Or Woman's Future and Future Woman
[To-day and To-morrow]
Anthony M. Ludovici
With Foreword by Norman Haire, CH.M., M.B.
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.
2nd (revised) impression
- p. 5 -
Letter from Dr Norman Haire
MY DEAR LUDOVICI,
It has been a great pleasure for me to read Lysistrata it is so stimulating. Whether one agrees with your views or not (and I disagree with many of them), the book impels one to re-examine one's standards of value, and that is the highest function a book can perform.
Perhaps I am prejudiced, but to me you seem very hard on the medical profession. With the present idiotic system of paying the doctor better for illness than for health the wonder is, not that we doctors have so many faults, but that we have so few. In a saner age we shall get a retaining fee for keeping each person or group of persons well, and so, in order to avoid excessive work, if for no higher motive, we shall aim at preventing disease rather than at alleviating it. To a large extent we do that now, in spite of the fact that it takes money out of our pockets.
Your exhortation to breast-feed babies is backed by all but a few cranks, and I
I am sure you are right when you say "Sound and desirable women cannot be happy unmated." The fact that there are some, women who can does not invalidate the general truth they are atypical.
Another of your phrases I would that you could trumpet forth in a voice that should reach to the uttermost ends of the earth: "Strictly speaking, moral depravity is no more voluntary than physiological depravity." I am confident that as Science advances the former will be found always to depend on the latter.
In speaking of the unfit, infanticide, and concubinage, your frankness is splendid, though on my pet subject, Birth-Control, I disagree with you. There can be no doubt that much of our present-day "humanitarianism" only results in
Some modification of our present marriage-arrangement is inevitable, and concubinage seems quite a probable solution. At present we pretend to be a monogamous people in spite of widespread fornication and adultery, overtly with prostitutes and covertly with amateurs." But sooner or later we shall have to drop the pretence and admit that men are polygamous. (A few men are monogamous, and a few women polyandrous, but both are exceptions.) Surely it would be better to allow every woman to have half a husband, if she
For this book you will probably be denounced as a daring and fantastic visionary, and I shall be blamed as an aider and abettor, but that doesn't matter. It will have stimulated many unthinking people to a re-examination of their table of values.
90, Harley Street, W
Values Direct Science
From a brief survey of his fellow-countrymen, there are many strange lessons to be learnt in England to-day, by anyone who keeps his eyes open and is on his guard against taking too much for granted.
The observer has only to exchange a few words with the men, women, and children he passes by, and to look into their faces no more is required to tell him all he wishes to know. Nor will he need to have a very high standard of human beauty to feel disappointed by the features of the great majority, while the most elementary knowledge of psychology and hygiene will enable him to see from their behaviour and expressions that they are very largely harassed, unhealthy and badly fed (i.e., not starving, but improperly nourished).
But among the first of the curious facts he will notice is this that large masses of his fellow-countrymen appear to have become so thoroughly accustomed to living their lives with the help of every
For instance, men and women young and old constantly pass by wearing glasses, and they look quite cheerfully and confidently up through these optical aids when they are addressed. To speak to others in the crowd, and to see them smile, is to recognize instantly that some or all of their teeth are bad or false. But they smile with just as much conviction, whether their dentition happens to be natural or manufactured. Numbers of the younger adults and children about have upon their faces, in the region of their eyes and brows, certain tiny, almost imperceptible, scars, revealing the fact that they were brought into the world by means of obstetric instruments. And countless others there are whose birth was just as artificial, though they bear no marks to show it. But no one seems to trouble, or to inquire how such frequent interference with a natural function might be avoided. Everywhere people are seen shaking hands, and sincerely proclaiming themselves "Quite well," when that very morning, and many previous mornings, their intestines have functioned only through the agency of some widely advertized artificial aid. But none of them feels guilty of any grave inaccuracy in
Mothers can be seen by the hundred thousand, serenely wheeling in perambulators, or leading by the hand, infants and children, not one of whom has ever put its lips to a human breast. The advertisements recommending the artificial foods on which these infants and children have been reared can be read on every hoarding. But it never occurs either to the mothers themselves, or to the children, or to the onlookers, to consider whether this state of affairs is of a kind that justifies so much self-complacency, good cheer, indifference, and apparent contentment.
These indications of a highly standardized life, revealing almost universal imperfections of some kind in our bodies and their functions, are now so common, so much a commonplace in our midst, that nobody notices them, nobody mentions them as odd, and certainly nobody seems to show any concern or alarm about their monotonous frequency.
Mention might be made of other less obvious aids to normal functions which are in daily use among the population of these islands; but, since we are speaking of the lessons that may be learned by an ordinary observer who keeps his eyes and ears open in our
Now, since all marked uniformity can result only from holding similar fundamental views, similar general principles, in common, if our wanderer wishes to pursue his observations he may be led to inquire from what substratum of guiding rules, from what basic values, this uniformity arises. If he is right in concluding that the population he sees about him the people who are regarded as well and healthy, not the people who crowd our hospitals, asylums, and homes for cripples and incurables! are largely sub-normal, or sub-human, in the sense that they are neither complete bodily nor capable of functioning without artificial aids; if, moreover, he is right in thinking that they do not seem to be much perturbed about their sub-humanity, he may wish to know the nature of the atmosphere in which their thoughts and ideals are formed. Their readiness to declare themselves "quite well," or "quite fit," simply on the strength of their not being under a doctor, or on a sick-bed, is singular. The question they ask themselves is not "Am I really quite fit or well?" but "Am I just able to discharge my daily duties, walk about, shop, have a family, and take ordinary meals?" If they can answer this ques-
Evidently, then, among this population of to-day there is no severe standard of good bodily condition, no cultivated taste about it. Or, if there is, it is surprisingly low.
Defective functioning and incomplete bodily equipment no longer debars anybody from regarding himself, or from being regarded by others, as desirable and normal. Even in the vital matter of mating, this is so how much more customary it must be, therefore, in less vital matters! Stand up, smile, and agitate your four limbs to indicate that they are intact and still movable, and that is enough. The bias against a whole list of defects and blemishes has completely disappeared.
Moral depravity is still stigmatized. About physiological depravity, however, the world is frivolously indifferent. In the popular novels, which best reflect the spirit of the age, the heroine rejects a suitor, not because he has false teeth or chronic dyspepsia or varicose veins such things are so common that they are never mentioned; but because he is "selfish." or lacking in chivalry or in "a sense of humour." The hero whom she accepts may be less healthy, less
The spiritual atmosphere of our population, therefore, is one in which all stress seems to be laid on the soul, in which the severe standards are soul standards, and in which the importance of the body and its completeness are almost entirely overlooked. As an instance of this, it is interesting to note that there is no such thing to-day as a guilty conscience about bodily depravity. The results of hundreds of years of steady moralization has ended at last in the condition known as "guilty conscience" becoming restricted entirely to the soul and to the moral life. To say that so-and-so "can't help it" immediately stifles criticism and arrests nausea. This alone shows how purely moral our outlook is. Least of all are people able to despise themselves when their own teeth are false, or when they habitually assist normal functioning by means of artificial aids.
And in all these matters the unanimity of the modern civilized world is so strik-
So much we know must have occurred, and we come to this conclusion merely from judging the results which we see about us to-day. When, however, we set out to inquire into the history of our population, and attempt to discover whether such values have indeed operated in forming their spiritual atmosphere, then, not only are our suspicions abundantly confirmed, but we are actually able to lay our finger on the body of doctrine containing the values whose existence we posited a priori.
Having attained this end, while we may still continue to deplore the results
If our values had not for scores of generations turned us away from strict standards concerning the body, it is inconceivable that we should have become what We are; it is inconceivable that this atmosphere of toleration and indifference towards bodily defects should have become so universal. A nation ultimately becomes the image of its values. The values are the die, the nation is the coin. From the face of the coin we judge the die. From the faces of modern English people we can judge their values.
Moreover, these values must have been so deeply rooted that they now mould opinion without those whose opinion is moulded by them being conscious of the source of their mental attitude. The best illustration of this is that, although these values ultimately derive from a grout religion, the most irreligious people of the modern world share with the religious the spiritual atmosphere we have been describing. People no longer believing in the soul from the religious
For this reason it is surely somewhat muddle-headed on the part of a writer like Dean Inge, situated as he is, to plead with such vehemence on behalf of Eugenics. For how can we hope for a reaction in favour of the body as long as the values which lay all stress on the soul and despise the body abide as an influence among us? Are they not the values by which he stands, and which he is officially expected to inculcate upon his generation? 1
1 Mr G. K. Chesterton is more consistent here, and shows a deeper understanding of his true position. He, like Dean Inge, accepts the fundamental values which by slow degrees have brought the modern world into existence, and he therefore very rationally rejects Eugenics.
Dean Inge, while recognizing the widespread degeneracy and physiological botchedness to which allusion has been made, does not seem to perceive, as our observer has, the singular readiness with which all modern people overlook or condone it in themselves and others, and he argues, plausibly enough, that our regrettable physical condition is due to our industrialism and hypertrophic urbanism.
But this is tantamount to regarding the latest accompanying symptom of our condition as its chief cause. For, in the first place, it is extremely doubtful whether the Industrial Revolution could ever have come about without that contempt for the body and its needs which lies embedded in our ruling values.
How could the food conditions in this country ever have become as appalling as they are without an old tradition involving the neglect of bodily concerns? These things antecede the Industrial Revolution, as the present writer has shown elsewhere, by hundreds of years. Evidently, then, strict standards about the body had already gone long before the Industrial Age. And, when the latter came, it found no barriers in the English people's prejudices regarding the body and health: otherwise it could never have proceeded as successfully as it did to a further debilitation of the national physique.
1 Vide A Defence of Aristocracy (Constable and Co., London: 1915).
At all events, to put it in the mildest and most moderate terms, it is impossible altogether to absolve these fundamental values from responsibility in the matter; and to ignore their influence, and to join the Eugenic movement, without first reckoning with their power, as Dean Inge has done, is to be guilty of a confusion of thought unworthy of anyone who professes to guide public opinion.
Now what is the material environment of our population? Quite clearly, it is one in which the mechanical elaboration of daily life has been carried to a degree entirely bewildering. These sub-human people of the twentieth century live among marvels of technical skill and ingenuity; and the appliances, apparatus, and general equipment of their every-day life have reached a complexity and perfection quite unprecedented in history. Far from having learnt any lesson from the doctrines Darwin taught last century, all our energy and skill have been concentrated in precisely the opposite direc-
The onus of evolution has, as it were, been transferred from our own shoulders to the shoulders of our environment. Blinded by the dazzling achievements of the mechanical and other sciences, we Still speak about ourselves as if it were we, as living organisms, who were continuing to evolve. But, truth to tell, it is nothing of the sort. Even in the sphere of intellectual powers, we are miserably below standards already achieved.
To the bulk of unobservant and unthinking mankind, this state of affairs is largely hidden; because, while science increases the efficiency of our extra-corporeal equipment, it has also, pari passu with our degeneration, provided us with the means of keeping our corporeal equipment going. Almost as fast as we have wanted them, the sciences of chemistry and of medicine have given us the means of replacing lost parts of our bodies, and of supplementing failing functions. A whole sphere of activity indeed a whole world of interests and
To be strictly logical, even the nature of scientific research should be added to the consequences of a people's ruling values; because the ultimate goal of scientific investigation is necessarily determined by the desiderata implicit in values. If the values of an age tend more and more towards tolerating bodily defects, and towards securing satisfaction merely by patching or artificially replacing them, scientific research will concentrate ever
In this way, values direct science. If we altered our ruling values, we should find that the direction of science was also altered, because the desiderata always implicit in ruling values would then have changed.
"But," cry the modernists à outrance, "if science is ever ready, and will continue to be ever ready, with artificial aids to make good the losses in our corporeal equipment and efficiency, why all this fuss and pother? Why worry?"
Now this view, tacitly held or openly professed by the bulk of modern mankind to-day, would be all very well, and would justify a certain modicum of optimistic contentment, if we could act and think, and continue to reproduce our kind in a desirable form, independently of our bodies. But, unfortunately for the modern man, this is impossible. Not only that, but a good many of life's joys some of its greatest and most lasting are connected precisely with the reproduction of our kind, with the maintenance of our
The pleasures of the healthily functioning body are very real pleasures. They constitute a very large proportion of the sum of joy on earth. And nothing can be more obvious than that Nature means them to contribute largely to this sum of joy. To eat with false teeth is not as pleasant as to eat with natural teeth. Artificially to promote either appetite or digestion soon proves but a poor and delusive imitation of Nature's way. To wear glasses is not as good as to be without them. Neither is the face or the expression of one who always wears glasses as attractive as the face and the expression of one who does not. To a mother, the hand-feeding of her infant child is not the unforgettable experience that breast-feeding is. And, in the deepest and most rapturous transports of love, where a large proportion of the ecstasy depends upon the bodily savouriness and sweetness of the couple involved, natural and normal physiological equipment is of paramount importance. A clean mouth,
And yet, how many modern men and women ever can know love in this form? How is it possible?
Can it be wondered at, therefore, that modern mankind as a whole are beginning to suspect that the joie de vivre is grossly overrated? Can it be wondered at that the bulk of mankind is beginning to feel that life can well be lived without love?
This, then, is the disillusionment that follows on the heels of the values directing our scientific progress. While, through them, we are content to exist despite our defective bodily equipment, we are gradually weaned from our love of life and from our deepest convictions concerning the value of life. For not only does our debilitated or incomplete body itself give us but second-rate joys, but the science that comes to our aid offers us only substitutes, and we are apt to measure the value of life according to those second-rate joys, and according also to the level of happiness attained by means of these substitutes.
So much for the æsthetic side, which is important, because life is very largely an æsthetic phenomenon. But there are even more serious consequences than these. For instance, it is highly improbable that our vitality and intellectuality can fail to suffer depreciation when once normal functioning has been interfered with. So intricate and inter-dependent are the various parts and functions of the superior mammal's body, that it is hardly possible to disturb the balance of one part or one function without impairing the whole. Thus it is not unlikely, in these latter days when ninety-nine per cent. of the population of highly civilized countries is suffering from some kind of defective function or bodily part, that all of us are sub-human in spirit as well as in body. It is even conceivable that the hopeless pass at which we are arriving in Western civilization is but the inevitable outcome of our chronic sub-normality or sub-humanity, and that nothing but a reform of our bodies can possibly help us out.
Nor is it any longer valid to argue that this view is materialistic. We thank Dean Inge en passant for his able reply to those who, objecting to the standpoint
At all events we can honestly deny that we are materialists, and do not believe that we are any the less religious or spiritual for having fought hard for our heterodox religious views through years of metaphysical study and thought. Secondly, we repudiate the suggestion that to preach the care and maintenance of the beauty and health of the body is necessarily material; for it is the invalid, the sick man, the man of this age, who calls himself "well," who is constantly reminded of his body. A healthily functioning body can be forgotten. Thanks to its serenity, its muteness in efficiency, it allows its owner to indulge in every variety of spiritual exercise.
While, therefore, we accuse the values which for centuries have cast a slur on life and the human body of being the cause of modern decadence, we do not thereby proclaim ourselves either irreligious or materialistic; for, let those who would too hastily presume both our irreligiosity and materialism remember that there are other religions besides that which first created the body-despising values to which we allude.
And, when we challenge the modern age to prove that it can be anything else than materialistic, with its countless
The masses are materialistic to-day because, in the first place, lowered vitality and defective functioning depress the spirit and dull the wits, thus unfitting the mind for all lofty pursuits; and, secondly, because at every moment of their lives their attention is either riveted upon their own halting functions or else distracted by similar disturbances in those among whom their lot is cast.