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The Inequality of Human Races [Paperback]

Arthur Gobineau
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1999
Though many people have accused this age of irreligion, there is at least one point of similarity between modem Europe and that pre-C hristian Era to which our present religion is due. Just as in ancient Palestine, there are living amongst us two kinds of prophets the prophets of evil and disaster, and those of bliss, oras Europe likes to call it, of progress. As in Palestine of old the public usually sides with the lighter, the optimistic, the more comfortable sort of people, with the prophets of bliss, while Time and Fate invariably decide in favour of the sterner and gloomier individuals, the prophets of evil. In the world to-day as well as in Palestine of old, the prophets of bliss are the false prophets; the prophets of evil, to-day as of yore, are the true ones. Such a true prophet was Count Arthur de Gobineau. Even his friends those few friends whom he gained at the end of his life still thought him unduly pessimistic. Old Wagner, who introduced him to the German public, thought of brightening his gloom by a little Christian faith, hope, and charity, in order to make the pill more palatable to that great public, which he, the great Stage-manager, knew so well. Other Germans Chamberlain, Schemann, and the Gobineau school poured a great deal of water into his wine, sweetened it with patriotic syrups, adulterated it with their own pleasant inventions which were all too readily swallowed by a gullible and credulous generation. But stem old Gobineau knew the world better than his young and cheerful offspring. He had seen through all that boisterous gaiety of the age, all its breathless labour, all its technical advancement, all its materialistic progress, and had diagnosed, behind it that muddle of moral values which our forefathers have bequeathed to us and which in our generation has only become a greater muddle still. The catastrophe which Gobineau had
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Fertig; Reprint edition (Dec 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865274304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865274303
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,498,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous read 10 Sep 2004
By A Customer
Gobineau argues that the cause of the downfall of civilizations is the mixing of blood of the conquering race with that of the conquered. Ultimately the stronger race becomes so diluted and degraded that it loses sight of its original 'raison d'etre', becomes soft and degenerate, and collapses.
Despite this, he does however acknowledge the inevitability of miscegenation, and even argues that it may be a good thing: that is, from the viewpoint of civilizing the 'inferior' races. According to Gobineau, every civilization has either been directly controlled by Aryan whites or has had a significant Aryan element mixed in it. He argues that climate and environment have no bearing on racial characteristics and that whites are superior in every way to blacks and yellows.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars inequality of human races 21 Oct 2010
By Aisling
this book is very badly published and edited, there are pages that are near impossible to read. there are random letters thrown in everywhere and there is a paragraph that said "number of averagemaximumminimum skullsnumbernumbernumbermeasured.of gra1ns.of grains.of gra1ns.whiteraces.52871097511/mongolsIO8939369malays18818964red results set down", whole paragraphs in the wrong place and key points of the sentences as jumbled letters; "civilization jg inrnmmunirahle, npf pny f fjjj YaRpc;i but also to more englightened nations". all quotations are letter for letter.
i needed this book for my leaving cert history project and the only way i could understand it was reading synopsi from websites, never buying from here again.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Edition 28 July 2010
By Antonis
This review is for the General Books LLC edition.

This edition is terrible. Sentences are mixed, the book is filled with unnecessary punctuation marks, a clear sign of computer error etc. I'm sorry that I have to talk of the edition, but it is truly a disgrace, and it is not worth it. Buy another edition.

As for the book itself, it is an important source for understanding the development of Racialism in Europe and generally in political thought, an idea which led to its climax as the foundation of Nazism.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental to understand Nazi's racial politics 19 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Major work of the French diplomat Joseph Arthur, Comte de Gobineau (1816-1882). He was chief early French proponent of the theory of Nordic supremacy, he was antidemocratic and anti-Semitic. This work, originally entitled "Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines" (1853-55), is regarded along with Nietzsche's "Antichrist" one of the stones of the racial politics in Europe's early XX century. Based on the Darwin theorys, this book does a "pseudo" scientific aproach to the study of the various human species with the intention of comparing them. This book is fundamental to anyone interested in this particular chapter of history, in special if you're interested in the origins of the German Nazi's racial politics.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial 16 Nov 2000
By Jeffrey Leach - Published on
Frenchman Arthur De Gobineau was better known for his fictional novels, but he wrote this historical-philosophical-sociological work in the 1800's as a result of his lengthy travels throughout the world. Gobineau took his observations and attempted to come up with a theory that would describe the disparity he observed amongst the different human races of the world. The result was a multi-volume set entitled, "The Inequality of Human Races". This translation is of the first volume only, but it reveals the main thrust of De Gobineau's theory and gives the reader much information to mull over. I chose to read this book for a European history class, since this book influenced not only German political and social thought, but also reinforced European views towards colonization and internal class struggles.

Gobineau begins his book by looking at popular reasons concerning the collapse of civilizations. Such ideas as bad government, fanaticism and luxury are addressed and dismissed by Gobineau. He believes these are only symptoms of a degeneration of civilizations. His argument ultimately comes down to race mixing as the cause of the decline of civilization. Gobineau argues that civilizations that mix with peoples that are incapable of civilization will destroy that society. In Gobineau's opinion, all problems can be found in "the blood", and these problems can be passed on. Gobineau writes that there are two elements in blood, a male trait, which is concerned with materialistic aspirations, and a female trait, which is concerned with intellectual pursuits. He sees Hindus as having this female trait, which accounts for their intellectual works in religion. Germans have the male trait, a materialistic drive to acquire land and possessions; to go forth and conquer. When these elements mix, the varying degrees can form or destroy civilizations. Gobineau also looks at such things as language, which he says can exhibit traits of civilization. Lesser people can destroy a language by the fusion of their language with the better one.

Gobineau is also an elitist. He looks at French peasants and argues that the vast majority of them are completely uninterested in what constitutes civilization, and are capable of only following the lead of the civilized.

Sound confusing? It is. This book will take multiple readings to tease out everything Gobineau is trying to say. My biggest problem with the book is Gobineau's efforts to reduce the ills of the world to such a troubling argument. Does Gobineau make a case for his subject? Well, yes, if you lived in the nineteenth century.

An interesting book, and one that has had far reaching effects, even up to today. Whatever the reader thinks, Gobineau can't be dismissed as some irrelevant nutcase. His arguments are still being discussed today, which proves the importance of this topic. Good reading for the historian or sociologist.
40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Direct and clear 6 July 2000
By Ubraminos - Published on
A historical document. However its racist content makes it scandalous and it will probably make it unavailable. Is a Rolls-Royce better than a Ferrari? What kind of dog is the best? I dont know but one thing is sure, they are different. Count Gobineau made his choice with human races judging their value by their achievements, but this is not a racist tiresome speech, Gobineau is a good argumentator, and good writer that uses history to prove he is right. The book is a good one with only one problem, its subject. As dangerous books do not exist if you're not a dangerous reader, this essay can be recommended.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT WORTH THE MONEY 1 Feb 2010
By D. Nahmias - Published on
I have little to say on the content of the book. It has been elegantly said elsewhere. I just wanted to warn everyone NOT TO GET THIS EDITION! It is missing whole pages of the original, mixes in footnotes with the actual text, and overall looks like a scan anyone could do. I am angry I spent $15 on something of this poor quality. Yes, they warn you of the typos, but LEAVING OUT PAGES?
51 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Inequality" of organs? 1 July 2004
By Saul Boulschett - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The cover design is sneakily but clumsily tendentious, isn't it: a weaving of the nazi swastika? Come on! Can we have some tolerance for different perspectives without pigeoholing?
A new humanity beyond the petty differences of color and race, forged out of respect and organic acceptance for what each race and culture has to offer to make humanity whole? Who could possibly argue with that? Indeed, if you think the world today has become a better place as a result of mixing of ideas, cultures, and values-in addition to peoples (blood and seeds)-then you should read this book. If you think disagree, then you should also read this book.
This is a dangerous book, but not because it is incendiary per se, but because it contains one man (an aristocrat)'s observation about the world. So where is the danger in that? It lies in the fact that we (post) moderns can no longer penetrate-today, we only know how to dissect-with empathy (not necessarily agreement!) the kind of worldview that would have been held by intellectual aristocrats of the old school..
Thus our inability to understand a particular perspective can only force us to denounce it as elitist rubbish, or worse: (mis)appropriate it to add to our personal arsenal to better defend our own pet peeves about, and still profit by, what is NOT right about the world today.
Regardless of your opinions about the issue of race, if you do not have the detachment and breadth of vision of a historian, then you might as well forget about reading this short but fascinating book. If you are a knee-jerk liberal or a closet-nazi, you will likely come off the worse for having read De Gobineau.
What if the book had been "On the Inequality of the Organs"? Really, if you were in a situation whereby you had to lose one of your organs, would you not pass judgment on your dearly lovable organs and sacrifice one and not another? Suffice to say, the eyes would not be on the top of the list. Even your organs are "unequal" in that sense.
First of all, this is not a "scientific" book, not any more than De Tocqueville's _Democracy in America_ is. It is a book of gentlemanly insights, recorded in a very gentlemanly language. This book and the author belong to the long tradition of true aristocraticism (of which pure scholarship / professorship is but a part) that confidently relied on the subjective power of experience and "reasonably convincing" argument rather than scientific proof. But this tradition is now something we no longer (want to) understand or tolerate as we are now so accustomed to striving to "win," in the most litigious manner, every trivial argument.
Second, De Gobineau wrote this largely in response to the then current opinions about the implications of the new discoveries in science. But, as far as I can see, there is no venom in his views, no petty-minded put-down of other races for the ignominious pleasure of it. Only the reader who has preemptive hatred for the very word "racism" can come away from this book thinking that De Gobineau was a narrow-minded, nasty racist in the narrow, nasty, politically-overcharged sense in which we use the word today.
For want of space, let me mention only the potentially most controversial issue: physical beauty. De Gobineau explains why he accepts the tri-partite division of humanity into three primary races: white, yellow and black; with various amalgamations thereof. The author believes that the white race is blessed with the most pleasing physical beauty and proportion of limbs. In other words, the greatest number of physically beautiful persons is found among the many branches of the white race. He says "the other races approach beauty but never quite attain it."
He also says that Italians are the most beautiful among the European branch of the white race. That is his observation. (And that of many people all over the world, whether expressed secretly, openly, with envy or a grudge.) Today, many consider Italian design to be superior to all others. Is there a connection?
It is not my intention to either defend or ridicule De Gobineau's observations-whether true or absurd. However, in the name of fairness, I must point out (without proper argumentation) that the white race has come to dominate the world today on scale hitherto unimaginable. And this domination is not just in the realms of economy, technology, and values, but more consequentially, in fashion: that is to say, the marketing of physical beauty based on the white ideal.
It remains a curious and undeniable fact that in every civilization throughout history, people preferred lighter skin and sharper facial features even among their own kind. Universally, the sky was the home of the gods, and gold was reserved for ceremonies and the highest offices. Then from over the horizon comes a race of men, with sky-blue eyes and golden hair. Indo-Europeans reveled in the pleasure of seeing the body naked in their art, whereas the Chinese decided it was better left covered with elegant flowing robes. Why?
Whatever biology may have to say about this phenomenon will not likely change what most people prefer innately-aesthetically, prior to any intervention by education and culture.
De Gobineau's claim is simple, if intolerable to some: the phenomenon of race is real, that is to say, observable on a physical level. Different races (and nations) have different attributes, abilities, and endowments, hence different fates. The French, he claims, are the most mixed people in Europe, possibly the world. Thus, they have the same but much attenuated attributes of the original strong races that conquered the weaker. But only in the mixing of races does humanity actually move forward in civilization. And because the French are such a mixed race, they are more capable than any other of producing brilliant ideas that are, however, divorced from the sustaining power of tradition, ideas that are in the long run, hazardous to its own survival. A real yin-yang way of looking at the operation and consequences of racial mixing.
If you have the ability to keep the baby as you throw out the bathwater, you will find that there is a lot to think about here. De Gobineau's straight thinking is a lot more complex, and fair-minded, than we have been conditioned to believe a "racist" to be capable of. Read it and be a more tolerant person.
29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Inequality of the Races. 23 Nov 2004
By New Age of Barbarism - Published on
_The Inequality of the Human Races_ by Count Arthur de Gobineau is a prophetic work from the nineteenth century which shows the differences between the principle racial groups in terms of their civilizing influence. De Gobineau was a French aristocrat and racialist who had an influence on Richard Wagner and is believed to be a proto-Nazi theorist. Like Nietzsche, de Gobineau took a rather grim view of religion as a civilizing influence and argued against "slave-morality". This book expounds his racial theories. The book begins by making the case that racial differences can in fact explain differences in civilization and achievement. De Gobineau argues that neither luxury, effeminacy, misgovernment, fanaticism, nor the corruption of morals is responsible for the decline and destruction of states, civilizations, and peoples, but that instead the mixing of the blood leads to this decline. De Gobineau also argues in a series of successive chapters that racial inequalities are not the result of institutions, the regions in which one lives, or the civilizing influence of Christianity. He then proceeds to outline a series of comparisons between races and explains the differences between civilizations. De Gobineau argues that the white race is more capable of achieving great civilization than either the yellow or the black race, and he explains various intermixtures of these three races. The Aryan influence on high culture cannot be denied, and de Gobineau explains his theory of Aryan supremacy. For de Gobineau, there exist a male and female element within the blood. The male element constitutes a "material current" (Purusha), and the female element constitutes an "intellectual current" (Prakriti). De Gobineau then goes on to place different races into each of these two categories, placing the Chinese first among the male category and the Hindus first among the female category. De Gobineau also discusses differences between beauty and languages among the races. De Gobineau argues that the races are intellectually unequal and that different civilizations are mutually repulsive. De Gobineau ends this book with a recapitulation of the differences between black, yellow, and white races, noting the superiority of the white race and the Aryan family within that race. He also includes a section outlining the great civilizations and their achievements.
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