Racism & Fascism:
An On-line Edition
examining the relationship between right-wing politics and racial
research have drawn on a 1979 work by social psychologist Michael
Billig, Psychology, Racism, and Fascism. This short pamphlet,
along with Billig's (1978) monograph on the social psychology
of the neo-fascist National Front, provided the first account
of the contribution of psychologists and other academics to racist
and neo-Nazi movements of the 1950s to 1970s.
work is not widely available in university libraries. Given the
intense interest in these issues, particularly with the 1990s
revival of racial research in psychology, it is important that
Psychology, Racism, and Fascism be available to students
of the history of psychology, as well as scholars concerned with
eugenics and neo-fascism. However, these are not simply problems
of history; some of the individuals described by Billig remain
very active. For example, the journal Mankind Quarterly,
the major outlet for racial research, is still in publication
under the editorship of Roger Pearson. Thus Billig's work is also
important for students of contemporary scientific racism. With
the permission of Michael Billig and Searchlight, I have
prepared this on-line version, which reproduces the original as
closely as possible.
of this length cannot possibly provide the full context of the
history of racism in psychology (see Richards, 1997 and Tucker,
1994 for surveys) and academic racism in general. For background
on scientific racism in Germany, see Burleigh & Wipperman
(1991), Müller-Hill (1987), Proctor (1988), and Weindling
(1989). For general sources on the history of eugenics, see, for
example, Adams (1990), Allen (1997), Barkan (1992), Chase (1979),
Kevles (1985), Haller (1984), Kühl (1994), and Mehler (1988).
Useful discussions of scientific racism for the general audience
are Kohn (1994) and Shipman (1994), and Marks (1995) provides
a general, scholarly discussion of race, genetics, and anthropology.
discussions of the individuals, groups and publications in Psychology,
Racism, & Fascism can be found in Mehler (e.g., 1983,
1989, 1997) Mintz (1985), Newby (1969) Tucker (1994), and Winston
(1996, 1998). Tucker (1994) provides the most thorough discussion
of these issues. Detailed bibliographies and biographical information
on many individuals discussed in Psychology, Racism, and Fascism
are available at the web site of the Institute for the Study
of Academic Racism (www.ferris.edu/ISAR) at Ferris State
University, directed by Prof. Barry Mehler. In all materials of
this kind, due sensitivity to the issue of "guilt by association"
must be observed.
Mark Ferris and Ina Hutchings for their generous help.
M. B., Ed. (1990). The wellborn science: Eugenics in Germany,
France, and Russia. New York: Oxford University Press.
G. E. (1986). The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor,
1910-1940: An essay in institutional history. Osiris,
M. (1978). Fascists: A social psychological view of the National
Front. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
E. (1992). The retreat of scientific racism: Changing concepts
of race in Britain and the United States between the world wars.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
M. & Wipperman, W. (1991). The racial state: Germany 1933-1945.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
A. (1979). The legacy of Malthus: The social costs of the
new scientific racism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
M. (1963). Eugenics: Hereditarian attitudes in American thought.
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
D. J. (1985). In the name of eugenics: Genetics and the uses
of human heredity. New York: Knopf.
M. (1995). The race gallery: The return of racial science.
London: Jonathan Cape.
S. (1994). Eugenics, American racism, and German National
Socialism. New York: Oxford University Press.
J. (1995). Human biodiversity: Genes, race, and history. Hawthorne,
NY: Aldine de Gruyter.
B. (1983). The new eugenics: Academic racism in the U. S. today.
Science for the People, 15, 18-23.
B. (1988). A
history of the American Eugenics Society, 1921-1940. Unpublished
Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
B. (1989). Foundations for fascism: The New Eugenics Movement
in the United States. Patterns of Prejudice, 23, 17-25.
B. (1997). Beyondism: Raymond B. Cattell and the new eugenics.
F. P. (1985). The Liberty Lobby and the American right: Race,
conspiracy, and culture. Westport, CONN: Greenwood Press.
I. (1969). Challenge to the court: Social Scienctists and
the defence of segregation, 1954-1996. Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press.
R. (1988). Racial hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
B. (1988). Murderous science: Elimination by scientific selection
of Jews, Gypsies, and others, Germany 1933-1945 (G. R. Fraser,
Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
G. (1997). 'Race,' racism and psychology: Towards a reflexive
history. London: Routledge.
P. (1994). The evolution of racism: Human differences and
the use and abuse of science. New York: Simon & Schuster.
W. H. (1994). The Science and politics of racial research.
Urbana: University of Ill. Press.
A. S. (1996). The context of correctness: A comment on Rushton.
Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 5, 231-249.
A. S. (1998). Science in the service of the far right: Henry E.
Garrett, the IAAEE and the Liberty Lobby. Journal of Social
Issues, 53, 179-209.
send comments to:
Andrew S. Winston
Ontario N1G 2W1
Racism & Fascism
1979, Michael Billig. Reprinted with the permission of Michael
Billig and Searchlight
has a long history on the darker side of British social science,
finding an early institutional expression in the Anthropological
Society of London in the mid 19th century. It was
later associated with the names of Galton, Pearson, Keith and
Burt. Burt was an important contributor to the thinking behind
the Butler Education Act and a man obsessed by the idea of "breeding"
in his later years. It is now suspected that parts of his research
were simply invented to support his beliefs. The eugenics movement,
out of which scientific racism grew, was especially concerned
with national degeneration and regeneration; a concern embodied
in the policies of the Third Reich.
in the second world war and full exposure of the results of
Nazi racial policies seemed to have laid "scientific racism"
to rest and its epitaph was written by the scientific community
in four UNESCO statements on race. Now only thirty four years
after the war the racists are on the march again and a few members
of the scientific community are marching with them.
today is undergoing crises in circumstances that have seen a
breakdown of the post-war political consensus. Europe is also
multi-racial with 11 million immigrants from Mediterranean and
Third World countries manning important (and often underpaid)
positions in manufacturing and services. Has scientific racism
sprung, newly armed, from nowhere, to capitalise upon these
this well-researched pamphlet Billig answers "No" and shows
an unbroken connection between scientific racists in the English-speaking
world and a Nazi tradition rooted largely in the work of Hans
Günther. The academic community and the Nazis in Europe
are connected through interlinked associations and journals
to form an underworld largely unknown to British intellectuals
and with values quite different from the traditional values
of liberal scholarship.
there can be no purely disinterested scientific research; all
our work has political implications because if it is at all
significant it bears on someone's interests. The values we bring
to research may most clearly show themselves in the questions
we ask. Why do some ask questions which put at risk the civil,
political and social standing of others? Why do they feel compelled
to promote these questions and their spurious answers long after
the scientific basis of both questions and answers has been
social scientists regard scientific racism as dead. But it will
not lie down and many believe that there is some sort of case
to answer because the noise continues. It is not enough for
us to effect boredom, and detachment from what in intellectual
terms has become merely irritating, because the political consequences
are real especially when they break through into "legitimate"
politics. The implications are clear when we see either the
company that scientific racists keep, or the company that claims
them for its own. The scientific racists -- whether they wish
to do so or not, and some clearly do -- aid the Nazi cause and
work for it. Their work must be judged by this as well as its
scientific merits. Their work in academe is part of the same
enterprise that National Front thugs undertake on the streets.
of Sociology, King's College,
Racism & Fascism
Michael Billig, Department of Psychology, University of Birmingham.
in 1979 by A.F. & R. Publications, 21, Great Western Buildings,
6, Livery Street, Birmingham 3.
(021) 236 4147.
by Sidelines (021) 551 2351.
drawing by Steve Bell.
by The Russell Press Ltd., 45, Gamble Street, Forest Road West,
Nottingham, NG7 4ET.
often like to think of themselves as dispassionate seekers of
knowledge. Isolated in their laboratories they pursue their
goals far removed from the clamour of common prejudices and
bigotry. However, for scientists hoping to build a 'science
of race' this claim of detachment is frequently either illusory
growth of scientific ideas is not normally haphazard within
a society. The ideas of scientists usually do not arise in some
vacuum, but can be connected with underlying political or economic
trends. Thus historians have found it comparatively easy to
connect the growth of scientific notions about white racial
supremacy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the
development of imperialism and the slave-trade.(1)
the slave-trade may have disappeared, but scientific notions
about racial differences still persist. In fact within recent
years a growing number of influential psychologists have been
canvassing the theory that there are racial differences in intelligence.
The question which must be asked is whether the growth of this
psychological theory can be connected with any underlying political
pamphlet examines the relations between psychological theories
of race and another trend which has occurred in the past ten
years: the small, but not insignificant, growth of fascism.
might have thought that fascist and Nazi political groups should
have declined consistently since 1945. After more than 30 years
such groups should now be almost extinct. However, throughout
Western Europe, North and South America fascist groups obstinately
refuse to fade away, and in fact in certain places their activities
instance, in Britain there has been a pronounced fascist revival
during the last few years. A fascist group like the National
Front has emerged from the obscure reaches of the lunatic fringe
to thrust its way into the political consciousness of the nation.
It has been argued that in Britain fascism is today politically
stronger than it was in the 1930s.(3)
Britain, fascism has been attempting to establish a presence
in the streets of decaying city areas, fanning the prejudices
of the ill-informed. Commonly it is assumed that fascism and
race prejudice are attractive only to the un-intelligent and
uneducated.(4) Thus it might seem
absurd to look for connections between contemporary fascism
and psychological theories formulated in calm and detached academic
settings by highly educated professors.
a glance at recent history will show this not to be as absurd
as it might seem. For this reason it is necessary to look closely
at some of the intellectual ideas, which contributed to German
Nazism in the 1930s, and also which continue to be held by today's