Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Men's Dress Reform Party
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/6/20


The Men's Dress Reform Party (MDRP) was a reform movement in interwar Britain.[1] While the party's main concerns were the impact of clothes on men's health and hygiene, their mission also aimed to increase the variety and choice in men's clothing.[1]


The injuries and casualties of World War I shifted the public's focus to the capabilities and general health of the human body,[2] and a general concern for the social and medical impacts of clothing grew. The New Health Society, an entity formed to effectuate change in these areas, was composed of a group of professionals led by Alfred Charles Jordan who wanted to improve the overall health of adults and children. They pushed for more exercise and fresh air, improved diets, and improved conditions in homes and workplaces.

The New Health Society, founded by Sir William Arbuthnot Lane in 1925, aimed to convert a ‘rapidly degenerating community’ into a ‘nation composed of healthy, vigorous members’. An analysis of this society, which combined social Darwinist and eugenicist rhetoric with utopian body practices and progressive gender ideology, deepens our understanding of interwar public health debates. The Society saw the bowels as central to health and considered constipation the root cause of many ills of civilisation. Its critique of civilisation, framed in terms of a valorisation of ‘native’ culture, nevertheless embraced modern science, technology and mass media. The Society was not hereditarian and saw health education as the key to race regeneration. Health and happiness were within the reach of all whose hygienic regimen included a high-fibre diet, outdoor exercise and sun-bathing, along with birth control and men's dress reform. Despite its idiosyncrasy, the Society's understanding of health as a personal responsibility and duty of citizenship, which sidestepped the question of poverty and inequality, resembled the views of Sir George Newman, the Chief Medical Officer.

-- Raising a Nation of ‘Good Animals’: The New Health Society and Health Education Campaigns in Interwar Britain, by Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska

In 1927, Sir Arbuthnot Lane, a co-founder of the New Health Society, formed the Clothing Subcommittee, a subcommittee within the society focused on the health impacts of dress.[2] On June 12, 1929 this subcommittee officially separated from the New Health Society to form the Men's Dress Reform Party[1] through an address to the public in London, England. It read: "Men and women, old and young, rich and poor… interested in healthier and better clothes for men…[and to] reform their clothes with as much profit to health and appearance as women have recently achieved."


Alfred Charles Jordan, Sir Arbuthnot Lane and Dr. Caleb Williams Saleeby served as the leaders of the Clothing Subcommittee and led the charge to form their own party, with Williams as the Chairman of the Council of the Party. Founding members also included the members of the former Clothing Subcommittee, the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, the Very Revd William Inge, Guy Kendall, Richard Sickert, Ernest Thesiger, and Leonard Williams.[3]


John Carl Flügel, a psychologist and member of the MDRP, claimed since the end of the 18th century men had been ignoring the colorful, elaborate, and varied forms of "masculine ornamentation."[2] He called this time the Great Masculine Renunciation. "Man," Flügel claimed, had "abandoned his claim to be considered beautiful. He henceforth aimed at only being useful."[4] This view aligned with that of founding member of the Men's Dress Reform Party, William Ralph Inge. Inge believed that the democratic movements of the French Revolution had led to the increasingly dull male look: "to escape the guillotine, dress as bourgeois as possible."[2] The party's goals were largely reactions to circumstances brought on by World War I. They saw the everyday man as "oppressed by capitalist labor"[2] and saw his clothes as "depressing"[2] and lacking in creativity. The military-style uniformity[2] of the interwar period had created a culture of men who were happy to see others dressed like them, as opposed to seeing those who craved individuality. World War I also brought increased unemployment, which caused state intervention, which the Men's Dress Reform Party saw as the "oppression of professionals".[2] Lastly, the status of women in society was changing. Feminism was developing in the interwar period, as women had taken over for men during World War I in jobs, schools, and social life. This threatened men, causing some to feel "like accessories to women".[2] The MDRP sought to improve the health and hygiene of men by changing their dress, as they saw the typical male styles and materials growing more restrictive and harmful, while women's clothing was increasingly becoming more "emanicipating"[2] Their goals included "freeing the neck" by wearing the "Byron collar"[1] which was an open-front collar, and gaining approval of the kilt[2] as everyday wear for men. They also preferred blouses instead of shirts, sandals over shoes, and shorts or breeches to trousers. The party felt that hats and coats were only acceptable in appropriate weather, and that underclothing should be loose. Most of these rules were already acceptable for occasions such as vacation, but the party looked to make these the standard for town, professional, and evening dress.


Unlike other organizations of the time, the MDRP had no formal journal. Instead, the group published articles about their reform ideas in Sunlight, a quarterly journal produced by The Sunlight League. MDRP member Dr. Caleb Saleeby chaired the Sunlight League, and thus incurred the league's support of the Men's Dress Reform Party. A Design Committee was organized to construct designs of "acceptable" clothing, and received national attention for their recommendations. Members claimed that branches were forming in all corners of the world, including India, China, Australia, South Africa, the USA, New Zealand, Canada, and Europe in addition to the approximately 200 branches in the UK.[1] These groups held social events, rallies, and debates, but the prevalence of such events decreased with the onset of World War II.[1] In 1937, the Men's Dress Reform Party lost the support of the New Health Society due to financial trouble and eventual bankruptcy.[2] Then, in 1940, the Sunlight League also dissipated after a bomb destroyed their offices and the death of its founder, Dr. Saleeby. After this period, the Men's Dress Reform Party largely ceased to exist.[1]


1. Burman, B. (1995). "The Better and Brighter Clothes: The Men's Dress Reform Party, 1929 1940". Journal of Design History. 8 (4): 275–290. doi:10.1093/jdh/8.4.275. ISSN 0952-4649.
2. Bourke, J. (1996). "The Great Male Renunciation: Men's Dress Reform in Inter-war Britain". Journal of Design History. 9 (1): 23–33. doi:10.1093/jdh/9.1.23. ISSN 0952-4649.
3. Sadar, John Stanislav. (2016). Through the Healing Glass: Shaping the Modern Body through Glass Architecture, 1925-1935. Routledge. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-138-83780-5
4. Flugel, John Carl (1930). The Psychology of Clothes. London: Hogarth. pp. 110–113.

Further reading

• Blakemore, Erin (18 July 2017). "This Short-Lived Political Party Embraced Socks With Sandals". JSTOR Daily. Retrieved 20 July 2017.


Wimbledon, ‘Bare-leg’ Tennis, and the Bitter Rivalry Between Helen Wills and Helen Jacobs [EXCERPT]
Friday, June 29th, 2012


Recently the press had featured a photograph of a Dr Alfred Charles Jordan a renowned radiologist cycling to his office in Bloomsbury. What fascinated and what slightly horrified readers was that he wore shorts with his jacket. This was utterly unknown at the time for anybody working in a city – shorts were for scouts and maybe a hiking holiday; they weren’t even worn by men playing tennis at the time.

Ernest Thesiger and members of the Men’s Dress Reform Party including Dr Jordan on the far right. July 4th 1929.

Jordan was the honorary secretary of the Men’s Dress Reform Party which had announced its existence on 12 June 1929 just twelve days before the be-stockinged Helen Wills had walked out for her first round match on the centre court at Wimbledon. The organisation’s first aim was to improve men’s health by changing what they wore and in early MDRP literature it complained that:

Men’s dress has sunk into a rut of ugliness and unhealthiness from which – by common consent – it should be rescued…Men’s dress is ugly, uncomfortable, dirty (because unwashable), unhealthy (because heavy, tight and unventilated)…it is desirable to guard against the danger of mere change for change’s sake, such as has often occurred in women’s fashion. All change should aim at improvement in appearance, hygiene, comfort and convenience.

An article in the tailoring magazine Tailor and Cutter probably reflected what the majority of men were thinking when confronted by the rather strange clothes worn by members of the MDRP. The anonymous author of the piece wrote that modern male dress depended on:

A loosening of the bonds will gradually impel mankind to sag and droop bodily and spiritually. If laces are unfastened, ties loosened and buttons banished, the whole structure of modern dress will come undone; it is not so wild as it sounds to say that society will also fall to pieces…Such restraints were not noxious: they were the foundation upon which civilisation rested and protected men from savagery and decadence.

Two men modelling ideas entered for a Dress Reform competition.

Members of the Men’s Dress Reform Party in Great Russell Street.

The MDRP was an off-shoot, and shared premises with, the New Health Society formed in 1925 and situated at 39 Bedford Square in Bloomsbury. Dr Jordan was a founding member but the chairman of the organisation was another doctor, Caleb William Saleeby, who had originally chaired the Clothing sub-committee of the New Health Society but had also founded the Sunlight League in 1924. It was formed in London to educate the public about ‘Nature’s universal disinfectant, stimulant and tonic’ and advocated heliotherapy – direct exposure to the sun.

The League campaigned for a variety of causes including mixed sunbathing and the relaxation of the rules for appropriate attire for sunbathing. Towards the end of the 1920s new-fangled sunbathing clubs were opening around London including Finchley and Sidcup while the Yew Tree Club devoted to physical culture and nudity opened in Croydon.

Compared with on the continent, especially in Germany, nudism remained a minority activity in England and it rarely strayed from its suburban, home-counties roots. The clubs had strict conventions and rules of etiquette designed to convince a doubting public that sex was the last thing on the nudists minds. And looking at some pictures maybe it was.

Dr Caleb Saleeby

Rather shy nudists sunbathing at the Yew Tree Camp in Croydon

The first nudist conference held in England by the Sunlight League

Dr Saleeby, as chairman of the MDRP, wrote a letter to the Lawn Tennis Association in 1929 encouraging it ‘to persuade men to give up the handicap of heavy trousers and play in shorts’. The first man to have famously worn shorts at Wimbledon was Henry ‘Bunny’ Austin (his nickname comes from a character in the comic strip Pip, Squeak and Wilfred). Except he wasn’t. In reality the first man to experience fresh air against his legs while playing tennis at Wimbledon was actually the relatively unknown English player Brame Hillyard who wore them on Court 10 a year after Dr Saleeby’s letter in 1930. Despite the freedom his shorts must have given him he promptly lost, and he was hardly ever heard of again.

Two years later in 1932 Bunny Austin, born in 1908 in South Norwood, eight miles or so away from Wimbledon, but educated at Repton and Cambridge, became the first person to wear shorts on Centre Court and thus in front of the world’s press. He claimed that the traditional white flannels were heavy and restricting; John Kieran wrote about him in the New York Times that year:

“With his white linen hat and his flannel shorts, the little English player looked like an AA Milne production.”

Bunny Austin wearing shorts at Wimbledon in 1933

Bunny Austin, despite wearing shorts, lost in the final to the American Don Budge and the Englishman’s reward was a £10 gift voucher redeemable at a high-street jewellers (the winner of the Men’s and Women’s final will earn £1,150,000 this year). Austin was the last Briton to appear in a Wimbledon Singles Final when he was runner-up in 1938. During the war he became active in the Christian pacifist movement and was criticised in the press as a conscientious objector. It wouldn’t be until 1984 that Austin was again allowed to be a member of the All-England Club.

The MDRP, although pretty well forgotten these days, had some success in getting its message across during the first years of its existence. It held annual parties, in order to “give every man a chance to show how he can look and feel his best by the costume he will evolve for this unique occasion.” It was also possible to find MDRP approved clothing in some shops in London including the famous Austin Reed on Regent Street. It also had an official shop and a relatively successful mail-order service.

Some members of the Men’s Dress Reform Party were more radical than others.

Realistically the MDRP did little to turn general male fashion around except maybe in holiday and athletic wear. A major shift in men’s clothing didn’t happen until after the war when new fabrics and the rise of American style, with its preoccupation with leisure-wear, radically changed men’s appearances in the 1960s.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:08 am

Cora Wilding
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/6/20

Cora's first tiny health camp was run in 1931 which should see it and those which followed reflecting the ideas described by McDonald for the period 1900-1944, which were a focus on the child as 'social capital' rather than 'psychological being' or as independent citizen. What we do find in Cora's camps was the belief in children as social capital which saw the psychological component of the child as being an important part of that potential social capital, as well as an emphasis on the rights of the individual child to his or her own psychological well-being, where the citizenship rights of the child as child, were placed to the fore....

Feminism, specifically what Marilyn Lake has described in terms of the 'exemplary citizen' -- an idea wrapped up in theosophical beliefs, among others -- saw citizenship as a constructed ideal for men and women rather than as being just a democratic right....'citizenship' was a hugely important idea for both Cora and the Sunlight League....

Although Cora was not actively involved with work done by other women's/feminist organisations, and while she was not so much concerned with working actively towards legal equality nor economic equality for women, nor with the concerns of the working class woman as such, Cora was representative of the type of post-suffrage feminist identified by Marilyn Lake as being the exemplary citizen.38 [Organisations such as the National Council of Women, the Women's Division of Federated Farmers or the Women's Institute -- although these organisations were in contact with the Sunlight League throughout the years it was in operation, and delegates from the other organisations and the Sunlight League attended each other's meetings and co-operated in organising the Sunlight League Health Camps (providing food and labour); the 'exemplary citizen' was an ideal wrapped up in theosophical beliefs, among others. Lake, p. 7, p. 51.] Melanie Nolan's Breadwinning: New Zealand Women and the State, has discussed post-suffrage feminist activity in New Zealand in terms of economic independence and citizenship for women, but rather than portraying Cora as a woman concerned with 'economic' or 'political' citizenship, during the period under discussion I would describe her as a woman concerned with 'social' or what may even be best described as 'cultural' citizenship for women....Within this discourse of femininity and citizenship, women were going to play an important role in the future development of the nation, not only as mothers, but as agents in their own right, who were free to contribute to the social and cultural wealth of New Zealand as they were best fitted.

This ideal of female citizenship centred on the concerns of the white, middle-class women of New Zealand, but it was no less feminist because of its elitist motivations.39 [The Enlightenment ideal of the citizen was racist and ethnographic, but ostensibly 'universal, free, and equal'. A. Cuthoys, 'Citizenship, Race, and Gender: Changing Debates over the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Rights of Women' in Daley and Nolan eds. Suffrage and Beyond, pp.89-106, p. 90.] The focus lay on this segment of society because it was they who were reading the liberal and progressive books, and they who had the time to spend at, and access to, the facilities required for the building of the 'good citizen'.
Cora and women like her, dealt with the ideal of the good citizen in a way which saw it as an open category as far as race and class were concerned ideologically, but in reality these were the groups set outside of the work being done in the cause of 'betterment for society' by way of raising 'good citizens'. The 'good citizen' was a culturally constructed category which failed to take cultural differences into consideration, just as ideas at this time regarding the assimilation of the Maori into the Pakeha way of life failed to recognize that the 'modern' society was not a signifier of natural evolution, but in fact a signifier of European culture. Similarly while 'class' was not explicitly a barrier in the way to achieving 'good citizenship', because 'class' became in many ways conflated with 'health' -- both being socially constructed categories -- the health camps run by the Sunlight League failed to accept children from 'bad' homes which were considered indicative of bad genes and poor health when these were more than likely the signs of the home-life of the working class. This means that Cora was in a way, out of touch with the concerns of a large portion of the community, but in saying this, it is important to point out that the ideal of the good (white middle-class) woman citizen was an ideal of a person who worked towards the greater good for all -- which meant also championing the rights of the worker and the racialised other. The important thing for Cora at this early stage in her engagement with feminist activities in the form of the running of health camps for girls which centred on 'encouraging good citizenship', was to teach the leaders of tomorrow how to be good and fair people, and as such, society would benefit in due course -- girl children weren't just going to pass on their knowledge of health to their off-spring, they were also going to pass on their ideals of citizenship which were learnt at Cora's health camps -- ideals which would have been passed on to Cora by her own mother.

An aspect of the Sunlight League camps that saw them stand alone, was their intention to replicate the familial environment -- or in the case of children from poorly developed families, to supersede it. Many other health camps, focused as they were on increasing the physicality of human stock, preferred to take on as many children as could be accommodated. The Southern Canterbury Health Camp Committee's Summer Health Camp for 1936 had 50 children at camp, while the camps run by Ada Paterson averaged 80 children per camp.40 [Cora Wilding Papers [1.9] [report] Summer Health Camp 1936. Macmillan Brown Library; Tennant, p. 81.] Cora specifically intended to run small camps with her first consisting of a mere 4 children (due to financial considerations) and the others staying far below the norm for other camps at the time, usually accommodating between 15-30 children.41 [The children on Cora's camps were aged between 9-12 yrs. Tennant,Children's Health the Nation's Wealth, p.104, p. 107.] Small camps, following the American model, meant that each child could have more attention from the camp attendants and experience a sense of belonging and stability unavailable in the larger camps.42 [The Scouts Movement promoted the ideal of smaller camps. Wilding Family: ARC1989.124 Box 39 Folder 184 'Scouts' Item 175, 'Scouts - notebook 1930'. Canterbury Museum. Larger camps also meant that bullying and homesickness could remain unnoticed, an aspect of camp life which Cora is likely to have wished to avoid.] According to Bronwyn Dalley, child welfare in New Zealand has centred around the idea that children are best catered for by a familial environment, where what constituted the best familial environment changed through time.43 [See B. Dalley, Family Matters: Child Welfare in Twentieth Century New Zealand, Auckland, 1998, p. 365.] In light of this, Cora's preference for family-units (or hapu) in camp reflected the ideal construction which located the child within the malleable construction of the 'best family'.

Given that Cora's camps were for girls only, the prioritising of a familial structure within camp also represented the gendered notion of girls and women as belonging to the domestic sphere. The helpers at the camps run by Cora were taken from respectable Christchurch Girls' Schools (St Margarets' and Rangi Ruru) in an effort to encourage the relaxed, domestic-style settings of the camps, as well as to encourage the nurturing tendencies of the teenaged girls.
44 [Tennant, Children's Health the Nation's Wealth, p. 106.] While this would have resulted in a sense of sisterly solidarity in its ideal form, it also reflected the financial restrictions of running health camps. Even when the running of camps was to fall into other hands in later years and permanent facilities were needed, Cora was still keen to retain a sense of the small familial groupings of earlier camps, promoting an idea for a dormitory style building that allowed for the division of children into smaller groups within the whole.45 [Cora's design included' ... a large central administration block with large open-air dining or community hall to seat 100 children, and with a kitchen attached. The children's sleeping accommodation was in family or 'hapu' units of 24 children.' Cora Wilding Papers [1.1] '22nd April 1936' . Macmillan Brown Library.] She also considered that while larger boys' camps could be run, it was important that girls' camps were still of a relatively intimate nature.46 [In 1936 it was decided that Cora was to run 4 smaller girls camps while Mr F. Davis was to organise and run a camp for 100, or possibly 400 boys, apparently to be financed by the T.O.C.H. Ibid., '22nd May 1936'.] For Cora, it was important that the domestic situation was a comfortable and well learned one for girl-children, seeing them as she did, in terms of the future mothers who would be at fault should they fail in their parental role and in turn adversely affect the psychological well-being of their offspring. Mothers-in-the-making especially, needed not only to know how to cook, clean and keep the family healthy, but they also had to be of sound mind, which clearly meant for Cora, an ability to work within an intimate and nurturing setting.

The explicit focus on girls within the Sunlight League Health Camps -- and within the League itself -- was another relatively unique component of their organisation. Segregated camps were the norm, but when camps were held solely for a single sex, it was more likely that boys were provided for as they were the natural sex to fit into the camping lifestyle, according to current opinions on gender. For Cora, it was important that girls be taken on camp because for one thing, girls were going to be the future mothers of the race -- it was they who were likely to be the links in the chain of health-knowledge from generation to generation and thus responsible for the health of the nation. Similarly, they were the re-producers of the nation themselves and thus should they fail to monitor their own health, they would be unfit mothers, either emotionally or physically.47 [On 'maternal feminism' see Woods.] As has been said, the small style camps of the Sunlight League worked to acclimatise the girls to the domestic environment, as well as promoting a sense of sisterhood and common understanding. Cora however, it must be pointed out, was not a mother herself and this was reflected in her belief that girls at camp and at the schools she spoke at were faced with the option of raising a family or of contributing in a meaningful way to society -- these being the qualifiers of worthy citizenship for a woman.48 [And this it will be remembered, had been the problem for Cora as an artist, in that she did not have children and was not (she believed) contributing to society as a whole through her painting, and thus decided to turn to a more visible role within the community.] Specifically, the importance of teaching health to girls who were facing a potentially childless future lay in the fact that could these women look after their own health, they would not be a burden to their families. Independence was clearly a requirement for the childless woman and ironically, an unfulfilled requirement in much of Cora's own life. However, the focus on the child-bearing potential of girls was indicative of the wider understanding of the gendered role of women at this time, especially with regards to eugenics. Healthy women, resulted in healthy children, where the specific health of the man appeared beyond the scope of the equation, unless he was found under the label 'child'.49 [The father was required to be genetically sound, but as such his bodily health was not centred in discussions of reproduction in the same way that women's were. Philippa Mein Smith has noted that within the discourses surrounding child health in the first half of the twentieth century, specifically that surrounding the Plunket Movement, 'baby' was always male. Mein Smith, p. 1.]

The discourse of eugenics specifically worked to embed women within the socially constructed role of breeder, where eugenics itself became a language of mothering and enforced heterosexuality for women. The gap through which women could escape was in the role of health activist -- in a sense becoming the 'mother' to the children and sick of the nation as a whole, as Cora did. Furthermore, within the imperialist discourse of eugenics the enforcement of the rightness of a lack of child-bearing by these women manifested in the explicit oppression of the poor and the racialised and medicalised other. These women placed themselves at the top of the hierarchy of motherhood by determining who could and could not breed in an ideology which they were themselves above. The mental defective and the physically inferior were burdened with the role of 'other' to justify the superiority of white middle-class women within the wider patriarchy. Such women claimed, in the name of eugenics, that certain individuals were not to breed as such breeding would pollute the nation and the race.50 [For a discussion of white women's involvement in the eugenics movement in New Zealand, see Wanhalla.] In a sense these women broke free of their gendered role, but retained their femininity by oppressing other women. While Cora was on the periphery of such manifestations of imperialist eugenics, she did focus on women as potential saviours of the race as mothers, which saw her in line with the prevailing attitudes of the time. So in a sense, Cora's camps were enforcing the dominant discourse.

From a different point of view to that given above, it can in fact be seen that Cora's camps were to a degree emancipatory and subversive with respect to the established role of women -- or at least more complex in regards to norms, than it might at first appear. Cora was attacked for her continued preference for girls at camps in the newspaper, to which she replied that should funds permit, boys camps would be run too, and that moreover, boys were already provided for by the Y.M.C.A. and Heritage camps.51 [In 1936 Dr McIntyre had written to the Press complaining that the public was unhappy with Health Stamp funds going towards a camp for girls only, Cora defended her position and attempted to make it clear that this was not representative of an anti-boys feeling on the Sunlight League's part. Cora Wilding Papers [1.9] [draft correspondence]From Cora to Editor, 27th Oct. 1936. Macmillan Brown Library.] Cora believed that boys had more ready access to the outdoors, whereas their sisters were required to learn domestic roles in a domestic setting which for Cora was bad simply because it stopped girls from benefiting from the outdoors -- from nature and beauty, for physical and mental well-being. I suspect that for Cora an emphasis on the girl-child reflected her ideas regarding both the holistic nature of health, and the idea that women were left with little to keep them occupied when involved in a somewhat stifling 'society life'. At the very least she would have hoped to be able to give the girls an understanding of the benefits of self-expression, and some tools with which to counter the repressive role for women within the social order. These girls, should they have failed to understand the importance of self in their respective lives, would have been looking at potential mental ill-health and emotional instability. This would have reflected badly in their parenting skills but would also have limited their citizenship potential, as not all women were to be mothers in Cora's understanding of the future (and as we have already seen, democracy itself was considered a healthy form of self-expression). Either way, girls needed to know how to express themselves in a socially-acceptable/healthy way -- not through psycho-somatic disorders. Society at large, was content to locate women in the home, raising children and having little engagement with the 'public sphere', and this is where the Sunlight League as a whole can be seen to reflect the pro-women stance of many of its members (a stance which was mixed with eugenics, but also overrode that ideology) in that the ideal of female-citizenship as understood by the League, necessitated that women existed beyond the ideological confines of the home for the well-being of the democratic state. Cora's taking of girl children on camp then, was in line with the ideologies surrounding girls as mothers-to-be, but was also at odds with those ideologies in that girls were treated as potential citizens first and foremost, who needed to know about the League of Nations, and who needed to be able to express themselves and recognize their role as contributors to society in a way which reflected the democratic state as Cora understood it. Women were clearly seen as the nobler of the race for Cora, but they were viewed as having a potential beyond the role of mother, which clearly reflected the ideals of womanhood held by the 'first wave feminists', that had in turn won women the vote.52 [Within the Sunlight League, Cora had been careful to stipulate in the constitutions as they were drawn up, that at least one member on the board must be a mother, and that there must be at least a specified number of women in positions of authority. This illustrates Cora's feminist belief that women had important contributions to make to the running of society as women. Regarding the Sunlight League Executive committee, the constitution was drawn up to read ' ... and one mother of a family. (At least two members of this increased Executive Committee shall be women).' Cora Wilding Papers [MB 183] [1.7] 'Annual Reports' [misc.] 'Sunlight League Rules and Regulations'. Macmillan Brown Library. A similar consideration was made for the Ford Milton Home. See Cora Wilding Papers [1.22] [misc.] 'suggested alterations to Sunlight League Constitution'. Macmillan Brown Library.]

The situating of the figure within the landscape, as a body located within a discourse of place, had implications for constructions of identity. Health camps worked within the discourses of nationalism and imperialism in two ways. The most obvious of these ways lay in the focus health camps placed on the growing of youth with the intention of creating strong defenders of the nation and empire, which placed girls in the position of mothers-in-the-making and boys in the role of defenders-of-the-nation. This was the simplest of the two ways in which camps engaged with the wider discourses, the other, while being related to the first involved the ideologies of place and bodies as has already been touched upon. Health camps worked to take the children out of the cities and into the country, emancipating them from the industrial and urban landscape in the name of health and well-being (which is also an important aspect of the camps), but they also worked to take children back to a setting that allowed them to develop national characteristics.53 [The establishment of the Youth Hostels Movement itself, led by Schirrman and brought to New Zealand by Cora, reflected this reaction against the ills present in urban living. Crookes, p. 7.] In pre-eugenic thinking, man was determined by his environment and it was simply that environment, or land, which led to racial types.

A new man has emerged from the depth of the people. He has forged new theses and set forth new Tables and he has created a new people, and raised it up from the same depths out of which the great poems rise -- from the mothers, from blood and soil.

-- Intellectuals Must Belong to the People, by Hermann Burte, from Nazi Culture: Intellectual, Cultural and Social Life in the Third Reich, by George L. Mosse

Just as ideas regarding a national style within the arts had relied on the landscape for expression, so too did ideas regarding a national type of woman. Thus while health camps were taking place western-world wide, specifically to heighten the racial/national assets of the human stock that had been lost by a lack of engagement with the land in favour of industrialisation and progressively white-collar labour, in New Zealand as well as in other colonial lands, health camps represented the chance to assert a national type of one's own -- to prove one's right to land in the face of wars which threatened occupation as well as in the face of a native, 'indigenous' population. Paradoxically, while I see health camps as representative of attempts to create inalienable ownership rights to the landscape, which can be interpreted as an attempt at gaining a national identity for future New Zealanders, the prevailing ideologies present in New Zealand saw the landscape considered in terms of an antipodean British landscape which in turn meant that the unification of children with land was at one and the same time also an act of imperialism.

Throughout the wider discourse regarding health, Cora explicitly considered the Maori as a race to be in its traditional state a superior form of the human species, which placed it on an even footing with the Ancient Greeks with their love of out-door exercise. The Maori were considered to be an advanced type of 'native' from the time of early New Zealand settlement, and as such Cora was merely latching hold of an already established construction of the Maori when she compared them to the Ancient Greeks for their robust physique. This idealised construction of the 'Ancient' Maori however, was appropriated by Cora for use in the discourses surrounding Pakeha identity.54 [One of the characteristics of American culture in the late nineteenth century was a nostalgia for ideals of past societies. This preference for the Greek and Maori ideal for living exhibited by Cora and the Sunlight League is likely to be a part of this. Green, p. 17.] As Sara Ahmed explained, the 'tanned' body has the privilege of signifying a morally clean white body, but the black body, as racial signifier, indicates the 'infectability' of being black.55 [Ahmed, p. 58.] Cora's understanding of skin-colour on the other hand, saw the 'brown' body of the Maori used by the League as the token symbol of bodily health rather than disease. The reason for the construction of the 'brown' Maori as the ideal of physical health lay in the perceived out-door lifestyle which led to the race of undefeated warriors: 'brown' skin read as a people who lived outdoors under the sun and the sun was as we have seen, health-giving. Furthermore, the Maori were far from being the 'ebony black' of other racialised groups and thus their skin was not seen as being such an indicator of physiological difference. Moreover, this preference for distinguishing the Maori in terms of a tanned race rather than a black one, represented the construction of New Zealand as a (geographical) replica of Britain and thus according to the rules of pre-eugenic evolution, similar national types should have emerged in both lands.56 [This type of understanding of New Zealand comes through in Macmillan Brown's Utopias, see pp.111-3 of this thesis.] The Maori thus had to be a tanned European to enforce the imperialist understanding of New Zealand, and in turn, the Maori could be appropriated into narratives supporting the ideal of a national type and used to encourage a healthy lifestyle led out of doors. All of this focus on the skin saw the tanning of the nation's children not to just represent the health of a recently exposed and thus strengthened skin, but also understood tanning in terms of ingesting the land, where nationalism was constructed in terms of a specific quality of light within New Zealand at this time, which was also reflected in the ideologies surrounding nationalist and regionalist landscape painting. A New Zealand tan represented the specific absorption of New Zealand light, and was written in the body of the nation's children through their attendance at health camps.57 [As well as through their involvement in outdoor sport and open-air classrooms; In this way children were intended to embody the natural abundance of the land. Similar ideas about land and identity are discussed in relation to Canada in the 1920s in Katie Pickles' article on the touring of English Schoolgirls. K. Pickles, 'Exhibiting Canada: Empire, Migration and the 1928 English Schoolgirl Tour' Gender, Place, Culture, Vol. 7 No.1, 2000, pp. 81-96, esp. pp. 89-90.]

Blood is a central concept in National Socialist racial doctrine. For good or bad, everything is to be decided by the state of blood. If the blood remains pure, the folk can flourish in good health for eternity and give the most advanced cultural expressions to its inner character. The folk's activities are then regarded as truly representative of its soul. But if the blood becomes mixed, then the racial level of the folk no longer remains high. This lowering of the racial worth corresponds to a decline in health and raises a question mark concerning the survivability of the particular race. If the blood is too mixed, then sickness and mortality become inevitable for the group as a whole. Beyond a certain point, any further drop in the racial level of a people cannot be reversed. Should that happen, then the racially lowered stock of people loses its claim to eternity. Another way of putting it would be to say that if the drop in racial merit passes a certain critical point, then the fateful line that delineates Jewish victory and Aryan defeat has been crossed.

But the threat of a collective sickness and death is only half of the equation. The other half is the prospect of regaining the utopian, i.e., pre-disaster, purity level of blood, which holds a magical promise. This impending magic is, after all, the psychological function of ancient and lost utopias. As the status of the myths of past utopias is converted from legend to "history," the myths now affirm that what proved attainable in the remote past is also feasible in the imminent future. And it is through this utopian affirmation that magic seems to become once again an option in history. How else could it be? So magnificent, perfect, and ideal is the utopian state of being that its inclusion as a viable option perforce crosses over into the realm of magic. The dash toward utopia is a magical leap. And this is what the Nazi blood cult was. Stripped of its biological trappings and folkish mysticism, the blood cult remains in its bare essence a grab at magical, i.e., ultramanipulative, abilities.

Although Hitler had given the blood cult a certain bent, he was mostly using well-known and prevalent ideas that preceded him. The notion that blood is the stuff of life and stands for immortality or eternity is not new in western civilization. When the prophet Isaiah (63: 1-6) wrote his poetic portrayal of the God of vengeance he used phrases such as "their lifeblood splattered on my garments" or "and I brought down their lifeblood to the earth." But it was well known by Christian biblical scholars and translators that the original term for lifeblood in the Hebrew text was "eternity" and that this term acquired the secondary meaning of blood. Thus, when the Lord splatters eternity on his garments or spills people's eternity to the ground, the reference is clearly to blood as the essence of both immortality and mortality. The English term "lifeblood" is therefore a fairly good translation. This biblical choice of the term "eternity" to designate blood alludes to hopes for immortality that were attached to the concept of blood. This particular naming of blood betrays human hopes that life, at least collective life, is eternal. But the eternity of the group serves also as a reminder of the mortality of individuals both by natural causes and by means of fatal bloodshed. Eternity may flow in blood vessels, but when it spills out of wounds it spells mortality. Thus, there is a duality even in the old biblical conception of blood that views it as the essence of life, i.e., as that precious substance that sustains life and grants eternity but also takes life away and enforces mortality.

The focus on the magical qualities of blood was later accentuated in Christianity. The Christian doctrine of the transubstantiation of the wine and wafer into the blood and body of Jesus betrays the residues of a pagan ritual in which the magical properties of the precious substance are acquired by means of an oral incorporation. The Jews were made to pay for this Christian fascination with blood through accusations of Host desecration as well as related accusations of ritual murder for the sake of the Passover ceremony. Presumably the Jews stole the Host and pierced it to make it bleed in a reenactment of the Crucifixion. And presumably the Jews also murdered Christian children in order to smear their blood over the Passover matzos. These accusations reflect a strong belief in the special powers of blood and an unshakable conviction that the wizardly Jews were somehow able to derive benefit from the blood of others. At any rate, Germany proved to be the most fertile soil for such accusations, as attested to by Max I. Dimont: "The Germans, perhaps because they were still closest to the barbaric strain which had nursed them, were the most barbaric in their persecutions. Most of the anti- Jewish measures one popularly attributes to the entire Middle Ages were of German-Austrian origin, and grew only on German soil. Here the ritual-murder charges, the Host-desecration libels, the Black Death accusations were used to whip the population into a frenzy by sadists and fetishists" (Dimont 1962, 243). What is of great interest in the above quotation is not the pathology of one group of fetishists but the fertile ground that Germany provided for blood accusations. The ground continued to remain fertile and to provide another string of blood notions that culminated in Richard Wagner, who was greatly admired by Hitler.

In composing the libretto for his opera Parsifal, Wagner resorted to older tales about the quest for the Holy Grail, which arose out of Celtic, Christian, and even Jewish origins (Anderson 1987, 13-33). In the Middle Ages there emerged from the old sources, especially Christian myths, Arthurian legends, and Celtic tales and fertility rites, a dominant theme that represented a blend of Christian and pagan notions. The theme was of the Holy Grail, which was the original chalice of the Last Supper, into which the blood of Jesus was dropped from the very lance that was used to pierce his side. This Holy Grail was a talisman with miraculous powers that made it very sought after. It could produce an inexhaustible supply of meat and, even more important, its potion could cure mortal wounds and illnesses. This set of dominant themes veered far off from the secret and ancient source of it all, which, according to Anderson (1987), was the creation of fire out of focused sunlight. These themes had captured the European popular imagination ever since the Middle Ages. The Grail Quest became an object of fantasy, but it represented an almost impossible task because the Grail could be visible only to a knight who is completely pure of heart. For generations European Christians continued to be inspired by this dominant theme of a heroic and arduous search for a bloody talisman. It should come as no surprise that eventually the notion of a quest for a container of sacred blood with healing powers lent itself to virulent racist interpretations. Richard Wagner was one of those who resorted to this kind of interpretation, and his case is important because of his great appeal to Hitler. Summing up Wagner's racist theorizing as explained in his article The Wibelungs, his essay "Heldentum," and finally his opera Parsifal, Robert Gutman stated:

The Wibelungs singled out the ancient line from which the Frankish-German and Hohenstaufen kaisers had sprung as that "one chosen race" rightfully claiming universal rule. Indeed, Wagner said, such a tradition had persisted among the Folk even during its periods of degeneracy .... Picking up the thread of the Wibelungs in "Heldentum" and pursuing a piquant bit of Wagnerian ethnological-mythological anthropology, the composer described the Aryans, the great Teutonic world leaders, as sprung from the very gods, in contrast to the colored man, to whom he conceded the rather lowly Darwinian descent from the monkey. This was Wagner the scientist, evolutionary theory having arisen during the years between the two essays. As a devout anti- Semite he found unacceptable the Biblical explanation of mankind's origin in an act of the Jewish God. Sweepingly, he declared Aryan and human history to be one, for, without fortifying themselves with an admixture of godly white blood, the colored races could achieve nothing. In this way, Wagner believed, inferior peoples had through the ages drained Aryans of an indigenous purity, their distinguishing godly features being sucked out. It was his purpose in "Heldentum" and its artistic counterpart, Parsifal, to confront Germany with the seriousness of its racial crisis -- to outline the perfection, decline, and hopes for regeneration of the debased Aryan. (Gutman 1968, 421-22)

Obviously Hitler did not need to reinvent racism, an old and well-established European tradition, one that reached explosive new heights in the nineteenth century under the impact of social Darwinism. It was during this century that the older Christian and pagan myths were given new life by the tendentious and distorted slant of evolutionary theory that applied the criterion of survival of the fittest to the social and political behaviors of various groups of human beings. By necessity this new application involved a shift of accent from the interspecies to the intraspecies arena and resulted in drawing wide distinctions between human groups as if they belonged to separate species. The unfortunate psychological need to create pseudospecies for the sake of projection and for the sake of feeling chosen, was an old, established trend, which has been described by Erikson (1968, 41, 240-41, 298-99). Now this trend was augmented by the new rush to separate the fit from the unfit. This is why social Darwinism is inherently racist and accentuates the primitive "us" versus "them" distinction. Hitler, the ideological sponger, soaked it all in from the zeitgeist, and then spewed it all out in a modified version as a new National Socialist revelation.

In a certain sense, Hitler had completed the Grail Quest and challenged the German collective with his findings. Searching for it far away was no longer necessary since it finally became visible to a modern "brave knight" of "pure heart" who has found its location. The precious blood, the divine stuff with a dual magic ability to grant immortality as well as to inflict mortality, was right here on earth and within the veins of the folk. As Vermeil (1956, 195) pointed out, "the Kingdom of the Grail was Germany, of course." Thus one possible interpretation is that the people as a whole became the long-sought-after container of magic. But in spite of the immediacy of the magic stuff, the old hurdle of its invisibility persisted for the plain people. For without proper racial awareness, people still remain oblivious to its existence and significance. Therefore, the old quest continues to take place in an ongoing struggle to make the invisible visible to the masses by means of a constant war against the Jews. Only by opening people's eyes to Jewish duping about race could the people really be made to see their own precious blood.

The central fact that the folk as a whole comprises the container of the magic stuff leads to tricky and dialectical implications. By itself the magical substance that is contained in the veins of the people does not guarantee omnipotence to the folk. Nature decrees that the precious substance is vulnerable to contamination and is itself therefore subject to the dual fate that it can dish out, i.e., immortality versus mortality. However, if the blood has proper guardians who protect its purity, then the decree of fate takes a decided turn for the better. If the magic substance of life-giving blood is protected by a race of people who know its value, then the intact blood invigorates the protectors. This is how the earthly guardians of the magical substance have a chance at exercising godly powers. This opportunity does occur whenever the correct relationship exists between folk and blood. This linked fate of the folk and its blood is both the Achilles heel and the magic wand of a race. And what activates the one or the other is the particular state of the folk's racial consciousness. A deficient awareness reduces the vigilance of protection from contamination and results in enfeeblement, while a high level of racial awareness preserves the purity and health of the all-empowering magic that flows in the folk's veins. One could say that the fate of the folk and its blood is linked because Providence willed it so. Either both decline toward an ignoble end or surge together toward a glorious omnipotence for all eternity, which in Nazi parlance received the operational definition of "a thousand years."

The dual godly aspects of blood -- something like blood giveth and blood taketh away -- were seized by Nazism as a mental adaptation to the modern shift of power from heaven to earth. Man could play God now by taking control over the manipulation of the magical substance of life and death. And since it goes without saying that men were not created equal, the most meritorious leader of the "chosen" people who were slated by fate to be the master race becomes a human god on earth. Another implication of the blood cult was that protection of the blood from Jews, Bolsheviks, and all other enemies within and without necessitates permanent war. It actually seemed proper that a grab for more power, which is what the safeguarding of the purity of blood represented, was to be accomplished by violence and war. After all, war and violence were spiritually ennobling. This basic sentiment, which penetrated many European radical movements, was given its most forceful early expression by the Frenchman Georges Sorel, who saw violence as beautiful and heroic and who regarded war as the source of morality par excellence (Sternhell 1994, 66-67). It was the increasing public fascination with Sorel's conviction of the absolute indispensability of war that reinforced Hitler's opinion that the world is not for cowardly people. Permanent war for the sake of safeguarding the blood was regarded by him and many others as a spiritual experience that befits a race of heroes. The quest for pure blood represented a quest for a spiritual substance and was therefore expected to evoke the kind of spiritual soul-searching that Hitler himself reportedly underwent during the inner battle between his sentiments and his reason. Such soul struggles over the protection of the blood were bound to be viewed as spiritual. Let us not forget that while the physical existence of the folk was perceived as a container of a divine essence, it was the blood itself that was seen as the true mystical reality within. Blood still remained a biological concept that represented the notion of the inheritance of both physical and mental characteristics. But since this inheritance included not only visible physical characteristics but also mental dispositions and capacities, the concept of blood transcended biology and evolved into a mystical notion. Holding within it the physical as well as mental inheritance of future generations, it came to symbolize the mystical essence of the folk, its cultural potential and its soul.

With all this in mind, it now becomes easier to understand why for Hitler the Jewish danger constituted a threat to psychophysical integrity. The dual mystical and biological aspects of blood as such already suggest an underlying notion of psychophysical integrity. In addition to that, however, as the folk becomes body while its blood evolves into spirit, notions of sickness and health are bound to revolve around psychophysical integrity. The Jewish menace threatens both body and soul or both material and spiritual reality. As indicated before, the monistic approach to the psychophysical issue links the fate of both aspects of reality. Consequently, blood became a mystical biological concept that has psychophysical integrity as its core promise and psychophysical contamination as its core threat. A proper linking of the national body and soul gives the collective the kind of magical gifts that only the gods could grant: eternal youth in good health. This is why in the folkish state, which secures this proper linkage, the folk comrades will have power and feel rooted and connected by virtue of the shared racial consciousness of being blood brothers. By the way, this included Germans everywhere from the Volga to the Atlantic and the North Sea to the Adriatic. Unlike other states, the folkish state will be a living organism, which would leave no member disconnected. This is the magic of an organic national body in whose veins flows pure blood. It is the divine magic of a complete psychophysical integrity, which is granted only by pure blood.

This sounds almost like a simple stipulation, but its ramifications were horrendous indeed. To secure pure blood, one needs to wage a permanent war against the Jews, which means thoroughly regimenting the folkish state. Regimentation is necessary not only to maintain war vigilance but also in order to meet the enormous psychophysical threat with the kind of total psychophysical state control that would be equal to the task. Pure blood cannot be secured by one battle. It is a permanent war that serves as a continuous and relentless test of the national character. Its demands are so grueling as well as intricate that the people are likely to fail the test for lack of proper guidance unless the folkish state adopts the hierarchical leadership principle.

And finally there is also one more catch in the treacherous road to acquire the magic of pure blood. It turns out that what needs to be secured is not just blood but "blood and soil." Hitler picked up this slogan from the folkish (volkisch) movement in Germany after World War I. This seemingly harmless slogan referring to the attachment of the farmer to the land was broadened to include the mystical link between members of a highly developed folk and the specific landscapes of their country. It was one more mystical notion referring to the powerful impact of the magical unity of a people and their land. As such it was still another variant of the magical expectations with regard to psychophysical integrity. Territorial expectations were also imbedded in the slogan. David Schoenbaum (1966, 50) viewed the "blood and soil" concept as a new folklore-type expression of antiurban tendencies: "The new folklore was a kind of ideology of the 'Wild East,' with the small homesteader as the cowboy and the Pole as the Indian." Sometimes concepts that float together in the zeitgeist acquire certain overlapping meanings: German attachment to soil in the "Wild East" denotes healthy farming life but also connotes an expanding lebensraum. Moreover, the deadly combination of "blood" with "soil" opened the door even further for the unleashing of an unprecedented racial mania and chauvinistic madness. Under the influence of Nazi ideology, the obsession with these twin concepts escalated into a new dual venture. One was the implementation of a final solution to the Jewish question by exterminating the blood polluters; the second was the safeguarding of the attachment of German colonists to their local soil outside Germany by expanding the German lebensraum through the great drive toward the east. This dual venture retained the underlying mystical link of a totalistic unity and integrity. The enchantment with the magic of blood was about to be converted into the kind of cataclysmic actions through which the messianic drive to secure utopia nets disaster.

-- The Roots of Nazi Psychology, by Jay Y. Gonen

Although it was common for both summer and health camps alike to re-name the members of a camp with reference to a theme, Cora's camps were a little different from other New Zealand camps in that they made recourse to Maori culture. The use of Maori imagery was reflective of Cora's understanding of a national identity, in that the Maori were an integral part of New Zealand, and specifically the part of New Zealand culture which made it unique.58 [Of colonial women in New Zealand, Philippa Wilson has written that the appropriation of indigenous culture by Pakeha was a way of acquiring authenticity as New Zealanders with a separate identity to that of the British. P. J. Wilson, pp. 184-188.] Cora wrote in a draft for a radio talk, 'There is no need for us New Zealanders to borrow greatly from Red Indian lore and names, nor from those wonderfully told jungle tales from India, we have great wealth to draw upon from our own Maori Legends.'59 [Cora Wilding Papers [1.23] [misc.]. Macmillan Brown Library.] Furthermore, Cora believed that 'the culture of every nation must arise out of its background' which was an idea taken from Cowan and Pomare, and thus the stories of other nations were irrelevant to New Zealanders and their developing sense of nationhood -- the jungle tales being the stories used at the Scout camps, and the Red Indian names and stories being used at American camps.60 [Ibid.] New Zealand then, needed its own identity through stories and names, different to those used at the other camps and rather than embracing a British identity, explicitly at least, Cora turned to the indigenous culture of the Maori. The Sunlight League emblem involved the appropriation of the legend of Maui, who snared the sun so that it would travel slower across the sky to allow womankind the benefit of its (for the Sunlight League version) health-giving rays. Cora herself designed the Maori carvings to be used at Te Wai Pounamu Girls' College, and as has been noted, believed that the Maori were at once paintable and promising of a worthy contribution to New Zealand art as artists in their own right.61 [Cora designed the school chapel alter cross, the vases and candlesticks using Maori motifs. Cora Wilding Papers [4.5] [box 1] [misc.]. Macmillan Brown Library.] Cora frequently wrote to Johannes Andersen asking advice regarding the authenticity of images and the appropriateness of Maori names for camps and plays.62 [Cora also wrote to a Mr McDonald with concern over the meaning of the figure she was going to use in a design for Te Waipounamu as the Rev. McWilliams was worried that it may have been a representation of an evil Maori spirit. Cora Wilding Papers [4.1] [correspondence] From McDonald to Cora, '2416/27'. Macmillan Brown Library.] Maori songs were performed by Sunlight League Camp children at the fund-raising Garden Parties, and those Maori children who attended Sunlight League Camps performed Maori dances for the other girls around camp fires.63 ['We had our first campfire last night, and the children loved it, and recited and sang and danced in neat formation and the two dear little Maori girls ended it with quite an exciting haka which was the item of the evening.' Cora Wilding Papers [4.2] [correspondence] From Cora to Mrs Wilding, Jan 10th. Macmillan Brown Library.] All of which would seem to point to the Pakeha appropriation of Maori culture for their own ends in an act of linguistic colonisation. It seems however, that while other New Zealand camps were mainly for Pakeha children, Cora willingly took Maori children on camp -- photographs show Maori within the groups, and obviously they were attending camp if Maori songs were performed by the children. This then, adds another dimension to Cora's use of Maori naming within the context of the camps. She was looking to unite the races in the land which they both were to inhabit but also to make Christchurch children, most of whom would have never seen a Maori, aware of the other -- 'awareness' for Cora, and the consequent 'understanding', being the path to peace and inter-racial harmony. This type of belief in harmonious inter-relation is a matrixial understanding of a world which is fulfilled in democratic peace. In her own way, Cora was working towards a sense of bi-cultural nationalism for the children of New Zealand.

-- Beauty of Health: Cora Wilding and the Sunlight League. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History in the University of Canterbury, by Nadia Gush, University of Canterbury, 2003


Cora Hilda Blanche Wilding MBE (15 November 1888 – 8 October 1982) was a New Zealand physiotherapist and artist, best remembered for her advocacy of outdoor activities and children’s health camps in the 1930s. She was instrumental in the founding of The Sunlight League in 1930, for which she held fundraising garden parties at "Fownhope", the Wilding family home in St Martins, Christchurch, and also the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand in 1932. She had trained as a physiotherapist in Dunedin during World War I, and been introduced to youth hostels during her extensive European travels in the 1920s when she painted and studied outdoor activities.

Wilding was born in Christchurch, the son of Frederick and Julia Wilding, and a sister of tennis player Tony Wilding.[1] Her indulgent father was a lawyer, and an athlete and cricket and tennis player. She was educated at Nelson College for Girls, where she was captain of the hockey team and school tennis champion.


She retired as a physiotherapist in 1948, and moved from Christchurch to Kaikoura, where she painted for many years. She was made a patron of the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand in 1938 and a life member in 1968. In the 1952 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the community.[2] The first Christchurch youth hostel (1965–1997), formerly Avebury House the Flesher home, was called the "Cora Wilding Youth Hostel" in her honour. [3]


1. Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Wilding, Cora Hilda Blanche". Retrieved 2020-01-28.
2. "No. 39423". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1951. pp. 41–43.
3. "James Flesher, Avebury House". Christchurch City Library. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
• Cora and Co: The first half-century of New Zealand youth hostelling by Dion Crooks (1982, Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand)

External links

• Cora Wilding in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
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Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, 1st Baronet
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Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, 1st Baronet
Born: 4 July 1856
Died: 16 January 1943

Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, Bt, CB, FRCS, Legion of Honour (4 July 1856 – 16 January 1943), was a British surgeon and physician. He mastered orthopaedic, abdominal, and ear, nose and throat surgery, while designing new surgical instruments toward maximal asepsis. He thus introduced the "no-touch technique", and some of his designed instruments remain in use.

Lane pioneered internal fixation of displaced fractures, procedures on cleft palate, and colon resection and colectomy to treat "Lane's disease"—now otherwise termed colonic inertia, which he identified in 1908—which surgeries were controversial but advanced abdominal surgery. During World War I, as an officer with the Royal Army Medical Corps, he organised and opened Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, which pioneered reconstructive surgery. The late-Victorian and Edwardian periods' preeminent surgeon, Lane operated on socialites, politicians, and royalty. Lane thus attained baronetcy in 1913.

In the early 1920s, as an early advocate of dietary prevention of cancer, Lane met medical opposition, resigned from British Medical Association, and founded the New Health Society, the first organisation practising social medicine. Through newspapers and lectures, sometimes drawing large crowds, Lane promoted whole foods, fruits and vegetables, sunshine and exercise: his plan to foster health and longevity via three bowel movements daily. Tracing diverse diseases to modern civilization, he urged the people to return to farmland.

what preserved the unique character of these individual landscapes and gave them their peculiar characteristics was the peasantry that had been preserved in them. A city like Munich, for example, did not receive its Bavarian quality from its monuments or its other peculiarities, for any other German tribe could perhaps have developed these things in its cities. Rather, what we come upon in Munich as typically Bavarian -- as was the case a hundred years ago and before -- are the Bavarian peasants, who today still live on their farms the way their forefathers lived for centuries and who still send their sons to Munich. And what I say here about the Bavarian peasant also applies to the peasantry of every other German tribe. It was on the old peasant landholdings, whose economic structure has in most cases remained unchanged for five hundred years, that German man acquired the special quality of his racial stock. Wherever the generation which occupies such old peasant landholdings clung to the customs of their fathers, there grew the individual German racial uniqueness which today still embodies and represents the variety and multifariousness of German Volk life. No German city can make the same claim. For no German city can produce evidence that the people now living within its walls are authentic blood descendants of those who centuries before gave the city its characteristic stamp. Undoubtedly, however, on our German peasant landholdings there sit, if not the direct, at least the indirect descendants of those who cultivated the soil there centuries before. Here is anchored the eternalness of a racial stock of unique character. When a few weeks ago someone in South Germany said that the Hereditary Health Law' would do more to guarantee the unique character of the racial stock than any kind of regional particularism could ever have done, he was absolutely correct. One can say that the blood of a people digs its roots deep into the homeland earth through its peasant landholdings, from which it continuously receives that life-endowing strength which constitutes its special character.

-- Nazi Culture: Intellectual, Cultural and Social Life in the Third Reich, by George L. Mosse

For his New Health, Lane eventually became viewed as a crank. Lane's explanation of the association between constipation and illness as due to autointoxication is generally regarded by gastroenterologists as wholly fictitious. And Lane's earlier surgeries for chronic constipation have been depicted as baseless. Yet constipation remains a major health problem associating with diverse signs and symptoms, including psychological—sometimes still explained as Lane's disease—and total colectomy has been revived since the 1980s as a mainstream treatment, although dietary intervention is now the first line of action.

Intestinal autointoxication: The idea that putrefaction of the stools causes disease, i.e., intestinal autointoxication, originated with physicians in ancient Egypt. They believed that a putrefactive principle associated with feces was absorbed in to the general circulation, where it acted to produce fever and pus. This description of the materia peccans represented the earliest forerunner of our present notion of endotoxin and its effect. The ancient Greeks extended the concept of putrefaction to involve not only the residues of food, but also those of bile, phlegm, and blood, incorporating it into their humoral theory of disease. During the 19th century, the early biochemical and bacteriologic studies lent credence to the idea of ptomaine poisoning--that degradation of protein in the colon by anerobic bacteria generated toxic amines. Among the leading proponents of autointoxication was Metchnikoff, who hypothesized that intestinal toxins shortened lifespan. The toxic process, however, was reversed by the consumption of lactic acid-producing bacteria that changed the colonic microflora and prevented proteolysis. The next logical step in treatment followed in the early 20th century when surgeons, chief among them Sir W. Arbuthnot Lane, performed colectomy to cure intestinal autointoxication. By the 1920s, the medical doctrine fell into disrepute as scientific advanced failed to give support. However, the idea persists in the public mind, probably as an extension of the childhood habit of toilet training.

-- Intestinal autointoxication: a medical leitmotif, by Chen TS1, Chen PS

Life and career


William Arbuthnot Lane was born in 1856 in Fort George near Inverness, Scotland, as the eldest of the eight children of Benjamin Lane,[1][2] a military surgeon enlisted to the British Empire.[3] William attended schools in eight countries on four continents—Ireland, India, Corfu, Malta, Canada, South Africa, and others—while his family followed the army regiment.[1][3] Amid his mother's bearing seven children in rapid succession after him, William was often left in the care of military personnel.[3] At age 12, he was sent to boarding school at Stanley House School, Bridge of Allan in Scotland.[4]


In 1872, his father arranged for him, age 16, to study medicine at Guy's Hospital.[1][2] Apparently shy and appearing young even for his age, William initially had some troubles with fellow students, but they rapidly recognized his exceptional abilities.[2][4] Soon, he was persuaded to switch to surgery, however, a surer career than medicine.[1][4] Later, he received the degrees bachelor of medicine and master of surgery from the University of London.[2][4]


In 1877, at age 21, he qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons,[2] and began to practise in Chelsea, London, at the Victoria Hospital for Children.[1][5] In 1883, Lane became a Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons and joined Great Ormond Street Hospital,[2] where he was consultant until 1916.[1] In 1888,[6] at age 32, Lane returned to Guy's Hospital as anatomy demonstrator and assistant surgeon, and remained with Guy's for most of his career.[1][2]

Lane became especially known for internal fixation of displaced fractures, neonatal repair of cleft palate, and developing colectomy,[2] which, although highly controversial and opposed by most surgical peers, notably advanced abdominal surgery.[7] Lane collaborated with Down Brothers to design a number of surgical instruments, including screw driver, periosteal elevator, tissue forceps, intestinal anastomosis clamp, bone-holding forceps, and osteotome.[8] For his surgery on British royalty, he was awarded baronetcy in 1913.[1]

Lane became an officer in Royal Army Medical Corps, head of army surgery,[9] during World War I (1914–18).[8] For this work as consulting surgeon in Aldershot at the Cambridge Military Hospital and for opening Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup—where, overcoming government resistance to fund it, he gave Harold Gillies a ward where Gillies pioneered reconstructive surgery[9]—Lane was appointed Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath.[1] In 1920, rather soon after returning from wartime service, Lane retired from Guy's Hospital, yet continued private practice out his home office.[2]

Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, 1st Baronet


He first published in 1883, seven years after starting his surgery career.[10] He published about 189 articles, including 72 on fractures, 16 on harelip and cleft palate, many others on other subjects, and, after year 1903, 89 articles directly on chronic intestinal stasis—which, like many Victorians, Lane experienced.[10] He wrote several books, including one on cleft palate, one on surgery for chronic intestinal stasis, and one on New Health.[10] Not for print, his autobiography—manuscript dated March 1936, soon before his 80th birthday—was written for family at the urging of his children.[8][11]


William's first wife, Charlotte Jane Briscoe—daughter of John Briscoe, himself son of Major Briscoe—bore Irene Briscoe in 1890 and Eileen Caroline in 1893, both in St Olave parish.[12] At age 78, Charlotte Jane died in 1935. Sir Lane's daughter Eileen was married to Nathan Mutch, whose sister was Jane Mutch. In 1935, Sir Lane married Jane Mutch (who died in 1966 at age 82).


Lane was tall, rather thin, seemingly aged slowly, his reactions were often difficult to discern,[1] and yet he often exhibited strong opinions.[2] It was often said that Lane was George Bernard Shaw's model for the scurrilous surgeon, Cutler Walpole—obsessed with excising the "nuciform sac", said to be nickname for the colon—in Shaw's play The Doctor's Dilemma.[13][14] Yet the play was nearly surely about Sir Almroth Wright, whom Lane knew well.[13] After Lane's death, Shaw stated that the play was published long before he had ever heard of Lane, but still regarded Lane's bowel surgeries as "monstrous".[13] And the play well suggests the view of Lane as held by many of Lane's contemporaries.[13]

After 1924, abandoning his private medical practice as well as surgery, Lane's public devotion was social medicine and public education on dietary and lifestyle subversion of constipation and promotion of general wellbeing, his New Health.[15] Of diverse interests, Lane traveled frequently, often visiting America, while gaining friends and colleagues internationally.[2] Among his associates and acquaintances were Alexis Carrel, John Benjamin Murphy, Elie Metchnikoff, Sir James Mackenzie, William Worrall Mayo and sons William James Mayo and Charles Horace Mayo of Mayo Clinic fame.[8]

Quotes of Lane by his Guy's Hospital house surgeon and biographer, William E Tanner:[16]

• The man whose first question, after what he considers to be a right course of action has presented itself, is What will people say? is not the man to do anything at all.
• If you get a rude letter, always send a polite one back. It's much better.
• If everyone believes a thing, it is probably untrue!


He died at his home[17], 46 Westbourne Terrace, Paddington, London, W2.[18]

Medical spotlight

Surgery master

By 1886, Lane authored a surgery textbook.[19] In 1889 in America at Johns Hopkins University's medical school, William Halsted, a pioneer of abdominal surgery, introduced surgical gloves, and then contracted Goodyear Rubber Company to manufacture thin ones to preserve hands' tactile sensitivity.[2] In the 1890s, glove use still uncommon, Lane introduced long surgical instruments to keep even gloves off of tissues.[2] In his open reductions and plating of fractured bones, Lane introduced the "no-touch technique".[20] Thus pioneering aseptic surgery, an advance beyond antiseptic surgery, Lane enabled new surgeries previously too dangerous.[21]

Widely renowned, Lane's surgical skill exhibited imperturbable calm at difficulties encountered during the operations.[1] A contemporary noted "the originality of his procedures and the smoothness, ease, and perfection of technic that proclaimed a real master, a master who dared where others quailed and who succeeded where others would have failed without his skill, his precision, and the confidence with which he planned and executed his operations".[2] Although most of Lane's surgical career was attended by controversy, it could not be denied that—with but the possible exception of Sir Frederick Treves—Lane was London's best surgeon as to technique.[7]

Internal fixation

Only anecdotal reports of using internal fixation to set displaced fractures predate Joseph Lister's 1865 introduction of antiseptic surgery, whereupon Lister reported silver wire on a displaced petellar fracture.[2] Yet even before radiography, Lane had found that conventional setting by manipulation and splints yielded poor outcomes—bone disunion and joint changes or wear in individuals under much physical activity—and Lane started using wires and screws in 1892.[2] Amid the conservative medical community's vehement opposition, Lane's approach was so revolutionary that organizations certifying surgeons sometimes automatically dismissed students able to elaborate on such procedures, as nearly 50% of patients whose closed fractures were opened died by ensuing infections.[22] Yet with not antiseptic, but aseptic, surgical techniques, previously unheard of, Lane forged ahead.

In the meantime, other surgeons' poor results, such as sepsis causing failed union, were sometimes erroneously associated with Lane.[2] The British Medical Association appointed a committee to investigate Lane's practise—and ruled in Lane's favour.[22] Whereas other surgeons would attempt asepsis but lapse, perhaps touching an unsterilized surface, Lane's utterly fastidious protocol was unrelenting.[22] His 1905 book The Operative Treatment of Fractures reported good results.[2] And in 1907, Lane introduced plates, made of steel.[2] (Stainless steel, discovered the next decade, was not widely used in medicine or surgery until much later.)[2] And later, Lane's assertion of frequent disunion via nonsurgical intervention was vindicated by radiography.[2] Altogether, Lane's influence introducing internal fixation rivals and may exceed that of other, early pioneers like Albin Lambotte and later William O'Neill Sherman.[2]

Intestinal stasis


At 1886, Russian emigrant Elie Metchnikoff—discoverer of phagocytes mediating innate immunity—was welcomed to Paris by Louis Pasteur with an entire floor at the Pasteur Institute.[23] As did Paul Ehrlich—theorist on antibody mediating acquired immunity—and as did Pasteur, Metchnikoff believed nutrition to influence immunity.[23] Sharing Pasteur's vision of science as a means to combat humankind's woes, Metchnikoff brought France its first yogurt cultures, aiming its probiotic microorganisms to suppress the colon's putrefactive microorganisms allegedly causing toxic seepage, autointoxication.[23][24][25] Later the Pasteur Institute's director and a 1908 Nobelist, Metchnikoff viewed the colon as a primitive organ that had stored our wild ancestors' waste for long periods, a survival advantage amid abundant predators, but a liability since civilization had freed humans to excrete without peril.[26] Metchnikoff predicted the colon's evolutionary shrinkage until, allegedly alike the appendix, it became vestigial.[26] Metchnikoff's book La Vie Humaine foresaw a courageous surgeon removing the colon.[27] Lane and Metchnikoff met in Lane's home.[28]

The pioneer British psychiatrist Henry Maudsley asserted much "evidence that organic morbid poisons bred in the organism or in the blood itself may act in the most baneful manner upon the supreme nervous centers. The earliest and mildest mental effect by which a perverted state of blood declares itself is not in the production of positive delusion or incoherence of thought, but in a modification of mental tone", then perhaps "a chronic delusion of some kind", though "its more acute action is to produce more or less active delirium and general incoherence of thought".[29] Famed British surgeon William Hunter incriminated oral sepsis in 1900, and lectured to a Canadian medical faculty in Montreal in 1910.[30] Two years later, Chicago physician Frank Billings termed it focal infection.[30] Within the English-speaking world, the lectures of Hunter and of Billings "ignited the fires of focal infection",[30] whose theory converged with the autointoxication principle.[25][31][32]

Since 1875, American medical doctor John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan, at his huge sanitarium—advertised as "University of Health", staffing some 800 to 1 000, and yearly receiving several thousand patients, including US Presidents and celebrities—had battled degeneration and disease by fending off bowel sepsis.[31][33] In the early 20th century, rebuking alleged "health faddists" like Kellogg and Sylvester Graham, American physicians who embraced focal infection theory cast themselves in the German tradition of "scientific medicine".[34] Kellogg argued that German researchers ostensibly repudiated the autointoxication principle, but, by using different terminology, supported it circuitously.[33] Since French pathologist Charles Jacques Bouchard, in his 1887 book,[35] coined the term autointoxication,[26] French researchers had investigated and openly advocated the principle,[33][36] already presaged by multiple researchers in Europe and America.[32] Meanwhile, British surgeons still knife-happy, Hunter warned of "intestinal stasis" impairing mental stability, and called for "surgical bacteriology".[29]


In 1908, Lane reported a syndrome of severe chronic constipation, often with dysfunction of pelvic muscles and obstructed defecation—invariably with psychological dysfunction, impairing quality of life, but affecting mostly women—a syndrome soon termed Lane disease, yet now otherwise termed slow transit constipationas well as colonic inertia.[37][38][39][40] That same year, Lane treated it by surgery.[41][42] The following year, Lane's book The Operative Treatment of Chronic Constipation was published in London.[43] Lane began with colon bypass, and then, at insufficient improvements, performed total colectomy.[14][44] Famed for an appendectomy saving England's monarch, Lane warned of "chronic intestinal stasis"—its "flooding of the circulation with filthy material", thus autointoxication—warnings taken seriously by the public.[24]

Such views on the colon, constipation, and autointoxication were standard in the medical profession, yet disagreement raged over the proper explanation and the proper intervention, and so controversy trailed Lane's surgeries.[45] Apparently, Lane had had trouble publishing in the British Medical Journal and in The Lancet his first articles on chronic intestinal stasis.[10] Some who endorsed the autointoxication principle interpreted constipation to have a role in it, but a role "obscure", as some thought the drying of fecal matter to diminish putrefaction, but the stasis of the small bowel, rather, to be the especial source of autointoxication.[46] In any case, most surgeons opposed Lane's operating on constipation.[7]

The Royal Society of Medicine called a 1913 meeting, but, despite some 60 synonyms circulating for autointoxication from varying perspectives, suggested neutrality by choosing none and introducing a new term, alimentary toxæmia.[27] Several authors, including Lane, presented papers, whereupon some two dozen responded from April to May.[47] There, "chronic intestinal stasis received its deathblow", when a Fellow's severely antagonistic speech, apparently influencing the course of Lane's career, preempted Lane's opening a surgery school.[27] World War I broke out in 1914, diverting the attention of Lane, newly head of army surgery.[9] Returning from war service, Lane retired from Guy's Hospital in 1920, and continued in private practice.[2] From then onward, Lane wrote almost only on chronic intestinal stasis.[10] Meanwhile, focal infection theory—a primary means of interpreting the autointoxication principle—was "coming of age".[48]

In 1916, Henry Cotton in America had embraced focal infection theory with unmatched zeal, became the first to apply it to psychiatry,[29] and rapidly rose to international fame for prescribing removal of dentition, sex glands, and internal organs—most controversially the colon—to treat schizophrenia and manic depression, while claiming up to some 80% cure rate, seemingly worth the 30% death rate.[14] (Soon, independent investigators ventured to Cotton's facility and performed, it seems, psychiatry's first two controlled clinical trials, finding Cotton's claims false.)[14][49][50][51] In 1923, on his European lecture tour, Cotton arrived in Britain, where he learned from Lane an improved surgical technique[14]—as well as a new, far less radical surgical procedure.[52] In autumn 1923, Lane had performed the first 19 "pericolic membranotomies", putatively releasing intestinal adhesions.[52] Wherever apparently possible, Lane replaced colon bypass and colectomy with pericolic membranotomy.[52]

New Health

In the early 1920s, Lane began advocating cancer prevention through diet,[53][54] but, thereby drawing conflict with the British Medical Association, resigned from the association in 1924,[1] renouncing his lucrative private medical and surgical practice, some 10 000 pounds a year.[24] In 1925, Lane founded the New Health Society, the first organised body for social medicine,[2] which German pathologist and statesman Rudolf Virchow had pioneered in late 19th century to undo disease's sociopolitical causes. The term New Health largely referred to nonsurgical healthcare against constipation.[10] With advertising by physicians being forbidden, Lane averted disciplining by the General Medical Council by having his name deleted from the Medical Register.[2][7] Lane then promoted his views on healthful lifestyle and nutrition, including return to farmland, ample sunlight exposure, ample exercise, greater intake of whole foods, particularly grains, vegetables, and fruits, and nutritional yeast for B vitamins—Lane's plan to foster defecation thrice daily, cancer prevention, general health, and longevity.[1][24][55] Meanwhile, colectomy for constipation was abandoned amid low success rates but high complication rates.[39]

New Health Society sought to transform the "rapidly degenerating community" into a "nation composed of healthy, vigorous members".[15] Blending a utopian vision, progressive gender ideology, social darwinist rhetoric, and eugenic rationales—which, altogether, reflected the period's prevailing framework[56][57][58][59]—New Health Society's view, not hereditarian, however, depicted humankind's regeneration as pivoting on health education.[15] Sidestepping issues of poverty and inequality, it took health as a personal responsibility and duty of citizenship, whereby health and happiness were attainable by all who consumed a high-fibre diet, exercised, and got ample sunshine, while using birth control and reforming men's dress.[15] Although embracing modern science, technology, and mass media, New Health Society suggested valorisation of "native" culture, and found the bowels central to health, while constipation anchored many of civilisation's ills.[15] Lane said that his lecture in Oldham, Lancashire, was "packed by three thousand or more people", and "that many people had to be carried out fainting, while outside mounted policemen were kept busy holding back and controlling the crowd who wished to force their way into the hall".[24]


Seven years before his 1943 death, Lane's autobiography explained himself as a man "acting upon the repeated request of his children that I should write for them a rough sketch of my life", although "it can be of no interest to others".[8] Rather, two of his former house surgeons at Guy’s Hospital—first W. E. Tanner and later T. B. Layton—would borrow from it to author biographies on Lane.[8][60] By then, however, consensus had formed that Lane's surgeries to treat constipation had been misguided, and perhaps even Lane himself had concluded so.[7] By 1982, colectomy for constipation was declared "clinically futile".[44] And yet, in Lane's lifetime, it was instead his New Health, including his claims that modern society was ruining health, whereby Lane became, at last, viewed as a crank.[24]


The autointoxication principle became an alleged myth scientifically discredited, while interventions to subvert it were deemed quackery.[25][44][61][62][63][64] Lane's rationale and his era's very notion of autointoxication have been depicted as wholly unfounded and irrational[65] or "illogical,"[66] due to a pervasive psychological effect of toilet training[25] or a figment of the Victorian era's culture.[65] Yet by the late 1990s, the autointoxication concept and thereby colon cleansing was being renewed in alternative healthcare, allegedly upon a fictitious basis.[14][62][64][67] Combating alleged myths, some gastroenterologists asserted that "no evidence" supports the autointoxication concept that toxins are absorbed from waste in the large intestine.[67]

In basic research, if freed from its simplistic reduction to constipation, the autointoxication principle has now been substantially supported as an independent mechanism whereby gastrointestinal microorganisms contain or produce toxins exhibiting systemic effects—as by transmigration into circulation and driving systemic inflammation—effects that include the psychological.[36][68][69][70][71][72][73][74][75][76][77][78][79] Apparent instances of autointoxication associate not merely with constipation, however, but principally with alternating constipation and diarrhea,[36] as Lane had noted in his 1908 paper that described constipation as but the earlier, underlying etiological factor whereby autointoxication may incite diarrhea, too.[41][44]


There is much disagreement over the meaning of constipation, far overreported by the general public versus conventional medical criteria—under two defecations per week.[80] Despite the general public's remaining prevalence of belief that maintaining good health requires defecation at least daily, many constipated individuals apparently are quite healthy—some even defecating under once a week—whereas others who defecate daily are unhealthy.[80]

Still, constipation remains a "major health problem".[81] Gastroenterologists attribute chronic constipation's associated signs and symptoms to slow colon transit, to irritable bowel syndrome, to pelvic floor dysfunction[82]—apparently a cause of refractory constipation in adolescents, too[83]—or to obstructed defecation, which along with slow colon transit have remained incompletely understood.[84] Individuals have varied complaints and try many remedies for signs and symptoms.[84]

Treating constipation, gastroenterologists' first line of intervention is now dietary—whole foods, principally vegetables, fruits, and grains—or fiber supplements.[85][86] Meanwhile, roles for lifestyle—exercise, mindset, socioeconomic status—have been recognized,[85][86] although some gastroenterologists as recently as 2012 have claimed that there is "no evidence" supporting a role for exercise.[87] Some 15% to 30% of constipation patients exhibit slow colon transit,[38] which laxatives and medical drugs do not amend.[40] Thus, refractory constipation is sometimes treated surgically reportedly successfully,[81][88][89][90][91][92][93] but sometimes successfully,[84] or even worsening abdominal pain.[94]

Lane disease

The syndrome that Lane reported in 1908, "Lane disease" or "Arbuthnot Lane disease", is now usually termed by gastroenterologists either slow transit constipation or slow colon transit or colonic inertia,[39] exhibited by some 15% to 30% of constipation patients.[38] By 1985, Lane's early article on surgical treatment of chronic constipation had become a classic,[95] while physiologic testing and more accurate patient selection renewed interest in total colectomy with ileorectal anastomosis—that is, removing the entire large intestine and joining the small intestine's outlet to the rectum—to treat colonic inertia, Lane disease.[39][96] By now, gastroenterology's accepted view is that, although few patients meet the selection criteria, surgery ought to be offered as a treatment option for severe chronic constipation.[97] Selection criteria ought to be extremely stringent, including multiple confirmation of slow colon transit by physiologic testing, and further medical, psychological, and psychosocial evaluations, with patients understanding that colectomy might not improve the condition and might even worsen abdominal pain.[94]


Willie Lane was among the last surgeons of an era where one could master three specialties—orthopaedic, abdominal, and ear nose and throat—and some of his designed surgical instruments are still used today.[8] Lane's introduction of the "no-touch technique", which permitted aseptic surgery, is perhaps his greatest contribution to surgery.[20] Even in the 21st century, particular descriptions by Lane "should be required reading by orthopaedic surgeons".[8] Lane's life ought to interest historians of medicine[7] as well as believers in holistic medicine.[8] In his time, some thought Lane a genius, while others disagreed, including Sir Arthur Keith who claimed him not clever but carried by faith.[27] In any event, Lane can be characterised as "a crusader, a perfectionist, and an extraordinarily talented surgeon".[27]


1. "Sir William Arbuthnot Lane (1856–1943)", Historic Hospital Admission Records Project (HHARP), Website access: 1 Oct 2003.
2. Brand, Richard A. (2009). "Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, 1856–1943". Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 467 (8): 1939–43. doi:10.1007/s11999-009-0861-3. PMC 2706364. PMID 19418106.
3. González-Crussi, Carrying the Heart (Kaplan, 2009), p 73.
4. Mostofi, Who's Who in Orthopedics (Springer, 2005).
5. "Victoria Hospital for Children in the 1960s—20th Century", Virtual Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Website access: 1 Oct 2013: "Victoria Hospital for Sick Children was opened in 1866. A group of local residents raised funds to convert Gough House into a hospital for 'poor afflicted children'. The first medical officer was Sir William Jenner, physician to Queen Victoria. It was enlarged in 1875. By 1890 the outpatients' department was treating 1,500 children a week. New buildings were added in 1905 providing 100 beds. It became part of the St George's Hospital group and moved to the main hospital in Tooting in 1964. This photograph shows the hospital shortly before its demolition in 1966".
6. HHARP states 1882, yet R Brand states 1888, a conflict the present author[who?] judges, by synthesizing both recounts of events, to favor 1888.
7. Bashford, Spectator, 1946 (Website access: 2 Oct 2013).
8. Louis K T Fu, Review: "The memoirs of Sir William Arbuthnot Lane", Bone & Joint, British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery, Website access: 2 Oct 2013.
9. Nicolson, Great Silence (Grove/Atlantic, 2009).
10. Dally, Fantasy Surgery (Rodopi, 1996), p 86.
11. Dally, Fantasy Surgery (Rodopi, 1996), p 85.
12. FreeBMD.
13. Dally, Fantasy Surgery (Rodopi, 1996), pp 152–53, quotes Shaw's letter dated 13 Mar 1948: "I never met AL. Cutler Walpole was in print years before I ever heard of Lane. You have been misled by the fact that Lane became known for inventing and practising the operation of shortcircuiting the bowels by cutting out yards of colon: a surgical monstrosity which obsessed him as the nuciform sac obsesses Walpole".
14. Wessely, S. (2009). "Surgery for the treatment of psychiatric illness: The need to test untested theories". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 102 (10): 445–51. doi:10.1258/jrsm.2009.09k038. PMC 2755332. PMID 19797603.
15. Zweiniger-Bargielowska, I. (2007). "Raising a Nation of 'Good Animals': The New Health Society and Health Education Campaigns in Interwar Britain". Social History of Medicine. 20 (1): 73–89. doi:10.1093/shm/hkm032.
16. Ole D Enersen, "Sir William Arbuthnot Lane", Whonamedit? (A dictionary of medical eponyms), Website access: 2 Oct 2013.
17. "Sir Wm. Lane, Surgeon, Dies". The Boston Globe. 18 January 1943. p. 2. Retrieved 16 June 2019 – via
18. "Lane, Sir William Arbuthnot (1856 - 1943)". Plarr's Lives of the Fellows. 30 July 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2019 – via
19. W Arbuthnot Lane, Manual of Operative Surgery (London: G Bell and Sons, 1886).
20. Fu, K.-T. L. (2008). "William Arbuthnot Lane (1856–1943) and Kenelm Hutchinson Digby (1884–1954): A tale of two universities". Journal of Medical Biography. 16 (1): 7–12. doi:10.1258/jmb.2006.006060. PMID 18463059.
21. González-Crussi, Carrying the Heart (Kaplan, 2009), p 74–75.
23. Tauber & Chernyak, Metchnikoff and the Origins of Immunology (Oxford, 1991), pp viii, 11.
24. Scull, Madhouse (Yale U P, 2005), p 34.
25. Chen, Thomas S. N.; Chen, Peter S. Y. (1989). "Intestinal Autointoxication". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 11 (4): 434–41. doi:10.1097/00004836-198908000-00017. PMID 2668399.
26. González-Crussi, Carrying the Heart (Kaplan, 2009), pp 76–78.
27. Dally, Fantasy Surgery (Rodopi, 1996), p 88.
28. Walter Gratzer, The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception, and Human Frailty (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp 143–147.
29. Scull, Madhouse (Yale U P, 2005), p 37.
30. Ingle, PDQ Endodontics, 2nd edn (People's Medical, 2009), p xiv.
31. Scull, Madhouse (Yale U P, 2005), pp 34–36.
32. Noll, American Madness (Harvard U P, 2011), pp 117–21.
33. John H Kellogg, Autointoxication Or Intestinal Toxemia, 2nd edn (Battle Creek MI: Modern Medicine Publishing, 1919), "Preface", pp 3–11.
34. Scull, Madhouse (Yale U P, 2005), p 33.
35. Charles J Bouchard, Leçons sur les auto-intoxications dans les maladies (Paris: Librairie F Savy, 1887), which translates as Lectures on Auto-Intoxication in Disease.
36. Bested, Alison C; Logan, Alan C; Selhub, Eva M (2013). "Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: From Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part I—autointoxication revisited". Gut Pathogens. 5 (1): 5. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-5. PMC 3607857. PMID 23506618.
37. Willocx, R (1986). "L'inertie colique et le blocage rectal. (Maladie d'Arbuthnot Lane)" [Colonic inertia and rectal obstruction (Arbuthnot Lane disease)]. Annales de Gastroentérologie et d'Hépatologie (in French). 22 (6): 347–52. PMID 3545042. INIST:8052319.
38. Frattini, Jared; Nogueras, Juan (2008). "Slow Transit Constipation: A Review of a Colonic Functional Disorder". Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 21 (2): 146–52. doi:10.1055/s-2008-1075864. PMC 2780201. PMID 20011411.
39. Jorge, "Constipation" in Diseases of the Colon (Informa, 2007), pp 118–19.
40. WR Schouten & AF Engel, ch 19 "Motility disorders of the distal gastrointestinal tract", subch "Surgical aspects", § "Slow transit constipation without megacolon", in JJB van Lanschot, DJ Gouma, GNJ Tytgat et al, eds, Integrated Medical And Surgical Gastroenterology (New York: Thieme, 2004), p 365: "This condition, also described as colonic inertia, occurs almost entirely in women. Patients with this syndrome have infrequent defecation, two or less bowel actions per week, due to a marked prolongation of colonic transit time. Most patients develop the first symptoms around the time of their first menstruation. Sometimes, colonic inertia develops shortly after childbirth or hysterectomy. All patients with this syndrome have a colon of normal size. Routine histopathologic examination of the large bowel does not reveal any abnormality. Most patients with colonic inertia present with associated symptoms, such as general malaise, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, which interfere with the ability to work and enjoy social activities. Many patients also have gynecologic and/or urologic problems. A delay in gastric emptying and a prolonged small bowel transit have also been found, suggesting that inertia of the large bowelmight be the colonic manifestation of a gastrointestinal motility disorder. Medical treatment with laxatives, enemas and prokinetic agents, such as cisapride, does not relieve the burdensome symptoms. Retrograde colonic irrigation has limited value".
41. Lane, W. A. (1908). "Remarks on the results of the operative treatment of chronic constipation". BMJ. 1 (2455): 126–30. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.2455.126. PMC 2435825. PMID 20763645.
42. Lane, W. A. (1909). "An Address on chronic intestinal stasis". BMJ. 1 (2528): 1408–11. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.2528.1408. PMC 2319506. PMID 20764531.
43. W Arbuthnot Lane, The Operative Treatment of Chronic Constipation (London: James Nisbet & Co, 1909).
W Arburthnot Lane, The Operative Treatment of Chronic Intestinal Stasis, 3rd edn (London: James Nisbet & Co, 1915).
W Arbuthnot Lane, The Operative Treatment of Chronic Intestinal Stasis, 4th edn (London: Frowde, Hodder and Stoughton, 1918).
44. Smith, J Lacey (1982). "Sir Arbuthnot Lane, chronic intestinal stasis, and autointoxication". Annals of Internal Medicine. 96 (3): 365–9. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-3-365. PMID 7036818.
45. Dally, Fantasy Surgery (Rodopi, 1996), p 154.
46. Adolphe Combe & Albert Fournier, Intestinal Auto-Intoxication, English trans by William G States (London: Rebman, 1908), pp 72, 107–08, 110, 415.
47. Lawford, JB (1913). "A Discussion on Alimentary Toxaemia; its Sources, Consequences, and Treatment". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. 6 (Gen Rep): 121–9. doi:10.1177/003591571300600507. PMC 2007166. PMID 19976752.
48. Hunter, W. (1921). "The Coming of Age of Oral Sepsis". BMJ. 1 (3154): 859. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.3154.859. PMC 2415200. PMID 20770334.
49. Shorter, E (2011). "A brief history of placebos and clinical trials in psychiatry". Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 56 (4): 193–7. doi:10.1177/070674371105600402. PMC 3714297. PMID 21507275.
50. Kopeloff, Nicolas; Cheney, Clarence O (1922). "Studies in focal infection: Its presence and elimination in the functional psychoses". American Journal of Psychiatry. 79 (2): 139–56. doi:10.1176/ajp.79.2.139.
51. Kopeloff, Nicolas; Kirby, George H (1923). "Focal infection and mental disease". American Journal of Psychiatry. 80 (2): 149–91. doi:10.1176/ajp.80.2.149.
52. Scull, Madhouse (Yale U P, 2005), pp 126 & 259.
53. Martin Pugh, We Danced All Night (Bodley Head, 2008), p 43: "In the early 1920s Sir Arbuthnot Lane started campaigning about poor diet which he saw as a cause of cancer".
54. Lane, W. A. (1923). "An Address ON CHRONIC INTESTINAL STASIS AND CANCER". BMJ. 2 (3278): 745–7. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.3278.745. PMC 2317557. PMID 20771328.
55. Fleischmann's Yeast advertisement: "Civilization's curse can be conquered, says famous British MD in news press—Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, Bart, CB", Ottawa Citizen, 19 Sep 1928, p 15.
56. Rut C Engs, The Progressive Era's Health Reform Movement: A Historical Dictionary (Westport CT: Praeger Publishers, 2003), p 74.
57. Pernick, M S (1997). "Eugenics and public health in American history". American Journal of Public Health. 87 (11): 1767–72. doi:10.2105/AJPH.87.11.1767. PMC 1381159. PMID 9366633.
58. Scull, Andrew (1999). "The problem of mental deficiency: eugenics, democracy, and social policy in Britain c 1870–1959". Medical History. 43 (4): 527–28. doi:10.1017/S0025727300065868. PMC 1044197.
59. Reiner Grundmann & Nico Stehr, The Power of Scientific Knowledge: From Research to Public Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), p 77–80.
60. William E Tanner, Sir Arbuthnot Lane, Bart., C.B., M.S., F.R.C.S.: His Life and Work (London: Balliere, Tyndall and Cox, 1946).
T B Layton, Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, Bt.: An Enquiry into the Mind and Influence of a Great Surgeon (London & Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone, 1956).
61. Sullivan-Fowler, Micaela (1995). "Doubtful theories, drastic therapies: Autointoxication and faddism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 50 (3): 364–90. doi:10.1093/jhmas/50.3.364. PMID 7665877.
62. Ernst, E. (1997). "Colonic Irrigation and the Theory of Autointoxication: A triumph of ignorance over science". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 24 (4): 196–8. doi:10.1097/00004836-199706000-00002. PMID 9252839.
63. Baron, J.H.; Sonnenberg, A. (2002). "The wax and wane of intestinal autointoxication and visceroptosis—historical trends of real versus apparent new digestive diseases". The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 97 (11): 2695–9. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2002.07050.x. PMID 12425533.
64. Stephen Barrett, "Gastrointestinal quackery: Colonics, laxatives, and more", Quackwatch, 4 Aug 2010 (last revised), Website access: 2 Oct 2013.
65. González-Crussi, Carrying the Heart (Kaplan, 2009), p 77–82.
66. Hudson, Robert P (1998). "Book Review: Fantasy Surgery, 1880–1930: With Special Reference to Sir William Arbuthnot Lane". Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 72 (1): 131–2. doi:10.1353/bhm.1998.0014.
67. Muller-Lissner, Stefan A.; Kamm, Michael A.; Scarpignato, Carmelo; Wald, Arnold (2005). "Myths and misconceptions about chronic constipation". The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 100 (1): 232–42. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.40885.x. PMID 15654804.
68. Bested, Alison C; Logan, Alan C; Selhub, Eva M (2013). "Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: From Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part II—contemporary contextual research". Gut Pathogens. 5 (1): 3. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-3. PMC 3601973. PMID 23497633.
69. Bested, Alison C; Logan, Alan C; Selhub, Eva M (2013). "Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: From Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part III—convergence toward clinical trials". Gut Pathogens. 5 (1): 4. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-4. PMC 3605358. PMID 23497650.
70. Person, John R.; Bernhard, Jeffrey D. (1986). "Autointoxication revisited". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 15 (3): 559–63. doi:10.1016/S0190-9622(86)70207-7. PMID 3760291.
71. Fujimura, Kei E; Slusher, Nicole A; Cabana, Michael D; Lynch, Susan V (2010). "Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health". Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy. 8 (4): 435–54. doi:10.1586/eri.10.14. PMC 2881665. PMID 20377338.
72. Frazier, T. H.; Dibaise, J. K.; McClain, C. J. (2011). "Gut Microbiota, intestinal permeability, obesity-induced inflammation, and liver injury". Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 35 (5 Suppl): 14S–20S. doi:10.1177/0148607111413772. PMID 21807932.
73. Maslowski, Kendle M; MacKay, Charles R (2011). "Diet, gut microbiota and immune responses". Nature Immunology. 12 (1): 5–9. doi:10.1038/ni0111-5. PMID 21169997.
74. Midtvedt, Tore; Berstad, Arnold; Midtvedt, Jørgen (2011). "Intestinal autointoksikasjon – fortsatt aktuell sykdomsmekanisme?". Tidsskrift for den Norske Legeforening. 131 (19): 1875–6. doi:10.4045/tidsskr.11.0762. PMID 21984290.
75. Bowe, Whitney P; Logan, Alan C (2011). "Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis—back to the future?". Gut Pathogens. 3 (1): 1. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-1. PMC 3038963. PMID 21281494.
76. Dave, Maneesh; Higgins, Peter D.; Middha, Sumit; Rioux, Kevin P. (2012). "The human gut microbiome: Current knowledge, challenges, and future directions". Translational Research. 160 (4): 246–57. doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2012.05.003. PMID 22683238.
77. Bowe, W.P.; Patel, N.B.; Logan, A.C. (2013). "Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis: From anecdote to translational medicine". Beneficial Microbes. 5 (2): 185–99. doi:10.3920/BM2012.0060. PMID 23886975.
78. Konkel, Lindsey (2013). "The Environment Within: Exploring the role of the gut microbiome in health and disease". Environmental Health Perspectives. 121 (9): A276–81. doi:10.1289/ehp.121-A276. PMC 3764083. PMID 24004817.
79. Sommer, Felix; Bäckhed, Fredrik (2013). "The gut microbiota—masters of host development and physiology". Nature Reviews Microbiology. 11 (4): 227–38. doi:10.1038/nrmicro2974. PMID 23435359.
80. Whorton, Inner Hygiene (Oxford U P, 2000), pp 7–8.
81. McCoy, Jacob; Beck, David (2012). "Surgical Management of Colonic Inertia". Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 25(1): 20–3. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1301755. PMC 3348730. PMID 23449085.
82. Mertz, H.; Naliboff, B.; Mayer, E. A. (1999). "Symptoms and physiology in severe chronic constipation". The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 94 (1): 131–8. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.00783.x. PMID 9934743.
83. Chitkara, Denesh K.; Bredenoord, Albert J.; Cremonini, Filippo; Delgado-Aros, Silvia; Smoot, Rory L.; El-Youssef, Mounif; Freese, Deborah; Camilleri, Michael (2004). "The Role of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Slow Colonic Transit in Adolescents with Refractory Constipation". The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 99 (8): 1579–84. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2004.30176.x. PMID 15307880.
84. Steele, Scott; Mellgren, Anders (2007). "Constipation and Obstructed Defecation". Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 20 (2): 110–7. doi:10.1055/s-2007-977489. PMC 2780173. PMID 20011385.
85. Whorton, Inner Hygiene (Oxford U P, 2000), p 6.
86. Alame, Amer; Bahna, Heidi (2012). "Evaluation of Constipation". Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 25 (1): 5–11. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1301753. PMC 3348731. PMID 23449159.
87. Bove, Antonio; Bellini, M; Battaglia, E; Bocchini, R; Gambaccini, D; Bove, V; Pucciani, F; Altomare, DF; Dodi, G; Sciaudone, G; Falletto, E; Piloni, V (2012). "Consensus statement AIGO/SICCR diagnosis and treatment of chronic constipation and obstructed defecation (Part II: Treatment)". World Journal of Gastroenterology. 18 (36): 4994–5013. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i36.4994. PMC 3460325. PMID 23049207.
88. Lubowski, D. Z.; Chen, F. C.; Kennedy, M. L.; King, D. W. (1996). "Results of colectomy for severe slow transit constipation". Diseases of the Colon & Rectum. 39 (1): 23–29. doi:10.1007/BF02048263. PMID 8601352.
89. Knowles, Charles H.; Scott, Mark; Lunniss, Peter J. (1999). "Outcome of Colectomy for Slow Transit Constipation". Annals of Surgery. 230 (5): 627–38. doi:10.1097/00000658-199911000-00004. PMC 1420916. PMID 10561086.
90. Thakur, A; Fonkalsrud, EW; Buchmiller, T; French, S (2001). "Surgical treatment of severe colonic inertia with restorative proctocolectomy". The American Surgeon. 67 (1): 36–40. PMID 11206894.
91. Liu, LW (2011). "Chronic constipation: Current treatment options". Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 25 Suppl B (Suppl B): 22B–28B. doi:10.1155/2011/360463. PMC 3206558. PMID 22114754.
92. Han, Eon Chul; Oh, HK; Ha, HK; Choe, EK; Moon, SH; Ryoo, SB; Park, KJ (2012). "Favorable surgical treatment outcomes for chronic constipation with features of colonic pseudo-obstruction". World Journal of Gastroenterology. 18 (32): 4441–6. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i32.4441. PMC 3436063. PMID 22969211.
93. Kumar, Ashok; Lokesh, HM; Ghoshal, Uday C (2013). "Successful Outcome of Refractory Chronic Constipation by Surgical Treatment: A Series of 34 Patients". Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. 19 (1): 78–84. doi:10.5056/jnm.2013.19.1.78. PMC 3548131. PMID 23350051.
94. Wong, Shing W.; Lubowski, David Z. (2006). "Surgical Treatment of Colonic Inertia". In Wexner, Steven D.; Duthie, Graeme S. (eds.). Constipation. pp. 145–59. doi:10.1007/978-1-84628-275-1_15. ISBN 978-1-85233-724-7.
95. Lane, Arbuthnot W (1985). "Classic articles in colonic and rectal surgery. Sir William Arbuthnot Lane 1856–1943. The results of the operative treatment of chronic constipation". Diseases of the Colon and Rectum. 28 (10): 750–7. doi:10.1007/bf02560299. PMID 3902410.
96. Piccinelli, D; Lolli, P; Carolo, F; Delaini, GG; Sussi, PL; Dagradi, V (1987). "Our experience in the surgical treatment of Arbuthnot Lane disease". Chirurgia Italiana. 39 (5): 460–5. PMID 3690782.
97. Jorge, "Constipation" in Diseases of the Colon (Informa, 2007), p 117–18.


• Bashford, H H, "Books of the day: Arbuthnot Lane", Spectator, 25 Apr 1946, pp 16–17.
• Brand, Richard A. (2009). "Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, 1856–1943". Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 467 (8): 1939–43. doi:10.1007/s11999-009-0861-3. PMC 2706364. PMID 19418106.
• Dally, Ann, Fantasy Surgery 1880–1930 (Amsterdam & Atlanta GA: Rodopi B V, 1996).
• González-Crussi, F, Carrying the Heart: Exploring the Worlds Within Us (New York: Kaplan Publishing, 2009).
• Ingle, John I, PDQ Endodontics, 2nd edn (Shelton CT: People's Medical Publishing House, 2009).
• Mostofi, Seyed B, ed, Who's Who in Orthopedics (London: Springer-Verlag, 2005), "Sir William Arbuthnot Lane", pp 183–86.
• Nicolson, Juliet, The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age (New York: Grove/Atlantic, 2009).
• Noll, Richard, American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).
• Pugh, Martin, We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars (London: Bodley Head, 2008).
• "Sir W Arbuthnot Lane, Bt, CB, FRCS". British Medical Journal. 1 (4281): 115–17. January 1943. PMC 2282083.
• Scull, Andrew, Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).
• Tauber, Alfred I & Leon Chernyak, Metchnikoff and the Origins of Immunology: From Metaphor to Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
• Whorton, James C, Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
• Zweiniger-Bargielowska, I. (2007). "Raising a Nation of 'Good Animals': The New Health Society and Health Education Campaigns in Interwar Britain". Social History of Medicine. 20: 73–89. doi:10.1093/shm/hkm032.
• Jorge, J Marcio N, ch 5 "Constipation—including sigmoidocele and rectocele", in Diseases of the Colon (New York: Informa Healthcare, 2007), D Wexner Steven & Neil Stollman, eds.
• Wong, Shing W & David Z Lubowski, ch 15 "Surgical treatment of colonic inertia", in Constipation: Etiology, Evaluation and Management, 2nd edn (London: Springer-Verlag, 2006), Steven D Wexner & Graeme S Duthie, eds.

External links

• Sir William Arbuthnot Lane at Who Named It?
• Works by William Arbuthnot Lane at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about William Arbuthnot Lane at Internet Archive
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Karl Pearson
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Accessed: 4/7/20

Karl Pearson, FRS
Pearson in 1912
Born: Carl Pearson, 27 March 1857, Islington, London, England
Died: 27 April 1936 (aged 79), Coldharbour, Surrey, England
Nationality: British
Alma mater: King's College, Cambridge; University of Heidelberg
Known for: Principal component analysis; Pearson distribution; Pearson's chi-squared test; Pearson's r
Phi coefficient; The Grammar of Science
Awards: Darwin Medal (1898); Weldon Memorial Prize (1912)
Scientific career
Fields: Lawyer, Germanist, eugenicist, mathematician and statistician (primarily the last)
Institutions: University College, London; King's College, Cambridge
Academic advisors: Francis Galton
Notable students: Philip Hall; John Wishart; Julia Bell; Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen
Influenced: Albert Einstein, Henry Ludwell Moore, James Arthur Harris

Karl Pearson FRS FRSE[1] (/ˈpɪərsən/; born Carl Pearson; 27 March 1857 – 27 April 1936[2]) was an English mathematician and biostatistician. He has been credited with establishing the discipline of mathematical statistics.[3][4] He founded the world's first university statistics department at University College, London in 1911, and contributed significantly to the field of biometrics and meteorology. Pearson was also a proponent of social Darwinism and eugenics.[5] Pearson was a protégé and biographer of Sir Francis Galton. He edited and completed both William Kingdon Clifford's Common Sense of the Exact Sciences (1885) and Isaac Todhunter's History of the Theory of Elasticity, Vol. 1 (1886–1893) and Vol. 2 (1893), following their deaths.


Pearson was born in Islington, London into a Quaker family. His father was William Pearson QC of the Inner Temple, and his mother Fanny (née Smith), and he had two siblings, Arthur and Amy. Pearson attended University College School, followed by King's College, Cambridge in 1876 to study mathematics,[6] graduating in 1879 as Third Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos. He then travelled to Germany to study physics at the University of Heidelberg under G H Quincke and metaphysics under Kuno Fischer. He next visited the University of Berlin, where he attended the lectures of the physiologist Emil du Bois-Reymond on Darwinism (Emil was a brother of Paul du Bois-Reymond, the mathematician). Pearson also studied Roman Law, taught by Bruns and Mommsen, medieval and 16th century German Literature, and Socialism. He became an accomplished historian and Germanist and spent much of the 1880s in Berlin, Heidelberg, Vienna[citation needed], Saig bei Lenzkirch, and Brixlegg. He wrote on Passion plays,[7] religion, Goethe, Werther, as well as sex-related themes,[8] and was a founder of the Men and Women's Club.[9]

Pearson with Sir Francis Galton, 1909 or 1910.

Pearson was offered a Germanics post at King's College, Cambridge. Comparing Cambridge students to those he knew from Germany, Karl found German students inathletic and weak. He wrote his mother, "I used to think athletics and sport was overestimated at Cambridge, but now I think it cannot be too highly valued."[10]

On returning to England in 1880, Pearson first went to Cambridge:

Back in Cambridge, I worked in the engineering shops, but drew up the schedule in Mittel- and Althochdeutsch for the Medieval Languages Tripos.[11]

In his first book, The New Werther, Pearson gives a clear indication of why he studied so many diverse subjects:

I rush from science to philosophy, and from philosophy to our old friends the poets; and then, over-wearied by too much idealism, I fancy I become practical in returning to science. Have you ever attempted to conceive all there is in the world worth knowing—that not one subject in the universe is unworthy of study? The giants of literature, the mysteries of many-dimensional space, the attempts of Boltzmann and Crookes to penetrate Nature's very laboratory, the Kantian theory of the universe, and the latest discoveries in embryology, with their wonderful tales of the development of life—what an immensity beyond our grasp! [...] Mankind seems on the verge of a new and glorious discovery. What Newton did to simplify the planetary motions must now be done to unite in one whole the various isolated theories of mathematical physics.[12]

Pearson then returned to London to study law, emulating his father. Quoting Pearson's own account:

Coming to London, I read in chambers in Lincoln's Inn, drew up bills of sale, and was called to the Bar, but varied legal studies by lecturing on heat at Barnes, on Martin Luther at Hampstead, and on Lassalle and Marx on Sundays at revolutionary clubs around Soho.[11]

His next career move was to the Inner Temple, where he read law until 1881 (although he never practised). After this, he returned to mathematics, deputising for the mathematics professor at King's College, London in 1881 and for the professor at University College, London in 1883. In 1884, he was appointed to the Goldsmid Chair of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics at University College, London. Pearson became the editor of Common Sense of the Exact Sciences (1885) when William Kingdon Clifford died. 1891 saw him also appointed to the professorship of Geometry at Gresham College; here he met Walter Frank Raphael Weldon, a zoologist who had some interesting problems requiring quantitative solutions.[13] The collaboration, in biometry and evolutionary theory, was a fruitful one and lasted until Weldon died in 1906.[14] Weldon introduced Pearson to Charles Darwin's cousin Francis Galton, who was interested in aspects of evolution such as heredity and eugenics. Pearson became Galton's protégé, at times to the verge of hero worship.[citation needed]

After Galton's death in 1911, Pearson embarked on producing his definitive biography — a three-volume tome of narrative, letters, genealogies, commentaries, and photographs — published in 1914, 1924, and 1930, with much of Pearson's own money paying for their print runs. The biography, done "to satisfy myself and without regard to traditional standards, to the needs of publishers or to the tastes of the reading public", triumphed Galton's life, work and personal heredity. He predicted that Galton, rather than Charles Darwin, would be remembered as the most prodigious grandson of Erasmus Darwin.

When Galton died, he left the residue of his estate to the University of London for a Chair in Eugenics. Pearson was the first holder of this chair — the Galton Chair of Eugenics, later the Galton Chair of Genetics[15]—in accordance with Galton's wishes. He formed the Department of Applied Statistics (with financial support from the Drapers' Company), into which he incorporated the Biometric and Galton laboratories. He remained with the department until his retirement in 1933, and continued to work until his death at Coldharbour, Surrey on 27 April 1936.

Pearson was a "zealous" atheist and a freethinker.[16][17]


In 1890 Pearson married Maria Sharpe. The couple had three children: Sigrid Loetitia Pearson, Helga Sharpe Pearson, and Egon Pearson, who became a statistician himself and succeeded his father as head of the Applied Statistics Department at University College. Maria died in 1928 and in 1929 Karl married Margaret Victoria Child, a co-worker at the Biometric Laboratory. He and his family lived at 7 Well Road in Hampstead, now marked with a blue plaque.[18][19]

Einstein and Pearson's work

When the 23-year-old Albert Einstein started the Olympia Academy study group in 1902, with his two younger friends, Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht, his first reading suggestion was Pearson's The Grammar of Science. This book covered several themes that were later to become part of the theories of Einstein and other scientists.[20] Pearson asserted that the laws of nature are relative to the perceptive ability of the observer. Irreversibility of natural processes, he claimed, is a purely relative conception. An observer who travels at the exact velocity of light would see an eternal now, or an absence of motion. He speculated that an observer who travelled faster than light would see time reversal, similar to a cinema film being run backwards. Pearson also discussed antimatter, the fourth dimension, and wrinkles in time.

Pearson's relativity was based on idealism, in the sense of ideas or pictures in a mind. "There are many signs," he wrote, "that a sound idealism is surely replacing, as a basis for natural philosophy, the crude materialism of the older physicists." (Preface to 2nd Ed., The Grammar of Science) Further, he stated, " is in reality a classification and analysis of the contents of the mind..." "In truth, the field of science is much more consciousness than an external world." (Ibid., Ch. II, § 6) "Law in the scientific sense is thus essentially a product of the human mind and has no meaning apart from man." (Ibid., Ch. III, § 4)[21]

Politics and eugenics

Karl Pearson at work, 1910.

A eugenicist who applied his social Darwinism to entire nations, Pearson saw war against "inferior races" as a logical implication of the theory of evolution. "My view – and I think it may be called the scientific view of a nation," he wrote, "is that of an organized whole, kept up to a high pitch of internal efficiency by insuring that its numbers are substantially recruited from the better stocks, and kept up to a high pitch of external efficiency by contest, chiefly by way of war with inferior races."[22] He reasoned that, if August Weismann's theory of germ plasm is correct, the nation is wasting money when it tries to improve people who come from poor stock.

Weismann claimed that acquired characteristics could not be inherited. Therefore, training benefits only the trained generation. Their children will not exhibit the learned improvements and, in turn, will need to be improved. "No degenerate and feeble stock will ever be converted into healthy and sound stock by the accumulated effects of education, good laws, and sanitary surroundings. Such means may render the individual members of a stock passable if not strong members of society, but the same process will have to be gone through again and again with their offspring, and this in ever-widening circles, if the stock, owing to the conditions in which society has placed it, is able to increase its numbers."[23]

"History shows me one way, and one way only, in which a high state of civilization has been produced, namely, the struggle of race with race, and the survival of the physically and mentally fitter race. If you want to know whether the lower races of man can evolve a higher type, I fear the only course is to leave them to fight it out among themselves, and even then the struggle for existence between individual and individual, between tribe and tribe, may not be supported by that physical selection due to a particular climate on which probably so much of the Aryan's success depended."[24]

Pearson was known in his lifetime as a prominent "freethinker" and socialist. He gave lectures on such issues as "the woman's question" (this was the era of the suffragist movement in the UK)[25] and upon Karl Marx. His commitment to socialism and its ideals led him to refuse the offer of being created an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1920 and also to refuse a knighthood in 1935.

In The Myth of the Jewish Race[26] Raphael and Jennifer Patai cite Karl Pearson's 1925 opposition (in the first issue of the journal Annals of Eugenics which he founded) to Jewish immigration into Britain. Pearson alleged that these immigrants "will develop into a parasitic race. [...] Taken on the average, and regarding both sexes, this alien Jewish population is somewhat inferior physically and mentally to the native population".[27]

Contributions to biometrics

Karl Pearson was important in the founding of the school of biometrics, which was a competing theory to describe evolution and population inheritance at the turn of the 20th century. His series of eighteen papers, "Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution" established him as the founder of the biometrical school for inheritance. In fact, Pearson devoted much time during 1893 to 1904 to developing statistical techniques for biometry.[28] These techniques, which are widely used today for statistical analysis, include the chi-squared test, standard deviation, and correlation and regression coefficients. Pearson's Law of Ancestral Heredity stated that germ plasm consisted of heritable elements inherited from the parents as well as from more distant ancestors, the proportion of which varied for different traits.[29] Karl Pearson was a follower of Galton, and although the two differed in some respects, Pearson used a substantial amount of Francis Galton's statistical concepts in his formulation of the biometrical school for inheritance, such as the law of regression. The biometric school, unlike the Mendelians, focused not on providing a mechanism for inheritance, but rather on providing a mathematical description for inheritance that was not causal in nature. While Galton proposed a discontinuous theory of evolution, in which species would have to change via large jumps rather than small changes that built up over time, Pearson pointed out flaws in Galton's argument and actually used Galton's ideas to further a continuous theory of evolution, whereas the Mendelians favored a discontinuous theory of evolution. While Galton focused primarily on the application of statistical methods to the study of heredity, Pearson and his colleague Weldon expanded statistical reasoning to the fields of inheritance, variation, correlation, and natural and sexual selection.[30]

For Pearson, the theory of evolution was not intended to identify a biological mechanism that explained patterns of inheritance, whereas Mendelian's theory postulated the gene as the mechanism for inheritance. Pearson criticized Bateson and other biologists for their failure to adopt biometrical techniques in their study of evolution.[31] Pearson criticized biologists who did not focus on the statistical validity of their theories, stating that "before we can accept [any cause of a progressive change] as a factor we must have not only shown its plausibility but if possible have demonstrated its quantitative ability"[32] Biologists had succumb to "almost metaphysical speculation as to the causes of heredity," which had replaced the process of experimental data collection that actually might allow scientists to narrow down potential theories.[33]

For Pearson, laws of nature were useful for making accurate predictions and for concisely describing trends in observed data.[30] Causation was the experience "that a certain sequence has occurred and recurred in the past".[32] Thus, identifying a particular mechanism of genetics was not a worthy pursuit of biologists, who should instead focus on mathematical descriptions of empirical data. This, in part led to the fierce debate between the biometricians and the Mendelians, including Bateson. After Bateson rejected one of Pearson's manuscripts that described a new theory for the variability of an offspring, or homotyposis, Pearson and Weldon established Biometrika in 1902.[34] Although the biometric approach to inheritance eventually lost to the Mendelian approach, the techniques Pearson and the biometricians at the time developed are vital to studies of biology and evolution today.

Awards from professional bodies

Pearson achieved widespread recognition across a range of disciplines and his membership of, and awards from, various professional bodies reflects this:

• 1896: elected FRS: Fellow of the Royal Society[2]
• 1898: awarded the Darwin Medal[35]
• 1911: awarded the honorary degree of LLD from the University of St Andrews
• 1911: awarded a DSc from University of London
• 1920: offered (and refused) the OBE
• 1932: awarded the Rudolf Virchow medal by the Berliner Anthropologische Gesellschaft
• 1935: offered (and refused) a knighthood

He was also elected an Honorary Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, University College, London and the Royal Society of Medicine, and a Member of the Actuaries' Club. A sesquicentenary conference was held in London on 23 March 2007, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.[3]

Contributions to statistics

Pearson's work was all-embracing in the wide application and development of mathematical statistics, and encompassed the fields of biology, epidemiology, anthropometry, medicine, psychology and social history.[36] In 1901, with Weldon and Galton, he founded the journal Biometrika whose object was the development of statistical theory.[37] He edited this journal until his death. Among those who assisted Pearson in his research were a number of female mathematicians who included Beatrice Mabel Cave-Browne-Cave and Frances Cave-Browne-Cave. He also founded the journal Annals of Eugenics (now Annals of Human Genetics) in 1925. He published the Drapers' Company Research Memoirs largely to provide a record of the output of the Department of Applied Statistics not published elsewhere.

Pearson's thinking underpins many of the 'classical' statistical methods which are in common use today. Examples of his contributions are:

• Correlation coefficient. The correlation coefficient (first developed by Auguste Bravais[38][39]. and Francis Galton) was defined as a product-moment, and its relationship with linear regression was studied.[40]
• Method of moments. Pearson introduced moments, a concept borrowed from physics, as descriptive statistics and for the fitting of distributions to samples.
• Pearson's system of continuous curves. A system of continuous univariate probability distributions that came to form the basis of the now conventional continuous probability distributions. Since the system is complete up to the fourth moment, it is a powerful complement to the Pearsonian method of moments.
• Chi distance. A precursor and special case of the Mahalanobis distance.[41]
• p-value. Defined as the probability measure of the complement of the ball with the hypothesized value as center point and chi distance as radius.[41]
• Foundations of the statistical hypothesis testing theory and the statistical decision theory.[41] In the seminal "On the criterion..." paper,[41] Pearson proposed testing the validity of hypothesized values by evaluating the chi distance between the hypothesized and the empirically observed values via the p-value, which was proposed in the same paper. The use of preset evidence criteria, so called alpha type-I error probabilities, was later proposed by Jerzy Neyman and Egon Pearson.[42]
• Pearson's chi-squared test. A hypothesis test using normal approximation for discrete data.
• Principal component analysis. The method of fitting a linear subspace to multivariate data by minimising the chi distances.[43][44]
• The first introduction of the histogram is usually credited to Pearson.[45]


• Pearson, Karl (1880). The New Werther. C, Kegan Paul & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1882). The Trinity: A Nineteenth Century Passion-play. Cambridge: E. Johnson.
• Pearson, Karl (1887). Die Fronica. Strassburg: K.J. Trübner
• Pearson, Karl (1887). The Moral Basis of Socialism. William Reeves, London.
• Pearson, Karl (1888). The Ethic of Freethought. London: T. Fisher Unwin. Rep. University Press of the Pacific, 2002.
• Pearson, Karl (1892). The Grammar of Science. London: Walter Scott. Dover Publications, 2004 ISBN 0-486-49581-7
• Pearson, Karl (1892). The New University for London: A Guide to its History and a Criticism of its Defects. London: T. Fisher Unwin.
• Pearson, K (1896). "Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution. III. Regression, Heredity and Panmixia". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 187: 253–318. Bibcode:1896RSPTA.187..253P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1896.0007.
• Pearson, Karl (1897). The Chances of Death and Other Studies in Evolution, 2 Vol. London: Edward Arnold.
• Pearson, Karl (1904). On the Theory of Contingency and its Relation to Association and Normal Correlation. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1905). On the General Theory of Skew Correlation and Non-linear Regression. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1906). A Mathematical Theory of Random Migration. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1907). Studies in National Deterioration. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl, & Pollard, A.F. Campbell (1907). An Experimental Study of the Stresses in Masonry Dams. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1907). A First Study of the Statistics of Pulmonary Tuberculosis. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl, & Barrington, Amy (1909). A First Study of the Inheritance of Vision and of the Relative Influence of Heredity and Environment on Sight. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl; Reynolds, W. D., & Stanton, W. F. (1909). On a Practical Theory of Elliptical and Pseudo-elliptical Arches, with Special Reference to the Ideal Masonry Arch.
• Pearson, Karl (1909). The Groundwork of Eugenics. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1909). The Scope and Importance to the State of the Science of National Eugenics. London: Dalau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl, & Barrington, Amy (1910). A Preliminary Study of Extreme Alcoholism in Adults. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl, & Elderton, Ethel M. (1910). A First Study of the Influence of Parental Alcoholism on the Physique and Ability of the Offspring. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1910). The Influence of Parental Alcoholism on the Physique and Ability of the Offspring: A Reply to the Cambridge Economists. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl, & Elderton, Ethel M. (1910). A Second Study of the Influence of Parental Alcoholism on the Physique and Ability of the Offspring. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1911). An Attempt to Correct some of the Misstatements Made by Sir Victor Horsley and Mary D. Sturge, M.D. in the Criticisms of the Galton Laboratory Memoir: A First Study of the Influence of Parental Alcoholism, &c. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl; Nettleship, Edward, & Usher, Charles (1911–1913). A Monograph on Albinism in Man, 2 Vol. London: Dulau & Co., Ltd.
• Pearson, Karl (1912). The Problem of Practical Eugenics. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1912). Tuberculosis, Heredity and Environment. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1913). On the Correlation of Fertility with Social Value: A Cooperative Study. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl, & Jaederholm, Gustav A. (1914). Mendelism and the Problem of Mental Defect, II: On the Continuity of Mental Defect. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl; Williams, M.H., & Bell, Julia (1914). A Statistical Study of Oral Temperatures in School Children. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1914-24-30). The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton, 3 Vol. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
• Pearson, Karl (1915). Some Recent Misinterpretations of the Problem of Nurture and Nature. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl; Young, A.W., & Elderton, Ethel (1918). On the Torsion Resulting from Flexure in Prisms with Cross-sections of Uni-axial Symmetry Only. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl, & Bell, Julia (1919). A Study of the Long Bones of the English Skeleton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1920). The Science of Man: its Needs and its Prospects. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl, & Karn, Mary Noel (1922). Study of the Data Provided by a Baby-clinic in a Large Manufacturing Town. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1922). Francis Galton, 1822–1922: A Centenary Appreciation. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1923). On the Relationship of Health to the Psychical and Physical Characters in School Children. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1926). On the Skull and Portraits of George Buchanan. Edinburgh, London: Oliver & Boyd.


• Pearson, Karl (1883). "Maimonides and Spinoza". Mind. 8 (31): 338–353. doi:10.1093/mind/os-VIII.31.338.
• Pearson, Karl (1885). "On a Certain Atomic Hypothesis". Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. 14: 71–120.
• Pearson, Karl (1890). "On Wöhler's Experiments on Alternating Stress". The Messenger of Mathematics. XX: 21–37.
• Pearson, Karl (1891). "Ether Squirts". American Journal of Mathematics. 13 (4): 309–72. doi:10.2307/2369570. JSTOR 2369570.
• Pearson, Karl (1897). "On Telegony in Man," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. LX, pp. 273–283.
• Pearson, Karl (1897). "On a Form of Spurious Correlation which May Arise when Indices are Used in the Measurement of Organs," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. LX, pp. 489–502.
• Pearson, Karl (1899). "On the Reconstruction of the Stature of Prehistoric Races". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 192: 169–243. Bibcode:1899RSPTA.192..169P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1899.0004.
• Pearson, Karl; Lee, Alice; Bramley-Moore, Leslie (1899). "Genetic (Reproductive) Selection". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 192: 257–330. Bibcode:1899RSPTA.192..257P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1899.0006.
• Pearson, Karl, & Whiteley, M.A. (1899). "Data for the Problem of Evolution in Man, I: A First Study of the Variability and Correlation of the Hand," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. LXV, pp. 126–151.
• Pearson, Karl, & Beeton, Mary (1899). "Data for the Problem of Evolution in Man, II: A First Study on the Inheritance of Longevity and the Selective Death-rate in Man," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. LXV, pp. 290–305.
• Pearson, Karl (1900). "On the Law of Reversion," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. LXVI, pp. 140–164.
• Pearson, Karl; Beeton, M., & Yule, G.U. (1900). "On the Correlation Between Duration of Life and the Number of Offspring," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. LXVII, pp. 159–179.
• Pearson, Karl (1900). "On the Criterion that a Given System of Deviations from the Probable in the Case of a Correlated System of Variables is Such that it can be Reasonably Supposed to Have Arisen from Random Sampling," Philosophical Magazine, 5th Series, Vol. L, pp. 157–175.
• Pearson, Karl (1901). "On Lines and Planes of Closest Fit to Systems of Points in Space," Philosophical Magazine, 6th Series, Vol. II, pp. 559–572.
• Pearson, Karl (1902–1903). "The Law of Ancestral Heredity," Biometrika, Vol. II, pp. 221–229.
• Pearson, Karl (1903). "On a General Theory of the Method of False Position", Philosophical Magazine, 6th Series, Vol. 5, pp. 658–668.
• Pearson, Karl (1907). "On the Influence of Past Experience on Future Expectation," Philosophical Magazine, 6th Series, Vol. XIII, pp. 365–378.
• Pearson, Karl, & Gibson, Winifred (1907). "Further Considerations on the Correlations of Stellar Characters," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. LXVIII, pp. 415–448.
• Pearson, Karl (1910). "A Myth About Edward the Confessor". The English Historical Review. 25: 517–520. doi:10.1093/ehr/xxv.xcix.517.
• Pearson, Karl (1920). "The Problems of Anthropology". The Scientific Monthly. 11 (5): 451–458. Bibcode:1920SciMo..11..451P. JSTOR 6421.
• Pearson, Karl (1930). "On a New Theory of Progressive Evolution," Annals of Eugenics, Vol. IV, Nos. 1–2, pp. 1–40.
• Pearson, Karl (1931). "On the Inheritance of Mental Disease," Annals of Eugenics, Vol. IV, Nos. 3–4, pp. 362–380.


• Pearson, Karl (1885). The Common Sense of the Exact Sciences. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co. (editor).
• Pearson, Karl (1886–1893). A History of the Theory of Elasticity and of the Strength of Materials from Galilei to the Present Time, Vol. 2, Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press (editor).
o Pearson, Karl (1889). The Elastical Researches of Barré de Saint-Venant. Cambridge University Press (editor).
• Pearson, Karl (1888). The Positive Creed of Freethought: with Some Remarks on the Relation of Freethought to Socialism. Being a Lecture Delivered at South Place Institute. London: William Reeves.
• Pearson, Karl (1901). National Life from the Stand-point of Science: An Address Delivered at Newcastle. London: Adam & Charles Black.
• Pearson, Karl (1908). A Second Study of the Statistics of Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Marital Infection. London: Dulau & Co. (editor).
• Pearson, Karl (1910). Nature and Nurture, the Problem of the Future: A Presidential Address. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1911). The Academic Aspect of the Science of Eugenics: A Lecture Delivered to Undergraduates. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1912). Treasury of Human Inheritance, 2 Vol. Dulau & Co., London (editor).
• Pearson, Karl (1912). Eugenics and Public Health: An Address to Public Health Officers. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1912). Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics. The Cavendish Lecture: An Address to the Medical Profession. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1912). Social Problems, their Treatment, Past, Present, and Future: A Lecture. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1914). On the Handicapping of the First-born: Being a Lecture Delivered at the Galton Laboratory. London: Dulau & Co.
• Pearson, Karl (1914). Tables for Statisticians and Biometricians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (editor).
• Pearson, Karl (1919–22). Tracts for Computers. Cambridge University Press (editor).
• Pearson, Karl (1921). Side Lights on the Evolution of Man: Being a Lecture Delivered at the Royal Institution. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1922). Tables of the Incomplete Γ-Function. London: Pub. for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research by H.M. Stationery Office.
• Pearson, Karl (1923). Charles Darwin, 1809–1882: An Appreciation. Being a Lecture Delivered to the Teachers of the London County Council. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1927). The Right of the Unborn Child: Being a Lecture Delivered... to Teachers from the London County Council Schools. Cambridge University Press.
• Pearson, Karl (1934). Tables of the Incomplete Beta-function. Cambridge University Press. 2nd ed., 1968 (editor).

See also

• Biophysics
• Gresham Professor of Geometry § List of Gresham Professors of Geometry
• Kikuchi Dairoku, a close friend and contemporary of Karl Pearson at University College School and Cambridge University
• Scientific racism


1. Yule, G. U.; Filon, L. N. G. (1936). "Karl Pearson. 1857–1936". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2 (5): 72–110. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1936.0007. JSTOR 769130.
2. "Library and Archive catalogue". Sackler Digital Archive. Royal Society. Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
3. "Karl Pearson sesquicentenary conference". Royal Statistical Society. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
4. "[...] the founder of modern statistics, Karl Pearson." – Bronowski, Jacob (1978). The Common Sense of Science, Harvard University Press, p. 128.
5. "The Concept of Heredity in the History of Western Culture: Part One," The Mankind Quarterly, Vol. XXXV, No. 3, p. 237.
6. "Pearson, Carl (or Karl) (PR875CK)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
7. Pearson, Karl (1897). "The German Passion-Play: A Study in the Evolution of Western Christianity," in The Chances of Death and Other Studies in Evolution. London: Edward Arnold, pp. 246–406.
8. Pearson, Karl (1888). "A Sketch of the Sex-Relations in Primitive and Mediæval Germany," in The Ethic of Freethought. London: T. Fisher Unwin, pp. 395–426.
9. Walkowitz, Judith R., History Workshop Journal 1986 21(1):37–59, p 37
10. Warwick, Andrew (2003). "4: Exercising the student body: Mathematics, manliness and athleticism". Masters of theory: Cambridge and the rise of mathematical physics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 176–226. ISBN 978-0-226-87375-6.
11. Pearson, Karl (1934). Speeches Delivered at a Dinner Held in University College, London, in Honour of Professor Karl Pearson, 23 April 1934. Cambridge University Press, p. 20.
12. Pearson, Karl (1880). The New Werther. London: C, Kegan Paul & Co., pp. 6, 96.
13. Provine, William B. (2001). The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. University of Chicago Press, p. 29.
14. Tankard, James W. (1984). The Statistical Pioneers, Schenkman Pub. Co.
15. Blaney, Tom (2011). The Chief Sea Lion's Inheritance: Eugenics and the Darwins. Troubador Pub., p. 108. Also see Pearson, Roger (1991). Race, Intelligence and Bias in Academe. Scott-Townsend Publishers.
16. McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch. The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy: Yale UP, 2011. Print. "Karl Pearson...was a zealous atheist..."
17. Porter, Theodore M. Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2004. Print.
18. "Karl Pearson Blue Plaque," at
19. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
20. Herbert, Christopher (2001). "Karl Pearson and the Human Form Divine," in Victorian Relativity: Radical Thought and Scientific Discovery, Chicago University Press, pp. 145–179.
21. Pearson, Karl (1900). The Grammar of Science. London: Adam & Charles Black, pp. vii, 52, 87.
22. Pearson, Karl (1901). National Life from the Standpoint of Science. London: Adam & Charles Black, pp. 43–44.
23. Pearson, Karl (1892). Introduction to The Grammar of Science. London: Water Scott, p. 32.
24. Pearson, Karl (1901). National Life from the Standpoint of Science. London: Adam & Charles Black, pp. 19–20.
25. Pearson, Karl (1888). "The Woman's Question," in The Ethic of Freethought. London: T. Fisher Unwin, pp. 370–394.
26. Patai, Raphael, & Jennifer Patai (1989). The Myth of the Jewish Race. Wayne State University Press, p. 146. ISBN 978-0814319482
27. Pearson, Karl; Moul, Margaret (1925). "The Problem of Alien Immigration into Great Britain, Illustrated by an Examination of Russian and Polish Jewish Children". Annals of Eugenics. I (2): 125–126. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1809.1925.tb02037.x.
28. Farrall, Lyndsay A. (August 1975). "Controversy and Conflict in Science: A Case Study The English Biometric School and Mendel's Laws". Social Studies of Science. 5 (3): 269–301. doi:10.1177/030631277500500302. PMID 11610080.
29. Pearson, Karl (1897). "Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution. On the Law of Ancestral Heredity". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 62 (379–387): 386–412. Bibcode:1897RSPS...62..386P. doi:10.1098/rspl.1897.0128. JSTOR 115747.
30. Pence, Charles H. (2015). "The early history of chance in evolution". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. 50: 48–58. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2014.09.006. PMID 26466463.
31. Morrison, Margaret (1 March 2002). "Modelling Populations: Pearson and Fisher on Mendelism and Biometry". The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 53: 39–68. doi:10.1093/bjps/53.1.39.
32. Pearson, Karl (1892). The grammar of science. The contemporary science series. London : New York: Walter Scott ; Charles Scribner's Sons.
33. Pearson, Karl (1 January 1896). "Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution. III. Regression, Heredity, and Panmixia". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 187: 253–318. Bibcode:1896RSPTA.187..253P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1896.0007. ISSN 1364-503X.
34. Gillham, Nicholas (9 August 2013). "The Battle Between the Biometricians and the Mendelians: How Sir Francis Galton Caused his Disciples to Reach Conflicting Conclusions About the Hereditary Mechanism". Science & Education. 24 (1–2): 61–75. Bibcode:2015Sc&Ed..24...61G. doi:10.1007/s11191-013-9642-1.
35. "PEARSON, Karl". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 1373.
36. Mackenzie, Donald (1981). Statistics in Britain, 1865–1930: The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge, Edinburgh University Press.
37. Hald, Anders (1998). A History of Mathematical Statistics from 1750 to 1930. Wiley, p. 651.
38. Analyse Mathematique. Sur Les Probabilties des Erreurs de Situation d'un Point Mem. Acad. Roy. Sei. Inst. France, Sci. Math, et Phys., t. 9, p. 255–332. 1846
39. Wright, S., 1921. Correlation and causation. Journal of agricultural research, 20(7), pp. 557–585
40. Stigler, S. M. (1989). "Francis Galton's Account of the Invention of Correlation". Statistical Science. 4 (2): 73–79. doi:10.1214/ss/1177012580.
41. Pearson, K. (1900). "On the Criterion that a given System of Deviations from the Probable in the Case of a Correlated System of Variables is such that it can be reasonably supposed to have arisen from Random Sampling". Philosophical Magazine. Series 5. Vol. 50 no. 302. pp. 157–175. doi:10.1080/14786440009463897.
42. Neyman, J.; Pearson, E. S. (1928). "On the use and interpretation of certain test criteria for purposes of statistical inference". Biometrika. 20 (1/2): 175–240. doi:10.2307/2331945. JSTOR 2331945.
43. Pearson, K. (1901). "On Lines and Planes of Closest Fit to Systems of Points is Space". Philosophical Magazine. Series 6. Vol. 2 no. 11. pp. 559–572. doi:10.1080/14786440109462720.
44. Jolliffe, I. T. (2002). Principal Component Analysis, 2nd ed. New York: Springer-Verlag.
45. Pearson, K. (1895). "Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Evolution. II. Skew Variation in Homogeneous Material". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 186: 343–414. Bibcode:1895RSPTA.186..343P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1895.0010.
Most of the biographical information above is taken from the Karl Pearson page at the Department of Statistical Sciences at University College London, which has been placed in the public domain. The main source for that page was A list of the papers and correspondence of Karl Pearson (1857–1936) held in the Manuscripts Room, University College London Library, compiled by M. Merrington, B. Blundell, S. Burrough, J. Golden and J. Hogarth and published by the Publications Office, University College London, 1983.
Additional information from entry for Karl Pearson in the Sackler Digital Archive of the Royal Society

Further reading

• Eisenhart, Churchill (1974). Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 10, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 447–473.
• Norton, Bernard J (1978). "Karl Pearson and Statistics: The Social Origins of Scientific Innovation" (PDF). Social Studies of Science. 8 (1): 3–34. doi:10.1177/030631277800800101. PMID 11615697.
• Pearson, E. S. (1938). Karl Pearson: An Appreciation of Some Aspects of his Life and Work. Cambridge University Press.
• Porter, T. M. (2004). Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age, Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12635-7.

External links

• O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Karl Pearson", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
• Karl Pearson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
• John Aldrich's Karl Pearson: a Reader's Guide at the University of Southampton (contains many useful links to further sources of information).
• Encyclopædia Britannica Karl Pearson
• Gavan Tredoux's Francis Galton website,, contains Pearson's biography of Francis Galton, and several other papers – in addition to nearly all of Galton's own published works.
• Karl Pearson and the Origins of Modern Statistics at The Rutherford Journal.
• Texts on Wikisource:
o Nock, Albert Jay, "A New Science and Its Findings", The American Magazine (The Phillips Publishing Co.) LXXIII (5): 577 (March 1912)
o "Biometrika" from The Doctor's Dilemma by George Bernard Shaw
o "Pearson, Karl" . Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
• "Studies in the history of probability and statistics, L: Karl Pearson and the Rule of Three"[permanent dead link], Stigler 2012
• From Masaryk to Karl Pearson, Philosophy as Scientia Scientiarum
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:15 am

John Flügel
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/7/20

In 1930 John Carl Flugel wrote a text, long considered classic, called "The Psychology of Clothes," from a eugenics point of view. The book argued that dress was a primary area of dispute between the id (equated with the desire from childhood to exhibit one's naked body) and the superego (resulting in the social prohibition of nudity for the sake of modesty), a conflict that he associated with authoritative and repressive societies. He was a social evolutionist, proposing that eventually society would outgrow authoritarian politics and the need for arbitrary rules regarding clothing. He envisioned that we would be able to control our environment so that clothes would either be unnecessary or be reduced to minimalist, rationalized versions.67

After World War II, the idea of eugenics soured because of its connection with Nazi racial cleansing, but as Susan Currell writes, "Eugenics was a continuing presence in the public psyche" in the 1930s. In 1930 the language of eugenics permeated the New York World's Fair (as it had Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition of 1933-1934). In the Vogue spread, the garments of the future were envisioned on bodies improved through eugenics, something noted by most of the Vogue feature designers. Christina Cogdell has explored the popularity of eugenics-based ideas among American industrial designers during the 1930s and revealed their obsession with health and fitness, even their application of streamlining concepts to human physical efficiency.69 The Vogue feature bore this out. One engineer among the designers, William Sakier, wrote, "The woman of the future will be tall, slim and lovely; she will be bred to it -- for the delectation of the community and her own happiness. She will move in a world of vast horizons."70 Likewise, Walter Dorwin Teague (a designer of the DuPont pavilion) wrote that, in the future, "Most women will have beautiful bodies ... Gowns will be designed to reveal the beauty of their bodies and will afford only the minimum of covering .... Materials will be of chemical origin, and many will be either transparent or translucent, with an individual life of their own."

The designs themselves, or at least the designers' explanations of them, artfully conjoined perfectibility with American notions of freedom, and they were not totally confined to women's fashions. One of the designers chosen by Vogue (all male), Gilbert Rhode, dressed his version of the "man of the future," representing a "revolt" from woolen suits and "a lifetime spent buttoning and lacing ... the ritual of fitting; ... the futility of pressing knife-like edges." Instead Rhode's garment, called the "Solo-suit," was a loose-fitting jumpsuit woven of beryllium thread, a suit so simple in design that Rhode speculated it could be cheaply manufactured and bought in any drugstore. Atop the overalls Rhode added a "Plastivest" -- a vest made of pieces of Plexiglas and chrome-plated ball-chain with wires to accommodate some sort of two-way telephone, worn on the body, presumably working in concert with the military-style utility belt and "Antenna hat" on the man's head (which looks rather like a halo). In fact, with his curly beard ("shaving the face has disappeared" he wrote), Rhode's man of the future looks exactly like a traditional Christ figure dressed in Flash Gordon attire -- a holy saint of technology.72

-- Garments of Paradise: Wearable Discourse in the Digital Age, by Susan Elizabeth Ryan/quote]


John Carl Flügel (or Flügel) (13 June 1884 – 6 August 1955), was a British experimental psychologist and a practising psychoanalyst.

Training and career

Flügel was born in London on 13 June 1884. His father was German and his mother English, and the family also had close ties with France, and so Flügel learned all three languages as he grew up. Because of a congenital malformation of his feet, however, he did not follow a normal pattern of secondary education.

Aged only 17 he attended Oxford University where he took a doctorate in philosophy, and grew interested in hypnotism, becoming a member of Frederic W. H. Myers' Society for Psychical Research. He also became interested in experimental psychology under the influence of William McDougall, and spent some time studying it in Wűrzburg before joining Charles Spearman at the University of London.[1] There he took a doctorate of science and taught as an auxiliary professor between 1929 and 1944.

Flügel was honorary secretary of the British Psychological Society from 1911 to 1920, honorary librarian from 1911 to 1932, and its president from 1932 to 1935. During the First World War he made a number of important contributions to the society, of which he became an honorary fellow. He was also an honorary member of the Indian Psychological Association, and became president of the Programme Committee of the International Congress on Mental Health in 1948, and of the psychology section of the British Medical Association in 1950.

Psychoanalytic career and writings

After undergoing psychoanalysis with Ernest Jones, the two men became friends; and Flügel (with Jones) helped in the refounding of the British Psychoanalytical Society and 1919, as well as the re-organisation of the British Psychological Society.[2] Flügel was also secretary of the International Psychoanalytic Association from 1919 to 1924, and, again with Ernest Jones, helped create the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in 1920.[3] He also helped translate Sigmund Freud's Vorlesungen (Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; 1916-1917a [1915-1917]).

Flügel's Psychoanalytic Study of the Family (1921) was acclaimed by Eric Berne for its insights into the Oedipus complex.[4] He also published Men and their Motives (1934) and The Psychology of Clothes (1930)[5], the latter continuing to influence thinking on the subject into the 21st century.[6]

In Man, Morals and Society (1945), Flugel charted a movement from egocentrism to social awareness by way of what he saw as a hierarchy of expanding loyalties.[7] Reaching back to his old mentor, he also highlighted “the distinction that McDougall has sometimes made between an 'ideal', which is little more than an intellectual assent to a moral proposition, and a 'sentiment', which involves a real mobilisation”.[8]

Marriage and death

In 1913 Flügel married Ingeborg Klingberg, who also became a psychoanalyst. They had one daughter. Flügel died in London on 17 August 1955.

See also

• Oswald Külpe
• Semiotics of dress
• Sibling rivalry
• Susan Isaacs


1. O. L. Zangwill, 'Flugel, John Charles', in R. Gregory ed., The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 264
2. Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 487
3. Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 502
4. Eric Berne, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (1976) p. 134
5. O. L. Zangwill, 'Flugel, John Charles', in R. Gregory ed., The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 264
6. R. Koppen, Virginia Woolf, Fashion and Literary Modernism (2009) p. 59
7. J. C. Flugel, Man, Morals and Society (1973) p. 242-3 and p. 317
8. J. C. Flugel, Man, Morals and Society (1973) p. 67

Further reading

• Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Graham Richards, Flügel, John Carl (1884–1955), first published 2004, 822 words
• FLUGEL, John Carl, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007, accessed 30 Jan 2012 ... A3&ext=pdf
• Alain de Mijolla Gale Dictionary of Psychoanalysis: John Carl Flügel
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:00 pm

Part 1 of 2

Neo-Malthusianism and eugenics in the struggle over meaning in the Spanish anarchist press, 1900-1936
by Jorge Molero-Mesa, Isabel Jimenez-Lucena, and Carlos Tabernero-Holgado
História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, v.25, supl., ago.


This article analyzes the debate on neo-Malthusianism and eugenics in Spanish anarchist publications in the first third of the last century. Using theoretical frameworks that have been under-utilized thus far, it provides new interpretations of what the term “eugenics” meant in pro-anarchist neo-Malthusian journals. Framed within a “struggle over meaning,” Spanish neo-Malthusianism re-signified eugenic ideas in an attempt to recover political ground that had been lost in the drive to promote individual control of human sexuality. This study also analyzes the role of the anarchosyndicalist movement’s “direct action” strategy, in which actions undertaken by individualist anarchists were seen as a complement to revolutionary action.

Keywords: neo-Malthusianism; eugenics; anarchism; anarcho-syndicalism; degenerationism.

Jorge Molero-Mesa
Professor, Facultad de Medicina/Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.
Barcelona – Cataluña – Spain

Isabel Jiménez-Lucena
Professor, Facultad de Medicina/Universidad de Málaga.
Málaga – Málaga – Spain

Carlos Tabernero-Holgado
Professor, Facultad de Medicina/Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.
Barcelona – Cataluña – Spain

You can die of love just as you can die of hunger.

-- Luis Bulffi (1904, p.2)

The sexual question is at the root of the social question.

-- G. Hardy [Gabriel Giroud] (1933, p.36)

This article analyzes the debate on eugenics and neo-Malthusianism that took place in Spanish anarchist publications in the first third of the last century. Incorporating anarchist sources gives us a better understanding of the mechanisms whereby hegemonic medicine became a global design (Mignolo, 2012), and how it arrived at the notion of a normalized body subject to common, universal patterns, both in health and in disease states. The topic we are dealing with is very complex, due to the large number of variables related to human sexuality and the collective, populational approach to it, in which biological issues are only one of many elements that need to be taken into account. In order to help overcome this reductive view, we wish to contribute to the debate on neo- Malthusianism and eugenics by analyzing elements that might help open up new lines of research on the history of the regulation and scientific-medical normalization of the body, and on the forms of resistance to that regulation, which attempted to reinterpret and re-signify the meaning of certain words and acts.

In the period being studied, there were various responses to the problem of the “proletarian population surplus” and the phenomenon of “racial degeneracy” that accompanied industrial development in western countries. The most visible aspect of this, which was cited as evidence, was the dire poverty of hundreds of thousands of wage-earning employees. The chronic physical frailness characteristically seen in the impoverished meant that the growing numbers of people contracting diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis came almost exclusively from the working class. Along with alcoholism, these pathologies made up the so-called “race degeneration triad” for all social groups (Molero-Mesa, 1999). In a European context of social conflict and class struggle, two theories emerged to deal with these problems: neo-Malthusianism and eugenics.

Our underlying hypothesis is that throughout the first half of the twentieth century, there was a struggle between opposing social groups over the meaning (Jiménez-Lucena, Molero-Mesa, Tabernero-Holgado, forthcoming) of the signifiers “neo-Malthusianism” and “eugenics.” If we assume that “power inhabits meaning” and that meanings “are a fundamental resource of social power” (Escobar, 2010, p.30), we must acknowledge that struggles over meaning are essential in a social dynamic that channels and resolves conflicts over scientific and cultural distribution (Escobar, 2005, p.123-144). In this case, the conflicts stem from differing biopolitical attitudes (Jiménez-Lucena, Molero-Mesa, 2009, 2011, 2014) regarding the extent and purpose of contraceptive practices in the public and private sphere. Likewise, cultural struggles, including struggles over meaning, play an important role in the configuration of hegemonic/subaltern relationships, as defined by Gramsci, who considers this duality in a non-dichotomous, shifting way, rejecting the idea that some hegemonic groups impose meanings on other subaltern groups, which passively accept them (Jiménez-Lucena, Molero-Mesa, Tabernero-Holgado, forthcoming; Jiménez-Lucena, 2014). Following this relational perspective, we argue that these groups are inserted in dialogic relations that mark their discourses, interests and strategies.1 From this perspective, heterogeneous social groups in subaltern situations (as is the case for anarchism) may function as agents who actively define sociobiological processes involving human beings. This gives rise to conflicts over power distribution that generate negotiations and forms of resistance, arguments and counterarguments, allowing us to problematize the origin of physical normalization processes and the reasons for the success of this “local history” generated by biopower, which became hegemonic through eugenic measures characteristically found in social reform policies. prevailing over other power devices such as the legal system, the Army, the educational system or religion.

There is now a large body of literature analyzing the development of neo-Malthusian and eugenic movements in western countries. True historiographical specializations have emerged, as in the case of research on Nazi racial hygiene policies. A review of this literature is beyond the scope of this article (Bashford, Levinell, 2010). Our approach to the issue is based on studies that link neo-Malthusianism to libertarian movements in the first third of the twentieth century in Spain; we wish to discuss the embrace of eugenic ideas by anarcho-libertarian groups, and its implications for individualist anarchist thought and practice.2

For the purposes of this article, we shall use three journals as our principal sources, each of which was, in turn, the main vehicle for the spread of neo-Malthusianism in Spain in the first third of the twentieth century: Salud y Fuerza (1904-1914), Generación Consciente (1923-1928) and Estudios (1928-1937); also Solidaridad Obrera (1907-1939), the publication of the National Labor Confederation (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, referred to hereafter as CNT).

The characteristics of Spanish neo-Malthusianism

The start of the neo-Malthusian movement in Spain has been studied by a number of authors, who have approached it in terms of the history of sexuality, law, education, science and medicine, focusing on various different aspects and methodologies (Masjuan, 2000; Díez, 2001; Girón Sierra, 2005; Cleminson, 2008). Based on their work, we can reconstruct the theoretical framework and practices of the Spanish section of the League for Human Regeneration (Liga para la Regeneración Humana) led by the anarchist Luis Bulffi de Quintana (b. 1867). The league’s publication was Salud y Fuerza, and its general principles remained the same throughout the period under study, as we shall see later.

Briefly put, the movement supported conscious procreation on the part of the proletariat as a way to fight the state and the church, and it sought to achieve this by providing rational teachings that gave workers access to scientific knowledge about human reproduction from the sociological, economic and biological point of view. This knowledge, according to the proponents of neo-Malthusianism, was being kept “secret” by medical professionals and by the moral and legal mechanisms of the established social system, whose interests were served by keeping the proletariat ignorant so as to perpetuate an army of barely-surviving workers living in abject poverty (Tabernero-Holgado, Jiménez-Lucena, Molero-Mesa, 2013). For neo-Malthusianism, large families meant greater poverty in these families’ homes, with all the attendant consequences (hunger, serious illnesses, acceptance of poorly-paid jobs…). This meant it was important to share contraceptive methods and make them available to working people of both sexes.

The journal Salud y Fuerza was able to promote this type of learning by using reader participation to help manage contraceptive knowledge, thus turning non-experts into active epistemological agents. It not only conveyed information by experts to be assimilated by lay people, but co-constructed knowledge through communication practices that set up an exchange with readers. In this dynamic of self-management of knowledge in a dialogic relationship with hegemonic thought, struggles over meaning were struggles for resources, both symbolic and material, in the process of (de)stabilizing social systems (Tabernero-Holgado, Jiménez-Lucena, Molero-Mesa, 2013; Jiménez-Lucena, Molero-Mesa, Tabernero-Holgado, forthcoming; Jiménez-Lucena, 2014).

This can be seen in various sections of the journal during its 10 years in print. One of them invited readers to interpret drawings showing the social reality of the working-class family with many or few children (Figure 1) or to interpret the paths humanity might take to reach social revolution (Figure 2). The winner of this last contest ended his interpretation of the rocks on the cliff as follows: “Let us be resolute and wade through social revolution, by way of womb strikes (huelgas de vientre), as well as strikes by politicians, clergy, the Army and employees, with no fear that any of them will fail, and we shall reach the land of anarchism strong and determined” (Oromil, 1906, p.74).

The goals of Spanish neo-Malthusianism are summed up in the article “New humanity” (“Nueva humanidad”), by the anarchist José Chueca (d. 1927), published in Salud y Fuerza in 1913 and reprinted, significantly, in Generación Consciente ten years later (Chueca, 1923). Chueca argued that the human race was “degenerate” and pointed to the usual vices and diseases (syphilis, alcoholism, tuberculosis), but above all, he argued that poverty and ignorance were responsible for creating and maintaining the problem of degeneracy. As a result, among the multiple possible ways to combat them he proposes two “whose virtue is immediately revealed: one is conscious, limited procreation, and the other is rationalist, comprehensive education” (Chueca, 1913, p.290). Chueca believed (p.290) that neo-Malthusianism showed people how to choose their descendants by using contraceptive methods, and he predicted that: “In a few generations a physically beautiful, strong, healthy species could be obtained. And if those generations were taught and given a solid, rational, scientific education, then mankind would become ideal, superior, good, and wise as a result.”

Meanwhile, the neo-Malthusianist G. Hardy (the pseudonym of Gabriel Giroud)3 wrote in Salud y Fuerza about the advantages of this method of population control as opposed to other, traditional ones such as war or epidemics:

neo-Malthusian methods solve the problem of the proportions that must be established between the population and the means of subsistence without brutality, trouble, or pain… From society’s point of view, these methods facilitate the resolution of problems that bedevil the working world: if there are fewer workers competing for jobs, salaries will be higher, the work will be less tiring, and strikes will be successfully suppressed by workers. From the point of view of individuals and families, people will live more comfortably, air and light will penetrate their hovels, children will be better brought up, politer and better-educated, women will be emancipated, and men will use their leisure time intelligently, since the terrible anguish of overwork will no longer absorb all their strength and brain-power. In short, this will lead to a new era in the near future, an era in which we shall barely remember those criminal powers: the state, capital, and the church (Giroud, 1904, p.4).

We can see that in diagnosing the etiology of the problem, there is an appeal to social and biological factors, using the talking-points of radical environmentalism (Jiménez- Lucena, 2004; Molero-Mesa, Jiménez-Lucena, 2010) and neo-Malthusianism adapted to the circumstances and interests of libertarian ideas. Luis Bulffi, the director of the journal Salud y Fuerza, declared in the first issue that one of the magazine’s fundamental goals was “to publicize the positive data of ‘biological and social science’ so that future generations will not be like our own” (Bulffi, 1904, p.1; emphasis added).

Figure 1: Cover (Salud y Fuerza, 1906b, p.65)

Figure 2: Cover (Salud y Fuerza, 1906a, p.49)

Logically, therefore, Spanish neo-Malthusianism was linked from the outset to the progressive educational goals of the Modern School (Escuela Moderna), which helped spread libertarian-style neo-Malthusianism in Spain before Salud y Fuerza was founded. The most famous figure associated with the Modern School was Francisco Ferrer Guardia (1859-1909) (Masjuan, 2000; Girón Sierra, Molero-Mesa, 2016). It is no accident that it was in a publication of the Modern School, the Boletín de la Escuela Moderna, that Paul Robin (1901, p.32) laid out the principles of comprehensive education and the three ideas for promoting human happiness: “Good birth, good education, good social organization,” a slogan that saw both neo-Malthusianism and education as the two indispensable pillars of a libertarian revolution. Articles from neo-Malthusian journals and books were found in rationalist schools founded by libertarian Athenaeums and labor unions belonging to the CNT. In 1934, the journal Solidaridad Obrera declared that, as a result of the action of the rationalist schools, “every one of the young pupils in the libertarian Athenaeums knows more about hygiene, physical fitness and heliotherapy than ninety per cent of our rural schoolteachers” (Otra vez…, 1934, p.3).

Scientific legitimation of neo-Malthusianism

Neo-Malthusianism used science to legitimize itself socially and to validate its theories. It did so both to attack its traditional enemies (the State, the Church, and the Army), whom it accused of being “immoral,” and to provide a basis for its own concept of morality. Indeed, neo-Malthusians argued that along with the need to avoid procreation, medical knowledge showed there was a physiological need for people to use their sexual organs regularly. According to neo-Malthusians, medical science had demonstrated that sexual continence led to physical disorders similar to those associated with non-use of other organs like the stomach or the lungs:

A physiological law that is of utterly supreme importance [sic] and that applies in a rigorously universal manner orders that every member in our bodies must be exercised normally in order to remain healthy and vigorous. The eyes, the organs of sight, need light; the legs and arms, the organs of locomotion, need movement; intelligence requires thought; our appetites and our passions need normal pleasures, otherwise they gradually weaken and inevitably become diseased (Leyes…, 1911, p.132).

The damage was not only physical, but also psychological:

An individual’s nature is so closely related to sexual pleasures, and our happiness and health so depend on being able to indulge them naturally and normally, that we cannot ignore them without causing great damage to the body (Leyes…, 1911, p.132).

Neo-Malthusian rational education should therefore be rounded out by teaching new moral ideas based on scientific knowledge, since whereas official morality was based “on hypocrisy, aversion and scorn for matters relating to sex, which it considers shameful, neo-Malthusianism teaches the legitimacy and nobility of the sexual function.” Therefore, “just as we teach the primary role of digestion or respiration, we should teach the primary role of copulation and fertilization” (Grandjean, 1910, p.64).

We can now understand the vehement opposition this movement aroused in hegemonic thought. These highly subversive ideas and practices threatened the central nexus of the capitalist-natalist system, and an entire way of looking at society based on religious, authoritarian thinking about sexual repression – in other words, all the ways that biopower was exercised.

Given the traditional forms of direct physical repression and the disparaged “civilized” social control carried out by the legal system and the church, it is not strange that the response to neo-Malthusianism arose from the very science it was advocating: the hegemonic system’s attempt to regain control of the population was called eugenics and it was intended to dispute the territory gained by neo-Malthusianism, as we shall now see.

Hegemonic thought and the attempt to discredit neo-Malthusianism: the Church, the State and… science

Neo-Malthusianism was fundamentally a self-regulated practice carried on outside the academy and run by heterogeneous groups of freethinkers including liberals, socialists and anarchists who shared an opposition to religious morality and the irrational and authoritarian rules issued by the State. In Spain, this movement was linked to anarchist groups who wished to destabilize the capitalist economic system by acting on the population. Neo-Malthusian practice also defied the power of the Church and State by defending free love and attacking marriage.

Hegemonic thought was well aware that the neo-Malthusian movement in Spain was opposed to the established social system, and it used all available means to counter it. The foundation of conservative Catholic social order, “religion, property, and the family,” was being attacked, along with the populational and natalist foundation of the conservative bourgeoisie, and their publications announced this (Masjuan, 2000, p.233-282). For example, La Lectura Dominical, the journal of the Apostolate of the Press (Apostolado de la Prensa), congratulated itself in 1926 on the fact that the government had passed a decree protecting large families, while describing neo-Malthusian practices as “criminal.” It reminded readers that Francisco Ferrer and Mateo Morral’s Modern School was the main source of propagation for these “dissolute doctrines”:

It is highly significant that the revolutionary elements who are opposed to religious morality are the intellectual agents of this social aberration; indeed, it is understandable that the proponents of free love, divorce, secularization and state control of the family should be defending and fomenting abominable neo-Malthusian practices (León, 12 jun. 1926, p.284).

However, the repressive discourses and practices of the church or state merely reinforced revolutionary practices among the working class in the early twentieth century. As Kate Austin (1864-1902) argued in an article reprinted in Solidaridad Obrera in 1916: “When the enemies of liberty expose their weak side in this way, anarchists know just where to target their attacks” (Austin, 10 ago. 1916, p.2).

The criminalization of neo-Malthusianism did indeed begin with its relationship to radical anarchism. In the aftermath of Mateo Morral’s attempted assassination of Alfonso XIII in Madrid in May 1906, much was made in the press of the fact that he belonged to neo-Malthusian groups. The goal was clearly to criminalize neo-Malthusian practice by identifying it with the violent actions of its followers, and giving a scientific explanation. The results of the autopsy on Mateo Morral (we now know he did not commit suicide but was murdered a few days after the attack) (Masjuan, 2009, p.111-119), relayed in the bourgeois press from a Lombrosian criminal anthropological perspective, stressed Morral’s high level of degeneracy. Antonio Lecha-Marzo, who was a young man at the time (1888- 1919), examined Mateo Morral’s body, and concluded that:

From the anomalies noted in Mateo Morral, only three seem to be of any importance: prognathism, prominence of the frontal sinuses and the deviated septum. These three abnormal degenerate characteristics mean that Morral fits Lombroso’s description of the criminal type (Lecha-Marzo, 1906, p.87).

It was not new to use Lombrosian theory to establish that people who had become anarchists were degenerates (Girón Sierra, 2005). The novelty, in this case, involved associating the person’s physical, mental and moral characteristics with neo-Malthusian ideas and practices, which were getting a lot of coverage in the daily papers and, as we saw earlier, were still remembered years later. The bourgeois press, after the attempt on Alfonso XII’s life, stated that “Mateo Morral soon joined the anarchist neo-Malthusian movement. He was drawn to it by his negative attitude to life, its paltriness for this young engineer, his solitary, mystical nature, in disarray thanks to his passions and to womanizing, his physical degeneracy etc.” (El criminal…, 4 jun. 1906, p.1).

But official scientific doctrine not only asserted that neo-Malthusianism was commonly practiced by degenerates but also went so far as to contradict what the movement meant for the health of individual followers. Indeed, some physicians believed “neo-Malthusian practices” caused serious genital dysfunctions both in men and women, relating them directly to sexual continence, “early withdrawal” and masturbation. They not only ignored the fact that neo-Malthusianism defended non-reproductive sexual pleasure, but also overlooked all the contraceptive resources that neo-Malthusians were attempting to make available to the population, precisely to avoid resorting to the practices they were accused of. The urologist Narciso Serrallach Maurí (1875-1951), director of the Barcelona journal Hojas Urológicas (1913-1935), which in 1931 published an article significantly titled “Genital dysfunction disorders: continence, neo-Malthusianism and masturbation” (Serrallach, 1931), wrote in 1916 that:

Controlling procreation, which Malthus advocates so as to make our descendants’ struggle for subsistence less arduous, necessarily involves not only sexual abstinence but incomplete acts, masturbation and even sexual excitations not followed by coitus (Serrallach, 1916, p.33).

All the publicity around the issue created by official science reinforced the impression that every neo-Malthusian was an anarchist and vice versa, even though not all anarchist workers agreed with these ideas, and not all neo-Malthusians were anarchists. In 1935, the journal Estudios reported that neo-Malthusians in France who underwent voluntary sterilization were starting to be prosecuted and sent to jail, noting that it wished to warn “comrades” for fear that this type of repressive legislation might be reproduced in Spain (Puente, mayo 1935, p.17).

The struggle over meaning: neo-Malthusianism and eugenics

The various campaigns by the scientific establishment to disparage and criminalize neo-Malthusianism did not succeed in halting this world-wide movement, which continued to threaten the pillars of traditional capitalist society. Neo-Malthusianism supported individual management of sexuality, mainly in connection with contraception and population control, and it used science to support its call for equality, presenting itself as offering liberation through knowledge, which it saw as an emancipatory tool that revealed injustice and social inequality and offered a means to emancipation (Jiménez- Lucena, Molero-Mesa, 2009). Eugenics, however (according to the hypotheses we plan to demonstrate), arose with two fundamental goals: to discredit neo-Malthusianism by using the very same scientific and technological terrain to regain the biopolitical initiative on management of the body and human sexuality, and, at the same time, to legitimize the existence of social inequality politically, using scientific models, in a liberal and supposedly egalitarian society in which all citizens had the same rights and duties. It was thus in the terrain of science that the dispute over the meaning of the terms “neo- Malthusianism” and “eugenics” took place.

The first piece of evidence to validate our hypothesis comes from the International Neo-Malthusian Conference in The Hague in July 1910 (Quast, 2014). One of the topics scheduled for the day in private session was “Would it be useful or desirable to change the name of neo-Malthusianism?” (Programa…, 1910, p.1). Clearly, eugenics was starting to exert some pressure since it had emerged from the academy, with laws restricting births being passed in some European and North American countries. The physician and psychiatrist Auguste Forel (1848-1931) proposed at the conference that the name “neo- Malthusianism” should be changed to “eugenetism” or “eugenism.” The reason he gave, in addition to stating that it was a science of interest “to hygienists and doctors,” was that “the neo-Malthusian question is merely a question of seeking quality,” which was possible, he argued, “without bothering to limit quantity, at least for now.” After general deliberation, it was finally decided that the name of neo-Malthusianism should be maintained, “because it has a broader meaning than the word ‘eugenism’ or ‘eugenetism,’ which indicates just one branch of neo-Malthusian action” (Grandidier, 1910, p.20; emphasis in the original).

Indeed, the belief that the objectives and methods of eugenics were already integrated into neo-Malthusianism was repeated at the first International Eugenics Congress, held in London in June 1912. Edmon Potier (1912, p.185), reviewed the conference for the journal Salud y Fuerza, and referred to eugenics as follows:

Regardless of whether this is acknowledged or denied, the new science is none other than neo-Malthusian science, with all its sub-divisions, as attested by comparing it to the various fields where our efforts have been directed and the various sections of the Congress. Its identity leads necessarily to the same fundamental goal: ‘good procreation’ (emphasis in the original).

At this early stage, the neo-Malthusians were happy to have media attention from the press, claiming that the conference drew “official experts the world over – biologists, hygienists, pediatricians, gynecologists, neurologists, educators, sociologists etc.” and they concluded that:

For our part, we see no problem in people calling it whatever they want. This will give rise to the curious spectacle of seeing newspapers that have so far been hostile to neo-Malthusianism combatting it on the one hand and valiantly defending Eugenics on the other! (Potier, 1912, p.187).

However, at this conference, eugenics came up with a definition, which was proposed by Galton himself, and linked to state intervention: “Eugenics is the study of the causes ‘subject to social control,’ and it can improve or exacerbate the racial qualities of future generations, whether mentally or physically” (Potier, 1912, p.187; emphasis in the original). In other words, following the traditional hygienic line, characteristic of medical policing, the 1912 conference attendees trusted that the power of the State would achieve all their proposals for improving the quality of the human race, while attempting to disassociate themselves from neo-Malthusian initiatives, which came to be seen only as a way of limiting births, with no further social or biological considerations.

In a presentation on “racial hygiene,” the German doctor Alfred Ploetz (1860-1940) pointedly attacked neo-Malthusian practices of self-management as being outside state control:

If we look at all its effects, we have to conclude that nowadays the spread of neo- Malthusianism, which is not regulated and is poorly run, is harmful from the racial hygiene point of view. We should strive to abolish it, but I believe it may be totally impossible to suppress. Whenever Malthusianism grows up somewhere, it remains in the families affected for many years… Even the Catholic church has proven powerless to stop it. There is nothing for it but to influence Malthusian practice through eugenics so that the race will suffer as little as possible from it… Right now, we need, firstly, to fight neo-Malthusian propaganda (Ploetz, 1913, p.189).

Ploetz believed that the problem being created by the spread of neo-Malthusian practices was that they were impeding the reproduction of the most intelligent members of society, since they were widespread among the middle and upper class and less so among the proletariat. Furthermore, poor families who were practicing neo-Malthusianism were capable of rearing and nurturing sickly children who would not have survived if the family had been larger, so that, in his view, neo-Malthusian practice was contrary to natural selection (Ploetz, 1913, p.189). This argument based on “reverse selection” was key to the spread of eugenics. The medical journal The Lancet dutifully recorded this (Neo- Malthusianism, 1912, p.960) when the English Malthusian League published a pamphlet titled Neo-Malthusianism and eugenics (Drysdale, 1912), which fought these criticisms, claiming that the League was also in favor of improving the quality of the human race and not merely reducing the number of inhabitants, a charge the proponents of eugenics were leveling at neo-Malthusians.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 2 of 2

It is true that what Foucault called “biopower” saw eugenic ideas as a way to turn the biological regulation of sexuality into a tool of domination for hegemonic thought, in the interests of the State and liberal society, but it did so at a point when the neo-Malthusian movement had spent decades offering anatomic and physiological information on human reproduction to the general population so that people could decide for themselves whether sexual intercourse would have a reproductive goal or not. This phenomenon, which was linked to the revolutionary potential of the southern European anarchist movements at a time of especially intense social conflict (Masjuan, 2017), helps explain the delay in the emergence of explicit eugenic activism, twenty years after Galton proposed the goals and limits of eugenics in 1883 (Schneider, 1990, p.5-7), and over thirty years after his work Hereditary genius was published in 1869. These sociopolitical forces also drove the switch from public hygiene to social medicine, a discipline that took on eugenic ideas in Spain (Rodríguez Ocaña, 1992; Álvarez Peláez, 1995), where specifically eugenic leagues did not flourish, since ecclesiastic and state powers were opposed to any manifestations of sexuality that were not uniquely oriented towards reproduction of the species.

The issue at stake was whether the body should be managed by the state (eugenics) or by each individual for themselves (neo-Malthusianism), since these two biopolitical endeavors pursued mutually exclusive goals in terms of ideological utopias, which were inherent both to libertarian-style neo-Malthusianism and to eugenics linked to the interests of hegemonic power.

After the International Eugenics Congress in London, the proponents of eugenics began stressing the differences between the two approaches to racial improvement. According to the anarchist José Chueca (1914, p.322):

Eugenics and neo-Malthusianism, even though they claim to pursue the same end – the regeneration of the human species – bear no relationship to one another whatsoever; the first is essentially bourgeois and falsely scientific, and the second is against the bourgeoisie and is catalogued among the things that really do belong to science; one vainly claims to regenerate humankind by brutally trying to prevent a certain number of individuals from procreating, and the other aspires to convince people to procreate consciously by offering them, in order to do so, the means to prevent fertilization, since neo-Malthusianism does not wish to impose on anyone by violent procedures, nor does it deny even the most miserable and degenerate of men the right to love.

The solution, he argued, was very different than the one offered by bourgeois eugenics:

What we need to do is to suppress the causes of species degeneration. Complete regeneration of all individuals is impossible, given the social conditions in which humankind currently exists. Thus, we neo-Malthusians do not limit ourselves to encouraging conscious, limited procreation; we aspire to transform society. We know very well that while the majority of people lack well-being and education, there will be cause for degeneration, and a great many degenerates (Chueca, 1914, p.322).

This argument was central also to a presentation by the Syndicate for Liberal Professions (Sindicato de las Profesiones Liberales) at the second CNT Congress held in Madrid in 1919. The talk was titled “Eugenic reasons why working-class organizations should fight for higher salaries.” The adjective “eugenic” was already integrated into the discourse of these anarcho-syndicalist intellectuals, but they acknowledged that they used it exclusively to reinforce the CNT’s economic demands with “scientific arguments.” Indeed, their presentation was announced as “a scientific topic that affects our working-class biology,” and it showed how the rise in the cost of basic foodstuffs from 1914-1919 had caused rising worker mortality, for which it blamed the “capitalist regime… for the physical annihilation and ethic degeneration of our race… [which] perpetuates all kinds of incurable diseases among our descendants” (Segundo Congreso…, 1919).

However, in 1923, in the context of a harsh crackdown on anarchist and anarchosyndicalist groups, an explicitly neo-Malthusian journal was relaunched, this time including a change in its theoretical stance on eugenics and neo-Malthusianism. The journal Generación Consciente, which was a continuation of the earlier Salud y Fuerza, maintained neo-Malthusian principles but under the denomination “eugenics,” leaving the term neo-Malthusianism limited to controlling the number of births. The journal’s title unequivocally defines it as a neo-Malthusian publication, but in order to preserve its objectives, it adopted the strategy of assuming a term already widespread in hegemonic scientific media at a time of great political complications for the libertarian movement.

Indeed, Isaac Puente, one of the physicians most widely supported by CNT members and the Iberian Anarchist Federation (Federación Anarquista Ibérica, FAI), launched the first issue of the journal Generación Consciente by acknowledging that eugenics had increasing numbers of followers, that it was “every doctor’s duty to disseminate and encourage its teachings,” since otherwise, he would incur “a great moral responsibility.” However, his approach remained neo-Malthusian, since he stressed the same issues as in prior years but under another name. He proposes as much up front:

to divulge the laws and information on heredity so as to avoid hereditary transmission of pathological criminal traits whose monstrosity only ignorance can excuse; to educate children rationally, teaching them the rudiments of sexuality and cultivating the sentiments of Health, Goodness and Beauty, so as later on to be able to influence amorous passion, which must obey this trilogy; to encourage the conditions of normality most favorable to the act of fertilization; forms of care required by this transcendental function in order to achieve the best possible product; the means to avoid fertilization (neo-Malthusianism) when it must be avoided; pre-natal care; rules for rearing infants properly (Puericulture) and prophylactic Hygiene (Puente, 1923, p.33-34).

Nevertheless, eugenics, whether neo-Malthusian in orientation or not, was viewed with suspicion by Spanish society, which was conservative and catholic, as seen in the suspension by governmental order of the Spanish Eugenics Course (Curso Eugenésico Español), organized by progressive and liberal groups in 1928 (Masjuan, 2000, p.395). But what concerned the Spanish authorities the most was neo-Malthusianism, as seen in the fact that in October of that same year, a new article was added to the Criminal Code that forbad the propagation of “contraceptive theories or practices” outside “purely scientific publications or the proceedings of expert bodies” (Martínez-Pereda, 1981, p.664). One of the consequences of this reform was the ban on the explicitly neo-Malthusian title of the journal Generación Consciente, which had been in publication since its foundation in 1923, despite various indictments and jail terms for its editor Joaquín Juan Pastor (b. 1895) (Navarro Navarro, 1997, p.26). At the same time, the criminal code outlawed the content of Generación Consciente, not only for attacking the tenets of public morality, but also because the journal could not be considered a scientific publication.

In December 1928, the journal had to be renamed Estudios; and it was not until 1930 that it could use the term neo-Malthusianism openly and frequently. Once the censorship imposed under the Primo de Rivera dictatorship ended, the journal Estudios (in its October 1930 issue) reaffirmed its “neo-Malthusian and eugenic” objectives, which, its editors acknowledged, were the same ones that had inspired Generación Consciente:

[Generación Consciente] aimed to provide mental and physical training, to diminish the endless supply of large, famished families, a mass of unconscious, unlettered, impoverished flesh, which provides the bodies that sustain this immoral, cruel society. Naturally, it drew hatred and war from all the vultures who traffic in and profit from human ignorance and suffering. Now that the odious censorship has disappeared… the educational work of Estudios will intensify neo-Malthusian and eugenic propaganda, prioritizing its initial slogan of Generación Consciente (Conscious Procreation) (La Redacción, oct. 1930, p.1).

It is no surprise, therefore, that the first article of the new, censorship-free era was devoted to neo-Malthusianism, and its author was the physician Isaac Puente, who, as we saw earlier, reduced it to the mere practice of contraception. However, this article is a defense of the revolutionary goals of neo-Malthusianism, which Puente presents as “a new idea,” perhaps because of the ostracism he had been subjected to, and he lists the justifications for it one by one. Significantly, he returns to the original neo-Malthusian idea of a comprehensive discipline and relegates eugenics to just another reason for contraception, concretely the “cold reason” of not procreating when there are cases of hereditary diseases or “transmissible pathological defects” present in the couple (Puente, oct. 1930, p.3).

In this assimilation of the term eugenics within neo-Malthusianism, what we might term “eugenic neo-Malthusianism,” we see the Spanish libertarian movement taking back the initiative in the struggle over the meaning of both terms, encouraged by the crisis of hegemony that characterized the historical period of Spain’s Second Republic, which made the rise of the libertarian movement possible.

Not completely abandoning the use of the word “eugenics” was to have strategic advantages in terms of spreading the neo-Malthusian ideal among the working class. On one hand, during the Republic, eugenics maintained its subversive potential against the Catholic church and conservative governments, which had never passed any laws inspired by this science. However, using the term “eugenics” also made it possible to overturn the idea of “reverse selection” that came out of racial hygiene and blamed neo-Malthusianism for the degeneration of the species, as we saw earlier. In this re-signification, if neo-Malthusian couples did not procreate for eugenic reasons, social inequality would be the principal reason for this “reverse selection.”

André Lorulot (1885-1963), writing in Estudios, put it thus:

The millionaire’s child who is degenerate and dimwitted will be showered with attention and surrounded by extremely expensive luxuries – which won’t prevent him from dying or continuing to be depraved or immoral… And meanwhile, the proletariat might have produced a healthy, robust child, who will fall sick because his parents don’t have enough time to take care of him or because he lacks the basics. Social injustice, based on privileges that come with money, leads to the degradation of the species (Lorulot, ene. 1934, p.58).

Thus, Spanish anarchism was able to appropriate a term that was linked in other countries to state intervention, the legitimation of elite bourgeoisies and repression of the working class.

Neo-Malthusianism, anarcho-syndicalism and direct action

There is one feature to bear in mind when dealing with the history of thought and libertarian action, and that is the internal organization of the various groups that emerged. In the case of anarcho-syndicalism (the main anarchist movement in terms of the number of members, visibility and social impact), we should not overlook the mechanisms of inclusion-exclusion put in place to prevent the organization from being run by intellectuals, or the direct action strategy that separated it from the possibilism of other labor union organizations. The strategy developed by the CNT consisted of differentiating and protecting its core manual labor unionists from possible attempts by intellectual workers to direct or influence them, particularly people in technical professions. CNT’s exclusive focus on union struggle (without joining forces with political parties vying for power) discouraged professionals seeking self-aggrandizement through the established power structure. Indeed, physicians, engineers and other specialized professionals had no particular interest in joining the ranks of the anarcho-syndicalists. However, the few intellectuals who did sympathize with or belong to anarchist-leaning groups were finally accepted into the CNT, but not mixed with blue-collar workers in their professional field. Instead, they were assigned to a union exclusively for intellectuals. The union never endorsed any proposal to distance itself from the struggle for change and revolution, for example by setting up health insurance, union stores or co-ops instead (unlike the socialist General Workers’ Union [Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT]), nor getting involved in practices mostly followed by anarchists such as naturism, nudism, or, of course, neo- Malthusianism. This modus operandi was followed by people who were union members and who also collaborated on an individual level with anarchist groups following these practices, since they knew what the role of each one was (Molero-Mesa, Jiménez-Lucena, Tabernero-Holgado, 2013).

This strategy pursued by anarcho-syndicalism provided a new focus for workers’ cultural centers, which banded together in Athenaeums and naturist or neo-Malthusian groups that had their own journals to publicize their agendas. All of these were places were manual and intellectual workers mingled, and intellectuals who sympathized with anarchism could collaborate in its revolutionary work, but final say over whether their proposals would be included in the union’s struggle lay exclusively with the CNT (Molero-Mesa, Jiménez-Lucena, 2013). Perhaps the most significant example of this was the CNT’s utter disregard of a proposal issued by the first Congress of the Federation of Single Healthcare Unions (Federación de Sindicatos Únicos de Sanidad), held in Madrid in November 1931, to “consider healthcare ideals as equivalent to libertarian ones… and to substitute healthcare reform for economic struggle tactics, making healthcare part of the proletariat’s demands” (Congreso…, 22 nov. 1931, p.3).

On the other hand, anarchist-leaning cultural journals were and called themselves “eclectic;” in other words, they would publish any article, even if the author did not identify with anarchist ideas or agree with the journal’s particular editorial line. It is not surprising, therefore, that journals like Generación Consciente or Estudios published articles by thinkers who did not share anarchist views, such as Gregorio Marañón, César Juarros, Nicolás Amador or Luis Huerta (Navarro Navarro, 1998). Articles by these writers were not published in order to endorse their ideas but to generate debate and to make good use of anything in them that might be of help in achieving libertarian ideals. We can also point to other factors that might have influenced the inclusion of these articles, such as the need for legitimation by scientific authorities in a society that was persecuting libertarians, or as a nod to intellectuals who might end up sympathizing with their ideas; there was also the fact that they were seeking to widen their audience in society. A very significant case that helps illustrate how libertarian publications’ eclecticism was perceived is that of the urologist Narciso Serrallach, who, as we saw earlier, disagreed with the anarchists’ concept of neo-Malthusianism. Nevertheless, in 1924, the journal Generación Consciente published an article of his, without seeming to care who the author was, because it gave practical advice on gonorrhea, a topic of interest to the journal’s readership, like everything related to sexually transmitted diseases (Serrallach, 1924).

This phenomenon makes it difficult to know how to approach these journals, and it has caused confusion for many authors who have sought a consistent editorial policy reflecting the ideology of the publications’ owners, as seen in the great majority of journals that are not “eclectic” in the libertarian sense.

However, the newspaper Solidaridad Obrera, the CNT’s official publication, exercised strict censorship of articles that did not follow anarcho-syndicalist principles and doctrines by advocating direct action, although the degree of strictness depended on who was on the editorial team at each particular point in history. During the Second Republic, when editorial policy was determined by the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), in order for an article on the tendencies and attitudes of the “confederal body” to be considered for publication in Solidaridad Obrera, it had to be rubber-stamped by the union to which the writer belonged. Examples of this censorship can be seen in the “Editorial” section, which listed the reasons why an article was rejected: “Pascual Cubells, Valencia – Your article cannot be published in our paper. We have no interest in religion whatsoever, unless it is to contribute to the complete disappearance of all of them;” “To a young Republican lady, Villafranca del Penedés – Indeed, dear young lady, he who keeps bad company will end up badly, and by praising the Republic, you are keeping very bad company, so, beware!” (Redacción, 15 mar. 1932, p.2).

The direct action strategy meant that unionists could not be involved in activities that distracted them from the only purpose that could end poverty once and for all: revolution. Neo-Malthusians thought that if there were less people in the proletariat, their social situation would improve both in the family (resources would be scarce but sufficient, if they did not have many children) and professionally (by reducing the number of workers competing for the same job). Therefore, neo-Malthusianism contributed to the ultimate emancipation of the working class, a goal that overrode all the partisan movements of circles outside the anarcho-syndicalist nucleus.

Final considerations

Libertarian-style neo-Malthusianism in Spain was a movement that re-signified the term “eugenics” during the first third of the twentieth century. It took a radically environmentalist view of the relationship between health and disease in order to explain the degenerative process in humankind. The measures it advocated to prevent couples with serious illnesses from procreating (“eugenic neo-Malthusianism”) were only a part of its revolutionary objectives, and, because it was an anarchist movement, it opposed the imposition of such measures through laws or the dictates of bourgeois morality and religion. Neo-Malthusianism sought to convince individuals to subscribe to its goals by convincing them through consciousness-raising that practicing contraception was one way to help bring about a more just, egalitarian society, one that would be favorable to revolutionary change. Its socio-political view of biological processes was constructed within what we see, following Gramsci, as “struggles over meaning,” based on a dialogic relationship with hegemonic thought, which sought to recover lost ground in the management of individual sexuality via eugenics or racial hygiene. Biopower’s characteristically biological view of social processes became especially relevant when it began focusing on “improvement of the race” to avoid the transmission of pathological characteristics typical of the impoverished working class, whom it blamed for the process of “racial degeneration.” The dialogic relationship established against the backdrop of a violent political crackdown on libertarians led, in the Republic period, to a triumph of neo-Malthusian ideas, which were put into practice from 1936 on. Indeed, even though this falls outside the period under study here, we would like to point out that during the highly exceptional conditions of the Spanish Civil War, anarchist-style “eugenics” led to implementation of various measures from the neo-Malthusian agenda, such as free abortion on demand, sex education campaigns, social action against prostitution (led by the feminist anarcho-syndicalist group “Free Women” [“Mujeres Libres”]), conscious maternity clinics and many other topics that we cannot go into here. This article is merely a beginning, and we invite others to revisit all these issues from a broader perspective than the one used so far, and to keep investigating this very complex phenomenon, since there is much still left to be explored. We should not forget that, for the anarcho-syndicalists, neo-Malthusianism was only a complementary contribution to the revolutionary struggle, and therefore it was never given as much coverage in their publications as in anarchist-leaning cultural journals, where workers and intellectuals could contribute to speeding the pace of social revolution.


This work was performed under Project HAR2014-58699-P, funded by Spain’s Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad).


1 We use the “/” as Mignolo (2012, p.IX) does.

2 See Parsons’ historiographical revision of anarchist neo-Malthusianism in Barcelona (2012).

3 Iberian neo-Malthusianism was closely related to the French variety, which is why French authors were frequently featured in Spanish eugenic journals (Masjuan, 2000; Cleminson, 2003). For the French case, see Sonn (2010).


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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:07 pm

Bisbee Deportation
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/9/20

Most of these miners were Mexican and Eastern European immigrants, others were Mexican-Americans....

From the late 1880s, Bisbee was defined as a “white man’s camp,” which originally meant the exclusion of Chinese laborers. Then the term referred to the exclusion of other non-white laborers, including “Mexicans,” a term used by whites to mean both Mexican immigrants and Hispanics native to Arizona.

“Mexicans” had been allowed to live and work in Bisbee, but only as menial laborers -- even when they did the same jobs as “white” men, they were paid far less. Then immigrants from Serbia and Italy started coming to work the mines in the early 1900s, which complicated the “white”/”Mexican” distinction. They were described as “foreign labor” and occupied a sort of in-between status in the hierarchy there.

The racial hierarchy of miners was underscored by a pervasive “family wage ideology.” Real men were supposed to make enough money to take care of their whole family. But in the eyes of both white workers and the copper company, “Mexican” workers were not real men. “Anglo workers and managers infantilized and feminized Mexican workers to reinforce their exclusion from the family wage and the American standard of living.”...

The workers, however, had the misfortune of striking during wartime. Militant patriotism was at a fever pitch. The man in charge of the roundup and deportation, Sheriff Wheeler, used the wartime emergency as an excuse to rid the town of “foreigners.” But he had another motive, too, which Benton-Cohen describes as maintaining “Bisbee’s most precious social boundaries—those that separated working class Mexican men from ‘white women.'” As Wheeler himself described it, he was protecting white womanhood and “pure Americanism itself” by removing the foreigners (80% of the Bisbee Deportees were foreign-born; of these, 40% were Slavic).

-- The Bisbee Deportations, by Matthew Wills

Bisbee Deportation
Striking miners and others being deported from Bisbee on the morning of July 12, 1917. The men are boarding the cattle cars provided by the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad.
Date: July 12, 1917
Location: Bisbee, Arizona; Jerome, Arizona
Goals: Union organizing
Methods: Strikes, protest, demonstrations
Resulted in: ~1,300 miners deported from Arizona
Parties to the civil conflict: International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers; Industrial Workers of the World / Phelps Dodge Corporation; Sherriff's deputies
Lead figures: Charles Moyer / Walter S. Douglas; Harry Wheeler
Number: 2,000 protesters / 2,200
Arrests, etc
Deaths: 1 / Deaths: 1
Arrests: 1,300+

The Bisbee Deportation was the illegal kidnapping and deportation of about 1,300 striking mine workers, their supporters, and citizen bystanders by 2,000 members of a deputized posse, who arrested these people beginning on July 12, 1917. The action was orchestrated by Phelps Dodge, the major mining company in the area, which provided lists of workers and others who were to be arrested in Bisbee, Arizona, to the Cochise County sheriff, Harry C. Wheeler. These workers were arrested and held at a local baseball park before being loaded onto cattle cars and deported 200 miles (320 km) to Tres Hermanas in New Mexico. The 16-hour journey was through desert without food and with little water. Once unloaded, the deportees, most without money or transportation, were warned against returning to Bisbee.

As Phelps Dodge, in collusion with the sheriff, had closed down access to outside communications, it was some time before the story was reported. The company presented their action as reducing threats to United States interests in World War I in Europe. The Governor of New Mexico, in consultation with President Woodrow Wilson, provided temporary housing for the deportees. A presidential mediation commission investigated the actions in November 1917, and in its final report, described the deportation as "wholly illegal and without authority in law, either State or Federal."[1] Nevertheless, no individual, company, or agency was ever convicted in connection with the deportations.


In 1917, the Phelps Dodge Corporation owned a number of copper and other mines in Arizona. Mining conditions in the region were difficult, and working conditions (including mine safety, pay, and camp living conditions) were extremely poor. Discrimination against Mexican American and immigrant workers by European-American supervisors was routine and extensive. During the winter of 1915–6, a successful if bitter four-month strike in the Clifton-Morenci district led to widespread discontent and unionization among miners in the state.[2][3]

But, the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW) and its president, Charles Moyer, did little to support the nascent union movement. Between February and May 1917, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) stepped in and began signing up several hundred miners as members. The IWW formed Metal Mine Workers Union No. 800. Although Local 800 counted more than 1,000 members, only about 400 paid dues.[3][4][5]


Panoramic view of Bisbee, Arizona, in 1916, shortly before the Bisbee Deportation

The town of Bisbee had about 8,000 citizens in 1917. The city was dominated by Phelps Dodge (which owned the Copper Queen Mine) and two other mining firms: the Calumet and Arizona Co., and the Shattuck Arizona Co. Phelps Dodge was by far the largest company and employer in the area; it also owned the largest hotel in town, the hospital, the only department store, the town library, and the town newspaper, the Bisbee Daily Review.[6][7]

In May 1917, IWW Local 800 presented a list of demands to Phelps Dodge. They asked for an end to physical examinations after shifts (used by the mine owners to counter theft), having two workers on each drilling machine, two men working the ore elevators, an end to blasting while men were in the mine, an end to the bonus system,[a] no more assignment of construction work to miners,[ b] replacement of the sliding scale of wages with a $6.00 per day shift rate, and no discrimination against union members. The company refused all the demands.[3][4]

IWW Local 800 called a strike to begin on June 26, 1917. When the strike occurred as scheduled, not only the miners at Phelps Dodge, but also those at other mines walked out. More than 3,000 miners—about 85 percent of all mine workers in Bisbee—went on strike.[4][5][6]

Although the strike was peaceful, local authorities immediately asked for federal troops to break the strike. Cochise County Sheriff Harry Wheeler set up his headquarters in Bisbee on the first day of the strike. On July 2, Wheeler asked Republican Governor Thomas Edward Campbell to request federal troops, suggesting the strike threatened US war interests: "The whole thing appears to be pro-German and anti-American."[8] Campbell quickly telegraphed the White House and made the request, but President Woodrow Wilson declined to send in the Army. He appointed former Arizona Governor George W. P. Hunt as a mediator.[4][5][6]

The president of Phelps Dodge at the time was Walter S. Douglas. He was the son of Dr. James Douglas, developer of the Copper Queen mine and a member of the board of directors of the Phelps Dodge Corporation. Douglas was a political opponent of Governor Hunt and had virulently attacked him for refusing, as governor, to send the state militia to suppress strikes in the mining industry. Douglas was also president of the American Mining Congress, an employer association. He had won office by vowing to break every union in every mine and restore the open shop. Determined to keep Bisbee free of IWW influence, in 1916, Douglas established a Citizens' Protective League, composed of business leaders and middle-class local residents. He also organized a Workmens' Loyalty League, some of whose members were IUMMSW miners.[3][4][9]



On July 5, 1917, an IWW local in Jerome, Arizona, struck Phelps Dodge. Douglas ordered his mine superintendents to remove the miners from the town, in what became known as the Jerome Deportation. Mine supervisors, joined by 250 local businessmen and members of the IUMMSW,[10] began rounding up suspected IWW members at dawn on July 10. More than 100 men were abducted by these vigilantes and held in the county jail (with the cooperation of the Yavapai County sheriff). Later that day, 67 men were deported by train to Needles, California, and ordered not to return. When the IWW protested to Governor Campbell, he declared that the IWW had "threatened" the governor.[4]


Striking miners and others rounded up by the armed posse on July 12, 1917, sit in the bleachers in Warren Ballpark. Armed members of the posse patrol the infield.

The Jerome Deportation proved to be a test run for Phelps Dodge, which ordered the same plan, but larger in scale, in Bisbee.

On July 11, 1917, Sheriff Wheeler met with Phelps Dodge corporate executives to plan the deportation of striking miners. Some 2,200 men from Bisbee and the nearby town of Douglas were recruited and deputized as a posse— one of the largest posses ever assembled. Phelps Dodge officials also met with executives of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, who agreed to provide rail transportation for any deportees. The morning of July 12, the Bisbee Daily Review carried a notice announcing that:

...a Sheriff's posse of 1,200 men in Bisbee and 1,000 men in Douglas, all loyal Americans, [had formed] for the purpose of arresting on the charges of vagrancy, treason, and of being disturbers of the peace of Cochise County all those strange men who have congregated here from other parts and sections for the purpose of harassing and intimidating all men who desire to pursue their daily toil.[11]

A similar notice was posted throughout the town on fence posts, telephone poles and walls.

At 4:00 a.m., July 12, 1917, the 2,200 deputies dispersed through the town of Bisbee and took up their planned positions. Each wore a white armband for identification, and carried a list of the men on strike. At 6:30 a.m., the deputies moved through town and arrested every man on their list, as well as any man who refused to work in the mines. Several men who owned local grocery stores were also arrested. In the process, the deputies took cash from the registers and all the goods they could carry. They arrested many male citizens of the town, seemingly at random, and anyone who had voiced support for the strike or the IWW. Two men died: one was a deputy shot by a miner he had tried to arrest, and the other was the miner (shot dead by three other deputies moments later).[3][4][5][6]

At 7:30 a.m., the 2,000 arrested men were assembled in front of the Bisbee Post Office and marched two miles (3 km) to Warren Ballpark. Sheriff Wheeler oversaw the march from a car outfitted with a loaded Marlin 7.62 mm belt-fed machine gun. At the baseball field, the arrestees were told that if they denounced the IWW and went back to work, they would be freed. Only men who were not IWW members or organizers were given this choice. About 700 men agreed to these terms, while the rest sang, jeered or shouted profanities.[3][4][5][6]

At 11:00 a.m., the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad brought 23 cattle cars to Bisbee. The posse deputies forced the remaining 1,286 arrestees at gunpoint to board the cars, many of which had more than three inches (76 mm) of manure on the floor. Although temperatures were in the mid-90s Fahrenheit,[12] (mid-30s Celsius), no water had been provided to the men since the arrests began at dawn.[3][4][5][6]

The train stopped 10 miles (16 km) east of Douglas to take on water, some of which was provided to the deportees in the packed cars. Deputies manned two machine guns from nearby hilltops to guard the train, while another 200 armed men patrolled the tracks. The train continued to Columbus, New Mexico (about 175 miles (282 km) away), arriving at about 9:30 p.m. Initially prevented from unloading at Columbus, the train slowly traveled west another 20 miles (32 km) to Hermanas, not stopping until 3:00 a.m.[3][4][5][6][13]

During the Bisbee Deportation, Phelps Dodge executives seized control of the telegraph and telephones to prevent news of the arrests and expulsion from being reported. Company executives refused to let Western Union send wires out of town, and stopped Associated Press reporters from filing stories.[14] News of the Bisbee Deportation was made known only after an IWW attorney, who met the train in Hermanas, issued a press release.[4]

With 1,300 penniless men in Hermanas, the Luna County sheriff worriedly wired the Governor of New Mexico for instructions. Republican Governor Washington Ellsworth Lindsey said the men should be treated humanely and fed; he urgently contacted President Wilson and asked for assistance. Wilson ordered U.S. Army troops to escort the men to Columbus, New Mexico. The deportees were housed in tents originally intended for use by Mexican refugees, who had fled across the border to the United States to escape the Mexican Army's Pancho Villa Expedition. The men were allowed to stay in the camp for two months until September 17, 1917.[3][4][5][6]


From the day of the deportations until November 1917, the Citizens' Protective League ruled Bisbee. Based in a building owned by the copper companies, its representatives interrogated residents about their political beliefs with respect to unions and the war, determining who could work or obtain a draft deferment. Sheriff Wheeler established guards at all entrances to Bisbee and Douglas. Anyone seeking to exit or enter the town over the next several months had to have a "passport" issued by Wheeler. Any adult male in town who was not known to the sheriff's men was brought before a secret sheriff's kangaroo court. Hundreds of citizens were tried, and most of them were deported and threatened with lynching if they returned. Even long-time citizens of Bisbee were deported by this "court".[3][4][5][6]

When ordered to cease these activities by the Arizona Attorney General, Wheeler tried to explain his actions. Asked what law supported his actions, he answered:

I have no statute that I had in mind. Perhaps everything that I did wasn't legal....It became a question of 'Are you American, or are you not?'" He told the Attorney General: "I would repeat the operation any time I find my own people endangered by a mob composed of eighty percent aliens and enemies of my Government."[15]

These actions took place during a period in the early 20th century when attacks by anarchists and labor unrest and violence erupted in numerous American cities and industries. Many native-born Americans were worried about such actions, attributing the unrest to the high numbers of immigrants, rather than to the poor working conditions in many industries. As a result, national press reaction to the Bisbee Deportation was muted. Although many newspapers carried stories about the event, most of them editorialized that the workers "must have" been violent, and therefore "gotten what they deserved", thus criminalizing the victims. Some major papers said that Sheriff Wheeler had gone too far, but declared that he should have imprisoned the miners rather than deported them.[3][4][5][6] The New York Times criticized the violence on the part of the mine owners and suggested that mass arrests "on vagrancy charges" would have been appropriate.[16] Former President Theodore Roosevelt said that "no human being in his senses doubts that the men deported from Bisbee were bent on destruction and murder."[15]

Then Secretary of Labor William Wilson

The men deported from Bisbee pleaded with President Wilson for protection and permission to return to their homes. In October 1917, Wilson appointed a commission of five individuals to investigate labor disputes in Arizona. They were led by Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson (with support from Assistant Secretary of Labor Felix Frankfurter, future Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court). The commission heard testimony during the first five days of November 1917.[3][4][5][6] In its final report, issued on November 6, 1917, the commission denounced the Bisbee Deportation. "The deportation was wholly illegal and without authority in law, either State or Federal," the commissioners wrote.[1]


On May 15, 1918, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the arrest of 21 Phelps Dodge executives, including some from the Calumet and Arizona Co., and several elected leaders and law enforcement officers from Bisbee and Cochise Counties. The arrestees included Walter S. Douglas. Sheriff Wheeler was not arrested because he was by then serving in France with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I.

A pre-trial motion by the defense led a federal district court to release the 21 men on the grounds that no federal laws had been violated.[3][4][5][6] The Justice Department appealed, but in United States v. Wheeler, 254 U.S. 281 (1920), Chief Justice Edward Douglass White wrote for an 8-to-1 majority that the U.S. Constitution did not empower the federal government to enforce the rights of the deportees. Rather, it "necessarily assumed the continued possession by the states of the reserved power to deal with free residence, ingress and egress." Only in a case of "state discriminatory action" would the federal government have a role to play.[17]

Arizona officials never initiated criminal proceedings in state court against those responsible for the deportation of workers and their lost wages and other losses. Some workers filed civil suits, but in the first case the jury determined that the deportations represented good public policy and refused to grant relief. Most of the other suits were quietly dropped, although a few workers received payments in the range of $500 to $1,250.[3][4][5][6]

The Bisbee Deportations were later used by some proponents as an argument in favor of stronger laws against unpopular speech. Such laws would be justified as empowering the government to suppress disloyal speech and activity, and remove the need for citizens groups to take actions the government could not. During World War I, the federal government used the Sedition Act of 1918 to prosecute people for statements in opposition to the war.

At the end of the conflict, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and others advocated for a peacetime equivalent of the Sedition Act, using the Bisbee events as a justification. They claimed that the only reason the company representatives and local law enforcement had taken the law into their own hands was that the government lacked the power to suppress radical sentiment directly. If the government were armed with appropriate legislation and the threat of long prison terms, private citizens would not feel the need to act. Writing in 1920, Harvard Professor Zechariah Chafee mocked that view: "Doubtless some governmental action was required to protect pacifists and extreme radicals from mob violence, but incarceration for a period of twenty years seems a very queer kind of protection."[18]


The later history of American deportations of alleged radicals and other undesirables from the country did not follow the precedent of Bisbee and Jerome, which were considered vigilante actions by private citizens. Instead, later deportations were authorized by law and executed by government agents. These actions were criticized by contemporaries at the time on the basis of public policy and the US Constitution, as well as extensively by later analysts. Each case has involved discriminatory actions against ethnic minorities (and sometimes immigrants).

The most notable have included the following:

• deportation from the United States of supposed foreign anarchists during the Red Scare of 1919–20;
• mass deportations of up to 2 million Mexicans and Mexican-American workers (the latter citizens of the United States) between 1929 and 1936, during the Great Depression;[19]
• relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese national and Japanese Americans to camps during World War II, causing them extensive losses of jobs and property; and
• 1954 removal by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of approximately a million Mexican nationals living in the U.S. without the legal right to do so. Many Mexican workers had been recruited during the war years, but in the postwar period, the US did not want them competing with American workers. In what is known as Operation Wetback, several hundred U.S. citizens were also deported by mistake, because of lack of due process.[20]

See also

• Anti-union violence
• Company town
• Freedom of movement under United States law
• Institutional racism
• Bisbee '17, 2018 film of the events


1. Under the bonus system, miners were paid more money not only for mining more ore, but for mining high-quality ore. Since only a few veins were of the highest-quality ore, assignment to these veins was very important. Mine supervisors routinely discriminated and played favorites among the miners when assigning the high-grade veins.
2. Construction work was unpaid.


1. eport on the Bisbee Deportations. Made by the President's Mediation Commission to the President of the United States.Bisbee, Arizona. November 6, 1917.
2. Kluger, James R. The Clifton-Morenci Strike: Labor Difficulty in Arizona, 1915–1916. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1970. ISBN 0-8165-0267-6
3. Jensen, Vernon H. Heritage of Conflict: Labor Relations in the Nonferrous Metals Industry up to 1930.Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1950.
4. Foner, Philip S. History of the Labor Movement in the United States. Vol. 7: Labor and World War I, 1914–1918. New York: International Publishers, 1987. Cloth ISBN 0-7178-0638-3; Paperback ISBN 0-7178-0627-8
5. Dubofsky, Melvyn. We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World. Abridged ed. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2000. ISBN 0-252-06905-6
6. Byrkit, James. "The Bisbee Deportation." In American Labor in the Southwest. James C. Foster, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1982. ISBN 0-8165-0741-4
7. Cleland, Robert Glass. A History of Phelps Dodge, 1834–1950. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952.
8. Christopher Capozzola, Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen (NY: Oxford University Press, 2008), 126
9. Lindquist, John H. "The Jerome Deportation of 1917", Arizona and the West, Autumn 1969
10. It was not uncommon for unions in the first half of the 20th century to act as strikebreakers against other unions. The IUMMSW viewed the IWW as "not a real union" and often worked to break its strikes. See Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States. Vol. 7: Labor and World War I, 1914–1918, 1987, and Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World, 2000.
11. Quoted in Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States. Vol. 7: Labor and World War I, 1914–1918, 1987, p. 270.
12. Lindquist, John H. and Fraser, James. "A Sociological Interpretation of the Bisbee Deportation." Pacific Historical Review. 37:4 (November 1968).
13. Emery, Ken. "Wobbly Justice". Desert Exposure. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
14. "Report of a Censorship, Military Movements in Arizona Are Hidden," New York Times, July 13, 1917; "Arizona Sheriff Ships 1,100 I.W.W.'s Out In Cattle Cars," New York Times, July 13, 1917; "Not An Army Censorship, Phelps-Dodge Officials Said to Have Tied Up Bisbee Wires," New York Times, July 14, 1917.
15. Capozzola, 128
16. Capozzola, 129
17. Pratt, Jr., Walter F. The Supreme Court under Edward Douglass White, 1910–1921 Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999, 257–8. ISBN 1-57003-309-9; FindLaw: U. S. v. Wheeler, 254 U.S. 281 (1920), accessed April 22, 2010. In 1966, when the Supreme Court considered a "right to travel" in United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966), Justice Potter Stewart devoted a footnote to dismissing Wheeler as precedent because "the right of interstate travel was...not directly involved" in the earlier case. FindLaw: United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 759, n. 16, accessed April 22, 2010
18. Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Freedom of Speech (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920), 45–46.
19. McKay, Robert R. "The Federal Deportation Campaign in Texas: Mexican Deportation from the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the Great Depression," Borderlands Journal, Fall 1981
20. García, Juan Ramon, Operation Wetback: The Mass Deportation of Mexican Undocumented Workers in 1954 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1980), ISBN 0-313-21353-4

Further reading

• Leslie Marcy, "The Eleven Hundred Exiled Copper Miners," International Socialist Review, vol. 18, no. 3 (September 1917), pp. 160–162.

External links

• "Wobbly Justice" by Ken Emery in Desert Exposure, July 2007
• Bisbee Deportation online exhibit at the Library of the University of Arizona
• Video on Bisbee Deportation of 1917 Case, Jacob, and Sharlene Grant (First Place National History Day Competition)
• University of Arizona Archives Online


The Bisbee Deportations
by Matthew Wills
August 17, 2018

According to one scholar, the 1917 deportation in Bisbee, AZ wasn’t “about labor relations or race or gender: it was about all of them.”

Workers forced out of Bisbee, AZ at gunpoint, 1917. via Wikimedia Commons

On July 12th, 1917 in Bisbee, Arizona, over a thousand striking copper miners -- along with regular townsfolk like restaurant owners, carpenters, and exactly one lawyer -- were rounded up at gun-point, herded into boxcars, and taken two hundreds miles into the desert. A new movie, Bisbee ’17, opening next month, tells the story anew.

The miners were left out in the desert to fend for themselves, until a nearby army camp rescued them. Few of them ever returned to Bisbee. Most of these miners were Mexican and Eastern European immigrants, others were Mexican-Americans. Although not strictly a deportation, since they weren’t sent across any national border, the action became known as the Bisbee Deportation.

Historian Katherine Benton-Cohen writes that this event has been looked at through many lenses, but she argues that it wasn’t “about labor relations or race or gender: it was about all of them.”

“White Man’s Camp”

From the late 1880s, Bisbee was defined as a “white man’s camp,” which originally meant the exclusion of Chinese laborers. Then the term referred to the exclusion of other non-white laborers, including “Mexicans,” a term used by whites to mean both Mexican immigrants and Hispanics native to Arizona.

“Mexicans” had been allowed to live and work in Bisbee, but only as menial laborers -- even when they did the same jobs as “white” men, they were paid far less. Then immigrants from Serbia and Italy started coming to work the mines in the early 1900s, which complicated the “white”/”Mexican” distinction. They were described as “foreign labor” and occupied a sort of in-between status in the hierarchy there.

Real Men & The Family Wage

The racial hierarchy of miners was underscored by a pervasive “family wage ideology.” Real men were supposed to make enough money to take care of their whole family. But in the eyes of both white workers and the copper company, “Mexican” workers were not real men. “Anglo workers and managers infantilized and feminized Mexican workers to reinforce their exclusion from the family wage and the American standard of living.”

Unsurprisingly, these non-white workers rebelled against these views, as well the dual wage system that paid them less, during the 1917 strike in Bisbee. Benton-Cohen describes the strike as a “vivid assertion of their own manly identities,” an effort to end the “social compact of the white man’s camp, one that denied them full male economic and social citizenship.”

The workers, however, had the misfortune of striking during wartime. Militant patriotism was at a fever pitch. The man in charge of the roundup and deportation, Sheriff Wheeler, used the wartime emergency as an excuse to rid the town of “foreigners.” But he had another motive, too, which Benton-Cohen describes as maintaining “Bisbee’s most precious social boundaries—those that separated working class Mexican men from ‘white women.'” As Wheeler himself described it, he was protecting white womanhood and “pure Americanism itself” by removing the foreigners (80% of the Bisbee Deportees were foreign-born; of these, 40% were Slavic).

Benton-Cohen concludes by noting that her “emphasis on the role of masculinity—something seemingly natural but never stable—highlights the connections between gender, race, family, labor, and national identity.” And helps us understand a shameful incident with disturbing contemporary echoes.


The Bisbee Deportation of 1917
by Sheila Bonnand
University of Arizona


"How it could have happened in a civilized country I'll never know. This is the only country it could have happened in. As far as we're concerned, we're still on strike!"

~ Fred Watson*

The Bisbee Deportation was still fresh in Fred Watson's mind when interviewed 60 years later. This is not surprising, because on July 12, 1917, Watson and 1,185 other men were herded into filthy boxcars by an armed vigilante force in Bisbee, Arizona, and abandoned across the New Mexico border. The Bisbee Deportation of 1917 was not only a pivotal event in Arizona's labor history, but one that had an effect on labor activities throughout the country. What led to this course of action by the Bisbee authorities?

Arizona in the early 1900s was home to huge copper mining operations. The managers and engineers controlling these mines answered primarily to eastern stockholders. During World War I, the price of copper reached unprecedented heights and the companies reaped enormous profits. By March of 1917, copper sold for $.37 a pound; it had been $.13 1/2 at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. With five thousand miners working around the clock, Bisbee was booming.

To maintain high production levels, the pool of miners was increased from an influx of southern European immigrants. Although the mining companies paid relatively high wages, working conditions for miners were no better than before the copper market crash in 1907-1908. Furthermore, the inflation caused by World War I increased living expenses and eroded any gains the miners had realized in salaries.

The mining companies controlled Bisbee, not only because they were the primary employers but because local businesses depended heavily on the mines and miners to survive. Even the local newspaper was owned by one of the major mining companies, Phelps Dodge.

Prior to 1917, union activity had repeatedly been stifled. Between 1906 and 1907, for example, about 1,200 men were fired for for supporting a union. Conversely, the Bisbee Industrial Association, an alliance that was pro-company and anti-union, was easily organized around the same time. Finally, in 1916, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter (formerly the Western Federation of Miners) successfully enrolled 1,800 miners.

The Industrial Workers of the World's (I.W.W.) presence in Arizona was also increasing. Founded in 1905, the I.W.W. never recruited more than five percent of the trade unionists in the country, but many others were exposed to its ideas. Some of the I.W.W.'s tactics, such as advocating slowdowns and sabotage, were of great concern to the controlling interests. In addition, the I.W.W. adopted two successful recruiting practices. They actively recruited miners from minority groups. As a result, the IWW was particularly successful recruiting Bisbee's Mexican workers, who were routinely given lower paying jobs outside of the mine. The I.W.W. was also successful recruiting southern European immigrants, who were allowed in the mines but given lower paying jobs.

On June 24, 1917, the I.W.W. presented the Bisbee mining companies with a list of demands. These demands included improvements to safety and working conditions, such as requiring two men on each machine and an end to blasting in the mines during shifts. Demands were also made to end discrimination against members of labor organizations and the unequal treatment of foreign and minority workers. Furthermore, the unions wanted a flat wage system to replace sliding scales tied to the market price of copper. The copper companies refused all I.W.W. demands, using the war effort as justification. As a result, a strike was called, and by June 27 roughly half of the Bisbee work force was on strike.

Tensions heightened when rumors spread asserting that the unions had been infiltrated by pro-Germans. Another rumor suggested that weapons and dynamite were cached around Bisbee for sabotage. The Citizen's Protective League, an anti-union organization formed during a previous labor dispute, was resurrected by local businessmen and put under the control of Sheriff Harry Wheeler. A group of miners loyal to the mining companies also formed the Workman's Loyalty League. On July 11, secret meetings of these two so-called "vigilante groups" were held to discuss ways to deal with the strike and the strikers.

The next day, starting at 2:00 a.m., calls were made to Loyalty Leaguers as far away as Douglas, Arizona. By 5:00 a. m., about 2,000 deputies assembled. All wore white armbands to distinguish them from other mining workers. No federal or state officials were notified of the vigilantes' plans. The Western Union telegraph office was seized, preventing any communication to the town.

At 6:30 a. m., Sheriff Harry Wheeler gave orders to begin the roundup. Throughout Bisbee, men were roused from their beds, their houses, and the streets. Though armed, the vigilantes were instructed to avoid violence. However, reports of beatings, robberies, vandalism, and abuse of women later surfaced.

Two men died during the roundup. James Brew shot Loyalty Leaguer, Orson McRae, after warning McRae he would shoot anyone who attempted to take him. Brew was in turn shot and killed by men accompanying McRae.

The vigilantes rounded up over 1,000 men, many of whom were not strikers -- or even miners -- and marched them two miles to the Warren Ballpark. There they were surrounded by armed Loyalty Leaguers and urged to quit the strike. Anyone willing to put on a white armband was released. At 11:00 a. m. a train arrived, and 1,186 men were loaded aboard boxcars inches deep in manure. Also boarding were 186 armed guards; a machine gun was mounted on the top of the train. The train traveled from Bisbee to Columbus, New Mexico, where it was turned back because there were no accommodations for so many men. On its return trip the train stopped at Hermanas, New Mexico, where the men were abandoned. A later train brought water and food rations, but the men were left without shelter until July 14th when U.S. troops arrived. The troops escorted the men to facilities in Columbus. Many were detained for several months.

Meanwhile, Bisbee authorities mounted guards on all roads into town to insure that no deportees returned and to prevent new "troublemakers" from entering. A kangaroo court was also established to try other people deemed disloyal to mining interests. These people also faced deportation.

Several months after the deportation, President Woodrow Wilson set up the Federal Mediation Commission to investigate the Bisbee Deportation. The Commission discovered that no federal law applied. It referred the issue to the State of Arizona while recommending that such events be made criminal by federal statute. They did hold that the copper companies were at fault in the deportation, not the I.W.W.

The State of Arizona took no action against the copper companies. Approximately 300 deportees brought civil suits against the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad and the copper companies. None of these suits came to trial because of out-of-court settlements. Suits were also filed in state court against 224 vigilantes. Sadly, the only suit brought to trial ended in a "not guilty" verdict. The rest of the cases were dismissed.

Although efforts to organize pro-labor unions in Bisbee were crushed in 1917, the Deportation boosted I.W.W. efforts across the country.

To read more about Bisbee, the deportation, or the I.W.W., refer to the following sources or to those on the Resources page.


Lynn R Bailey, Bisbee, Queen of the Copper Camps (Westernlore Press, 1983).

Annie M. Cox, History of Bisbee, 1877 to 1937. (University of Arizona, 1938).

Rob E. Hanson The Great Bisbee I.W.W. Deportation of July 12, 1917 (Signature Press, 1989).

* Fred Watson, "Still on Strike! Recollections of a Bisbee Deportee" Journal of Arizona History 18 (Summer 1977): 171-184.
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Accessed: 4/10/20

Pantisocracy (from the Greek πᾶν and ἰσοκρατία meaning "equal or level government by/for all") was a utopian scheme devised in 1794 by, among others, the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey for an egalitarian community. It is a system of government where all rule equally. They originally intended to establish such a community in the United States, choosing a site on the banks of the Susquehanna River after considering other places such as Kentucky.[1] By 1795 Southey had doubts about the viability of this and proposed moving the project to Wales. The two men were unable to agree on the location, causing the project to collapse.[2]

Others involved included the poet Robert Lovell and three of the Fricker sisters, Sara, Edith and Mary, who married the three poets, and George Burnett (who proposed unsuccessfully to another Fricker sister, Martha).

Their friend Thomas Poole was not part of the scheme but considered moving to somewhere nearby, writing:

“ Could they realise [their plan] they would, indeed, realise the age of reason; but however perfectible human nature may be, I fear it is not yet perfect enough to exist long under the regulations of such a system, particularly when the Executors of the plan are taken from a society in a high degree civilized and corrupted…I think a man would do well first to see the country and his future hopes, before he removes his connections or any large portion of his property, there. I could live, I think, in America, much to my satisfaction and credit, without joining such a scheme…though I should like well to accompany them, and see what progress they make. ”


The Pantisocrats believed that contemporary society and politics were responsible for cultures of servitude and oppression.[3] Having abandoned these corrupting influences along with personal property for a fresh start in the wilderness, the Pantisocrats hoped that men might be governed by the “dictates of rational benevolence.”

As spelled out by Southey, the utopian community he and Coleridge planned was to be built on two principles: "Pantisocracy" (meaning government by all) and "Aspheterism" (meaning general ownership of property).[4] The scheme called for a small group of educated individuals to give up their possessions and labor together for the common good. Few regulations would be necessary to govern the colony and decisions would be made so as to avoid one man having more power than another. Coleridge envisioned Pantisocracy as a way to minimize the greed among men.[5] Additionally, Coleridge and Southey hoped to enjoy a more relaxing existence than was possible in England, and expected that each member of the community would have to work just two to three hours per day to sustain the colony.[6]:132

The Pantisocrats viewed their attempt as not only a search for personal domestic peace, but also as an attempt to change the status quo in England.[7] One influence on the plan was disillusionment with the French Revolution and with the current politics of England, from which Coleridge may have sought solace through a utopian escape.[5] Coleridge viewed the utopian scheme as an experiment that, if successful, might be gradually extended to a larger citizenship.[8] Coleridge also hoped that through a more active, natural lifestyle he would live a healthier and more wholesome existence with his family.[9]


Like many utopian societies, the Pantisocracy envisioned by the members owed its origins to Plato's ideal commonwealth, envisioned in the later books of The Republic and in Critias.[6]:134 More modern examples for the Pantisocrats included Sir Thomas More's Utopia, Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, Tommaso Campanella's Civitas Solis, and the accounts of Cotton Mather.

The Pantisocrats were also heavily influenced by contemporary travel accounts of the new world.[10] Many writers who visited the new world (including J. P. Brissot, Thomas Cooper and Joseph Priestley) described a fresh and inviting country, whose inhabitants were untainted by the evils of society. Coleridge and Southey pored over these and other accounts of the American continent.


As early as November 1793, Robert Southey was envisioning a utopia in the US.[11] Coleridge's schoolfriend Robert Allen had become acquainted with Southey while at Oxford and introduced the two men while Coleridge was on a walking tour with another friend, Joseph Hucks. Southey would later write "that meeting fixed the future fortunes of us both". Coleridge extended his stay in Oxford for several weeks while the two men discussed the problems of the time and the possibility of setting up a utopian society in the United States, which Coleridge first dubbed "Pantocracy" then "Pantisocracy". Allen and Southey's friend George Burnett were early allies and when Coleridge and Huck departed for Wales, Southey and Burnett accompanied them part of the way. On their return journey to Oxford, Southey and Burnett discussed the practicalities of the scheme.

Throughout July, Coleridge corresponded regularly with Southey about their plans (unfortunately, while many of Coleridge's letters to Southey have survived, only part of one of Southey's letters to Coleridge is known). Coleridge even went so far as to share his enthusiasm for Pantisocracy with many of the people he and Hucks met along the road, offending several listeners with their radical ideas. During the walking tour Coleridge also encountered an old flame, Mary Evans, and his interaction with her momentarily drove thoughts of Pantisocracy from his mind. On August 3, Coleridge and Hucks rejoined Southey in Bristol.[6]:159

In Bristol, Southey and Coleridge continued to flesh out their plans, and spoke openly of their radical ideas. One listener was John Poole, cousin of Tom Poole of Nether Stowey, who writes of his encounter with the two young men: "Each of them was shamefully hot with Democratic rage as regards politics, and both Infidel as to religion. I was extremely indignant...".[6]:159

During this time the young men also became acquainted with the family of Mrs. Fricker, a widow whose daughters seemed willing to join in the scheme (as Mrs. Southey and Coleridge).[12] Southey became interested in Edith and Coleridge began showing interest in Sara.

Further planning and practical implications

In the autumn of 1794, Coleridge began seriously to investigate the practical problems of setting up a community in America. During this time he encountered George Dyer, a student familiar with Priestley (who at the time was already living in Pennsylvania), and also spoke with a land agent. In a letter to Southey on September 6 he writes:[13]

“ [The land agent] says £2000 will do; that he doubts not we can contract for our passage under £400; that we shall buy the land a great deal cheaper when we arrive in American than we could do in England…That twelve men may easily clear 300 acres in four or five months; and that, for 600 dollars, a thousand acres may be cleared and houses built on them. He recommends the Susquehannah for its excessive beauty and its security from hostile Indians. ”

Neither Coleridge nor Southey possessed the requisite wealth, but plans were laid for a spring departure in 1795.[6]:165 The young men hoped that other, wealthier immigrants who would join in the endeavor would be willing to fund it. Returning to Cambridge in late September, Coleridge began to spread word of the plan.

Coleridge at this time envisioned the community including "twelve men with their families", among whom the costs would be split, with the wealthier members of the community making up for the shortcomings of the poorer members.[6]:166 Besides money, other practical issues arose. Having little ability in farming or carpentry, the young men planned to acquire these skills over the winter in time for a March departure. Among the families who were planning to make the voyage were children, and Coleridge worried that they might already be deeply prejudiced by society, which could subvert and corrupt the Pantisocracy.[14]


As the date set for departure arrived and the financial difficulties in undertaking the journey remained unsolved, the would-be emigrants began to lose excitement and resolve.[6]:168 Besides their lack of funds, other concerns challenged the Pantisocrats. Contrary to the glowing travel narratives that Coleridge pored over while researching the prospect of settling in America, other accounts of American life were less encouraging, and described a difficult and laborious existence.[15] In a review of Thomas Cooper’s Some Information Respecting America, (one of the positive accounts of the New World that Coleridge consulted) a reviewer describes Cooper and those like him as “rival auctioneers, or rather show-men, stationed for the allurement of incautious passengers. 'Pray, ladies and gentlemen, walk in and admire the wonders of Kentucky—Pray, stop and see the incomparable beauties of the Susquehanna.'”

Coleridge also faced personal challenges in carrying out the scheme. He received a letter from Mary Evans which argued against the plan, and his feelings for her for a time swayed him against Pantisocracy.[12] Learning that she had become engaged, Coleridge turned his attention back to Pantisocracy and Sara Fricker. Under pressure from Southey to act with regard to Sara (both because of the demands of Pantisocracy and also because she was being courted by other men), Coleridge married Sara in October 1795.

As plans bogged down, Southey and Coleridge eventually reached an impasse. Coleridge, Southey and Burnett shared rooms in Bristol but the meticulous Southey grew worried by Coleridge's lifestyle and feared that finances were being left under his responsibility (he contributed four times more to their common funds than his roommates). Southey at one point advocated taking servants to the new world, a proposition Coleridge scoffed at. Southey and other would-be Pantisocrats also considered a less ambitious plan: the purchase of a common farm in Wales. Coleridge, still dreaming of the new world, felt that this compromise failed to meet the standards of Pantisocracy. In a letter to Southey he complains that private resources would not be abandoned at the farm in Wales and that, "In short, we were to commence partners in a petty farming trade."[16] By the winter of 1795, the dream of Pantisocracy had all but died out.

Impact on Coleridge

There are two of Coleridge’s poems that directly address the plans he and Southey were envisioning. "Pantisocracy," a sonnet sent to Southey in a letter of September 18, 1794, was not published during Coleridge’s lifetime.[17] A second sonnet, "On the Prospect of Establishing a Pantisocracy," has also been attributed to Coleridge, and was first published in 1826. Many of Coleridge's other works of the time implicitly suggest the New World, and may owe a debt to his musings over the Susquehanna.[18] An early version of the poem "To a Young Ass" also makes mention of Pantisocracy.[19]

Pantisocracy presented Coleridge a practical outlet for ideas he had previously only considered theoretically.[20] While the scheme never produced an actual community, it did impact Coleridge's philosophical thinking. His lectures of the time reflect his Pantisocratic thinking on social relations and wealth. He wrote of the scheme years afterward that it was “a plan as harmless as it was extravagant” but it can be argued that much of the fantastic imagery and political thoughts present in his work owe a debt both to Pantisocracy and to the research he conducted in preparation for his voyage.[21] On a literal level, perhaps the greatest impact Pantisocracy had on the young Coleridge was the addition of Sara Fricker (and their subsequent family) to his life.


1. Newlyn, Lucy (2002). The Cambridge Companion to Coleridge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 129. ISBN 0-521-65909-4. Pantisocracy.
2. Fulford, Tim (2006). Romantic Indians: Native Americans, British Literature, and Transatlantic Culture, 1756–1830. Oxford University Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-19-927337-5.
3. Morrow, John (1990). Coleridge's Political Thought, p. 8. St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0-312-03645-0
4. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Ed. Ernest Coleridge. (1895). Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol. 1, p. 73. Houghton Mifflin & Co., Boston and New York. ISBN 1-4212-7161-3
5. Woodring, Carl R. Politics in the Poetry of Coleridge, p. 63. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
6. MacGillivray, J.R., Ed. Malcolm Wallace (1931). "The Pantisocracy Scheme and Its Immediate Background" in Studies in English. The University of Toronto Press, Toronto. OCLC 27738043
7. Morrow, John (1990). Coleridge's Political Thought, p. 9. St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0-312-03645-0
8. Sister Eugenia (1930). "Coleridge's Scheme of Pantisocracy and American Travel Accounts", in PMLA p. 1079. [1]28/1/2010
9. Woodring, Carl R. (1961). Politics in the Poetry of Coleridge, p. 69. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
10. Sister Eugenia (1930). "Coleridge's Scheme of Pantisocracy and American Travel Accounts", in PMLA p. 1069-1074. [2]28/1/2010
11. Southey, Rev. Charles Cuthbert, Ed. (1850). The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, vol. 1, p. 211. Longman, Brown, Greene, and Longmans, London. ISBN 1-4255-6343-0
12. Beer, John, (2004). "Samuel Taylor Coleridge", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
13. Southey, Rev. Charles Cuthbert, Ed. (1850). The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, vol. 1, p. 193-196. Longman, Brown, Greene, and Longmans, London. ISBN 1-4255-6343-0
14. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Ed. Ernest Coleridge. (1895). Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol. 1, p. 168. Houghton Mifflin & Co., Boston and New York. ISBN 1-4212-7161-3
15. Sister Eugenia (1930). "Coleridge's Scheme of Pantisocracy and American Travel Accounts", in PMLA p. 1079-1081. [3]28/1/2010
16. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Ed. Ernest Coleridge. (1895). Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol. 1, p. 140. Houghton Mifflin & Co., Boston and New York. ISBN 1-4212-7161-3
17. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Ed. William Keach. (1997). The Complete Poems, p. 57-58. Houghton Mifflin & Co., Boston and New York. ISBN 1-4212-7161-3
18. Cottle, Joseph. (1847). Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, p. 22. Houlston and Stoneman, London.
19. Woodring, Carl R. (1961). Politics in the Poetry of Coleridge, p. 70. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. ISBN 978-0-299-02440-6
20. Colmer, John. Ed. R.L. Brett. (1971). '"Coleridge and Politics," in Writers and Their Background: S.T. Coleridge p. 254 . G. Bell & Sons, London. ISBN 0-7135-1900-2
21. Sister Eugenia (1930). "Coleridge's Scheme of Pantisocracy and American Travel Accounts", in PMLA p. 1084. [4]28/1/2010
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The circled dot was used by the Pythagoreans and later Greeks to represent the first metaphysical being, the Monad or The Absolute

Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: μόνος) to a concept e.g., existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished:

• Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them; e.g., in Neoplatonism everything is derived from The One.[1] In this view only one thing is ontologically basic or prior to everything else.
• Existence monism posits that, strictly speaking, there exists only a single thing, the Universe, which can only be artificially and arbitrarily divided into many things.[2]
• Substance monism asserts that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance.[3] Substance monism posits that only one kind of stuff exists, although many things may be made up of this stuff, e.g., matter or mind.


There are two sorts of definitions for monism:

1. The wide definition: a philosophy is monistic if it postulates unity of the origin of all things; all existing things return to a source that is distinct from them.[1]

2. The restricted definition: this requires not only unity of origin but also unity of substance and essence.[1]
Although the term "monism" is derived from Western philosophy to typify positions in the mind–body problem, it has also been used to typify religious traditions. In modern Hinduism, the term "absolute monism" is being used for Advaita Vedanta.[4][5]


The term "monism" was introduced in the 18th century by Christian von Wolff[6] in his work Logic (1728),[7] to designate types of philosophical thought in which the attempt was made to eliminate the dichotomy of body and mind[8] and explain all phenomena by one unifying principle, or as manifestations of a single substance.[6]

The mind–body problem in philosophy examines the relationship between mind and matter, and in particular the relationship between consciousness and the brain. The problem was addressed by René Descartes in the 17th century, resulting in Cartesian dualism, and by pre-Aristotelian philosophers,[9][10] in Avicennian philosophy,[11] and in earlier Asian and more specifically Indian traditions.

It was later also applied to the theory of absolute identity set forth by Hegel and Schelling.[12] Thereafter the term was more broadly used, for any theory postulating a unifying principle.[12] The opponent thesis of dualism also was broadened, to include pluralism.[12] According to Urmson, as a result of this extended use, the term is "systematically ambiguous".[12]

According to Jonathan Schaffer, monism lost popularity due to the emergence of Analytic philosophy in the early twentieth century, which revolted against the neo-Hegelians. Carnap and Ayer, who were strong proponents of positivism, "ridiculed the whole question as incoherent mysticism".[13]

The mind–body problem has reemerged in social psychology and related fields, with the interest in mind–body interaction[14] and the rejection of Cartesian mind–body dualism in the identity thesis, a modern form of monism.[15] Monism is also still relevant to the philosophy of mind,[12] where various positions are defended.[16][17]



A diagram with neutral monism compared to Cartesian dualism, physicalism and idealism.

Different types of monism include:[12][18]

1. Substance monism, "the view that the apparent plurality of substances is due to different states or appearances of a single substance"[12]

2. Attributive monism, "the view that whatever the number of substances, they are of a single ultimate kind"[12]

3. Partial monism, "within a given realm of being (however many there may be) there is only one substance"[12]

4. Existence monism, "the view that there is only one concrete object token (The One, "Τὸ Ἕν" or the Monad)"[19]

5. Priority monism, "the whole is prior to its parts" or "the world has parts, but the parts are dependent fragments of an integrated whole"[18]

6. Property monism, "the view that all properties are of a single type (e.g., only physical properties exist)"

7. Genus monism, "the doctrine that there is a highest category; e.g., being"[18]

Views contrasting with monism are:

• Metaphysical dualism, which asserts that there are two ultimately irreconcilable substances or realities such as Good and Evil, for example, Manichaeism,[1]

• Metaphysical pluralism, which asserts three or more fundamental substances or realities.[1]

• Metaphysical nihilism, negates any of the above categories (substances, properties, concrete objects, etc.).

Monism in modern philosophy of mind can be divided into three broad categories:

1. Idealist, mentalistic monism, which holds that only mind or spirit exists. [1]

2. Neutral monism, which holds that one sort of thing fundamentally exists,[20] to which both the mental and the physical can be reduced[8]

3. Material monism (also called Physicalism and materialism), which holds that the material world is primary, and consciousness arises through the interaction with the material world[21][20]

a. Eliminative Materialism, according to which everything is physical and mental things do not exist[20]

b. Reductive physicalism, according to which mental things do exist and are a kind of physical thing[20][note 1]
Certain positions do not fit easily into the above categories, such as functionalism, anomalous monism, and reflexive monism. Moreover, they do not define the meaning of "real".

Monistic philosophers


While the lack of information makes it difficult in some cases to be sure of the details, the following pre-Socratic philosophers thought in monistic terms:[22]

• Thales: Water
• Anaximander: Apeiron (meaning 'the undefined infinite'). Reality is some, one thing, but we cannot know what.
• Anaximenes of Miletus: Air
• Heraclitus: Change, symbolized by fire (in that everything is in constant flux).
• Parmenides: Being or Reality is an unmoving perfect sphere, unchanging, undivided.[23]


• Neopythagorians such as Apollonius of Tyana centered their cosmologies on the Monad or One.
• Stoics taught that there is only one substance, identified as God.[24]
• Middle Platonism under such works as those by Numenius taught that the Universe emanates from the Monad or One.
• Neoplatonism is monistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent god, 'The One,' of which subsequent realities were emanations. From The One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous), the Cosmic Soul (Psyche), and the World (Cosmos).


• Giordano Bruno[25][26]
• Baruch Spinoza
• Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
• Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
• Johann Gottlieb Fichte
• Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
• F. H. Bradley
• Arthur Schopenhauer
• Ernst Haeckel[27][28]
• Herbert Spencer
• Friedrich Engels
• Karl Marx
• Georgi Plekhanov
• Ernst Mach
• Wilhelm Ostwald
• Alexander Bogdanov
• Bertrand Russell
• Giacomo Leopardi[29]
• Gilbert Ryle
• Jonathan Schaffer

Monistic neuroscientists

• Ivan Pavlov
• Roger Sperry
• Francis Crick
• Eric Kandel
• Rodolfo Llinas
• György Buzsáki
• Karl Friston



Main article: Pantheism

Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God,[30] or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity.[31] Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but believe that interpretations of the term differ.

Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza,[32] whose Ethics was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate.[33] Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance.[33] Although the term pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate.[34]

H. P. Owen claimed that

Pantheists are "monists" ... they believe that there is only one Being, and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it.[35]

Pantheism is closely related to monism, as pantheists too believe all of reality is one substance, called Universe, God or Nature. Panentheism, a slightly different concept (explained below), however is dualistic.[36] Some of the most famous pantheists are the Stoics, Giordano Bruno and Spinoza.


Main article: Panentheism

Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system that posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force) interpenetrates every part of nature, but is not one with nature. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.[37]

In panentheism, there are two types of substance, "pan" the universe and God. The universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. God is viewed as the eternal animating force within the universe. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos.

While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism claims that God animates all of the universe, and also transcends the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God,[37] like in the Judaic concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.[38][39]

Paul Tillich has argued for such a concept within Christian theology, as has liberal biblical scholar Marcus Borg and mystical theologian Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest.[note 2]


Main article: Pandeism

Pandeism or pan-deism (from Ancient Greek: πᾶν, romanized: pan, lit. 'all' and Latin: deus meaning "god" in the sense of deism), is a term describing beliefs coherently incorporating or mixing logically reconcilable elements of pantheism (that "God", or a metaphysically equivalent creator deity, is identical to Nature) and classical deism (that the creator-god who designed the universe no longer exists in a status where it can be reached, and can instead be confirmed only by reason). It is therefore most particularly the belief that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate entity.[40][41]

Through this synergy pandeism claims to answer primary objections to deism (why would God create and then not interact with the universe?) and to pantheism (how did the universe originate and what is its purpose?).

Dharmic faiths


The central problem in Asian (religious) philosophy is not the body-mind problem, but the search for an unchanging Real or Absolute beyond the world of appearances and changing phenomena,[42] and the search for liberation from dukkha and the liberation from the cycle of rebirth.[43] In Hinduism, substance-ontology prevails, seeing Brahman as the unchanging real beyond the world of appearances.[44] In Buddhism process ontology is prevalent,[44] seeing reality as empty of an unchanging essence.[45][46]

Characteristic for various Asian religions is the discernment of levels of truth,[47] an emphasis on intuitive-experiential understanding of the Absolute[48][49][50][51] such as jnana, bodhi and kensho, and an emphasis on the integration of these levels of truth and its understanding.[52][53]


Main articles: Hinduism, Hindu philosophy, and Hindu denominations


Adi Shankara with Disciples, by Raja Ravi Varma (1904)

Main article: Vedanta

Vedanta is the inquiry into and systematisation of the Vedas and Upanishads, to harmonise the various and contrasting ideas that can be found in those texts. Within Vedanta, different schools exist:[54]

• Advaita Vedanta, absolute monism, of which Adi Shankara is the best-known representative;[55]
• Vishishtadvaita, qualified monism, is from the school of Ramanuja;[56]
• Shuddhadvaita, in-essence monism, is the school of Vallabha;
• Dvaitadvaita, differential monism, is a school founded by Nimbarka;
• Dvaita, dualism, is a school founded by Madhvacharya is probably the only Vedantic System that is opposed to all types of monism. It believes that God is eternally different from souls and matter in both form and essence.
• Achintya Bheda Abheda, a school of Vedanta founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference. It can be understood as an integration of the strict dualist (dvaita) theology of Madhvacharya and the qualified monism (vishishtadvaita) of Ramanuja.

Advaita Vedanta

Main article: Advaita Vedanta

Monism is most clearly identified in Advaita Vedanta,[57] though Renard points out that this may be a western interpretation, bypassing the intuitive understanding of a nondual reality.[58]

In Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe. The nature of Brahman is described as transpersonal, personal and impersonal by different philosophical schools.[59]

Advaita Vedanta gives an elaborate path to attain moksha. It entails more than self-inquiry or bare insight into one's real nature. Practice, especially Jnana Yoga, is needed to "destroy one’s tendencies (vAasanA-s)" before real insight can be attained.[60]

Advaita took over from the Madhyamika the idea of levels of reality.[61] Usually two levels are being mentioned,[62] but Shankara uses sublation as the criterion to postulate an ontological hierarchy of three levels:[63][64]

• Pāramārthika (paramartha, absolute), the absolute level, "which is absolutely real and into which both other reality levels can be resolved".[64] This experience can't be sublated by any other experience.[63]
• Vyāvahārika (vyavahara), or samvriti-saya[62] (empirical or pragmatical), "our world of experience, the phenomenal world that we handle every day when we are awake".[64] It is the level in which both jiva (living creatures or individual souls) and Iswara are true; here, the material world is also true.
• Prāthibhāsika (pratibhasika, apparent reality, unreality), "reality based on imagination alone".[64] It is the level in which appearances are actually false, like the illusion of a snake over a rope, or a dream.


Main article: Vaishnavism

All Vaishnava schools are panentheistic and view the universe as part of Krishna or Narayana, but see a plurality of souls and substances within Brahman. Monistic theism, which includes the concept of a personal god as a universal, omnipotent Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, is prevalent within many other schools of Hinduism as well.


Main article: Tantra

Tantra sees the Divine as both immanent and transcendent. The Divine can be found in the concrete world. Practices are aimed at transforming the passions, instead of transcending them.

Modern Hinduism

Main article: Hindu reform movements

The colonisation of India by the British had a major impact on Hindu society.[65] In response, leading Hindu intellectuals started to study western culture and philosophy, integrating several western notions into Hinduism.[65] This modernised Hinduism, at its turn, has gained popularity in the west.[48]

A major role was played in the 19th century by Swami Vivekananda in the revival of Hinduism,[66] and the spread of Advaita Vedanta to the west via the Ramakrishna Mission. His interpretation of Advaita Vedanta has been called Neo-Vedanta.[67] In Advaita, Shankara suggests meditation and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are means to gain knowledge of the already existing unity of Brahman and Atman,[68] not the highest goal itself:

[Y]oga is a meditative exercise of withdrawal from the particular and identification with the universal, leading to contemplation of oneself as the most universal, namely, Consciousness. This approach is different from the classical Yoga of complete thought suppression.[68]

Vivekananda, according to Gavin Flood, was "a figure of great importance in the development of a modern Hindu self-understanding and in formulating the West's view of Hinduism."[69] Central to his philosophy is the idea that the divine exists in all beings, that all human beings can achieve union with this "innate divinity",[70] and that seeing this divine as the essence of others will further love and social harmony.[70] According to Vivekananda, there is an essential unity to Hinduism, which underlies the diversity of its many forms.[70] According to Flood, Vivekananda's view of Hinduism is the most common among Hindus today.[71] This monism, according to Flood, is at the foundation of earlier Upanishads, to theosophy in the later Vedanta tradition and in modern Neo-Hinduism.[72]


Main article: Buddhism

According to the Pāli Canon, both pluralism (nānatta) and monism (ekatta) are speculative views. A Theravada commentary notes that the former is similar to or associated with nihilism (ucchēdavāda), and the latter is similar to or associated with eternalism (sassatavada).[73] See middle way.

In the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate nature of the world is described as Śūnyatā or "emptiness", which is inseparable from sensorial objects or anything else. That appears to be a monist position, but the Madhyamaka views – including variations like rangtong and shentong – will refrain from asserting any ultimately existent entity. They instead deconstruct any detailed or conceptual assertions about ultimate existence as resulting in absurd consequences. The Yogacara view, a minority school now only found among the Mahayana, also rejects monism.

Levels of truth

Within Buddhism, a rich variety of philosophical[74] and pedagogical models[75] can be found. Various schools of Buddhism discern levels of truth:

• The Two truths doctrine of the Madhyamaka
• The Three Natures of the Yogacara
• Essence-Function, or Absolute-relative in Chinese and Korean Buddhism
• The Trikaya-formule, consisting of
o The Dharmakāya or Truth body which embodies the very principle of enlightenment and knows no limits or boundaries;
o The Sambhogakāya or body of mutual enjoyment which is a body of bliss or clear light manifestation;
o The Nirmāṇakāya or created body which manifests in time and space.[76]

The Prajnaparamita-sutras and Madhyamaka emphasize the non-duality of form and emptiness: "form is emptiness, emptiness is form", as the heart sutra says.[77] In Chinese Buddhism this was understood to mean that ultimate reality is not a transcendental realm, but equal to the daily world of relative reality. This idea fitted into the Chinese culture, which emphasized the mundane world and society. But this does not tell how the absolute is present in the relative world:

To deny the duality of samsara and nirvana, as the Perfection of Wisdom does, or to demonstrate logically the error of dichotomizing conceptualization, as Nagarjuna does, is not to address the question of the relationship between samsara and nirvana -or, in more philosophical terms, between phenomenal and ultimate reality [...] What, then, is the relationship between these two realms?[77]

This question is answered in such schemata as the Five Ranks of Tozan,[78] the Oxherding Pictures, and Hakuin's Four ways of knowing.[79]


Main article: God in Sikhism

Sikhism complies with the concept of Priority Monism. Sikh philosophy advocates that all that our senses comprehend is an illusion; God is the sole reality. Forms being subject to time shall pass away. God's Reality alone is eternal and abiding.[80] The thought is that Atma (soul) is born from, and a reflection of, ParamAtma (Supreme Soul), and "will again merge into it", in the words of the fifth guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, "just as water merges back into the water."[81]

ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਜਲੁ ਆਇ ਖਟਾਨਾ ॥
Jio Jal Mehi Jal Aae Khattaanaa ||
As water comes to blend with water,

ਤਿਉ ਜੋਤੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥
Thio Jothee Sang Joth Samaanaa ||
His light blends into the Light.
— SGGS. Pg 278, ... ang-by-ang

God and Soul are fundamentally the same; identical in the same way as Fire and its sparks. "Atam meh Ram, Ram meh Atam" which means "The Ultimate Eternal reality resides in the Soul and the Soul is contained in Him". As from one stream, millions of waves arise and yet the waves, made of water, again become water; in the same way all souls have sprung from the Universal Being and would blend again into it.[82]

Abrahamic faiths


Main article: Judaism

Jewish thought considers God as separate from all physical, created things (transcendent) and as existing outside of time (eternal).[note 3][note 4]

According to Maimonides,[83] God is an incorporeal being that caused all other existence. In fact, God is defined as the necessary existent that caused all other existence. According to Maimonides, to admit corporeality to God is tantamount to admitting complexity to God, which is a contradiction to God as the First Cause and constitutes heresy. While Hasidic mystics considered the existence of the physical world a contradiction to God's simpleness, Maimonides saw no contradiction.[note 5]

According to Chasidic Thought (particularly as propounded by the 18th century, early 19th century founder of Chabad, Shneur Zalman of Liadi), God is held to be immanent within creation for two interrelated reasons:

1. A very strong Jewish belief is that "[t]he Divine life-force which brings [the universe] into existence must constantly be present ... were this life-force to forsake [the universe] for even one brief moment, it would revert to a state of utter nothingness, as before the creation ..."[84]

2. Simultaneously, Judaism holds as axiomatic that God is an absolute unity, and that he is Perfectly Simple—thus, if his sustaining power is within nature, then his essence is also within nature.

The Vilna Gaon was very much against this philosophy, for he felt that it would lead to pantheism and heresy. According to some this is the main reason for the Gaon's ban on Chasidism.


See also: Christian anthropology

Creator–creature distinction

Christianity strongly maintains the creator–creature distinction as fundamental. Christians maintain that God created the universe ex nihilo and not from his own substance, so that the creator is not to be confused with creation, but rather transcends it (metaphysical dualism) (cf. Genesis). Although, there is growing movement to have a "Christian Panentheism".[85] Even more immanent concepts and theologies are to be defined together with God's omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, due to God's desire for intimate contact with his own creation (cf. Acts 17:27). Another use of the term "monism" is in Christian anthropology to refer to the innate nature of humankind as being holistic, as usually opposed to bipartite and tripartite views.

Rejection of radical dualism

In On Free Choice of the Will, Augustine argued, in the context of the problem of evil, that evil is not the opposite of good, but rather merely the absence of good, something that does not have existence in itself. Likewise, C. S. Lewis described evil as a "parasite" in Mere Christianity, as he viewed evil as something that cannot exist without good to provide it with existence. Lewis went on to argue against dualism from the basis of moral absolutism, and rejected the dualistic notion that God and Satan are opposites, arguing instead that God has no equal, hence no opposite. Lewis rather viewed Satan as the opposite of Michael the archangel. Due to this, Lewis instead argued for a more limited type of dualism.[86] Other theologians, such as Greg Boyd, have argued in more depth that the Biblical authors held a "limited dualism", meaning that God and Satan do engage in real battle, but only due to free will given by God, for the duration that God allows.[87]

Isaiah 45:5–7 says: *5 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

• 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
• 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.


In Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, while human beings are not ontologically identical with the Creator, they are nonetheless capable with uniting with his Divine Nature via theosis, and especially, through the devout reception of the Holy Eucharist.[citation needed] This is a supernatural union, over and above that natural union, of which St. John of the Cross says, "it must be known that God dwells and is present substantially in every soul, even in that of the greatest sinner in the world, and this union is natural." Julian of Norwich, while maintaining the orthodox duality of Creator and creature, nonetheless speaks of God as "the true Father and true Mother" of all natures; thus, he indwells them substantially and thus preserves them from annihilation, as without this sustaining indwelling everything would cease to exist.

However, in Eastern Orthodoxy creation is united to God by grace and not by nature. This is what is known as the Essence-Energies distinction, while in union with God, Orthodox Christians believe, the human person retains its individuality and is not swallowed up by the Monad.

Christian Monism

Some Christian theologians are avowed monists, such as Paul Tillich. Since God is he "in whom we live and move and have our being" (Book of Acts 17.28), it follows that everything that has being partakes in God.

Latter-day Saint view (Mormonism)

Latter-day Saint theology also expresses a form of monism via materialism and eternalism, claiming that creation was ex materia (as opposed to ex nihilo in conventional Christianity), as expressed by Parley Pratt and echoed in view by Latter-day Saint prophet Joseph Smith, making no distinction between the spiritual and the material, these being not just similarly eternal, but ultimately two manifestations of the same reality or substance. [88]

God, the father is material. Jesus Christ is material. Angels are material. Spirits are material. Men are material. The universe is material ... Nothing exists which is not material."

— Parley Pratt[89]


See also: Tawhid


Vincent Cornell argues that the Quran provides a monist image of God by describing reality as a unified whole, with God being a single concept that would describe or ascribe all existing things. But most argue that Semitic religious scriptures, especially the Quran, see creation and God as two separate existences. It explains that everything has been created by God and is under his control, but at the same time distinguishes creation as being dependent on the existence of God.[90]


See also: Sufism

Sufi mystics advocate monism. One of the most notable being the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi (1207–73) in his didactic poem Masnavi espoused monism.[91][92] Rumi says in the Masnavi,

In the shop for Unity (wahdat); anything that you see there except the One is an idol.[91]

The most influential of the Islamic monists was the Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi (1165–1240). He developed the concept of 'unity of being' (Arabic: waḥdat al-wujūd), a monoist philosophy. Born in al-Andalus, he made an enormous impact on the Muslim world, where he was crowned "the great Master". In the centuries following his death, his ideas became increasingly controversial.


Main article: Bahá'í Faith and the unity of religion

Although the Bahá'í teachings have a strong emphasis on social and ethical issues, there exist a number of foundational texts that have been described as mystical.[93] Some of these include statements of a monist nature (e.g., The Seven Valleys and the Hidden Words). The differences between dualist and monist views are reconciled by the teaching that these opposing viewpoints are caused by differences in the observers themselves, not in that which is observed. This is not a 'higher truth/lower truth' position. God is unknowable. For man it is impossible to acquire any direct knowledge of God or the Absolute, because any knowledge that one has, is relative.[94]


Main article: Nondualism

According to nondualism, many forms of religion are based on an experiential or intuitive understanding of "the Real".[95] Nondualism, a modern reinterpretation of these religions, prefers the term "nondualism", instead of monism, because this understanding is "nonconceptual", "not graspable in an idea".[95][note 6][note 7]

To these nondual traditions belong Hinduism (including Vedanta[97], some forms of Yoga, and certain schools of Shaivism), Taoism[98][99], Pantheism[100], Rastafari[101] and similar systems of thought.

See also

• Cosmic pluralism
• Dialectical monism
• Henosis
• Holism
• Indefinite monism
• Material monism
• Monistic idealism
• Ontological pluralism
• Univocity of being
• Monadology


1. Such as Behaviourism,[8] Type-identity theory[8] and Functionalism[8]
2. See Creation Spirituality
3. For a discussion of the resultant paradox, see Tzimtzum.
4. See also Negative theology.
5. See the "Guide for the Perplexed", especially chapter I:50.
6. In Dutch: "Niet in een denkbeeld te vatten".[95]
7. According to Renard, Alan Watts has explained the difference between "non-dualism" and "monism" in The Supreme Identity, Faber and Faber 1950, p.69 and 95; The Way of Zen, Pelican-edition 1976, p.59-60.[96] According to Renard, Alan Watts has been one of the main contributors to thepopularisation of the notion of "nondualism".[95]


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External links

• Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Monism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
• Monism at PhilPapers
• Monism at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
• Catholic Encyclopedia - Monism
• Hinduism's Online Lexicon – (search for Monism)
• The Monist
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