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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE  MODERN WORLD
thetical past "race," ascribes to it a number of valuable qualities,
notably initiative and leadership, and then, whenever it finds such
qualities in the mixed national groups, ascribes them to the Nordic
elements in the population. It then proceeds farther and sets up, as
a national ideal, a return to purity of stock of a Nordic "race55 the
very existence of which is unproved and probably unprovable.
The real source of all these modern ideas of the innate inferiority
of certain "races" is the work of the French Count Joseph de Gobineau
Essai sur Vinegalite des races humaines (1853-5). This book is essenti-
ally a plea for "national55 history. He advocated especially the
superiority of the so-called "Aryan races35 over others. The idea
was carried to the most ridiculous lengths in the work of his country-
man Lapouge, L'Aryen (1899), in which the "Aryans55 were identified
with the "Nordic race.53 This ridiculous Nordic-Aryan theory,
launched by French writers, was eagerly developed in Germany and
linked with anti-Jewish propaganda. In the beginning of the present
century the East Prussian Gustav Kossinna took up the idea, applied
it to prehistoric archaeology, and claimed to make German pre-
history—to use his own words—"a pre-eminently national science.55
His naive object was to show that throughout the prehistoric ages
advances in culture had been entirely due to peoples whom he identi-
fied with the Nordic, Germanic,, or "Aryan55 peoples, these terms
being regarded as interchangeable, though including not merely
Germans but also Scandinavians. The "Aryan35 cradle was con-
veniently located in the North European forest about the Baltic and
North Sea coasts.
This theory is scientifically quite untenable on many grounds.
Thus, to take a single point, the earliest of the rough stone monu-
ments (of which Stonehenge is a late and highly developed example,
c. 1700-1600 B.C.) go back, even in England, at least as far as 3000 B.C.
The culture that they represent spread from the Mediterranean to the
Iberian peninsula and thence through France into Britain and beyond
to north Germany and Scandinavia. Yet these monuments, involving
high enterprise, considered design, and complex social organization,
were produced by a people devoid of metal implements and quite
certainly not of "Nordic53 origin. The skulls from the early English
burials associated with these monuments are, in fact, usually stated
to be of "Mediterranean55 type.
Nevertheless, the Nordic theory speedily became very popular in
Germany. It made a special appeal to national vanity and was made
the basis of propaganda in the pseudo-scientific writings of the German-
ized Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain and others in Ger-
262