Might Is Right

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Might Is Right
Cover page of the original version
AuthorRagnar Redbeard (pseudonym)
CountryUnited States
SubjectSocial Darwinism
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
Pages406 (paperback)

Might Is Right or The Survival of the Fittest is a book by pseudonymous author Ragnar Redbeard, generally believed to be a pen name of Arthur Desmond. First published in 1896,[1] it advocates amorality, consequentialism and psychological hedonism.


The author sums up his work as follows:

This book is a reasoned negation of the Ten Commandments—the Golden Rule–the Sermon on the Mount—Republican Principles—Christian Principles—and "Principles" in general. It proclaims upon scientific evolutionary grounds, the unlimited absolutism of Might, and asserts that cut-and-dried moral codes are crude and immoral inventions, promotive of vice and vassalage.[2]

In Might Is Right, Redbeard rejects conventional ideas such as advocacy of human and natural rights and argues in addition that only strength or physical might can establish moral right (à la Callicles or Thrasymachus). The book also attacks Christianity and democracy. Friedrich Nietzsche's theories of master–slave morality and herd mentality served as inspirations for Redbeard's book which was written contemporaneously.[3][2]

James J. Martin, the individualist anarchist historian, called it "surely one of the most incendiary works ever to be published anywhere."[4] This refers to the book's assertions that weakness should be regarded with hatred and the strong and forceful presence of Social Darwinism. Other parts of the book deal with the topics of race and male–female relations. The book claims that the woman and the family as a whole are the property of the man, and it proclaims that the Anglo-Saxon race is innately superior to all other races.[5] The book also contains anti-Christian and anti-Semitic statements.[5]


S. E. Parker writes in his introduction to the text: "The most likely candidate is a man named Arthur Desmond who was red-bearded, red-haired and whose poetry was very similar to that written by Redbeard."[5] The Bulletin, a journal associated with the Australian labour movement, reported in July 1900 that Desmond (a former contributor to the publication) was Ragnar Redbeard.[6][7]

The Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey and white supremacist publisher Katja Lane (wife of The Order member David Lane) both believed novelist Jack London was substantially involved, if not the author of the entire book; the latter based her judgment on London's distinctive grammar and punctuation.[8][9] However, this idea was rejected by Rodger Jacobs, a biographer of London, since London was only 20 years old at the time and had not yet developed that writing style, nor had he read anything by Nietzsche.[8]


Leo Tolstoy, whom Might Is Right described as "the ablest modern expounder of primitive Christliness", responded in his 1897 essay What Is Art?:

The substance of this book, as it is expressed in the editor's preface, is that to measure "right" by the false philosophy of the Hebrew prophets and "weepful" Messiahs is madness. Right is not the offspring of doctrine, but of power. All laws, commandments, or doctrines as to not doing to another what you do not wish done to you, have no inherent authority whatever, but receive it only from the club, the gallows, and the sword. A man truly free is under no obligation to obey any injunction, human or divine. Obedience is the sign of the degenerate. Disobedience is the stamp of the hero.

Expressed in the form of a doctrine, these positions startle us. In reality, they are implied in the ideal of art serving beauty. The art of our upper classes has educated people in this ideal of the over-man — which is in reality the old ideal of Nero, Stenka Razin, Genghis Khan, Robert Macaire or Napoleon and all their accomplices, assistants, and adulators — and it supports this ideal with all its might.

It is this supplanting of the ideal of what is right by the ideal of what is beautiful, i.e. of what is pleasant, that is the fourth consequence, and a terrible one, of the perversion of art in our society. It is fearful to think of what would befall humanity were such art to spread among the masses of the people. And it already begins to spread.[10]

S. E. Parker wrote: "Might Is Right is a work flawed by major contradictions." In particular, he criticized the inconsistency of the book's central dogma of individualism with its open sexism and racism (both requiring a membership in a collective). However, he concluded that "it is sustained by a crude vigor that at its most coherent can help to clear away not a few of the religious, moral and political superstitions bequeathed to us by our ancestors."[5]

Author Chris Mathews suspects that the work is at least partly intended to be a satire of Social Darwinism, and he also characterizes it as a "proto-fascist white power manifesto".[11]


Portions of Might Is Right comprise the vast majority of The Book of Satan in Anton LaVey's 1969 The Satanic Bible, the founding document of the Church of Satan.[12] Though it is no longer included in current printings of The Satanic Bible, early printings included an extensive dedication to various people whom LaVey recognized as influences, including Ragnar Redbeard.[13]

Santino William Legan, the perpetrator of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Gilroy, California, mentioned Might is Right in an Instagram post. The work is regularly cited by white supremacist groups online.[14]


Year Publisher Notes
1896 Auditorium Press[15][1]
1896 A. Uing Publisher
1903 A. Mueller Publishers
1910 W.J. Robbins Co. Ltd
1921 Ross’ Book Service
1927 Dil Pickle Press
1962 Unknown publisher 18-page abridged edition.
1969 Same unknown publisher Expanded 32-page edition.
1972 Revisionist Press Reprint of 1927 Dil Pickle edition. ISBN 978-1478225171
1984 Loompanics Unlimited ISBN 0-915179-12-1
1996 M. H. P & Co. Ltd. Centennial edition, with intro by Anton LaVey.
1999 14 Word Press St. Maries, Idaho.
2003 Bugbee Books
2005 Revolva Russian edition with commentary. ISBN 5-94089-036-5, released online
2005 29 Books Reprint of 1927 Dil Pickle edition. ISBN 0-9748567-2-X
2005 Dil Pickle Press Edited and annotated by Darrell W. Conder. ISBN 0-9728233-0-1
2008 Zem Books ISBN 978-1-329-41381-8
2009 Edition Esoterick German hardcover edition. ISBN 978-3-936830-31-6
2012 Kustantamo Vuohi Julkaisut Finnish edition. ISBN 978-952-92-9531-9
2014 Camion Noir French edition. ISBN 978-235779-620-1
2014 Aristeus Books, ed. Dragan Nikolic Second ed., eng. edn. ISBN 978-1682040232
2018 Zem Books Hardcover ed. ISBN 978-1-387-51811-1
2018 Noir Anthologie Spanish edition. ASIN B07DH2QWS8
2019 Underworld Amusements The Authoritative Edition, with intro by Peter H. Gilmore. ISBN 978-1943687251
2020 Pentabol N. E. Spanish Extended Edition. ISBN 978-0244274757
2021 Underworld Amusements 1927 Facsimile Edition. ISBN 978-1-943687-26-8

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gilmore, Peter H.; Introduction, Might is Right: The Authoritative Edition, Underworld Amusements, April 23, 2019, 406 pages. ISBN 9781943687039.
  2. ^ a b Immorality as a Philosophic Principle - Nietzesche's Emotionalism. The Monist, Volume 9. 1899. p. 608.
  3. ^ Chris Mathews (2009). Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-313-36639-0. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  4. ^ EGO No 6 1985 Twenty Five Pence, at the Wayback Machine (archived August 18, 2010) archived from the original
  5. ^ a b c d S. E. Parker, Introduction to Might is Right
  6. ^ "Personal items". The Bulletin. Vol. 21, no. 1067. July 28, 1900. p. 14. How singular that the author of the most extreme and brutal presentation of the 'Might is Right' doctrine ever written in English [...] should turn out to be Arthur Desmond, author of such stirringly democratic verses as 'The Leader of the Future' and other Bulletin contributions.
  7. ^ "Parley concerning politics". The Worker. Wagga Wagga. August 4, 1900.
  8. ^ a b RUNNING WITH THE WOLVES: JACK LONDON, THE CULT OF MASCULINITY, AND "MIGHT IS RIGHT" Archived August 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Rodger Jacobs, Jack London Online Collection, Sonoma U
  9. ^ "Foreward" (sic) by Anton LaVey, to Might is Right, pub. Shane Bugbee (2003)
  10. ^ What is art? Leo Tolstoy
  11. ^ Mathews 2009, p. 65
  12. ^ Gallagher, Eugene V. (2013). "Sources, Sects, and Scripture: The Book of Satan in The Satanic Bible". In Per Faxneld and Jesper Aa. Petersen (ed.). The Devil's Party-Satanism in Modernity. Oxford University Press. pp. 103–122.
  13. ^ LaVey, Anton Szandor (1969). The Satanic Bible. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 978-0-380-01539-9.
  14. ^ Ingram, David; Zadrozny, Brandy; Siemaszko, Corky (July 29, 2019). "Gilroy Garlic Festival gunman referred to Might is Right manifesto before shooting". NBC News. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Might Is Right (The Logic of To-day) / by Ragnar Redbeard. National Library of Australia. 1896. Retrieved August 10, 2012. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)

External links[edit]