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May 22, 2003 by AK

On the Albert Schweizer syndrom (inspired by Mac Diva). Schweitzer lived in a century when civilizational primitivenes was almost inevitably attributed to, and/or equated with, genetical inferiority. It’s hard to blame him for his condescension to black Africans. Apparently, it was also taken for granted in certain European circles that Slavs were inferior to Germans (=German speakers or Germanic-speaking peoples in general). The attitude reflected later in Hitler’s intention to enslave and subsequently exterminate most Poles and Russians. Auschwitz was originally built for Poles and Russian POWs. There’s curious evidence of this theory going without saying in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt.


“So far as I can trace them”–here he glanced over his telegrams–“the less developed races have been the first to respond to its influence. There are deplorable accounts from Africa, and the Australian aborigines appear to have been already exterminated. The Northern races have as yet shown greater resisting power than the Southern. <...>The Slavonic population of Austria is down, while the Teutonic has hardly been affected.”

“The less developed races” isn’t exactly racist in the literal sense, for “development” can be interpreted in different ways, but racialist overtones are quite discernible. Although this early sci-fi tale was part of the almost required reading of Soviet teenagers, Soviet censors left that piece intact.

Russians aren’t purely Slavic, but other factors in their ethnogenesis — Turkic and Ugro-Finnic peoples — hardly deserved a higher grade from civilized Western Europeans.

                             Who killed John Keats?

                                ‘I,’ says the Quarterly,

                              So savage and Tartarly;

                                ”Twas one of my feats.’

                                 (Byron)

Tartars, a Turkic-speaking people, are Russia’s largest ethnic minority. This people played a crucial role in the history of the Russian nation. “Scratch a Russian, and you’ll discover a Tartar” (a loose translation from — I think — Sergei Averintsev, a renowned authority on old Russian art and history).

There’s also no doubt that more than a few Swedish intellectuals once regarded Finns as a “backward race”. Consider Swedish-made theories of Finns’ Mongolian origins for example.


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