Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau (July 14, 1816 — October 13, 1882) was a French aristocrat, novelist and man of letters who became famous for advocating White Supremacy and developing the racialist theory of the Aryan master race in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853-1855).
To Bahá'ís, Gobineau is known as the person who obtained the only complete manuscript of the early history of the Bábí religious movement of Persia, written by Hâjji Mirza Jân of Kashan, who was put to death by the Persian authorities in c.1852. The manuscript now is in the Bibliothèque nationale at Paris.
Gobineau also wrote novels, notably Les Pléiades (1874). His study La Renaissance (1877) also was admired in his day. Both of these works strongly expressed his reactionary aristocratic politics, and his hatred of democratic mass culture.
Gobineau believed himself to be the descendant of Nordic Vikings and Condottieri.
Gobineau was a successful diplomat for the French Second Empire. Initially he was posted to Persia, before working in Brazil and other countries. He came to believe that race created culture, arguing that distinctions between the three "black", "white", and "yellow" races were natural barriers, and that "race-mixing" breaks those barriers and leads to chaos. The Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, North Africa and southern France he classificed as being racially mixed.
He believed the "white race" to be superior to the others. He thought it corresponds to the ancient Indo-European culture also known as "Aryan". He saw Germany as having just enough of the Aryan strain to revive the white race. Gobineau, among early anthropologists, was not alone in his belief in racial superiority.
Hitler and Nazism borrowed much of Gobineau's ideology, though Gobineau himself was not particularly anti-semitic. On the contrary, Gobineau saw Jews as intelligent people who were very much a part of the superior race and who, if anything, stimulated industry and culture. As such, when the Nazis adopted Gobineau's theories, they were forced to extensively edit his work; much as they did in the case of Nietzsche.
In Gobineau's view, the development of empires ultimately was destructive to the "superior races" that created them, since they led to the mixing of distinct races. This he saw as a degenerative process.
Gobineau visited Bayreuth, home of Richard Wagner shortly before his death. There he influenced the development of the anti-Semitic "Bayreuth circle".
According to his definitions and the map shown below, the people of Spain, most of France, most of Germany, southern and western Iran as well as Switzerland, Austria, northern Italy and a large part of Britain, consist of a degenerative race arising from miscegenation. Also the whole of north India consist of a yellow race.
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