Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays.

A collection of 17 essays, first published in 1928 by George Allen and Unwin.

Chapter XVII Some Prospects: Cheerful and Otherwise

This is the final chapter of Sceptical Essays, first published in the Jewish Daily Forward as The Future in parts, starting 26th June, 1927 (according to McMasters University website on Russell).
[ ]

I posted this as evidence that race replacement was an issue for whites well before the Jewish post-1945 era. It may cast some light on the existence or otherwise of an article, speech, or book by Israel Cohen, A Racial Programme for the Twentieth Century (English spelling would presumably apply. Cohen's books and speeches etc, or some of them, are listed in the online British Library catalogue.) Similar controversy surrounds a speech in Hungary by Emanuel Rabinovitch in Hungary, 1952.

Russell's 1927 essay (published in parts in 1928) mentions the possibility that European whites might be exterminated—I have emboldened two passages—and he may have been influenced by Coudenhove-Kalergi, half-Japanese, who received a huge sum from 'Jews' in 1924 to publicise his mixed-race ideas.

Note that Russell appeared to be entirely Jew-unaware: he had no idea of intentional malignity, as is very noticeable in genuine Jewish writing. For example, the idea that blacks would be imported, paid, housed, and encouraged in crime is completely absent. Another example is Jewish money: his comment on Jane Austen and the Napoleonic Wars, as evidence of indifference, seems to show he had no idea of the effects of Rothschild coup after Waterloo. And he had no inkling that 'Communism' was Jewish—either that, or he deliberately suppressed the idea. His comment on teachers being sacked for teaching about 'communism' reads today as a hollow joke in Jew-dominated countries.

He believed elites were mostly motivated by profit, but didn't seem to understand that consumer power presumably may not continue to exist. He had no experience with different races from whites.

Russell also took, probably from Plato, vague anti-family ideas, though he had no overview: he might have included Janissaries, kidnappings of adolescent boys, and kidnappings of girls as in the Sabine women, press-gangs, Arab slavers castrating blacks, the British ruling classes sending their children to boarding schools, and so on.


THERE are two ways of writing about the future, the scientific and the Utopian. The scientific way tries to discover what is probable; the Utopian way sets out what the writer would like. In a well-developed science such as astronomy no one would adopt the Utopian method: people do not prophesy eclipses because it would be pleasant if they took place. But in social affairs those who profess to have discovered general laws enabling them to foretell future developments are usually not so scientific as they pretend to be; there must be a great deal of guesswork in any attempt to say what is going to happen to human institutions. We do not know, for instance, what difference may be made by new discoveries. Perhaps people will find out how to go to Mars or Venus. Perhaps almost all our food will be manufactured in chemical laboratories instead of being grown in the fields. To such possibilities there is no end. I shall ignore them, and consider only tendencies which are already well developed. And I shall also assume that our civilization will continue, although this is by no means certain. It may be destroyed by wars, or by a gradual decay such as occurred in the later Roman Empire. But if it survives, it is likely to have certain characteristics, and it is these that I shall be attempting to discover.

In addition to the introduction of machinery, and largely as a result of it, there has been another change: society has become far more organized than it was formerly. Printing, railways, the telegraph, and (now) broadcasting have provided the technical means for large organizations such as a modern State or an international financial business. Public affairs play almost no part in the life of an Indian or Chinese peasant, whereas in England they are a matter of interest to almost every one even in the remotest country districts. This was not the case until recently; one would gather from Jane Austen that the country gentry of her time hardly noticed the Napoleonic wars. I should put as the most important change in modern times the tendency towards closer social organization.

Connected with this is another result of science, namely, the greater unity of the world. Before the sixteenth century, America and the Far East were almost unrelated to Europe; since that time their relations have become continually closer. Augustus in Rome and the Han Emperor in China simultaneously imagined themselves masters of the whole civilized world; nowadays such pleasing illusions are impossible. Practically every part of the world has relations to practically every other part, which may be either friendly or hostile, but are in either case important. The Dalai Llama, after centuries of isolation, found himself courted by both Russians and British; he took refuge from their embarrassing attentions in Peking, where all his suite arrived duly armed with kodaks from America.

From these two premises, of closer social organization and greater unity in the world, it follows that, if our civilization is to develop, there will have to be a central authority to control the whole world. For, if not, causes of dispute will multiply and wars will become more intense owing to the growth of public spirit. The central authority may not be a formal government; I think it likely that it will not be. It is far more likely to be a combination of financiers, who have become persuaded that peace is to their interest because money lent to belligerent States is often lost. Or it may be a single dominant State (America), or a group of States (America and the British Empire). But before such a condition is reached, there may be a long period in which the world is virtually divided between America and Russia, the former controlling Western Europe and the self-governing Dominions, the latter controlling all Asia. Two such groups would be strong for defence and weak for attack, so that they might subsist for a century or more. Ultimately, however—I mean at latest some time during the twenty-first century—there must be either a cataclysm or a central authority controlling the whole world. I shall assume that civilized mankind will have enough sense, or that America will have enough power, to prevent a cataclysm involving a return to barbarism. If so, what powers must the central authority possess?

First and foremost, it must be able to decide questions of peace and war, or to ensure that if there is war the side which it favours wins a speedy victory. This end may be secured by financial supremacy alone, without formal political control. As war becomes more scientific it becomes more expensive, so that the leading financiers of the world, if they combined, could decide the issue by giving or withholding loans. And by the sort of pressure which has been brought to bear upon Germany since the Treaty of Versailles they could secure the virtual disarmament of any group that they dislike. In this way they would gradually come to control all the large armed forces of the world. This is the fundamental condition for the other activities which they would have to undertake.

In addition to revising treaties and intervening in disputes, there are three matters which would have to be decided by the central authority. They are (I) the allocation of territory to the different national States, (2) movements of population across the boundaries of national States, and (3) the rationing of raw materials as between different claimants. Each of these demands a few words.

Questions of territorial allegiance are treated at present with an absurd solemnity which has grown out of the old personal allegiance to a sovereign. If a person in one State gives expression to the opinion that the district in which he lives ought to belong to another State he is guilty of treason, and liable to severe punishment. And yet, in itself, his opinion is as much a legitimate matter of political debate as any other. We do not feel any horror of a citizen of (say) Croydon who holds that Croydon ought to count as part of London. But a citizen of Colombia who holds that his village should belong to Venezuela is regarded by his Government as a monster of iniquity. The central authority will have to prevent the national governments from acting upon such prejudices, and will have to treat territorial readjustments rationally, i.e. mainly by the wishes of the local population, but also in part by economic and cultural considerations.

(2) Movements of population are likely to raise increasingly difficult problems as years go by. It is natural for population to flow from places where wages are low to those where they are high. This is now permitted within a single country, but not throughout a super-national federation such as the British Empire. Asiatic immigration is almost totally prohibited in America and the self-governing Dominions, and European immigration into America is becoming more and more restricted. The forces on both sides in this matter are immensely powerful. They afford a stimulus to Asiatic militarism, and may ultimately cause it to become so strong that it can challenge the white race—say during the next great war between white nations.

Ultimately, if war on a large scale has been eliminated and public health has been immensely improved by medicine and hygiene, it will become essential to the preservation of peace and well-being that the backward nations shall limit the increase of population, as the more civilized nations are already doing. Those who in principle oppose birth control are either incapable of arithmetic or else in 164 favour of war, pestilence, and famine as permanent features of human life. One may assume that the international authority will insist upon freedom to limit births among backward races and classes, and will not, as governments do now, insist that only the intelligent shall have small families.

(3) The last matter, the rationing of raw material, is perhaps the most important of all. Wars are likely to be very largely concerned with raw material; it is notorious what a large part oil, coal, and iron have played in post-war disputes. I am not assuming that raw materials will be rationed justly, but merely that they will be rationed in some way by an authority having irresistible force at its command. I believe that the problem of organizing the world as a single economic and political unit will have to be solved before questions of justice can be tackled successfully. I am an international socialist, but I expect to see internationalism realized sooner than Socialism.


Assuming that within the next one hundred and fifty years a central authority is developed, strong enough to reduce all wars to the level of sporadic revolts quickly suppressed, what kind of economic changes are likely to be associated with this development? Will the general level of well-being be increased? Will competition survive, or will production be monopolistic? In the latter case, will the monopolies be in private hands or in those of the State? And will the products of labour be distributed with less injustice than at present?

There are here two different kinds of questions: one is concerned with the forms of economic organization, the other with the principles of distribution. The latter will depend upon political power: every class and every nation always secures as great a share of wealth as it can, and it is ultimately armed force that decides how large this share shall be. Let us first discuss organization, and leave distribution alone for the moment.

A study of history reveals a somewhat humiliating fact about organization. Whenever an increase in the size of organizations has been desirable in the interests of those concerned, it has had to be brought about (with negligible exceptions) by means of force on the part of the stronger. Where voluntary federation was the only available method no unity has been achieved. It was so with ancient Greece in the face of Macedonia, with sixteenth-century Italy in the face of France and Spain, with present-day Europe in the face of America and Asia. I assume, therefore, that the central authority 165 will be brought into being by force, or the threat of force, not by a voluntary organization such as the League of Nations, which will never be strong enough to coerce recalcitrant Great Powers. I think, also, that the power of the central authority will be primarily economic, and will rest upon possession of raw materials combined with control of financial credit. I conceive of it as consisting, in the beginning, of a group of financiers backed, informally, by one or more great States.

It follows that at the basis of the economic structure there will be monopoly. All the oil supply of the world, for example, will be centrally controlled. It follows that aeroplanes and oil-driven warships will be useless to Powers which conflict with the central authority, unless they can be used to capture an oil-field by a brief raid. The same will apply to other things in less obvious ways. Already at the present day a large proportion of the world's meat supply is controlled by the Big Five in Chicago, who are themselves to some extent controlled by Messrs. J. P. Morgan & Co. From the raw material to the finished commodity there is a long road to travel, and monopoly may intervene at any stage. In the case of oil the natural stage is at the beginning. In other cases, it may be harbours or ships or railways that give the monopolist his opportunity to control. But wherever he intervenes, he is stronger than any of the other parties concerned.

Given monopoly at one stage of a process there will be a tendency to extend the monopoly to earlier and later stages. The growth of economic monopoly is part of the general tendency to increase of organization, which is shown politically in the greater power and size of States. We may therefore confidently expect a continuation of the process of eliminating competition which has been going on throughout the last half-century. It is of course to be assumed that trade unions will continue to diminish competition among wage-earners. The view that while employers are organized wage-earners should be prevented by law from counter-organizing is not one which it will be found long possible to maintain.

Secure peace and adequate control of production ought to lead to a great increase of material comfort, provided it is not all swallowed up by an increase of population. Whether the world, at that stage, is capitalistic or socialistic, we may expect an improvement in the economic position of all classes. But this brings us to our second question, that of distribution.

Assuming a dominant group associated with a dominant nation (or several dominant nations in alliance), it is of course obvious that the dominant group will secure great wealth to itself, and will produce contentment in the population of the dominant nation by conceding to its wage-earners a progressive increase in their earnings. This has been happening in the United States, as it formerly happened in England. So long as there is a rapid increase in the total health of a nation it is easy for capitalists to prevent successful socialist propaganda by timely monetary control. And the less fortunate nations can be kept subdued by a system of imperialistic control.

But such a system will probably develop in the direction of democracy, i.e. of Socialism—for Socialism is merely economic democracy in a community which has reached the stage of monoploy [sic] in many industries. One may take the political development of England as a parallel. England was unified by the King—a process practically completed by Henry VII after the anarchy of the Wars of the Roses. The royal power was necessary to produce unity, but when unity had been achieved the movement towards democracy began almost at once, and it was found, after the troubles of the seventeenth century, that democracy was compatible with public order. We are now, in the economic sphere, just about at the transition from the Wars of the Roses to Henry VII. When once economic unity, however despotic, has been achieved, the movement towards economic democracy will be immensely strengthened, since it will no longer have to contend with the fear of anarchy. Minorities can only retain power if they have considerable support in public opinion, since they must be loyally served by their armies and navies and civil servants. Situations will continually arise in which the holders of economic power will find it prudent to make concessions in the control of affairs they will have to associate with themselves representatives of the less fortunate nations and classes, and this process will probably continue until a completely democratic rĂ©gime has been established.

Since we have been assuming a central authority which controls the whole world, democracy in regard to this authority would be international democracy, embracing not only the white races, but also the races of Asia and Africa. Asia is developing at present with such extraordinary rapidity that it may well be capable of taking a worthy part in the government of the world by the time such a government comes into existence. Africa is a more difficult problem. But even in Africa the French (who are in this respect our superiors) are achieving remarkable results, and no one can foretell what may be accomplished within the next hundred years. I conclude, therefore, that a system of world-wide Socialism, involving economic justice to all nations and classes, may well become possible not long after the establishment of a central authority. And, if so, the natural operation of political forces is pretty sure to bring it about.

There are, however, other possibilities, which might lead to a perpetuation of caste distinctions. Wherever white men and negroes live side by side, as in South Africa and the Southern States of America, it has been found possible to combine democracy for white men with a semi-servile condition for the coloured population. What stands in the way of this development on a large scale is the objection by Labour to coloured immigration in most parts of the English-speaking world. Nevertheless, it remains a possibility to be borne in mind. I shall have something more to say about it later.


What is likely to be the development of the family during the next two centuries? We cannot tell, but we can note certain forces are work which are likely, if unchecked, to have certain results. I wish to state, at the outset, that I am not concerned with what I desire, but with what I expect, which is a very different thing. The world has never in the past developed just as I should have wished, and I see no reason to think that it will do so in future.

There are certain things in modern civilized communities which are tending to weaken the family; the chief of them is humanitarian sentiment towards children. More and more, people come to feel that children should not suffer more than can be helped through their parents' misfortunes or even sins. In the Bible the lot of the orphan is always spoken of as very sad, and so no doubt it was; nowadays he suffers little more than other children. There will be a growing tendency for the State or charitable institutions to give fairly adequate care to neglected children, and consequently children will be more and more neglected by unconscientious parents or guardians. Gradually the expense of caring for neglected children out of public funds will become so great that there will be a very strong inducement for all who are not well off to avail themselves of the opportunities for giving their children over to the State; probably this will be done, in the end, as now with schooling, by practically all who are below a certain economic level.

The effects of such a change would be very far-reaching. With parental responsibility removed, marriage would no longer be felt important, and would gradually cease among those classes which left their children to the State. In civilized countries, the number 168 of children produced under these conditions would probably be very small, and the State would have to fix a payment to mothers at a scale found adequate to produce the number of citizens which it considered desirable. All this is not so very remote; it might easily happen in England before the end of the twentieth century.

If all this happens while the capitalist system and the international anarchy are still in force, the results are likely to be terrible. To begin with, there will be profound division between the proletarians, who will virtually have neither parents nor children, and the well-to-do, who will preserve the family system with inheritance of property. The proletarians, being educated by the State, will be imbued, like the Janissaries in old Turkey, with a passionate militaristic loyalty. The women will be taught that it is their duty to have many children, both to keep down the tariff of State payments for children and to increase the supply of soldiers for killing the population of other countries. With no parental propaganda to counteract that of the State, there will be no limit to the anti-foreign ferocity with which children can be imbued, so that when they grow up they will fight blindly for their masters. Men whose opinions the Government dislikes will be punished by having their children confiscated to the State institutions.

It is thus quite possible that through the joint operation of patriotism and humanitarian feeling for children we may be led, step by step, to the creation of a society profoundly divided into two different castes, the upper retaining marriage and family loyalties, the lower feeling loyalty only to the State. For military reasons the State will secure, by payment, a high birth-rate among the proletarians; hygiene and medicine will secure a low death-rare. War will therefore be the only way of keeping the population of the world within limits, except starvation, which nations will try to avert by fighting. In these circumstances we may expect an era of internecine wars, comparable only to the invasions of Huns and Mongols in the Middle Ages. The only hope will lie in the speedy victory of some one nation or group of nations.

The results of State care of children will be almost diametrically opposite to the above if a world-wide authority has been previously established. In that case the central authority will not permit the children to be taught a militaristic patriotism, and will not permit the various national States to pay for an increase of population beyond what is economically desirable. The children brought up in State institutions will, if the pressure of militaristic necessities is removed, almost certainly be better developed both physically and 169 mentally than the average child is now, and a very rapid progress will therefore become possible.

But even if a central authority exists the effects will be profoundly different if the world remains capitalistic from what they will be if it has adopted Socialism. In the former alternative there will be that division of castes which we spoke of a moment ago, the upper caste retaining the family, the lower substituting the State for the parents. And there will still be need to produce submissiveness in the lower caste, lest it should rebel against the rich. This will involve a low level of culture, and will perhaps lead the rich to encourage breeding among black rather than white or yellow proletarians. The white race may thus gradually become a numerically small aristocracy, and be finally exterminated by a negro insurrection.

All this may be thought fantastic, in view of the fact that most white nations possess political democracy. I observe, however, that the democracy everywhere permits the school teaching to be such as furthers the interests of the rich; school teachers are dismissed for being communists, but never for being conservatives. I see no reason to suppose that this will change in the near future. And I think, for such reasons as I have been giving, that if our civilization continues much longer to pursue the interests of the rich, it is doomed. It is because I do not desire the collapse of civilization that I am a socialist.

If we have been right in what was said earlier, the family is likely to die out except in a privileged minority. Therefore if there ceases to be a privileged minority the family may be expected to die out almost completely. Biologically, this seems inevitable. The family is an institution which serves to protect children during their years of helplessness; with ants and bees the community undertakes this task, and there is no family. So, among men, if infant life comes to be safe apart from the protection of parents, family life will gradually disappear. This will make profound changes in men's emotional life, and a great divorce from the art and literature of all previous ages. It will diminish the differences between different people, since parents will no longer educate their children to reproduce their peculiarities. It will make sex love less interesting and romantic; probably all love-poetry will come to be thought absurd. The romantic elements in human nature will have to find other outlets, such as art, science, politics. (To Disraeli politics was a romantic adventure.) I cannot but think that there will be a real loss in the emotional texture of life; but every increase of safety involves some such loss. Steamers are less romantic than sailing-ships; tax-collectors than highwaymen. Perhaps, in the end, safety will become wearisome, 170 and men will become destructive from sheer boredom. But such possibilities are incalculable.

The tendency of culture in our time is, and will probably continue to be, towards science and away from art and literature. This is due, of course, to the immense practical utility of science. There is a powerful literary tradition, which comes to us from the Renaissance, and is backed by social prestige: a 'gentleman' should know some Latin, but need not know how a steam-engine is made. The survival of this tradition, however, tends only to make 'gentlemen' less useful than other men. I think we may assume that, before very long, no one will be considered educated unless he knows something of science.

This is all to the good, but what is regrettable is that science seems to be winning its victories at the expense of an impoverishment of our culture in other directions. Art becomes more and more an affair of coteries and a few rich patrons: it is not felt by ordinary men to be important, as it was when it was associated with religion and public life. The money that built St. Paul's might have been used to give our navy the victory over the Dutch, but in the time of Charles II St. Paul's was thought more important. The emotional needs that were formerly satisfied in aesthetically admirable ways are now finding more and more trivial outlets: the dancing and dance-music of our time have, as a rule, no artistic value, except in the Russian ballet, which is imported from a less modern civilization. I am afraid the decay of art is inevitable, and is connected with our more careful and utilitarian way of living as compared with our ancestors.

I imagine that a hundred years hence every fairly educated person will know a good deal of mathematics, a fair amount of biology, and a great deal about how to make machines. Education, except for the few, will become more and more what is called 'dynamic,' i.e. will teach people to do rather than to think or feel. They will perform all sorts of tasks with extraordinary skill, but will be incapable of considering rationally whether the tasks are worth performing, There will probably be an official caste of thinkers and another of feelers, the former a development of the Royal Society, the latter a federation of the Royal Academy and the Episcopate. The results obtained by the thinkers will be the property of the Government, and they will be revealed only to the War Office, Admiralty, or Air Ministry, as the case may be. Perhaps the Health Ministry will be included, if, in time, it becomes part of its duties to spread disease in enemy countries. The Official Feelers will decide what emotions are to be propagated in schools, theatres, churches, etc., though it will be the business of the Official Thinkers to discover how the desired emotions are to be caused. In view of the cussedness of school-children it will probably be thought desirable that the decisions of the Official Feelers also should be Government secrets. They will, however, be allowed to exhibit pictures or preach sermons which have already been sanctioned by the Board of Elder Censors.

The daily Press, presumably, will be killed by broadcasting. A certain number of weeklies may survive for the expression of minority opinions. But reading may come to be a rare practice, its place being taken by listening to the gramophone, or to whatever better invention takes its place. Similarly, writing will be replaced, in ordinary life, by the dictaphone.

If wars are eliminated and production is organized scientifically, it is probable that four hours' work a day will suffice to keep everybody in comfort. It will be an open question whether to work that amount and enjoy leisure, or to work more and enjoy luxuries; presumably some will choose one course, some the other. The hours of leisure will no doubt be spent by most people in dancing, watching football, and going to the movies. Children will be no anxiety, since the State will care for them; illness will be very rare: old age will be postponed by rejuvenation till a short time before death. It will be a hedonist's paradise, in which almost everyone will find life so tedious as to be scarcely endurable.

In such a world it is to be feared that destructive impulses would become irresistible. R. L. Stevenson's Suicide Club might flourish in it; secret societies devoted to artistic murder might grow up. Life in the past has been kept serious by danger, and interesting by being serious. Without danger, if human nature remained unchanged, life would lose its savour and men would resort to all kinds of decadent vices in the hope of a little excitement.

Is this dilemma inescapable? Are the more sombre aspects of life essential to what is best in it? I do not think so. If human nature were unchangeable, as ignorant people still suppose it to be, the situation would indeed be hopeless. But we now know, thanks to psychologists and physiologists, that what passes as 'human nature> is at most one-tenth nature, the other nine-tenths being nurture. What is called human nature can be almost completely changed by changes in early education. And these changes could be such as to preserve sufficient seriousness in life without the spice of danger if thought and energy were devoted to that end. Two things are necessary for this purpose: the development of constructive impulses in the young, and opportunities for their existence in adult life.

Hitherto, defence and attack have provided most of what is serious in life. We defend ourselves against poverty, our children against an indifferent world, our country against national enemies; we attack, verbally or physically, those whom we regard as hostile or dangerous. But there are other sources of emotions which are capable of being quite as powerful. The emotions of aesthetic creation or scientific discovery may be as intense and absorbing as the most passionate love. And love itself, though it may be grasping and oppressive, is also capable of being creative. Given the right education, a very large percentage of mankind could find happiness in constructive activities, provided the right kind were available.

And this brings us to our second requisite. There must be scope for constructive initiative, not only for useful work ordered by a superior authority. There must be no barrier to intellectual or artistic creation, nor to human relations of a constructive kind, nor to the suggestion of ways in which human life might be improved. If all this is the case, and education is of the right kind, there will still be room for serious and strenuous living on the part of all those who feel the need of it. In that case, but in that case only, a community organized so as to eliminate the major evils of life as we know it might be stable, because it would be satisfactory to its more energetic members.

This is, I must confess, the matter upon which I feel that our civilization is most likely to go wrong. There is need of much organization, and where there must be so much, there is almost sure to be more than there ought to be. The harm that this will do will be the diminution of opportunities for individual effort. Vast organizations produce a sense of impotence in the individual, leading to a decay of effort. The danger can be averted if it is realized by administrators, but it is of a kind which most administrators are constitutionally incapable of realizing. Into every tidy scheme for arranging the pattern of human life it is necessary to inject a certain dose of anarchism, enough to prevent immobility leading to decay, but not enough to bring about disruption. This is a delicate problem, not theoretically insoluble, but hardly likely to be solved in the rough-and-tumble of practical affairs.


Scanning from 1960s paperback and HTML, by Rae West. Upload 6 June 2015. Russell's comments on 'coloured populations': my embolding. The text is not my copyright, and I may presumably be asked to remove this, if it is considered too long for 'fair dealing'. My site is