Paul Magnussen's Reviews > The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy

The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy by T. Lothrop Stoddard
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really liked it

This book was not quite what I expected.

Stoddard’s work, alongside that of Madison Grant, is frequently cited as planting the banner of Scientific Racism in the United States. Consequently, the tone of the book quite surprised me.

Racism

To what extent was Stoddard a racist?

To answer this question we need that seldom-found thing, a definition of racism that withstands more than momentary scrutiny. Thomas Sowell provides a useful one¹:

‘ “Racism” is a term not only used very loosely by many, but also a term for which a more precise definition is not easy to achieve. In various usages, the term applies to the ideas of (1) those who have an animosity to those of another race, (2) those who believe that people of another race are genetically inferior, (3) those who believe in discriminating against people of another race, out of sheer self-interest, and (4) those who believe that people of another race or ethnic group are less capable, or have other undesirable traits, as of a given time, even if for non-genetic reasons. Those who believe all these things at the same time provide the clearest examples of racism. But all four notions need not go together and often do not.’

Stoddard doesn’t seem to belong in categories (2) or (4): for instance, consider the following:

‘Certainly no one has ever denied the Chinaman’s extraordinary economic efficiency. Winnowed by ages of grim elimination in a land populated to the uttermost limits of subsistence, the Chinese race is selected as no other for survival under the fieriest conditions of economic stress. At home the average Chinese lives his whole life literally within a hand’s breadth of starvation. Accordingly, when removed to the easier environment of other lands, the Chinaman brings with him a working capacity which simply appalls his competitors.’

It’s true that the ravings of Madison Grant’s preface to the present book would not seem out of place in Mein Kampf — indeed, Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race was the first non-German book ordered to be reprinted by the Nazis when they took power in Germany, and Adolf Hitler wrote to Grant, ‘The book is my Bible’.

By contrast, however, Stoddard himself seems quite rational.

Stoddard’s thesis

Stoddard’s thesis can be simply stated, and indeed is so stated by him:

‘Wherever the white man goes he attempts to impose the bases of his ordered civilization. He puts down tribal war, he wages endless combat against epidemic disease, and he so improves communications that augmented and better food supplies minimize the blight of famine. In response to these life-saving activities the enormous death-rate which in the past has kept the colored races from excessive multiplication is falling to proportions comparable with the death-rate of white countries. But to lower the colored world’s prodigious birth-rate is quite another matter. The consequence is a portentous increase of population in nearly every portion of the colored world now under white political sway. In fact, even those colored countries which have maintained their independence, such as China and Japan, are adopting the white man’s life-conserving methods and are experiencing the same accelerated increase of population.

Now what must be the inevitable result of all this? It can mean only one thing: a tremendous and steadily augmenting outward thrust of surplus colored men from overcrowded colored homelands. Remember that those homelands are already populated up to the available limit of subsistence. Of course present limits can in many cases be pushed back by better living conditions, improved agriculture, and the rise of modern machine industry such as is already underway in Japan. Nevertheless, in view of the tremendous population increases which must occur, these can only be palliatives. Where, then, should the congested colored world tend to pour its accumulating human surplus, inexorably condemned to emigrate or starve? The answer is: into those emptier regions of the earth under white political control.’

Presumably Stoddard feels this to be a Bad Thing (otherwise why write the book?), but unless I’ve missed it, he doesn’t actually say so. Possibly he thinks it’s so obvious it doesn’t need saying. Again, if he bears any animosity to the nonwhite races (by which I mean wishing them ill), I must have missed where he says so. Stoddard, then, presumably belongs in Sowell’s category (3).

Of course, the bit about minimizing the blight of famine would have enchanted those who had to deal with (for example) the results of the British East India Company’s replacement of Bengali subsistence crops with opium; but unfortunately they’re unavailable for comment. Whether Stoddard was unaware of things like this (he had a Ph.D. in History) or simply chose to ignore them is not clear. But he is disarmingly frank about other matters that have since been swept under the carpet, some not without topical relevance:

‘At Versailles the European Powers showed unequivocally that they had no intention of relaxing their hold upon the Near and Middle East. By a number of secret treaties negotiated during the war the Ottoman Empire had been virtually partitioned between the victorious Allies, and these secret treaties formed the basis of the Versailles settlement. [...]

But there was another side to the shield. During the war years the Allied statesmen had officially proclaimed times without number that the war was being fought to establish a new world-order based on such principles as the rights of small nations and the liberty of all peoples. These pronouncements had been treasured and memorized throughout the East. When, therefore, the East saw a peace settlement based, not upon these high professions, but upon the imperialistic secret treaties, it was fired with a moral indignation and a sense of outraged justice never known before.’

Summary

In short, whatever you think of the author’s assumptions and stance, this book is both historically important and very interesting to read.

References

1. Sowell, Thomas (1998). Conquests and Cultures: An International History, p. 364. (Basic, ISBN 0-465-01399-6)
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 15, 2018 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Lichno (new)

Lichno Muzi "Chinaman" is a racial slur. Stoddard is a racist. Of course, since it's not at your expense, you might have missed it.


Paul Magnussen The COD defines slur as “an insinuation or allegation”. Clearly Chinaman contains no allegation beyond that of nationality: it was a perfectly normal word in Stoddard’s day, now tainted (like many others) by association with the era in which it was used.

I agree that Stoddard may well have been a racist, by most definitions; but not that anything particular is implied by this terminology.


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