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Monday, January 26 2015 @ 08:26 AM CST

Historical counter-argument against racism

News ArchiveSubmitted by Matteo Black:

Historical Counter Argument

Racist Argument #1:"White people are superior because they are the most advanced in the world."

Note: By most "advanced", they mean Militarily, Culturally, Scientifically, Politically etc...

Argument #1: The argument #1 is a Conditional Argument. The two premises must, therefore, be correct.

If white people are the most advanced , then they are superior.

white people are the most advanced.

Therefore, white people are superior.

Counter Argument: To claim that to be the most advanced in Military, Sciences etc. demonstrates the fact of superiority is a fallacy. Here racists are forgetting that white people have not always been the most advanced (this is demonstrated later in this article). For example, Chinese had a higher level of development through Antiquity and Moslem had the lead during the Middle Ages. Therefore, white culture was not always the most advanced. Since for a race to be superior, it must have, throughout the whole of history, been superior as well. But that has not always been so. We will see later that Europeans were quite behind in earlier centuries. How can a "race" be "inferior" -less advanced- then centuries later "superior" -more advanced?

Islamic and European Civilizations during the Middle Ages:

To compare how these two cultures developed, and how they influenced each other, will help us show that the balance of power shifted from one extreme to the other as time passed by. Europeans were actually quite behind Islamic culture. This until the sixteenth century.

Middle Ages, Renaissance and Islamic/Western European cultures.

The Middle Ages were a bad period for Europe and that is why it is also known as The Dark Ages. Europeans were suffering from ruthless monarchies, manipulative Church leaders and from an unfair economical system, Feudalism. All of them brought extreme poverty and illiteracy. It was the dark ages because people were blind since they were manipulated with myths about witchcraft and the belief that poor people had to accept their situation. The Renaissance, French word for 're-birth', was truly a period where citizens of the Old Continent got more freedom and culture. All of this made the Europeans, especially the West, excellent scientists and philosophers. Unfortunately the development of Science also led to the creation of deadlier weapons and through this, Westerners rulers manage to control regions all over the world.

By the end of the Middle Ages, contrary to the Europeans, the Islamic world was in decay. This began to take place when the Mongols from the East, also feared in Europe, came and took over numerous regions that used to be occupied by the Arabs, the Turks, the Persians...But the Mongols were amazed at the level of culture they found in those countries. Years later, many of them decided to go back to Asia. Their return brought new men. They were different since they took with them important aspects of Muslim society, including their faith. Nowadays, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines...are countries with strong Islamic feelings.

We agree here that the West is leading the world in Sciences and other areas such as culture. But now, we will prove that this was not always the case, by studying the period of the Middle Ages. We do not present isolated facts like Racists do, but multiple facts that will lead to the conclusion that being more developed is not the same as being superior.

How did the Antiquity influence them?

The Antiquity brought important philosophers to the world. Among them we found Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and others. Their importance is relevant even today. Greeks were the first to contribute to the Scientific method, to Medicine, to Philosophy among others. Even today, we still enjoy their wisdom.

In Europe, the leaders and the fake followers of Christ (the Popes) had decided to destroy the Roman and Greek knowledge and Culture in order to make new ones that would better fit their interests. For instance, Greeks knew that the planet was rounded, but the Pope said it wasn't. This was particularly true for Western Europe. After this, La Renaissance gave antiquity's philosophers a new chance. It is true, though, that some excellent Christian philosophers like Saint Thomas of Aquinas and Saint Augustin did link their works to Aristotle, but these are just a few exceptions.

On the other hand, Islamic culture accepted and received those teachings, and put them into excellent practice. This was the first source of inspiration that would later form the Muslim world. The next influence was the Persians. This had great amount of texts about Mathematics, Medicine and Religion. The third source was India. Indians developed a good deal of Mathematical knowledge, they actually created our present numerical system(1). Therefore their influence would be, above all, in the field of maths.

Education and Culture.

Europe was, like it was said before, living under a more repressive system than those in North Africa and the Middle East. Literature was kept in Latin so that only religious people would be able to read it (at first, aristocrats couldn't read, their main function was to make wars among each other and to control the population). Later on, Literature was offered in several tongues but education was only for the ruling class. Therefore, Europeans lacked of mass education.

On the other hand, Moslem popularised knowledge to such an extent that reading was not an accomplishment anymore. The book-copying industry flourished at Damascus, Cairo, Alexandria and Baghdad. In the year 970 Cordoba opened twenty-seven free schools for the education of the poor. There was a huge amount of writers and philosophers shaping the intellectual backbone of their society. "By the ninth and tenth centuries there are not only grammars but great lexicons, and a mass of philological learning in Islam."(2) A century before Europe, Moslem founded important Universities and Religious schools at Basra, Kafu, Baghdad, Cordoba and Cairo. Students came from the East and the West. These centres influenced the thought of the surrounding countries. This takes us to the next point of our argumentation:


Cordoba's University (founded in Spain, occupied by the Arabs) shaped the way Philosophy was taught in Oxford, Paris and North Italy. The main thinker, managing to improve the older scientific theories presented by the Greeks during Antiquity, was Averroes (Ibnrushd) of Cordoba (1126-1198). He explained that Religious Institutions had to stay away from Scientifical studies. Both Moslem and Christian leaders tried to control researchers. For Europe we see for example Galileo Galilee, himself a Catholic, who ended up murdered by the religious leaders for declaring that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe. Therefore making such declarations and actually teaching such methods, Ibnrushd went on to liberate Science. Quoting H.G. Wells: "The name of Averroes (Ibnrushd) of Cordoba stands out as that of the culminating influence of Arab philosophy upon the European thought."(3)


Therefore, Islamic culture also played an important role in Sciences. Avicenna (Ibnsina) (980-1037) contributed greatly to Medicine. His influences were due to the fact that the Middle East was extremely interested in this field and that they kept all the Classical and Persian works of this matter.

Taking again another quote from another book: "In Medicine they made great advances over the work of the Greeks. They studied physiology and hygiene, and their materia medica was practically the same as ours to-day. Many of their methods of treatment are still in use among us. Their surgeons understood the use of anaesthetics, and performed some of the most difficult operations known. At the time when in Europe the practice of medicine was forbidden by the Church, which expected cures to be effected by religious rites performed by the Clergy, the Arabs had a real science of medicine."(4).


Arabic Mathematicians contributed extremely to modern knowledge of Mathematics. Europe also had great mathematicians but the importance of their works was censored by the rulers. Once again we see that authoritarian systems always try to suppress objective and unbiased education.

Contrary to what many think, Arabs did not come up with the numbers that we use today. For a long time this was believed but a lot of research have been done and we found that we owe that to the Indians thinkers. So what was the Arabic contribution to Mathematics?

The number zero, the greatest invention together with the wheel, was created by Muhammad-Ibn-Musa, a Moslem mathematician who was the first to use the decimal notation, in the ninth century. He also gave the digits the value of position.

Geometry, Physics, Astronomy.

"In geometry the Arabs did not add much to Euclid, but algebra is practically their creation; also, they developed spherical trigonometry, inventing the sine, tangent, and cotangent. In Physics they invented the pendulum, and produced works on optics. They made progress in the science of astronomical instruments which are still in use. They calculated the angle of the ecliptic and the precession of the equinoxes. Their knowledge of astronomy was undoubtedly considerable."(5)


"In chemistry they made a good beginning. They discovered many new substances, such as potash, nitrate of silver, corrosive sublimate, and nitric and sulphuric acid."(6)


The strength of the Islamic people during this period was partly due to the strong economy that they got. This was based on trade. Finding themselves at the crossroad of the West and the East, they managed to import products from each of these two continents. As well as this, their production was excellent and they enjoyed high international recognition.

As before, European economy was backward since it could not establish such a strong trading system and that Agriculture followed no scientifical method. Let's see how good the Moslem managed to lead their production.

"...In manufactures they outdid the world in variety and beauty of design and perfection of workmanship. They worked in all the metals-gold, silver, copper, bronze, iron and steel. In textile fabrics they have never been surpassed. They made glass and pottery of the finest quality. They knew the secrets of dyeing, and they manufactured paper. They had many processes of dressing leather, and their work was famous throughout Europe. They made tinctures, essences and syrups. They made sugar from the cane, and grew many fine kinds of wine. They practised farming in a scientific way, and had a good system of irrigation. They knew the value of fertilizers, and adapted their crops to the quality of the ground. They excelled in horticulture, knowing how to graft and how to produce new varieties of fruit and flowers. They introduced into the West many trees and plants from the East, and wrote scientific treatises on farming."(7)


During the Middle Ages, Islamic nations managed to conquer a lot of European countries. The main ones were the Kingdoms of Spain, which was occupied throughout most of the period then later was freed entirely at around the start of La Renaissance (1492), and the Byzantine world (controlled by the Ottoman -Turkey- until the 1 World War). They managed to take over the most defended city of the Dark Ages, Constantinople, now Istanbul, and also defeated Europe during the Crusades. This clearly proves that the strongest armies were theirs.


After seeing that the logic of this racist argument is wrong, we have proposed many examples to back up our argumentations. Sometimes we have just copied entire phrases from studies made by Europeans themselves and how they saw these two cultures, Europeans and Islamic.

The main conclusions that we find here is that during the Middle Ages Europe was very behind the Moslem. This does not mean that they were 'inferior', but that their system was worse. As I see it, such a system could not have produced an advanced civilisation because it was too authoritarian. The Arabs, who were authoritarian too, enjoyed more freedom than Europeans did because education, in many areas, became more independent from the State and the Islamic faith leaders. Nowadays you can see how Western countries are more free than the ones in the Middle East or North Africa.

Another point is that education is needed for development. As long as schools were accessible to the poor (real schools), the culture and science achievements remained high. Unfortunately, Islamic nations followed a wrong path and reduced freedom and education. Instead of this Europe became more free with the Renaissance. For the first time, books were available to any one and the concept of education for the masses was becoming a reality.

Therefore, to sum up our counter-argument, it could be claimed that:

"To claim that to be the most advanced in Military, Sciences etc. demonstrates the fact of superiority is a fallacy. Here racists are forgetting that white people have not always been the most advanced. For example, Chinese had a higher level of development through Antiquity and Moslem had the lead during the Middle Ages. Therefore, white culture was not always the most advanced. Since for a race to be superior, it must have, throughout the whole of history, been superior as well. But that has not always been so. We just saw that Europeans were quite behind in earlier centuries. How can a "race" be 'inferior' -less advanced- then centuries later 'superior' -more advanced?"


1. "Histoire Universelle Des Chiffres", Vol. II, by Georges Ifrah.

2. "The Outline of History", by H.G Wells.

3. Idem.

4. "A General History of Europe", by Thatcher and Schwill.

5. Idem.

6. Idem.

7. Idem.

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Historical counter-argument against racism | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
comment by lb
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12 2002 @ 04:02 PM CST
This is pretty useless article that doesn\'t go anyway beneath the reasons of racism. There\'s no need to fight rascism by arguing what \"fact\" is the most factual. Liberals may like this one, but it\'s useless for anarchists.
comment by Chris
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12 2002 @ 06:20 PM CST
Actually, this doesn\'t even look at the reasons for racism. It just gives you debate fuel, and debating with a nazi is like debating with a bullet, or a rock, or a fucking moron.
comment by pete
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12 2002 @ 09:54 PM CST
so it would be OK to be racist if whites really were more \'advanced\' than blacks?

races are in some sense non-existent and thus to accept the fetishised category of race is to already concede far too much to racists.
in another sense races are real because people act on the fetishised category of race but we should be working to destroy \'race\' not reinforce it.
comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12 2002 @ 10:42 PM CST
The point of debating with neo-Nazis isn\'t to convince the Nazis, it\'s to convince any bystanders sitting on the fence. If some suit-and-tie Nazi presents a pseudo-scientific argument in favor of racism, and you respond by kicking in his teeth, then who will seem better to observers (generally speaking)?

There is a time and place for debate, and there is a time and place for teeth-kickin\'.
comment by Matteo Black
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 13 2002 @ 04:27 AM CST

First of all thanks to everyone for their comments.

Since most of you thought of this article as useless, let me explain why I didi it:

I am working on an anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-sexist site, http://nopasaran.antifa.net, and its main point is to prove Fascism wrong. Why do I do that?

Of course I know that all racist would never accept the truth and that no matter how much evidence we propose they will not care. But there are out there many people that are beoming brainwahsed by Racists scums with their pseudo-scientific rethoric and who later become racists themselves.

Therefore, I think it is important that us, anarchists, propose ideas, arguments and counter-arguments on the web in order to stop this brainwashing.

Haven\'t you guys ever seen kids on the net? The internet is a liberation tool since those do not have the mean nor the money to propagate their ideas now can express themselves freely. The down side of this is that Fascists have a new room to lie and fool young people on the net.

I know anyone can find that racism is stupid. But let me tell you that I have so many friends in Europe that used to be racists because they had been fooledc over and over again.

So what are we gonna do? Just stand on the side and do nothing? Are we gonna attack anyone who constructs arguments against Racism? Or are we going to fight racist ideas on thenet and propose Anarchism as the true alternative to Capitalism and injustices?


Matteo Black
comment by Matteo Black
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 13 2002 @ 04:35 AM CST
Sorry but I had to say another thing, this article does not say that there are races. I believe there is only on ehuman race. What does article is a proof against Racsim. Now, I have to put the racist argument as it is used by racists. And they use the word \'race\'. So I have to use it too. Furthermore, see how I wrote \"Islamic\" as a culture and not as a race.
comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 13 2002 @ 11:25 AM CST
well Matteo, I thought the article was good. I look forward to seeing more -- perhaps a debunking of the very concept of race?
comment by zz.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 14 2002 @ 11:53 AM CST
It might also be important to look at the *causes* of racism, especially if you are working to destroy it. From a materialist standpoint, racism has been pretty useful for the ruling class in many ways throughout history (but it\'s not *necessary*). Racism was originally used as a justification for slavery, the line went: it\'s ok for indians and blacks to be slaves, because non-whites are inferior. Racism came about because of slavery, and not the other way around. Now that minorities have been pretty much \"assimilated\" into the system, racism serves the purposes of dividing workers based on race or ethnicity. But still, abolishing capitalism does not mean racism and sexism are going to go away, because it is so ingrained - even if is not a useful strategy for the capitalist class anymore.
comment by outside the whale
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 15 2002 @ 03:49 PM CDT
Defeat racsism in 3 steps. 1.) Decide it\'s wrong. 2.) Internalize that you\'re not going to stereotype anymore. 3.) Replace negative actions with positives