Manly P. Hall name-drops Ragnar Redbeard, 1927

1845-1945, Ragnar Redbeard / Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Manly Palmer Hall (1901 – 1990) was a Canadian-born author, lecturer, astrologer and mystic. He is best known for his 1928 work The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Over his 70 year career, he gave thousands of lectures, including two at Carnegie Hall, and published over 150 volumes. In 1934, he founded The Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, which he dedicated to the “Truth Seekers of All Time”, with a research library, lecture hall and publishing house.

Ragnar Redbeard was one of the many of the pseudonyms of Chicago bookseller and one-time confectionery salesman Arthur Desmond. Desmond, before coming to America was a radical political activist, Georgist and advocate for Maori land-rights. He is most well known for his book Might is Right.

The “Q & A” that follows (emphasis on reference added) is reprinted from Hall’s own journal The All Seeing Eye from August 1927. The journal was edited and published by Hall, and the excerpt is one of a couple that appear int he back of the magazine.

While we don’t imply that this is an endorsement, or more than a passing familiarity with the ideas of Redbeard, it does show a few important things.

Name-dropping Redbeard in an esoteric journal published in 1927 (the same year a new edition of MiR was published in Chicago by the Dil Pickle Club) extends the known influence of the egoist book Might is Right. While we know of a few historical people who owned the book before the revival of the work in the 1960’s and again in the 1990’s, it is still uncommon to find references to it. We know for sure that three time Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sandburg owned it, though we have no evidence to prove the claim that Redbeard makes (using one of his many pseudonyms) that Cecil Rhodes read or owned it. We know that a number of wobblies, radical-left anarchists, individualists and egoists owned or read it, we still have no evidence that anyone explicitly associated with the “right” owned it, read it, or promoted it before the 1960s. Anthony M. Ludovici is the closest figure to this. We have shown Ludovici’s familiarity with Max Stirner, and the publication he wrote for, The New Age, under the editorship of A.R. Orage, published a few news items about Redbeard. But we have no known direct link between Ludovici and Redbeard.


Q. Based upon the purely physical aspects of evolution, the materialist has formulated as the basis of ethics the law of the survival of the physically fittest. From a similar observation of intellectual processes and accomplishments, the intellectualist has enunciated the doctrine of the survival of the intellectually fittest. Is it not a fact, however, that evolution represents essentially the survival of the morally fittest?—F. V. S.

Portrait of Hall from the same issue of his journal, painted by E. Hodgson Smart.

A. The physical body and the intellectual nature are both vehicles for the expression of an indwelling divine nature, which is superior to, but is hampered in its expression by, its mental and material constitutions. If you consider the moral nature to be that part of man which intuitively recognizes right, virtue, and integrity, and attempts to govern its compound structure according to the laws of ethics, then you are no longer referring to a vehicle but to that spiritual nature of man which is the source of his bodies. From a purely materialistic standpoint, the ethical nature is the highest expression of mental evolution because it is the result of an estimation of actions and reactions and their relationship to the self. The reaction of the spiritual nature upon the material nature results in the creation of the soul, and the soul is—to a certain degree, at least—the ethical nature. Spirit and matter are divine elements, in fact phases of one element, but the soul is an artificial element created in man by the processes of mental and physical evolution. By projecting Redbeard’s law of the survival of the fittest into the true philosophical aspect of man’s evolution, we find that the body of man is gradually devoured by that which is stronger than itself—that is, it is absorbed into the nature of the soul, for the soul is, in the last analysis, the highest condition of the regenerated body. The soul, in turn, is devoured by the spirit. Ultimately there is but one thing capable of survival, and that is spirit, because spirit is the only substance or condition not subject to destruction. Evolution progresses from the least degree of spirituality to the greatest degree of spirituality; involution from the greatest degree of spirituality to the least degree of spirituality. Ultimately spirit—like Saturn—devours ail its children and is itself an eternal condition. Evolution is only noticeable because through its mysterious process the activity of spirit becomes ever more tangible and the control of matter ever less complete. One writer has declared evolution to be merely the process of turning the internal constitution of the creature outward and the outward constitution inward. In its pilgrimage through the varying degrees of substance—or, more accurately, the various conditions of separateness from its source—the life principle in man gradually unfolds a type of consciousness that is capable of self-recognition. Accomplishment of this step completes the process of involution, for man is then an individual unit with an individual center of self-awareness. The process of evolution then begins, and by it the center of awareness is continually increased until it gradually absorbs into itself the shell or personality originally inclosing it. During the process of evolution the center of self-consciousness stores up experience, which experience itself becomes an immortal part of man’s divine nature. This immortal body thus built from the reactions and experiences of life gradually becomes the spiritual cause of the ethical nature, and when the evolutionary process is finally completed man will consist of a radiant center of self-consciousness plus the fruitage of experience—the soul.