]]]]]]]]]    THE RACIAL INTERPRETATION OF HISTORY     [[[[[[[[[[[
                                                      (8/29/1989)
[From  Ludwig  von  Mises  (1881-1973),  Theory  and  History: An
Interpretation of  Social and  Economic Evolution  (Westport, CT:
Arlington House Publishers, 1969.   Reprint of edition originally
published in 1957 by Yale University Press), pp. 332-337.]

          [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   It is  a historical fact  that the  civilizations developed by
various races are different.  In  earlier ages it was possible to
establish this  truth without  attempting to  distinguish between
higher and  lower civilizations.   Each race,  one could contend,
develops  a  culture that  conforms  to its  wishers,  wants, and
ideals.  The character of a race finds its adequate expression in
its  achievements.   A  race   may  imitate  accomplishments  and
institutions developed  by other races,  but it does  not long to
abandon its  own cultural pattern  entirely and  to substitute an
imported alien  system for it.   If about two  thousand years ago
the Greco-Romans and  the Chinese had  learned about each other's
civilizations, neither  race would have  admitted the superiority
of the other's civilization.
   But it is  different in our age.   The non-Caucasians may hate
and despise the white man, they may plot his destruction and take
pleasure in extravagant  praise of their  own civilizations.  But
they yearn  for the  tangible achievements  of the  West, for its
science, technology, therapeutics,  its methods of administration
and of  industrial management.   Many of  their spokesmen declare
that they want only to imitate  the material culture of the West,
and to  do even  that only so  far as  it does  not conflict with
their indigenous  ideologies or jeopardize  [333] their religious
beliefs and observances.   They fail to see  that the adoption of
what they disparagingly call  the merely material achievements of
the West is incompatible  with preserving their traditional rites
and taboos and their customary style of life. They indulge in the
illusion that  their peoples could  borrow the  technology of the
West  and attain  a higher  material  standard of  living without
having first  in a Kulturkampf  divested themselves  of the world
view and  the mores handed  down from their  ancestors.  They are
confirmed in  this error  by the  socialist doctrine,  which also
fails   to  recognize   that   the  material   and  technological
achievements of the  West were brought  about by the philosophies
of rationalism,  individualism, and utilitarianism  and are bound
to  disappear   if  the  collectivist   and  totalitarian  tenets
substitute socialism for capitalism.
   Whatever people may  say about Western  civilization, the fact
remains that  all peoples look  with envy  upon its achievements,
want  to  reproduce  them,   and  thereby  implicitly  admit  its
superiority.  It is this state  of affairs that has generated the
modern doctrine of  race differences and  its political offshoot,
racism.
   The  doctrine of  race differences  maintains that  some races
have succeeded  better than others  in the pursuit  of those aims
that are common to all men.  All men want to resist the operation
of the  factors detrimental to  the preservation  of their lives,
their health,  and their  well-being.  It  cannot be  denied that
modern Western capitalism has  succeeded best in these endeavors.
It  has  increased the  average  length  of life  and  raised the
average standard  of living  unprecedentedly.  It  has made [334]
accessible to the  common man those  higher human accomplishments
-- philosophy, science, art -- which in the past were everywhere,
and today outside the countries  of Western capitalism still are,
accessible only to a small minority.  Grumblers may blame Western
civilization for its materialism and may assert that it gratified
nobody but a small class of rugged exploiters.  But their laments
cannot wipe  out the facts.   Millions of mothers  have been made
happier  by   the  drop   in  infant   mortality.   Famines  have
disappeared  and epidemics  have  been curbed.   The  average man
lives in more  satisfactory conditions than  his ancestors or his
fellows  in  the  noncapitalistic countries.   And  one  must not
dismiss  as merely  materialistic a  civilization which  makes it
possible for practically everybody  to enjoy a Beethoven symphony
performed by an orchestra conducted by an eminent master.
   The  thesis that  some races  have  been more  successful than
others in their efforts to develop a civilization is unassailable
as  a statement about historical  experience.  As a SUM  of  what 
has  happened in the past it is quite correct to    assert   that   
modern   civilization    is   the    white   man's   achievement.  
However,  the establishment of  this fact justifies neither   the 
white  man's racial  self-conceit nor  the political doctrines of 
racism.
   Many people  take pride  in the  fact that  their ancestors or
their relatives have performed great things.  It gives some men a
special satisfaction to know that  they belong to a family, clan,
nation, or race  that has distinguished itself  in the past.  But
this innocuous vanity easily turns into scorn of those who do not
belong to [335] the same distinguished group and into attempts to
humiliate  and   to  insult   them.   The   diplomats,  soldiers,
bureaucrats, and businessmen of the  Western nations who in their
contacts  with  the  colored  races  have  displayed  overbearing
effrontery had no claim  at all to boast  of the deeds of Western
civilization.  They  were not  the makers  of this  culture which
they compromised by their behaviour.  Their insolence which found
its expression in such signs  as ``Entrance forbidden to dogs and
natives'' has poisoned  the relations between  the races for ages
to come.  But we do  not have to deal with  these sad facts in an
analysis of racial doctrines.
   Historical experience warrants the  statement that in the past
the efforts of some subdivisions of the Caucasian race to develop
a civilization have eclipsed those of the members of other races.
It does not warrant any statement  about the future.  It does not
permit us to assume that this superiority of the white stock will
persist in the future.  Nothing  can be predicted from historical
experience  with  a  likelihood that  can  be  compared  with the
probability of  predictions made in  the natural  sciences on the
basis of facts established by  laboratory experiments.  In 1760 a
historian  would  have  been  right  in  declaring  that  Western
civilization  was mainly  an achievement  of  the Latins  and the
British and  that the Germans  had contributed little  to it.  It
was permissible  at that  time to  maintain that  German science,
art,  literature, philosophy,  and technology  were insignificant
compared  to the  accomplishments of  the  members of  some other
nations.  One  could fairly  contend that  those Germans  who had
distinguished themselves in these  [336] fields -- foremost among
them the astronomers Copernicus [note omitted] and Kepler and the
philosopher Leibniz -- could succeed  only because they had fully
absorbed  what non-Germans  had contributed,  that intellectually
they did not belong to Germany, that  for a long time they had no
German  followers, and  that  those who  first  appreciated their
doctrines  were predominantly  non-German.   But if  somebody had
inferred from these facts that the Germans are culturaly inferior
and  would  rank in  the  future  far below  the  French  and the
British, his conclusion  would have been  disproved by the course
of later history.
   A prediction  about the future  behavior of  those races which
today are  considered culturally backward  could only  be made by
biological science.  If biology  were to discover some anatomical
characteristics of the  members of the  non-Caucasian races which
necessarily curb their mental faculties, one could venture such a
prediction.  But so  far [c.1957] biology  has not discovered any
such characteristics.
   It is not the  task of this essay  to deal with the biological
issues of  the racial doctrine.   It must  therefore abstain from
analysis  of  the  controversial problems  of  racial  purity and
miscegenation.  Nor is  it our task to  investigate the merits of
the  political program  of racism.   This  is for  praxeology and
economics.
   All that  can be  said about  racial issues  on the  ground of
historical experience boils  down to two  statements.  First, the
prevailing  differences  between  the  various  [337]  biological
strains of men are reflected  in the civilizatory achievements of
the group  members. Second, in  our age the  main achievements in
civilization of some  subdivisions of the  white Caucasian race a
viewed by the immense majority of  the members of all other races
as   more   desirable  than   characteristic   features   of  the
civilization produced by members of their respective own races.

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