THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Die Grundlagen des
neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, 1899) is a book by British-born Germanophile
Houston Stewart Chamberlain . In the book, Chamberlain advances
various racialist and especially völkisch antisemitic theories on how
he saw the
Aryan race as superior to others, and the Teutonic peoples
as a positive force in European civilization and the Jews as a
negative one. The book was his best-selling work.
* 1 Synopsis
* 2 Reception
* 3 Publishing history
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 External links
Published in German, the book focuses on the controversial notion
that Western civilization is deeply marked by the influence of the
Teutonic peoples. Chamberlain grouped all European peoples—not just
Greeks , and
Latins —into the "Aryan
race ", a race built on the ancient Proto-Indo-European culture. At
the helm of the Aryan race, and, indeed, all races, he saw the Nordic
or Teutonic peoples.
Certain anthropologists would fain teach us that all races are
equally gifted; we point to history and answer: that is a lie! The
races of mankind are markedly different in the nature and also in the
extent of their gifts, and the Germanic races belong to the most
highly gifted group, the group usually termed Aryan... Physically and
mentally the Aryans are pre-eminent among all peoples; for that reason
they are by right ... the lords of the world. Do we not see the homo
syriacus develop just as well and as happily in the position of slave
as of master? Do the Chinese not show us another example of the same
Chamberlain's book focused on the claim that the Teutonic peoples
were the heirs to the empires of Greece and Rome, something which
Charlemagne and some of his successors also believed. He argued that
when the Germanic tribes destroyed the
Roman Empire , Jews and other
non-Europeans already dominated it. The Germans, in this scenario,
saved Western civilization from Semitic domination. Chamberlain's
thoughts were influenced by the writings of Arthur de Gobineau
(1816-1882), who had argued the superiority of the "
Aryan race ". This
term was increasingly being used to describe Caucasian or European
peoples, as opposed to Jews, who were conceptualised as "infusing Near
Eastern poison into the European body politic". For Chamberlain the
concept of an
Aryan race was not simply defined by ethno-linguistic
origins. It was also an abstract ideal of a racial élite. The Aryan,
or "noble" race was always changing as superior peoples supplanted
inferior ones in evolutionary struggles for survival.
Building somewhat on the theories of de Gobineau and Georges Vacher
de Lapouge (1854-1936), Chamberlain developed a relatively complex
theory relating racial origins, physical features and cultural traits.
According to Chamberlain, the modern Jew (Homo judaeica) mixes some of
the features of the Hittite (H. syriaca) – notably the "Jewish nose
", retreating chin, great cunning and fondness for usury – and of
the true Semite , the
Bedouin Arab (H. arabicus), in particular the
dolichocephalic (long and narrow) skull, the thick-set body, and a
tendency to be anti-intellectual and destructive. According to this
theory, the product of this miscegenation was compromised by the great
differences between these two stocks:
All historically great races and nations have been produced by
mixing; but wherever the difference of type is too great to be bridged
over, then we have mongrels. That is the case here. The crossing
Bedouin and Syrian was — from an anatomical point of view
— probably worse than that between Spaniard and South American
Chamberlain also considered the Berbers from North Africa as
belonging to the Aryan race.
The noble Moor of Spain is anything but a pure Arab of the desert, he
is half a Berber (from the Aryan race) and his veins are so full of
Gothic blood that even at the present day noble inhabitants of Morocco
can trace their descent back to Teutonic ancestors.
Chamberlain (who had graduate training in biology), rejected
Darwinism , evolution and social
Darwinism and instead emphasized
"gestalt", which (he said) derived from
Goethe . Chamberlain regarded
Darwinism as the most abominable and misguided doctrine of the day.
Chamberlain used an old biblical notion of the ethnic make up of
Galilee to argue that while
Jesus may have been Jewish by religion, he
was probably not Jewish by race, claiming that he descended from the
Amorites . During the inter-war period, certain pro-Nazi theologians
developed these ideas as part of the manufacture of an Aryan Jesus.
Adolf Hitler held a similar view, as evidenced
in his table talk , where he canvassed the idea of
Jesus as the
illegitimate son of a Roman soldier stationed in Galilee.
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The Foundations sold extensively: eight editions and 60,000 copies
within ten years, 100,000 copies by the outbreak of World War I and 24
editions and more than a quarter of a million copies by 1938. The
Russian translation was especially popular and was carried by White
Russians all the way to Siberia.
The 1911 translation received positive reviews in most of the British
press. It was praised in
The Spectator as "a monument of erudition";
Birmingham Post said that it was "glowing with life, packed with
fresh and vigorous thought"; the
Glasgow Herald thought that it would
be difficult to "over-estimate the stimulating qualities of the book."
Times Literary Supplement it was declared to be "one of the
books that really mattered". In the left-wing Fabian News George
Bernard Shaw called it a "historical masterpiece". Those who failed to
read it, he continued, would be unable to talk intelligently about
contemporary sociological and political problems. In the U.S.,
Theodore Roosevelt , altogether more cautious, highlighted the extreme
bias of the author, a judgement that seems to have escaped other
contemporary readers, but said that Chamberlain "represents an
influence to be reckoned with and seriously to be taken into account."
The book was important to
Wilhelm II , who became Chamberlain's
friend (the two held a correspondence), and as a "spiritual"
foundation of the Third Reich. Chamberlain's ideas on race were
greatly influential to
Adolf Hitler , who readily adapted them into
his Nazi ideology; Chamberlain himself joined the Nazi party, and both
Hitler and Goebbels visited Chamberlain whilst he was on his deathbed.
Library of Congress
Library of Congress owns and lists six distinct editions or
imprints of this text for the following years: 1911, 1912, 1913 (two),
1968, and 2005.
The Myth of the Twentieth Century
* Race of
Esoteric Nazism#Collective Aryan unconscious
* Adolf Hitler\'s religious views
* ^ "
Library of Congress