20.06.2020 Author: Vladimir Danilov

Great Britain and Racism


In recent decades, the concept of racism has become a painful topic in many countries of the world, and which many now perceive to be, in large part, oppression by white people of members of other races. Anglo-Saxons annihilated Indians, the French and Spanish – Africans, and the Dutch – inhabitants of Africa and Indonesia. And, toward the end of the 19th century, all of them together tried to bring China to its knees.

For several weeks now the US has undergone protests against racism and police brutality, which quite swiftly spread to Great Britain. That is not at all surprising. People have forgotten the impression that grew about contemporary Europe being founded through empires, which created colonies all over the world via the slave trade and exploitation of labor.  Indeed, it was Europe that over centuries seized lands for colonization, and oppressed other races.

And so members of the #BlackLivesMatter movement have been protesting against systemic racism. Destructive riots have broken out in London and throughout the country. Attacks have been inflicted on statues of political figures, who are associated with the slave trade, racism, and the politics of empire. Many statues have sustained damage, including those of Winston Churchill, where remnants of scrawls “racist” can still be seen. The word “murderer” appeared on the base of the monument to Britain’s Queen Victoria. In Bristol, tearing down the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston also became a vivid symbol of protests against racism in the United Kingdom. Removal of statues of “racists” has found public support among Labourites and a former Home Secretary, Pakistani on his father’s side.

According to Home Secretary Priti Patel, in just the first week of June, more than 135 thousand Britons took part in protest demonstrations, and 135 were arrested.

Boris Johnson’s administration is trying to placate the demonstrators, but his efforts are having the opposite effect. In recent days, tens of thousands of new protestors poured out onto streets of British cities. They were led by such celebrities as John Boyega (“Star Wars”), or former soccer player for Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand. On June 15, Boris Johnson announced the creation in the UK of a Cross-Government Commission on Racism and Discrimination of ethnic minorities.

Yes, today, perhaps for the first time since the breakup of the socialist camp, it’s possible to observe a truly massive popular campaign to destroy historical objects. Only now monuments to socialism are not on the receiving end, but statues to heroes of America’s and England’s past.

But has it really only today become clear that racism was for several centuries the foundation of British and American society?

It is the same Great Britain that instilled among people the belief that Germany was birthplace of Nazism and racial intolerance. In 1863, however, almost 100 years before the idea broke out in Germany, an English scientist, Dr. James Hunt, began to promote ideas of racial superiority. Having presented a sensational report at a Royal scientific society in Newcastle, he declared that, “he succeeded in distinguishing a distinct animal species of an interim stage between humans and apes, and they are called negroes.” Additionally, he mentioned that, among white-skinned people, there are “evolutionary dead-ends,” who, if they can be called people, are second rate. These ideas of race spread very quickly throughout the UK, and were echoed at that time by many other British scientists, who placed English people at the apex of the racial pyramid.

It was on the British isles where the so called science of “eugenics” originated, which explained how to conduct selective breeding on humans to achieve the ideal race. Its leader was Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, who coined the term “eugenics.” He intended to make it “part of the national consciousness, like a new religion”.

To develop this theory further, in 1912, British “intellectual”, biologist, and mathematician, Karl Pearson, dedicated his book Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics. In 1932, to solve the problem of “worthless races”, the British Union of Fascists was created. The British aristocrat, Sir Oswald Mosley, became its leader. By the way, having become the most far-reaching fascist organization during the interwar period, this English fascist party obtained recognition a year before the German Social Democrats won its elections.

After the Second World War, those in academic circles began to view eugenics as the theoretical foundation for Nazism’s crimes, racial politics, and destruction of “undesirable” ethnic and social groups.

To prevent the rehabilitation of Nazism and racism, various international institutes have previously proposed the passage of universal regulatory documents for that purpose. For example, in 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that condemned Nazism’s rehabilitation. However, to the surprise of many, voting in support of this resolution was not unanimous. 54 (!) countries abstained, including all European Union countries. Moreover, the US voted completely against the resolution, justifying its action by explaining that the “resolution against defacement of memorials to antifascists limits the rights of citizens to express their personal opinion.”

In July of 2019, the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions of the Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) rejected the resolution proposed by the Russian Federation’s delegation, “Regarding the struggle against xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, and related intolerance.” According to the draft of the rejected resolution, the OSCE PA was required to express deep concern over the “spread of the theory of racial superiority based on race, national origin, religion, or culture, including within the OSCE region,” and also recognize that neo-Nazism is a “dangerous occurrence of today,” against which policy makers must show resistance. However, a number of delegations spoke out with criticism of the document, in particular, Lithuania, Ukraine and also – Great Britain!

Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.