It's coming yet for a' that.
That man to man the world ow,r
Shall brithers be for a' that.
This brotherhood of man is to be achieved, not by emphasising minor differences, but by eliminating major obstacles, such as class divisions, and national oppression or subjection. Hitler and the Nazis, on the other hand, in their aim of world domination, have seized on the "racial theory" as a means of preventing human progress towards the unity of mankind in a brotherhood of peoples, as a means to preserve divisions and to increase disunity and to conquer.
For their purpose Hitler and the Nazis distort the teachings of science, and make use of all the prejudice and ignorance which is found amongst backward sections of the population. By this means they foster, in a modern form, the darkest heritage from the past of mankind, the prevalence of superstition. To put their yoke upon the peoples, the Nazis cast them into the thraldom of a modern superstition, just as the Japanese encourage the opium trade in order to make their intended victims into helpless drug addicts.
Confusion of thought and looseness of terminology, as we have seen in the case of race and many other words common use, enables the Nazis to do this the more easily. For example, they make great play also with the word blood. This is familiar enough in this country, where such phrases as "blue-blooded", "he has good blood in him", "the blood of king", are well known. In fact, this meaning of the word blood comes down in every language from the days when it was believed that blood was the mechanism of descent. Even the ancient Greeks believed this. At the present day, savages are found who do not know the relation between intercourse and parenthood. Savage and barbaric notions about embryology and the mechanism of reproduction linger on till modern times, and habits of speech continue even longer.
Playing upon such vague and ill-defined terms, the Nazis declare that an "Aryan race" created civilisation, and that only by them can it be maintained; that other "races" are inferior, in greater or lesser degree; that in the lowest, degree are the "sub-human"; that only "racial purity" enables the "Aryan race" to fulfill its mission. Mixture with other "races" is contamination of "the blood". Thus the "Aryan strain" in the English is contaminated; proved by their making war on Germany. Amongst the "inferior races" are the Jews, whose mission is to wreck civilisation and whose method is to "contaminate" the "Aryan blood".
Within the "Aryan race" is a superlative section, called the "Nordics". These purely imaginary Nordics are commonly supposed to be fair, slim, tall and virile; and are chiefly supposed to be located in Germany, Scandinavia and Holland. As though in answer to the bitter jest that "a Nordic is fair like Hitler, slim like Goering, tall like the dwarf Goebbels, and manly like Roehm", Hitler, in Mein Kampf, admits that the Germans are not a pure race as yet, but claims that, they can be "purified" and the "Nordic" strain made dominant. This "theory" enables the Nazis to justify their atrocities, inside Germany, and to run amok with gelding and sterilising of individuals, as well as their cold-blooded tortures and mass murder.
Wrapped up with this in the case of some Nazis (and in the case of the late Field Marshal Ludendorff) is a hostility to Christianity as having a Jewish origin, and an attempt to revive the worship of the old Germanic gods Wotan and Thor. For Wotan and Thor and Baldur were certainly the pure "Nordics", since they never existed in reality.
So one might go on with further details of the Nazi versions of the "racial theory". But it is not necessary to unfold every detail of this dark superstition, which was first fully set forth in 1853-55 by the Comte de Gobineau, a French reactionary who was seeking arguments against democracy. In the form of modern anti-Semitism, the "theory" is still more recent. But the origin of all these theories will be dealt with later.
Such malevolent nonsense as the "racial theory" presents the difficulty of all superstitions that it is hard to get the dupes of it to argue reasonably. In the time of Shakespeare, though it was comparatively free from the race superstition which darkens this century, there was a widespread belief in witchcraft. King James I wrote a book about it; and anyone who sought to expose it was setting himself up against the Lord's Anointed and might readily be suspected also of being in traffic with the Evil One. Superstitious Freudians, twenty years ago, used to react in the same way to critics of Freud.
However there are some fairly obvious fallacies in the "racial theory". Take the "Aryan race". There is no such thing as an "Aryan race". There is an Aryan grouping of languages, now more usually called the Indo-European grouping. But the notion that a man's speech tells us who his forefathers were does not stand a moment's examination. Negroes born in Jamaica speak nothing but English; while in the Outer Hebrides there may still be Gaelic-speaking islanders who know no English. The Cornish tongue is no longer found in Cornwall, where only English is now spoken.
There are scores of dead languages which can still be read, and thousands that are buried forever, but the last speakers of these now unused tongues spoke other tongues, and their children learned a new language. In fact, the prevalence of any big grouping of languages means only that in a given area most people came to speak one particular language out of many competing tongues and dialects. Therefore the notion that because there is a similarity between the various languages grouped as Aryan or Indo-European (for example, Sanskrit, Persian, Slavonic, Germanic, English, Greek, Celtic, Latin, and all their derivatives or collaterals up to about a hundred in number) that therefore there must be at the present day a corresponding "Aryan race" is untenable. It can be put as a mock syllogism:
All who speak Aryan tongues are Aryans by race.
Yiddish is an Aryan tongue,
Therefore all who speak Yiddish are Aryans by race.
It may sound astonishing that all Hitler's Aryan business and all the sillier repetition of it sometimes in publications in this country are founded on such a simple confusion as this. Actually it arose in this way. A hundred and fifty years ago, scholars examining the ancient languages of Northern India and Persia (Sanskrit and Zend), found a remarkable similarity with other ancient languages such as Greek and Latin, and with most of the living tongues of Europe. They drew the conclusion, quite correctly, that the existing languages of Europe and Northern India, together with their parental dead languages, were all derived from some earlier common tongue or closely related group of languages.
To all the tongues that had these features in common, they gave the title of Aryan because some of the speakers of the dead Sanskrit language had called themselves Aryas. Thus the word Aryan, applied to human beings, correctly refers only to some people to some peoples who lived some three to four thousand years ago in Northern India and Persia. They are all dead and buried long, long ago. To-day, there are no Aryans.
The reactionary ass, de Gobineau, referring to his contemporaries, spoke of the Aryans as one of the supposed "superior races" of Western Europe at the present day. Even a genuine scholar like Max Muller made this mistake, for which he later tried to make ample amends by saying:
"I have declared again and again that if I say Aryas, I mean neither blood nor bone, nor hair, nor skull; I mean simply those who speak an Aryan tongue ... When I speak of them I commit myself to no anatomical characteristics. The blue-eyed and fair-haired Scandinavians may have been conquerors or conquered. They may have adopted the language of their darker lords, or vice versa ... To me, an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.
In the same way one might go painfully through the rest of the Nazi race theory, showing that this superstition is made up of error after error. But perhaps the best way of exploding the supposed scientific basis of the "racial theories", or, rather, the racial dogmas as they are now taught to the population of Germany and Occupied Europe, is to note that the these dogmas, so far from being the unalterable and eternal verities as taught to the Hitlerjugend, are easily shifted around as soon as it suits the political purposes of the Nazis. Thus, at one time, the Nazis, continuing the traditions of the Hohenzollern Kaiser, uttered warning against the "Yellow Peril". A few year later the German Government became friendly with the Japanese Government, constructed the Berlin-Tokio Axis; and formed the Anti-Comintern Pact — whereupon the Japanese were suddenly declared to be "honorary Aryans."
But a still better example is the circular letter issued in July 1942 to the German Occupation Authorities in Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. The document, signed by Martin Bormann (Deputy Fuhrer in succession to Rudolph Hess) and by Alfred Rosenberg (head of the Foreign Department of the Nazi Party), sets forth principles "formulated in accordance with the will of the Fuhrer", and concludes that the Northern races are no longer to be treated as the racial equals of the Germans, but as inferior types. Its contents are summarised as follows:
Basic Lines of Racial Policy in Occupied Northern and Baltic Areas
Firstly, the conquest of areas inhabited by Peoples of Germanic race, and the contradiction that has arisen within the Germanic race between the conquerors and conquered, have given rise to new factors in race policy in the north, demanding a reorientation of the programme previously proclaimed by the leaders of the German Empire.
Secondly, the conquest brought to light two different elements of the "Nordic race": the German nucleus proper, which has preserved "aboriginal Aryan race material" in its integrity, and the unstable periphery, which has been affected by the disintegrating influence of various "products of racial chaos reigning on the borders of the German world". These include the Finns, Mongols, Slavs, Celts, Gauls, Anglo-Saxons, etc.
Thirdly, Germans inhabiting Central Germany are the sole representatives of the "healthy Aryan nucleus". The events of 1940-1942 confirmed the right of this superior racial element to a "leading political and educational role in German space," while the sub-Germans (Unter-Germanen) of the periphery who have fallen into the orbit of German conquest, in particular the Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Dutch, Walloons and others, have proved unable to resist "the decline of their racial standard and, consequently; of their state and social system".
Fourthly, this difference being established, it is possible to regard the representatives of "the contaminated periphery of the German racial circle" as a certain variety of subject men (eine Abart des unterworfenen Menschen).
The German occupation authorities in the north should be guided in their work by the principle that the idea of the leading role of the Nordic race as a whole is obsolete, while the established rule of the Central Aryan elements is an historically justified expression of the long-matured split of the Nordic race into full-valued and devalued (entwertet) elements.
The occupation authorities are therefore authorised:
In conclusion, the circular points out that the previously announced principles of race policy, when applied to the German peoples of the north, "gave rise to a harmful illusion of the racial equality" of the Scandinavians and other peoples on the one hand and the German conquerors on the other. They also afford various groups collaborating with the German authorities, in particular in Norway and Holland, "false grounds for the maintenance of these illusions" in the "petty interests of national egoism".
This document should open the eyes of the most gullible. Race theory shifts, not according to the alleged facts of "race", but in close correspondence with the shifting fortunes and tortuous policy of German Fascist imperialism.
Savage and barbaric notions about "blood" are refurbished in the Nazi race superstition, but race theories as a whole are modern. In general they are not found in medieval Europe, when the biological unity of mankind was derived directly from the Christian doctrine of the fatherhood of God. To all mankind, conceived in sin and born in iniquity, the promise that they could be redeemed was extended: nor was there any exception to this in the shape of race-theories. Neither was there any nationality question to cast its racial shadow over the minds of men. Distinctions there were in plenty: but the class differences of the feudal epoch obscured any strivings towards nationhood. The chief social division was not vertical but horizontal. A Norman lord, holding land on both sides of the Channel recked little of different speech amongst those beneath him. To him they were serfs, and before this primary distinction of lord and serfs in the countryside other differences were of small account. Ballads coming down from feudal times (and the historical novels that drew upon them) emphasise rank and pedigree.
The richly dressed burgher must give place to the threadbare cloak of him that comes of "gentle blood".
When in the Long Parliament three centuries ago it was moved "that the House of Lords is useless, dangerous and ought to be abolished" it was a sign of the end of the feudal order. When feudal rank and privilege were swept away by the French Revolution a century and a half ago, it was the triumph of capitalism, of the new order which proclaimed the Rights of Man and inscribed on its banner "Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood" as the slogans of democracy. The old arguments that buttressed the rule of the aristocracy were derided and everywhere lost their validity (except of course amongst the inexpugnable snobs of England).
New arguments had to be found to buttress the claims of the reactionaries. The race argument began to be used as a political weapon against the advance of democracy. It had been used before (and first of all as an argument of the aristocracy against the French absolute monarchy) and the growth of nationality had been accompanied by the familiar nation-equals-race confusion. But now in the 19th century it grew rapidly. When the Revolution of 1848 brought out clearly the new form of the class struggle, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the need to cover up this fundamental social difference became imperative.
While the consciousness of nationhood could be distorted into nationalism and jingoism, arguments about imaginary race and their deep-seated differences could fan the flames of nationalism. In addition, alleged race difference could both serve as an explanation of the class division within society and also supplant class-consciousness by race-consciousness. But for this not only race-difference but race-superiority and race-inferiority had to be brought into play. It was at this point that the reactionary Count de Gobineau wrote his "Essay on the Inequality of the Races of Man". Since then, as R.P. Dutt says in his Britain in the World Front, "the racial theory has been the happy hunting ground of all opponents of human progress".
What a riot it has been, comparable only to the unhappy episode at Gadara mentioned in the New Testament! The Gadarene swine rushed violently down a steep place into the sea. But in later 19th century Europe it was not only one species that were possessed by the race-theory. Skull measurers, anthropo-sociologists, social psychologists, biologists at large, historians and literary men who dabbled in ideals all rushed over the precipice. In Britain the mid-Victorian writers of history were badly possessed.
By the last years of Queen Victoria, the multi-millionaire, Cecil Rhodes, early imperialist, was proclaiming from his diamond mines in South Africa his doctrine of race, that the earth and the fullness thereof belonged by right of birth to a superior race, the "Anglo-Saxon race". The present planet and its population, it appeared, would be greatly obliged to this "Anglo-Saxon race" if it would only realise its destiny and become a "Herrenvolk" — Lords of the earth, subjecting all peoples to their rule. Had not he, Cecil Rhodes, shown the way by grabbing the land of the Mashonas and the Matabele? And if the Jameson Raid did not bring the Boer Republic within the British Empire, was it not partly due to the lack of support, to the failure as yet of all "Anglo-Saxons" to be conscious of their lordly destiny?
One of the associates in policy of this multi-millionaire was the Secretary for the Colonies, the Right Hon Joseph Chamberlain.
Some forty years later, Joseph Chamberlain's son became Prime Minister. It appears that Neville Chamberlain had swallowed the racial nonsense or had it screwed into him by his father. At any rate, whereas the Peace of Versailles in 1919 was concerned chiefly with questions of nationality, the new settlement of Europe at Munich ("I bring you peace in our time.") was apparently based on questions of race. He believed that Czecho-Slovakia must be dismembered and Britain thereby weakened because the German-speaking portion. of that country were of "German race".
Neville Chamberlain was not th only one of his Cabinet to have dabbled in race theories. Some years earlier, Sir John Simon, now Lord Chancellor, had heard that the Nazis, slightly displeased for a moment with his actions as Foreign Secretary, had put it about that he was a Jew. What of it, you might think, it was good enough for Britain under Disraeli. But Sir John, anxious to refute this appalling accusation of racial kinship with Jesus Christ, promptly issued a denial, and, presumably in order to appease Hitler, added the words, "I am just an ordinary Briton of Aryan stock." Was his tongue in his cheek? No! Just plain illiteracy, swallowing (and regurgitating) of race theories, rolling in the racial gutter!
What has Science — true Science — to say on questions of "race, nationality". Let us postpone the question of nationality, which falls it the field of political science, and take first the question of "race", which can be studied from the standpoint of a number of sciences whose frontiers are not always sharply defined, such as Anthropology, Anthropometry, Ethnology, Archaeology, etc. These sciences are very new, with methods in many cases still being worked out and still subject to scrutiny. It is not yet a hundred years, for example, since Boucher de Perthes was publishing the result of his excavations on the ancient bed of the river Somme, thereby founding the modern science of archaeology. It was only in the latter half of the19th century that W.B. Tylor in Britain and Morgan in the U.S.A., were publishing their fundamental works on ancient societies of man. Thomas Henry Huxley's famous lecture famous lectures to working men ("Relation of man to the animals") are not yet 60 years old. Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough in it 10-volume edition appeared less than 30 years ago, while the work of W.H. Rivers and his school dates entirely from this century. There are still huge portions of the globe in which no systematic work has been done. Thus these sciences are tentative; and on the question of race their verifiable results are still somewhat meagre. Were it otherwise, scarcely even the Nazis would have attempted their distortions and falsifications.
But just on this one question of race popular prejudice has long ago stepped in where organised knowledge was inarticulate. Nor is this surprising. Quite apart from earlier classification of mankind or attempts to show the causes of human differences, such as the treatise by Hippocrates or one of his school on Airs, Waters, Places, there came in the 16th and succeeding centuries a newly awakened interest in the differences of mankind due partly to the great circumnavigations of the globe. The extent of difference tends to be exaggerated. Clearly if an explorer or missionary takes a ship and sails for weeks to a distant land he will find human beings whose costumes, gestures, mouths, nostrils and other features, hair and colour, houses and ornaments, speech and skill, agriculture and industry, art and religion, dance and song, will all strike him as excessively strange — which strangeness in his mind will be accentuated by difference of climate, temperature, rainfall and sunshine, vegetation, animal life, etc, etc. He has gone from one extreme to another.
But if an explorer were to walk from east to west noting the shape of the face, or from north to south noting colour, he would get an impression very different from that of a vivid, startling and manifold difference in these minor biological points. Everything would be gradual, almost imperceptible. If for example, an illiterate deaf mute but of high intelligence were to start at Cape Finisterre at the extreme western tip of France and were to walk due eastwards in Europe he or she would not notice any difference from village to village. By the time he or she reached East Prussia or the nearer parts of the USSR, he would notice that in each village a rather larger proportion of the men and women had higher cheekbones than he remembered to have been the case in France some months earlier. At no point had there been an abrupt transition. Being unable to hear or read he would not appreciate differences of language and might readily conclude that from Finisterre to the Ural Mountains the Europeans were one people "without distinction of race and nationality".
Similarly, if a man or woman were to walk due southeast from Calais going down through the Balkans then through Asia Minor to Syria and Irak he would never notice the difference of colour at the end of a day's walk. All that he would be able to say after some weeks of walking would be that in this or that village or town fewer people were fair and more people were dark than in the villages of Kent or Flanders. This is what the biological differences amount to if you do not set out to astound yourself by making great leaps from one portion of the globe to another.
So it is necessary to forget or put out of our mind all exaggerated impressions and to realise constantly, the following basic facts; that human beings on the earth are of one kind or species — namely mankind; that there is one genus of man extant and one species only, viz, mankind, or in Latin Homo sapiens; that many of man's racial attributes are derived from nationality and have nothing to do with "race"; and that, while varieties undoubtedly exist, "pure races" in the strict biological sense as applied to other animals and plants are not found within the human species.
With these point in mind let us consider something of what science has to say in its attempt to make some classification of the various groupings of mankind. Scientists can take various physical features. But many of them are difficult to measure. For example, everyone has heard of the attempt to measure the shape of skulls by comparing the breadth of the skull to the length. Those in whom the width is well over two thirds the length are shortheads or brachycephalic; those in whom the width is well under two thirds of the length are the longheads or dolicho-cephalic; while those who are round about two-thirds (actually 72 per cent) are meso-cephalic. When many thousands of skulls in ancient cemeteries or of soldiers in modern battalions have been measured it is possible to get some statistical results. Thus they will discover that in one village cemetery in western Europe there are more longheads than shortheads; and in another within a few hundred miles radius of it there will be more shortheads than longheads. So what? Further conclusions drawn from these statistics of old bones were liable to be very speculative — as witness many 19th century writers on this subject.
Nevertheless, when the measurement of skulls and other bones is dealt with by true scientists, the results are far from supporting the Nazis in Germany or race-befuddled politicians elsewhere. For example when Dr G. Morant, horrified by the loose manner in which leading newspapers and the BBC and politicians like Neville Chamberlain spoke of Munich as a resettlement of Europe on its racial boundaries (obviously on the crude assumption that language corresponded to race, and that linguistic frontiers showed racial distribution), wrote a book on The Races of Central Europe it was as a corrective, or as he modestly called it "a footnote to history". Every leaderwriter in Fleet Street should have been made to pass an examination in this book, for it took the body-features one by one and showed that they emphatically did not correspond to the linguistic map of Central Europe. For instance an examination of cephalic indices of the populations demonstrated that the averages showed "remarkable uniformity throughout the region", and that the extreme differences (ie, the most broad-headed and the most long-headed) were both "represented by German-speaking populations".
Differences of stature are admittedly less reliable evidence as a racial character (eat more and you grow more!) but, with care, it may still be used. The Nazi racialists, having their heads in the clouds, believed that they were "a tall race". Consequently, when they were attacking Czechoslovakia at the time of Munich, they naturally referred to the Czechs as "dwarfs". The facts are the reverse, as shown by careful measurement. The average Czech is taller that the average German, or as Dr Morrant says, "Incidentally, it may be noted that Field-Marshal Goering's description of the Czechs as a race of pygmies was particularly inept: they are actually found to be taller than all the German-speaking peoples surrounding them".
Other features such as colours of skin, eyes or hair have been found to be less reliably measured. There is one feature, however, which answers the purposes of measurement a little better: the texture of hair. Human hair can be divided into lank hair, usual amongst the Chinese and the Red Indians; woolly hair, common in Central Africa; and wavy or curly hair. There are, of course, many intermediate kinds. But the broad distinctions remain. For one type of hair is curled like a spring, and another, when cut through and examined under a microscope, is not round in section but oval. This last difference cannot be faked by modem hairdressers.
Who are the wavy haired? The inhabitants in the main of Europe, North Africa, the Near East and Western Asia — together with the Australian aborigines. In the one classification of wavy hair go both German and Jew, European "Whites" and "Australian savages". There is little to gratify the Nazis in these results of scientific distinctions of hair.
It is as sub-divisions amongst the wavy-haired that such differences of type have been attempted as the Nordic type of physical feature, the Mediterranean and the Alpine type. But if difficulties beset the classification of each physical feature taken in isolation, there are still greater difficulties in combinations of two or three. The separate physical features are difficult to correlate with one with another.
Finally, there is no valid correlation of physical features with mental characteristics. Shakespeare's Prince of Morocco may say:
"Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun,
To whom I am a neighbour and near bred."
but it will for ever remain unknown whether the Prince was wavy-haired or woolly-haired, thick-lipped or thin-lipped, broad or narrow of nostril, tall or short, dolicho-cephalic or brachy-cephalic.
The Nazis and their supporters in other countries talk much of race purity. In Chapter II of Mein Kampf, on "Race and People", Hitler writes that history "shows with a startling clarity, that whenever Aryans have mingled their blood with that of an inferior, the result has been the downfall of the people who were the standard-bearers of a higher culture".
In short, he concludes, "the results of miscegenation are always the following:
"(a) the level of the superior race becomes lower:
"(b) physical and mental degeneration sets in, thus leading slowly but steadily towards a progressive drying up of the vital sap."
Later he says: "All the great civilisations of the past became decadent because the originally creative creative race died out, as a result of contamination of the blood."
These are of course mere unfounded assertions without any proof whatever. Actually, such facts as are known from the sciences which study the biological differences in mankind do not lend any confirmation of the notion that there are pure races to be found in mankind. Still less do they confirm effect of race, pure or impure, upon the development of civilisation. There are two points here worth noting: first, that Hitler is garbling various views, themselves originally false, as to the causes of the rise and decline of civilisation; second, he is building on some very widespread prejudice about "half-breeds".
These notions about the supposed effects of "miscegenation", or race-mixture depending themselves upon the notion of the existence of pure races that have gone and got themselves miscegenated, have been voiced by many writers in the past century. One of the most remarkable examples was the theory put forward by Sir Flinders Petrie, the eminent Egyptologist, in his book, The Revolutions of Civilisation, expounding a cyclical theory of history. Beginning with the statement that "civilisation is a recurrent phenomenon", Flinders Petrie found the cause thereof in the mixing of "blood": but oddly enough saw in this miscegenation the cause not of the decline of civilisation, but of its rise. In so doing, he only managed to prove his singular ignorance both of genetics and of sociology. But at any rate there was a plausibility in his argument which is entirely lacking in those of the much more ignorant Hitler.
The prejudice about "half-breeds" is usually summed up in the phrase "a half-breed possesses the vices of both parents and the virtues of neither". For this prejudice there is no scientific basis. It is true that where inter-marriage occurs between a subject nationality and a ruling nationality, then the progeny of these "mixed marriages" are often disliked by both oppressor and oppressed. In India this is often the case with several millions of the population who come originally from Anglo-Indian marriages. But there is a social, not a biological question.
Actually, so far as science is in a position to say anything definite on the subject of "half-breeds", the broad conclusion would be that the wider the cross-fertilisation within a species, the more opportunity is given for a wider range of combination of the various elements in human heredity. It was on this general principle that Bernard Shaw seven years ago gave sage advice on his visit to South Africa (and infuriated the white inhabitants), by proposing that the whites should mate extensively with the blacks, and so rid that Dominion of its incubus of race-hatred.
The fundamental fallacy lies in the belief that pure races can be found in mankind at the present day. Now, not only is this false, but it is doubtful if at any time there could be found amongst the various groupings of mankind any "pure race" in the sense in which this is applied to other animals and plants. All the examination of skeletons of earlier ages go to show that not only at the beginning of historic times but as far back as the end of the end of the last ice-age — mankind in Europe was completely mixed up. In short, instead of men vainly thinking of themselves in terms of dogs and horses, dahlias and sweet peas, with "pure breeds" and "pure races," they had better realise that in Europe, at any rate, for countless generations they have all been thoroughly mixed up. The slogan for any European people might well be "mongrel and proud of it".
For over a thousand years of Christendom it was believed that the sons of Adam that survived the Flood were all descended from Noah's children, Ham, Shem and Japhet. These were the three great divisions of mankind. Two hundred years ago the Swedish scientist, Linnaeus, was seeking for a new classification of animals and plants, amongst them the animal whom he named Homo sapiens. In this species he found four varieties. What were they to be called? As, much earlier, the four greatest continents had been given names by man, so Linnaeus magnanimously allowed the four varieties of man to be given names by these continents. There resulted European Man, Asiatic Man, African Man and American Man.
Blumenbach went one better: he created five varieties of man, to wit, Caucasian, Ethiopian, Mongolian, American and Malay. This prodigiously satisfied our great-grandfathers, who reproduced the countenances of these five varietise in many gaily coloured plates. But then in the 19th century this plain (or coloured) description began to be upset by the cephalic index mongers, by the hair texture specialists, and by their literary camp followers. The progress of science brought a greater number of distinctions. Few countries but had their half-dozen races; and sometimes more. The total number of varieties within the human species varied according to the method of classification. Bones yielded one total, hair texture another, colour a third, and the combinations of these and other standards ran well into two figures."
Meantime outside Europe other and simpler classifications were still used. It was understood that the Chinese regarded mankind as divided into "Celestials" and "Foreign devils", under which latter classification they confounded all the distinctions that were busily being discovered in Europe.
The Japanese, we are told, regarded themselves as a divine race descended from the snot of the Sun-Goddess Amaterasu and looked down upon all of mankind possessed of lesser pedigrees. Consequently the Japanese racialists had no reason to be galled in the past by any Nazi description of themselves as "sub-humans". Whether they retorted by describing Germans, British and French as "sub-snotters" is not known to me. But it would accord with the usual courtesies of race theory.
Amid this profusion of distinctions and classifications, biological and mythological, with their vague and shifty markings, suddenly in the 20th century there was discovered what seemed a hard and fast division of the human species.
It was found that each human being falls into one of four definite blood groups. Modification of this fourfold division may yet be discovered. But the whole practice of blood transfusion, which has proved of such incalculable benefit, especially in this war, has been founded on the basis that there are four blood groups and four only. Blood transfusion except from "universal donors" should be between members of the same blood group. Otherwise the results may be dangerous. For one man's blood may curdle the blood of another belonging to a different group.
Here at last it might seem was a definite test on racial questions. To apply such a test it would only be necessary to examine the blood of random samples of human beings in each country and each province. From this it should be possible to compile statistics of the distribution of the blood groups.
If in one country there should be found only one main blood-group, with but a negligible minority of the other three, would not this prove something? And what if that one country should be Germany? Would not that go to show that there was a "pure race" after all, and that the others were curdlers and contaminators? The wildest metaphors and figures of speech and extravagances of the Nazi racialists would turn out to be literal truth, stranger than any of their usual fictions. Imagine the interest with which this investigation was followed, especially in countries afflicted with race theory.
Well, the test has been applied, not only to Europeans, but to all the larger subdivisions of mankind from Eskimos to Patagonians. Unfortunately for the Nazis, the results show that the four blood groups are found in almost every country. But many American Indian tribes have only two of the four blood groups, and a few have only one. If, on this standard, there is a pure race in the world, it is to be found among the North American redskins.
The German blood certainly has no claim to "purity". On the contrary, and perhaps even to a greater extent than England, Germany is one of the most mixed up of all countries. Furthermore, all these four blood groups, as well as the complicating Rh factor, are to be found also amongst the great apes. Any hopes the Nazis may have reposed in the blood groups have been dashed, and medical science science can pursue its research into agglutinogens unperturbed by racialist gospellers.
The words race and nationality" are often mentioned together: and the widespread confusions about either of them are worse confounded when the two are mixed up. So-called racial characteristics are talked about by people who really mean national characteristics. Fortunately, there are some limits to this folly: for example, no one would speak of the American race, meaning thereby the hundred and thirty million inhabitants of the United States of America. Yet they could refer to them as a nation or nationality, and from that go on, correctly or incorrectly, to discuss their "national" characteristics. But what constitutes a nation or nationality, and how it is distinguished from a State, etc, etc, is often hazily understood. It will be helpful, therefore, to clear up some of the confusion if nationality" can be clearly marked off and some of the problems connected with it briefly examined.
Let us note first the following points.
First, difference of nationality is a social difference between human communities. Second, nationality is in the main a difference that has arisen in comparatively recent times, together with the growth of capitalism. Thirdly, national differences, though subordinate to class differences, have played a great part in politics, especially in the last century. Fourthly, difference of nationality is accentuated when one nationality dominates and others are subjected, when the difference is between oppressing and oppressed nationalities. This happens with particular sharpness in the imperialist epoch in which we live. Clearly then, it is worthwhile to examine the nature of nationality and its problems.Nationality, it was said earlier, fell in the field of political science. This statement may have caused dismay to readers, many of whom have had such an experience of politics as has driven them to accept Oxenstierna's three-century-old maxim as the beginning and end of political science. Nevertheless, the scientific method can be applied to politics, and political science can be developed. Fortunately, on this question of nationality, there is as it were a standard textbook in the writings of J.V. Stalin, who is not only, as Bernard Shaw said of him a dozen years ago, "a practical professor of political science", but also throughout this century has devoted particular attention to this very question.
Over thirty years ago, in a controversy with the late Otto Bauer, then considered the most brilliant young theorist of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, J.V. Stalin defined what a nation is, and this definition can serve us today.
Posing the question, what is a nation, Stalin singled out several features in the community of people that make up a nation. Amongst these features were common language, common territory, economic cohesion (a common economic life), common culture; there is also stabi1ity and historic evolution. Without these or without any one of them it ceases to be a nation. This at once marks off the concept of a nation from the other social differences of mankind.
With painstaking care, Stalin examined each element in his definition of a nation; and it is worthwhile to note his to testing of his own definitions. First, he begins with the statement that: "A nation is primarily a community, a definite community of people." But this community is neither racial nor tribal. For example, "The modern Italian nation was formed from Romans, Teutons, Etruscans, Greeks, Arabs, and so forth. The French nation was formed from Gauls, Romans, Britons, Teutons, and so on." After referring to others who were formed into nations from peoples of different races and tribes, he reaches the conclusion: "Thus, a nation is not a racial or tribal, but a historically constituted community of people."
Secondly, "historically constituted" is not enough. The great empires of Cyrus the Persian and Alexander of Macedon "are certainly constituted historically: but with the early death of Alexander, his empire broke up. "They were not nations," writes Stalin, "but casual and loosely connected conglomerations of groups, which fell apart or joined together, depending upon the victories or defeats of this or that conqueror," and he draws the conclusion: "Thus, a nation is not a casual or ephemeral conglomeration, but a stable community of people."
Thirdly, community is not enough. Not every stable community is a nation, as could be seen from the examples of the Russian Empire of the Romanov Tsars, or the Dual Monarchy of the Hapsburgs, both States in stable existence for centuries. This was before the last war. Today the example could be given of the British Empire, which is historically constituted, and has been stable enough to have lasted a couple of centuries or more, but it is not a nation. Stalin pointed out that a national community (like the Czechs within the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time) is inconceivable without a common language, which a State need not necessarily have, and its integrity is not affected by the fact that there are several languages within its borders; and he drew the conclusion that: "Thus community of language is one of the characteristic features of a nation."
Fourthly, those who have a common tongue do not necessarily constitute one nation, any more than difference of nationality must always carry with it difference of language. Two nations may speak the same language: but because of living in different territories cannot have that national life that comes from people living together from generation to generation. Therefore, says Stalin, "community of territory is one of the characteristic features of a nation".
Fifthly, an internal economic bond is necessary to weld the various parts of the nation into a single whole. Stalin, himself a Georgian from the further side of the Caucasus, takes the example of his own nation. The Georgians, before the abolition of serfdom in 1861, had a common territory and spoke one language:
"Nevertheless, they did not, strictly speaking, constitute one nation, for, being split up into a number of disconnected principalities, they could not share a common economic life; for centuries they waged war against each other and pillaged each other by inciting the Persians and Turks against each other. The ephemeral and accidental amalgamation of the principalities which some successful king sometimes managed to bring about effected at best a superficial administrative sphere, and rapidly disintegrated owing to the caprices of the princes and the indifference of the peasants. Nor could it be otherwise in economically disunited Georgia. Georgia came on to the scene as a nation nation only in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when the fall of serfdom and the growth of the economic life of the country, the development of the means of communication and the rise of capitalism instituted a division of labour between the various districts of Georgia, completely shattered the economic self-sufficiency of the principalities, and bound them together into a single whole.
The same must be said of the other nations which have passed through the stage of feudalism, and have developed capitalism.
Thus community of economic life, economic cohesion, is one of the characteristic features of a nation.
Sixthly, "Nations differ not only in their conditions of life, but also in spiritual complexion, which manifests itself in peculiarities of national culture." But this national difference has nothing mystical about it. In a given case it can arise from generations of differing and dissimilar conditions of existence.
Of course, by itself the psychological make-up, or as it is otherwise called, the "national character" is something indefinable to the observer, inasmuch as it manifests itself in a distinctive culture common to the nation, it is definable and cannot be ignored.
Needless to say, "national character" is not a thing that is fixed once and for all, but is modified by changes in the conditions of life; but since it exists at every given moment, it leaves its imprint on the physiognomy of the nation.
Thus, community of psychological make-up, which manifests itself in a community of culture, is one of the characteristic features of a nation.
Having thus exhaustively examined the characteristic features of a nation, Stalin sums up in these words:
A nation is a historically evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a community of culture.
But after hammering out this definition Stalin added something; he said; "A nation is not merely a historical category but a historical category belonging to a definite epoch, the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism was at the same time a process of amalgamation of people into nations. Such for instance was the case in western Europe. The British, French, Germans, Italians and others formed themselves into nations at the time of the victorious advance of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity."
Into this profoundly interesting and correct treatment of nationality by Stalin it is unnecessary to go further in this pamphlet: all who can are recommended to read that book, which he wrote over 30 years ago.
Meantime in the problem raised by the difference of nationality in mankind it is necessary to refer briefly to the application by Stalin of the socialist solution, which he had set forth theoretically in his book. At the Revolution in 1917, over 25 years ago, J.V. Stalin was appointed People's Commissar of Nationalities and as such had to make a practical application of the theory. A week after the October Revolution there was issued under the signature of Lenin and Stalin the following Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of Russia:
The October revolution of the workmen and peasants began under the common banner of emancipation.
The peasants are being emancipated from the power of the landowners, for there is no longer the landowner's property right in the land — it has been abolished. The soldiers and sailors are being emancipated from the power of autocratic generals, for generals will henceforth be elective and subject to recall. The workingmen are being emancipated from the whims and arbitrary will of the capitalists, for henceforth there will be established the control of the workers over mills and factories. Everything living and capable of life is being emancipated from the hateful shackles.
There remain only the peoples of Russia, who have suffered and are suffering oppression and arbitrariness, and whose emancipation must immediately be begun, whose liberation must be effected resolutely and definitely.
During the period of czarism the peoples of Russia were systematically incited against one another. The results of such a policy are known; massacres and pogroms on the one hand, slavery of peoples on the other.
There can be and there must be no return to this disgraceful policy of instigation. Henceforth the policy of a voluntary and honest union of the peoples of Russia must be substituted.
In the period of imperialism; after the February revolution, when the power was transferred to the hands of the Cadet bourgeoisie, the naked policy of instigation gave way to one of cowardly distrust of the peoples of Russia, to a policy of fault-finding and provocation, of "freedom" and "equality" of peoples. The results of such a policy are known; the growth of national enmity, the impairment of mutual trust.
An end must be put to this unworthy policy of falsehood and distrust, of fault-finding and provocation. Henceforth it must be replaced by an open and honest policy which leads to complete mutual trust of the people of Russia. Only as the result of such a trust can there be formed an honest and lasting union of the peoples of Russia. Only as the result of such a union can the workmen and peasants of the peoples of Russia be cemented into one revolutionary force able to resist all attempts on the part of the imperialist-annexationist bourgeoisie.
Starting with these assumptions, the first Congress of Soviets, in June of this year, proclaimed the right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination.
The second Congress of Soviets, in October of this year, reaffirmed this inalienable right of the peoples of Russia more decisively and definitely.
The united will of this Congresses, The Councils of the People's Commissars, resolved to base of their activity upon the question of the nationalities of Russia, as expressed in the following principles:
1. The equality and sovereignty of the peoples of Russia.
2. The right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination, even to the point of separation and the formation of an independent state.
3. The abolition of any and all national and national-religious privileges and disabilities.
4. The free development of national minorities and ethnographic groups inhabiting the territory of Russia.
The concrete decrees that follow from these principles will be immediatly elaborated after the setting up of a Commission of Nationality Affairs.
In the name of the Russian Republic,
Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars,
V. Ulianov (Lenin)
People's Commissar on Nationality Affairs,
Josef Dzhugashvili (Stalin).
Year after year Stalin was at work applying these principles as well as doing a hundred other things, and the results are seen in the successive stages of the Constitution of the USSR.
In this short pamphlet on the race superstition of the Nazis and its use by them as a political weapon it has not been possible to deal with more than a few aspects of the question. How Fascism by its nature must seek to deprive the masses of social science and to propagate this mythology as its ersatz for scientific analysis, how "race" is fastened upon as something absolute and unchanging — these and other aspects cannot be dealt with here. The argument so far should lead to the following conclusions:
Firstly, on the basis of a correct understanding of nationality (as defined by Stalin) a great part of the confusion between racial and national can be cleared away; and, in addition, the democratic and socialist policy of self-determination of nationalities can be clearly grasped.
Secondly, the negative treatment of race, to which this pamphlet is mainly devoted, is necessary in order to clear the ground for a positive treatment of race. The exposure of the Nazi fictions is the first necessity.
Thirdly, the positive treatment of race is perfectly straightforward from both the scientific and democratic standpoints. If there are any innate differences in mental or moral characters between races, they can only be discovered after the races have been given equal opportunities. The correct treatment is summed up in the old formula "irrespective of race and nationality".
Fourthly, where the confusion of race and nationality no longer exists, and where the race fictions have no hold, there the democratic principle can be most strongly enforced. This is the case in the USSR, where racial exclusiveness is a penal offence.
Take note of the Constitution of the USSR, Article 123, which shone out six years ago like a beacon to all of mankind that were being engulfed in the foul wave of fascism and its propaganda of race hatred. It runs as follows:
The equality of the rights of citizens of the USSR, irrespective of their nationality or race, in all spheres of economic, state, cultural, social and political life, is an indefeasible law.
Any direct or indirect restriction of the rights of, or, conversely, the establishment of direct or indirect privileges for citizens on account of their race or nationality, as well as the advocacy of racial or national exclusiveness or hatred and contempt, is punishable by law.
Thus an extremely open, clear and democratic policy is pursued in the USSR on questions of race or nationality. This democratic policy has had results in the brotherhood of the peoples of the USSR and their solidarity in the ranks of the Red Army, with incalculable benefit to all the United Nations. This democratic policy to each race and nation is the only policy which the people of Great Britain can adopt consistent with their best traditions and with the cause for which they are fighting.
The more democracy in the national question is applied (eg, liberation of the Indians) the more clearly will the distinction of race and nationality be understood, and the less likely are Hitler and Goebbels to find dupes of their racial theories in this country.
But a serious warning must here be given. It is not enough to penetrate the fallacies in the Nazi "race theory" unless this is applied to the rooting out of prejudices that are widespread in this country against particular groups, as can be measured by the all too frequent use of such contemptuous terms as nigger or dago or yid. Especially in the case of the Jews is this prejudice dangerous to the cause of democracy.
Hitler and Goebbels are all aware of this: and recently there is evidence that their agents have been stirring up anti-Semitism in this country. This is not to say that everyone expressing anti-Semitism is a direct fascist agent: but in every such case there is ground for finding out whether this recrudescence of anti-Jewish feeling is traceable to enemy inspiration.
For the "racial theory" as one of Hitler's weapons is not limited in its use to the occupied countries of Europe. It is a weapon used extensively in this country and in the USA. Therefore there is no sincere and consistent fight for democracy against fascism unless it also takes the shape of a fight within this country against racialism or race-exclusiveness.
After reading Anti-Semitism: What it means to you, by Wm Gallacher, MP, a pamphlet published in May 1943, those interested in the racial fictions of the Nazis would find useful material in:
We Europeans: A Survey of Racial Problems, by Julian S. Huxley and A.C. Haddon (1935)
The Races of Central Europe, G.M. Morant, D.Sc, with a preface by Professor J.B.S. Haldane, F.R.S. (George Allen & Unwin, 1939, pp 163)
Race: A Study in Modern Superstition, by Jacques Barzun (Methuen, 1938, pp353)
1. Cited by G.M. Morant in Modern Quarterly, Vol II, No 3, July 1939
2. "I am a man; nothing of mankind is alien to me."
3. Max Muller, Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas, London 1888, p 120.
4. When the Regent Murray, in Scott's Monastery, says: "in times like these we must look to men, and not to pedigrees ... All families have sprung from one mean man", he at once receives the haughty answer: "My Lord of Murray will please to except the House of Douglas; men have seen it in the tree, but never in the sapling — have seen it in the stream, but never in the fountain. In the earliest of our Scottish annals, the Black Douglas was powerful and distinguished as now."
5. Essai sur l'inegalite des races humaine, 1853-55
6. The Greeks of old were very sceptical about explorers' accounts. When Pytheas set out from Marseilles 2400 years ago to explore Britain, the Shetlands, and possibly Iceland, with their non-Mediterranean climates, tides and customs, he was treated as an unblushing liar. The same scepticism greeted the Periplous of Hanno, a Carthaginian Admiral, who described the behaviour of beings near the equator, whom he called Gorillas.
7. Racial nonsense was still being given out from the British Broadcasting Corporation as late as Easter Monday 1943. That evening on the MidEuropean broadcast I was astonished (as I would not have been astonished at the time of Munich or earlier) to hear an ignoramus called "The Man in the Street" asserting glibly that the English were the true possessors of the Nordic virtues such as "respect for the rule of law", and that the Germans were less Nordic than us.
8. Species are divided into varieties; and into sub-varieties or races. A race arises as a result of geographical isolation for a sufficiently long period. Given these conditions, varieties and sub-varieties would arise in the human species. But pure races are what plant breeders and animal-fanciers seek to achieve.
9. For example, the N and M factors and the Rh factor slowly introduce complications.
10. "The blood-group data suggests forcefully that Germany is racially far more heterogeneous than any other country in Europe for which adequate records are available, and this fact is sufficient to demonstrate that the use of a common language by a number of peoples is no evidence of their common descent." The Races of Central Europe, page 113.
11. "Does thou know, my son, with how little wisdom this world is governed."
12. Stalin was referring to the colloquial language of the people and not to the official government language.
13. Included in Marxism and the National and Colonial Question, by Joseph Stalin (Lawrence & Wishart)