Topics such as xenophobia, chauvinism, ethnocentrism, extremism, terrorism have become part of the contemporary discourse. The discussions actively involve both professional scientists and the public. According to them, the problem of racism has been clearly out of focus of the public. Although in the 1990s there were many radical groups and movements that were held under the slogans with racial content and were seen by many observers, racism is still on the periphery of research, and scientists are reluctant to enter into discussions on this issue.
Social Ground of Racism
Racism is felt in various areas of our lives, affecting not only ordinary spheres but also the area of politics and even science. Traditionally, racism is understood as a concept that primarily connects all the differences between people (in culture, behavior, perception of the world) to the race, supposedly detected in such physical traits as skin color, nose shape, eye shape, form and color of hair and so forth. The other aspect of the concept announces the eternal inequality of races, insisting on its legal registration (Birdsell, 1975). Such racism, generated by the era of colonialism, came from the concept of superior and inferior races and in spite of all available scientific evidences that confirm that racial differences determine the course of history (Balibar, 1991).
In the ancient world, racism began to acquire more distinct contours. The theory of natural slavery by Aristotle was a serious primary source which many racist anthropologists relied upon for centuries. However, it should be noted that writing about the slaves “by nature,” Aristotle did not mean a slave as a representative of a different race. Slaves in ancient times were people who belonged to the same race as their masters. Just over the centuries, slaves started constituting the poor and unprotected people who were not able to withstand the onslaught of invaders.
Aristotle gives the following definition of a state: the state is a “fellowship of people similar to each other in order to achieve the best possible life.” Aristotle puts quite specific content in this definition. Under the term “people,” he meant only free citizens of Greek cities. He just did not think of barbarians and slaves as people worthy of dialogue on an equal footing with citizens of the state. Spiritually undeveloped barbarians were considered incapable of public life; their fate was thought to be slaves of the Greeks. “The barbarian and a slave by nature are identical concepts.” Therefore, Aristotle openly defended the political theory of the interests of slaveholders. He viewed the government as a free association of citizens that jointly manages the affairs of the slave-owning society.
In support of slavery, Aristotle gives several reasons. The most decisive among them is the natural differences between people. On the pages of “Politics,” Aristotle repeatedly emphasizes that slavery is established by nature: barbarians having a powerful body and a weak mind were capable only of physical labor. Aristotle called to subjugate the barbarian force and hunt them like wild animals. He states that “such a war by its very nature is true.”
The reason for slavery by nature also argues with economic stability. From this point of view, slavery is needed due to the needs for farming and production activities. “If weaving shuttles wove themselves and plectrums played themselves cittern, then architects would not need workers, but the Lord did not need be slaves.”
Private property, like slaves, is rooted in nature and is a member of the family. Aristotle advocated a resolute opposition to the socialization of property proposed by Plato. “It is hard to put into words how much pleasure you can have in the knowledge that something belongs to you.” The community of property, which he found economically untenable, hinders the development of economic tendencies in man. “People care most of all that belongs to them personally; they care less about what is shared.” These arguments in defense of private property subsequently laid foundation for many ideologies.
Aristotle believed that people were not equal in nature. According to the Hellenic-centrist position, he notes that barbarians were people with poor human nature, and they had not grown to the political forms of life. According to Aristotle, the attitude of masters toward slaves is supposed to be like that between the members of the family.
Aristotle said that slavery existed by nature because some people were meant to command, and others to obey and follow the instructions of the former. Here, he uses the antithesis of body and soul. “Those people who are as different from other people as the soul from the body, and the man from the animal in nature ... - slaves for them. Best destiny is to be in subjection to the despotic power” as oppose to a subordinate body and animals. Slaves were primarily the barbarians, who were different and had their bodies adapted to rough physical labor and slave soul. Slave, meaning an "animated instrument," was part of the property of the master; the only difference from other property was that it had the human body and soul. The slave had no rights, thus no justice could be exercised in this respect; you could not be friends with a slave because he or she is a slave. However, Aristotle provides an exception that you can be friends with him or her because he or she is a human.
Racism and all its derivatives are afraid that the person would lose his or her pricelessness, uniqueness, and originality.
Racism is a product of politics, not science. However, the phenomenon of racism is not only European or American. Politicians resorted to racism in many countries when they felt the need to justify the "right" to rule or conquer. A striking example of this is Japanese racism. Once Japan started colonial expansion to other countries (such as China), it developed the theory of the superiority of the Japanese race over all other races and nations of the world (Balibar. 1991).
Apparently, this effect has managed to impact the historical roots of racism so deeply and thoroughly that it is quite difficult to completely eradicate it, and its manifestation can be found in our days.
In a given situation, the doctor reassigned all the babies from Tonya Battle and all the other Black nurses after the man’s requirement and reasoned it with the fact that nurses would be protected this way. Due to its roots, racism is too hard to overcome using just educational speeches. If it is a grown person with an already formed world view, there is no way to change his or her mind about the issue. What is more, it can be considered hazardous to leave such person with an object of the hatred alone. So, the director of nurses, Mary Osika, chose the most optimal variant in this situation which implied non-interaction between this man and all black nurses that he could otherwise harm or offend.
In most cases, racism exists due to the general lack of education and a limited world view. However, it also often occurs among seemingly civilized and educated but superficial people. In this case, the question is what could be the reason for such an attitude. Often, a family in which a person grew and his own family have a similar impact on the rejection of strangers and the aspects that are different from their own culture, maybe even religion. Moreover, there may be other reasons underlying the aggressive behavior toward certain races.
When people are hostile to outlanders, they find like-minded people and encourage each other to fight against the unfamiliar; there is what has been called racism.
In the socio-psychological terms, racism bordering on nationalism is a peculiar form of overcoming the inherent inhabitant inferiority complex, especially the instability of their social position and inability to overcome the difficulties on the way to a better life. For these categories of the population, racism is the form of self-affirmation, which allows even the lower average person, who did not have a privilege to be born to a supposedly more valuable nationality or race, to feel like a being of a higher order, perhaps even feeling more intelligent, educated and even successful. The famous French anthropologist Alfred Maitre said on this occasion that “in a strange twist, the victims of the most horrific racist dogma are just those people whose intelligence and education demonstrate the falsity of this dogma” (Birdsell, 1975).
The theories developed by scientists in the 19th century were completely ruined by the Nazis. The only reason why they still exist is that they are beneficial for the ruling class, the proletariat, to quarrel, create conflicts, and distract people from the real enemy and problems.
It should be mentioned again that small and large racial branches of the humankind present the population with different morphological features. The same biological differences between races may be significantly less prominent than between individuals within the same race. Therefore, the interracial differences do not allow to speak about the degree of innate capacity for intellectual development in various races. There is an obvious difference in the levels of development of civilization, which science explains as the totality of the historical and cultural conditions.
All forms of racism deny the dignity of a person, which is priceless, and prevents the strengthening of the unity of mankind. People should never forget the terrible consequences that remained after World War II: millions of ruined lives, maimed families, and destroyed destinies. This tragedy should not be regarded as the one that happened in the distant past or thousands of kilometers away. It must be remembered that racism begins among the common people, from the relationships between each other, carelessness, and insensitivity. The past should serve as a lesson that should prevent similar tragedies happening at present or in the future.