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 "The White Conscience: An Analysis of the White Man's Mind and Conduct ",
A review by Carroll Quigley in Georgetown Today, Vol. I, No. 5, May 1969
of a book:
The White Conscience: An Analysis of the White Man's Mind and Conduct,,
by Frank H. Tucker.
New York: Frederick A. Unger, 1969.

 

 

"The White Conscience: An Analysis of the White Man's Mind and Conduct"

 

 

The White Conscience: An Analysis of the White Man's Mind and Conduct
By Frank H. Tucker,
G'54 New York: Frederick Unger, 1969
353 pages, $7.50

 

   This volume concerns the behavior of white men toward dark-skinned humans over the past 500 years. It is a complex and horrifying story and is presented here in a way which will provide much ammunition to Black militants today; in fact in may well become a a text in some of the Black Studies now springing up on American campuses.

   The story concentrates on the way in which Europeans and, to a lesser extent, Russians have expanded outward, to conquer, oppress, enslave, and brainwash peoples of darker skins in all other parts of the world. The story is told in a clear, straightforward style with a mass of detail, fully supported by notes and bibliography. It reads easily, with an overwhelming cumulative effect which might impel the average reader to resign from the white race or even from humanity itself. Who, in the face of such evidence, could condone the almost unmitigated record of what the author calls "European imperialism, racism, and totalitarianism"?

   I would be the last to deny anything written in this volume. It is all true, buttressed by references, and without any obvious factual errors. But it is only half the truth, and, as a result, the reader is left discouraged and with little hope that there is any solution to this continuing tale of oppression and exploitation. But the fact is that the other, untold, half of the story would change the whole impression. The full picture must center on what happens when strong weapons are combined with weak ethics (or no ethics) in any group. The resulting inhumanity of man to man has nothing to do with skin color, except incidentally, as a basis for rationalizing the resulting oppression. Any other basis, such as religious differences, class distinctions, or differences in clothing or haircuts, would do as well in distinguishing the group which represents "Us" from the group which represents Them." On such bases, Europeans have murdered fellow Europeans (as English have oppressed the Irish or Germans the Jews), and Africans have oppressed their fellow Africans (as the Ashanti or Zulu have done, to name only two). We should never forget that the slaves who were dragged to America or perished miserably on the route, were captured (and many others killed in the process) by their fellow Africans. To be sure, oppression of dark-skinned peoples by other dark-skinned groups takes quite different forms from European forms of exploitation, but this is related to differences of culture such as different religious and moral ideas or systems of law and land tenure rather than skin color.

   One of the most valuable aspects of this book is its explication of the intellectual justifications and rationalizations of imperialism, racialism, and conquest, such as the Social Darwinists used. But here again we have only part of the story. The other half of that tale was presented last year in Robert L. Beisner's prizewinning book Twelve Against Empire: The Anti-Imperialists, 1898-1900 (McGraw-Hill, 1968).

   What Turner does not seem to recognize is that our society includes both elements: both his racist-imperialist and Beisner's anti-imperialists. Like all societies, it has good and bad elements almost inextricably mingled within it. If Turner had included in his book what the title implies, a study of the conscience of white men, instead of only his misdeeds, he would have given us a more complete picture of our society. This would have shown that the outraged humanitarianism shown in his book is as typical of our European way of life as are the fearful deeds he describes so well.

Carroll Quigley
Professor of History, Georgetown University
Georgetown Today, Vol 1, No. 5, May 1969, p.19

 

Scan of original review

 

 


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