The Western Socialist
Vol. 37 - No. 277
No. 5, 1970
The vista opened up by the patient research of the archaeologists, the ethnologists and the biologists in the attempt to unravel the unwritten history of man is one in which the most exuberant fancy can revel endlessly. Gradually there has been unfolded to us picture after picture until we can see, far in the past, beyond even the earliest traditions, man first emerging from the forest gloom of primeval days, low of brow, long of arm, short-legged, huge muscled, grim of aspect, the direct forebear of the race, yet lacking all vestige of aught we are accustomed to associate with humanity; dwelling as the beasts of the forests, wandering through the day in search of food, grubbing for roots, climbing for fruits and nuts, crouching at night in a cave or on the limb of a tree; mating as the beasts; a beast in all things, naked and unashamed, where do we find him in any of that human nature we speak of so glibly? Where any concept of good or evil, of decency, of morality, of faith, hope and charity? Where the habits and customs, where the laws human and "divine"? Where the soul which has been the source of so much anxiety to his posterity? As says our Haji:
What reck'd he, say, of good or ill,
Who in the hill-hole made his lair„
The blood-fed rav'ning beast of prey,
Wilder than wildest wolf or bear?
How long in man's pre-Adamite days
To feed and swill, to sleep and breed,
Were the brute-biped's only life,
A perfect life sans code and creed?
Yet, this is man, blood of our blood and bone of our bone. Our relationship to him is undeniable and its closeness a mere matter of a few hundred thousand years. A long time? Not it! A mere turn of the glass as compared to the ages between that ancestor of ours and his far-away forebear — the slimy, formless amoeba. That man urged on by the same mute, irresistible forces that have brought him to the threshold of manhood, passes over that threshold and generation by generation approaches us today, just as we are pressed onward to the morrow we know not. At the stern mandate of necessity he adapts himself to new conditions, devises new means of getting a livelihood, creates new tools and weapons; and ever improves on them.
Yet, as the long ages rolled he learned
From beaver, ape and ant to build
Shelter for sire and dam and brood,
From blast and blaze that hurt and killed.
Age by age we can trace the march of our forefathers toward us, ever as they came profiting painfully and slowly by the accumulated experience of past generations; growing greater in brain and in knowledge, less brutish in body, ever impelled by the necessity of obtaining a better hold upon the means of life, improving their dwellings, their boats, their clothing, their tools and weapons, discarding the rough stone weapon for the polished, that for flint, thence to copper, to bronze, to iron, free, wandering, warring, hunting, lawless, propertyless, ignorant, "savages" living thus for nigh three hundred thousand years before the first dawn of barbarism, even then finding a new source of food supply in the cultivation of the soil, swinging open the gates of Eden and passing out on the way that led to labor and slavery; to progress and to civilization.
This ancient forebear of ours, the child of the man-ape, the scientists call "Homo-Stupidus," stupid man. Us they call "Homo Sapiens, wise man, Oh, fond conceit! Wise man. We who revere the antiquity of a civilization barely ten thousand years old, and that with lapses; who invest with a halo of heaven-born sanctity, a mushroom system of property of little better than a century's growth; who bow before altars of eternal deities discovered but yesterday; who crystallize our miserable modern characteristics as "human nature"—as it was in the beginning and always shall be; who elevate to the ludicrous dignity of divine law an upstart moral code, coeval* shop-keeping; who conceitedly plume ourselves upon the possession of a higher ethical sense than our rude forebears, and daily and habitually stoop to practices which the most untutored savages would abhor; who lie, and cheat, and thieve, and prey upon one another; who rob, ravish and oppress the weak and cringe before the strong, who pander to lust and prostitute for a pittance; who traffic, traffic, traffic in all things—in manly "honor," in womanly "virtue," in childish defenselessness, in the flesh and blood of kith and kin, in the holiest of holies or in the abomination of abominations; and who crown our achievements by pouring over the festering heap of our inequities the leprous fetid slime of hypocrisy.
Wise man, wonderful creature, hub of the universe, for whose use all things, the quick and the dead, were especially created; the stars and the planets, the sun by day and the moon by night to light him; the earth, the seasons, the wind, the rain, the waters, the lightning, the metals, the mountains, the plains, the valleys, the forests, the fruits, the beasts, the fishes, the birds, the bees, the flies, the fleas and the corned beef and cabbage.
D. G. McKENZIE, S.P.C.
(Reprinted from the Western Clarion, April 11, 1911)
* Editor's note: Inferring a typographical error, "co-evil" in The Western Socialist has been changed here to "coeval", which to the Editor makes more sense. At this time the original is not available to the Editor.