23. The Myth of White Supremacy
White Westerners have an interesting myth which traces the roots of the whiteskin race and civilisation back to the Aryans or Indo-Europeans. This myth is not very old, adopted only in the early 1800s. The idea derives from the growth of racism and eurocentrism during the colonial period when white Europeans first properly encountered non-whites.
Previous to this time blacks and orientals were objects of fantasy, exotic oddities hailing from far-off fantasy-lands. Yet, if the Europeans had not been so backward and parochial in earlier times, and if they had gone exploring Africa but one hundred years earlier, they would have seen most African civilisations in a much healthier, richer and more advanced state than they subsequently saw them. When Europeans arrived in Africa in the 1400s and 1500s, African societies, for their own reasons, were much deteriorated. As a result, European racialist attitudes saw Africans as lax, disorganised and uncivilised. Had the relationship started one or two centuries earlier, whiteskins' views would have been very different - closer to the greater respect they held for Asians.
This might have led to an almost complete absence of blacks in the Americas because the slave trade might possibly never have got started - and the large-scale hostage-taking amongst Africans, leading to the availability of slaves for purchase by Europeans, might never have happened had African civilisations not gone into such decline when they did. It might have led to much more inter-cultural cooperation instead of crass colonialism during the period of white ascendancy.
Instead, the idea arose that people living in temperate climates possessed greater intellectual ability and moral fibre – an observation derived from the mental and moral difficulties whites themselves encountered in hot climates, and from the tendency of some open-minded whites to 'go native' when they personally discovered the richness, depth and relative sensuality of the 'inferior' cultures they were encountering.
Thus, to block growing tendencies toward moral lassitude and 'going native', to justify the rough actions of the colonialists and to stem a growing sense of cultural self-questioning amongst Europeans, the idea of white supremacy was set in motion.
Within the intellectual elites of the time there were two predominant schools. The first was centred around Masonic and Rosicrucian fascination with ancient Egypt – deriving from a fascination with architectural, mystical and mathematical lore originating in Egypt. Masons regarded Egypt as the origination-point of civilisation.
When Masonry had earlier ceased being a pan-European guild of craftsmen and transformed into a privileged gentleman's society, it had become the core of an Enlightenment intellectual tradition which sought to move away from narrow Christian thinking into the realm of Reason. This school of thought assumed that classical knowledge had been passed to the Greeks through colonisation of early Greece by Egyptians and Phoenicians and through visits by Greeks to Egypt. Thus, Greece was seen by Freemasons as an Egyptian-Semitic cultural outgrowth, the vital link between Europe and the taproot of civilisation, Egypt. Hence that Napoleon invested much in conquering and researching Egypt in his early days of conquest.
The second school of thought was equally ideological, yet it was rooted in the stories of world travellers of the time who had decided that all cultures were inferior to their own. The Chinese were exempted until the later 1800s – they were quietly regarded as equally civilised to Europeans. The wealth and sophistication of imperial China had reached Renaissance Europeans long before the colonial period through intrepid travellers such as Marco Polo. This attitude changed in the 1800s when Europeans sought to capitalise on the arthritic vulnerability of Manchu dynastic China – the Manchu China of the time was indeed much less impressive than it had once been, and the Western merchant adventurers of the China trade were not exceptionally good judges of civilisation. Get-rich-quick Western values had no time for the age-old subtleties and formalities of Chinese culture.
This school of thought endowed Europeans with cultural legitimacy and superiority, with an originality of genesis which eliminated non-white cultural connections. The ancient Greeks were therefore identified as artists, scientists, philosophers and civilisers greater than the Egyptians and Phoenicians had been. It was quietly forgotten that most ancient Greek knowledge had been conveyed to Europe during the Renaissance by Arabs and Sephardic Jews. The fall of Rome and the obstruction of the Church had separated Europe from most of the Mediterranean classical roots it once had.
This search for cultural roots accelerated around the time of the Age of Reason and the industrial revolution (1750s-1820s), in a romantic response to the rampant wrenching growth of industrial cities and free-trade. The rise of 'dark, satanic mills' invoked a search for nobler origins. The idea that ancient Greece had been heavily influenced by the Levant, Persia and Egypt - by people with less-white skin - thus became untenable from a white-supremacist viewpoint.
The discovery that ancient Greek and mainstream European languages derived from an Indo-European source added to a racist ascendancy in the 1830s-40s. Missionaries were central to the colonial effort, adding their input to the sense of cultural superiority which European colonialists employed to rationalise their atrocities. The slave trade went on for 300 years, abolished only in the 1830s-60s. Egyptians (with their sexually active gods) were seen to be alien to European cultural roots. Jews were passed off as Christ-killers and Phoenicians declined in status with the rise of anti-Semitic ideas in the 1880s – ideas which reached their zenith in 1930s-40s Germany.
When Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered in 1822, the Egyptians were disappointingly demonstrated to be polytheists. This relegated them to inferior status in Christian eyes: monotheism was seen as the apex of religious development and Christianity as the apex of monotheism. Stories about Levantine and Egyptian colonisation of Greece and of Greek cultural cloning from Egypt were seen to be absurd. Ancient Greek respect for Egypt was seen to be a mistaken delusion. Late in the 1800s, Western fascination with high civilisation in India and China declined also. The white man was supreme, in his own estimation. He had little or nothing to learn from non-whites. He had a mission to civilise. Yet the commonality of mixed black-white people throughout Africa (in South Africa classified as 'coloureds' in apartheid days) suggests a certain hypocrisy to this.
Though the idea of 'diffusionism' arose in the early 1900s, suggesting the spread of civilisation from Egypt and Mesopotamia through Greece and Rome to Europe, ideological racism retained its hold, denying anything but the trans-Caucasus (central Asia) and the Aryans as the source of Western culture. Classical studies during the 1800s were used to inculcate the upcoming heads of society with 'civilised' values, reinforcing the importance of the prehistoric Aryan invasions of Greece and India from the Caucasus region, leading whites to gain the classification of Caucasians.
There was evidence in Indian tradition for this, but there was (and is) little overwhelming evidence of a large-scale Indo-European invasion of Greece. There are, however, signs of interaction between Greece and central Asia which imply that Greek culture was formed from many diverse sources. The interesting thing here, though, is that while racist and anti-Semitic values subsided during the second half of the twentieth century, the idea of Aryan origination of the European culture stuck, even if toned down. It was well built into the world-view of the West.
Greece was influenced from Egypt, the Levant, Persia, India, the Caucasus and Celtic Europe. Also, European culture owes less to classical Greek and Roman culture than is frequently believed - for example, the European idea of democracy derives as much from German and Celtic as from Athenian Greek sources.
There were even deeper global influences too, arising from the powerful influences of travellers who roamed the whole world in prehistoric times - questing beyond the far horizon is an activity common throughout human history.
The point here is that the Aryan myth has to this day remained the prevailing picture of European origins and identity – a myth created to give ideological substance to the European claim to world superiority. The last laugh on the matter is that the indigenous ancient European cultures – Megalithic, Celtic, Nordic, Slavic and Germanic – have a far larger influence in modern times than we have given credit. Not only this, but European Megalithic culture may well have crucially influenced Egyptian and Levantine culture and somewhat pre-dated Pharaonic Egypt.
This myth has arisen out of an underlying sense of European cultural inferiority to other civilisations, which needed bolstering when Europeans were invading those other cultures from the 1500s up to World War Two. It has also arisen out of a need to find noble and legitimate roots in ancient city cultures. 'Diffusionism' has now been effectively shelved. However, this leaves one further myth unexamined: where did ancient European culture derive from?
Humanity on the threshold
of a global breakthrough
by Palden Jenkins