Gobineau was a successful diplomat whose career in Iran influenced the development of his ideas. He came to believe that race created culture, rather than the reverse. In his view the development of empires created racial mixture, which led to the 'degeneration' of races.
Gobineau also wrote novels, notably Les Pléiades (1874). His study La Renaissance (1877) was also admired in his day. Both of these works strongly expressed his reactionary aristocratic politics, and his hatred of democratic mass culture.