Scientific Racism and War of Extermination


The steering mind behind the British colonial elites, the family of Rothschilds, were believers in Talmud, which elevated Jews to the supreme race and permitted discrimination of non- Jews, especially Christians. When Lionel Rothschild was asked one day what he and Benjamin Disraeli talked about he replied: “The Race as usual”, and after the birth of Lionel's son Leopold in 1845 Disraeli congratulated him adding “I hope he will prove worthy of his true and sacred race.”132 Thus, in the late eighteen and nineteen century Britain, a number of economists and thinkers, who were associated with the City of London, began to form theories that meant to justify inferior treatment of other races, which, in long term, meant to serve the commercial interests of the British colonial elites. Among them were Jeremy Bentham, Oxford graduate and trained lawyer and his student James Stuart Mill, who took very mathematical and statistical approach to society. They promoted the principle called utilitarianism which was summarized in a dictum: “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”133 Such a philosophy tended to make persons, just as much as things, the object of use and in practise served the rising industrial capitalist class in Britain who exploited men, women and children in British factories in the age of industrial revolution. Bentham's theories were so appreciated in London that his mummified head went on display in the University College London (UCL).

Bentham's friend and even more influential thinker, Adam Smith, a graduate of Balliol College in Oxford, came up with the concept that gradually underpinned the entire colonial policy of the City's merchant elites. Adam Smith travelled as a young man around Europe and came to know several influential Freemasons and thinkers including Benjamin Franklin, Helvétius and most notably François Quesnay, the head of the Physiocratic School praised for being the first to proclaim the doctrine of “Free Trade” (laissez-faire).134 Upon his return to Britain, Adam Smith produced in 1776 his major work An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which is usually referred to by its shortened title the Wealth of Nations. An important theme that persisted throughout his work was the idea that the economic system will regulate itself automatically when left with substantial freedom, an idea referred to as the “invisible hand”. He was therefore a strong opponent of the government's interference in trade and claimed “It is the highest impertinence and presumption… in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense... They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society...“135 Adam Smith's doctrine of FREE TRADE was quoted by various liberal politicians in Great Britain and provided justification for the British policy of unrestricted economic expansion.

The philosophy of Adam Smith was supplemented by the economic thought of Thomas Malthus, a graduate of Cambridge University and since 1805 a professor of history and political economy at the East India Company's college in Haileybury, Hertfordshire, the first holder of such an academic office. Malthus' thinking was influenced by Richard Price, a Freemason, member of Royal Society and main agitator for eighteen century republican revolution in America and France. Inspired by Price's “Essay on the Population of England” of 1780, Thomas Malthus wrote An Essay On The Principle Of Population, published in 1798, where he argued that populations increase more rapidly than food supplies. So, he claimed, there would always be more people in the world than can be fed, and wars and disease would be necessary to kill off the extra population. He argued that “Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.”136 Malthus proposed the gradual abolition of poor laws, a system of poor relief that developed in Tudor times after the dissolution of monasteries, by gradually reducing the number of persons qualifying for relief. Relief, in his view, would come from private charity.137

The concepts of Jeremy Bentham, Adam Smith or Thomas Malthus were useful to the British capitalists but the British elites went a step further starting to take interest in theories that sought justification of racial differences in science. This trend began with a thesis presented by Dr Robert Knox, a celebrated anatomist of the University of Edinburgh. For many years Dr Knox studied the corpses of the hanged criminals which could be used legally for anatomical dissection. The body-snatchers plundered graves to find fresh corpses which they could sell to medical schools. In Edinburgh, Burke and Hare, the two Irishman who had come to Scotland to work as navvies on the building of the Union Canal, decided to make quick money and embarked on a series of murders preying on Edinburgh’s poorest communities and than selling the bodies of their victims to Dr Knox. When one of the lodgers reported them the police, Hare was given immunity in return for testifying against Burke whilst Dr Knox was cleared of all the involvement in the case.138 Many people found it hard to believe that such a prominent anatomist had failed to notice that the bodies he purchased had all undergone violent death and had clearly not been recovered from graves. As the public anger was mounting, Dr Knox fled to London in disgrace but resurfaced in 1840-ties with a publication of his best-selling work, The Races of Men. Therein he asserted that anatomically and behaviourally, "race is everything: literature, science, art, in a word: civilization depends on it". Knox asserted that each race was naturally fitted for a particular environment and could not endure outside of it. Eventually, he arrived at the concept of the 'WAR OF EXTERMINATION' between the races seeing racial conflict as inevitable and ending in extermination of one race and prevailing of the other.

In Philadelphia, another graduate of Edinburgh University, Samuel George Morton, engaged in racial research by collecting sculls of different races in order to draw conclusions about the differences in men. Not having the sufficient examples to exemplify each group he embarked on a mission to collect crania from all over the world. Morton published his findings in 1839 in his major work Crania Americana, which contained about 78 illustrations of sculls. The book presented a division of mankind into five fundamental races: the Caucasian race, the Mongolic race, the Malay race, the American race and the Ethiopian race, which division he based on the racial classification of humans made in 1779 by German anatomist and Foreign Member of the Royal Society,139 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. He then explained how each race poses a particular character related to its scull shape. Using his craniometric evidence in conjunction with his analysis of anthropological literature then available, Morton argued in favour of a racial hierarchy with the Caucasian or white race being at the top of intellectual abilities and Negro race being at the bottom.140 141 In the United States, Samuel Morton's theories of the superiority of the Caucasian/ white race were beneficial to the colonial masters and plantation owners, especially in the south. The Charleston Medical Journal noted at Samuel Morton's death in 1851 that "We of the South should consider him as our benefactor for aiding most materially in giving to the negro his true position as an inferior race."142

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132 John Cooper, “Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim”, Jewish Historical Studies, Vol. 43 (2011), pp. 125-139 »

133 Comment on the Commentaries and A Fragment on Government, ed. J.H. Burns and H. L. A. Hart, in the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham (London, 1977), p. 393 »

134 Gianni Vaggi, The Economics of Francois Quesnay (London: Macmillan, 1987), p. 1 »

135 Adam Smith, The Wealth Of Nations, Book II (1776), Chapter III, p. 346, para. 36 »

136 Thomas R. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter VII (1798), p. 61 »

137 Malthus, An essay..., Chapter V (1798), pp. 39-45 »

138 Ben Johnson, “Burke and Hare, infamous murderers and grave-robbers”, Historic UK, The History and Heritage Accommodation Guide »

139 Royal Society, “Fellow details” »

140 See Samuel George Morton, Crania Americana or A Comparative View of the Sculls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America: To which is pre-fixed An Essay on the Varieties of the Human Species (Philadelphia: John Penington, Chestnut Street; London: James Madden & Co. Leaden Hall Street, 1839) »

141 David Hurst Thomas, Scull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, And The Battle for Native American Identity (Basic Books, 2001), p. 38-41 »

142 C. Bates, “Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian atropometry”, in P. Robb, The Concept of race in South Asia (Delhi, University Oxford Press), p. 225 »