On the Western Tendency to Moral Universalism

I am in the rather odd position of trying to rebut comments made in the article by Richard Spencer that I posted. But it’s a good opportunity to clarify my ideas.

Richard has two objections to my theory that individualism has something to do with the attraction of CPAC conservatives to the universalist rhetoric of rights.

First, the Japanese have excelled in the abstract logic required in advanced electronics and industrial engineering, and their economy is geared towards exporting to global markets; yet, judging by their national consensus on immigration restriction, they have little compunction in fighting for their genetic interests.

When I mentioned an attraction to abstractions, I meant moral abstractions as a component of Western individualism, not abstractions in general.  Otherwise Jews would be the ultimate moral universalists. Moral idealism is a powerful tendency in European culture, apparent, for example, in the German idealist philosophers and the American transcendentalists. (Writing a foreword for a forthcoming English translation of Vladimir Avdeyev’s Raciology [Russian edition reviewed in TOO by Dan Michaels] made me realize that idealism was a trait commonly ascribed to Nordics by racial scientists in a very influential intellectual tradition from the late 19th century until its demise with the defeat of National Socialism.) Universalist moral ideals are erected and then steps are taken to achieve the moral vision by changing the world, often accompanied by a great deal of moral fervor, as among the opponents of slavery in America and during the French Revolution (see below).

Universalist moral thinking is intimately bound up with the individualism/collectivist dimension in psychology.  In my writing (following the prominent racial scientist Fritz Lenz), I have linked this tendency ultimately to the Western tendency toward individualism resulting from prolonged evolution under adverse ecological conditions. Individualist cultures frame moral issues in universal terms. Morality is defined not as what is good for the individual or the group, but as an abstract moral ideal — e.g., Kant’s moral imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” (Revealingly, the “convoluted essay written by a neoconservative academic” referenced by Richard is titled, “Reading Kant and Debating White Nationalists.“)  This occurs because individualism implies an equality of interest—that everyone has interests but no one has a privileged moral position—philosopher John Rawls’ “veil of ignorance.” Arguments on morality therefore must necessarily seek an abstract sense of morality, independent of the interests of any particular individual, and groups have no privileged moral standing at all. Pro-slavery arguments that slavery is good for Whites and that do not attach any moral significance to Blacks as an outgroup therefore fall on deaf ears.

On the other hand, collectivist cultures such as Judaism have a highly elaborated moral code that privileges ingroup membership. Slavery is not an evil in itself because of what it does to individuals. Rather, there are different ethical codes on how slaves may be treated depending on whether the slave is a fellow Jew, and the same for criminal offenses (see A People that Shall Dwell Alone, Ch. 6). In collectivist cultures, group membership, typically the kinship group, is critical to moral evaluation.

Richard continues:

Secondly, though today’s self-styled “conservatives” think in terms of America as a “Proposition Nation,” the puritanical WASPs, deist intellectuals, and yeoman Calvinists who founded the country engaged in brutal wars for territory with the Indians, restricted immigration to “free, white persons,” and maintained (disastrously, for future White generations) African slavery. The Left is certainly correct when it asserts that from its inception to the Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, America was a downright racist — even White supremacist — place. Perhaps innate Anglo-Saxon inclinations did evolve into “anti-racism,” but for many generations, this was hardly a foregone conclusion.

Europeans are on the individualist side of the individualism/collectivist dimension, but they don’t completely lack mechanisms of ethnic cohesion. White people still have mechanisms of attraction to our own kind and we have ingroup/outgroup mechanisms that make us devalue others. We see manifestations of this all the time, but in 21st-century America, these preferences are implicit rather than explicit—Implicit Whiteness. (See “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism.”

And early in the 20th century a great many of the Anglo American elite intellectuals did ultimately reject universalism as they led the movement to restrict immigration culminating in the 1924 law—a movement that was explicitly racialist. As with many traits showing individual and group differences, the trait can be expressed more in some situations than others. Collectivist mechanisms tend to be recruited more in times of perceived threat. This applied to the Anglo elites in 1920s America, and it may account for some of the trends we see now among the Tea Partiers, etc.

And some White sub-groups seem to be more inclined to moral universalism than others. In particular, we can’t ignore the liberal tradition stemming from the powerful Puritan influence on American culture and its close ties with individualism. (The Quakers were even more inclined to moral universalism but were far less influential; the other British-derived groups, according to David Hackett Fischer, were much less prone to moral universalism.) During the 19th century it was common to view individualism as an ethnic trait of the Germanic peoples. In my view, this tendency toward moral universalism was then exploited by Jewish intellectuals to further their (particularist) aims by ending the influence of Darwin and Galton that recognized race and race differences as critical. These influences loomed large early in the 20th century. See my review of Eric Kaufmann’s The Rise and Fall of Anglo America. We Europeans are definitely capable of organizing ourselves to protect our race. Indeed, I think that if we could somehow break through the barriers erected against our ideas by the mainstream media, we would make very rapid progress. All the implicit Whiteness would be quickly unleashed into a very powerful movement.

As things stand however, there is a nice confluence between self-interest and principle for the CPAC rent seekers who doubtless see a huge downside to explicitly advocating White interests.

I just read Lothrop Stoddard’s book The French Revolution in San Domingo where he depicts the same dynamic as in America. (Stoddard was a prominent member of the Anglo elite intellectuals in the early 20th century who opposed immigration and understood the importance of race and race differences.) On one hand there were planters who were very racialist: Advocating White supremacy, White superiority, and slavery. But on the other hand, there were the Jacobins who not only mouthed slogans about human equality but also vigorously opposed San Domingo as a White-dominated slave society. (The defeat of the Whites so ardently desired by the Jacobins meant that San Domingo became the famously dysfunctional Black-ruled Haiti that we see today.) White colonists returning from San Domingo experienced intense hatred from their own co-ethnics in France because of how they viewed Africans and how they treated them. Does any other society condemn its own people to the point of siding against people like themselves on behalf of ethnic outsiders because such action conforms to a moral principle?

Notice it’s not Protestantism here (as Paul Gottfried claims), because France was Catholic. It’s about Europeans, and especially northern Europeans. As now, in addition to genuine idealists, there were also plenty of opportunists who saw economic and social benefits from espousing principles of human rights in opposition to their White racialist brethren.

In short, we have two problems. We have to somehow break the wall against the legitimization of our ideas in the media. (This is well-exemplified by the hysteria surrounding the fact that CNN interviewed Peter Brimelow and James Edwards on the reactions to the decline of Whites. My guess is that CNN will not repeat this, and other mainstream media outlets will learn from their “mistake”. (See Ellison Lodge, “Are Whites Racially Oppressed? The Question Media Matters Doesn’t Want Asked.” VDARE.com)

Secondly, the system where all the economic and social status benefits accrue to those to oppose explicit assertions of White identity and interests has to end. We have to be able to provide careers to people who are on page with our ideas.

Of these, the first is more critical because if we had a powerful mainstream media presence, a powerful infrastructure for the racialist right would not be far behind.

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