New England political thought a century ago

The conclusion of a 1909 speech by Henry Cabot Lodge ("The Restriction of Immigration").
I have cited a witness of the highest authority and entire disinterestedness to support what I have said as to the fixed and determinate character of the English-speaking race. Now that I come to show what that race is by recounting its qualities and characteristics, I will not trust myself to speak, for I might be accused of prejudice, but I will quote again M. Le Bon, who is not of our race nor of our speech.

He says:—
Inability to foresee the remote consequences of actions and the tendency to be guided only by the instinct of the moment, condemn an individual as well as a race to remain always in a very inferior condition. It is only in proportion as they have been able to master their instincts—that is to say, as they have acquired strength of will and consequently empire over themselves—that nations have been able to understand the importance of discipline, the necessity of sacrificing themselves to an ideal and lifting themselves up to civilization. If it were necessary to determine by a single test the social level of races in history, I would take willingly as a standard the aptitude displayed by each in controlling their impulses. The Romans in antiquity, the Anglo-Americans in modern times, represent the people who have possessed this quality in the highest degree. It has powerfully contributed to assure their greatness.
Again he says, speaking now more in detail:—
Let us summarize, then, in a few words the characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon race, which has peopled the United States. There is not perhaps in the world one which is more homogeneous and whose mental constitution is more easy to define in its great outline. The dominant qualities of this mental constitution are, from the standpoint of character, a will power which scarcely any people except perhaps the Romans have possessed, an unconquerable energy, a very great initiative, an absolute empire over self, a sentiment of independence pushed even to excessive unsociability, a puissant activity, very keen religious sentiments, a very fixed morality, a very clear idea of duty.
Again he says:—
But, above all, it is in a new country like America that we must follow the astonishing progress due to the mental constitution of the English race. Transported to a wilderness inhabited only by savages and having only itself to count upon, we know what that race has done. Scarcely a century has been necessary to those people to place themselves in the first rank of the great powers of the world, and to-day there is hardly one who could struggle against them.

Such achievements as M. Le Bon credits us with are due to the qualities of the American people, whom he, as a man of science looking below the surface, rightly describes as homogeneous. Those qualities are moral far more than intellectual, and it is on the moral qualities of the English-speaking race that our history, our victories, and all our future rest. There is only one way in which you can lower those qualities or weaken those characteristics, and that is by breeding them out. If a lower race mixes whit a higher in sufficient numbers, history teaches us that the lower race will prevail. The lower race will absorb the higher, not the higher the lower, when the two strains approach equality in numbers. In other words, there is a limit to the capacity of any race for assimilating and elevating an inferior race; and when you begin to pour in unlimited numbers people of alien or lower races of less social efficiency and less moral force, you are running the most frightful risk that a people can run. The lowering of a great race means not only its own decline, but that of civilization. M. Le Bon sees no danger to us in immigration, and his reason for this view is one of the most interesting things he says. He declares that the people of the United States will never be injured by immigration, because the moment they see the peril the great race instinct will assert its itself and shut the immigration out. The reports of the Treasury for the last fifteen years show that the peril is at hand. I trust that the prediction of science is true, and that the unerring instinct of the race will shut the danger out, as it closed the door upon the coming of the Chinese.

That the peril is not imaginary or the offspring of race prejudice, I will prove by another disinterested witness, also a Frenchman. M. Paul Bourget, the distinguished novelist, visited this country a few years ago, and wrote a book containing his impressions of what he saw. He was not content, as many travelers are, to say that our cabs were high-priced, the streets of New York noisy, the cars hot, and then feel that he had disposed of the United States and the people thereof for time and for eternity. M. Bourget saw here a great country and a great people; in other words, a great fact in modern times. Our ways were not his ways, nor our thoughts his thoughts, and he probably like his own country and his own ways much better; but he none the less studied us carefully and sympathetically. What most interested him was to see whether the socialistic movements, which now occupy the alarmed attention of Europe, were equally threatening here. His conclusion, which I will state in a few words, is of profound interest. He expected to find signs of a coming war of classes, and he went home believing that if any danger threatened the United States it was not from a war of classes, but a war of races.

Mr. President, more precious even than forms of government are the mental and moral qualities which make what we call our race. While those stand unimpaired all is safe. When those decline all is imperiled. They are exposed to but a single danger, and that is by changing the quality of our race and citizenship through the wholesale infusion of races whose traditions and inheritances, whose thoughts and whose beliefs are wholly alien to ours, and with whom we have never assimilated or even been associated in the past. The danger has begun. It is small as yet, comparatively speaking, but it is large enough to warn us to act while there is yet time and while it can be done easily and efficiently. There lies the peril at the portals of our land; there is pressing the tide of unrestricted immigration. The time has certainly come, if not to stop, at least to check, to, sift, and to restrict those immigrants. In careless strength, with generous hand, we have kept our gates wide open to all the world. If we do not close them, we should at least place sentinels beside them to challenge those who would pass through. The gates which admit men to the United States and to citizenship in the great republic should no longer be left unguarded.
Restrictionist efforts, spearheaded by New Englanders like Lodge and New Yorkers like Madison Grant, culminated in the passage of the 1924 Immigration Act, which was rabidly opposed by and later overturned with aid from organized Jewry. Kevin MacDonald sees ethnic conflict. Moldbug claims to see an aracial minority aping New England Puritans in an attempt to win status points. I know which of these theories I find more convincing.

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Anonymous said...

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