Might Is Right (book)

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For disambiguation, see Might Is Right
14 Word Press 1999 edition cover

Might Is Right or The Survival of the Fittest is a book by the pseudonymous author Ragnar Redbeard. It was first published in 1890 and has been reissued at least sixteen times since, with some editions featuring extra or fewer chapters and different chapter orders. In the book, Redbeard argues the philosophy that might is the deciding factor in all things and that victory is the only thing that can be considered right under the laws of nature. Might Is Right is both racialist and explicitly anti-Christian, claiming Christianity to be contrary to natural law and a detrimental foreign influence upon Aryans. It is also anti-feminist, and supports the traditional role of women as opposed to the modern notion of sexual equality. As well as its prose chapters, the book also features several poems on like themes.

Authorship

The author – or authors – of Might Is Right has not been determined. Jack London is often cited as either a possible sole author, or one of several possible contributors. Katja Lane, in her forward to the 1999 14 Word Press edition, states her belief that Might Is Right had "at least two distinct authors," one of which was London, who may have added his own addenda to the original, anonymous manuscript. She cites the similarity between Redbeard's and London's grammar and punctuation as a key reason, as well as the fact that some people claimed to have seen portions of the Might Is Right manuscript in London's own hand. Other possible candidates for the book's authorship include Arthur Desmond, a New Zealand politician and anarchist, who is believed to have written Might Is Right as a satire, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Reception

The Chicago Tribune gave a glowing review to the book, in its issue of 12 November 1905, stating:

MIGHT IS RIGHT is an unprecedented book by an author of extraordinary virility and rugged primeval force, whose sense perceptions border on the supernatural—an extraordinary book—and you should read it—then read it again, and lend it to your friends. Get its meaning into your nature, and (if your spirit is not broken) it will do to you what it has done to others; it will open your eyes; it will make a new man of you; it will ennoble your every deed and thought; you will become intellectually as “one reborn.” It will hypnotize your very soul, and send you forth into this world of pitiless and ferocious combat a Conqueror and a King of Men. Surely you can afford a volume, the like of which has not been printed or written (or carved in granite) since the days of Jupiter and Thor—of Odin and Mars—the gods of eternal struggle, who are not dead, but only sleeping.

The libertarian historian James J. Martin called Might Is Right "one of the most incendiary works ever to be published anywhere."

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