PEOPLES WHO STAND AT THE GATEWAYOF DECADENCE
by LORD LYMINGTON
EARTH is the matrix and the grave.
If we honour and serve the matrix the grave is a source of new life, for the symbol of re-birth is the old fertility cycles. If we neglect the matrix the grave alone remains a fine and private final place.
History may respond to the tramp of armed men and the liberal historians may put battles down to economics and a lust for freedom to pursue, though they do not say so, economic gain.
But the fundamental history of civilisation Is the history of the soil. The understanding of this is vital to all peoples, who stand at the gateway of decadence. The whole white civilisation stands here to-day.
In any civilisation there comes a moment when if it is to continue civilisation must become ruralisation. All its economics, all its amenities, its armies and its splendour depend on one thing, the reverent use of its soil.
Italy and Portugal understand this; ali-nost the Germans. seem to understand, but there is danger that the best in Germany's philosophy of blood and soil has been strained to produce too much from the land in order to satisfy industrial and military plans. These are alone among the white peoples as a whole, although President Roosevelt seems to have had glimpses of this truth.
The Writing on the 'Wall The writing on the wall is there; we are being weighed in the balance and found wanting—in ruralisation.
The writing is scrawled in erosion across the world. At present the writing goes almost unheeded, so we must return to history for proof of our present follies.
Only in rare and fortunate cases does the jungle triumph and dr., vines choke the city walls while monkeys' chatter in the roofless courts of kings. Mostly the sand and the silence drift across the crumbled splendour of man's too careless endeavours. For sand is the answer to human folly.
In the reasons which caused the ruins of Gobi and Sahara and the buried cities of Arabia we have more to learn for human survival than in all the chemistry, plumbing and germ theories of to-days The desert has succeeded to the cities of the past because, being cities, they bred a race which forgot the soil on which it fed.'
To-day there are well schooled but poorly educated children in English industrial areas who cannot believe that milk comes from the cow, and not the tin.
These children had their counterpart in Rome and Nineveh.
Background of Human Wisdom The background of human wisdom is the ever-present consciousnes that that soil nourishes the plant, the plant the animal, and plant and animal the human being. Thus the city is built from the produce of the soil. When there are too many in the city for the soil, the soil and the city perish together, as a rabbit warren is eaten bare and then poisoned by the rabbits. As soon as the soil is made the servant of the city, and not the master partner in civilisation, the desert begins. Even useless wars and gigantic wastes like the burning of forests only serve to underline men's madness in forgetting their own source of life ; Quem Deus vats perdere dementat
Man, in so far as he is an animal is bound to the soil, however heaven-born he thinks himself. When he enters the city he cuts himself off from one side of his own cosmic nature, and even his fertility fails so that he has to be constantly renewed from the country stock. But the longer he remains urban-bred the more his nature is divorced from the background of human wisdom. As he develops the habits of the parasite, be he lawyer or money-changer, scribe or broker, he is fastened ever more heavily on the servant of the soil, who sinks beneath the weight.
Exhaustion—then Desert The peasant thus exploited either moves to the city to become a parasite's source of livelihood. First, the soil is exhausted of its human stock and then of its own life-giving qualities. For many years the human exhaustion can go on, but once the exhaustion of the soil's own stores of fertility sets in, the soil gives way to desert.
The fate of the Roman Empire should he our lesson. It is so curiously paralleled to-day.
A hardy peasant stock conquers a fertile peninsula. It is stock full of the sturdy characteristics of those who live for the soil. War kills off some of the best of that stock. War also brings opportunities to the rialtosl parasites, who congregate in the city while the battle rages outside. Already the seeds of decay are sown. Being a peninsula the sea is a natural highway leading to Empire, and above all, to trade. Trade leads to usury, and usury is to demand that money grows at the expense of living growth.
Peasant Displaced Trade means more urban population and successful war means an abundance of slaves. The slaves lower the market value of the free peasant's hard-won fruits of his labour.
The peasant is displaced, drifting workless to the town. The latifundia, the large-scaled slave-worked farm, is made possible by the huge fortunes annexed through war or trade.
The city population grows as the material wealth grows; conquests of corn-growing land in Africa and elsewhere are exploited by money-lenders to bring food to the city's workless, who must have bread and circuses, for if they are not drugged by uncreative amusement they are just as likely to turn against their Emperors as if they are not fed. The latifundia in Italy must be worked harder and harder to compete with the grain ships.
All that is best in the old Empire goes to the hedges where there is still man's work to be done, and the shame of corruption at the heart is deadened by distance.
Food and amusements are imported and the best go out to the perimeters to prop up a worm-eaten Empire. Throughout the corruption gets worse becau§e of the foreign custom and foreign purvOors of vices and titillating innovations which pour in to keep the new cross-bred parasites in idleness.
The Barbarian sweeps over the old barriers and the Dark Ages succeed. But it is not the Barbarian that has broken Rome, it is the neglect of the soil and its servants. The once fertile granary of Africa from Volubilis to Cyrenaica is a desert, and Italy is stripped bare.
Lesson for Us Transpose this lesson to our own times: for Latifundia and slaves read " international capitalism and mass-production," for Africa read " the dust bowl of America," for bread and circuses read " the dole, Hollywood and the gutter press." The parallel in the waste of land and degradation of a fine yeoman stock is complete.
We know the fate of Rome: the shadows are closing over us also. Let us examine how near in England and in most of Europe and America we are by this analogy to the end of the Roman Empire.
It is essential that we summon up rowage to face the truth and breadth of imagination to understand its implications. Anyone who travelled in this country with an observing eye could see how much the land of England was going back in 1939. Thorns, ragwort, weeds of all sorts and rabbits had taken the place of much of
what was once fair arable land. England's
• land was neglected. but it is still full of possibilities. England, being the first industrialised-country, is only further advanced in neglect of peasant life than most of her neighbours.
The Town Drift
As the Roman Empire, so with ourselves: capitalism began first with the displacement of the yeoman cultivator, causing large amalgamations and enclosures of land. These in turn made the dispossessed yeoman stock too often the farm labourer. The farm labourer himself for long kept the spirit of gond cultivation up, as did the tenant farmer and the landlord.
However, as the Industrial Revolution 'proceeded, the claims of the town upon the country grew ever more greedily and the rewards and opportunities in the town became proportionately greater than in the country, with the result that there was a vast drift from country to town.
This was accentuated still more by the displacement of cottage industries where a rural family-not only kept together in the ancient way, but supplemented the income from the land with the money to be gained from such things as handloom weaving, glove and basket making, and a host of ancillary crafts.
This meant that when times were bad, there were always other strings to the bow. But it meant far more than that. It meant that all the workers in the family, men. women and children, whether working on the soil or not, were bound in the interest of the soil and an understanding of it.
When the workers' crafts were displaced by machinery and moved into large factories. not only did the family which stayed on the land lose one side of its livelihood, but the men and women who were drawn into the towns, and ceased to have the vital connection with the soil, which is so necessary for the health and understanding of the nation.
The Land of Promise Thus, ever since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a drift from the land. At the same time, many enterprising spirits went to the New World to find space and opportunity.
Looked at from the broader point of view, had there been a true development and conservation of the soil in the New World, the harm would have been limited to the morale and health of Great Britain. But the parallel with the Roman Empire tits in most curiously. The New World became essentially the land of promise for the extreme individualist and the happy bunting-ground of the exploiter.
In the beginning the virgin fertility of the prairies was used to feed the urban population of our islands, and as land seemed limitless, little thought was given to its nature.
Our land, where there is neither extremes of heat and cold, storm or sun, can stand the plough far better than most countries of the world. Had the plough been used only as carefully as it was in England, there would still have been great erosion, but such was not the case. It Was used recklessly because cereal crops were the one thirt,g which could he exported, and from which easy money in the beginning could be gained.
Not Only the Plough
Later, it was not only the plough which did the harm, for as soon as the transport of beef began and the urban populations congregated in the East of North America. the market for cattle seemed assured. Thus began the overgrazing of the land that was not ploughed. This. too, caused erosion nearly as serious as the plough itself.
As Europe became more and more urbanised, and as the financial capitalists gained more and more control through massproduction, so land sank into insignificance for its true value, which was agricultural.
West of the Vistula, the rural tradition became more and more forgotten. East of it there had always been something of a Nomad tradition, begotten of the Steppe geology and Nomad blood,
The Trade Evils Then came the third stage of degradation. Mass-production and swift transport meant an ever-increasing volume of exchange, and even the capitalist producer, whether or manufactured or of agricultural produce came to be subordinated to the broker and the trader. The system of loan and credit made London the financial capital of the
world, with smaller capitals throughout Europe and America.
It is this financial domination thrit has finally wrought the ruin of the soil, since it has concentrated upon exchange and not production. This has led to unemployment which varies in peace among the white people at a figure between twenty and thirty millions. Hence, bread and circuses, the yellow press of America, the gutter press of England and Hollywood, to stupefy the people into acceptance.
Malthus' Populgtion Problems
Malthus wrote a hundred years ago on the population problem, foreseeing that the continued increase of population in the proportion of births over deaths would eventually lead to famine by world overcrowding.
Since then the Malthusian theory has been in a perpetual state of alternate abdication and re-enthronement as births or deaths rose and fell, and as the financial system created unemployment or new commercial appetites, while the birth controllers clinicised in the sentimental and inhuman void which we call modern progress.
But Malthus, his disciples and enemies have never looked at the root cause of births and deaths, nor the reasons for famine. The causes of famine are bringing Malthus once more into the foreground of the prophets. But it is not the birth-rate which is doing this, although a lowered death-rate is affecting it.
It is not man's multiplication but the greed of his kind which is making famine. We hear of wind erosion, and rain erosion, but the ultimate erodes is the usury or the greed of the momad-minded.
Lack of Contact with Reality
This in turn comes mainly from the town which are both usurious and nomadminded in the essential lack of contact with
reality of cultivation. The townsman regards the soil as his inconsiderable servant not as his revered master. The master minds among the townsmen look on the products of the soil as wheat futures, or wool and tea shipments. affecting not the
earth or the human belly but the brokers' business and the shippers' profits.
Nowhere in the world is the urban mind more clearly demonstrated than in the U.S.A. where the good earth is called " dirt," and where by way of corollary the greatest soil-destruction in modern history has taken place.
These Places Retrogress Now the world over the farmer is called " a producer "; he is no longer the husbandman married to the soil in a fertile partnership. His is the agricultural " industry," not the way of life by which civilisation exists.
So we see an area in the United States three times the size of Great Britain turned into desert, and an area three times the size of that turned into partial desert.
We see Canada, except where the FrenchCanadians are doing mixed peasant farming, beginning in ever-increasing rapidity to suffer the same fate.
Australian agriculture, owing to the country's original desiccation and consequent low rainfall, is suffering relatively from exploitation and " soil mining " far more than is the 'U.S.A.'s. New Zealand has had bed erosion problems,
Deserts Eat Outwards
South Africa, and indeed almost the whole save Libya, is going backwards because of the white man's methods in one way or another. There is no space here to go into details, but the Sahara grows and the deserts elsewhere are eating outwards.
Increase of the natives cattle through lack of war and disease is as dangerous as the reckless use of the plough in a country where wind, tropical rain and intense heat all conspire to rob the soil of its surface. The whole of South Africa and East Africa's relationship between black and white will have to be altered, not for political education or sentiment, but in response to the demands from the soil itself. The nature of the soil must determine man's relationship to plants and animal, and that in turn makes up his politics.
Asia, like Africa, is a dried out land mass as a whole, with intense differences of heat and cold. Already the inland seas are drying up, and there are the deserts of Gobi and the great plateaux.
Russians Misuse the Land
The Russians arc misusing the land as did the Americans with huge machinery and vast fields. Although they are students of erosion it is doubtful if their action can be more than a pious and ineffective gesture. They are students of erosion because in Russia it has long been a patent problem.
Arabia is a desert, Iran is desiccated, and Iraq is a series of ancient monuments to civilisations that have vanished because they neglected the sources of life in the earth. Erosion runs through the Near East; for this is the home of the nomads whose attitude to life has tainted all the West.
In India we have added nearly 200,000,000 to the population in 150 years. While we have irrigated the desert we have invited the famine. Her ancient soil cannot feed the people except as in a living death, and we know now that the modern methods of agriculture too oftenmean production that
lasts for a generation only and then are selfconsumed.
China, which holds the world's largest race of true husbandmen, is being harried to destruction by war and banditry. Erosion there is claiming more soil in one rivet's outflow than goes into the sea from all North America. So scant is the fuel in China that the peasants tear the shrub roots from the hillside. And so her population is spilling over the Pacific as the Hindu is spilling over Eastern Africa.
Japan alone has Sought the battle of conserving her soil, but her population is exploding over Asia. Europe cannot feed herself and her soil is deteriorating while she wastes lands for roads, cities and aerodromes, and her precious water table is lowered for the urban amenities and industry.
'World Shortage of Cereals
In 1937 there was very nearly a world shortage of cereals, and indeed the U.S.A.
was an importer of foodstuffs. In 1939, because of exceptional' harvests there was, according to The Times, double the world's wheat requirements in existence. This harvest is a lucky accident, as the lean one of previous years was a lucky warning of our fate, for the refugees from the world's new man-made deserts are more than any which come from the Jews in Germany.
But if we pause for a second and think back to 1939 of the starving Chinese coolie or the masses of India who walk as skeletons, if we think of the food queues in Russia, of the thirty odd million workless in the West, of the millions under-nourished for want of milk and fats and vitamins, that surplus is a deficit even to-day, The little pot-bellied gods of modern economy call it a problem of over-production. The finger of God is writing on the wall.
Weighing-up the White Man
The white man is being weighed in 'the balance. The yellow races, who have guarded their land and kept green the wisdom of their ancestors, have taken the weapons of war and industry from the West. They are watching with patient, jealous eyes the civil war of Europe. England versus Germany, Bolshevism versus international regeneration, or whatever final form the struggle assumes. Then they will step into the heritage we have wasted.
If it is not done by war they will await the famine that will weaken us beyond resistence. The golden hordes in the past destroyed' man and crop alike. The golden horde of the future will avenge the "soil by the destruction of the white mankind, for they will unite to till and to repair the soil of the new world of which we have so far been unworthy.
There is time for the whites if they will forget their ideologies arid usuries, and remember that man's humanity to man lies in trusteeship of the earth, without whose fruits the people perish.
The ancient comity of Christendom is broken, but the best remnants in Europe are still guardian of a noble way of life. Unity cannot be achieved by constitution-making, but common purpose and the spiritual consciousness, that the dignity and integrity of the family rests on the soil. It must be part of her common aim to guard and to preserve it for the redemption of her many peoples.
(Next week : Craftsmanship for the Salvation of the Land. By C. Henry Warren).