Arthur de Gobineau
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Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau (14 July 1816, Ville-d'Avray, Hauts-de-Seine – 13 October 1882, Turin) was a French aristocrat, novelist and man of letters who became famous for developing the theory of the Aryan master race in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853–1855). De Gobineau is credited as being the father of modern racial demography.
Life and theories 
Gobineau's father was a government official and staunch royalist, and his mother, Anne-Louise Magdeleine de Gercy, was the daughter of a royal tax official. He was not, however, a nobleman, having added the 'count' to his name himself.
In the later years of the July Monarchy, Gobineau made his living writing serialized fiction (romans-feuilletons) and contributing to reactionary periodicals. He struck up a friendship and had voluminous correspondence with Alexis de Tocqueville, who brought him into the foreign ministry while he was foreign minister during the Second Republic.
He came to believe that race created culture, arguing that distinctions between the three races - "black", "white", and "yellow" - were natural barriers, and that "race-mixing" breaks those barriers and leads to chaos. He classified Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa as racially mixed.
Gobineau also questioned the belief that the black and yellow races belong to the same human family as the white race and share a common ancestor. Trained neither as a theologian nor a naturalist and writing before the popular spread of evolutionary theory, Gobineau took the Bible to be an true telling of human history and accepted in An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races the day's prevailing Christian doctrine that all human beings shared the common ancestors Adam and Eve (monogenism as opposed to polygenism). Nonetheless, he suggested that but for the Church's teaching there was nothing else to suggest that the colored races were foreborn, like the white race, from Adam, since "... nothing proves that at the first redaction of the Adamite genealogies the colored races were considered as forming part of the species".
Gobineau believed the white race was superior to the other races in the creation of civilized culture and maintaining ordered government. However, he also thought that the development of civilization in other periods was different than in his own and speculated that other races might have superior qualities in those civilization periods than in his own. Nonetheless, he believed European civilization represented the best of what remained of ancient civilizations and held the most superior attributes capable for continued survival. His primary thesis in regards to this theory was that European civilizational flowering from Greece to Rome and Germanic to contemporary sprang from, and corresponded to, the ancient Indo-European culture, also known as "Aryan". Gobineau originally wrote that, given the past trajectory of civilization in Europe, white race miscegenation was inevitable and would result in growing chaos. He attributed much of the economic turmoil in France to pollution of races. Later on in his life, with the spread of British and American civilization and the growth of Germany, he altered his opinion to believe that the white race could be saved.
Paradoxically, although Gobineau saw hope in the expansion of European power, he did not support the creation of commercial empires with their attendant multicultural milieu, concluding that the development of empires was ultimately destructive to the "superior races" that created them, since they led to the mixing of distinct races. Instead, he saw the later period of the 19th century imperialism as a degenerative process in European civilization. To support his conclusion, he continually referred to past empires in Europe and their attendant movement of non-white peoples into European homelands in explaining the ethnography of the nations of Europe.
According to his theories, the mixed populations of Spain, most of France and Italy, most of Southern Germany, most of Switzerland and Austria, and parts of the Britain, derived from the historical development of Roman, Greek, and Ottoman Empires which had opened up Europe to non-Aryan peoples of Africa and the Mediterraneum cultures. Also according to him, southern and western Iran, Southern Spain and Italy, consisted of a degenerative race arising from miscegenation. Also according to him, the whole of north India consisted of a yellow race.
Hitler and Nazism borrowed much of Gobineau's ideology, though Gobineau himself was not anti-Semitic, and may even be characterised as philo-Semitic. Gobineau wrote positively about the Jews, including the long eulogy to the Jews in his Essai sur l'inégalité des races, describing them as "a free, strong, and intelligent people" who succeeded despite the natural disadvantages of the Land of Israel. When the Nazis adopted Gobineau's theories, they were forced to edit his work extensively to make it conform to their views, much as they did in the case of Nietzsche.
Though in no way espousing his beliefs, Bahá'ís know Gobineau as the person who obtained the only complete manuscript of the early history of the Bábí religious movement of Persia, written by Hajji Mirzâ Jân of Kashan, who was put to death by the Persian authorities in c.1852. The manuscript now is in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. He is also known to students of Babism for having written the first and most influential account of the movement, displaying a fairly accurate knowledge of its history in Religions et philosophies dans l'Asie centrale. An addendum to that work is a bad translation of the Bab's Bayan al-'Arabi, the first Babi text to be translated into a European language.
Gobineau wrote novels in addition to his works on race, notably Les Pléiades (1874). His study La Renaissance (1877) also was admired in his day. Both of these works strongly expressed his reactionary aristocratic politics, and his hatred of democratic mass culture.
See also 
- Shamakhi dancers, mentioned in a Gobineau novel
- William B. Cohen, The French Encounter with Africans, Bloomington, Ind, 1980, p. 217
- DJ. Richards, "Arthur de Gobineau" in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 123: Nineteenth-Century French Fiction Writers: Naturalism and Beyond, 1860-1900. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Catharine Savage Brosman, Tulane University. The Gale Group, 1992. pp. 101-117.
- J.A.Gobineau: "Moral and intellectual diversity of races." J.B.Lippincott & Co, Philadelphia (1856), p.337/338
- Ernst Cassirer: "The myth of the state" Yale University Press (2009) p. 233/234
- Léon Poliakov: "Der arische Mythos. Zu den Quellen von Rassismus und Nationalismus" Junius Verlag, (1993), ISBN 3-88506-220-8 S.265
- Gobineau and German Racism by PA Fortier, Comparative Literature, Vol. 19, No.4 - 1967, pages 341-350
- Gobineau, Arthur (Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau) The Inequality of Human Races translated by Adrian Collins, page 59
- (Sabine, George (1988) Historia de la teoría política, Madrid: FCE)
- The Inequality of Human Races by Arthur de Gobineau, online book
- Les religions et les philosophies dans l'Asie centrale by Arthur de Gobineau at Google Books
- Trois ans en Asie (de 1855 à 1858) by Arthur de Gobineau at Google Books
- Histoire d'Ottar jarl, pirate norvégien, conquérant du pays de Bray, en Normandie, et de sa Desendence by Arthur de Gobineau at Google Books
- Lecture des textes cunéiformes by Arthur de Gobineau at Google Books