Hereunder follows the transcription of the preface and chapter 1 of Frank H. Hankins'
The racial basis of civilization
revised edition, published by A. A. Knopf, New York & London 1931.

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Professor of Sociology in Smith College
on the Mary Huggins Gamble

 Revised Edition




Revised Edition, March, 1931



A. L. K. H.


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    The pernicious propaganda relating to the Nordic doctrine before, during, and since the war is the excuse for this book. From the closing years of the last century to the outbreak of the Great War there was in Germany a rising tide of adulation of the blond dolichocephal as the embodiment of all that was great in creative genius, organizing ability and power of leadership. Before that war actually broke many a glittering wave of that same tide had splashed resolutely and ominously on the shores of England and America. With the actual outbreak of hostilities the doctrines that the Anglo-Saxons were the purest of the Nordics and that the salvation of the world depended on the maintenance of Nordic domination were widely and loudly proclaimed. The virus of that propaganda is as yet by no means spent, though it appears to be weakening.
    The reader of this volume will be convinced that the doctrines of certain American scholars and publicists, which have been hailed by a large part of the American public as more or less fresh discoveries of American scholarship, are very old. Some of them were promulgated several centuries ago and all of them systematically set forth two generations ago. We do not attempt an exhaustive historical study of them. We have subjected a few of their outstanding formulations to internal analysis and self-criticism. When these authors cannot be convicted of gross inconsistency and made to destroy themselves, they are made to destroy each other. We do not, however, anywhere deny that the Nordic race appears to have excellent endowments; we would admit that in this respect it is one of the world‘s premier races. We do deny its universal superiority, as also its claim to a monopoly of certain human excellences. We also deny that to this stock can be attributed a special historical role except in a most vague way. Our thesis


is that all important historical groups have been heterogeneous in racial composition; and that all areas of high culture have been areas of extensive population movement and race mixture. In such mixtures the Nordic element has been, according to much evidence, a very valuable ingredient.
    Having exposed the fallacies, exaggerations and inconsistencies of the Nordicists, we proceed in Part II to a systematic examination of certain fundamental problems related to the significance of race as a factor in the development of civilization. We contend that racial differences are not those of kind; that all races have all human qualities; but that they have these qualities in different degrees of development. One race may excel in physical energy, another in creative imagination. This conception does away with the notion of a general or universal superiority on the part of any one race. Moreover, in view of the wide range of variation among the members of the same race, inferiority or superiority cannot be attributed to an individual on account of his race. A short member of a tall race may be distinctly shorter than a tall member of a short race. So with intelligence, organizing ability, or artistic sense. Social barriers on account of race have, therefore, no basis in biological fact.
    A similar conclusion is reached in the study of race crossing: there is no biological mandate against it, even in the case of widely different races. The sociological grounds for opposition to race mixture are doubtless important but their importance derives almost entirely from the fact that race prejudice is a social force and not a theory. Offspring receive their hereditary endowments from their immediate ancestors; if the parents are of high quality, so also will be the offspring, regardless of race. This fact is not altered by the crossing of races. On the other hand, every form of inferiority and deformity flourishes among the lowest strains of the Nordic stock, however pure. We think it can be shown also that race crossing is a factor in the production of talented men, and hazard the guess that most of the superior men of European history have been of mixed racial ancestry.
    In relating these findings to immigration policy we think it has been shown that the new immigrants. though in the mass less


desirable from the standpoint of general intellectual abilities than the native population, nevertheless have brought into the American population endowments of aesthetic appreciation, artistic creation, and sanguine temperament that will contribute much to the enrichment of American life and culture in the years to come. Since the crossing of sound strains of different races is biologically sound, we contend that well-endowed Italians, Hebrews, Turks, Chinese and Negroes are better materials out of which to forge a nation than average or below average Nordics. From this point of view a sound immigration policy, if it could be governed by biological considerations only, would admit, without limitations of numbers, all those of whatever race who can prove themselves free from hereditary taint and pass intelligence tests which show them to be above the average of the present population in native intellectual capacity. Here again the objections are based on sociological considerations, of which the fact of racial antipathy is most important. Were it not for these traditional popular prejudices, America could do no better than to make itself a world asylum for persons of superior quality regardless of race or color.
    While we are denying the extravagant claims of the Nordicists, we also deny the equally perverse and doctrinaire contentions of the race egalitarians. There is no respect, apparently, in which races are equal; but their differences must be thought of in terms of relative frequencies, and not as absolute differences in kind. They are like the differences between classes in the same population. It thus appears that the eugenic contentions are fundamentally sound, as against both the racialists on one extreme and the thorough environmentalists on the other. From the standpoint of the biology of population quality, superior rank within a race is of more importance than race. From the standpoint of the creation and maintenance of culture, high-grade stock is more important than cultural opportunity, though the latter is doubtless also important. The progress of a people is so greatly dependent on the abilities of its few ablest men that the primary question which a theory of the racial basis of civilization must answer is, what are those conditions which produce the greatest supply of genius? We have tried to show that this is primarily a problem


of eugenics rather than of race. It is also a problem of race crossing rather than of maintenance of race purity.
    In the preparation of the manuscript I received assistance for which I am grateful from my colleague, Professor Joseph Wiehr, who assisted in the digest of certain recent German materials relating to the subject. To another colleague, Professor Howard M. Parshley, I am deeply indebted for a careful reading of the manuscript of Part II, which has greatly benefited by his numerous suggestions and criticisms. I wish also to thank Professor Robert C. Chaddock of Columbia University for permission to reproduce the graphs found on p. 265. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to my wife and to Miss Mildred Hartsough for reading the proofs, and to the latter for compiling the Index.


Smith College
March, 1926.



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THE interpretation of the processes of history is at once the most fascinating and the most difficult undertaking with which the mind of man occupies itself. Many interpretations there are — naturalistic and transcendental, geographical, biological and psychological. All interpretations to date may be put down as simplistic in greater or less degree. Moreover, all may be adjudged more or less tainted with some form of subtle and insidious subjectivism which, like an omnipresent devil, too often corrupts the most serious scientific efforts in this field into mere rationalizations of personal wishes and aspirations. No form of historical interpretation has enjoyed a wider popularity than that elaborated in its modern form by the celebrated author of the Essai sur l‘inégalité des races. As an illustration of the pitfalls of a mischievous egocentrism he is rather typical than exceptional. He was fully aware of the treacherous nature of personal predilections and, in consequence, studiously avoided polemics.¹ When he came to deal with the later phases of Germano-Roman society and thus approached early phases of French history he seems to have set himself on guard against emotional biases. In this very interesting passage he remarks: “We are so intimately concerned in the sufferings and the joys, in the successes and the humiliations, of this paternal past, that we find it difficult in studying it to preserve that cold impassibility without which one cannot make a just survey. In discovering in the Carlovingian capitularies, in the charters of the feudal age, in the orders of the administrative epoch, the first traces of all those principles which today excite our admiration or arouse our hatred, we often find it difficult to prevent an outburst of emotion.

    1 Count Arthur de Gobineau, Essai, 4th ed., n. d., which is same as 2d, 1884, Avant-propos, p. xvi.


It is not, nevertheless, with contemporary passions, it is not with sympathies or repugnances of the hour, that one should undertake such a study. It is necessary to know how to subordinate these eruptions of emotion to the more noble and more serious research after the pure reality. In imposing silence on one‘s predilections, he is only just, and consequently more human.“² And yet one can now discover in Gobineau‘s Essai a monumental preachment against democracy, a perfervid defense of aristocracy and feudalism, an expansion of the vanity of a proud-spirited poet into a “scientific“ interpretation of all civilizations as the creation of a fictitious race of which he imagined himself, though obviously erroneously, to be a member.
    It thus appears that the demands of the ego to be flattered are more easily understood than guarded against. Such demands are especially insistent when one deals with questions of race or nation. In a very deep sense both are an expansion of the self. I am my race in essence: my race represents my own potentialities in glorious efflorescence. Likewise my nation. And my race and my nation are almost certain to be one and the same. In most human natures the reciprocal interaction of personal and racial or national pride is perfect and complete. One of the primary psychic needs of the individual is a feeling of harmony, if not identity, of himself with his social group. This need is the basis of that group solidarity, of that group loyalty, without which man could not have achieved the mastery of the globe. For countless centuries, man, the intelligent wolf-ape,³ hunting in packs, had his inborn nature shaped by a relentless struggle for existence which insisted that “the strength of the wolf is the pack.“ The human‘s attachment to his group is, therefore, often as strong as his attachment to life; even the individual will to live seems to ebb away with the shattering of group cohesions.4 On the other

    2 (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 471): see also letters quoted by Maurice Lange, Le Comte Arthur de Gobineau. Étude biographique et critique. Paris, 1924, pp. 120-123.
    3 See Carveth Read, The Origin of Man, 2d ed. 1925, Chaps. I—III.
    4 See for illutrations, W. H. R. Rivers. “The Psychological Factor“ in Essays on the Depopulation of Melanesia, Cambridge, 1922.


hand, nothing inspires such courage or causes such an afflatus of soul as the consciousness of solidarity with a strong and all-sufficient group. The emotional responses of the individual to his group attachments are, therefore, deeply rooted in a nature that must satisfy its gregarious needs in order to live. Little wonder then that patriotism and race pride become a sort of “pooled self-esteem,“5 and the artful betrayers of scientific objectivity in historical interpretation.
    Moreover, by some mystical but facile alchemy, this combined self-esteem transforms itself into a consciousness of pooled superiority. Few, if any, historically important political groups have not considered themselves in some potent manner endowed with qualities superior to their neighbors. The myth of a “chosen people“ had flourished without doubt long before the earliest records of the ancient Hebrews and will in all probability survive somewhere among some dominant people long after all present believers in “Anglo-Saxon superiority“ or the “white man‘s destiny“ have become mixed for ever with the elements. Many of the facts cited by T. Lothrop Stoddard in The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, the seething discontent in India, the growth of race consciousness among African blacks, the self-confidence of Japanese, are sufficient evidence that many hitherto despised, as inferior, races are less ready than formerly to accept the European‘s estimate of their qualities. If it be true, as Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie argues in his Revolutions of Civilization, that civilizations endure on an average about 1800 years, then it is not impossible that present relationships of the races may be reversed in some coming “revolution,“ as they have been in the past, when the barbarian trampled upon the proud neck of his former calumniator.
    It is only a step from the consciousness of racial superiority to the postulate that qualities of race account for national achievements. The historical process thus simplifies into an expression of racial genius. This seems a self-evident interpretation; it flatters national vanity and hence personal pride and thus has been

    5 See A. Clutton-Brock, “The Atlantic Monthly,“ vol. 128, 1922, pp. 721-31.


about as universal as the effort to understand man‘s political and social life.
    Professor Dunning has traced certain metamorphoses of this manner of viewing history.6
    All through the history of political theory we have seen distinctions of race presented as the causes and sufficient explanations of distinctions in institutions and power. The Greeks, the Romans, the Teutons all left copious records of their conviction that their respective achievements were due to the qualities inherent in a peculiarly gifted blood. After the passing of Rome the partition of the civilized world between Christian and Mohammedan found a similar explanation in the genealogies of the patriarchs that figured in the sacred writings of both creeds. When the mediaeval monarchies began to appear on the soil of the Carolingian empire their virtues were laboriously imputed by myth and legend to the heroic stock from which rulers or people or both had sprung. (Cross reference to “Political Theories Ancient and Mediaeval,“ p. 225, to the legend that the Gauls who founded France were direct descendants of the ancient Trojans.) From feudal time this racial explanation of political phenomena was transmitted to the modern era. A nation was thought of as a population of substantially a common blood.
    In recent times doctrines of racial superiority have played an almost unsurpassed rôle in the larger politics of states. They have justified cruelty and inhumanity; they have constituted a basic assumption in the expansion of Europe and the growth of modern imperialism; they have stirred race hatred, aroused the sentiment of patriotism and fanned the flames of war. The astounding megalomania of the Germans of recent tragic memory has found its counterpart in certain elements of the national egotism of all other world powers. For Western Europe the most interesting and historically the most influential doctrine of racial superiority is Aryanism and its various derivatives. Merely as an example of the origin, dissemination, aggrandisement and crafty utilization of a great popular tradition a sketch of the history of the doctrine of Aryan superiority should prove interesting.

    6 Wm. A. Dunning, A History of Political Theory from Rousseau to Spencer, New York, 1920, pp. 311-2.


    This doctrine is the common trunk from which have branched Celtism in France, Teutonism in Germany and Anglo-Saxonism in England and America. The recent war was made easier by the popular emotions attached to these doctrines by the leading nations of the Western World. In all these countries they have been assiduously cultivated, in part by sincere scholars, but in part also by pseudo-scientists who were patriots and partisans always and seldom or never seekers after truth. Christian ministers have shown themselves unduly susceptible to the blandishments of such doctrines, probably because of the affinity of patriotism and religion. It goes without saying that politicians of every rank have utilized doctrines of racial superiority to flatter the public and thus advance their own popularity. We, in America, are far from immune and recently have been bombarded with an unusual volume of semi-scientific but basically imaginative literature calculated to keep alive in certain elements of the population a consciousness of racial, and in consequence, of individual superiority.
    For the doctrines of Anglo-Saxon superiority and Anglo-Saxon destiny are dear to the thought of a large part of the English-speaking world. At the same time, it is reconcilable with an intense hatred of the Teutons and Germans from whose midst the Angles and the Saxons derived. There has also been much laudation of the genius of the so-called “Gallic“ race and its identification with the special characteristics of the French nation, wholly regardless of the equally serviceable tradition whereby the oft-despised Irish have looked upon themselves and been looked upon by others as pure Celts, and regardless also of the fact that England, France and Germany are composed of nearly the same racial elements. There are doubtless differences in the proportions in which the different ingredients have entered into the mixture in each case, as there is doubtless more of the Mediterranean element in France than in Germany and more of the Alpine than in England. But in all cases popular thought conceives each nationality as composed of a relatively homogeneous “race“ with special marks of both physical and mental traits that enable one to describe them with accuracy.
    In this country we have a very similar conception in our “Aver-


age American.“ Without doubt he is tall and stalwart, preferably with blue eyes, blond hair, fair skin and oval head, highly intelligent, inventive, possessed of a broad sense of humor, religious and gifted with a fine moral sense, and endowed with the “Anglo-Saxon“ love of liberty and respect for law. In fact, he summarizes the virtues attributed to the Anglo-Saxons from the days of Tacitus; only, in the free atmosphere of America these virtues have truly flowered, so that Homo Americanus represents almost a new and special variety of the general stock of mankind. And because of his special virtues, especially his magnanimity and deeply inbred sense of justice, he is entitled to a special voice in the management of the affairs of all his weaker and less well-endowed political neighbors. But this pure-bred stock, which by its peculiar genius has created the world‘s greatest civilization, now begins to suffer from race mixture. Millions of aliens of inferior human breeds begin to infuse their corrupting and degenerating germplasms into the pure Anglo-Saxon race heritage of our country and this threatens our whole unique civilization with imminent disaster.
    Such a view may at once be recognized by the average person as at best only a half-truthful one, and yet it may play an important part in the national psychology. So deep are the springs of gregariousness and group loyalty, and so generally vague and symbolic the methods of reasoning or appeal by which the group as a whole is moved to action, that broad generalizations have more vitality than carefully discriminating logic. In such a generalization there should be some element of fact and some element of historical tradition, illumined with several elements of imagination and idealization which appeal strongly to the instinctive desire we all feel to be identified with the best, the superior. The exact and complete truth is fatal to its driving power. Yet of such a nature is the conception of nationality as it is now held in the different countries of the western world.
    The Great War was fought in part under a strong democratic zeal for the rights of small nationalities. The zeal for Pole, Czech, Serb, Bohemian and other so-called races burned vigorously for a time, in keeping with the new-born hatred of the “Hun“ and,


after the Revolution of 1917, of the Slav also. If we had taken the proponents on their own evidence, as shown by the clamors at the Peace Conference and the score of little wars set up in the wake of the big one, Europe must have been the habitat of not less than two or three score of different races, each the basis of an ambitious nationality. Israel Zangwill found in Russia not less than half a dozen distinct nationalistic groups.7 And yet nothing is clearer than that races and nationalities are to a large extent psychic constructs and hence likely to be geographically confused. Zangwill adds: “The fiercest fighting zone of nationality is Macedonia, and here the races so shade into one another that it was possible for the Bulgarian professors to find only seven hundred Serbians, where the Serbian statisticians found over two million and the Greek enumerators no Serbians at all.“ This same confusion of race and nationality is shown by Leon Dominian,8 one of the most thorough students of races and nationalities in Europe, who declares that “Northern France is perhaps more Teutonic than southern Germany, while eastern Germany is, in many places, more Slavic than Russia.“ So-called Nordic types are relatively infrequent in Germany outside of Hanover, and certainly are more numerous in north and north-central France than in Bavaria.9 Even Madison Grant, the chief present-day exponent of a special type of race mysticism, accepts the verdict of modern anthropology that there is no such thing as a “Latin,“ a “Celtic,“ a “German“ or a “Slavic“ race; nor does he find any ground for the long cherished tradition of a “Caucasian,“ an “Indo-European,“ or an “Aryan“ race.10 Some of these terms apply to nationalities or mere artificial groupings of a population, while others apply to linguistic or cultural groups of wider extent.
    Recent writers have thus made it sufficiently evident that race,

    7 The Principle of Nationalities, New York, 1917.
    8 “The Frontiers of Language and Nationality in Europe,“ New York, 1917.
    9 W. L. Ripley, Races of Europe, pp. 217-8; F. G. Parsons, “Observations on German Prisoners of War,“ Jour. Roy. Anth. Inst., vol. 49, 1919, pp. 20-35.
    10 Passing of the Great Race, Chap. V, pp. 52-62.


nationality and nation are not identifiable. All these concepts are extraordinarily elusive and are customarily used in a loose, ill-defined manner. Race is a zoölogical term and its confines, though often arbitrary, are, nevertheless, always set by distinctive physical traits; but experience long ago demonstrated that, so far as the European races are concerned, the effort to combine several traits, such as stature, hair- and eye-color, and head-shape, results in the construction of a racial type which has about it much the same sort of illusiveness and ideality which attaches to Quetelet‘s conception of the “average man.“ Nationality and nation on the other hand are political or social concepts and may conceivably exist in spite of the utmost differences in component racial elements. In fact, they do exist both in America and in Europe on the most heterogeneous racial basis. But an outstanding fact historically is, that wherever the conception of nationality arises, the conception of racial unity and solidarity arises with it and becomes a fundamental factor in the driving force of the national egotism. One of the soundest generalizations in the field of the historical sociology of Europe is that made by Gumplowicz, that nationality is the precursor of race. He doubtless went too far in declaring that the origins of race were not to be sought in the arena of biological process, and yet was sound in holding that race becomes only an historical concept. He said: “Race is a unity created in the course of history by social development and is precisely a unity which finds its points of departure in intellectual factors (language, religion, morals, law, culture, etc.) and thereafter attains the more powerful physical factor, the unity of blood, which binds all together in a true bond.“11 This is undoubtedly a correct explanation of the process whereby Englishmen come to think of themselves as belonging to “the English race,“ and Frenchmen as belonging to “the French race.“ The territories of the historical nations may at one time have been the home of nearly pure races. In consequence of migration and conquest their populations became very heterogeneous; the original races gradually dissolved never to be again reconstituted. But in each of them with the development

    11 Quoted by T. Simar, Étude critique sur la formation de la doctrine des races, from Der Rassenkampf, p. 195.


of common customs and traditions, and especially in consequence of racial amalgamation, all elements of the population acquire, first, consciousness of a common group destiny and, thereafter, consciousness of common blood. Of such a generalization the Jewish people, though lacking the common territory which constitutes the normal attribute of a nation, are a striking illustration. They have all the other marks of nationality and also a highly developed race consciousness, a sense of racial superiority and even of racial purity. And yet even a small group of them will reveal nearly the entire range of variation of the whole human species as regards head-form, hair- and eye-color, hair-form, complexion, shape of nose and lips, and even stature.
    Race thus both precedes and follows nationality; and yet there is never an instance where race and nationality are more than roughly identifiable. On the other hand, even though it be clear that nations are composed of varied racial ingredients, it is far from logical to conclude that, therefore, there is no significance to be attached to the racial basis of national life. This conclusion is regularly drawn by a good many students of these matters who think it an adequate refutation of the claims of the racialists to point out that all the historical nations have been of impure blood. Even as regards the nations of western Europe, which are admittedly composed of very similar original elements, we still have to take account of differences in the proportions of the original elements, and the extent to which a particular element has held power and prestige and thus has exercised a special influence over the development of the national life. It may be utterly impossible to answer such questions with a fair degree of scientific finality, and yet they may be so fundamental that in the absence of an answer one may be driven to skepticism as regards the claims not merely of the racialists but of the sociological determinists of every other brand. In any case such skepticism is much needed in all sociological reasoning as a corrective for the tendency to make bold and glittering generalizations based on a portion of the facts.
    Of course, it is possible to take refuge in the vague and misty doctrines of those who profess to find no differences in the hereditary capacities of the races. This is the easiest solution of all the


difficulties for one can then become entirely indifferent to the racial basis of history and look for determining, factors in geographical or cultural environment. But it is, to say the least, highly unscientific to do so, for no possible factor will be neglected in a truly scientific conclusion. Moreover, racial differences are obvious on the physical plane, and this lends a presumption to the claim for differences on the mental plane also. But there is a great difficulty in making these differences specific and of the sort that is significant in the historical processes. The interaction of racial qualities with national custom and tradition produces a joint product of cultural evolution in which it becomes next to impossible to distinguish that which may be due to specific racial traits from that which is due to the milieu operating on human qualities diffused generally among all mankind. It may well be true that all human traits are common to all groups of men and yet the course of historical evolution may have been greatly affected by the differences in the proportions in which certain qualities appear in the hereditary endowment of certain groups in contrast to others. It will hereafter be pointed out that there are good grounds for concluding that general intelligence of an unusually high order appears with less frequency among some races than among others and that this is an important factor in the historical rôle of each race for it determines its fecundity in men of genius of different kinds. In fact, one race may be superior in one desirable quality and another race in a different quality. Consequently, it is not at all impossible that the race purists have entirely missed the true significance of the racial factor in history in holding that amalgamation of different stocks is the source of national decline. It seems quite possible to make out an equally convincing case for the theory that race mixture is an essential factor in the fertility of a group in those varied types of super-talent which are the real creators of the higher products of civilization.
    With these preliminary considerations in mind we shall attempt a brief historical survey of some of the more important theories regarding the rôle of race in history with a view to making clear scientific problems involved therein and the manner in which they have been viewed in the past. If we later take up a critical


and systematic treatment of some of these problems it is not with the assumption that they can as yet be solved but that their solution is dependent on a correct understanding of the exact issues involved and the manner in which the solution is approached.

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Chapter 2: Aryanism