The Rising Tide of Color
Against White World-Supremacy

by Lothrop Stoddard, A.M., Ph.D.

PART I - The Rising Tide of Color


THE man who, on a quiet spring evening of the year -1914, opened his atlas to a political map of the world and pored over its many-tinted patterns probably got one fundamental impression: the overwhelming preponderance of the white race in the ordering of the world's affairs. Judged by accepted canons of statecraft, the white man towered the indisputable master of the planet. Forth from Europe's teeming mother hive the imperious Sons of Japhet had swarmed for centuries to plant their laws, their customs, and their battle-flags at the uttermost ends of the earth. Two whole continents, North America and Australia, had been made virtually as white in blood as the European motherland; two other continents, South America and Africa, had been extensively colonized by white stocks; while even huge Asia had seen its empty northern march, Siberia, pre-empted for the white man's abode. Even where white populations had not locked themselves to the soil few regions of the earth had escaped the white man's imperial sway, and vast areas inhabited by uncounted myriads of dusky folk obeyed the white man's will.

Beside the enormous area of white settlement or control, the regions under non-white governance bulked small indeed. In eastern Asia, China, Japan, and Siam; in western Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Persia; in Africa, Abyssinia, and Liberia; and in America the minute state of Haiti: such was the brief list of lands under non-white rule. In other words, of the 53,000,000 square miles which (excluding the polar regions) constitute the land area of the globe, only 6,000,000 square miles had non-white governments, and nearly two-thirds of this relatively modest remainder was represented by China and its dependencies.

Since 1914 the world has been convulsed by the most terrible war in recorded history. This war was primarily a struggle between the white peoples, who have borne the brunt of the conflict and have suffered most of the losses. Nevertheless, one of the war's results has been a further whittling down of the areas standing outside white political control. Turkey is to-day practically an Anglo-French condominium, Persia is virtually a protectorate of the British Empire, while the United States has thrown over the endemic anarchy of Haiti the aegis of the Pax Americana. Study of the political map might thus apparently lead one to conclude that white world-predominance is immutable since the war's ordeal has still further broadened the territorial basis of its authority.

At this point the reader is perhaps asking himself why this book was ever undertaken. The answer is: the dangerous delusion created by viewing world affairs solely from the angle of politics, The late war has taught many lessons as to the unstable and transitory character of even the most imposing political phenomena, while a better reading of history must bring home the truth that the basic factor in human affairs is not politics, but race. The reader has already encountered this fundamental truth on every page of the Introduction. He will remember, for instance, how west-central Asia, which in the dawn of history was predominantly white man's country, is to-day racially brown man's land in which white blood survives only as vestigial traces of vanishing significance. If this portion of Asia, the former seat of mighty white empires and possibly the very homeland of the white race itself, should have so entirely changed its ethnic character, what assurance can the most impressive political panorama give us that the present world-order may not swiftly and utterly pass away ?

The force of this query is exemplified when we turn from the political to the racial map of the globe. What a transformation! Instead of a world politically nine-tenths white, we see a world of which only four-tenths at the most can be considered predominantly white in blood, the rest of the world being inhabited mainly by the other primary races of mankind - yellows, browns, blacks, and reds. Speaking by continents, Europe, North America to the Rio Grade, the southern portion of South America, the Siberian part of Asia, and Australasia constitute the real white world; while the bulk of Asia, virtually the whole of Africa, and most of Central and South America form the world of color. The respective areas of these two racially contrasted worlds are 22,000,000 square miles for the whites and 31,000,000 square miles for the colored races. Furthermore it must be remembered that fully one-third of the white area (notably Australasia and Siberia) is very thinly inhabited and is thus held by a very slender racial tenure-the only tenure which counts in the long run.

The statistical disproportion between the white and colored worlds becomes still more marked when we turn from surveys of area to tables of population. The total number of human beings alive to-day is about 1,700,000,000. Of these 550,000,000 are white, while 1,150,000,000 are colored. The colored races thus outnumber the whites more than two to one. Another fact of capital importance is that the great bulk of the white race is concentrated in the European continent. In 1914 the population of Europe was approximately 450,000,000. The late war has undoubtedly caused an absolute decrease of many millions of souls. Nevertheless, the basic fact remains that some four-fifths of the entire white race is concentrated on less than one-fifth of the white world's territorial area (Europe), while the remaining one-fifth of the race (some 110,000,000 souls), scattered to the ends of the earth, must protect four-fifths of the white territorial heritage against the pressure of colored races eleven times its numerical strength.

As to the 1,150,000,000 of the colored world, they are divided, as already stated, into four primary categories: yellows, browns, blacks, and reds. The yellows are the most numerous of the colored races, numbering over 500,000,000. Their habitat is eastern Asia. Nearly as numerous and much more wide-spread than the yellows are the browns, numbering some 450,000,000. The browns spread in a broad belt from the Pacific Ocean westward across southern Asia and northern Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. The blacks total about 150,000,000. Their centre is Africa south of the Sahara Desert, but besides the African continent there are vestigial black traces across southern Asia to the Pacific and also strong black outposts in the Americas. Least numerous of the colored race-stocks are the reds-the "Indians" of the western hemisphere. Mustering a total of less than 40,000,000, the reds are almost all located south of the Rio Grande in "Latin America."

Such is the ethnic make-up of that world of color which, as already seen, outnumbers the white world two to one. That is a formÌdable ratio, and its significance is heightened by the fact that this ratio seems destined to shift still further in favor of color. There can be no doubt that at present the colored races are increasing very much faster than the white. Treating the primary race-stocks as units, it would appear that whites tend to double in eighty years, yellows and browns in sixty years, blacks in forty years. The whites are thus the slowest breeders, and they will undoubtedly become slower still, since section after section of the white race is revealing that lowered birth rate which in France has reached the extreme of a stationary population.

On the other hand, none of the colored races shows perceptible signs of declining birth-rate, all tending to breed up to the limits of available subsistence. Such checks as now limit the increase of colored populations are wholly external, like famine, disease, and tribal warfare. But by a curious irony of fate, the white man has long been busy removing these checks to colored multiplication. The greater part of the colored world is to-day under white political control. Wherever the white man goes he attempts to impose the bases of his ordered civilization. He puts down tribal war, he wages truceless combat against epidemic disease, and he so improves communications that augmented and better distributed food-supplies minimize the blight of famine. In response to these Iife-saving activities the enormous death-rate which in the past has kept the colored races from excessive multiplication is falling to proportions comparable with the death-rate of white countries. But to lower the colored world's prodigious birth rate is quite another matter. The consequence is a portentous increase of population in nearly every portion of the colored world now under white political sway. In fact, even those colored countries which have maintained their independence, such as China and Japan, are adopting the white man's life-conserving methods and are experiencing the same accelerated increase of population.

Now what must be the inevitable result of all this? It can mean only one thing: a tremendous and steadily augmenting outward thrust of surplus colored men from overcrowded colored homelands. Remember that these homelands are already populated up to the available limits of subsistence. Of course present limits can in many cases be pushed back by better living conditions, improved agriculture, and the rise of modern machine industry such as is already under way in Japan. Nevertheless, in view of the tremendous population increases which must occur, these can be only palliatives. Where, then, should the congested colored world tend to pour its accumulating human surplus, inexorably condemned to emigrate or starve? The answer is: into those emptier regions of the earth under white political control. But many of those relatively empty lands have been definitely set aside by the white man as his own special heritage. The upshot is that the rising flood of color finds itself walled in by white dikes debarring it from many a promised land which it would fain deluge with its dusky waves.

Thus the colored world, long restive under white political domination, is being welded by the most fundamental of instincts, the instinct of self-preservation, into a common solidarity of feeling against the dominant white man, and in the fire of a common purpose internecine differences tend, for the time at least, to be burned away. Before the supreme fact of white political world-domination, antipathies within the colored world must inevitably recede into the background.

The imperious urge of the colored world toward racial expansion was well visualized by that keen English student of world affairs, Doctor E. J. Dillon, when he wrote more than a decade ago: "The problem is one of life and death-a veritable sphinx-question- to those most nearly concerned. For, no race, however inferior it may be, will consent to famish slowly in order that other people may fatten and take their ease, especially if it has a good chance to make a fight for life." (E. J. Dillon, "The Asiatic Problem," Contemporary Review, February, 1908.)

This white statement of the colored thesis is an accurate reflection of what colored men say themselves. For example, a Japanese scholar, Professor Ryutaro Nagai, writes: "The world was not made for the white races, but for the other races as well. In Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States, there are vast tracts of unoccupied territory awaiting settlement, and although the citizens of the ruling Powers refuse to take up the land, no yellow people are permitted to enter. Thus the white races seem ready to commit to the savage birds and beasts what they refuse to intrust to their brethren of the yellow race. Surely the arrogance and avarice of the nobility in apportioning to themselves the most and the best of the land in certain countries is as nothing compared with the attitude of the white races toward those of a different hue." (Ryutaro Nagai in The Japan Magazine. Quoted from The Amer- can Review of Reviews, July, 1913, p. 107.)

The bitter resentment of white predominance and exclusiveness awakened in many colored breasts is typified by the following lines penned by a brown man a British-educated Afghan, shortly before the European War. Inveighing against our "racial prejudice, that cowardly, wretched caste-mark of the European and the American the world over," he exultantly predicts "a coming struggle between Asia, all Asia, against Europe and America. You are heaping up material for a Jehad, a Pan-Islam, a Pan-Asia Holy War, a gigantic day of reckoning, an invasion of a new Attila and Tamerlane who will use rifles and bullets, instead of lances and spears. You are deaf to the voice of reason and fairness, and so you must be taught with the whirring swish of the sword when it is red." (Achmet Abdullah, "Seen Through Mohammedan Spectacles," FORUM, October, 1914.)

Of course in these statements there is nothing either exceptional or novel. The colored races never welcomed white predominance and were always restive under white control. Down to the close of the nineteenth century, however, they generally accepted white hegemony as a disagreeable but inevitable fact. For four hundred years the white man had added continent to continent in his imperial progress, equipped with resistless sea-power and armed with a mechanical superiority that crushed down all local efforts at resistance. In time, therefore, the colored races accorded to white supremacy a fatalistic acquiescence, and, though never loved, the white man was usually respected and universally feared.

During the closing decades of the nineteenth century, to be sure, premonitory signs of a change in attitude began to appear. The yellow and brown races, at least, stirred by the very impact of Western ideas, measured the white man with a more critical eye and commenced to wonder whether his superiority was due to anything more than a fortuitous combination of circumstances which might be altered by efforts of their own. Japan put this theory to the test by going sedulously to the white man's school. The upshot was the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, an event the momentous character of which is even now not fully appreciated. Of course, that war was merely the sign-manual of a whole nexus of forces making for a revivified Asia. But it dramatized and clarified ideas which had been germinating half-unconsciously in millions of colored minds, and both Asia and Africa thrilled with joy and hope. Above all, the legend of white invincibility lay, a fallen idol, in the dust. Nevertheless, though freed from imaginary terrors, the colored world accurately gauged the white man's practical strength and appreciated the magnitude of the task involved in overthrowing white supremacy. That supremacy was no longer acquiesced in as inevitable and hopes of ultimate success were confidently entertained, but the process was usually conceived as a slow and difficult one. Fear of white power and respect for white civilization thus remained potent restraining factors.

Then came the Great War. The colored world suddenly saw the white peoples which, in racial matters had hitherto maintained something of a united front, locked in an internecine death-grapple of unparalleled ferocity; it saw those same peoples put one another furiously to the ban as irreconcilable foes; it saw white race-unity cleft by political and moral gulfs which white men themselves continuously iterated would never be filled. As colored men realized the significance of it all, they looked into each other's eyes and there saw the light of undreamed-of hopes. The white world was tearing itself to pieces. White solidarity was riven and shattered. And fear of white power and respect for white civilization together dropped away like garments outworn. Through the bazaars of Asia ran the sibilant whisper: "The East will see the West to bed! "

The chorus of mingled exultation, hate, and scorn sounded from every portion of the colored world. Chinese scholars, Japanese professors, Hindu pundits, Turkish journalists, and Afro-American editors, one and all voiced drastic criticisms of white civilization and hailed the war as a well-merited Nemesis on white arrogance and greed. This is how the Constantinople TANINE, the most serious Turkish newspaper, characterized the European Powers: "They would not look at the evils in their own countries or elsewhere, but interfered at the slightest incident in our borders; every day they would gnaw at some part of our rights and our sovereignty; they would perform vivisection on our quivering flesh and cut off great pieces of it. And we, with a forcibly controlled spirit of rebellion in our hearts and with clinched but powerless fists, silent and depressed, would murmur as the fire burned within: 'Oh, that they might fall out with one another! Oh, that they might eat one another up!' And lo! to-day they are eating each other up, just as the Turk wished they would." (Quoted from THE LITERARY DIGEST, October 24, 1914, p. 784.)

[he Afro-American author, W. E. Burghardt Dubois, wrote of the colored world: "These nations and races, composing as they do a vast majority of humanity, are going to endure this treatment just as long as they must and not a moment longer. Then they are going to fight, and the War of the Color Line will outdo in savage inhumanity any war this world has yet seen. For colored folk have much to remember and they will not forget." (W. E. Burghardt Dubois `'The African Roots of War," ATLANTIC MONTHLY, May, 1915.)

"What does the European War mean to us Orientals?" queried the Japanese writer, Yone Noguchi "It means the saddest downfall of the so-called western civilization, our belief that it was builded upon a higher and sounder footing than ours was at once knocked down and killed; we are sorry that we somehow overestimated its happy possibility and were deceived and cheated by its superficial glory. My recent western journey confirmed me that the so-called dynamic western civilization was all against the Asiatic belief. And when one does not respect the others, there will be only one thing to come, that is, fight, in action or silence." (Yone Noguchi, "The Downfall of Western Civilization," THE NATION (New York), October 8, 1914.)

Such was the colored world's reaction to the white death-grapple, and as the long struggle dragged on both Asia and Africa stirred to their very depths. To be sure, no great explosions occurred during the war years, albeit lifting veils of censorship reveal how narrowly such explosions were averted. Nevertheless, Asia and Africa are to-day in acute ferment, and we must not forget that this ferment is not primarily due to the war. The war merely accelerated a movement already existent long before 1914. Even if the Great War had been averted, the twentieth century must have been a time of wide-spread racial readjustments in which the white man's present position of political world-domination would have been sensibly modified, especially in Asia. However, had the white race and white civilization been spared the terrific material and moral losses involved in the Great War and its still unliquidated aftermath, the process of racial readjustment would have been far more gradual and would have been fraught with far fewer cataclysmic possibilities. Had white strength remained intact it would have acted as a powerful shock-absorber, taking up and distributing the various colored impacts. As a result, the coming modification of the world's racial equilibrium, though inevitable, would have been so graduated that it would have seemed more an evolution than a revolution. Such violent breaches as did occur might have been localized, and anything like a general race-cataclysm would probably have been impossible.

But it was not to be. The heart of the white world was divided against itself, and on the fateful 1st of August, 1914, the white race, forgetting ties of blood and culture, heedless of the growing pressure of the colored world without, locked in a battle to the death. An ominous cycle opened whose end no man can foresee. - Armageddon engendered Versailles; earth's worst war closed with an unconstructive peace which left old sores unhealed and even dealt fresh wounds. The white world to-day lies debilitated and uncured; the colored world views conditions which are a standing incitement to rash dreams and violent action.

Such is the present status of the world's race-problem, expressed in general terms. The analysis of the specific elements in that complex problem will form the subject of the succeeding chapters.

Conitnue on to Chapter 2
Go back to the Table of Contents