Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/243

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233
ETHICS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE.

still be a hunting ground for savages? Is it better that a country should contain a million red men or twenty millions of civilized whites? Undoubtedly the moralist will say with truth that the methods of extirpation adopted by Spaniards and Englishmen were detestable. I need not say that I agree with him and hope that such methods may be abolished wherever any remnant of them exists. But I say so partly just because I believe in the struggle for existence. This process underlies morality, and operates whether we are moral or not. The most civilized race that which has the greatest knowledge, skill, power of organization—will, I hold, have an inevitable advantage in the struggle, even if it does not use the brutal means which are superfluous as well as cruel. All the natives who lived in America a hundred years ago would be dead now in any case, even if they had invariably been treated with the greatest humanity, fairness, and consideration. Had they been unable to suit themselves to new conditions of life, they would have suffered a euthanasia instead of a partial extirpation; and had they suited themselves they would either have been absorbed or become a useful part of the population. To abolish the old brutal method is not to abolish the struggle for existence, but to make the result depend upon a higher order of qualities than those of the mere piratical viking.

Mr. Pearson has been telling us in his most interesting book that the negro may not improbably hold his own in Africa. I can not say that I regard this as an unmixed evil. Why should there not be parts of the world in which races of inferior intelligence or energy should hold their own? I am not so anxious to see the whole earth covered by an indefinite multiplication of the cockney type. But I only quote the suggestion for another reason. Till recent years the struggle for existence was carried on as between Europeans and negroes by simple violence and brutality. The slave trade and its consequences have condemned the whole continent to barbarism. That undoubtedly was part of the struggle for existence. But if Mr. Pearson's guess should be verified, the results have been so far futile as well as disastrous. The negro has been degraded, and yet, after all our brutality, we can not take his place. Therefore, besides the enormous evils to slave-trading countries themselves, the lowering of their moral tone, the substitution of piracy for legitimate commerce, and the degradation of the countries which bought the slaves, the superior race has not even been able to suppress the inferior. But the abolition of this monstrous evil does not involve the abolition but the humanization of the struggle. The white man, however merciful he becomes, may gradually extend over such parts of the country as are suitable to him, and the black man will hold the rest, and acquire such arts and civilization as he is capable of