Chapter 7 of The Descent of Man is called “On the Races of Man.”
There is no doubt that Darwin thought evolution applied to human beings, and that all humans descended from a common ancestry and species. But he also thought that there were distinct races or sub-species of man (Darwin 1874: 162, 176).
Darwin is of course worshipped by much of the modern Liberal and even radical Left, but his actual views about evolution and human beings would probably get him arrested for “hate speech” in much of Western Europe.
Shockingly for the modern Left, Darwin also accepted racial differences:
“There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,—as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body, the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the skull, and even in the convolutions of the brain. But it would be an endless task to specify the numerous points of difference. The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatization and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans, who live under the same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea.” (Darwin 1874: 163–164).So Darwin clearly did believe in racial differences, although he tended to prefer the term “sub-species” to race (Darwin 1874: 176).
“The variability or diversity of the mental faculties in men of the same race, not to mention the greater differences between the men of distinct races, is so notorious that not a word need here be said. So it is with the lower animals. All who have had charge of menageries admit this fact, and we see it plainly in our dogs and other domestic animals.” (Darwin 1874: 26).
How long will it be before the insane Cultural Left demands that we ban Darwin’s works, tear down Darwin’s statues, or ban the teaching of evolution?
For Darwin, quite clearly, thought that there were general, or average, differences in certain cognitive, mental and behavioural traits between the races. So did Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s friend and scientific colleague, who was a famous 19th century British Liberal (see Huxley 1895 : 66–67).
Contrary to the modern blank-slate Left, these views were normal up until about the 1950s, and even normal and widely believed on the Left itself (though, of course, many people also did have some absurd and false ideas on the issue).
For example, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed in the reality of races (even if they seem to have been confused and slipped into Lamarckian evolutionary ideas at times), and so did many of the Marxists who led the Socialist Party of America such as Ernest Untermann and Victor L. Berger. And even the radical leftist anarchists Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (Proudhon 1869: 221–222) and Mikhail Bakunin noted racial differences (see Bakunin’s book God and the State: “The idealists, all those who believe in the immateriality and immortality of the human soul, must be excessively embarrassed by the difference in intelligence existing between races, peoples, and individuals” [Bakunin 1910: 46, n.]).
Bertrand Russell – who was one of the most radical (but non-Marxist) Leftists/Liberals of his day – thought that racial differences existed (Russell 1929: 266).
John Maynard Keynes, too, also accepted race was real (Toye 2000: 151).
In one respect, Libertarians like Thomas Sowell and Murray Rothbard – though their economics and general political beliefs are flawed and charlatanry – were correct when they noted that much of the early 20th-century progressive Left did in fact endorse the view that race was real and racial differences were real (see here and here).
So were the 20th-century progressive Leftists correct when they thought that race was real and some evolutionary racial differences in average mental traits were real?
The answer is: yes, they probably were, and now the genetic evidence is accumulating rapidly from science, even if there is a desperate attempt to suppress it:
(1) For objective classifications of races based on differences in “tandem repeats” or DNA repeats, see:When the Leftist media is increasingly faced with such evidence of the objective reality of race, there are horrified cries that this “vindicates” the far right.
Rosenberg, N. A., J. K. Pritchard, J. L. Weber, H. M. Cann, K. K. Kidd, L. A. Zhivotovsky, and M. W. Feldman. 2002. “Genetic Structure of Human Populations,” Science 298: 2381–2385.
(2) For classification of races based on Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNPs), see:
Li, J. Z., Absher, D. M., Tang, H., Southwick, A. M., Casto, A. M., Ramachandran, S., Cann, H. M., Barsh, G. S., Feldman, M., Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., and Myers, R. M. 2008. “Worldwide Human Relationships inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation,” Science 319.5866: 1100–1104.
(3) Admission of the existence of race by a leading geneticist (but with the absurd, dishonest and desperate lie that it is still just a “social construct”):
David Reich, “How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’,” March 23, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/opinion/sunday/genetics-race.html
(4) For the shocking suppression of genetic evidence of racial differences in IQ by the academic world:
Lance Welton, “‘This Will Not Stand’: Academic Establishment Suppresses Italian Anthropologist’s Proof That Race IQ Differences Are Genetic—For Now,” May 5, 2018, https://vdare.com/articles/this-will-not-stand-academic-establishment-suppresses-italian-anthropologist-s-proof-that-race-iq-differences-are-genetic-for-now
In reality, it can just as easily be seen as a vindication of early 20th-century progressive Leftists and Liberals, who accepted race realism. It could even be seen as a vindication of early American race-realist Marxists like Ernest Untermann and Victor L. Berger.
And the trouble is this: at some point, the modern Left will be faced with an overwhelming mountain of genetic evidence about the objective reality of race, and the only people honestly talking about it will be libertarians like Stefan Molyneux (who holds crackpot economic ideas) or the far right (some of whom support outright authoritarianism). As on many issues (like its irrational opposition immigration restriction), the modern Left will be utterly humiliated and defeated.
At some point, the Left will have to rediscover its own earlier intellectuals and intellectual tradition that accepted the reality of race, and think up humane and civilised new ideas about the policy implications of such truths.
Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich. 1910 . God and the State. Freedom Press, London.
Darwin, Charles. 1874. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (2nd edn.). Merrill and Baker, New York and London.
Huxley, Thomas H. 1895 . “Emancipation–Black and White,” in Thomas H. Huxley, Science and Education: Essays. MacMillan and Co., London. 66–75.
Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph. 1869. La guerre et la paix (new edn.). A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoen & Cie. Paris and Brussels.
Reich, David. 2018. Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Russell, Bertrand. 1929. Marriage and Morals. Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York.
Toye, John. 2000. Keynes on Population. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Wade, Nicholas. 2014. A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. The Penguin Press, New York.