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About this book

The study of modern racism has tended to treat anti-Semitism and anti-black racism as separate and unconnected phenomena. This innovative study argues that a full understanding of the origins and development of racism in Europe after 1870 needs to examine the structure and interrelationships between the two dominant forms of prejudice. Contrary to expectation. anti-black racism was not confined to the colonial maritime nations of western Europe, but pepetrated even the rural societies of central and eastern Europe. Likewise, anti-Semitism could flourish even in the almost total absence of Jews.

MacMaster explores the conditions under which modern political movements, faced with the crisis of modernity, began to draw upon and mobilise the negative stereotypes that, through the development of the mass media, had become almost universal features of popular culture. By weaving together the changing spatial and temporal dimensions of anti-Semitic and anti-black prejudice the study provides a fresh and more global framework for understanding modern racism.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Roots of Modern Racism

Introduction: The Roots of Modern Racism

Abstract
This book is not centred on the theory of ‘race’, but explores, within a historical framework, the development of racism within the changing context of European society between 1870 and the end of the twentieth century. However, certain theoretical perspectives underlie the overall structure and interpretation, and we begin with these in order to make explicit the argument that is being presented.
Neil MacMaster

1870–1914

Frontmatter

1. The White Race: Degeneration and Eugenics

Abstract
One of the paradoxes of European racism is that its language seems to be centred on, or engrossed with, the negative characteristics of the Other, blacks (libidinous, dirty, lazy…) or Jews (grasping, parasitical, cunning…), whereas the reverse side of the coin, the construction of European ‘whiteness’, is strangely absent. The overwhelming concern with the moral and physical features of the Other means that the European is occluded; within most texts white identity and its essential characteristics are implicit, taken for granted, and thus become the unspoken norm, the measuring stick, from which all other racial groups deviate. The invisibility of whiteness, its unstated nature, derives from the fact that in Western culture, through language and representation, whites have an almost universal and central role as the standard of biological and aesthetic excellence. Few Christians take conscious note, let alone realize the significance, of the fact that the predominant Western image of Jesus Christ, a Jewish Palestinian, is of a blue-eyed Aryan, with long, fair tresses. It is only in recent years that scholars have begun to explore more systematically the historical and psychological processes through which ‘white’ identity has been constructed. This ‘self-reflection’ by white Europeans is central to an understanding of how racism has historically functioned: as Richard Dyer comments: ‘As long as race is something only applied to non-white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm. Other people are raced, we are just people.’1
Neil MacMaster

2. Blackness Without Blacks

Abstract
In this chapter we examine how it was possible for Europeans to have a racialized view of the black between c.1870 and 1914, even though the vast majority had had no direct contact with or ever seen a black person. On the whole our purpose will not be to examine in any detail scientific racist thought, or the works of physical anthropologists on the ‘Negro’, but rather the question of how and why anti-black stereotypes achieved such a remarkable power and universality in European culture and consciousness, and a key role in the construction of racial hierarchies. By the nineteenth century the black represented the paradigm of racial Otherness, the marker of that which was most physically, mentally and culturally different from the ‘civilized’ European. As the anthropologist Professor W. H. Flower noted in 1880: ‘The African negro has, on account of his structure being better known than that of any other of the lower races, always been taken as the antithesis of the white man of Europe.’2 Although anti-Semitic stereotypes, as we shall see, were equally entrenched within European culture, the black was the automatic touchstone of all that was biologically or somatically dissimilar, at the lowest level in the hierarchy of racial types, the bottom rung in a descending ladder of primitiveness, beyond which one was no longer a human being.
Neil MacMaster

3. The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism

Abstract
Some historians perceive hatred of the Jews to be an ‘eternal’ racism that, in spite of minor shifts in its formulation, can be traced back over two millennia as a central and abiding component of European culture. While such lines of continuity certainly can be found (for example in the mythical view of the Jew as deicide) what such an essentializing approach tends to overlook is the extent to which anti-Jewish prejudice itself changed radically according to the historic context. How a Catholic artisan and guildsman of fourteenth-century Toledo or Prague, situated within a feudal and pre-industrial age, looked toward his Jewish neighbours was grounded in a total world-view that was quite unlike the perceptions of a factory worker of the late nineteenth century, living within a capitalist and secular age. Through the many centuries of European history, long phases of quite stable and relatively unchanging anti-Jewish patterns of prejudice can be contrasted with more dramatic watersheds or short periods of crisis, when the traditional archetypes have tended to fragment under stress and pass through a major restructuring and reformulation, before those new ways of seeing, in turn, became stable and enduring. Such a point of transition emerged during the 1870s and gave rise to a type of anti-Semitic racism that was to remain dominant in its new formulations down to the present.
Neil MacMaster

1914–1945

Frontmatter

4. Anti-Black Racism in an Age of Total War

Abstract
During the First World War both Britain and France recruited an enormous number of ‘colonial’ or ‘native’ workers, soldiers and sailors from their respective Empires and moved them into the European theatre of operations. France, which had a long tradition of imperial native regiments, and which was most desperate to find replacement manpower for the millions of Frenchmen called to the front, had the least hesitation in calling on the ‘patriotism’ of its subject peoples. In all, France mobilized some 300 000 colonial workers and 600 000 soldiers from Senegal, Indo-China, Madagascar, China, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Likewise, the British deployed 138 000 Indian troops, as well as workers from the West Indies, West Africa, South Africa and China. If this number is added to the 200 000 black labourers and soldiers brought in by the US Army, then the total of black and Asian men in Europe was in the region of one and a half million. Europeans were confronted directly, within the boundaries of their own societies, with an unprecedented number of ‘racially distinct’ people and it is this contact which provides a rich source of historical evidence about early ‘race-relations’. Nor was contact restricted to the War of 1914–18 since, although France, Britain and the USA repatriated the majority of colonials and black GIs after the Armistice, many tens of thousands stayed on and created the first large ethnic minority settlements, both in ports from Cardiff to Marseilles, as well as in French industrial towns from Lyons and Paris to Lille and Metz. This process of post-war settlement led to the first manifestations of large-scale, popular racism. For example, the demobilization of British soldiers and sailors coincided with a wave of race riots in British ports in 1919, while the French occupation of the Rhine with black colonial troops during 1919–24 stirred up an extremely vicious racist campaign in Germany.
Neil MacMaster

5. Anti-Semitism in the Nazi Era

Abstract
Any investigation of racial anti-Semitism in Europe during the second quarter of the twentieth century inevitably has to come to terms with what is probably the most intractable and most controversial of historical debates, that relating to the Holocaust. The recent libel action by the British historian David Irving, a ‘Holocaust denier’, against Deborah Lipstadt, is just one example of the way in which the issue of the mass killing of the Jews continues to arouse heated controversy, and to impact on contemporary ideological and political issues. A single chapter cannot possibly do more than to touch upon this immense and complex field: the approach taken here is to be deliberately selective and to present a particular interpretation, without giving full space to the countervailing arguments or theories. Inevitably, attention will focus on Germany as the epicentre of state racism, a genocidal strategy that was ‘exported’ to most of Continental Europe by the Third Reich. The structure of German anti-Semitic ideology is explored through Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a typical ‘populist’ summation of inter-war racism.
Neil MacMaster

1945–2000

Frontmatter

6. Racism in the Age of Labour Immigration, 1945–1974

Abstract
The Second World War, and the recognition of the appalling reality of the Holocaust, marked a major turning point in the history of racism. The biological theories of race that had been so widely shared in Europe for two centuries were exposed by mainstream science as lacking in validity. This revisionism went hand-in-hand with a post-Holocaust awareness that the ‘myth’ of race had led, and could continue to lead, to inter-group hatred, discrimination, and large-scale violence and systematic murder. After 1945 any debate on the issue of ‘race’ was informed, whether explicitly or implicitly, by the consciousness of the hideous reality of genocide, and this universal awareness meant that the kind of ‘innocence’ with which the validity of race-science had been taken for granted in the century before the Nazi phenomenon was no longer possible. The 1945 break in the paradigm of race-science functioned at various, mutually reinforcing levels. Firstly, the old science that was grounded in a belief in the concrete reality of absolutely distinct and separate races was fundamentally challenged by a majority consensus of anthropologists, sociologists and geneticists who demonstrated the radical flaws within earlier forms of race thinking. Secondly, there was a political break in that post-1945 European governments created a ‘post-hoc’ legitimation for the war against Nazism, on the grounds that it was necessary to defeat a regime capable of the horrors of the ‘Final Solution’. Having recently sacrificed millions of lives in the war against fascism, a sacrifice of those who were only recently dead and who were mourned and commemorated on a large scale through new monuments, parades and ritual, the post-war political order could not readily tolerate a resurgence of racism. Thirdly, there was a widespread moral revulsion against genocide, the full horror of which was only gradually revealed to the public through film and print, which meant that any attempts to openly support racism immediately brought into play associations with the gas ovens and triggered a powerful, hostile response.
Neil MacMaster

7. The ‘New Racism’ and National-Populism

Abstract
In the immediate post-war era the official rhetoric of anti-fascist victory, both in Western and Eastern Europe, combined with the powerful challenge to scientific, biological racism, created optimism among contemporaries that the evil of racism was definitively in retreat and would eventually be eliminated through education, enlightened progress or socialism. In general, the period 1945–74, one of unprecedented economic growth, low unemployment and solid welfare-state provision, was not conducive to fascist or racist movements, which remained miniscule, fragmented and underground. In spite of the fact that unregulated immigration was generating deep-seated problems that would erupt later into extensive racism, explicitly racist and fascist movements remained weak and politically marginalized during the third quarter of the twentieth century. Typically, the vote for extreme right-wing racist parties, like the German National Democratic Party (NPD), the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the British National Front (NF) or the French Front National (FN) rarely reached 5 per cent in local, regional or national elections. However, the last quarter-century, 1975–2000, witnessed a strong resurgence of racism.
Neil MacMaster

The ‘New Racism’ and National-Populism

Abstract
In the immediate post-war era the official rhetoric of anti-fascist victory, both in Western and Eastern Europe, combined with the powerful challenge to scientific, biological racism, created optimism among contemporaries that the evil of racism was definitively in retreat and would eventually be eliminated through education, enlightened progress or socialism. In general, the period 1945–74, one of unprecedented economic growth, low unemployment and solid welfare-state provision, was not conducive to fascist or racist movements, which remained miniscule, fragmented and underground. In spite of the fact that unregulated immigration was generating deep-seated problems that would erupt later into extensive racism, explicitly racist and fascist movements remained weak and politically marginalized during the third quarter of the twentieth century. Typically, the vote for extreme right-wing racist parties, like the German National Democratic Party (NPD), the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the British National Front (NF) or the French Front National (FN) rarely reached 5 per cent in local, regional or national elections. However, the last quarter-century, 1975–2000, witnessed a strong resurgence of racism.
Neil MacMaster
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