The Morlock Question

“One consequence is the breeding in the slums of our great cities . . . of a hoard of semi-barbarians, whose unskilled labor is neither required in our present complex industrial organization, nor capable of earning a maintenance there.” 

Sidney Webb, The Difficulties of Individualism (1896)

“Proletarianism is a state of feeling rather than a matter of outward circumstance.” 

Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History, vol. 5 (1939)

Webb wrote this line as a Fabian socialist, and therefore argued that the “hoard of semi-barbarians” could be redeemed if the state would only take up their cause and civilize them.  He believed that “the private ownership of land and capital” was the root cause of this hoard of semi-barbarians, because private property had an “evil effect on human character and the multiplication of the race.”  Webb therefore believed that this evil effect would disappear if only land and capital passed into the hands of the state.

Private property had an evil effect on human character because it withheld the means of personal development from the British working class, and therefore filled British graveyards with what the poet Gray had famously described as “mute inglorious Miltons.”  Or as Webb put it, “potential geniuses” who “are crushed out of existence by lack of opportunity of training and scope.”  It had an evil effect on “the multiplication of the race” because degradation stripped the working class of “Malthusian prudence,” so that working-class men and women rutted like beasts and bred without restraint.  As Webb put it:

“But a graver evil is the positive ‘wrong population’ which is the result of extreme poverty and its accompanying insensibility to all but the lowest side of human life.”

* * * * *

Whatever we may think of his socialist solution, we cannot deny that Webb had some grasp of what I call the Morlock Question.  I take the name from Webb’s fellow Fabian socialist, H. G. Wells, who in his novel The Time Machine (published one year before Webb’s Problems of Individualism) described a future world in which humanity had evolved into two races of Eloi and Morlocks.  The Eloi were the descendants of sensitive and refined intellectuals like Webb and Wells.  The Morlocks were the descendants of that “hoard of semi-barbarians” that were rutting and breeding in the slums of British cities.

But in the future world of Wells’ novel, the tables had turned and the Morlocks were really on top.

“The upperworld people might once have been the favored aristocracy of the world, and the Morlocks their mechanical servants, but that state of affairs had passed away long since . . . . The Nemesis of the delicate ones was creeping on apace.  Ages ago, thousands of generations ago, man had thrust his brother man out of the ease and sunlight of life.  And now that brother was coming back—changed.  Already the Eloi had begun to learn one old lesson anew.  They were becoming acquainted with Fear.”

These lines bear close study and long reflection, since they contain what would become the official Eloi answers to the ancient Morlock Question.  That question has three parts: What are Morlocks? Why are there Morlocks? and What is to be done about Morlocks?  The socialist answers to these questions are:

(1) Despite appearances, Morlocks are really stunted Eloi ( Gray’s “mute inglorious Miltons”)

(2) The Morlocks were stunted by the Eloi when the Eloi excluded them from Eloi society (“thrust his brother man out of the ease and sunlight of life”)

(3) Revenge of the Morlocks can be prevented by their speedy inclusion in Eloi society, as this will cause Morlocks to behave just like Eloi.

* * * * *

To be perfectly accurate, inclusion would not cause Morlocks to behave just like Eloi, since men like Webb and Wells believed that life in the “upperworld” has a deleterious effect on the Eloi, just as life in the underworld has a deleterious effect on Morlocks.  While the Morlocks were brutalized and reduced to semi-barbarians, the Eloi were emasculated and reduced to neurasthenic wimps.  While the Morlocks were violent brutes, the Eloi were feeble fairies.  While the Morlocks were rutting and breeding like beasts, the Eloi were castrated by an idea of Platonic love.  This idea of Platonic love was what D. H. Lawrence, an apostle of rutting, called “sex in the head.”*

Thus, socialists of the last century said that their answer to the Morlock Question would restore all humans to a happy medium.  The semi-barbarians would be raised from brutality by an injection of civilizing cash, and the neurasthenic wimps would be raised from emasculation by an injection of rude vitality.  Here is how the neurasthenic wimps were described by Jane Addams, a pioneer of social work among semi-barbarians in the slums of Chicago

“We have in America a fast-growing number of cultivated young people who have no recognized outlet for their active faculties . . . . These young people have had the advantages of college, of European travel, and of economic study, but they are sustaining this shock of inaction . . . . Many are buried beneath this mental accumulation with lowered vitality and discontent.”**

* * * * *

I took my second epigram from the historian Arnold Toynbee, who was writing forty years after Webb and Wells, and who saw Fascism as the Revenge of the Morlocks.  Toynbee called these Morlocks the proletariat and explained that proletarianism was at least as much a spiritual as it was a material condition.  As he says in my epigram:

“Proletarianism is a state of feeling rather than a matter of outward circumstance.”

The essential feeling of a proletariat is that it is “‘in’ but not ‘of’ a society.  Those who have this feeling of alienation Toynbee divided into two classes, an internal proletariat and an external proletariat.  The external proletariat consists of unassimilated aliens who inhabit the territory of the host society, whether as menials or indigents, but who never lost (perhaps were never allowed to lose) their sense of alienation.  The internal proletariat consists of natives who have been materially and spiritually disinherited by their own homeland.

“The true hall-mark of the proletarian is neither poverty nor humble birth but a consciousness—and the resentment this consciousness inspires—of being disinherited from his ancestral place in Society and being unwanted in a community which is his rightful home.”***

Needless to say, this line speaks to our times, and to a “state of feeling” common to many of you who read what I write here at the Orthosphere.  Toynbee’s analysis resembles that of Webb and Wells, insofar as it explains the proletariat (Morlocks) as a product of social exclusion; but Toynbee understands that proletarianism (internal) is the feeling, not of being denied full membership in a society, but of being stripped of full membership.

The internal proletariat of a society is made up of men whose fathers and grandfathers held at least some small amount of property and rank in that society, but who have themselves been dispossessed, degraded, and kicked to the curb.  It consists of men who woke up one morning to discovered they were living “in” the same country, but that they were no longer part “of” that country.  Strangers now own their fathers’ land.  Strangers now fill their fathers’ ranks.  And strangers now supply that land with an odious and alien spirit.  The internal proletariat is, therefore,

“robbed of a spiritual birthright.”

And if the internal proletariat dares to express resentment at being made to undergo alienation in its own patria—in its own fatherland—it will be doubly despised and even more fully “disinherited from its ancestral place in society.”  The strangers who have taken what he had though was his inheritance will accuse him of “nativism,” “nationalism,” and “hate.”  They will say he is “deplorable.”

* * * * *

Toynbee doesn’t use the word globalism to describe the process that turns patriots into a proletariat, but that is what his explanation comes down to.  As he put it more than eighty years ago:

“A process of standardization has been at work which has already blurred—or even quite effaced—the characteristic features by which these heterogeneous masses of human beings were once distinguished from one another before they were devoured and masticated by the great Leviathan of the West.”†

The internal proletariat is thus made of men who are landless, anonymous, and bereft of their cultural heritage.  The “great Leviathan” transformed them into angry “semi-barbarians” who require much more than nationalized industry for their redemption.  They required a land, a community, and a culture that they can call their own.  I recently had occasion to quote Hillarie Belloc to this effect.

“There is no fate as wretched as to be without a country of one’s own.”††

* * * * *

Proletarianism is not simply the feeling that one has been robbed of a country of one’s own.  As we just saw, Toynbee says it is also the feeling that one has been robbed and is now “unwanted” in that country.  Proletarianism is the feeling—I should say the awareness—that the land of your fathers now sees you as the problemYou are now the people for whom it has no use and can find no place.  When Leviathan strips you of everything, it asks the Morlock Question about you!

You will recall that I earlier said that the Morlock Question has three parts: What are Morlocks? Why are there Morlocks? and What is to be done about Morlocks?  With respect to the proletariat of which I am part, the answers given by the globalist Leviathan are:

(1) Morlocks are failed Eloi who were thrown out of Leviathan, like bums out of a bar.

(2) Morlocks were thrown out of Leviathan because they are hateful people who are full of hate

(3) Revenge of the Morlocks can be prevented by careful exclusion from Eloi society, as this will prevent them from laying their dirty hands on the Eloi.

*) “Nowadays, alas, we start off self-conscious, with sex in the head.  We find a woman who is the same.  We marry because we are ‘pals.’  The sex is a rather nasty fiasco.  We keep up the pretense of ‘pals’—and nice love.  Sex spins wilder in the head than ever.”  D. H. Lawrence, Fantasia of the Unconscious (1923).
**) Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (1910).
***) Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History, vol. 5 (1939), p. 63.
†) ibid., p. 153.
††) Hilaire Belloc, The Path to Rome (1902)

11 thoughts on “The Morlock Question

  1. Pingback: The Morlock Question | Reaction Times

  2. If only I had a Pit, a Pendulum, and Both of those Damnable Webbs.
    Epiphany: I’m a Troll, a Prole, *and* a Morlock. Does that score me triple EBT points?

  3. Pingback: An interesting blog piece – Vanishing American II

  4. Interesting. Eloi and Morlocks sounds like a follow-up to what Bonald wrote about the problem of culture. I wasn’t aware that 19th century socialists were aware of the problem.

    In the Internet Manosphere you meet a lot of Eloi who are virgins at 30 and are asking for advice how to stop being so, and one very often notices that that their fathers were absent or weak and they got mostly raised by their mothers.

    And it is also known that fatherlessness is a big problem in the Morlock ghettoes too.

    Apparently, fathers play both a vitalizing and restraining role when done right. And when they are allowed to do right.

    So I would say let all kids have fathers and their fathers really be fathers and then see how much of the problem persists.

    • My sense is that Incels are caused by several factors. One is the mistaken belief that women know what they want, or that they would tell you if they did know. Another is simple and justified fear of rejection, which can nowadays come with a very painful legal kicker. Another is that many people of both sexes are literally disgusted by hard-core pornography, which is now easier to tap than tap water. Imagine your opinion of drinking alcohol if your first drink had not been sweet wine, but had been raw grain alcohol. And then there is, as you say, our increasingly matriarchal society. This seems to be limited to middle-class matriarchy, though, since sexual shyness is not an outstanding characteristic of young men raised in the ghetto matriarchy.

      • I agree, except with the both sexes are disgusted by hard-code pornography part, that part got my amateur-economist spidey-sense tingling. It is a for profit industry with competition and suchlike. Imagine trying to survive as a bar owner selling raw grain alcohol only. Pretty sure the only customers would be the serious addicts, and pretty sure someone would open a bar selling sweet wine next corner. The problem I see here is that a lot of people became the serious addicts who precisely want that raw grain alcohol for its harder kick. And that really ruins their relationships.

      • I’m not talking about regular users. I’m talking about some twelve-year-old girl who pulls up beastiality porn by accident or on a dare. The seediest smut peddler in the dirtiest alleyway of the most degenerate city in American now operates a branch in every child’s cell phone. And they pass out free samples.

        You are right that this ruins relationships when one party hops into the marriage bed with some very kinky ideas. But it also ruins relationships by the other party is afraid to hop into the marriage bed for fear that the other party may have some very kinky ideas.

      • This is a constant concern of mine. It is worse than that. I have one seven years old daughter, and even if we don’t get her a cell phone, classmates can still show her all kinds of stuff on theirs. Kids like to shock each other just for the heck of it, they will show each other the worst things possible. They don’t have to be even 12, just when the first kid in the class gets a smartphone, he will start shocking his classmates. It won’t “only” be pornography, it will also be rotting corpses and perhaps PhotoShop fakes of people eating rotting corpses and who knows what.

        I cannot control other people’s children nor control what they show to mine at school so I see no solution other than somehow brace for it or prepare her for it. But even how. We go out of our way to provide her a healthy, wholesome rural environent, she is a bit on the sensitive side, and then every other classmate kid can have in his pocket a veritable window to Hell to show her all kinds of shocking things on it.

      • I first confronted this ten or more years ago, and was appalled to realize I was helpless. At that time it was only the family computer, but in time my children had laptops and phones. I couldn’t manage a workable filter on that old family desktop, and was impotent when it came to theirlaptops and phones. I have a vivid memory of being shown a black and white photograph of fellatio when I was in the sixth grade. It was in the hallway at school and the boy was trying to shock me. He succeeded. Our politicians made a half-hearted attempt to help parents (and children) several years ago, but they soon yielded to the greed and prurience of adults, and the filthy flood of obscenity spread everywhere.

  5. At the end of The Time Machine, when the Time Traveler has accidentally made his way into the twilight of the earth, he sees the ultimate descendants of the Eloi and the Morlocks. The one is a small rabbit-like creature; the other is a crab-like predator that has snared the rabbit and is moving to consume it. The roles have not changed, but the brutality of the metaphor has.

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