Wednesday, June 13, 2018

724: Scientific justification of Racism....

In the previous lecture I introduced to you a man, named Herbert Spencer  (1820 - 1903) and the term social Darwinism.
It is a term scholars use to describe the practice of misapplying the biological evolutionary language of Charles Darwin to politics, the economy, and society.
Many sociologists and political theorists in the period 1900 - 1910 turned to Social Darwinism to argue 
against government programs to aid the poor, as they believed that poverty was the result of natural inferiority, which should be bred out of the human population. 
Herbert Spencer gave as an example a young woman from upstate New York named Margaret, whom he described as a “gutter-child.” 
Because government aid had kept her alive, Margaret had, as Spencer wrote, “proved to be the prolific mother” of two hundred descendants 
who were “idiots, imbeciles, drunkards, lunatics, paupers, and prostitutes.” Spencer concluded by asking, 
“Was it kindness or cruelty which, generation after generation, enabled these to multiply and become an increasing curse to the society around them?”
This social Darwinism is probably one of the most influential causes for the emergence and justification of racism.
In other words, we in the 21st century are standing on the shoulders of an extremely racist 20th century and we feel this every day.
I recognize this in the still growing right wing political parties. They are not overtly racist, but have shifted this attitude towards xenophobia and islam-phobia.
Their implicit attitude is one of a belief in white supremacy and this attitude has deep roots in European history.
We made some progress in a social sense by making the support of racism a crime and unconstitutional,
however in the first decade of the 20th century it was pretty common to have even "scientific" justification for racism.
By the way, in those days anti-semitism was extremely virulent too, but that had other historical roots, but it was nicely in tune with the accepted racist ideas.
An important source of this scientific racism is for instance Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854 - 1936), who coined the term "antroposociology".
For a short time, there was a kind of fascination with the bizarre and all-explaining doctrines of anthroposociology. 
He studied old skulls and came to three conclusions: (1) Races were species in evolutionary development,
(2) racial differences were "innate and indelible" and (3) integration between races was against biological laws.
Europe counted three races and of course the Homo europaeus, tall, white skin and long skull, was the superior one.
He even suggested to offer alcohol for free on the assumption that the inferior races, at least the weakest types would drink themselves to death. A variation on natural selection, I guess.
In the US, too, they knew how to discuss the racial issues in a scientific way. Joseph le Conte (1823 - 1901), a physician, geologist, 
professor at the University of California, Berkeley and early California conservationist., published already in 1892 "The Race Problem in the South"
His theory was, that when two races come in contact with each other, then automatically  one race would dominate the other race.
Was the weaker race in an earlier stage of evolutionary development, like the negro, then slavery was good, because thus the 'primitive' mentality could be educated,
but when the weaker race had reached a higher state of evolutionary development, like the "redskin", then extermination was inevitable.
In this context we may come to a somewhat optimistic conclusion, that at least such theories are banned from science today.
Maybe this is our evolutionary progress......
Thank you for your attention again :-)


The Discussion

[13:17] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one thing i know is that this is a real sad part of history followin g ut still today.
[13:18] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita....pretty bizarre theories they had in those years
[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we are after all the same all of us, there are no so called "races" even we look diffferent,
[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and it sounds like they created these ideas just as an excuse to hate and murder other
[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): s
[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and this sadly have followed up to today
[13:18] herman Bergson: The point is, that you can check your roots these days by DNA testing....
[13:19] herman Bergson: The site is called  My heredity, I believe....
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well they did not had those things and knowledge back then
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but still
[13:19] herman Bergson: there it shows that we are a mix of all kinds of "races"
[13:20] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): weren't there any people that told him to shut his mouth?
[13:20] herman Bergson: up to Neanderthaler DNA parts :-)
[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): since they  had no better knowledge i guess not
[13:21] herman Bergson: In that period 1900 -1910 they just had rediscovered Mendel's laws and genes and how it worked....
[13:21] herman Bergson: Today we have sophisticated techniques to show that races do not exist
[13:22] herman Bergson: Everybody has DNA traces from dozens of places
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:22] herman Bergson: So the pure Ariar does not exist
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I'm part Belgian:))
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :))
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I love fries:)
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yummy
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): today there is nothing changed
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes and a lot more, Beertje.....could even have Swedish genes ...that is what they figure out for you with that heredetary DNA test
[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Bejiita could be my brother:)
[13:24] herman Bergson: In other word....racism is a cultural thing....
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:25] herman Bergson: no Beertje but yet a far cousin
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that should never have been
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we re all the same
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes, but some cultures don't match with each other
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:25] herman Bergson: And that is when racism is called in, Beertje
[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ye I know
[13:26] herman Bergson: Interesting to note is...
[13:27] herman Bergson: that the moment science developed in the early decennia of the 20th century, racism  became stronger too....
[13:27] herman Bergson: as became industrialization and technology....
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why was that?
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: ( )
[13:28] herman Bergson: One reason may be, Beertje, that the white people believed in their superiority, based on their scientific and technological advance
[13:29] herman Bergson: It justified colonization for instance....
[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): could be, but there is even a culture difference between Amsterdam and that racism too?
[13:29] herman Bergson: We bring you healthcare and education (and in between steal all your natural resources)
[13:30] herman Bergson: no, I'd say.....this is discrimination on cultural differences not on physical differences
[13:31] herman Bergson: Racism is a real biological thing
[13:32] herman Bergson: But it happens to be that islamic people are arabs mainly.....
[13:32] herman Bergson: Funny thing is that we are rather surprised when a white Dutchman tells us thta he is islamic....:-)
[13:33] herman Bergson: That collides with our biases with respect to islam
[13:34] herman Bergson: Teh belief in the existence of races is a clear legacy from the 20th century....
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:34] herman Bergson: and we still have to deal with it
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and one that we should have been rid from since long
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cause we should know better now
[13:35] herman Bergson: at least in a legal sense we are Bejiita
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but then its this power greed over others
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that can be one issue
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): using racism and similar to oppress others
[13:36] herman Bergson: You mean the White Supremacy drive, Bejiita?
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): also we can say same thing about male over woman dominance
[13:37] herman Bergson: I think that that still is a serious issue these days....which does not have a simple answer
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the men don't want to loose their power so they do all they can to keep it
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): these issues are i think one reason why these awful beliefs are till with us today, they use it juo justify their power over others
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that they are better
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (note to self, clean out all chocolate from computer)
[13:39] herman Bergson smiles
[13:39] herman Bergson: Ok Bejiita.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: this means that I have to end our discussion so you can get to work on cleaning :-)
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well interesting as always
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and so true
[13:40] herman Bergson: Thank you all again for your participation:-)
[13:40] Yvette Kip (yvettekip): thank you Herman:)
[13:40] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): dankjewel Herman
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman


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