Translated from the Polish


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Scepticism in the matter of race reached the point when its very existence was questioned. In our scientific literature this doubt was most forcibly expressed by Professor Michal Sobeski: “Race has only psychological meaning. Thanks to a certain resemblance between people in certain conditions, the illusion of race is created”.442 From psychological it is only a step to-the sociological race; this term is used by Professor Floryan Znaniecki, who asserts that as a rule “anthropological race and sociological race are entirely incommensurable”, and “the limits of civilisations have never coincided with racial limits”, since the “reciprocal influences among civilisations and among the inter-mingling races never kept step”.443 The expression “historical races” is also increasingly used — first, it seems, by Le Bon in the sentence: “The majority of the historical races of Europe are still at the formative stage, and it is necessary to know this in order to understand their history”.444

Still other “races” may be invented, depending on the standpoint adopted towards them. And was the ancient division into fishing, pastoral and agricultural peoples not the classical classification of “sociological races”?

The employment by science of the same expression in different meaning is dangerous, because it leads to confusion. For my part I shall continue to use the expression “race” exclusively in the somatic meaning, without regard to the spiritual side of man. I also judge that for the expression of what Le Bon and all his successors have in mind, the expressions: people, nation State, races which created States, would be entirely adequate. If historical, sociological and all psychological manifestations are put together, what is the result if not a system for the organisation of communal life, and so a civilisation? And is not this what scholars have in mind when they use these expressions? If the expressions “psychological race” or “sociological race” were replaced by the word “civilisation” the meaning of their arguments would not be altered a jot. In fact they themselves often use the word as an alternative to the other expressions.

Application of the nomenclature proposed by me to the just observations of Professor Znaniecki, gives the same result in more precise form, namely that race and civilisation are entirely incommensurate. But this is still not exact and precise enough, because there is some commensurability between them; so that the thesis should run: race and civilisation are not entirely commensurable, and the degree of commensurability may vary from extremely slight to extremely high.

It is certain that there is no permanent relation between race and civilisation. And a quite primitive knowledge of history is sufficient to bring realisation that within one civilisation there may be different races — and in one race different civilisations.

At this point it is necessary to deal with the problem whether and to what extent psychological racial features exist. Czekanowski rightly says: “Reckoning with the racial factor in the history of humanity is only a consequence of reckoning with the fact that racial differentiation is not confined to the sphere of morphology”.445 But we shall not now return to those strange views (long since overthrown) that anthropology should marshal history; particularly on the issue of “psychological races” and all “communal psychology”, history has a considerable store of information of its own.

Let us consider the relation of communal psychology to race in the light of various anthropological arguments, but also of historic experience.

We know from experience that Alpine, Dinaric, Iberian and other psychologies are undoubtedly distinguishable, so that racial psychologies exist — they hit one in the eye! A Berliner makes a quite different impression from a Viennese, an inhabitant of Mecklenburg from an inhabitant of the Tyrol, even if somebody has placed them in the same “historical race”. In the same way a Silesian and a Kuyavian are psychologically distinct. The more external (and so superficial) these features are, the plainer they are, so that the generality of people judge the psychology of a given ethnic group by them.

But going deeper into the matter, we notice that these are differences affecting only disposition — differences of temperament, movement, diction. They may really depend on some secondary somatic differences even within the same race. The matter has not yet been investigated. Probably disposition is made up of the manifestations of a certain middle area between the body and soul of man — primitive, very low-level manifestations where the dependence of spirit on the body is still greatest. Perhaps psychology will one day take up this part of life, and develop a new branch of psychology from it, a new specialised science. Then we may be able to account for the “briskness” of the Cracow man and the “phlegm” of the Silesian.

To this field of phenomena and research surely belong such questions as the facts discovered by L. Jaxa Bykowski, that children remain “childish” longer in Great Poland, and are also unresponsive to competition.446 Jan Czekanowski, writing of the application of anthropology in pedagogy, drew attention to the fact that even such small racial differences as those between Great Poland and the south-eastern provinces call for different pedagogical handling. He concluded that differences arise in the nervous system, and from them derive the different dispositions, the “constitutional” differences of individuals.447 Here also belongs fascinating research into the conditions for maximum effort (with their first pull on the ergometer the Nordic team produced the maximum effort).448 Here would also belong inquiries into whether superior or inferior abilities follow upon anthropological differentiation, and the different directions taken by these abilities (towards mathematics and science or towards the arts), provided views appearing on this matter were based on a less loose (almost arbitrary) creation of morphological groups.449 These too are matters of disposition, although already more complicated. They do not affect character, still less attain the heights of the great problems of civilisation.

Disposition and character are mutually independent. Disposition may derive from somatic or psychical factors, whereas character is based on psyche alone. There may be different characters with the same disposition, and the same character may reveal itself in different dispositions. Nevertheless the question of disposition has absolutely nothing to do with civilisation.

In the problem of the existence of psychical racial features the issue is character, at least character, as well as views on good and evil, beauty and ugliness, benefit and harm; for upon them systems of communal life grow up. Do such fundamental psychical features have any connection with race — here is our question. It is a question which splits into two: may they have a connection, or must they have one, i.e. they cannot not have it. In other words, may the psyche accompany race, or is it dependent on it through some inevitable tie directly resulting from the difference of race itself; is then psychological variety the result of race?

For a dozen or more years before the North American Civil War (1861-1865) over the maintenance or abolition of slavery, there was a controversy about precisely these questions. It was argued directly from polyphiletism that the negro must have a psyche lower than the European planter. Types of Mankind (1854), a famous book by joint authors Nott and Gliddon, advanced scientific arguments against negro emancipation, while the renowned Agassiz, declared: “It would be vain for us to seek relationship between eagle and owl, ass and horse”, by which he meant between black and white. In rejecting arguments of this kind, it is also necessary to reject the diametrically opposed view of our contemporary, Sageret Finot to the effect that if negroes had lived for a sufficiently long period of time under the same conditions as white peoples, they would have achieved relatively quickly our intellectual and moral level. But what certainty is there that they would use their abilities to make themselves like us, and not in precisely the opposite direction?

We are led out of these tangles by awareness of the circumstance that no psyche can be formed on anything but ths five categories of being, on our “quincunx”. Now if characters and views on the “quincunx” depended on race we should have dolichocephalic intellects, civilisations of blonds and brunettes, prognathous views, etc., in other words we should immediately jump into the depths of absurdity. Let who will work out 29 civilisations for Deniker’s table; but Alpine, Dinaric, Vistulan and other types of psyche exist only in the field of phenomena of a lower order, and are not distinguishable in the phenomena which create civilisations. There is no Vistulan, Cevennole, Lapponoid, Nordic, sub-Nordic or similar civilisation, on the other hand there is a difference in civilisation between Croat and Serb, although there is no racial difference between them. And another fact confirmed by history is that a given ethnic element may change civilisation without changing racially (the Finns and Magyars).

It follows that the psyche (going deeper than disposition) is in no way a racial matter, and not in the least dependent on somatic circumstances.

The next question presents itself: is the communal psyche constant or changing? History reveals the changeable spirit of associations. Before the sixteenth century the English were not sailors. The greatest pacifists of today, the Swiss, lived mainly by soldiering for money before they became a society of hotel-keepers.450 The Swedes were the extreme militarists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, expanding into countries with which they had nothing to do. Between the middle of the fourteenth and the middle of the sixteenth centuries, Poles were becoming more and more of a bourgeois society. Under King Sigismund the Old there were complaints that almost the whole Cracow province had been bought up by townsmen; the majority of Polish aristocratic families come from towns. And what happened to our towns afterwards?! The Germans too were changeable: until the middle of the eighteenth century they were famous as drunkards, and afterwards for lack of practicability. And how the psychology of the ancient Romans changed!

Peoples of short stature always remain short — but kinds and levels of communal psyche are emphatically changeable. The immutability of psychical racial features was first advanced by Gobineau, and the popularising of this view dates from Le Bon. From him derives the thesis that every people has une constitution mentale aussi fixe que ses caractères anatomiques.451 As he also states in another place that l’histoire d’un peuple dérive toujours de sa constitution mentale,452 which he regards as unchanging — the history of every historic society would be predetermined! But Le Bon did not see this consequence.

The example put forward by him and since repeated a thousand times in all languages, according to which there is rooted in French mentality an urge towards centralisation and the destruction of private initiative in favour of etatism (with the great Revolution carrying on the programme of the old monarchy) does not bear inspection, for French centralism emerged only in time — and up to Louis XI it would be hard to point to any sign of it. Le Bon was altogether unable to develop his ideas logically. Once he identifies race and mentality, saying plainly L’histoire d’un peuple ne dépend pas de ses institutions mais de son caractère, c’est à dire de sa race.453 On another occasion, however, he says that “psychical types are no more lasting than anatomical”454 — so distinguishing the one from the other.

Friedrich von Hellwald in Kulturgeschichte in ihrer natürlichen Entwickung bis zur Gegenwart (third edition 1884) also regards psychical racial features as permanent, and claims that every people has a certain inborn psychological racial character, determining the course of its thought and activity. A spokesman of the most recent science, Pittard, does not admit this unchangeability. In his view at a given time some races may be, for example, more warlike, others more peaceable, but this changes. He says there are peoples who die of hunger in a place without attempting to expand out of it,455 but he does not say that such a people could not change.

Thus if something permanent is discernible in the mentality of a race, it does not derive from somatics and has only a circumstantial, not a causal connection with race. There is a highly significant example: what is there that is permanent in the race to which the ancient Egyptians belonged and to which today the Nubians, their rightful descendants, belong?456 Le Bon himself, an advocate of the unconditional dependence of psyche on race, drew attention to this particular racial identity; he was convinced that none of her conquerors had left their blood in Egypt457 (which indeed must have required a miracle). Why then has the level of the Egyptian psyche fallen to the Nubian level, and why is it of not at all the same kind?

Equally popular is the case of those other descendants of the creators of a great civilisation, the nomadic Arabs. But not all are nomadic. In Arabia itself, the Arabs form three strata — nomads, farmers and town-dwellers.458 Where then is the psychical stability? In the Tiemsen country “every year there is a growing number of Arab and Berber farmers, even of nomads drawn here from distant southern camping-grounds or the steep slopes of the Atlas. New vineyards, cornfields, orchards, modem cattle-farms are always appearing; the Arab is foresakmg his time-honoured wooden plough and replacing it with French or American agricultural implements, increasingly forgetful of nomadic life”. On the road between Tiemsen and the western frontier of Algeria “the nomads, inspired by the example and success of whites, are evidently beginning to settle and work the land, for in a few places we saw small Arab plantations with vines, olives and pomegranates”.459

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Trans-Baikal Buryats began to adopt settled ways of life. In the summer they have their old transportable yourts, in winter they put up little three-windowed houses for themselves, even although they often still live in yourts alongside the houses.460

Or another matter. There is a general belief that the Chinese was the worst bureaucracy in the world. Yet it depends when, for that bureaucracy dates only from the Mongol invasion.

What, in face of all this is to be regarded as permanent and unchanging in the character of a given society? Here too the supplementary question when? must be posed. One may speak of the psychology of a given society at a given time, but not in general, without reference to time. Thus race brings nothing psychologically unchanging to history, and communal psychology is not in itself unchanging.

At a given time certain psychological features of certain races exist, without, however, being a consequence of race. It is all that can be said on this subject.

The illusion of the identity of race and civilisation arose because civilisation can only spread by proximity; it cannot strengthen and establish itself except by conquering an area of some size with a compact population. It spreads to neighbours and on to the neighbours of those neighbours; there is no other way. A Japanese could not, for example, acquire the civilisation born in Monte Cassino, nor the soldiers of Mieszkos and Boleslases [Polish Xth and XIth c. kings] become acquainted with samurai civilisation. This geographical consideration is unconditionally binding. Individuals who by travel acquire a civilisation new to them are able to graft it on to their home country only if they form and live as a group.

Modern shipping improvements have produced the idea of “oversea neighbours”.

Civilisation cannot emerge without its own territory. Even the humblest beginnings require some territory on which the given system of communal life may be applied. And since as a rule in a given area the resident population is compact and ethnically uniform the illusion is created of a causal connection between civilisation and race. But for civilisation territory is only scaffolding. In the same area different civilisations may develop chronologically and contemporaneously. Northern Africa once belonged to Roman civilisation, Spain was Arab territory. On Polish territory four civilisations (Latin. Byzantine, Turanian and Jewish) exist at present, and in India there are even six (Brahmin, Turanian, Arab, Latin, Jewish, Chinese).

Civilisation embraces peoples of a given race in a given territory, but is not itself causally related to any race or any territory.461 Mass emigration may transfer a given civilisation to new territory. In this way Latin civilisation, and Jewish also, have spread all over the world. Immigration may even change the civilisation of a given area. If the immigrants arrive with a strong consciousness of possessing a high-level civilisation of their own; immigrants whose civilisation is slight after a certain time adopt the civilisation of the new country.

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