Race and engineering

In ch. 7 of his book Die ‘Westliche Hemisphäre’ Ross described the shift in emphasis in defining the concept of race: space, or environment, was now accorded more explanatory power than heredity, or Blut. But within the same book, in the referenced chapter, Ross modifies this change. 

In ‘“Hundertprozentige” Amerikaner’ Ross develops this revised view on America’s population, viz. that the formation of a specifically American race cannot be left to the environment alone. It must be actively guided and controlled, in other words: engineered. But that, he expects, will take a millennium or two, because all American inhabitants, British as well as southern and eastern Europeans, are essentially still immigrants (or, as he wrote earlier, America is too young to even have an American population).1

By taking the long view Ross, first of all, has an additional reason to belittle the accomplishments of America’s British stock and its attempt to impose itself, through its notion of the melting pot, on later immigrant populations.2 Secondly, and incidentally a new element in his arguments, it enables him to reconcile race and space. After only a few hundred years of American settlement, Ross writes, heredity still prevails. But in combination with the given racial components, preferably as similar—i.e. European—as possible to increase success, an American race will only emerge through the slow shaping forces of the country’s immense geography.

However, Ross conveniently omits to mention a number things. For instance, that in his book Amerikas Schicksalsstunde (1935) he had already identified the brown race as the “truly American” one. Furthermore, and quite contrary to his argument in the referenced chapter, in 1936 he wrote that after the War of Independence the American soil and climate revealed their extraordinary Formkraft—supported by atmospheric currents, electric tensions, and other “underresearched” factors—that transformed people of various “Rassen” within two generations into Americans who apparently lost their heredity completely.3 (Here, of course, Ross’s use of the term race is an overstatement, as the vast majority of settlers were people of different nationalities at best, and mostly from Britain and the northwestern European continent.) What made Ross change his mind in the meantime he never discloses. Finally, what he doesn’t address either is why the emergence of an American race would be a desirable goal, except for the concise ‘millennial’ promise of redemption: before the American race is a reality “tensions within the blood of the people who live on American soil will lead to many a crisis and catastrophe”. Would it all be worth it?

Nico de Klerk

Colin Ross. “Hundertprozentige” Amerikaner. In: Die ‘Westliche Hemisphäre’ als Programm und Phantom des amerikanischen Imperialismus. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1942; 94-99.

Topic: Race
Case: American journeys


1 Colin Ross. Unser Amerika. Der deutsche Anteil an den Vereinigten Staaten. 1 Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1936; 278. See Library.

2 It was in his 1936 book Unser Amerika that Ross emphatically and in extenso set out to rehabilitate the German share in America’s history, which, he claims, had been deliberately obscured in so-called Anglo-Saxon historiography.

3 Ross. 1936; 159.

Scroll to page top