The theory of the inequality of the races goes back further than Count Gobineau; he merely combined the craving for recognition that is always latent and that exists in all nations into an intellectual edifice that corresponded to the consciousness of his time and was in this way able to exert a broad impact. That Gobineau’s theses were not grounded in knowledge of the facts – even if they made it seem as though they were – can no longer be denied today. Gobineau’s decisive mistake was equating dissimilarity with nonequivalence. The dissimilarity of the human races in the positive sense is obvious. But if this difference leads one to speak of higher and lower races, then this invariably raises the question of the yardstick. However, every measure that is to have general meaning must be based on metaphysical principles; any other measure can be invoked merely for statements that move within the boundaries of the partial aspect from which it has been taken, and can therefore never lead to such far-reaching conclusions as were drawn by Gobineau and his successors.
The biological dissimilarity of the races is one aspect; the unity of the human race is the other. The personal being of the person, with its criteria of reason, liberty, and conscience, the embodiments of being human, that is, is something that all individuals of the species Homo sapiens possess, independent of differences of biological type (Muckermann). That this circumstance also remains untouched by the fact of racial mixing clearly follows.
What remains is the question of what consequences racial mixing has in biological and sociological terms. In recent times, the notion has been put forth, especially by Mjöen, Abel, and others, that racial mixing as such results in a diminishment of the human capacity. The combination of strongly divergent heredity supposedly leads to disharmonies and serious harm to body and soul. This theory is based largely on findings from experiments with domestic animals. Against this, it must be said that human races do not even remotely vary as extremely as dog and rabbit breeds, for example. Apart from a few stringently selected characteristics, it is likely that in humans most characteristics differ racially only through distribution differences against the backdrop of a largely congruent range of variation (especially in the psychological realm), as a result of which racial mixing in humans can hardly have such critical consequences as in the extremely diverse breeds of domestic animals. At any rate, the findings with Negro Mischlinge in Germany provide no support for this theory of disharmony through racial mixing.
By contrast, one cannot dismiss the possibility that the Mischling has genetic material passed on to him which will make him into an outsider in the environment in which he finds himself. In fact, something like this could also be discovered in the Mischlinge discussed above. Quite apart from such striking – though in principle, of course, insignificant – characteristics such as dark skin color, curly hair, and so on, there are racial peculiarities of their Negroid heredity, which – psychological in nature – can become a problem sociologically.
If, in this respect, the biological and sociological problems of racial mixing collide, the prejudice against the Mischling and its consequences, already mentioned at the outset of the discussion, is a purely sociological problem and as such is subject to historical changes. As could be shown, it is currently receding in Germany with respect to the Negro Mischlinge, but it is undoubtedly present in latent form. In addition, we have endeavored to show how one can prevent this prejudice from erupting. This prejudice with its intolerance is, in essence, the core problem of the entire racial issue, for overcoming it makes it possible, sociologically, to also overcome all other problems that arise from the coexistence and intermixing of people of different races.
Source: Studien aus dem Institut für Natur- und Geisteswissenschaftliche Anthropologie Berlin-Dahlem [Studies of the Institute for Natural and Humanistic Anthropology], edited by Hermann Muckermann. Fifth Report. March 31, 1956.
Translation: Thomas Dunlap