Book Review: Racial Realities In Europe

Racial Realities In Europe, by Lothrop Stoddard

Concerning a book like this, I feel it is incumbent upon me at the outset to state that I do not agree with the author’s racialist perspective of the history of the world.  While I believe that culture and background can have a strong influence on the success of people over the course of many generations, I would not blame the ethnicity of former slaves for the economic and cultural backwaters that develop in areas where slave plantations are common, which the author appears to do.  Nor do I appreciate the author’s hostility towards peasant culture, which would define a fair amount of my own family background.  Culture trumps race in the sense that people can choose to develop or adopt new ways of living that allow for success and that help to overcome historical problems, but as we have seen in recent months, there is a high degree of appeal to racial arguments as a way of blaming people and keeping them forced in various boxes like “elite” or “oppressor” and this book is simply the mirror image of the sort of appeals one sees from leftist contemporaries who think of the whites as being automatically racist and privileged while ignoring the privileges and benefits they receive from a system that they view as being structurally unjust.

This book is about 250 pages long or so and it is divided into ten chapters.  The author discusses what he views as racial realities within Europe, dividing Europe into three basic groups of Nordic elites, Mediterranean elements, and Alpine peasants (1).  After that the author discusses what he views as the racial makeup of various regions of Europe, starting with the mixture of Nordic and Mediterranean elements in the British isles (2), and then moving on to the Nordic north of Scandinavia (3) whose divisions kept it from achieving some sort of dominance in the New or Old worlds.  The author examines composite France as a mixture of all three types (4) and then looks at the Mediterranean South with a great deal of pessimism about Portugal and Spain in particular (5), though he is optimistic about fascist Italy.  The author discusses Alpinized Germany as being an area where there was a belief that the area was more racially superior than it ended up being in the author’s eyes (6) thanks to a great deal of war over the course of centuries, before discussing the disruptions in Central Europe with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (7), the Alpine nature of Eastern Europe (8), and the flux between various peoples inhabiting the Balkans (9).  The author then ends with a call for a new realism of racial science such as the kind the authors holds to (10), after which there is an index.

Even though there was a lot about this book that I found quite frankly deeply offensive, much of what is wrong with this book can be examined by the way that the author conflates issues of class, ethnicity, and culture together.  The author conflates all of these together so the elite behavior of joining in wars and fighting on behalf of one’s country is viewed as a “Nordic” trait.  Intriguingly enough, though, while the author’s thought process is certainly racist by the standard of contemporary thinking and he would get cancelled pretty immediately if this book was published today, the author’s discussion of race leads him to urge peacefulness on the part of nations to avoid killing off the best and brightest.  This book was written between World War I and World War II and it warns Germany about the need to preserve what is left of their elite culture, a lesson that Hitler was unwilling to heed.  If this book is a racist book, and if it openly celebrates fascist rule and an anti-egalitarian stance regarding inferior Alpine peasant stock or African elements, and it does both of these things, it is a book that calls for peace so that Europe does not end up destroying itself, which amounted to a vain hope.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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