Origins[ edit ] Gobineau came from an old well-established aristocratic family. Together with her lover she took her son and two daughters on extended wanderings across eastern France, Switzerland and the Grand Duchy of Baden. His mother became a severe embarrassment to Gobineau, who never spoke to her after he turned twenty. He became fluent in German. He promised to reconcile the heritage of the French Revolution with the monarchy.
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Origins[ edit ] Gobineau came from an old well-established aristocratic family. Together with her lover she took her son and two daughters on extended wanderings across eastern France, Switzerland and the Grand Duchy of Baden. His mother became a severe embarrassment to Gobineau, who never spoke to her after he turned twenty. He became fluent in German.
He promised to reconcile the heritage of the French Revolution with the monarchy. Gobineau disliked his father, whom he dismissed as a boring and pedantic army officer incapable of stimulating thought.
This dream went unrealized, as India became part of the British and not the French empire. He dreamt only of mosques and minarets ; he called himself a Muslim , ready to make the pilgrimage to Mecca ". He read Arab, Turkish and Persian tales in translation, becoming what the French call a "un orientaliste de pacotille" "rubbish orientalist". Cyr military school. Money dominates business; money regulates the population; money governs; money salves consciences; money is the criterion for judging the esteem due to men".
Where there is no longer an aristocracy worthy of itself, a nation dies. Our Nobles are conceited fools and cowards. I no longer believe in anything nor have any views. From Louis-Philippe we shall proceed to the first trimmer who will take us up, but only in order to pass us on to another. For we are without fibre and moral energy.
Money has killed everything. He depicted Britain as a nation motivated entirely by hatred and greed and the domination of the British Empire around the globe as a source of regret.
He regarded the disaster suffered by the British during the retreat from Kabul in the first war with Afghanistan in as sign Russia would be the dominant power in Asia, writing: "England, an aging nation, is defending its livelihood and its existence.
Russia, a youthful nation, is following its path towards the power that it must surely gain The empire of the Tsars is today the power which seems to have the greatest future The Russian people are marching steadfastly towards a goal that is indeed known but still not completely defined". But he worried increasing economic growth promoted by the Zollverein German Customs Union was making the Prussian middle class more powerful.
It was inevitable such a multi-ethnic society would go into decline, while the "purely German" Prussia was destined to unify Germany. And yet who would want to claim that the half-barbarous inhabitants of Castile or the Algarve or the gauchos on the River Plate really deserve to sit as supreme legislators, in the places which they have contested against their masters with such pleasure and energy". The American poor suffered worse than the European poor, causing the United States to be a violent society, where greed and materialism were the only values that counted.
She had pressed for a hasty marriage as she was pregnant by their mutual friend Pierre de Serre who had abandoned her. As a practicing Catholic, she did not wish to give birth to an illegitimate child. As with his mother, Gobineau was never entirely certain if his wife, and hence his two daughters had black ancestors or not, as it was a common practice for French slave masters in the Caribbean to take a slave mistress.
Writing in the spring of about the news from Germany he noted: "Things are going pretty badly I do not mean the dismissal of the princes—that was deserved. Their cowardice and lack of political faith make them scarcely interesting.
But the peasants, there they are nearly barbarous. There is pillage, and burning, and massacre—and we are only at the beginning. In it he revealed his fear the revolution was the beginning of the end of aristocratic Europe, with common folk descended from lesser breeds taking over. And the Germans, displaying the blond hair of their ancestors, emerged to rule in every corner of the world. Neptune and his trident serve the Anglo-Saxon, their last descendant, and the peopled deserts of young America know the strength of this heroic people.
But as to the Romans, Alemanni, Gauls, [ This was an old theory first promoted in a tract by Count Henri de Boulainvilliers. He had argued that the Second Estate the aristocracy was of "Frankish" blood and the Third Estate the commoners were of "Gaulish" blood. Gobineau considered them to be the monstrous products of centuries of miscegenation ready to explode in revolutionary violence at any moment.
He argued distinctions among the three races—"black", "white", and "yellow"—were natural barriers; "race-mixing" breaks those barriers and leads to chaos. Of the three races, he argued blacks were physically very strong but incapable of intelligent thought. This is generally believed to have reflected folk memories of the arrival of the Indo-European peoples into the Indian subcontinent.
In the 19th century, there had been much public interest in the discovery by Orientalists like William Jones of the Indo-European languages , and that apparently unrelated languages such as English, Irish, Albanian, Italian, Greek, Russian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, Kurdish, Persian and so forth were all part of the same family of languages spoken across a wide swath of Eurasia from Ireland to India.
Gobineau equated language with race and mistakenly believed the Indo-European peoples were a racial rather than a linguistic group. The latter were the Aryans of Hindu legends and were the best and greatest of all the whites.
He suggests, however, that "nothing proves that at the first redaction of the Adamite genealogies the colored races were considered as forming part of the species"; and, "We may conclude that the power of producing fertile offspring is among the marks of a distinct species. As nothing leads us to believe that the human race is outside this rule, there is no answer to this argument. Despite his claims whites were the most beautiful of his races, he believed Asian and black women had immense powers of sexual attraction over white men.
Whenever whites were in close proximity to blacks and Asians, the result was always miscegenation as white men were seduced by Asian and black women, to the detriment of whites. But, he believed European civilization represented the best of what remained of ancient civilizations and held the most superior attributes capable for continued survival. Gobineau stated he was writing about races, not individuals: examples of talented black or Asian individuals did not disprove his thesis of the supposed inferiority of the black and Asian races.
Why then, in the course of the ages has he not then invented printing or steam power? Focus on Aryans as a superior race[ edit ] Gobineau claimed the Aryans had founded the ten great civilizations of the world, writing: "In the ten civilizations no Negro race is seen an initiator. Only when it is mixed with some other, can it even be initiated into a civilization.
Similarly, no spontaneous civilization is to be found among the yellow races; and when the Aryan blood is exhausted stagnation supervenes". Gobineau used medieval Persian epic poetry, which he treated as completely historically accurate accounts, together with the beauty of Persian women whom he saw as the most beautiful in the world to argue that Persians were once great Aryans, but unfortunately the Persians had interbred too often with the Semitic Arabs for their own good.
He thought this corresponded to the ancient Indo-European culture, which earlier anthropologists had misconceived as " Aryan "—a term that only Indo-Iranians are known to have used in ancient times. Gobineau ended the Essai with the predication that the "Asian" Russian Empire would soon be the dominant power in Europe. It would then be superseded by China, once that state was modernized, and the Chinese would then conquer Europe.
Trained neither as a theologian nor a naturalist, and writing before the popular spread of evolutionary theory, Gobineau took the Bible to be a true telling of human history. The German-born American historian George Mosse argued that Gobineau projected all of his fear and hatred of the French middle and working classes onto the Asians and the blacks. As the American critic Michelle Wright wrote, "the peasant may inhabit the land, but they are certainly not part of it…".
He came to speak a "kitchen Persian" that allowed him to talk to Persians somewhat. He was never fluent in Persian as he claimed to be.
He criticized Persian society for being too "democratic". Gobineau saw Persia as a land without a future destined to be conquered by the West sooner or later. For him this was a tragedy for the West. He believed Western men would all too easily be seduced by the beautiful Persian women causing more miscegenation to further "corrupt" the West.
This was to preoccupy him for the rest of his life. He wrote to Prokesch-Osten that there was no "Persian race" as modern Persians were "a breed mixed from God knows what!
He loved ancient Persia as the great Aryan civilization par excellence, however, noting that Iran means "the land of the Aryans" in Persian. Nott and Henry Hotze[ edit ] Josiah C. The animal character imprinted upon his brow marks his destiny from the moment of his conception". About American white people, Gobineau declared: They are a very mixed assortment of the most degenerate races in olden-day Europe.
They are the human flotsam of all ages: Irish, crossbreed Germans and French and Italians of even more doubtful stock. The intermixture of all these decadent ethnic varieties will inevitably give birth to further ethnic chaos. This chaos is no way unexpected or new: it will produce no further ethnic mixture which has not already been, or cannot be realized on our own continent.
Absolutely nothing productive will result from it, and even when ethnic combinations resulting from infinite unions between Germans, Irish, Italians, French and Anglo-Saxons join us in the south with racial elements composed of Indian, Negro, Spanish and Portuguese essence, it is quite unimaginable that anything could result from such horrible confusions, but an incoherent juxtaposition of the most decadent kinds of people.
Nott and Hotzel retained only the parts relating to the alleged inherent inferiority of blacks. The two "race scientists" argued on the basis of the Essai that blacks were essentially a type of vicious animal, rather than human beings, and would always pose a danger to whites. Nott and Hotze wanted nothing that might give blacks admirable human qualities.
He objected that as a "civilized European" he had no wish to go to an Asian country like China. It is very cold, there is almost constant fog, and one sails between pieces of floating ice of enormous size. He stated the Irish of St. He became obsessed with ancient Persia.
He viewed him as part of the "Semitic race", unlike the Persians whose Indo-European language led him to see them as Aryans. He was unaware that Shia Islam only became the state religion of Persia under the Safavids. He wrote they were "veritable communists" and "true and pure supporters of socialism", as every bit as dangerous as the French socialists.
Though his work was idiosyncratic, he did spark scholarly interest in an aspect of Persia that had been ignored by Westerners until then. Since there were few Western Orientalists who knew Persian, however, Gobineau was able to pass himself off for decades as a leading Orientalist who knew Persia like no one else.
Saggio sulla disuguaglianza delle razze umane
He rejected Enlightenment explanations for human diversity, including the impact of geography and cultural or political institutions, instead insisting on permanent and unequal racial characteristics passed down since the earliest days of humankind. He argued that human history was defined by the rise of pure races with superior characteristics who, through a process of mixing with inferior races, gradually lost their vitality and collapsed, leaving the stage clear for purer races to rise. He articulated these ideas in his lengthy Essay on the Inequality of Human Races , which did not attract much attention until he became friends with the composer Richard Wagner and his daughter Cosima in the s. Although German antisemites focused on Jews as the enemy of the Aryan race and American racists focused on the dangers of Black-White miscegenation, Gobineau had some positive, if also stereotypical, things to say about Jews and Blacks and their contributions to civilization, even as he firmly maintained the superiority of whites overall. Gobineau was far more worried about the threat posed to Aryans by other, inferior white peoples, Slavs and Celts in particular, whose traces could be seen among the lower classes. His frame of reference was the revolution and the threat posed by democracy, which had given him a glimpse of the collapse of European civilization. Jeff Bowersox Deutsch Here especially I must be concrete.
Arthur de Gobineau
The book was written after the revolution when Gobineau began studying the works of Xavier Bichat and Johann Blumenbach. In a letter to Count Anton von Prokesch-Osten in he describes the book as based upon "a hatred for democracy and its weapon, the Revolution, which I satisfied by showing, in a variety of ways, where revolution and democracy come from and where they are going. By this Gobineau refers to his division of humans into three main races: white, black, and yellow. The biblical division into Hamites , Semites , and Japhetites is for Gobineau a division within the white race.
The inequality of human races
Gobineau on the inequality of races (1853)
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