Friday, February 6, 2009

Victorian Racism

The Comparative Worth of Different Races from the Heredity Genius (1869), pioneering eugenicist Francis Galton makes several references to the relative superiority of Europeans compared to what he called 'the lower races'. Although Galton was a gifted statistician, he was a significant contributor to the development of racist ideology.

Galton's work appears online HERE.

Gatlon states "the number among the Negroes of those whom we should call half-witted men, is very large" saying Negores are"so childish, stupid, and simpleton-like, as frequently to make me ashamed of my own species".

Prominent Victorians—like George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, Harold Laski, Charles Dickens—supported the idea of racial purity.

Many hold that the Victorians were the proto-type for the Nazis and set the ground work in motion for them to build upon.

With respect to Victorian Era holocausts, Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of India in 1876. It would be the same year famine broke out in southern India that claimed 5.5 million lives. Lytton wrote,
"The grim doctrines of Thomas Malthus... still held great sway over the white rajas. Although it was bad manners to openly air such opinions in front of the natives in Calcutta, Malthusian principles, updated by Social Darwinism, were regularly invoked to legitimize Indian famine policy at home in England".

Lytton’s administration pushed the Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 in England prohibiting private relief and charitable donations for starving Indians illegal & threatened imprisonment. In 1878, he pushed the Vernacular Press Act that gave him the power to confiscate the press and paper of a local language newspaper publishing 'seditious material'. There was a public outcry in Calcutta led by the Indian Association.