Vladimir Avdeyev And The Russian Revival Of Racial Science
J. Philippe Rushton once commented that science moves forward, continuing to gather data and refine its theories—with one important exception. A century ago, there was a robust Darwinian science of race differences, from differences in head shape and cranial capacity, to differences in intelligence and behavioral restraint. However, this young science was nipped in the bud.
But not because it was displaced by a new, powerful, empirically-based theory. Rather, the demise of racial science came about because of intellectual movements dominated by ethnic Jews and tightly linked to the political Left—the topic of my book, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in 20th-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (Kindle edition now available).
This was a case of science being replaced by ideology—an ideology designed to oppose the idea that Europeans were in any way unique or superior. Ultimately, it was an ideology that rationalized the decline of Europeans and their culture that we see all around us today.
The new ideology decreed that humans were infinitely malleable creatures of their culture. It eventually became defined by the view that “race does not exist.” Franz Boas, the high priest of the new cult, was a strongly-identified Jew and committed Leftist. His famous study purporting to show that skull shape changed as a result of immigration from Europe to America was very effective propaganda weapon in the cause of eradicating racial science.
Indeed, it was intended as propaganda. Based on their reanalysis of Boas’s data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (pdf), physical anthropologists Corey Sparks and Richard Jantz, while not quite accusing Boas of scientific fraud, find that his data do not show any significant environmental effects on cranial form as a result of immigration. (See summaries here and here). They also claim that Boas may well have been motivated by a desire to end race-realist views in anthropology:
While Boas never stated explicitly that he had based any conclusions on anything but the data themselves, it is obvious that he had a personal agenda in the displacement of the eugenics movement in the United States. In order to do this, any differences observed between European- and U.S.-born individuals will be used to its fullest extent to prove his point.
In Raciology, the Russian journalist Vladimir Avdeyev resurrects the vast tradition of research on the physical anthropology and psychology of race differences. His book is an exhaustive summary of research in the field from the 18th century to the present. It includes a great many summaries of the research of individual scientists, many of whom have been virtually forgotten.
But Raciology is far more than a compendium of research. It also vigorously defends the idea that, as Avdeyev puts it, “the problem of race is the nerve center of world history.” It is intended to influence how people think about race in the context of history and current events.
Several themes recur throughout Raciology.
Race is overwhelmingly the result of biological inheritance, not cultural programming.
Beginning with Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, this body of theory and research proposed that the biologically-based racial characteristics of Whites have led them to be originators of superior cultures. The White race evolved in the north of Europe and spread south and east to be the main force behind the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, Egypt, India, Persia, and the Hittites.
The ancestral type of the White race—called the “Nordic” race originally by Joseph Egorovich Deniker—is characterized by blond hair, blue eyes, light skin, tall stature, and dolichocephalic (long-headed) skull with a well-developed prefrontal area (the area of the brain associated with intelligence, impulse control, and decision making).
Houston Stewart Chamberlain may be considered paradigmatic of a theorist who proposed that northern Europeans are a superior people.
All outstanding peoples that appeared starting in the 6th century in the role of true deciders of the fate of humanity as founders of nations and creators of new thinking and original art, were mainly of German origin. The creations of the Arabs stand out for their short duration; the Mongols only destroyed but they created nothing; the ingenious Italians of the Middle Ages were all émigrés, or of the north which was saturated with Lombard, Gothic, or Frankish blood, or they were Germano-Hellenes of the south; in Spain, the creative element was the Visigoths. The awakening of the Germans forms the foundation of European history, for their worldwide historical significance as founders of a completely new civilization and a completely new culture.
[Introduction to The Foundations of the 19th Century ]
Nevertheless, Avdeyev notes that, despite Chamberlain’s views on the centrality of the Germanic peoples, he advocated a union of Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic peoples in defense of the White race.
Indeed, a theme of Raciology is that “the scientists of Germany well understood that the differences between the Germans and the Russians were extremely insignificant.” In fact, Avdeyev notes that Russians have a higher percentage of light hair and eyes than the European population generally.
Naturally, the idea that Whites had superior traits went along with eugenic ideas of racial betterment. In the words of German racial theorist Hans F. K. Gunther, quoted by Avdeyev, the question is “whether we have enough courage to prepare a world for future generations, [by creating a race] that has purged itself in racial and eugenic terms.”
Geneticist Fritz Lenz, writing in 1934, viewed creating and maintaining a superior race as the ultimate struggle:
Undoubtedly, one may lead our race to such an ascent and flowering like it has never achieved before. But if we lose heart, our Nordic race will utterly die. … Before us stands the greatest task of history.
That is, active efforts must be made to preserve the best elements and to rid the race of detrimental elements by discouraging reproduction of those who are prone to criminality, low intelligence, or psychiatric disorders.
Avdeyev expresses the fundamental goal of eugenics as follows:
“Our main goal is crystal-clear: the creation of a new, super-perfected White Race, the moral and physical degradation of which has reached its limit.”
Compare American writer Lothrop Stoddard, writing in 1920:
“The eugenic ideal is … an ever-perfecting super race. Not the “superman” of Nietzsche—that brilliant yet baleful vision of a master caste, blooming like a gorgeous but parasitic orchid on a rotting trunk of servile degradation, but a super race, cleansing itself throughout by the elimination of its defects, and raising itself throughout by the cultivation of its qualities.”
[Lothrop Stoddard, Revolt against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-man; emphasis in original]
However, despite the great flowering of culture emanating from Europe, and despite the knowledge that Europeans and their culture dominated the planet, there is also a pessimism that pervades this literature—the idea that White racial elites tend to become eroded over historical time because of admixture with lesser types.
It was common among these thinkers to assert that the depletion of the Nordic racial stratum accounts for the decline of Greece, Rome, the Hindus, the Persians, and other Nordic civilizations. For example, Ludwig Woltmann:
“The blonde element of the people defines its cultural worthiness, and the fall of great cultures is explained by the dying out of this element.”
“[In Greece] “the death of the families of fully-vested citizens and the admission of the descendants of slaves and the aboriginal population as citizens, led … to collapse. Rome died of race mixing and the products of degeneracy.”
And finally, Otto Reche, writing in 1936:
That which we call ‘world history’ is in essence nothing more than the history of the Indo-Germans and their achievements; the powerfully rousing and simultaneously tragic song about the Nordic race and its idealism; a song which tells about how the strength of the race did what seemed impossible and reached for the stars, and how the strength quickly dried up when the ‘law of race’ was forgotten, when the Nordic man ceased to preserve the purity of his blood and strongly mixes with races [that are] less gifted in cultural terms.
The psychological traits attributed to Nordics are principled moral behavior and idealism, high intellect, inventiveness, and, in the words of Gustav Friedrich Klemm, a proclivity to “constant progress” and science:
Members of that race most often strive for the unknown, for the sake of a pure idea, driven by the thirst of knowledge, and not self-seeking interest.
My view is that there is a strong empirical basis for this suite of traits, and that ultimately these traits, particularly moral idealism and science, are the psychological manifestation of individualism as a response to selection pressures in the far north. As Avdeyev notes:
…the home of the Nordic race may be located in the zone of a cool and moist climate, abundant with clouds of fog, in which water vapor is retained in the air [absorbing ultra-violet rays]. In this climate there should be strong and frequent fluctuations of temperature.
I first became aware of the idea that natural selection in the north was responsible for the unique traits of Europeans by reading Fritz Lenz, whose work is reviewed in Raciology. Lenz, like several modern theorists (e.g., Richard Lynn and J. Philippe Rushton), gives major weight to the selective pressures of the Ice Age on northern peoples. He proposed that the intellectual abilities of these peoples are due to a great need to master the natural environment, resulting in selection for traits related to mechanical ability, structural design, and inventiveness in problem solving (what psychologists term “performance IQ”). He argued that Jewish intelligence, in contrast, was the result of intensive social living (what psychologists term “verbal IQ”).
There is in fact good evidence that in general intelligence is linked to mastering the natural environment (see here), and this is particularly the case among Northern peoples.
Lenz argued that over the course of their recent evolution, Europeans were less subjected to between-group natural selection than Jews and other Middle Eastern populations. Because of the harsh environment of the Ice Age, the Nordic peoples evolved in small groups and have a tendency toward social isolation rather than cohesive groups. This perspective does not imply that Northern Europeans lack collectivist mechanisms for group competition, but only that these mechanisms are relatively less elaborated and/or require a higher level of group conflict to trigger their expression.
Under ecologically adverse circumstances like the Ice Ages, adaptations are directed more at coping with the adverse physical environment than at competing with other groups. In such an environment, there would be less pressure for selection for extended kinship networks and highly collectivist groups. Ethnocentrism would be of no importance at all in combating the physical environment.
Europeans are therefore less ethnocentric than other groups—which makes them susceptible to being subverted by groups with a strong sense of in-group solidarity. Individualist cultures show relatively little emotional attachment to in-groups. Personal goals are paramount, and socialization emphasizes the importance of self-reliance, independence, individual responsibility, and “finding yourself.”
Individualists have more positive attitudes toward strangers and out-group members. They are also more likely to behave in a pro-social, altruistic manner to strangers. People in individualist cultures are less aware of in-group/out-group boundaries and thus do not have highly negative attitudes toward out-group members. They often disagree with in-group policy, show little emotional commitment or loyalty to in-groups, and do not have a sense of common fate with other in-group members.
Opposition to out-groups occurs in individualist societies, but the opposition is more “rational” in the sense that there is less of a tendency to suppose that all of the out-group members are culpable. Individualists form mild attachments to many groups, while collectivists have an intense attachment and identification to a few in-groups (see Harry Triandis, Individualism and Collectivism).
Individualists are therefore relatively ill-prepared for between-group competition so characteristic of the history of Judaism.
Cultural anthropologists have located European groups as part of what is termed the North Eurasian and Circumpolar culture area. This culture area derives from hunter-gatherers adapted to cold, ecologically adverse climates. In such climates there is pressure for male provisioning of the family and a tendency toward monogamy because the ecology did not support either polygyny or large groups for an evolutionarily significant period.
The historical evidence shows that Europeans, and especially Northwest Europeans, were relatively quick to abandon extended kinship networks and collectivist social structures when their interests were protected with the rise of strong centralized governments (see here, p. 21ff). There is indeed a general tendency throughout the world for a decline in extended kinship networks with the rise of central authority. But in the case of Northwest Europe this tendency quickly gave rise well before The Industrial Revolution to the unique European “simple household” type. The simple household type is based on a single married couple and their children. It contrasts with the joint family structure typical of the rest of Eurasia in which the household consists of two or more related couples, typically brothers and their wives and other members of the extended family.
These cultures are characterized by bilateral kinship relationships which recognize both the male and female lines, suggesting a more equal contribution for each sex as would be expected under conditions of monogamy. There is also less emphasis on extended kinship relationships and marriage tends to be exogamous (i.e., outside the kinship group). This tendency toward exogamy, combined with relative lack of ethnocentrism, could account for the tendency for genetic barriers between Nordics and others to break down over time and a general decline in the population, a point noted by several of the writers mentioned by Avdeyev.
In some of my own recent writing I have attempted to account for the Nordic tendencies toward idealism and principled morality as also a result of selection pressures for individualism. In collectivist cultures, the standard of morality is what is good for the group as seen, for example, in the celebrated phrase “Is it good for the Jews?” Judaism is a highly collectivist culture in which the needs of individuals are subordinated to the needs of the group.
In individualist cultures, on the other hand, there is a tendency to moral universalism where morality is defined not as what is good for the individual or the group, but as an abstract moral ideal—e.g., Kant’s moral imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”
Individualism implies an equality of interest—that everyone has interests but no one has a privileged moral position. Arguments on morality therefore must necessarily seek an abstract sense of morality, independent of the interests of an individual or the group.
Moral idealism is a powerful tendency in European culture, particularly since the 17th century apparent, for example, in the German idealist philosophers and the American transcendentalists. Universalist moral ideals are erected and then steps are taken to achieve the moral vision by changing the world, often accompanied by a great deal of moral fervor (see here). The anti-slavery movement in England in the 18th and 19th centuries is paradigmatic. This pursuit of moral ideals accounts for some of the dynamism of Western history.
As noted, European culture descended from northern hunter-gatherers. Another way to conceptualize this is that Western groups retained their tendencies as hunter-gatherers longer than the other main culture areas, particularly the Middle Old World culture area that characterizes the rest of Eurasia (see Footnote 3). Christopher Boehm argues persuasively that hunter-gatherer bands are not based tightly on kinship but rather consist mainly of non-family members, thus predisposing toward individualism. These groups are egalitarian “moral communities” where decision making is by consensus and maintaining one’s reputation is key to successful group living.
The analogy with the contemporary world is obvious. The entire edifice of Political Correctness is framed as a moral in-group. Every attempt is made to shame and ostracize those who, for example, oppose massive non-White immigration or believe that Europeans, like other peoples, have legitimate interests in defending their territories. Labels such as “racist” function to define moral in-groups. All of the intellectual and political movements discussed in The Culture of Critique subjected to West to moral critique where dissenters are not just factually or theoretically wrong but evil.
Thus the moral universalism characteristic of individualism is a liability in the struggle with other groups. Individualists are prone to acting against their own people on behalf of a moral principle—as in the American Civil War where a great many Yankees were motivated to go to war against the South in order to eradicate slavery as a moral evil. Such people place their moral ideals above ties of racial kinship.
Here is U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens expressing a typical sense of moral idealism common among Europeans:
The ideas of liberty and equality have been an irresistible force in motivating leaders like Patrick Henry, Susan B. Anthony, and Abraham Lincoln, schoolteachers like Nathan Hale and Booker T. Washington, the Philippine Scouts who fought at Bataan, and the soldiers who scaled the bluff at Omaha Beach,” he wrote in an unusually lyrical dissent [in a 1989 flag burning case]. “If those ideas are worth fighting for—and our history demonstrates that they are—it cannot be true that the flag that uniquely symbolizes their power is not itself worthy of protection.”
After Stevens: What Will the Supreme Court Be Like without Its Liberal Leader? By Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, March 23, 2010.
Ideas are worth fighting for—but Stevens has no interest in advancing the cause of White people as a racial kinship group. He idealizes non-White Filipinos fighting alongside Whites to secure a set of principles. He is not concerned about his race—presumably because he thinks that what’s important is that certain ideas will continue to guide the country even if (as seems likely) people like him are fated to become a small minority of the country. These ideas are more important than the racial composition of the country.
There is an obvious sense in which such moral idealism can be fatally maladaptive. In the contemporary world of Political Correctness defined by the Cultural Marxist Left, moral ideals incompatible with the interests of European-derived peoples are constantly trumpeted by elites in the media and academic world. Such messages fall on fertile ground among European peoples, even as other races and ethnic groups continue to seek to shape public policy according to their perceptions of self-interest. The European proneness to moral idealism thus becomes part of the ideology of Western suicide.
Similarly, science is an outgrowth of individualism because it implies that scientists are independent researchers not influenced by allegiance to an in-group or commitment to religious dogma. Scientists, like individualist moral actors, adopt a disinterested intellectual stance in which they independently evaluate evidence and are not influenced by an in-group affiliation such as their race or ethnic group. Real science assumes that groups of scientists that form around particular ideas (e.g., the theory of evolution in biology) are maximally permeable and highly subject to defection when the empirical data do not support previously held views.
On the other hand, in the Jewish intellectual the movements reviewed in The Culture of Critique, intellectual endeavor had strong overtones of ethnic group solidarity, as individual participants could always count on others to hold similar views and to present a united front against any unwelcome data. As in the case of Boasian anthropology, “truth” could be manufactured to meet the goals of the group and without any connection to the real world. This “truth” could then be disseminated from the most prestigious academic and media organizations, giving it an air of scientific respectability and a huge influence on the public.
Avdeyev makes brief reference to how Jewish identity influences the views of Jewish scientists when they discuss race. Regarding the views of A. I. Yarkho that racial instinct has been lost among humans, he notes
It is particularly amusing to hear through the mouth of “God’s chosen” people that incontrovertible racial and species solidarity is considered anti-Semitism …. The very principle of Zionism is built on the racial solidarity of the Jews.
He also mentions a need in recent times to defend Russian racial anthropology against the view, common in the West, that there are no races. In doing so, he makes it clear that his main opponents are Jews:
With authentic Russian patience and quick good sense, a convincing answer was given to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those same tailors and tavern-keepers [i.e., typical Jewish occupations in the Russian Pale of Settlement of the 19th century].
Although the current state of anthropology in the West is far from monolithically Jewish, the strong influence of Franz Boas and his tightly-compacted group of Jewish race-deniers continues to have a strong influence. Anthropology as well as other fields in the social sciences and humanities are best described as “tribal moral communities”—communities based not on science but on a shared moral vision and unified by the view that research on race and race differences must be suppressed at all costs.
Raciology is a most welcome development. The anti-racial theorizing of Boas and his followers continues to overshadow the current era. Such views are in their essence political movements against European peoples masquerading as science, designed to disarm Europeans—to make them defenseless against the onslaught of other peoples and cultures.
The reality is that the racial science that thrived in America until the 1920s and in Germany until the end of WWII coincided with an era of racial and cultural confidence among Europeans. It occurred at a time when Europe dominated the planet and was spreading its people and culture to all corners of the world.
On the other hand, the assault on this body of research has coincided with an unprecedented retreat of Europeans, not only from outposts like South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but even in Europe itself, which is now being overrun by non-Whites. Countries like the United States and Australia that that were at least 90% European in 1950 are undergoing demographic transitions which predict that Europeans will be a minority with a generation or two.
It is to be hoped that a resurgence of racial science as outlined in Raciology will be part of a general resurgence of the European peoples. It is certainly a step in the right direction.
Kevin MacDonald [email him] is professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach. His research has focused on developing evolutionary perspectives in developmental psychology, personality theory, Western culture, and ethnic relations (group evolutionary strategies). He edits and is a frequent contributor to The Occidental Observer and The Occidental Quarterly. For his website, click here.