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Before Hitler There Was

Updated on April 4, 2019
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Alex has taught at seven public schools, been accepted into three honorary societies, and traveled the Americas and Europe. He has his BS.


Introduction to Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau

Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau was an aristocrat who lived from 1816 to 1882 (Blue 93). He was also “undoubtedly the most influential academic racist of the nineteenth century” (Gould). During one period in his life, “Gobineau served for some twenty years in the diplomatic corps of Napoleon III” (Blue 96). However, in some circles he is better known for being “antidemocratic and anti-Semitic” (“Joseph Arthur Gobineau, Comte De” 1).

More About Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau

Arthur de Gobineau was the author of the work titled THE MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY OF RACES. In his infamous work, Gobineau states that African Americans possess an “animal appearance” (Gobineau 314). Gobineau goes on to compare this ethnic group to “the ape” (Gobineau 315). Although such text is unappealing to many people around the world, print copies of Gobineau’s works have existed for more than one hundred years.

The Racist

Paul A. Fortier writes about Gobineau, stating that he made “racial theories” (Fortier 341, 350). According to Fortier, one of said “theories” (341, 350) is that “the Aryans, or Germans, are all that is good and admirable” (Fortier 342). Fortier goes so far as to claim that Gobineau was one of “the forerunners of Hitler” (Fortier 343). Stephen Jay Gould summarizes Gobineau’s philosophical “position”; “the fate of civilizations is largely determined by” race (Gould). Furthermore, Gobineau was a notable “proponent of Nordic supremacy” (“Joseph Arthur Gobineau, Comte De” 1).


Although Gobineau died in 1882 (Blue 93), his works have continued to be an influence on the modern world. The former statement can be evidenced by the fact that Gobineau’s works can be easily found by the general public for free online. One should also recognize that Gobineau’s writings can be found and bought in print. However, with seemingly very little support, one can presume and even hope that Gobineau’s works are influential today in a more positive fashion than in the times of the hyperbolic yesterday.

Works Cited

Blue, Gregory. “Gobineau on China: Race Theory, the “Yellow Peril,” and the Critique of Modernity.” Journal of World History, vol. 10, no. 1, 1999, pp. 93-96. ProQuest. Web. 8 May 2017.

Fortier, Paul A. “Gobineau and German Racism.” Comparative Literature, vol. 19, no. 4, 1967, pp. 341-350.

Gobineau, A. de. THE MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY OF RACES, Introduction by H. Hotz, Appendix by J. C. Nott, M.D., pp. 314-315. J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1856.

Gould, Stephen Jay. “Ghosts of Bell Curves Past.” Natural History, vol. 104, no. 2, 1995, ProQuest. Web. 8 May 2017.

“Joseph Arthur Gobineau, Comte De.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost. Web. 8 May 2017.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye, Design by Dorothy S. Baker, pp. 164-183. Vintage Books, 2007.

Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau

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© 2019 Alexander James Guckenberger


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