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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE MODERN WORLD
groups have different languages and cultures; and the effects of the
cultural environment are so powerful as to override and mask any
genetic effects.
Most so-called racial traits are in point of fact national traits; and
being so, they have no genetic or eugenic significance. In illustration
we may think of those chief contributors to our own ancestry, the
ancient Britons and the even less civilized Picts and Scots, of the
Roman Imperial period. They were truly described by the Romans
as barbarians. It is obvious that the difference between their then
barbaric state and our present level of relative civilization is due
entirely or almost entirely to changes in tradition and culture, material
and other. The genetic basis on which this progress has been erected
was doubtless a good one; but the only way to see whether other
ethnic groups now in the barbaric stage of culture, such as the Bantu,
differ in their genetical quality is to give them a similar opportunity.
To assert, as is often done, that the present barbarism of, say, the
Bantu is proof of their genetic inferiority is a gross error of scientific
method.
The dangers of pseudo-science in these matters are being illus-
trated on a large scale, and with the accompaniment of much in-
dividual suffering and political danger, in present-day Germany.
The Nazi racial theory is a mere rationalization of Germanic nation-
alism on the one hand and anti-Semitism on the other. The German
nation consists of Mendelian recombinations of every sort between
Alpine, Nordic, and Mediterranean types. The theory of Nordic
supremacy and initiative is not true even for their own population:l
it is a myth like any other myth, on which the Nazis are basing a
pseudo-religion of nationalism.
When we come to the distinction between Aryan and non-Aryan,
the scientific error is magnified; for the very term Aryan denotes the
speakers of a particular type of language, and can by definition have
no genetic significance. As Max Muller himself wrote in a belated
recantation:2 "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."
And when it comes to anti-Semitic measures, we must remember
the elementary fact that the Jews are primarily a pseudo-national
group, with a cultural and religious basis, not primarily an ethnic
group with a genetic basis. Laws that lay down the amount of Jewish
1 Huxley and Haddon. op. cit., chapters iii. vi, vii, ix.
a Miiller, M., 1888, p. 345.
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