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Summary of The Main Themes of 'Exterminate All The Brutes'

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I am going to describe in a few paragraphs what the book Exterminate all the Brutes: One Man’s Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide written by Sven Lindqvist is about.

The main purpose of Exterminate All the Brutes is to advise people about genocide and how it is a violation of the respect for life principle. More specifically, the book conveys that humans have attempted to exterminate the lower class from the beginning of time through to the holocaust. However, their justifications are noted for the economic and political development of the country. The key takeaway I took from the book is that superiority makes those in power believe that they have the authority to exterminate those who are indifferent to them or of lower social standards, but this should not be the case.

Furthermore, there is shown the relationship between racism and the ideology of progress is that which is considered as if Europe with its moral superiority had the lit the way for humanity. For the Europeans they superiority was inherently obvious while the rest of the world was at a subordinate position to them. They used biological reasons and scientific discovery to support and justify their beliefs regarding their supremacy. That can be seen in the book Exterminate all the brutes: One Man’s Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness & the Origins of European Genocide by Sven Lindqvist where the easy adaptation of European animals and plants in the climate and soil of America and Australia but the difficult survival of American and Australian plants in Europe was used as a justification. The relationship is looked as white supremacy having given the rest of the world an improved way of living; a way of life that matched their supposedly superior one. It was considered as if the superior white race had almost civilized the scattered other races of the Earth.

It is interesting where does the phrase “exterminate all the brutes” come from? Moreover, how is Lindqvist connecting the ideas of “spreading civilization” and “exterminating all the brutes” in the project of colonialism?

So Exterminate All the Brutes was first mentioned by Kurtz, the main character in Heart of Darkness, who recognized first hand the extreme cruelty against the natives. Europeans consider themselves more developed and civilized than other groups, and they claim that they colonize undeveloped countries to spread civilization. However, capitalist Europeans end up exploiting others to gain profit.

In conclusion, in the book is shown the relationship between racism and the ideology of progress, as well as the topic of genocide, characterized by exploitation at the hands of the Europeans and Europeans seeking validation for their own supremacy and the rhetoric regarding the relationship of racism and the ideology of progress maintained is that the superior race, West, led to the progress of the other, even though that might not be the case, but instead undermined the rest of the world.

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Summary of the Main Themes of ‘Exterminate All The Brutes’. (2022, July 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from
“Summary of the Main Themes of ‘Exterminate All The Brutes’.” GradesFixer, 07 Jul. 2022,
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