Arthur Desmond and Might is Right (1890)

Might Is Right, or The Survival of the Fittest, is a book by pseudonymous author Ragnar Redbeard. First published in 1890, it heavily advocates amoral-ism, and psychological hedonism. In Might Is Right, Redbeard rejects conventional ideas of human and natural rights and argues that only strength or physical might can establish moral right.

first published as 25 typewritten copies by Arthur Desmond a shadowy figure from New Zealand history, of which few concrete facts are known, especially in regard to his personal life (his place of birth is most often cited as New Zealand but may have been the UK, of his place of death many conflicting accounts are given). What does seem known is that he was active in New Zealand from at least 1884, when he stood for parliament in Hawks bay, until 1892, when he left for Australia.

His career in New Zealand included advocating amongst the settlers on behalf  Te Kooti (an act that was deeply unpopular) and vocally advocating radical socialist solutions to the problems of the day.

Many a time when lying on my back in a bush whare or a tent after a day of grinding toil, have I resolved that if ever I had a chance to sweep away such a brutal system, it would not be neglected.”

As to the work its self even its date of publication is not entirely clear, neither is it’s intent. one of the most brutal social darwinist polemics ever to see print, advocating the subjugation of women and viralantly racist, coming from the pen of the man who wrote the above sentiment may have been intended as satire. either way it went on to have a long afterlife, being plagiarized by Anton LeVay for his satanic bible,  seeing continued reprints by neo-nazis and assorted racist filth of all kinds, as well as by publishers dedicated to anarchy and free thought.

In keeping with our mission to raise awareness of the strange in New Zealand history for the benefit of New Zealand Writers and Artists we will  provide a number of links here exploring the history of Arthur Desmond,  an anarchist critique of the text, and a copy of the text it’s self > MightIsRightFullText.

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