The Creative Advance Must Be Defended: Miscegenation, Metaphysics, and Race War in Jan Smuts’s Vision of the League of Nations

The Creative Advance Must Be Defended: Miscegenation, Metaphysics, and Race War in Jan Smuts’s Vision of the League of Nations

By Jacob Kripp, Johns Hopkins University

This paper argues that the idea of global peace in early twentieth-century liberal international order was sutured together by the threat of race war. This understanding of racial peace was institutionalized in the League of Nations mandate system through its philosophical architect: Jan Smuts. I argue that the League figured in Smuts’s thought as the culmination of the creative advance of the universe: white internationalist unification and settler colonialism was the cosmological destiny of humanity that enabled a racial peace. In Smuts’s imaginary, the twin prospect of race war and miscegenation serves as the dark underside that both necessitates and threatens to undo this project. By reframing the problem of race war through his metaphysics, Smuts resolves the challenge posed by race war by institutionalizing indirect rule and segregation as a project of pacification that ensured that settlement and the creative advance of the cosmos could proceed.

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