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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Letter Regarding 'Might vs. Right' (S580: 1900)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: An untitled letter to the Editor of The Eagle and the Serpent concerning the views of Dr. Ragnar Redbeard on this subject; printed on page 164 of the July 1900 issue. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S580.htm

     Ed.--I can understand Dr. Redbeard's position, though I cannot accept it. If men were only "herds of animals" his view might be the true one. But the mere fact that men, everywhere, and throughout all history, have had words and ideas corresponding to truth, justice, virtue, right, and that there have always been men who would sacrifice even their lives for these ideas, proves that mankind is more than an aggregation of "herds of animals."

     The mere physical struggle--the rule of the biggest and strongest brutes among men--is not therefore conducive to man's advance, prosperity, happiness.

     Again, something may be said in favour of the struggle of individual with individual man, as leading to the survival of the best physical types. It may be said that such a survival is good for humanity. But no such advantage can be predicated of the struggle between communities very unequal in numbers. Forty millions, even though mostly fools and scoundrels, may be able to destroy half a million of far higher average type mentally, morally, and physically. The massacre of St. Bartholomew was such an exercise of might; but it was not a benefit to the race, it was opposed to our ideas of justice and morality both now and then, and was therefore not right.

     Dr. Redbeard has given us a very brilliant and rhythmical poem--"The Logic of Today"--glorifying might as always and everywhere being identical with right. I admire his verse, but I decline to alter the meaning of such words as justice and right to make them accord with his theory that men are merely--herds of brute beasts.

Alfred R. Wallace.

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