|Arthur de Gobineau|
|An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races|
For Gobineau, race defined culture, each race had its own natural culture, wherefore races were incompatible with each other, and "race-mixing" (miscegenation) would lead to a lowering of the culturally higher race. Gobineau believed the "white race" to be superior to the others and concidered its culture to be the ancient Indo-European (or Aryan) culture. However, this Aryan race didn't exist in pure form anymore; though, according to Gobineau, Germany had just enough of the Aryan strain to revive the white race.
In The Inequality of the Human Races, Gobineau writes:
The word degenerate, when applied to a people, means (as it ought to mean) that the people has no longer the same intrinsic value as it had before, because it has no longer the same blood in its veins, continual adulterations having gradually affected the quality of that blood. In other words, though the nation bears the name given by its founders, the name no longer connotes the same race; in fact, the man of a decadent time, the degenerate man properly so called, is a different being, from the racial point of view, from the heroes of the great ages. I agree that he still keeps something of their essence; but the more he degenerates the more attenuated does this "something" become. The heterogeneous elements that henceforth prevail in him give him quite a different nationality-a very original one, no doubt, but such originality is not to be envied. He is only a very distant kinsman of those he still calls his ancestors. He, and his civilization with him, will certainly die on the day when the primordial race-unit is so broken up and swamped by the influx of foreign elements, that its effective qualities have no longer a sufficient freedom of action. It will not, of course, absolutely disappear, but it will in practice be so beaten down and enfeebled, that its power will be felt less and less as time goes on. It is at this point that all the results of degeneration will appear, and the process may be considered complete.
This process of degeneration was, according to Hitler's Mein Kampf, what had caused the downfall of the Second Reich.. According to Mein Kampf, chapter 4,
A State has never arisen from commercial causes for the purpose of peacefully serving commercial ends; but States have always arisen from the instinct to maintain the racial group, whether this instinct manifest itself in the heroic sphere or in the sphere of cunning and chicanery. In the first case we have the Aryan States, based on the principles of work and cultural development. In the second case we have the Jewish parasitic colonies. But as soon as economic interests begin to predominate over the racial and cultural instincts in a people or a State, these economic interests unloose the causes that lead to subjugation and oppression.
More specifically, it was the belief "that the world could be opened up and even conquered for Germany through a system of peaceful commercial penetration and a colonial policy". But the next question then is:
How then did it happen that the political instincts of this very same German people became so degenerate? For it was not merely one isolated phenomenon which pointed to this decadence, but morbid symptoms which appeared in alarming numbers, now all over the body politic, or eating into the body of the nation like a gangrenous ulcer. It seemed as if some all-pervading poisonous fluid had been injected by some mysterious hand into the bloodstream of this once heroic body, bringing about a creeping paralysis that affected the reason and the elementary instinct of self-preservation.
The pictoresque biological language here is typical for Hitler; but in the first round he claims to have found the cause of the problem in Marxism. But he sees actually the problem as a biological problem, a neglect of the body. In Mein Kampf, chapter 5, Hitler writes:
What is known as Gymnasium [high school] to-day is a positive insult to the Greek institution. Our system of education entirely loses sight of the fact that in the long run a healthy mind can exist only in a healthy body. This statement, with few exceptions, applies particularly to the broad masses of the nation.
So, the body should be kept healthyin order to keep the mind healthy; but
[i]n the pre-War Germany there was a time when no one took the trouble to think over this truth. Training of the body was criminally neglected, the one-sided training of the mind being regarded as a sufficient guarantee for the nation's greatness. This mistake was destined to show its effects sooner than had been anticipated. It is not pure chance that the Bolshevic teaching flourishes in those regions whose degenerate population has been brought to the verge of starvation, as, for example, in the case of Central Germany, Saxony, and the Ruhr Valley. In all these districts there is a marked absence of any serious resistance, even by the so-called intellectual classes, against this Jewish contagion. And the simple reason is that the intellectual classes are themselves physically degenerate, not through privation but through education. The exclusive intellectualism of the education in vogue among our upper classes makes them unfit for life's struggle at an epoch in which physical force and not mind is the dominating factor. Thus they are neither capable of maintaining themselves nor of making their way in life. In nearly every case physical disability is the forerunner of personal cowardice.
It's all due to those Bolshevic Jews, Bolshevism being a variety of Christianity. According to Hitler, Jesus had been an Aryan fighting against the jews; but Christianity was soon corrupted by Jews such as Paul. The Romans had conquered Judea, but the Jews through the means of Christianity brought about the fall of Rome, which was conquered by the Germans, and now Bolshevism was going to bring about the fall of Germany. Unless Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party could hinder it!
Note that The Inequality of the Human Races was written in 1853-55, so Gobineau could in no way have been inspired by Darwin's The Origin of Species from 1859 or The Descent of Man from 1871. And there isn't much in either of these books that echo book.
Compare for instance this excerpt from Inequality
Indeed, the human species seems to have a very great difficulty in raising itself above a rudimentary type of organization; the transition to a more complex state is made only by those groups of tribes, that are eminently gifted. I may cite, in support of this, the actual condition of a large number of communities spread throughout the world. These backward tribes, especially the Polynesian negroes, the Samoyedes and others in the far north, and the majority of the African races, have never been able to shake themselves free from their impotence; they live side by side in complete independence of each other. The stronger massacre the weaker, the weaker try to move as far away as possible from the stronger. This sums up the political ideas of these embryo societies, which have lived on in their imperfect state, without possibility of improvement, as long as the human race itself. It may be said that these miserable savages are a very small part of the earth's population. Granted; but we must take account of all the similar peoples who have lived and disappeared. Their number is incalculable, and certainly includes the vast majority of the pure-blooded yellow and black races.
with this paragraph from Descent, chapter 6:
The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies--between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae--between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
Darwin's point in the extermination of savage races is actually a way of getting around the problem of 'missing links'. His theory predicted many transitional forms, but where were they? Oh, they have been exterminated, haven't they? Gobineau's point is completely different.
According to Gobineau, som peoples were completely unable to become civilized due to their race. But,
[l]eaving these tribes, that are incapable of civilization, on one side, we come, in our journey upwards, to those which understand that if they wish to increase their power and prosperity, they are absolutely compelled, either by war or peaceful measures, to draw their neighbours within their sphere of influence. War is undoubtedly the simpler way of doing this. Accordingly, they go to war. But when the campaign is finished, and the craving for destruction is satisfied, some prisoners are left over; these prisoners become slaves, and as slaves, work for their masters. We have class distinctions at once, and an industrial system: the tribe has become a little people. This is a higher rung on the ladder of civilization, and is not necessarily passed by all the tribes which have been able to reach it; many remain at this stage in cheerful stagnation.
That is, the first step towards civilization is to wage war agaist your neighbours and enslave those that you do not kill. The next is not simply to kill and enslave, but to take over the enemy territory:
But there are others, more imaginative and energetic, whose ideas soar beyond mere brigandage. They manage to conquer a great territory, and assume rights of ownership not only over the inhabitants, but also over their land. From this moment a real nation has been formed. The two races often continue for a time to live side by side without mingling; and yet, as they become indispensable to each other, as a community of work and interest is gradually built up, as the pride and rancour of conquest begin to ebb away, as those below naturally tend to rise to the level of their masters, while the masters have a thousand reasons for allowing, or even for promoting, such a tendency, the mixture of blood finally takes place, the two races cease to be associated with distinct tribes, and become more and more fused into a single whole.
So, it's actually the success of the master race that leads to its own downfall.
Compare with Mein Kampf, chapter 11:
Aryan tribes, often almost ridiculously small in number, subjugated foreign peoples and, stimulated by the conditions of life which their new country offered them (fertility, the nature of the climate, etc.), and profiting also by the abundance of manual labour furnished them by the inferior race, they developed intellectual and organizing faculties which had hitherto been dormant in these conquering tribes. Within the course of a few thousand years, or even centuries, they gave life to cultures whose primitive traits completely corresponded to the character of the founders, though modified by adaptation to the peculiarities of the soil and the characteristics of the subjugated people. But finally the conquering race offended against the principles which they first had observed, namely, the maintenance of their racial stock unmixed, and they began to intermingle with the subjugated people. Thus they put an end to their own separate existence; for the original sin committed in Paradise has always been followed by the expulsion of the guilty parties.
Notice here the reference to the Fall, though it shouldn't be overinterpreted. And later:
As a conqueror, he [the Aryan] subjugated inferior races and turned their physical powers into organized channels under his own leadership, forcing them to follow his will and purpose. By imposing on them a useful, though hard, manner of employing their powers he not only spared the lives of those whom he had conquered but probably made their lives easier than these had been in the former state of so-called 'freedom'. While he ruthlessly maintained his position as their master, he not only remained master but he also maintained and advanced civilization. For this depended exclusively on his inborn abilities and, therefore, on the preservation of the Aryan race as such. As soon, however, as his subject began to rise and approach the level of their conqueror, a phase of which ascension was probably the use of his language, the barriers that had distinguished master from servant broke down. The Aryan neglected to maintain his own racial stock unmixed and therewith lost the right to live in the paradise which he himself had created. He became submerged in the racial mixture and gradually lost his cultural creativeness, until he finally grew, not only mentally but also physically, more like the aborigines whom he had subjected rather than his own ancestors. For some time he could continue to live on the capital of that culture which still remained; but a condition of fossilization soon set in and he sank into oblivion.
This is pure Gobineau.
Darwin has a quite different view of cultural progress. In Descent, chapter 5, he writes:
The evidence that all civilised nations are the descendants of barbarians, consists, on the one side, of clear traces of their former low condition in still-existing customs, beliefs, language, etc.; and on the other side, of proofs that savages are independently able to raise themselves a few steps in the scale of civilisation, and have actually thus risen. The evidence on the first head is extremely curious, but cannot be here given: I refer to such cases as that of the art of enumeration, which, as Mr. Tylor clearly shews by reference to the words still used in some places, originated in counting the fingers, first of one hand and then of the other, and lastly of the toes.
So, all civilized nationa have a barbarious past, and savages are independently - that is, without being taught - able to raise towards higher civilization. As for evidence of the latter, Darwin writes:
Turning to the other kind of evidence: Sir J. Lubbock has shewn that some savages have recently improved a little in some of their simpler arts. From the extremely curious account which he gives of the weapons, tools, and arts, in use amongst savages in various parts of the world, it cannot be doubted that these have nearly all been independent discoveries, excepting perhaps the art of making fire. (36. Sir J. Lubbock, 'Prehistoric Times,' 2nd edit. 1869, chaps. xv. and xvi. et passim. See also the excellent 9th Chapter in Tylor's 'Early History of Mankind,' 2nd edit., 1870.) The Australian boomerang is a good instance of one such independent discovery. The Tahitians when first visited had advanced in many respects beyond the inhabitants of most of the other Polynesian islands. There are no just grounds for the belief that the high culture of the native Peruvians and Mexicans was derived from abroad (37. Dr. F. Muller has made some good remarks to this effect in the 'Reise der Novara: Anthropolog. Theil,' Abtheil. iii. 1868, s. 127.); many native plants were there cultivated, and a few native animals domesticated.
Nothing here about war, subjugation and slaves; only tools, domestication of animals and cultivation of plants.
In the late 19th century Gobineau's racial theory was mixed with evolutionary theory by Houston Stewart Chamberlain in his book The Foundations of the nineteenth Century (Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts). Chamberlain was of British origin, but moved to Germany and became a German citizen 1916. During WW I he even wrote war propaganda against Britain.
Whereas Gobineau considered the Aryan (or noble) race to be defined by ethno-linguistic criteria, for Chamberlain it was rather an abstract ideal that was in the process of creation with the Teutons (Germans) as the current leaders. In Foundations, chapter 4, "The Chaos", Chamberlain writes:
Notice how Gobineau bases his account — so astonishingly rich in intuitive ideas which have later been verified and in historical knowledge — upon the dogmatic supposition that the world was peopled by Shem, Ham and Japhet. Such a gaping void in capacity of judgment in the author suffices, in spite of all his documentary support, to relegate his work to the hybrid class of scientific phantasmagorias. With this is connected Gobineau‘s further fantastic idea, that the originally “pure“ noble races crossed with each other in the course of history, and with every crossing became irrevocably less pure and less noble. From this we must of necessity derive a hopelessly pessimistic view of the future of the human race. But this supposition rests upon total ignorance of the physiological importance of what we have to understand by “race.“ A noble race does not fall from Heaven, it becomes noble gradually, just like fruit-trees, and this gradual process can begin anew at any moment, as soon as accident of geography and history or a fixed plan (as in the case of the Jews) creates the conditions.
In Mein Kampf, chapter 11, Hitler writes:
The most obvious example of this truth is furnished by that race which has been, and still is, the standard-bearer of human progress: I mean the Aryan race. As soon as Fate brings them face to face with special circumstances their powers begin to develop progressively and to be manifested in tangible form. The characteristic cultures which they create under such circumstances are almost always conditioned by the soil, the climate and the people they subjugate. The last factor--that of the character of the people--is the most decisive one. The more primitive the technical conditions under which the civilizing activity takes place, the more necessary is the existence of manual labour which can be organized and employed so as to take the place of mechanical power. Had it not been possible for them to employ members of the inferior race which they conquered, the Aryans would never have been in a position to take the first steps on the road which led them to a later type of culture; just as, without the help of certain suitable animals which they were able to tame, they would never have come to the invention of mechanical power which has subsequently enabled them to do without these beasts.
Was Fate again bringing the Aryan race face to face with special circumstances? Indications are that Hitler thought so. And what was to be done in preparation? Read more from the same chapter:
The adulteration of the blood and racial deterioration conditioned thereby are the only causes that account for the decline of ancient civilizations; for it is never by war that nations are ruined, but by the loss of their powers of resistance, which are exclusively a characteristic of pure racial blood. In this world everything that is not of sound racial stock is like chaff. Every historical event in the world is nothing more nor less than a manifestation of the instinct of racial self-preservation, whether for weal or woe.
In what way is this related to Darwin's theory of evolution - evolution and self-preservation doesn't really rhyme too well, do they?