1960s >> 1961 >> no-678-february-1961

50 Years Ago: Might is Right

Man has a right to live only — if he can. The mightiest beast and the meanest parasite have as much right to live—and as little. . . .

Yet nature is not cruel: she knows nothing of emotions. She leaves her children to fight things out for themselves, giving them one universal law: Might is Right. . . .

The revolutionary requires no other justification than that of expediency. No revolutionary in history ever really did. True they have paid much lip service to Justice and other figments of the popular mind, but that has been only because they have required the assistance of those who were to gain nothing from revolution, and who had therefore to be inspired with empty phrases and confused with humbug. But the highest sanction revolutionaries ever have required has been—opportunity.

The Socialist asks no more. Let who will grovel at the feet of Justice, or slobber over the “Natural Rights of Man”—the Socialist has no use for such meaningless vapourings. . . .

Against the might of the strong few shall be put the might of the many weak ones. Before that might capitalism and private ownership will go down for ever. Then, when society founded upon common property in the means of life, has become one harmonious whole, the brutal dictum, might is right, will hold good only between the social organism and external nature, while between man and man a new ethic will arise—or rather the old ethic of gentile society under a new form—that only the social good is right.

From the Socialist Standard, February, 1911.