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September 21, 2017


Nearly everyone knows of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, a theory which is proven daily by researchers and others though not without dissent, but what they may not know is that Darwin was a co-discoverer of evolutionary theory. His co-discoverer was Alfred Russell Wallace.

A friend sent me a page from a Kansas City Star editorial written in 1978 which gives us some insight into the mind of Wallace when discussing his theory of evolution in nationalistic (and necessarily racial) terms. Here is what he wrote: “The intellectual and moral qualities of the Europeans are superior; the same power and capacities which have made him rise in a few centuries from the condition of the wandering savage with a scanty and stationary population to his present state of culture and advancement. . . . enable him when in contact with savage man, to conquer in the struggle for existence.” (Uh, Alfred, do you suppose it is the intellectual and moral qualities of the Europeans or the musket and cannons versus spears that account for European superiority in your version of the struggle for existence?)

I know of no such blatantly Eurocentric claim by his co-discoverer, Darwin, in applying nationalism to evolutionary happenstance, and I reject Wallace’s 19th century Eurocentric view of superiority over the “savages” since though he makes reference to Europeans as “wandering savages” it was the Europeans who were the savages for many centuries leading up to the Florentine Enlightenment, centuries marked by ignorance and superstition. While the Byzantines, Arabs and Persians were saving the Greek and Roman treasures for later Western discovery in their universities and libraries and regarded Europeans as ignorant savages, which they were, Europeans were running around dressed in skins, saving nothing and contributing little if anything to human advancement for century after century following the fall of Rome.

I also reject the 21st century Eurocentric views of Richard Spencer, a neo-Nazi bully who runs around the country these days starting riots and making speeches that specifically calls Europeans of the white race superior and all others inferior in a walking endorsement of Eurocentrism, racism, riots, Second Amendment excesses and membership in the KKK (endorsements Trump has not specifically disavowed to date). Spencer has taken nationalism to new heights by playing off race, religion or any other identifying characteristic of the body politic with his white supremacy blather. He seems to be ignorant of white history in Europe, a history which included, among other things, papal crowning of Charlemagne as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which Voltaire later noted was “neither Holy, Roman nor an Empire.” Note to Spencer the white European nationalist/supremacist > Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was white but illiterate. He was crowned emperor by a vote of one, the pope, who made such decisions for the European savages of Central Europe, among many others, in an early demonstration of how things work out when there is a complete lack of separation or church and state.

Speaking of the rise and fall of civilizations and societies in history and the evidence to support what they did or did not contribute to human progress, I am of the view that those of European stock like me have made too little of the Chinese contribution. I have just finished reading a fascinating book written by a professional navigator, a former British submarine commander named Gavin Menzies. The book, “1421, The Year China Discovered America,” is in paperback and was originally published in 2002 after years and years of research involving explorers and cartographers, Chinese junks and Portuguese caravels, the  lucrative silk and spice trade, Chinese colonization, mandarins who attempted to destroy all references to Chinese history, building of the longest canal ever, the total destruction of the “Forbidden City” (Beijing) by fire, and perhaps most significantly, the Chinese exploration of every continent (including even Antarctica) except Europe.

Menzies has pieced his story together by noting that the Straits of Magellan had long since been charted by the Chinese and that the chart was in Magellan’s possession before he “discovered” such straits, contrary to our Eurocentric views of history. He also claims from the wreckage of Chinese junks, votive stones and vestiges of Chinese DNA found in America (from Rhode Island to the Sacramento River in California and from Mexico to Peru) that the Chinese with their great “treasure fleet” of junks discovered America in 1421, some seventy years before Columbus, again contrary to our Eurocentric view that Columbus discovered America. He concludes from evidence he has so meticulously gathered that Rhode Island was first colonized by the Chinese and that our present designation of such northeastern states as measured by first exploration should be called New China rather than New England.

European monarchs of the time of Columbus both before and after were very interested in finding a new route to the Orient in order to cash in on the highly lucrative silk and spice business. With the circumnavigation of the globe by Magellan east to west, such could be accomplished, but the bigger story and much shorter west to east route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa had to wait on the great cartographer and Portuguese Prince Henry the Navigator and da Gama to “discover” that route to Oriental riches, a “route” known to the Chinese centuries before.

We are (perhaps grudgingly) told by Eurocentric historians that the Chinese invented gunpowder and paper, and so they did, but there is little talk of Chinese inventions and innovations in engineering, mining, botany, undersea repair of their junks’ hulls, metallurgy, porcelain, cartography, paper money etc. that only became known to Europeans centuries later, and why?

Perhaps our Western historians are either witting or unwitting victims of nationalism and racism as Wallace and Spencer are in describing history from a Eurocentric perspective, albeit a subjective perspective not supported by the evidence.  This conclusion is what I mainly gained in reading Menzies’s book, and though not on any bookseller’s or author’s payroll, I recommend reading his book by readers of this essay for a fresher look at human history.

So per Wallace, whose “intellectual and moral qualities are superior?” It plainly depends upon the time and place we are talking about in history as measured by that particular society’s contributions to human history, and being white or black or yellow is irrelevant to such measurement. As I often note, if the Enlightenment/Industrial Revolution had begun in  colonializing Congo, it might well have been us white people who would have been picking cotton for our black masters.     GERALD        E


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