Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Affirmative Action in 1910

I think one of the most important contributions that the reactionary blogosphere has done is disproving the common conservative myth that things in the West only started to go awry after the 1960s. While it is true that the counter-culture destroyed traditional religion and ethnic loyalty and brought anti-racism, feminism and welfare transfers, none of that came from a vacuum. The Left has been around a very long time.

The more you read the more it seems that the powers that be have been leftist forever. I owe to Jim Donald the great insight that imperialism was a leftist phenomenon, as opposed to the earlier colonialists. Imperialism happened when the Left nationalised the colonialists’ property, and introduced enlightened rule by state bureaucracy where ad-hoc arrangements had prevailed. Over time, as always imperialism became the status quo, a.k.a. the right, and the sanctimony rat-race advanced making anti-imperialism the new leftist cause. But don’t let that deceive you.

Imperialism was opposed as the evil mechanism of oppression and exploitation of foreign nations. Which partly was, because it’s the only way of making a profit out of the dominion of lands very far from home. That’s how the colonies started, but the shift into state led imperialism didn’t make them more profitable. The Left isn’t about making money, it’s about losing it.

See this testimony from a young man who migrated to Shanghai in 1910, aptly called Jim. He writes in a letter to his father:

China is

The town is not at present prosperous, and one reason for the bad times now existing is that the Chinese cheat the foreigners in every conceivable way, and also in every inconceivable way, and if caught, which is seldom, are fined $5, or get a week’s imprisonment and immediate re-employment on release Even in prison they are generally better off than out of it. The penalty is so small that they consider the reward well worth the risk, corporal punishment being now abolished.

Should a foreigner, bowever, be discovered trying to cheat a Chinaman, he is awarded a long term of imprisonment which means ruin, of course; and if he happens to be a German, an American, or a Britisher, he is lucky to escape with his life.

Anarcho-tyranny, anyone? I’m sure this kid wasn’t for corporal punishment back home, but the reality of race conflict is a bitch. If it were 2012 he would have started a blog and linked to all of us.

This muddled state of affairs is principally owing to the fact that all Chinese have to be tried at a place called the Mixed Court, which title it has acquired because everything about it is so mixed up that no one understands what to do.

Any Chinaman can bring a suit against a foreigner before that foreigner’s Judge or Consul, but in cases where a foreigner has an action to bring against a Chinaman his only resort is the Mixed Court. The Mixed Court is designed to form a happy medium between the law of nations and the abominable, muddle-headed corruption of China. In this Court sit a foreign assessor of the same nationality as the foreign litigant whose case is down for hearing, and the Mixed Court Magistrate, a Chinaman, who is chosen by the native authorities on account of his uncompromising Chineseness. The judgment of these two arbitrators must coincide, and the time of the Court is mostly taken up by the Chinese Magistrate’s efforts to make the foreign assessor’s judgment coincide with his own. This can never happen until China has an army and navy sufficiently strong to make the Powers see the force of her arguments, whether they are reasonable or the reverse. Chinese arguments being usually the reverse, her only hope of getting the better of a discussion is by force, even as we did in the days of those persuasive debaters. Raleigh, Drake, Clive, Phip and Dampier.

The Germans, Americans, and British consider it their duty to administer justice tempered with mercy, not to say generosity, to the man who is lodging a complaint against any of their nationals, a diplomatic arrangement of which the wisdom is apparent to all who happen to live at home. As the Chinese idea would appear to most distinctly favour their own nationals in the Mixed Court, the whole arrangement is a hopeless failure, and like every other hesitating concession of a higher civilization to a lower obstructive to advancement by reason of the activity of opposing forces.

120 years after Macartney refused to kowtow to the Chinese Emperor, after having beaten them in war and taken their territory, the British administration in Shanghai had devised Affirmative Action for the 95% majority of Chinese in Shanghai. Which is bad enough, but why would German and American judges do the same? It’s not like they were part in smuggling opium and waging war against China. Little guilt to feel. Yet they appeased and favoured foreigners against their own kin.

And this isn’t about nationality or some sense of guilt about taking their land. Not even mercy for the poor native masses. It’s about race:

The Japanese is the only foreigner who can indulge in a misdemeanour with impunity, as in his case drunkenness and an assault on the police are only punished by a severe caution and perhaps $1 fine.

(…)

Not that I have a word to say against the Japs, for nothing could be farther from my intention, but they do love themselves with such an all-absorbing passion that they have no sentiment to spare for other races.

See how law enforcement was lenient toward non-whites just for the kicks. It is uncalled discrimination against whites. And against any concept of order and good governance. The fact is those judges got a bigger kick out of being nice to the downtrodden Chinese peddlers than from creating an orderly and wealthy city. This in 1910, 10 years before Lothrop Stoddard wrote his magnum opus, Affirmative Action was well established in Shanghai.

I recommend others to read old books, not only to gain more knowledge, but because it is comforting. It’s bad enough that your country is insane, but what really irks is the sense that things used to be alright and only we are getting screwed. Well let us rest assured, things have been bad for a long, long time.

Do read the whole thing.

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15 responses to “Affirmative Action in 1910

  1. asdf August 21, 2012 at 00:41

    I was reading That Hideous Strength over vacation. The “progressive element” in that book was pro eugenics. They were very similar in method, temperament. and underlying ideology though though. Interesting how things change.

    • spandrell August 21, 2012 at 19:31

      If we identify progressives as the same people that freed the slaves and gave women the vote, I wonder how they evolved into believing in eugenics. It’s against the brotherhood of humanity, it’s against free will, it’s against everything they ever stood for.
      It has some parallells in communist/fascist statist push for efficiency, but even the USSR, who did have an effective state apparatus to enforce it, never attempted eugenics.

      • asdf August 21, 2012 at 20:55

        Eugenics was really popular among progressives before we found the gas chambers in Germany. Keynes and all those guys were big time eugenicists in the UK.

        • fnn August 23, 2012 at 01:56

          Before the gas chambers:
          http://www.kevinmacdonald.net/BenderskyRev.htm

          It is remarkable that the word ‘Nordic’ disappeared by the 1930s although the restrictionists still had racialist views of Jews and themselves (p. 245). By 1938 eugenics was “shunned in public discourse of the day.” (p. 250) Whereas such ideas were commonplace in the mainstream media in the 1920s, General George van Horn Moseley’s 1938 talk on eugenics and its implications for immigration policy caused a furor when it was reported in the newspapers. Moseley was charged with anti‑Semitism although he denied referring to Jews in his talk. The incident blew over, but “henceforth, the military determined to protect itself against charges of anti‑Semitism that might sully its reputation or cause it political problems …. The army projected itself as an institution that would tolerate neither racism nor anti-Semitism” (p. 252‑253).

          So eugenics fell out of fashion at a time when all the mass killing in Europe was being done by the anti-eugenicist Soviets. Go figure.

          • asdf August 23, 2012 at 06:18

            Eugenics was still popular in the 30s. You’d have no problem finding pro-eugenics lit back then.

            Any eugenics program that persecutes Jews, who have the best genes on the planet, it total garbage.

            • fnn August 23, 2012 at 14:58

              Go argue with the mainstream liberal Bendersky.

              I don’t understand the hate campaign against Germany in the 1930’s-Jews being rudely expelled from Germany means more Jews for everybody else. FDR, however, despite no significant anti-Semitism in the US, didn’t see it that way at the time. I tend to think that he liked the issue as a means to promote war and Empire.

  2. Vladimir August 21, 2012 at 06:24

    This isn’t really affirmative action in the usual sense of the word (i.e. favoritism towards in education and employment specifically aimed at reducing the differences in statistical outcomes between groups).

    If you want a fascinating pre-1960s example of the real thing, read James Burnham’s The Suicide of the West. It’s an amazing book, worth reading for a great many reasons, but one of them is that Burnham describes the de facto affirmative action system for black students that was in place when he taught at NYU in the late 1920s and early 1930s, backed by informal pressure on dissenting professors by the university administration working together with their friends from the NAACP.

  3. jamesd127 August 21, 2012 at 22:41

    Only the left could make imperialism into a money losing activity.

  4. Razib Khan (@razibkhan) August 22, 2012 at 05:26

    Imperialism happened when the Left nationalised the colonialists’ property, and introduced enlightened rule by state bureaucracy where ad-hoc arrangements had prevailed.

    i’m not going to follow up these comments, but please do note that in most cases imperialism was a net transfer of wealth *to* the elites from the national fisc. africa might have been a money loser, but it was a great deal for the whites of the kenya uplands and cecil rhodes. the congo ‘free state’ is kind of the apotheosis of that….

    no idea how it fits into your model, though that jim guy used to leave stupid if well meaning comments on my blog, so i thought i should drop that in since you found him so enlightening ;-)

    • spandrell August 22, 2012 at 13:20

      Well all governments lose money by transferring wealth to elites in some way or another.

      It was my impression that Baron Delamere squandered his fortune in trying to develop the Kenyan highlands, but you could say that the drug-fueled orgies his friends had at Happy Valley were a great deal for white elites. Cecil Rhodes though was too awesome.

      The idea is that imperialism introduced the sort of bureaucratic dysfunction which eventually would turn ever leftward, sabotaging white rule at the long run. Which is what happened.
      Which is not to say that earlier colonialists didn’t have state support, or didn’t lose money by themselves. But the natural result of colonialism is a colonialist ruling class à la South America. State Imperialism in Africa and Asia was on the long run a net loss for whites, which is strange.

  5. vauung August 22, 2012 at 08:19

    Jim’s imperialism / colonialism differentiation is indeed highly suggestive, following the grain of Anglosphere history remarkably well. Despite the Mixed Courts story, though, I’d put Shanghai quite firmly in the ‘colonial’ camp — most of what happened there in the Concessions era clearly escaped imperial management (whose authorities had sought ineffectively, in collaboration with the Qing administration, to keep British and Chinese residents rigidly segregated, for instance). If it wasn’t quite pure laissez faire, it was probably the closest we’ve ever seen.

    • spandrell August 22, 2012 at 13:34

      That was my impression until now. But why would colonials set up what amounts to legal discrimination against themselves?

      I now understand why Japan was so adamant to cancel the unequal treaties it had signed with the western powers after 1854, while China didn’t until the 1940s.

      • vauung August 23, 2012 at 01:21

        I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of expat whining.

        The SH history museum is quite interesting in this respect, btw. There’s a diorama of a Mixed Court in action, and the treatment is surprisingly sympathetic given the approved anti-colonial rhetoric of the authorities. This fits your suggestion, I guess, but I’d be more inclined to see this kind of hybrid institution as a way to win local ‘buy-in’ for colonial (as opposed to imperial or Qing traditional) dispute resolution practices. Given the sheer volume of trans-cultural commercial transaction that took off in Old Shanghai, the system seems to have worked pretty well (some marginal grumpiness aside).

  6. Pingback: Anarcho-tyranny in the UK « nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

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