Psychology, Racism & Fascism:
An On-line Edition

Andrew S. Winston
University of Guelph

Scholars examining the relationship between right-wing politics and racial research have drawn on a 1979 work by social psychologist Michael Billig, Psychology, Racism, and Fascism. This short pamphlet, along with Billig's (1978) monograph on the social psychology of the neo-fascist National Front, provided the first account of the contribution of psychologists and other academics to racist and neo-Nazi movements of the 1950s to 1970s.

This work is not widely available in university libraries. Given the intense interest in these issues, particularly with the 1990s revival of racial research in psychology, it is important that Psychology, Racism, and Fascism be available to students of the history of psychology, as well as scholars concerned with eugenics and neo-fascism. However, these are not simply problems of history; some of the individuals described by Billig remain very active. For example, the journal Mankind Quarterly, the major outlet for racial research, is still in publication under the editorship of Roger Pearson. Thus Billig's work is also important for students of contemporary scientific racism. With the permission of Michael Billig and Searchlight, I have prepared this on-line version, which reproduces the original as closely as possible.

A work of this length cannot possibly provide the full context of the history of racism in psychology (see Richards, 1997 and Tucker, 1994 for surveys) and academic racism in general. For background on scientific racism in Germany, see Burleigh & Wipperman (1991), Müller-Hill (1987), Proctor (1988), and Weindling (1989). For general sources on the history of eugenics, see, for example, Adams (1990), Allen (1997), Barkan (1992), Chase (1979), Kevles (1985), Haller (1984), Kühl (1994), and Mehler (1988). Useful discussions of scientific racism for the general audience are Kohn (1994) and Shipman (1994), and Marks (1995) provides a general, scholarly discussion of race, genetics, and anthropology.

Additional discussions of the individuals, groups and publications in Psychology, Racism, & Fascism can be found in Mehler (e.g., 1983, 1989, 1997) Mintz (1985), Newby (1969) Tucker (1994), and Winston (1996, 1998). Tucker (1994) provides the most thorough discussion of these issues. Detailed bibliographies and biographical information on many individuals discussed in Psychology, Racism, and Fascism are available at the web site of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism (/ISAR) at Ferris State University, directed by Prof. Barry Mehler. In all materials of this kind, due sensitivity to the issue of "guilt by association" must be observed.

I thank Mark Ferris and Ina Hutchings for their generous help.


Adams, M. B., Ed. (1990). The wellborn science: Eugenics in Germany, France, and Russia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Allen, G. E. (1986). The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, 1910-1940: An essay in institutional history. Osiris, II, 1986.

Billig, M. (1978). Fascists: A social psychological view of the National Front. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Barkan, E. (1992). The retreat of scientific racism: Changing concepts of race in Britain and the United States between the world wars. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Burleigh, M. & Wipperman, W. (1991). The racial state: Germany 1933-1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chase, A. (1979). The legacy of Malthus: The social costs of the new scientific racism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Haller, M. (1963). Eugenics: Hereditarian attitudes in American thought. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Kevles, D. J. (1985). In the name of eugenics: Genetics and the uses of human heredity. New York: Knopf.

Kohn, M. (1995). The race gallery: The return of racial science. London: Jonathan Cape.

Kühl, S. (1994). Eugenics, American racism, and German National Socialism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Marks, J. (1995). Human biodiversity: Genes, race, and history. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Mehler, B. (1983). The new eugenics: Academic racism in the U. S. today. Science for the People, 15, 18-23.

Mehler, B. (1988). A history of the American Eugenics Society, 1921-1940. Unpublished Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mehler, B. (1989). Foundations for fascism: The New Eugenics Movement in the United States. Patterns of Prejudice, 23, 17-25.

Mehler, B. (1997). Beyondism: Raymond B. Cattell and the new eugenics. Genetica, 153-165.

Mintz, F. P. (1985). The Liberty Lobby and the American right: Race, conspiracy, and culture. Westport, CONN: Greenwood Press.

Newby, I. (1969). Challenge to the court: Social Scienctists and the defence of segregation, 1954-1996. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Proctor, R. (1988). Racial hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Müller-Hill, B. (1988). Murderous science: Elimination by scientific selection of Jews, Gypsies, and others, Germany 1933-1945 (G. R. Fraser, Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richards, G. (1997). 'Race,' racism and psychology: Towards a reflexive history. London: Routledge.

Shipman, P. (1994). The evolution of racism: Human differences and the use and abuse of science. New York: Simon & Schuster.

. Tucker, W. H. (1994). The Science and politics of racial research. Urbana: University of Ill. Press.

Winston, A. S. (1996). The context of correctness: A comment on Rushton. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 5, 231-249.

Winston, A. S. (1998). Science in the service of the far right: Henry E. Garrett, the IAAEE and the Liberty Lobby. Journal of Social Issues, 53, 179-209.

Please send comments to:

Prof. Andrew S. Winston

Department of Psychology

University of Guelph

Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1

Psychology, Racism & Fascism

by Michael Billig

A Searchlight Booklet

Copywrite 1979, Michael Billig. Reprinted with the permission of Michael Billig and Searchlight


RACISM has a long history on the darker side of British social science, finding an early institutional expression in the Anthropological Society of London in the mid 19th century. It was later associated with the names of Galton, Pearson, Keith and Burt. Burt was an important contributor to the thinking behind the Butler Education Act and a man obsessed by the idea of "breeding" in his later years. It is now suspected that parts of his research were simply invented to support his beliefs. The eugenics movement, out of which scientific racism grew, was especially concerned with national degeneration and regeneration; a concern embodied in the policies of the Third Reich.

Victory in the second world war and full exposure of the results of Nazi racial policies seemed to have laid "scientific racism" to rest and its epitaph was written by the scientific community in four UNESCO statements on race. Now only thirty four years after the war the racists are on the march again and a few members of the scientific community are marching with them.

Europe today is undergoing crises in circumstances that have seen a breakdown of the post-war political consensus. Europe is also multi-racial with 11 million immigrants from Mediterranean and Third World countries manning important (and often underpaid) positions in manufacturing and services. Has scientific racism sprung, newly armed, from nowhere, to capitalise upon these factors?

In this well-researched pamphlet Billig answers "No" and shows an unbroken connection between scientific racists in the English-speaking world and a Nazi tradition rooted largely in the work of Hans Günther. The academic community and the Nazis in Europe are connected through interlinked associations and journals to form an underworld largely unknown to British intellectuals and with values quite different from the traditional values of liberal scholarship.

Perhaps there can be no purely disinterested scientific research; all our work has political implications because if it is at all significant it bears on someone's interests. The values we bring to research may most clearly show themselves in the questions we ask. Why do some ask questions which put at risk the civil, political and social standing of others? Why do they feel compelled to promote these questions and their spurious answers long after the scientific basis of both questions and answers has been demolished?

Most social scientists regard scientific racism as dead. But it will not lie down and many believe that there is some sort of case to answer because the noise continues. It is not enough for us to effect boredom, and detachment from what in intellectual terms has become merely irritating, because the political consequences are real especially when they break through into "legitimate" politics. The implications are clear when we see either the company that scientific racists keep, or the company that claims them for its own. The scientific racists -- whether they wish to do so or not, and some clearly do -- aid the Nazi cause and work for it. Their work must be judged by this as well as its scientific merits. Their work in academe is part of the same enterprise that National Front thugs undertake on the streets.

Robert Moore

Department of Sociology, King's College,

University of Aberdeen.

Psychology, Racism & Fascism

by Michael Billig, Department of Psychology, University of Birmingham.

Originally Published as:

A Searchlight pamphlet.

Published in 1979 by A.F. & R. Publications, 21, Great Western Buildings, 6, Livery Street, Birmingham 3.

Tel: (021) 236 4147.

Designed by Sidelines (021) 551 2351.

Cover drawing by Steve Bell.

Printed by The Russell Press Ltd., 45, Gamble Street, Forest Road West, Nottingham, NG7 4ET.



Chapter One

Nazi Race-science

Chapter Two

Race-science returns

Chapter Three

Mankind Quarterly

1. The editors

2. The contents

Chapter Four

Neue Anthropologie

Chapter Five

Nouvelle Ecole

Chapter Six

Eysenck & Jensen

Chapter Seven

Racism in psychology

Chapter Eight



SCIENTISTS often like to think of themselves as dispassionate seekers of knowledge. Isolated in their laboratories they pursue their goals far removed from the clamour of common prejudices and bigotry. However, for scientists hoping to build a 'science of race' this claim of detachment is frequently either illusory or hypocritical.

The growth of scientific ideas is not normally haphazard within a society. The ideas of scientists usually do not arise in some vacuum, but can be connected with underlying political or economic trends. Thus historians have found it comparatively easy to connect the growth of scientific notions about white racial supremacy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the development of imperialism and the slave-trade.(1)

Today the slave-trade may have disappeared, but scientific notions about racial differences still persist. In fact within recent years a growing number of influential psychologists have been canvassing the theory that there are racial differences in intelligence. The question which must be asked is whether the growth of this psychological theory can be connected with any underlying political trend.

This pamphlet examines the relations between psychological theories of race and another trend which has occurred in the past ten years: the small, but not insignificant, growth of fascism.

One might have thought that fascist and Nazi political groups should have declined consistently since 1945. After more than 30 years such groups should now be almost extinct. However, throughout Western Europe, North and South America fascist groups obstinately refuse to fade away, and in fact in certain places their activities are increasing.(2)

For instance, in Britain there has been a pronounced fascist revival during the last few years. A fascist group like the National Front has emerged from the obscure reaches of the lunatic fringe to thrust its way into the political consciousness of the nation. It has been argued that in Britain fascism is today politically stronger than it was in the 1930s.(3)

In Britain, fascism has been attempting to establish a presence in the streets of decaying city areas, fanning the prejudices of the ill-informed. Commonly it is assumed that fascism and race prejudice are attractive only to the un-intelligent and uneducated.(4) Thus it might seem absurd to look for connections between contemporary fascism and psychological theories formulated in calm and detached academic settings by highly educated professors.

However, a glance at recent history will show this not to be as absurd as it might seem. For this reason it is necessary to look closely at some of the intellectual ideas, which contributed to German Nazism in the 1930s, and also which continue to be held by today's fascists.

To Chapter #1