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Lothrop Stoddard, A. M., PH.D. (Harv)
Racial Realities In Europe Contents



Chapter 10



THE NEW REALISM OF SCIENCE

 

SCIENCE is giving us a new world. Few persons will question the truth of that statement. But how many of us realize all that it implies ? We may think that we do. We see science evoking a series of marvellous inventions which affect every phase of our daily lives. New sources of material energy are tapped and harnessed to innumerable machines, obedient to our will recent survey of mechanical development estimates that the amount of work done by machinery in the United States alone would demand the toil of 3,000,000,000 hard-driven slaves. Nature's hidden powers yield themselves as at the touch of.a magician's wand. Time and distance alike diminish, and the very planet shrinks to the measure of human hands.
Science thus continually gives us new powers, new tools, new playthings. Very important, to be sure. Yet, how much more important is the new knowledge which science gives us about ourselves. That is what really matters! Had science merely given us a new material world without telling us what sort of people we truly are and how we may adjust ourselves to our novel surroundings, we would be like children playing with lighted matches in a powder-magazine, and would almost certainly blow ourselves and our new domicile to fragments. That is just what many students of present-day affairs


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are afraid of. The late war is merely one warning of the perils which beset us, and it may be that we are destined. to go "rattling back into barbarism."
Our best (perhaps our only) safeguard against so melancholy a fate is the scope of the scientific movement, which goes so much wider and deeper than we ordinarily suppose. The same movement which gives us the airship and the radio is also presenting us with a new outlook and philosophy of life. It is forcing us to re-examine ourselves and our relations with one another. More and more, forward-looking men and women the world over are coming to realize that the vast increase in knowledge which has occurred during the last few decades requires a thoroughgoing reconsideration of ideas and view-points -- what a philosopher has well termed "a re-valuation of all values."
Every well-informed observer of contemporary events knows that this process is to-day in full swing. Throughout the civilized world the most cherished ideals are being scrutinized, while no institution, however venerable, escapes the fire of criticism. Much of this criticism is, to be sure, so ignorant and so destructive that we are often tempted to fear lest the social fabric give way under the strain. Other civilizations have perished in similar crises; why may not our civilization go down as well? The answer is that it may, but that its chief chance of successful survival lies in the one factor which distinguishes our age over past times. This great new factor is the spread of exact knowledge, inspired by and infused with the scientific spirit.
The spirit of science is a desire for truth so strong and

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so compelling that prejudices and preconceptions are burned away, leaving the mind crystal clear to perceive the significance of fresh knowledge and adjust it harmoniously to knowledge already acquired. This means a mental attitude both free and flexible, capable of progress by methods at once steady and sure.
Here is something really new in human history! Hitherto Man has not only known comparatively little but has tended to misinterpret the little that he knew. On slender fact-bases he has reared elaborate theories, fine-spun from his logic and imagination, and he has then crystallized these theories into beliefs so dogmatic and intolerant that they have blinded his vision and closed his mind. Society has thus continually ossified, and the few free souls who sought truth with single-hearted devotion have usually been crushed by the prejudice and passion aroused at the mere thought of examining matters which had become cherished faiths. Human progress has thus far been like a series of lava-flows: at first moving with hot haste, yet soon cooling into a rigidity which might be broken or worn down but which could not be kept long in motion. Now, for the first time, we have in the scientific spirit force capable of maintaining steady and consistent social progress. Its passion for truth can keep us going, while its insistence on proving and testing each step of the way can keep us going right. A society genuinely imbued with the scientific spirit and using scientific methods could neither ossify nor run wild. It would thereby avoid both reaction and revolution-those twin ills that have so a:ffijcted mankind.
How shall we characterize the outlook and philosophy

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of life enjoyed by those whom the scientific spirit has touched and transformed? It can be expressed in one word: Realism! This new realism of science must not be confused with the narrow materialisni which rejects all not evident to the senses as vain or non-existent. Scientific realism recognizes the most intangible as well as the most palpable; it demands reality, yet understands that reality is infinitely varied; it seeks truth, knowing that truth manifests itself in countless ways. The genuine disciple of science has a bold mind but a humble heart. All that he insists upon is a recognition of the fact that the most disturbing truth is better than the most cherished error. Thus fortified, he is neither cast down by failure nor puffed up by success. His sense of balance and proportion is never obscured. Our age has discovered powers and secrets of nature that our forehears never knew. But our age has also awakened a passion for truth such as the world has never seen. Other ages have sought truth from the lips of seers and prophets; our age seeks it from scientific proof. Other ages have had their saints and martyrs; dauntless sows who clung to their faith with unshakable constancy . Yet our age has also its saints and martyrs-heroes who can not only face death for their faith, but who can also scrap that faith when facts have proved it wrong. There, indeed, is courage! And therein lies our hope.
This matchless love of truth, this spirit of science which combines knowledge and idealism in the synthesis of a higher wisdom, as yet inspires only a chosen few. Most of us are still more or less under the spell of the past -- the spell of passion, prejudice, and unreason. It is thus

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that ideas and ideals clearly disproved by science yet claim the allegiance of multitudes of worthy men. The dead hand of false doctrines and fallacious hopes lies, indeed, heavy upon us. Customs, laws, and institutions are alike stamped deep with its imprint. Our very minds and souls are imbued with delusions from whose emotional grip it is hard to escape. Mighty as is the new truth, our eyes are yet blinded to its full meaning, our hearts shrink instinctively from its wider implications, and our feet falter on the path to higher destinies.
This path we must essay to tread. It may be that we shall fail, that we shall fall into some abyss of disaster lurking by the way; nevertheless, we cannot stop where we are, nor can we turn back toward our simpler past. Science has given us a new world, and to that new world we must adapt ourselves or perish, as all living beings who do not fit themselves to new conditions must perish. Our task is only just begun. Scientific knowledge, hitherto employed mainly in material discoveries and mechanical inventions, must be increasingly applied to our institutions -- and ourselves. Tremendous changes in our laws, our politics, and our social relations are inevitable. All these matters are the products of past times. They no longer fit present conditions and will have to be radically changed. Yet such changes, if made in the scientific spirit and according to scientific methods, can be effected in an entirely stable and progressive manner. In other words, they should be, not revolutions, but evolutions. That is the way science works when it is given a chance. Think, for example, of the sweeping transformations in abstract ideas that have taken place during the past few decades --

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and all without shattering upheavals. There is no fundamental reason why the same cannot be accomplished in politics or institutions, provided.the necessity for action be sufficiently. clear and the will to act sufficiently strong.
The chief reason for hoping that such a. process will occur is the way scientific knowledge is being spread and popularized. In past times knowledge was confined to a few learned individuals quite out of touch with their fellows. To-day knowledge is being extended by a numerous class of scientists, is intelligently appreciated by millions of educated persons throughout the civilized world, and is increasingly respected by the masses of the population. When a sufficient number of us come to realize that we need no longer be the sport of blind forces, but that we now know enough to control our destiny, we may expect marvellous developments of all kinds-at least among the more intelligent and forward-looking peoples.
These developments will include in their scope not only our material surroundings, institutions, and social relations, but also, most emphatically-ourselves. "The proper study of mankind is Man!" That famous line, coined by a poet long ago, now takes on its full significance. For the first time in his history, Man begins really to know himself and to appreciate the solemn fact that within him lies the power to make or mar his destiny. Science's greatest achievement has been its discovery of those laws of life on which, in the last analysis, all human activity depends. By these discoveries our ideas concerning human nature have been radically altered. Hitherto we have usually believed that human beings were born

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pretty much alike, and that how they developed depended mainly upon their surroundings, these surroundings being both natural, like soil and climate, and man-made, such as the laws, institutions, customs, and ideals prevailing in the various human groups. Believing such theories, men have for ages devoted their best efforts to changing conditions, without studying closely the sort of people to whom these conditions were to be applied.
How the discoveries of modern science have altered this traditional attitude! We now know that the basic factor in human affairs is not men's surroundings but the qualities of men themselves, and that these qualities are inborn, not grafted on by outward circumstances. In other words, a man's heredity is of more fundamental importance than his environment in determining his course in life, because environment can onJy bring out the qualities that he has inherited .
Furthermore, we know that, instead of being born very much alike, men are born infiriitely unlike. During the long ages of its eristence mankind has differentiated into an amazingly wide range of types differing from one another in inborn characteristics. These human types, known as races, differ not only in outward appearance but also in mind, temperament, and capacity. Of course, within the racial groups a similar differentiation has gone on, so that each human stock produces individuals ranging in hereditary endowment all the way from the idiot to the genius. Nevertheless, the members of each race inherit certain physical, mental, and moral traits which together form a generalized race-type that descends from generation to generation, persists under

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all sorts of surroundings, and determines more than anything else what sort of persons the members of the race will be, how they will act, and what they will do. Thus the most vital element in human affairs is seen to be the racial factor, and the fundamental aspect of the new scientific realism is racial reality.
In the preceding chapters we have investigated the racial factor in European affairs, and we have observed how this factor, though often obscured by other matters, underlies the entire course of events. We have seen how even such powerful influences as geography and climate are not so important in shaping a country's destiny as the blood of its inhabitants, while the institutions, customs, and doings of peoples are mainly the result of their racial make-up. We have studied the three European races (Nordics, Alpines, and Mediterraneans) and have been impressed by the way the fortunes of the various European countries have depended primarily upon this great underlying factor, which has subtly yet surely moulded every phase of national life, from manners and ideals to politics and institutions. How the racial interpretation of history clarifies and vitalizes the record of human events! So many mysteries explained; so many riddles solved; such seemingly tangled situations become simple and understandable! And all this because we are at last looking at things in terms of basic reality.
For Americans such a survey of European affairs is of special significance, because America is racially an offshoot of Europe, the vast majority of its population being of European blood. And surely nothing reveals more strikingly the supreme importance of race than the story

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of America itself. If environment rather than heredity were the basic force in human affairs, here was a unique opportunity of proving it. Coming into novel surroundings, the Europeans who migrated to the New World should, according to the environmentalist theory, have rapidly developed into beings vastly different from their kinsmen in Europe. Especially should the differences which marked the newcomers while they were in their European homes have quickly disappeared, their changed environment fusing them into one or more genuine new types. Yet nothing of the kind has occurred. Instead, the races have persisted in the New World as they have in the Old, displaying the same temperaments' and acting in much the same way. As good examples of this, observe the United States, French Canada, and Mexico respectively. The United States, settled overwhelmingly by Nordics, developed a thoroughly Nordic national life, with ideals and institutions plainly corresponding to those which Nordics have always produced wherever they have established themselves. On the other hand, French Canada, being settled by colonists mainly of Alpine French stock, became a typical Alpine land, instantly recognizable as such to anyone acquainted with the Alpine element in France or in other parts of Europe. What a contrast between New England and Quebec! Yet these two regions adjoin one another and are not very different in climate or other natural features. As for Mexico, the Spanish colonists established a society which was originally a faithful counterpart of their racially Mediterranean homeland, and such changes as have since occurred are traceable almost wholly to the influence of the native Indian elements.


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To no country has knowledge of racial realities come as a greater blessing than to America, because lonly our present awakening to their supreme importance promises to save America from perils which were beginning to threaten the whole fabric of its national life. The United States was founded by men of Nordic stock; its institutions, ideals, and culture are typical fruits of the Nordic spirit. These are the things which make "America." Yet only so long as America remains predominantly Nordic in blood will these things endure. History shows conclusively that as the blood of a nation changes, so does every phase of the national life; it proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that if the United States should cease to be a mainly Nordic land, our America would pass away.
Only of late years has this vital truth been widely realized and its full significance appreciated. Until recently the average American had slight knowledge of racial matters. Influenced by the old idea that environment rather than heredity is the chief factor in human affairs, most Americans professed an easy optimism, confident that America could quickly weld all comers, of whatever origin or traditions, into the fabric of American national life. This attitude was strengthened by the way in which, during the greater part of the nineteenth century, millions of immigrants were, generally speaking, thus assimilated.
However, as time passed, American optimism began to waver. The stream of immigration shifted its sources, ceasing to come from Northern and Western Europe (where the old-stock Americans had originated) and flowing instead from Southern and Eastern Europe, or even from Asia. New elements came pouring into America: people

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strange in aspect, and equally strange in habits and ideas. And the new immigrants did not assimilate as their predecessors had done. Unable to absorb these refractory aliens, America began to show symptoms of indigestion, painfully evident in many ways, from politics to social relations.
For a while American public opinion refused to face facts. The old-fashioned optimism was very attractive. It was so inspiring (and so self-flattering!) to believe that America was a marvellous "melting-pot," wherein all dross would be purged away, leaving only fine gold! In fact; those who first raised warning voices against the trend of things were-taken roundly to task, their warnings being stigmatized as "un-American."
Pain, however, is a great persuader, and the pangs of national indigestion presently grew so alarming that the American people had to sit up and do some hard thinking. Forced to face facts, the truth soon became clear and a lot of old notions went into the discard. The first to go was the shibboleth of the "melting-pot." That pet fancy could hold water only while most of old immigrants were North Europeans, people of the same racial stocks as the old colonial population, with the same temperaments, the same inborn impulses, and much the same traditional and cultural packgrounds. Such people could, and did, understand our ideas and institutions; could, and did, sympathize with our ideals; could, and did, rapidly fuse with us and become genuinely part and parcel of ourselves -- if not at once, at least after one or two generations.
Far different has it been with the newer immigrant

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stocks from Southern and Eastern Europe and from Western Asia. These people, sundered from the older stocks not only by widely different traditions and cultures but also by the even deeper gulfs of race, could not, and did not, fit readily into the fabric of American life. Most Americans used to think that, though the original immigrants might remain largely alien in spirit, the next generation, born in America, would be fully assimilated. We now know that, broadly speaking, this has not been the case. A considerable minority of the newer stocks have; to be sure, adapted themselves fairly well to American conditions and American ideals. But the majority even of the American-born members of these stocks remain more or less alien. They have, it is true, mostly lost their ancestral languages and cultures, speak English, and in many cases profess an ardent Americanism. But the pull of heredity remains, and instinctive reactions of temperament and inborn impulse make their attitude toward America necessarily very different from that of the children of immigrants from North European stocks.
The North European comes to us predisposed by his heredity to understand and to sympathize with the civilization that his kinsfolk have built up in America. The South and East European (and still more the Asiatic) are not thus predisposed. Much of our American life is, to these people, not only incomprehensible but positively distasteful. They react instinctively against such things, and thus tend to become, as one writer has well phrased it, "American citizens but not Americans."
Such is the attitude of what has been aptly termed the "New American." The New American is already

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a grave problem that will become graver as time goes on because his attitude tends rapidly to become more positive and aggressive in character. The original immigrant, however incomprehensible or repugnant America may be to him, can content himself with a negative protest, consoling himself by withdrawal into the haven of his particular group, language, and traditions. But his children, discarding such things as they usually do, have no such refuge. Accordingly, they tend to voice their discontent in positive fashion by seeking to change their American environment and mould it to their liking.
However, they soon discover that this is no easy matter. America is not a wilderness plastic to the latest touch; it is a settled country, with traditions extending back three centuries and with a resident population deeply attached to those traditions and determined to develop them along traditional lines. Thus balked in his desires, the New American's discontent increases, and he is apt to broaden his specific dislikes into a general criticism of everything characteristically American, from manners and institutions to the very inhabitants themselves. Here we have the secret of current protests against the "domination" of the older stocks, together with vehement insistence upon America's "hybrid" character. The New American frequently asserts hotly that America is still "in the making," and that there is as yet no real American nationality or civilization. Not long ago a prominent member of an East European racial group stated: "This country is not a nation. It is a gathering together of peoples from every corner of the earth. No one racial group, no matter how early settled in this country, can

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furnish more than one note in this vast symphony of peoples." To hear some of these alien protests, one would think that America had no history, no traditions, no coherent fabric of civilization, but that all of us had been dumped down together at Ellis Island a few short years ago!
The rise of the New American has, however, had one rather startling result: it has roused the Old American. Shocked broad awake, the old stock is for the first time developing a real racial consciousness. Hitherto the average American's racial vision aid not extend much beyond a perception of such obvious racial differences as those which separated him from the negro, the Red Indian, or the Mongolian of Eastern Asia. Now, however, he is fast realizing that "America" means not only certain ideals and institutions but also a racial stock, which must be preserved if the ideals and institutions which that stock has created a.re to endure. To the New American's cry that America is still "in the making," and that it should become a hybrid civilization, the Old American answers grimly that America is basically "made" -- and that it shall not be unmade.
And the Old American is not merely thinking and talking: he is acting as well. The outstanding feature of his awakening self-consciousness is the immigration legislation of the last few years, culminating in the bill which has recently become law. This law sharply restricts the total number of immigrants and limits such immigration as is permitted chiefly to North Europeans. In other words, the American people has made up its mind that America is going to remain predominantly Nordic in

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race, ideals, and institutions. And that decision will stand1 because, despite the immigrant flood of the past generation, the American people is still mainly Nordic in blood. Now that the North European stocks-have begun to realize that they and their ideals are really challenged by the presence of unassimilated alien elements, they are drawing together in instinctive self-defense and will exert a power that will be irresistible. For, in the last analysis, it is the North European stocks which constitute the predominant force in America. The most cursory analysis of our racial make-up proves this in striking fashion. According to the census of 1920, the white population of the United States was a trifle under 95,000,000. Of these fully 40,000,000 were descended from the old colonial stock (which was of course almost wholly Nordic) while another 40,000,000 were of the same or kindred North European stocks, the majority being either assimilated or in rapid process of assimilation. Only 14,000,000 or 15,000,000 of our population belong to the newer elements from Southern and Eastern Europe and the Levantine fringe of Asia. They are thus in a decided minority, which will be unlikely to gain very much at the expense of the older stocks, now that our gates have been firmly closed against further wholesale immigration. In fact, our immigration-restriction laws are the best proof of Nordic racial ascendancy in America. The passage of those laws was fought tooth and nail, not only by the newer immigrant groups but also by very powerful economic influences like the steamship lobby and industrial interests eager for cheap labor. Nevertheless, the old stock had made up its mind that wholesale immigration

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was a menace to America-and the restriction laws went through!
America does not stand alone in this matter. All over the world barriers against wholesale immigration are rising, made necessary by the development of cheap and rapid communication which enables vast masses of population to pour themselves easily into distant lands. More and more, peoples are coming to realize that such immigrant floods are a. deadly menace not only to their living standards but also to their very national integrity and racial existence. Beside such supreme values, what does the momentary economic gain of "cheap labor" amount to?
Furthermore immigration restriction is only one of many new developments which the knowledge of racial values is bringing about in world affairs. Both in their internal politics and their relations with one another, peoples will be influenced more and more by racial considerations. The benefits from such a change of attitude will be enormous. Many false ideas and prejudices which now warp our judgment and hinder progress will be swept away, and we will face our problems with a fresher, keener vision, capable of piercing through surface appearances to the underlying reality. Within each country social ideals and legislation will be increasingly directed to conserving and improving its racial stocks, while across state frontiers men of like.vision will co-operate more easily, the realization, of kinship in blood and temperament serving to diminish differences in nationality. Already we see the process at work on an international scale among two groups of kindred peoples -- the Scandinavians and

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the English-speaking nations. Within both those groups war has become practically unthinkable, while their growing sense of racial affinity will tend to draw them still more closely together.
Even between peoples utterly unlike in blood a frank facing of racial facts will be helpful by showing them precisely how they differ and what are the true grounds
on which their relations should be based. Nothing is more dangerous than illusions. One of the chief evils of our present political thinking is that we tend to oscillate between a narrow nationalism and an impracticable internationalism. Both doctrines ignore or oppose the racial factor, which logically stands between them, cross-cutting national borders, yet. recognizing the divisions which nature has established within the human species. In the long run, nothing is gained by glozing over unwelcome facts or indulging in false sentimentalities. On the contrary, much may be lost, because such an attitude is apt to end in bitter disillusionment, leaving matters worse than they were before. Between peoples, as between individuals, an honest recognition of differences as well as likenesses is the surest basis for a true understanding.
"Know thyself!" Those words of profound wisdom, uttered long ago, were never so significant as they are to-day, when science has revealed to us secrets of life hitherto unknown. Armed with this new knowledge, Man is endowed as never before with power to shape his destiny, and can, if he will, tread his upward path cIear-eyed and unafraid.

 


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