by Kevin Alfred Strom
TODAY I am going to devote this program to the ideas of a man whose vision was the precursor and inspiration for Dr. William Pierce’s Cosmotheism — George Bernard Shaw.
Shaw (pictured), like many geniuses such as Ezra Pound, can sometimes appear confounding and contradictory. Shaw had his “GBS” persona and he did use satire, even laughing at his own positions through the characters in his plays at times. That’s the kind of thing you do when you have a 200 IQ — and, as Shaw quipped, when you are missing the phrenologists’ “bump of veneration.” With evident exasperation at the slow progress of human and social evolution, he endorsed any dictator in sight — “men who get things done” — as preferable to damnable democracy. He took public positions that were designedly shocking, and it’s easy to use the more extreme among these to attack him, as Crazy Glenn Beck and the other leaders of Conservakin have done.
But Shaw’s position on the primacy of the Life Force and improving the quality of human beings was a deeply serious one.
As a young man, he was an atheist. He later said he needed that stage in order to clear his mind of childish and obviously untrue myths. But in his mature years, Shaw openly espoused a religion — he playfully called it “Shawianity” — in which he posited that God is a work in progress: something yet to come, something that is even now evolving. He said that what he called the Life Force was trying to make man more and more godlike, and that this was the real meaning behind biological evolution.
We agree with Shaw that conscious upward evolution is the meaning of Life insofar as our limited minds are able to comprehend meaning at this stage of our development. Here are his words, from his varied speeches on religion, brought together for the first time and freely adapted by Daniel S. Forrest in his book Suprahumanism:
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WE MUST HAVE a religion if we are to do anything worth doing. If anything is to be done to get our civilization out of the horrible mess in which it now is, it must be done by men who have got a religion. People who have no religion are cowards and cads. If you allow people who are caddish and irreligious to become the governing force, the nation will be destroyed, and that is what is the matter with us.
What I mean by a religious person is one who conceives himself or herself to be the instrument of some purpose in the universe which is a high purpose, and is the native power of evolution — that is, of a continual ascent in organization and power and life, and extension of life. Any person who realizes that there is such a power, and that his business and joy in life is to do its work, and his pride and point of honour to identify himself with it, is religious, and the people who have not got that feeling are clearly irreligious, no matter what denomination they may belong to. We may give this feeling quite different names. One man may use religious terms and say that he is here to do the work of God. Another man, calling himself an atheist, may simply say that he has a sense of honour. But the two things are precisely the same. Any man of honour is a religious man. He holds that there are certain things he must not do and certain things he must do, quite irrespective of the effect upon his personal fortunes. Such a man you may call a religious man, or you may call him a gentleman.
We are gradually getting rid of our idols, and in the future we shall have to put before the people religions that are practical systems, which — on the whole — we can perceive to work out in practice, instead of resulting in flagrant contradictions as they do at present. People, however, go from one extreme to the other, and when they do so they are apt to throw out the good things with the bad ones. Hence, they make little progress. The old-fashioned atheist rebelled against the idea of an omnipotent being as God of cancer, epilepsy, and war — as well as of the good that happened. They were unable to believe that a God of love could allow such things. And so they seized avidly upon the idea of natural selection as put forward by Charles Darwin. Darwin was not the originator of the idea of evolution — which long pre-dated him — but it was he that made us familiar with the particular form of evolution known as natural selection. That idea was seized upon with a feeling of relief: relief that the old idea of God was banished from the world. This feeling of relief was so great that for a time the horrible void which had been created in the universe was overlooked. Natural selection left us in a world full of horrors which were accounted for, apparently, by the fact that it as a whole had come about by accident. However, if there is no purpose or design in the universe the sooner we all cut our throats the better, for it is not much of a place to live in.
Most of the natural selection men of the nineteenth century were brilliant — but they were cowards. We want to return to men with some belief in the purpose of the universe — with determination to identify themselves with it, and with the courage that comes from that. As for my own position, I am and always have been a mystic. I believe that the universe is driven by a force that we might call the life-force. I see it as performing the miracle of creation, and that it has entered the minds of men as what they call their will. Hence, we see people who clearly are carrying out a will not exclusively their own.
To attempt to represent this particular will or power as God — in the former meaning of the word — is now entirely hopeless; nobody can believe that. What you have to understand is that somehow or other there is, behind the universe a will, a life-force. You cannot think of it as a person, you must think of it as a great purpose, a great will. Furthermore, you must think of it as engaged in a continual struggle to produce something higher and higher.
You begin with the amoeba: Why did it split itself in two? It is not an intelligent thing for anybody to do. You cannot pretend there is any particular accident in that. You cannot see any case that natural selection makes. But somehow the amoeba does it. It finds that perhaps two are better than one. At any rate it does split itself in two, from which there is a continual pushing forward to a higher and higher organization. The differentiation of sex, the introduction of backbone, the invention of eyes, the invention of systems of digestion — there is a continual steady growth, an evolution of life. There are forces that may not be explained — and this particular force is ever organizing, organizing, organizing. Among other things it organizes the physical eye, in order that that mechanism can see dangers and avoid them; see food and go after it; see the cliff-edge and avoid falling over it. And not only does it evolve that particular eye: It also evolves what Shakespeare called the mind’s eye. We are not only striving in some particular way to take more and more power, to develop organs and limbs with which we may mould the universe to our liking: we are also continually striving to know, to become more conscious, to understand the meaning of all.
We must believe in the will to good; it is unthinkable to regard man as willing his own destruction. However, in the striving after good that will is liable to make mistakes, and to let loose something that is destructive. We may regard the typhoid bacillus as one of the failures of the life-force that we call God; however, that same life force is trying, through our brains, to discover a means of destroying that malign influence. If that conception is grasped, an answer to those people who ask for an explanation of the origin of evil becomes available. Evil things are made with the object of their doing good; but they turn out wrong, and therefore must be destroyed. This is the most important conception for the religion of the future — because it gives us what we are at present, as well as courage and self-respect. It is ours to work for something better, to talk less about the religion of love — love is an improper subject — and more about the religion of life, and of work: to create a world that shall know a happiness that need not be the happiness of drunkenness — a world of which we need not be ashamed. The world must consist of people who are happy and, at the same time, sober. At present the happiness of the world is as the happiness of drunken people. We resort to factitious aids to life. We try to fight off consciousness of ourselves because we do not see the consciousness of a mission and, finally, the consciousness of a magnificent destiny.
What is to be the end of it all? There need be no end. Since it has proceeded so far there is no reason why the process should ever stop. However, it must achieve on its infinite journey the production of some being, some person strong and wise, with a mind capable of comprehending the entire universe, and with powers capable of executing its entire will.
Perhaps there is no God as yet achieved; however, there is a force at work making God, struggling through us to become an actual organized existence, enjoying what to many of us is the greatest conceivable ecstasy — of a brain, an intelligence that is actually conscious of the whole, and with executive force capable of guiding it to a perfectly benevolent and harmonious destination.
That is what we are working to. When you are asked, “Where is God? Who is God?” stand up and say: “I am God. Here is God — not as yet completed, but ever advancing towards completion, in so much as I am working for the purpose of the universe, working for the good of the whole of society and the whole world, instead of merely pursuing my personal ends.”
We are all experiments in the direction of making God. What God is doing is making himself — from being a mere powerless will or force. This force has implanted into our minds the ideal of God. Thus far we are unsuccessful attempts at God. However, if we can drive into the heads of men the full consciousness of moral responsibility that comes with the knowledge that there never will be a God unless we make one — that we are the instruments through which that ideal is trying to make itself reality — we can work towards such an ideal until we get to be supermen, then super-supermen, then a world of organisms who have achieved and realized God.
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My thanks to Mr. Forrest, who weaved Shaw’s words together so poetically and perfectly from his various speeches on religion from 1906 to 1937.
It was Shaw’s vision that first captured the imagination of William Pierce, who furthered that vision by adding to it the essential element of race. For human beings do not evolve primarily by the Darwinian process being applied to individuals — as the Social Darwinists of Shaw’s time often maintained. Rather, it is groups that evolve: tribes, nations, races, varieties, subspecies. And races and subspecies are new species in the making.
European man, in a very short period of time in cosmic terms, has gone from being a stone-tool-making race — to an agricultural race that guides the evolution of other plant and animal species to serve his own will — to a race that has created machines that think and remember and calculate and have the power to destroy worlds if we will it.
The end result of this evolution, if end there be, can only be dreamt of. But I dare say that the power to create worlds, or even time and universes to come, is not out of the question.
And now we stand on the threshold of taking conscious control of our own evolution, something no known living being has ever conceived, much less done, before us. The steps we had taken toward that goal have been partially reversed by events since 1945. Now even the continued existence of European man is threatened — by the same forces that are thwarting our taking that next evolutionary step. But the religion of the future cannot be stopped. It is the goal toward which all the discoveries of science — and all the urgent demands of true morality, the morality of survival and evolution — are leading our best minds. Shaw inspired that vision. Pierce completed it. It falls to us, then, to make it the ruling idea of our society.
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