Towards apartheid, c 1930

December 9 2006

The slavery once imposed nakedly on uprooted and transplanted Black Men by immigrant White Men of English speech and Protestant faith in the New World will be imposed under camouflage, in our generation, on other Black Men in the homeland of the Black Race by the Dutch and English settlers in South and East Africa, if these settlers once obtain a free hand to deal with the native African peoples at their discretion; and this revival of negro slavery – this time on the negro’s native continent – will not be the less pernicious for being hypocritically disguised. The battle over negro slavery, which was fought out in the New World during the century ending with the end of the American Civil War, may have to be fought out in Africa once again; and even if Light discomfits Darkness for the second time, the sequel to the American battle over this issue shows how hard it is for the Light to drive the Darkness altogether off the field. In the United States, where negro slavery has been abolished at so great a cost, race-feeling remains to perpetuate the social evils of racial inequality and racial segregation. We can foresee that in Africa, too, the sequel, at the best, will be the same. The young communities of English-speaking White people in the United States and in the Union of South Africa and in Kenya Colony, upon whose fortunes the more distant prospects of the “Anglo-Saxon” version of Western culture very largely depend, are already in the grip of the paralysing institution of Caste.

Toynbee has been accused of knowing nothing of African history, but he did not say, as his detractor Hugh Trevor-Roper did in 1963: “Perhaps in the future there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none: there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness.”

In 1965 Toynbee published a rather superficial book about Africa (northern half), Between Niger and Nile, based on his travels. His humanity did not prevent him from referring to sub-Saharan African cultures, at least earlier, in the Study, and as most people in his generation did, as “barbarous”. Perhaps he no longer did at the end of his life. We still use the word “barbarian” to describe Huns and Goths. Is it being edged out here too? Does one have to be an aggressor on horseback to be a barbarian?

A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934

3 Responses to “Towards apartheid, c 1930”


  1. […] But Toynbee had, if anything, a pro-Catholic bias – especially when it came to Catholicism as a “civilizing and foundational force”. We’ve seen examples. For example, here. […]


  2. […] Toynbee often contrasts the behaviour of Catholics worldwide with that of Protestants: the Protestants come off much worse. We’ve had a little from him on Mexico already (a country of whose race relations he has a rather rosy view) and on the treatment of black people by Protestants in Africa and America. […]


  3. […] the remark is unfair. X may have been thinking of Trevor-Roper, whose remark on the matter I quoted here. X also mentioned Toynbee in a US radio show called Community Corner on December 27 1964, just […]


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