Willis Carto’s Introduction to “Ways That Are Dark”

By Joshua Blakeney

On October 26, 2015, pioneer of Alternative Right politics and post-war historical revisionism Willis Carto passed away at age 89. In reading some of the eulogies published about him on websites such as Counter-Currents, I was amazed to discover that Carto had been shot by a Japanese sniper on Cebu Island in May 1945, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. This factoid reaffirmed my belief that Carto was a man who strove for objectivity in his political and historical research.

Willis Carto (1926-2015)
Willis Carto (1926-2015)

I knew of Carto’s support for those whom the FDR administration persecuted in the early 1940s for their refutations of that regime’s pro-war arguments. Ralph Townsend was one such victim of the Stalinist show trials which are described vividly in The Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 by Lawrence Dennis and Maximilian St. George. Carto would allow pro-Japanese interpretations of WWII in Asia to be published in the publications under his auspices, in spite of the fact that he had succumbed to a Japanese bullet during that war. That was the kind of man he was.

The Barnes Review, one of Carto’s scholarly outlets, re-published Townsend’s critical ethnography of China, Ways That Are Dark, in 1997. They also enabled a Japanese-language edition to come to fruition, translated by Hideo Tanaka and Kenkichi Sakita, which became a best seller in Japan. Furthermore, out of respect to his old friend, who passed away in January 1976, Carto personally authored an introductory note to what was arguably Townsend’s magnum opus, published originally in 1933.

800px-Ways_That_Are_Dark_CoverIn Ways That Are Dark one of Townsend’s core theses was that most Chinese people he encountered during his stint there as a U.S. consulate official, had not developed strong kinship ties beyond the level of the family which, he argued, made their society atomized and susceptible to civil war and exploitation by Communists and other opportunists. Townsend furnishes the reader with innumerable examples of this observed lack of supra-familial kinship in 1930s China. Here is one such example:

An American Consul related to me a personally witnessed occurrence at a place up the Yangtze where he was stationed, one that strikes a Westerner as incredible, but which would not impress a native Chinese as anything remarkable. It happened that a sampan loaded down with a cargo of live pigs, and crowded also with Chinese, was caught in a treacherous current and overturned a little distance from the shore. The Chinese and pigs aboard were spilled out into the water. A number of other Chinese along the shore, seeing the upset, immediately put out to the scene in their own boats, and began greedily picking up the live pigs swimming about. The drowning and pleading humans who wailed to be taken aboard were knocked on the head as fast as they swam to the arriving boats, and were all washed downstream and drowned. The Chinese minute men of the sampans returned in high glee with their unexpected catch of fresh pork, and life went on as usual.

The book was written mainly to disabuse do-gooder Americans of the idea that the inhabitants of China could be converted en mass to the universalisms of Christianity and Democracy.

Townsend contrasted Japan favourably with China. Japan’s Shinto religion and certain other culturally-specific developments had enabled the Nipponese individual to manifest kinship ties at the familial, communal and national level, leading to a kind of organic solidarity which Townsend argued was not yet present in 1930s China.

Here are some segments from Carto’s introduction to Ways That Are Dark:

Townsend wrote before the communist era. During the past five decades the Chinese Reds have murdered some 100 million of their own people by shooting, hanging, stomping, dragging, squashing, sawing, slicing or starving them to death. This toll. . .indicts the Marxist-Leninist political system. . .[T]he rulers of China [however] for fifty centuries have always freely murdered and tortured their hapless subjects. As Townsend says [writing in 1933], ‘the reader will see four hundred million (now over one billion) people—one-fifth of the world’s people—engulfed in misery’.

But, like it or not, China is a major player in the world today and so will it remain not only for the next 64 years but into the unknowable future. And there is no reason to believe that China will change, none at all, in spite of the most intense exertions of our world-improvers armed with bales of your tax money. . . 

The question you will ask is, ‘Can China change?’. . .

It is ironic that those White liberals and internationalists who are the most vocal in their protestations of fervent love for their fellow man, and their violent hatred of non-worshippers of their icon of racial equality ironically are the very ones who hypocritically want to change alien races and cultures into their own image.

But no one has the right to even attempt this. Those who wish to change or pervert other cultures are the worst sort of troublemaker and are only doing the work of the dregs of society, the international plutocrats who profit from imperialism and war. No matter how alien, strange, brutal or unenlightened another culture may appear to the illumined ones, they are dangerous fools if they try to play God with the mores of aliens.

A mature understanding of this verity and a strict observance of a “hands off” policy would automatically eliminate most of the troubles of this suffering world. The road to the hell of today has been compulsively paved with the good intentions of generations of Western meddlers and self-righteous busybodies. But then, wars are always good business in our magnificent capitalist society, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

It is today’s obsession to label anyone, no matter how responsible, who seeks to point out cultural differences as a ‘racist’. Did Ralph Townsend ‘hate’ the Chinese because of ‘the colour of their skin,’ to use a cliche? Or was he just honest enough to describe their cultural differences with us—we White Europeans? When the day comes that an intelligent man cannot describe factual differences between peoples, thought control will have reached its apex.

Source: Townsend, Ralph. Ways That Are Dark: The Truth About China. Washington D.C.: The Barnes Review, 1999.

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