Question : Do you think some races are superior to others?

Answer: Superior is a term I never use. Different, is the word I use. What is superiority? It is a loose and generally ridiculous term. All men may be equal in the sight of God. But when it comes to hammering in a nail, mending a broken motor or doing a sum in higher mathematics, a lot of men can do the job much better than I can. On the other hand there may be some things I can do better than they can. Our capacities are different, that is the long and the short of it. Therefore, who can judge what is superiority? – even if such a thing exists in any absolute sense?

So let us face the fact that men are different, and not muddle ourselves with silly talk about superiority. Such attitudes lead in turn to the opposite error of pretending that all men and races are just the same.

I do not know in this matter which type I find the more ridiculous: the albino rabbit claiming to be a Nordic superman because he looks like a Scandinavian whose family has spent some generations in the Tropic of Cancer, or the masochistic denigrator of all western values, who on the one hand tells us that negroes are just the same as we are because they have white palms to their hands, and on the other proclaims that their primitive simplicity is so superior to us that he kisses their feet in an agony of self-abasement. What these neurotics really mean, of course, is that they feel the primitive is preferable to their own particular brand of exhausted decadence, and in this matter, for once, they are right.

Question : Can science make any real contribution to this question of a mixture of races, since scientific evidence derives chiefly from experiments on plants and animals?

Answer: Let us agree that insufficient evidence exists in the human case on which to found a proven theory. That is all the more reason for not undertaking an irrevocable experiment in respect of which no adequate evidence exists. The onus of proving the benefit of a change to miscegenation rests on those who propose it. And, as you say, insufficient evidence exists in the human case; though so far as a mixture has been tried in practice in the coloured populations of Brazil and South Africa, it does not encourage us to think that the extension of the experiment will lead to a solution of human ills at a higher level.

Plenty of evidence exists over centuries in the animal case, and it seems conclusive. Darwin himself linked the human and animal examples. He wrote: “Some writers who have not attended to natural history, have attempted to show that the force of inheritance has been much exaggerated. The breeders of animals would smile at such simplicity; and if they condescended to make any answer, might ask what would be the chance of winning a prize if two inferior animals were paired together.” After all, let us remember that – whether the practice of vivisection be desirable or not – much of the progress in medical science has come from experiments on animals. And we have in agriculture a far larger volume of evidence in the matter of breeding, accumulated from the experience of centuries into a fairly exact science. The results, in brief and very crude summary, are that in-breeding is dangerous over a long period, but can produce remarkable results. A moderate out-cross with a similar stock is the right corrective to in-breeding and is, in time, essential. A wide out-cross, however, is nearly always fatal; in fact, a cross between widely varying strains is in general principle always fatal.

The really decisive point is that if the race-crossing experiment be tried on a great scale, you cannot put it right again. Science seems entirely clear, from experiments which apply equally to human beings and animals, that the fatal step is irrevocable. Is it not the very depth of intellectual frivolity, and an immoral act, to interrupt the long and successful progress of human evolution and diversification, on the strength of a theory which – to understate the argument – has no evidence to support it?

Question : What are the practical effects of your views about race?

Answer: It is right to be proud of your race and to want to preserve it, just as it is right to be proud of your family and to want to preserve it. Race exists just as much as family exists, and in much the same way. It is simply a wider form of relationship. Of course, a lot of nonsense is talked about race as about most of the great truths of nature. It is exaggerated nonsense both ways.

I am a practical man and was brought up originally in the very practical trade of agriculture, in which my family was engaged for many generations. Therefore, I know the difference between the Ayrshire breed which specialises in milk production, and the Aberdeen Angus breed which specialises in beef production. If you tell us there is no such thing as difference in breed and that all these animals are just the same, all farmers will begin to laugh at you. And we should equally laugh at you if you lost a lot of time fiddling about in dusty archives to prove that they were both orginally descended from some buffalo in central Europe centuries ago, which had little beef on it and yielded even less milk because it was so busy escaping from the wild animals which were chasing it around.

What matters is that over a long period of time and for a variety of reasons, animals developed in this world with very different characteristics, animals which, above all, can do different things. And still more is this the position in the case of human beings, who for a very long time have had very different environments and experiences from one another in addition to being different breeds. The great third factor of education is added to heredity and environment in human affairs, and the consequent evolution of a culture increases rather than diminishes difference. It is unnecessary to remind ourselves of the vital fact that men have human intelligence and will, which have enabled them to progress much faster in their different directions – differentiation and diversity as the scientists call it.

Of course human beings are different from one another and have different capacities, and so have different races. If you don’t agree with that get into the ring with a professional boxer if you are a university professor, and get into the laboratory and try to do the professor’s work if you are a boxer. All these nonsensical theories about everyone being the same are quickly exploded by a little practice. Races are different from each other. That is the first basic fact to recognise