(For the first one in this series, see https://clarespark.com/2014/09/08/why-progressive-social-psychologists-make-us-crazy/.)
I have been rereading old books of mine to see if I could still recommend them; the horror show today is by Ashley Montagu (born Israel Ehrenberg, 1901-1999), a very long book republished in paperback by Oxford University Press in 1974: Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, and dedicated to the three Mississippi martyrs on behalf of civil rights for Negroes (“James Chaney, Andy Schwerner, and Mickey Goodman”—in that order, and with nicknames reserved for the two white guys).
This is how this particular progressive, super-prolix author puts us in double binds.
- (In no particular order) The hip reader of physical anthropology praises both competition and cooperation (“altruism”—an inborn trait, over the taught horrors of Social Darwinism—a capitalist deviation from the ideal).
- We are both shaped by particular [unique/incomparable] societies and individuals free to choose a better path, i.e., the collectivist progressive way.
- “Race” is out, while “ethnicity” is in no way a racist term. (This is a wild distortion of Huxley and Haddon’s We Europeans (1935) where they discard both race and ethnicity, preferring the ancient reference to “ethnos” as any particular population.)
- Hybrid vigor improves what has been mistakenly called “pure” races. (This may be an indirect way of being a racist, while posing as an anti-racist: some 19th C. crypto-racists played this game.)
Along the way, the lordly Montagu describes the unenlightened lower orders as “wild” and “coarse.”
For a detailed account of how the pseudo-science of social relations (sometimes known as cultural anthropology) prevailed over the wild and coarse pursuit of truth, see https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/, and most of this website.
The only way to resolve the double bind is to retreat into mysticism over anything so banal as materialism.