By Tommy Curry
Published by SUNY Press, November 27, 2018
Demonstrates the extent to which Josiah Royce’s ideas about race were motivated explicitly in terms of imperial conquest.
Another white Man’s Burden performs a case study of Josiah Royce’s philosophy of racial difference. In an effort to lay bare the ethnological racial heritage of American philosophy, Tommy J. Curry challenges the common notion that the cultural racism of the twentieth century was more progressive and less racist than the biological determinism of the 1800s. Like many white thinkers of his time, Royce believed in the superiority of the white races. Unlike today however, whiteness did not represent only one racial designation but many. Contrary to the view of the British-born Germanophile philosopher Houston S. Chamberlain, for example, who insisted upon the superiority of the Teutonic races, Royce believed it was the Anglo-Saxon lineage that possessed the key to Western civilization. It was the birthright of white America, he believed, to join the imperial ventures of Britain – to take up the white man’s burden. To this end he advocated the domestic colonization of Blacks in the American South, suggested that America’s xenophobia was natural and necessary to protecting the culture of white America, and demanded the assimilation and elimination of cultural difference for the stability of America’s communities. Another white Man’s Burden reminds philosophers that racism has been part of the building blocks of American thought for centuries, and that this must be recognized and addressed in order for its proclamations of democracy, community, and social problems to have real meaning.
“Curry has paid attention to the odd and icky bits of Royce, tracking down the offhand cultural references, the unfamiliar names, and historical contexts. A solid analysis of early twentieth-century conceptions of race and colonialism reveals an unseemly picture before our contemporary eyes. Curry is right; we shouldn’t ignore or soft-pedal this.” – Lee A. McBride III, the College of Wooster