Reply to John Derbyshire

Kevin MacDonald


John Derbyshire discusses several reasons for why Whites have become such wimps, including a couple where he mentions me:

What needs explaining—what always needs explaining—is white ethnomasochism.”

We are not short of offered explanations. Most popular:

• It’s the Jews. The theory: Nursing an atavistic hatred of gentiles, and fearful of being the only noticeable minority in an otherwise homogenous society, Jews seek to demoralize and shatter gentile culture.

Occasional VDARE.com contributor Kevin MacDonald takes this line, drawing on evolutionary psychology to fortify his explanations.

It seems to me, though, that MacDonald just replaces something that’s difficult to explain with something that’s even more difficult to explain.

Britain’s population, for example, is only one percent Jewish on the most generous assumptions, perhaps less than 0.5 percent. Why do 99 percent allow themselves to be dictated to by one percent?Why are they such wimps? And we’re back where we started.

• It’s the Enlightenment. London University’s Eric Kaufmann is the fugleman here, arguing that the Enlightenment contained within itself a cosmopolitanism and moral universalism that eroded WASP hegemony from within. See Verdict: Suicide—Eric Kaufmann Replies To *Kevin MacDonald.

This I think gets a good piece of the truth. One driving force of the Enlightenment was curiosity, an open-minded interest in other peoples and ways of life. It’s not implausible that this could curdle into disdain for one’s own ethny. Why it actually did so when it did—in the second half of the 20th century—is less easy to understand, though I think Kaufmann does a fair job with the American case.

1. Invoking the Enlightenment to explain what happened in post-World War II America is obviously an inadequate explanation without a whole lot of additional analysis, so Derbyshire’s move is to simply follow Kaufmann without dealing with my objections. To make a convincing argument, he would have to reply to my objections to Kaufmann’s analysis, which can be found in  my reply to Kaufmann (appended at the end of Kaufmann’s critique). For example, I write that  “especially as elaborated in this section of the longer version of my review, …  Jewish intellectuals were in the driver’s seat by the 1940s, that they dominated the New York Intellectuals, and that they promoted [non-Jews] like Dewey who advanced ideas that were compatible with theirs.”

Of course, Derbyshire and I have been disagreeing about my basic statement on all this, my book The Culture of Critique, for quite a while, so I guess nothing has changed.

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2. Claiming that  Jews were the most important  force and a necessary condition for the  decline of WASP America is not exactly the same as a theory of why Whites are wimps. For example, the decline of the  influential Darwinian WASP intellectuals like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard did not happen because they were wimps, but rather because Jews came to dominate the means of intellectual production—e.g., the Boasian domination of academic anthropology— as they did in many other countries (as Yuri Slezkine documents [see here, p. 73]). The basis for this is much too long to summarize here. Again, as stressed in my reply to Kaufmann, the role of Jews in marginalizing these thinkers is well-known (e.g., Carl Degler’s In Search of Human Nature).

And what’s so mysterious about documenting Jewish influence? As described in The  Culture of Critique, Jewish intellectual movements are well documented and commonly acknowledged as such. (Gershom Scholem called the Frankfurt School a “Jewish sect,” and anyone who thinks that psychoanalysis, the New York Intellectuals or Boasian anthropology were not Jewish intellectual movements is just not paying attention.)  The Jewish identities and Jewish motivations (e.g. the desire to end anti-Semitism or pathologize the ethnocentrism of non-Jews) of the main figures are well known. The ability to these movements to gain access to elite academic institutions, elite academic presses, and  elite media is well documented. For example, it seems to me that the role of the Boasians in displacing Darwinian social science is quite clear and far more intuitively plausible than a vague analysis of some kind of trickle down effect 250 years after the Enlightenment. It’s never been about the quality of the ideas advanced by these Jewish intellectual movements—they range from the ridiculous (psychoanalysis) to the hypocritical and just plain wrong (the Frankfurt School’s war on non-Jewish ethnocentrism). It’s always been about the infrastructure—the ethnic networking and their ability to obtain access to elite institutions in academia and the media.

3. Jews may indeed be 1% or less of the population of the U.K. and less than 3% of the population of the U.S., but that’s really not an argument against Jewish influence or even Jewish domination of particular areas. Jews were around 1% of the  population of pre-1933 Germany, and we all know how that turned out. Yuri Slezkine writes that  Jews were overrepresented by a factor of 33 among the economic elite and dominated German culture prior to 1933 (see here, p. 73). Or consider historian Sarah Ann Gordon:

In the period from 1928 to 1932, Jews controlled 25 percent of retail sales and had a dominant position in certain areas, such as metal businesses, textiles and clothing, grain trade, and department stores (Gordon 1984). Jews also had a prominent position in private banking, so that, for example, in Berlin in 1923, there were 150 Jewish banks and 11 non-Jewish banks. And Jews were also prominently involved in the stock market, the insurance industry, and economic consulting firms. In 1923 Jews occupied 24 percent of the supervisory positions in joint‑stock companies. Gordon (1984) also shows that Jews were vastly overrepresented in the legal and judicial system, among university faculty, and as physicians. (Gordon, S. (1984). Hitler, Germans, and the “Jewish Question.” Princeton, N.J.: PrincetonUniversity Press.)

The very outsized  role of wealthy Jews in funding both the Labour and Conservative Party in the UK and the Democrat and Republican parties in the US (well over 50% for the Democrats and around 50% for the Republicans, including Sheldon Adelson‘s mind-boggling $100 million, not to mention the other wealthy donors of the Republican Jewish Coalition)  is certainly worth noting in that  regard. With financial clout like this, Jews at minimum have a veto power over the policies of both parties, and it is well known that in general they push for support for the most warlike ethnonationalist elements in Israel and while pushing for left/liberal attitudes on social issues like immigration and gay marriage in the U.S.

4. Finally, my putting the onus on the Jews (certainly not all Jews) has to be qualified by an understanding of the pre-existing weaknesses of the WASPs and other Whites. For the last 15 years, most of my writing has been directed at figuring out what’s wrong within us that we would allow this unfolding disaster. This really comes down to an evolutionary analysis of individualism. My thesis (most recently summarized here) is that this campaign of moral vilification relies on pre-existing tendencies among a great many Whites toward moral universalism and creating ingroups based on moral and reputational qualities rather than kinship. (All of the Jewish intellectual movements discussed in The Culture of Critique are essentially moral indictments of the West.)  

Rather than explaining current pathologies as a result of the Enlightenment seen simply as an inexplicable cognitive aberration (itself an example of replacing “something that’s difficult to explain with something that’s even more difficult to explain),  as an evolutionist I attempt an analysis in terms of the evolutionary origins of an important subset of Europeans. The pathologies that are so deadly now were apparent in certain European groups by the late 18th century with the demise of the old aristocratic order and long before the Jews came along to take advantage. In the end, we have to realize that European individualism is the source of our weakness as well as our strength. The fact is that Western societies were quite healthy until after World War II. 250 years after the Enlightenment, they were confident and in no apparent danger of self-destructing. The collapse occurred quite suddenly, coinciding with the rise of Jews as a hostile elite; the burden of my work is that this is not just a coincidence, and I have yet to see a convincing argument to the contrary.

The tendencies toward egalitarianism and moral universalism so apparent in the post-17th-century Western world were presumably adaptive within small hunter-gatherer groups in the Northern European Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness—the environment Northern Europeans evolved in. However, they are not adaptive in the modern world where empathy and altruism are routinely manipulated by hostile elites to serve their material interests.

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3 Trackbacks to "Reply to John Derbyshire"

  1. on December 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm
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