by Anthony Ludovici
IN his Cult of the Superman, Eric Bentley remarks with justice that "it is a serious criticism of aristocratic theorists that their revulsion from bourgeois industrialism and bourgeois religion is far more impressive than their practical proposals".
This appears to be an entirely just comment. All the hortatory literature that has appeared hitherto, from that of Carlyle to Stefan George, in which an aristocratic order is advocated – all of it, with one exception, has failed in the way he describes. Unfortunately he seems not to have known A Defence of Aristocracy, published in 1915, or the various additions since made by its author to the plan for an aristocratic revival – additions which seemed necessary owing to the increase in the knowledge of breeding which has marked the intervening years.
At all events, many of the more important biological and historical facts bearing on the rise of an aristocracy were unknown to the earlier advocates of this form of rulership; and with all these more significant discoveries before him, the present author has been able to clinch many an argument which, in 1915, could not be made conclusive.
It is now thirty-seven years since A Defence of Aristocracy was written. Meanwhile there have been two World Wars, several European revolutions and numerous lesser political catastrophes which, had they occurred in the halcyon period 1860-1914, would have provoked much more horror and alarm than they have in our own troublous Age.
All this time, the author of this work has watched events and observed his fellows both abroad and at home, and has also read much history, political philosophy, and science. If, therefore, he has not found it necessary to depart a hair's-breadth from the position he held in 1915, it is not because of his unwillingness either to listen to the arguments of opponents, or to study other points of view, but because everything that has happened and everything he has read in the interval has only strengthened the convictions to which he first gave expression in the book mentioned above.
He now proposes, therefore, to restate the plea for a revival of Aristocracy and hence a recovery of quality in this unhappy world, and to show that, unlike the theorists Eric Bentley criticizes, he does not fall short of constructive proposals. In this statement, however, there is no intention to supersede A Defence of Aristocracy, except in the matter of such constructive proposals and, apart from the first two chapters, no attempt will be made to supplement what has already been said in the above-mentioned work on the urgent reasons why a revival of Aristocracy is now imperative. For no one who compares the state of mankind in the year 1913, when A Defence was written, with its state in the year 1952, Will need to be told that if these urgent reasons were valid then, they must have even greater validity today.
As regards documentation, all quotations with references have been embodied in the text, and the numerals relate to the books more frequently cited, which are listed in the bibliography at the end. Only those works more seldom quoted will be found fully described in the text. As this method appears to be an improvement on the use of footnotes and is a means of shortening the book, it is hoped that it may facilitate the reader's task. Wherever possible, moreover, chapters and sections and not pages have been given in the references, so as to overcome the difficulty resulting from the existence of different editions of the books quoted. This practice, recommended by Schopenhauer in 1851, obviously has many advantages.
Finally, in the choice of authorities, especially on the thorny questions of Democracy, Race, and Breeding, the policy adopted has always been to avoid as far as possible acknowledged anti-democrats, "racists", and eugenists, whose testimony would give the impression of heavy backing for the views here advanced, and to concentrate chiefly on declared philo-democrats and opponents of Racism and Eugenics. Even in regard to the quite recently raised clamour in favour of a revival of aristocracy, care has been taken, as Chapter III shows, to confine the witnesses to those advocates of a new aristocracy who have been prompted by their alarm at present democratic trends, rather than by any pre-conceived sympathy with the aristocratic position in politics.
Whilst it is clear that such unexpected witnesses in favour of the present thesis have been animated by a desire to recover quality in every department of a civilization which appears to them to have lost it, or else to be rapidly losing it, their fundamental beliefs, as the reader will appreciate, remain democratic. This makes their support immensely valuable. It has, however, prevented them from going further than merely stating the urgent need of quality, and explains why, in the measures they advocate for recovering it, they are on the whole unhelpful, and are bound to be so.
Regarding the scientific aspects of this book's thesis, it will again be seen that throughout reliance has been placed more on those publicists of repute whose support would lend the weight of impartial authority to the arguments here advanced than on those whose conclusions in favour of an aristocratic order of society might be suspected of having been inspired by emotional sympathy.