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What Contribution Has Science made To the Development of Racism?

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Introduction

Constructions of 'Race' in Culture and Politics What Contribution Has Science made To the Development of Racism? At the time of writing this essay, the British press is full of stories concerning 'race' within British party politics. Conservative MP John Townend made a statement in which he claimed that post war immigration was a threat to Britain's 'homogeneous Anglo-Saxon culture' and was threatening to turn us into a 'mongrel race'. Conservative leader William Hague made him apologise for this, but interestingly enough did not expel him. There was public mud slinging regarding which politicians signed an anti-racist pledge, whilst in the same week, former Labour activist, Marc Wadsworth claimed that Britain's African-Caribbean communities are "losing out to increased Asian influence in the corridors of power" and that they are "not given the same opportunities as their Asian counterparts" (The Voice, April 30th 2001). With the majority of politicians utilising 'racial' rhetoric, it seems that ideas of race are still held by many. ...read more.

Middle

During this period we see the development of an ideology that the origins of nations and states are not political, but rather naturalised by linguistic and 'natural' criteria. "What burst upon the scene in 1842 and 1859 through the works of Spencer and Darwin was a movement that treaded political activity as subject to the same rules of evolution that applied to the natural biological world and thus provided a scientific basis for decrying all those aspects of the Greco-Roman polity and Christian civilisation that were out of step with modernity" (Hannaford, 1996, p.p.275-6). Thus where, prior to the Enlightenment, religion had once 'explained' inequalities amongst people(s), ideas of natural laws, evolution and the 'survival of the fittest' replaced religious ideology. "What was left to racism was merely to postulate a systematic, and genetically reproduced distribution of such material attributes of human organism as bore responsibility for characteroligical, moral, aesthetic or political traits. Even this job, however, had already been done for them by respectable and justly respected pioneers of science, seldom if ever listed among the luminaries of racism" (Back & Solomos, 2001, p.218). ...read more.

Conclusion

of overdeveloped sensuality and hence a crude, terrifying power (just as the mob on the loose), and the white race as in love with freedom, honour and everything spiritual" (Back & Solomos, 2001, p.218). Gobineau did not envisage social factors as deterministic in producing inequalities. He believed that the life chances of an individual were determined by inherited qualities and that these qualities were distributed unevenly amongst scientifically observable 'races'. Gobineau believed that the white Aryan race was superior to others and that those 'others' could not improve themselves through social organisation because they were 'programmed' to be 'inferior'. The publication of Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' in 1859, lent support to Gobineau's work. Darwin studied the natural world and found that species evolved to meet the criterion of survival within their environment. Species that did not evolve became extinct. This became known as 'natural selection'. The period of 1870-1914 mixed the ideas of Volk with development in the human sciences to become the main era of racialised thought and the development of scientific racism. ...read more.

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