Race as a biological reality and social construct

Kevin MacDonald


I was pleasantly surprised to see an article on a radical website that actually says something positive about biological approaches to ethnicity, citing Frank Salter and me (Jay Knott, “Invention, Imagination, Race, and Nation,” posted on Dissident Voice). A couple comments:

Shlomo Sand: I really don’t know how anyone can take Sand seriously given that he simply dismisses the data on Jewish population genetics. But Knott is right:

Sand accepts that his work has had no effect on Israeli nationalism nor on Jewish identity worldwide. Why is this so? If you expose a delusion, wouldn’t you expect significant numbers to abandon it, and thank you?

Good point. Jewish ethnocentrism is legendary—I use the term ‘hyper-ethnocentrism’ to describe it (here are some contemporary examples from Israel). It’s beyond rational discussion and cries out for a biological explanation. Sand’s rational arguments, whatever their merit, are not going to persuade rabbis who are convinced that non-Jews are a lower life form.

The Ethics of Ethnocentrism: Knott accepts that there is a biology of ethnocentrism, but regards it as immoral. Commenting on Frank Salter’s opposition to immigration to Australia, he writes “Considering how white Australia was founded, it’s unethical to try to stop third world refugees settling there.” And he goes on to note that

American evolutionary historian professor Kevin MacDonald is also a right-winger. His Evolutionary Strategies of Ethnocentric Behavior9 argues that “ethnic affiliations are extraordinarily robust” and that this is because racial identity is biologically beneficial to the genes which cause it.

But the notion that racial identity is adaptive does not imply that it is morally justifiable, any more than accepting the obvious fact that heterosexuality is more adaptive than homosexuality has any consequences whatever for one’s views on gay rights.

From an evolutionary point of view, moral idealism is a very dangerous idea because it may well lead to altruism and evolutionary death. A moral idealism that results in displacement-level immigration is obviously an evolutionary dead end. Evolution is a game that, if one decides not to play, one automatically loses.

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The reality is that Whites are the only people who have developed moral idealism—in my view a unique feature of Western individualistic  culture where groups are constructed less on the basis of kinship than on the basis of ideology and moral reputation (see here, p. 14ff).  Whites are loudly encouraged to act on the basis of these moral ideals by elites in the Western media and academic world. But a moral idealism that doesn’t take account of human nature and continues to promote non-White ethnocentrism may well end in a moral disaster—for example, the many millions in the USSR murdered in pursuit of the highest moral ideal of a classless society:

The current multicultural zeitgeist, based as it is on moral idealism and idealized images of human nature, may … suffer a similar fate [to that of societies based on the utopian idealism of Marxism]. While there is no question that the ideology of multiculturalism supported by strong social controls may result in compliance and even a substantial degree of internalization of the ideology, there is accumulating empirical evidence suggesting that, like Marxism, it is based on inadequate science and therefore likely to suffer a similar fate. A widely replicated finding is that, because of closer ties of kinship and culture, ethnically homogeneous societies are more likely to invest in social capital for the entire society (e.g., welfare programs, universal health care ) (e.g., Salter, 2005) [— the present gridlock over Obamacare is an excellent example]. Multicultural societies therefore are likely to have more conflict as different groups attempt to influence public policy in their favor while tending to avoid contributions to public goods. Moreover, Putnam (2007) has shown that ethnic homogeneity is associated with greater social solidarity and greater social capital, as well as more trust of others and greater political participation. In multicultural societies, trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. (“Evolution and a Dual Processing Theory of Culture: Applications to Moral Idealism and Political Philosophy”)

Despite the long history of ethnic and religious conflict between groups, the West has embarked on a path of officially promoting high levels of immigration of ethnic groups from around the world. Population projections in many Western countries, including the United States, show that as a direct result of these policies, the traditional peoples of these areas will be minorities in societies dominated by their ancestors, in the case of Europe, for thousands of years. This despite the fact that around the world there are many countries that are engulfed in conflict stemming from religious and ethnic differences. Right now the civil war in Syria is a good example, pitting Sunnis against Shiites, and within these larger groupings there are particular ethnic groups, such as Alewites, Arabs, Kurds, Druze, and Assyrians. The Alewite minority was persecuted for centuries by a Sunni majority. This creates an unstable situation where ethnic/religious conflict is likely to emerge, with horrific consequences for the side that loses. Given this situation, no one should be surprised that there is a civil war raging in Syria or that the Alewites will fight to the end to hang onto power because they know the consequences of becoming an ethnic minority dominated by other ethno-religious groups. Indeed, it has been widely reported that a slogan among the rebels is “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave.” In the background of such conflicts looms the possibility of expulsion and genocide.

The idea that the West can avoid such conflicts as their societies get ever more fractionated is magical and Utopian. It’s one thing for a group to engage in crusades based on moral idealism, such as the popular movement to end slavery in 18th–19th-century England, when the group has unchallenged power. It’s quite another when moral idealism is being harnessed to dispossess Whites and put them in a very vulnerable position vis-à-vis other groups.

An important trend resulting from multiculturalism is that Western societies are now becoming organized more on the basis of race. Just like the Jews who aren’t listening to Shlomo Sand, Whites in the US and elsewhere are not behaving entirely as prescribed by elites in the media and academia. When I was growing up, political parties formed on the basis of class (e.g., in the U.S., working class Whites voted Democrat, while business and professional classes voted Republican). Political affiliation is now much more determined by racial identity. In the 2012 elections,  80% of non-Whites voted Democrat and around 65% of the European-descended Americans voted Republican. These patterns were apparent in both sexes and all age categories, although less extreme among White women and young Whites. This means that very large numbers of working class and middle class Whites are voting Republican even though the Republican Party has historically been the party of the business and professional classes and the Democratic Party has been the party of choice of working class Whites. In general, the percentage of Whites voting Republican has increased by 1.5% every 4-year election cycle despite the deteriorating economic position of Whites (see here).

Despite the Utopian moral idealism of a classless society with no racial/ethnic divisions, the US is heading toward a very dangerous racialized future.

Culture is important: Knott attributes to me the view that ethnocentrism has a strong genetic basis and that is the end of the story. Far from it. Otherwise, why would I write a book titled The Culture of Critique, the message of which is that the culture created by Jewish intellectual and political activists is poisonous for Whites? Whites would have no problems at all if ethnocentrism was hard-wired into our brains and impermeable to influences from our hostile elites.  My view can be summarized as follows:

1. Conflicting visions of culture are at the root of how the game of evolution is now played in the media/academic culture of the West (see here).

2.  There are several different biologically-based mechanisms that underlie ethnocentrism, including social identity processes and mechanisms of genetic similarity (see here).

3. However, these mechanisms can be suppressed by the higher brain processes responsible for explicit processing of cultural messages (see here), resulting in a great many Whites feeling guilty about identifying as White and pursuing their racial/ethnic interests (see here). Further, the reward and punishment structure of the West has been seized by multicultural elites, so that Whites typically have everything to gain by going along with the system of White dispossession because of the prospect of personal rewards for fitting in (see here). Despite this array of powerful forces attempting to control White ethnocentrism, as noted above, the racialization of politics in the US and throughout the West continues.

4. Via explicit processing, we can decide how to carve up the racial landscape to best suit our political and genetic interests (see link in #2 above, p. 74ff). Races and ethnic groups are fuzzy sets in which the boundaries are fluid and subject to social construction. For a European-American, it makes much more sense to identify with others who can trace their ancestry back to Europe before 1492, but likely excluding Jews given the unusually long history of hostility and mistrust between Jews and other groups and  because most of their genetic background derives from the Middle East. On the other hand, it would be a poor strategy for me to identify only with Scottish Americans because such a relatively small group has much less political potential in multicultural America than the category of European Americans.

5. As Frank Salter reminds us, genetic distances between human groups are the basis of natural selection and that one’s racial/ethnic group  is a huge storehouse of genetic interests compared to other groups. That is the fundamental biological reality underlying all this. But how we behave on the basis of this information is not at all determined by the genetic data. We Europeans must define ourselves in a way that makes strategic sense, using the culture-producing mental faculties of explicit processing. We have to make explicit assertions of racial identity and explicit assertions of our racial interests. No other strategy will succeed in staving off the dispossession of European America.

Whites like Mr. Knott can decide not to play the game and instead pursue various visions of moral idealism. But if the present trends continue, the result will be that Whites in all traditionally European-descended societies will be minorities among other groups, many with historical grudges. (Here a Black activist advocates more immigration to increase Black power.) It is very likely that these societies of the future will be beset with chronic conflict among different racial/ethnic groups.

The reality is that, despite assertions of moral idealism by so many leftists, the present multicultural zeitgeist is driven far more by corporate greed and hatred toward traditional Whites societies than by love for humanity (e.g., TOO has 50 articles on Jews as a hostile elite). It is a sort of supreme moral idealism that supposes that a society created out of such hatreds would lead to a harmonious future without conflict and free from ethnic/racial identifications. Our children will condemn us as they look at images of pre-1965 America—as they look ponder how intelligent, honest people could have been so foolish as to give away their birthright.

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