Antiracism, Social Science and the Revolt Against Victorian America

In the 1910s, Modernism arrived in America.

The first Modernists established enclaves in Chicago and Greenwich Village in New York City. Most of the Chicago group ended up moving to Greenwich Village in the years before World War I. In America’s first truly bohemian enclave, anarchists and socialists mixed with progressive liberals and the Modernist avant-garde and spawned the cultural liberalism of the Modern Left.

President Woodrow Wilson plunged America into World War I and in the process discredited the Victorian establishment. The young writers of the Lost Generation – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and others – rebelled against Victorian values and embraced Modernism in the 1920s. Most of this group eventually ended up living in exile in France or Britain while writing poetry or literature for an American audience in the 1920s. American youth rebelled against the Victorian values of their parents in the 1920s and began to embrace Modernism whether it trickled down to them through exposure to jazz, commercial advertising, the new poetry and literature or Hollywood movies all of which eroded the old values and promoted a more expressivist ethos. In other words, a trickle of new ideas coming in from Europe in the 1910s became a flood in the 1920s.

It was in this context of a much wider Modernist revolt against Victorianism in the 1920s that the triumph of “antiracism” in America must be seen. Victorian ideas about racial hierarchies were being challenged by Modernists along with Victorian beliefs about virtually everything and particularly about sexuality. Whereas the Victorians had believed in racial hierarchies, the repression of sexuality and sharply distinguished between the “civilized” and “savage,” Moderns leveled the racial hierarchies, promoted sexual liberation as a cure for psychological repression and embraced and celebrated “primitive” cultures. The rejection of racial science in the 1920s was “scientific,” of course, even though the decisive factor was the overall cultural atmosphere rather than the discovery of any new evidence.

The following excerpt comes from Stanley Coben’s book Rebellion Against Victorianism: The Impetus for Cultural Change in 1920s America:

“Anthropologists, led by students of Franz Boas, refined the concept of culture in the 1920s and applied it to new topics and geographical areas. The two most widely read books in this literature were written by Boas’s student Margaret Mead. Both books described the development of children in technologically primitive South Pacific cultures and compared the maturation of these children with that of children in middle-class American families. Mead’s pioneering studies found the two primitive cultures superior to middle-class American culture in the vital areas of female and male child rearing.”

Scientific studies in cultural anthropology have shown that … actually, primitive cultures are better than civilized Western culture. In other words, the cultural relativism and egalitarianism of Modernism is eroding the old cultural hierarchies of Victorianism. Actually, the “primitive” is better than the civilized. We should reintegrate the primitive with the civilized because that represents progress.

“In her dissertation, published as Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), Mead presented evidence that Samoan children lived happier lives than American children and felt more useful to and more a part of their society. She claimed that Samoans suffered virtually no adolescent tempests or neuroses. Their early pleasurable sexual experiences led to friendlier and stabler marriages. Fundamental to this evidently superior Samoan child rearing was a family structure in which many people shared in the nurturing of children, a system almost diametrically opposed to the tight-knit Victorian family unit, which retained its role as the American middle-class ideal in the 1920s. Thus, Mead not only pointed to an apparent deficiency in the child-rearing practices Americans had inherited from Victorian culture but also described a model which suggested improvements that could change the entire society.”

If only prudish Victorians could be liberated from their tight-knit family structure and embrace the “primitive” child rearing practices and sexually liberated attitudes of Samoan pagans, then the result will be greater happiness and stability in Western marriages. Studies have shown!

“As Coming of Age in Samoa moved onto the best-seller lists in 1928 and remained there, Mead traveled to New Guinea to expand her research into alternative modes of raising children. Concentrating this time on male socialization, Mead showed that boys in New Guinea benefited from close association with their fathers. This relationship protected these boys from the belief – then common within the American middle-class – that certain jobs, such as child rearing, and educational and artistic pursuits were unsuitable for males. American boys tended to associate such tasks with women. Unlike the United States, where middle-class fathers often were practically strangers to their children, successful men in New Guinea helped their sons absorb skills and, with them, self-assurance, thus facilitating their assimilation into satisfying adult roles.”

Studies have shown that the culture of primitive pagan tribes in New Guinea is far superior to customary Victorian gender roles.

“Probably the most significant achievement of the academic intellectuals between 1912 and 1930 was their crucial role in the nearly complete repudiation of every scientific rationale for racism. Early in the twentieth century, only a few humanitarians and scholarly skeptics doubted the premise that a hierarchy of races existed in the United States, with “Nordics” on top, recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe far down but above migrants from Mexico and Asia, and, at the very bottom, blacks. By the late 1920s, the prevailing opinion among intellectuals had been almost entirely altered. The change was not early enough or widely enough disseminated, however, to prevent passage of immigration restriction acts in 1921 and 1924 or to affect the course of judicial opinions concerning blacks until after the 1920s.”

In the 1920s, Victorian racial hierarchies were discarded in the social sciences under the influence of Franz Boas and his students. The first pejorative use of the term “racism” in America can be dated to the 1930s and “racism” was only officially condemned by the American Anthropological Association in 1938 in the context of liberal hysteria about the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Elite opinion changed about twenty years in advance of popular opinion between 1938 and 1945.

“Again Boas and his students led the way toward undermining Victorian verities. Boas himself measured head forms and took other bodily measurements of recent immigrants and their children at a rate of up to 1,200 individuals a week and then reported “very striking and wholly unexpected results.” In the American environment, the evidence showed conclusively that “far reaching changes” took place, demonstrating an unsuspected “great plasticity of human types.” Boas’s student Melville Herskovits came to a similar conclusion after measurements of black migrants to the North. Other students and proteges of Boas destroyed one of the major weapons used by those who tried to make a case for black inferiority – the results of the United States Army’s and other intelligence tests. Supported by foundation fellowships – especially from the Social Science Research Council – which Boas helped them obtain, Mead, Herskovits, social psychologist Otto Klineburg, and others demonstrated that the intelligence test scores of blacks correlated closely with their length of residence in northern cities. Blacks who had lived for long periods of time in the North scored higher than southern whites. By the late 1920s, a large number of influential social scientists had testified publicly to drastic changes in their opinions about the role of race in determining intelligence. As a consequence, textbooks and lectures were revised, journals reoriented, and books and articles announcing the correction of the authors’ ideas were published.”

Once again, studies have shown that racial differences in intelligence are purely environmental and have nothing to do with heredity, which is proven by the plasticity of black intelligence in Northern cities. There is no scientific reason to believe that racial differences could not be wholly eliminated by self-serving social scientists presiding over vast social engineering projects funded by the government.

“As a result of the all but unanimous rejection of racism by the scholars most involved in the study of race, the ideas of Boas and his disciples became the conventional wisdom of intellectuals, insinuated by them throughout American society, especially through educational institutions and the higher courts. The success of their efforts was shown when a careful survey of scientists carried out in 1929 revealed that a mere 4 percent still believed in the genetic inferiority of blacks. Only 19 percent even agreed that blacks seemed inferior. About half denied not only the existence of racial differences but also even the possibility of important difference based on race. This was tantamount to rejecting altogether the significance of race. Thus, among these Americans with great influence over public opinion, one of the basic concepts that had given distinction and power to Victorianism virtually disappeared as a respectable idea.”

This sea change in the social sciences on race happened in the 1920s and the entire foundation of it rests upon the cultural relativism of Franz Boas and his students like Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict.

About Hunter Wallace 9630 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

8 Comments

  1. I’m still not convinced of your theory that modernism became mainstream by the Roaring Twenties. Radical ideas existed even in ancient times, but actions speak louder than words. As another user pointed out, the first federal civil rights legislation since Reconstruction was in 1957 and the 1924 Immigration Act was replaced 41 YEARS later with the 1965 Act. Most states had human biodiversity taught in classrooms, eugenics laws, anti-miscegenation laws, closed housing, and permitted businesses to discriminate up until the 1950s and 60s. It seems what you call “modernism” only became dominant in the turbulent 60s and 70s and even then, there was a massive grassroots backlash as evidenced by Goldwater’s nomination, Nixon’s unparalleled reelection, the rise of the New Right, and culminating with the Reagan Revolution.

    Trump or Bust 2020

    • 1.) We’re currently looking at the roots of Modernism and its arrival in the United States in the 1910s and how it began to gain traction among elites in the youth revolt of the Lost Generation in the 1920s. This is the beginning.

      2.) I’ve already said probably over a dozen times that the tipping point was only reached in the 1960s when Modernism became the hegemonic majority culture during the Baby Boomer generation. This is the middle of the story.

      3.) The goal is to trace Modernism as it developed from the 1910s through the 1970s. This will take months of research though.

  2. Growing up in the waning days of the Jim Crow South, I lived in what was the quintessence an Anglo-Victorian Society.

    Even though we did not consciously think of it as such, reflection after the fact has made it clear that we had all the Victorian mores – from A-Z

    Given that, I feel I can comment with authority on what that was and what it wasn’t.

    What it was was incredibly orderly, civil, comfortable, and stable. In fact, it was so much these things that if was common in the Raleigh of those days to muse about how boring things were.’

    North Carolina, in fact, was, and perhaps still is, arguably the most Anglo-manifestation of what is Olde England anywhere in the world. Maybe that’s why one of it’s main nicknames, in the years leading up to WWII, was, ‘The Rip van Winkle State’ (Yes, I know that tale is about the Dutch:)

    What it was not was spiritually fulfilling, and, because of that emptiness, people unconsciously fought against it in those days, and, in recent decades, more than a few have lept off the train our great-grandfathers bequeathed us in such of something more, or, at least, ‘more’, in the sense of spiritual fulfillment.

    This is the salient point, for, in the very prosperous and stable Raleigh of bygone days, there was a great deal of unhappiness.

    As a youngster I saw this in 3-D, from the professors, successful entrepeneurs, scientists, beaurocrats, bankers, lawyers, mothers, politicians, business owners, and all the other types that, friends of my parents, circulated in upper class Raleigh.

    As Pink Floyd did say, ‘Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.’

    Well, a lot of Good Southern Folk were just ‘hanging on’, in those days, and, as a result, many drank themselves into oblivion, or chased after endless distractions, more than a few degenerate, to fill up the voids inside that they felt were crushing them.

    Looking back at all that, as I write, and as I have done when not writing, those who led successful lives in the world were not blessed by God on the inside.

    Case in point : the many marriages and families’ lives that, without Chryst at the centre, were quietly ruined in nightmares that, though the details of such would remain private, would leaves it’s scar on those still alive today.

    Sad and funny, but, I missed that, as did most of the adults that made up my parent’s world, back in those days, for I did not, nor did they, see that, without Chryst, no path can ever really light the way.

    In the end, life is very complex, but, if the foundation is not right, it will be all in vain, even if you think it not.

    Modernity cannot resolve that nor can it change it, but, what it can do is what it has done – it can obscure that, which not only imperils you and me, it imperils everyone.

  3. “Elite opinion changed” – rather, Left-wing Jews were increasing in power and influence. The Roosevelt administration was full of Soviet sympathizers. Because of modernism? Really? Modernism is just fashion that is emergent from Jew domination of media and academia, which came from Jew financial power. Certainly Henry Adams was always complaining about the Jews. It’s a lot more plausible that Jews promoted ideas that they saw as corroding Christian civilization and have been doing it for a very long time, than that a group of Bohemians in Paris and New York City seduced the masses with their artistic productions.

  4. Of course, Margaret Mead was a hack, incompetent and a fraud all rolled in to one, her “research” is worthless. Upon further examination Samoan culture was violent, there was no free love ethos, adultery was a serious crime and a problem, men were not peaceful and there was significantly more violent crime in Samoa than in the U.S. or other Western countries. Margaret Mead either knew this and lied in her book, “Coming of Age in Samoa” or was the world’s worst researcher. Her observations about society, such as it was, in New Guinea are equally worthless; there wasn’t a grain of truth in her writings.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-imprinted-brain/201702/margaret-mead-and-the-great-samoan-nurture-hoax

    Margaret Mead knew the world of sociology/psychology and the social “sciences” (sic) had been taken over first at Columbia then the rest of of academia by the likes of Franz Boas and the Usual Suspects. They had a political agenda first and foremost to destroy the Christian morals of society by using their pseudo-science bullshit to “prove” scientifically (sic) that the organic development of society on the basis of a Christian ethos was the source of troubles. Utopia awaited a mile up the road if only the dead hand of the old ways could be replaced by the new “scientific” knowledge of sociology/psychology with Franz Boas/Sigmund Freud’s acolytes leading the parade.

    The world of higher education, the popular press, advertising and “smart” opinion stood, mouth agape, ready to swallow whole the crap Margaret Mead and her ilk were dishing out. They were hardly neutral or critical observers of her work. She just confirmed the already held ideas and prejudices of those spiteful mutants.

    That’s one reason she got away with her fraud for so long. Whole careers in academia were made out of her frauds which was used to build the modern world of equality, denial of the existence of evil and social engineering. Margaret and her foul boyfriend Sigmund may have ultimately just been liars but they had a profound, negative influence on the world.

  5. I find this series to be interesting from a cyclical perspective as to what a post-material age could look like. I wonder though if the next “spiritual age” will simply be where we are now: Leftism embraced utterly with a goal of total equity no matter the cost or will it be more similar to previous ages where the beauty of the spirit is prized.

    I don’t quite think society has hit rock bottom yet and I think that is the true horror that we all live through. Whereas the Victorian age died in the fields of Flanders and the Modern Age came of age with the fall of Berlin, I think a Robespierre Terror awaits us at the end of this Age much like how the previous material age ended.

  6. Brad after reading your civic historical content on modernism I don’t completely agree. Things change like our true history that they hide and manipulate. History as with modernism has been rushed like it was planned

    You do have admit they hid most of our history and the books you read are placed for that purpose.

    Our masters are smarter than you Brad.

  7. The success of their efforts was shown when a careful survey of scientists carried out in 1929 revealed that a mere 4 percent still believed in the genetic inferiority of blacks. Only 19 percent even agreed that blacks seemed inferior. About half denied not only the existence of racial differences but also even the possibility of important difference based on race. This was tantamount to rejecting altogether the significance of race.

    If this is true, then the Narrative promoted by the Pro-White Movement for the last 50-70 years is discredited. That Narrative looks like this:

    “Once upon a time, White America was in agreement with us about race. The one day, the Jews came along and took over the institutions, promoted Cultural Marxism, and disintegrated the consensus on race. They replaced the old Anglo-Saxon elite, which was in total agreement with the White masses on race, and after they replaced this old elite, they injected the culture with their poison and made America what it is today.”

    In reality, the Anglo-Saxon elite was never replaced. The Anglo-Saxon elite during the 1920s became the living manifestation of a Steven Crowder meme: They changed their minds. Franz Boas was but a voice crying out in the wilderness before 1910. The only reason his ideas gained any traction or significance is because the Anglo-Saxon elite embraced them and, in time, made them mainstream. The fact that 96% of all scientists in 1929 believed in Absolute Racial Equality is overwhelming proof of this. The only reason why the “cultural revolutions” of the 1960s didn’t happen earlier is because the Elite was so far ahead of the Masses on this new belief in racial egalitarianism that the masses needed a few decades to catch up. It all makes sense now.

    This means that the narrative of “Cultural Marxism” and the “March Through The Institutions” is effectively meaningless. Jews did not invent racial egalitarianism, although for obvious reasons – particularly after the rise of the Nazis in the 1920s and 30s – they had a vested interest in promoting it. It was the Anglo-Saxon elite – the White American elite – who invented racial egalitarianism, and they were in unanimous agreement about it by the end of the 1920s. The Jews simply did what they always do: Take someone else’s idea and use it to their advantage. In this case, they took what the White American elite had invented and used it to wage an all out war of extermination against the White American masses – and against the White Race worldwide.

    Because the White American masses have fully internalized the narrative of racial egalitarianism, they will only ever change their minds when death comes knocking on their door. And even then, some of them will die with their so-called “integrity” in tact. My advice to those in the Pro-White Movement is this: Become information junkies, find a normie hobby or two to keep you entertained (mine are sportsball and movies), and enjoy the ride. I have been completely entranced by Hunter’s research on Modernism that he conducted after he returned from a two week hiatus on August 27, and while I believe many aspects of Modernism are in fact Good Things – I unironically agree with the first 6 of the 8 points laid out in the Greenwich Village philosophy, with a few quibbles on the finer points therein – I think Hunter has gotten closer then anyone else in the Movement of dissecting and exposing the true origins of our most unfortunate predicament that we see every day here in 2020.

    I will be following his work on this subject over the coming months, and I encourage all of you to grapple with it and take it seriously instead of dismissing it out of hand like Dickie Spencer did in that debate with Hunter last week.* I’ve already reconsidered one of my own cherished assumptions about humanity – my belief that Culture always springs from the bottom up as opposed to the top down – and I look forward to seeing what else gets challenged.

    *Spencer rejected it out of hand because, to paraphrase Joseph Goebbels, he was “Found Out.” Spencer is a paternalist who believes it is his divine right to lord it over the White masses that he hates – in particular, the White American Middle Class. Because he happened to be born into a rich family that owns 5 million acres of farm land in Louisiana, he thinks himself an aristocrat. But, like Arthur Gobineau in the 1830s and 40s, he will have to accept that the Aristocracy and its vicious breed of Paternalism was destroyed and discredited forever by the American and French Revolutions. The White Middle Class is the centrifugal force of humanity that the world revolves around. The world is our trading post and our playground. It is our…shopping mall. Consumer Capitalism and all its glorious material benefits of the last 100 years exist because of us. We are not going anywhere. Anyone who tries to lord it over us or destroy us is always reduced to irrelevance. We are…Inevitable.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Sun Also Rises – Occidental Dissent
  2. Franz Boas, Antiracism and the Rockefeller Foundation – Occidental Dissent
  3. Victorian Racial Attitudes – Occidental Dissent

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