japan supreme in the
Far East by temporarily reducing all the European Powers to ciphers in
Oriental affairs. How Japan proceeded to buttress this supremacy by
getting a strangle-hold on China, every one knows. Japan's methods were
brutal and cynical, though not a whit more so than the methods employed by
white nations seeking to attain vital ends. And "vital" is precisely how
Japan regards her hold over China. An essentially poor country with a
teeming population, Japan feels that the exploitation of China's
incalculable natural resources, a privileged position in the Chinese
market, and guidance of Chinese national evolution in ways not inimical to
Japan, can alone assure her future.

Japan's attitude toward her huge neighbor is one of mingled superiority
and apprehension. She banks on China's traditional pacifism, yet she is
too shrewd not to realize the explosive possibilities latent in the modern
nationalist idea. As a Japanese publicist, Adachi Kinnosuke, remarks: "The
Twentieth Century Jenghiz Khan threatening the Sun-Flag with a Mongol
horde armed with Krupp guns may possibly strike the Western sense of
humor. But it is not altogether pleasing to contemplate a neighbor of
400,000,000 population with modern armament and soldiers trained on the
modern plan. The awakening of China means all this and a little more which
we of the present are not sure of. Japan cannot forget that between this
nightmare of armed China and herself there is only a very narrow sea."[15]
Certainly, "Young China" has already displayed much of that unpleasant
ebullience which usually accompanies nationalist awakenings. A French
observer, Jean Rodes, writes on this point: "One of the things that most
disquiet thinking men is that this new generation, completely neglecting
Chinese studies while knowing nothing of Western science, yet convinced
that it knows everything, will no longer possess any standard of values,
national culture, or foreign culture. We can only await with apprehension
the results of such ignorance united with unbounded pride as characterize
the Chinese youth of to-day."[16] And another French observer, René Pinon,
as far back as 1905, found the primary school children of Kiang-Su
province chanting the following lines: "I pray that the frontiers of my
country become hard as bronze; that it surpass Europe and America; that it
subjugate Japan; that its land and sea armies cover themselves with
resplendent glory; that over the whole earth float the Dragon Standard;
that the universal mastery of the empire extend and progress. May our
empire, like a sleeping tiger suddenly awakened, spring roaring into the
arena of combats."[17]

Japan's masterful policy in China is thus unquestionably hazardous.
Chinese national feeling is to-day genuinely aroused against Japan, and
resentment over Japanese encroachments is bitter and wide-spread.
Nevertheless, Japan feels that the game is worth the risk and believes
that both Chinese race-psychology and the general drift of world affairs
combine to favor her ultimate success. She knows that China has in the

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Online LibraryLothrop StoddardThe Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy → online text (page 3 of 22)