Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/523

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THE INFLUENCE OF RACE IN HISTORY.

progress gives it an accelerated march as it advances. The superior races are now developing themselves by giant steps, while the others still demand the long ages which our ancestors traversed in order to reach the point where we are now. And when the inferior races reach that point, where shall we he? Farther from them, without doubt, than we are now, unless we shall have disappeared. The evident conclusion then is, that as human races become civilized they tend to greater differentiation rather than to an approach to equality. Civilization not being able to act equally on unequal intelligences, and the most developed necessarily profiting more than those who are less so, it is easy to see that the difference between them will increase considerably in each generation.[1] It increases all the more because the division of labor, condemning the lower strata to a uniform and identical work, tends to destroy all intelligence in them. The engineer of our days, who composes a new machine, needs much more intelligence than the engineer of the last century; but the modern workman requires much less intelligence to make the detached piece of a watch, which he will keep on making all his life, than his ancestors had to have to make the whole watch.

These considerations do not rest on theoretical reasonings alone. We some time ago fortified them also by anatomical arguments. Studies of the skulls of human races have shown us that while among savages the heads of different individuals vary but little in their dimensions, the differences in our civilized societies are formidable. From the upper to the lower ranks of society the anatomical gulf is as immense as the psychological gulf, and the advance of civilization is constantly making it wider. Since, then, the differences among men of the same race become more and more extended as the race rises in civilization, we conclude that the higher the civilization the more considerable will be the intellectual diversities among individuals of the race. No doubt the mean level will also rise.[2]

  1. Theoretically, the differentiation between individuals should follow a kind of geometrical progression, and consequently accentuate itself with extreme rapidity. It is, however, less rapid than the theory indicates. The reason of it doubtless lies in the observed fact that the families of superior men—scientific and literary men, artists, statesmen, etc.—seldom endure. Their descendants disappear rapidly by degeneration, or at least soon return to the crowd. There seems to be a mysterious law constantly tending to eliminate or reduce to the mean intellectual type of a race all the families which depart very greatly from it. This is so, perhaps, because a superiority in one direction has to be acquired at the cost of an inferiority, and consequently a kind of degeneracy, in another. A great man is most frequently an ill-balanced man; and cerebral unbalancing, however little accentuated it may be, is as hard to perpetuate by reproduction as an anatomical monstrosity. Societies also seem condemned, like individuals, not to pass a certain level.
  2. Most of the thoughts embodied in this article, especially the theory of the progressive differentiation of races, individuals, and the sexes with the advance of civilization, are the