A James Gregor
He was born Anthony Gimigliano on April 2, 1929 in New York City. His father, Antonio, was a machine operator, factory worker and committed socialist. During World War II, his mother was classified as an "undesirable alien".
Gregor graduated from Columbia University in 1952 and got a job as a high school social science teacher. During this period he published a number of essays in The European, the newspaper published and edited by British fascist Oswald Mosley. In 1958 his writing appeared in an academic journal for the first time with "The Logic of Race Classification" published in Genus, a journal edited by Corrado Gini, a leading Italian sociologist and ideologue of Italian fascism. Gregor's article was a defence of Gini's theories and he subsequently became a close friend and collaborator of Gini's until the sociologist's death in 1965.
Gregor returned to Columbia for post-graduate work in the late 1950s. In 1960 he obtained employment as a philosophy instructor at Washington College and received his PhD from Columbia in 1961. Gregor became assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii from 1961 to 1964. Denied tenure due to his controversial writings and position, he left Hawaii and moved on to the University of Texas in 1966. Gregor joined the University of California at Berkeley in 1967 where he remains today.
In 1958 he was a speaker at one of the monthly meetings of the Racist Forum. In the 1960s Gregor gained prominence as a "race realist" who provided justifications for racial segregation of African Americans. He argued in the journal Mankind Quarterly in 1961 that whites had many "reality-based reasons" for keeping their wives and children out of contact with Blacks.
In 1959 Gregor was a founding director of the International Association for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics which was, according to Gregor, established to restore "an intellectual climate in the United States, and throughout the Western World, which would permit a free and open discussion of racial ... problems". Gregor would later assert that his association with the organization was based on his concerns about congenital birth defects and the reproduction of the mentally-retarded, as opposed to racial matters.
The IAAEE's main benefactor was Colonel Wickliffe Preston Draper, a segregationist who opposed the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and sought to fund research that would provide scientific justification for segregation and revive the concept of racial hygiene which had been discredited as a result of the Nazis. In the 1970s Gregor was criticised for accepting grants from the Pioneer Fund which had been established by Draper to advance his views.
Gregor has praised what he describes as "last phase ... [of] National Socialist race theory," calling it a "scientifically sound and emotionally satisfying" philosophy. Gregor has also said that there is "compelling evidence of Negro biological inferiority".
Idus A. Newby's book Challenge to the Court: Social Scientists and the Defense of Segregation, 1954-1966 published in 1967 contains an extensive discussion of Gregor's work on race and argues that his organization, the IAAEE and Mankind Quarterly magazine to which Gregor was a frequent contributor were among the main institutional centers of scientific racism in the 1960s. Nearly half of the book is a response by Gregor, in which he vehemently denies Newby's allegations that he is a racist or adopts a particular perspective on race. Gregor has regularly asserted that the intellectual climate that prevails prevents serious discussions about race, ethnicity and their relationship to genetics.
Since the 1970s, Gregor has spent most of his academic research on the study of fascism and it is for this that he is currently best known. In 1974 he wrote The Fascist persuasion in radical politics. More recent is his book The Faces of Janus which has been widely acclaimed by conservative and libertarian publications and institutions. The book argues that fascism was actually a left wing philosophy. In the words of the American Historical Review he also asserts that fascism "was a compelling and coherent synthesis of ideas generated by some of the most creative thinkers of our time."
At the same time, Gregor has continued to define himself as committed to the values and convictions of democratic liberalism, consistently arguing that the American brand of democracy has proven the most effective system of government and the most likely to endure.
During the 1970s and 80s, Gregor served as an advisor to President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
He has also conducted inquiries into American security issues in Asia particularly in reference to Sino-American relations in the form of his 1986 book The China connection: U. S. policy and the People's Republic of China and his 1987 follow-up, Arming the dragon: U. S. security ties with the People's Republic of China. In 1989 he wrote In the shadow of giants: the major powers and the security of Southeast Asia. In recent years he has emerged as one of the few translators of the works of Italian fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile into English, and teaches a popular series of political science courses on revolutionary change and fascist philosophy at UC Berkeley.
Precisely what Gregor's views are on race has been a substantial matter of debate among his colleagues, students and friends. Gregor's marriage to University of Nevada Professor Maria Hsia Chang further complicates this discussion. Gregor has always vigorously defended himself as free of racial bias and committed to "American values".
- The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. 256p.
- Phoenix: Fascism in Our Time. New Brunswick: Transaction, 1999. 208p.