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What's wrong with white men? In search of an explanation

Kevin MacDonald

February 24, 2009

In my previous column, I attempted to analyze two important sex differences in political behavior: Women’s tendency to be attracted to wealthy, powerful men, and women’s relatively greater attraction to close relationships, empathy, and nurturance. These differences make women less likely to be attracted to white racialist movements given the current political context.

But these differences are not the main cause of our malaise. A correspondent writing to me about my last column said that I should ask why white men are such wimps that they are basically lying down and allowing themselves to be displaced.

It’s a good question. How could a race of people that conquered the world suddenly lose confidence and voluntarily cede power? What explains the culture of Western suicide?

White men have to look in the mirror when thinking about our ongoing dispossession. After all, even though there is a preponderance of men in societies of people who explicitly advocate the interests of European-Americans, these men represent a miniscule percentage of the European-American male population. One such society, the Charles Martel Society, is named for Charles Martel, a man who stood up for his people by leading an army against invading Muslims. This is what one should expect from men. But such men — and people willing to follow such a man into battle to preserve their people and culture — are vanishingly rare among contemporary Europeans, whether in Europe or the European Diaspora.

Consider again the evolutionary theory of sex. In my last column, I sketched out how it explains the general contours of female behavior. Here I draw out the implications for male behavior. Females are the sex with a high investment in reproduction — pregnancy, lactation, and child care. Since the act of reproduction costs little for men, a general rule of nature is that males must compete with other males for access to females. This results in the prediction that males will be more aggressive than females and that the main targets of their aggression will be other males.

Male aggression over access to females is common in nature. Males fight each other, and the winner gets to mate with the females. For example, a coalition of male lions taking over a pride drives off or kills the resident males and then commits infanticide on the offspring of the males they displaced. They then mate with the females. In nature, males who were not aggressive and didn't try to control territory did not leave offspring. The cowardly lion is a literary invention, nothing more.

Male aggression against other males is a common theme of human history. In the US, around 90% of violent crime is committed by males and the vast majority is against other males; the same pattern can be seen around the world. Warfare has always been a male enterprise, and it is easy to see why. Consider Genghis Khan. As the victorious Mongol armies spread throughout Asia, he and his descendants established harems of women and sired large numbers of children. Recent genetic research shows that he now has around 16 million male descendents scattered throughout Asia. Like the invading lion coalition, there was a huge payoff for the winners of war throughout human history.

This basic evolutionary logic also implies that males should attempt to control the political process. Throughout history (at least until very recently), powerful men have left more descendants.

Just as Charles Martel and his army defeated the invading Muslims, and just as armies of men fought to the death against Genghis Khan to protect their women and hold onto their territory, we should expect that white men would fight to prevent the mass immigration that will soon make them a relatively powerless minority. We should expect them to mobilize fiercely against affirmative action policies that discriminate against them. We should expect them to be hostile to the culture that promotes non-whites into prestigious positions that make them attractive to white women. We should expect a Charles Martel-like figure to easily rally their allegiance to reclaim their heritage.

But we don’t see that. White men are wimps.

I suppose we could simply throw out the evolutionary theory of sex. But the power of this theory for explaining the general outlines of human history is indisputable.

The key, I think, is to realize that, unlike animals, humans evolved a completely novel set of control processes that enable humans to control their natural impulses. These control processes allow for a very large influence of human culture on our behavior. The problem with white men is our culture.

Nevertheless, there seem to be some specific traits of whites that make them more prone to accepting a culture of suicide. In the following, I briefly discuss the outlines of an explanation and include links to longer versions of these ideas.

First, there is a strong strand of individualism in Western culture. Compared to other cultures, we are less prone to identifying with our people. Individual white men looking at the contemporary situation think more in terms of their own prospects rather than the prospects of white people in general.

I have talked to quite a few white men who, after telling them my concerns, simply say that they and their families will be able to afford to flee the negative effects of mass immigration. They will take their family and move to someplace like New Zealand — never mind that in the long run finding a predominantly white country that wants to stay that way will be more and more difficult. Or they will retreat to a gated community — ignoring the long term effects of transferring political power to coalitions of non-white groups with insatiable demands for public services and eventually the need for confiscatory taxes to support them. 

Incidentally, as a Californian, the writing is clearly on the wall for people like me. (Vdare.com’s Joe Guzzardi had the sense to leave.) There is a massive budget shortfall due in no small part to the need for public services for the ever expanding poor, many of them illegal. (One fifth of Los Angeles County — over 2.2 million people — is now on public assistance and the number is expected to grow in the current economic environment.) The Democrats are now only a few votes short of the 2/3 majority in the legislature needed to raise taxes without any Republican support at all. They recently raised taxes substantially with only a few Republican defectors (including Gov. Schwarzenegger). At the national level, the Obama Administration will do nothing to stem the tide of legal immigration, and it seems to be gearing up to give citizenship to illegal immigrants.

California is the wave of the future for the US as a whole, and there is little doubt that the future of California as a Third World society is already here.

It’s going to be harder and harder to hide from all of this, but that won’t stop the individualists from thinking that they can at least save themselves and their families.

Another problem with white men is a corollary of Western individualism: The best among us are far too prone to accepting moral principles even when they are massively incompatible with normal human self-interest. This is the Western commitment to moral universalism — the tendency to erect abstract moral principles that apply to all people and let the chips fall where they may. Familiar examples are democracy, the Constitution, individual rights, limited government, and free trade. Now even immigration is being proposed as a human right.

I am not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with these ideals. It’s just that they should always be examined according to whether they are in our interest as a people, or we run the danger of literally dying for our principles.

Jews do not have this problem. As has often been stated to the point of being a cliché (even among Jews), the only moral principle Jews recognize is whether it's good for the Jews. The Judeocentric bias of the entire written Jewish law from the Old Testament through the Talmud is apparent to even the most casual reader.

In other words, the only measure of an action is whether it benefits the group, not whether it conforms to a moral principle. When the Jewish left was under pressure during the McCarthy era, the organized Jewish community strongly opposed restrictions on free speech and academic freedom. (This was a period when organizations, such as the Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order which had been listed as subversive by the US government, were affiliated with mainstream Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Congress.) Now that the left is in charge, Jewish organizations are spearheading attempts to restrict free speech.

Jews are also remarkably immune to moral critiques from non-Jews. For example, critiques of Israel based on moral principles are a commonplace these days. Perhaps most noteworthy are the moral indictments of Israel by President Jimmy Carter and by prominent academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Both critiques point to the brutal treatment of Palestinians and the emergence of an apartheid, racialist society in Israel that is anathema to the principles of democracy, human rights and racial egalitarianism so often held up as Western values and promoted by Jews when it suits their interests. (Despite Richard Perle's ourtrageous lies, mouthing support for democracy was a staple of neoconservative rhetoric in support of wars in the Middle East on behalf of Israel.) But such criticisms of Israel and its Jewish supporters in the West are completely without effect on the activist core of Jews that determine public policy toward Israel.

Jews have been quite aware that Europeans are very susceptible to moral critiques. Consider Israel Zangwill, a Jewish writer and activist from a century ago. Here he comments on how Jews can break down the resistance of Americans to immigration:

America has ample room for all the six millions of the Pale [i.e., the Pale of Settlement, home to most of Russia’s Jews]; any one of her fifty states could absorb them. And next to being in a country of their own, there could be no better fate for them than to be together in a land of civil and religious liberty, of whose Constitution Christianity forms no part and where their collective votes would practically guarantee them against future persecution.

In other words, American constitutional democracy is good for Jews because its founding documents do not explicitly state that the United States is a Christian nation; nor, for that matter, do they explicitly state that it is a country created by and for people of European descent.

Zangwill's comments mark the beginning of the idea that America is a "proposition nation" with no ethnic or religious implications. America is a set of principles, not an expression of a particular religion or ethnic group.

The idea that America is a proposition nation was expanded by Horace Kallen, another Jewish intellectual activist and ardent Zionist. It has become a bedrock ideology across the entire Jewish political spectrum from the far left to the neoconservative right. Whereas Zionists like Zangwill and Kallen viewed Israel as the expression of the Jewish people, they conceptualized the United States as simply a set of principles with no ethnic or religious content.

During the debates over the Immigration Law of 1924, restrictionists were well aware that Jewish intellectuals were attempting to use Western ideals as a way of undermining the ethnic character of the US. The House Majority Report noted that Zangwill gave a speech where he opposed restrictions on immigration: “You must make a fight against this bill; tell them they are destroying American ideals. Most fortifications are of cardboard, and if you press against them, they give way.”

In other words, Americans have ideals and we Jews can use their ideals to our advantage in subverting the ethnic character of the US.

But why are we Europeans so predisposed to moral universalism? I have suggested that this tendency toward individualism and moral universalism stems from our evolution as northern hunter gatherers. (See also here.) In any case, the tendency to adopt principle over interest long predated the rise of the hostile Jewish-dominated intellectual and political elites of the 20th century. I have been much struck by the Puritan intellectual elite who were so influential in the United States prior to the rise of the hostile Jewish-dominated elite of the 20th century. These people personified the idealism that seems to be a trait of so many white people. 

What is striking is the moral fervor of the Puritans. The Yankee Puritans were susceptible to appeals to a “higher law,” and they tended to believe that the main purpose of government is to pursue moral perfection. They tended to paint political alternatives as starkly contrasting moral imperatives, with one side portrayed as evil incarnate—inspired by the devil.

Puritans pursued utopian causes framed as moral issues and went to war with people who disagreed with them. Whatever the political and economic complexities that led to the Civil War, it was the Yankee condemnation of slavery on moral grounds that inspired the massive killing of closely related Anglo-Americans in order to free slaves brought over from Africa. The Civil War was the greatest sacrifice of lives and property ever made by Americans.

It is not surprising that the descendants of the Puritans became supporters of the Culture of Critique with the rise of the hostile Jewish intellectual and political elites in the 20th century. All of these Jewish-dominated movements were moral indictments of America. Just as the Puritan intellectuals of the 19th century were attracted to all manner of utopian movements, the movements advanced by the Jewish intellectual elite were advanced as utopian visions of the future:

  • All people have the same biological potential for accomplishment. and no culture is better than any other. As a result, we can easily mold people into ideal citizens (Boasian anthropology).

  • We can create a classless society in which there will be no conflicts of interest and people will altruistically work for the common good (Marxism).

  • We can create a society in which people will be in tune with their sexuality and free of neuroses, anti-Semitism, and "racism" (psychoanalysis).

  • We can create a multicultural paradise in which different racial and ethnic groups will live in harmony and cooperation (the Frankfurt School of Social Research).

  • We can easily transform other societies into democracies and should wage war to remake other societies in our image (neoconservatism).

It goes without saying that each of these utopias is profoundly problematic from an evolutionary perspective. But each of them has been advocated by droves of white people in recent decades.

Like all societies, America and other Western societies have their share of moral lapses. Unlike other ethnic groups, we seem intent on committing suicide in order to atone for these lapses. So that we can live up to our principles.

A more mundane reason why white men do not stand up and assert their interests is that it is very costly to do so. Because of the triumph of the hostile intellectual and political elite in the West, those dissenting from the official orthodoxies are severely punished. They are socially ostracized and they may well lose their jobs if they speak out. (As a tenured professor, I have no excuse for not doing so.)

On the other hand, becoming a part of the hostile elite results in great rewards and is often a good career move for individualistic white men. This doubtless goes a long way toward explaining the non-Jews who have eagerly joined a variety of movements dominated by Jews. For example, non-Jewish neocons are rewarded with well-paying careers at prestigious think tanks and universities; they are able to secure book deals with major publishers and become prominent in the mainstream media. Life is good.

I have noted that throughout Jewish history, especially since the Enlightenment, Jews have used non-Jews to act as the publically visible face of movements that are dominated by strongly identified Jews who are pursuing Jewish interests. Of course this behavior is made easier for whites because they are more individualistic to start with. Having a great career is its own reward. And the whites who get involved in these Jewish movements may well see themselves as acting on the basis of their principles. Happiness for a white person is the confluence of self-interest and deeply held principle.

And because the hostile elite dominates the mainstream media and academic institutions, whites are socialized to adopt views that are suicidal to their own people. Basic psychology implies that people are much more likely to emulate people and ideas that are associated with high status. The ideology of white suicide achieves much of its effectiveness because it comes from Harvard and the New York Times.

However, the marginalization of John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago), Steven Walt (Harvard), and former President Carter shows that even messages associated with institutions of high status have an enormous uphill climb to influence public policy when they conflict with the agendas of the hostile elite.

Clearly, there are some very powerful forces at work in producing the culture of Western suicide — some internal to Europeans as a people, and some external. However, there are also some rays of hope. Psychological research shows that whites continue to have an unconscious sense of white identity — what I term implicit whiteness. Despite the constant bombardment of anti-white propaganda in the media, whites prefer to live and work with each other. Some subcultures, such as classical music, country music and rock bands like AC/DC are implicitly white even though they dare not speak their name as white subcultures.

This is even true of some leftist white subcultures such as Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion with its gentle jabs at overly serious (and overly principled) Scandinavians (the ones who attend the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility). It can be seen in PHC's virtually all-white audience and its nostalgia for small-town America. The synopsis for next week’s PHC, titled Small Town Twofer, exudes the flavor of classic (white) Americana:

Coming up this week on A Prairie Home Companion, a wintery mix of two Minnesota-grown shows. From the beautiful dance floor of the Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood (from 2006), we'll hear Bill Hinckley and Judy Larson sing "The Barnyard Dance," Adam "Original Biscuit" Granger sings "The Sheik of Araby," and Guy Noir goes in search of a red shoe that holds the key to one man's happiness. From the University of Minnesota in the historic railroad town of Morris, a show from the well scrubbed P.E. Center (a.k.a. the gym), Tim Sparks and Pat Donohue team up in a pickin' frenzy to play "Freight Train", Prudence Johnson and Garrison sing Utah Philips, and Dusty and Lefty stumble into a BioMass Gasification Plant. Plus, in The News from Lake Wobegon, the story of Jellyglass Mortenson and His Six Hot Pickles.

This implicit sense of whiteness is not enough to begin the revolution, and Keillor will certainly be no help in that direction. (I'd love to see how he would score on the Implicit Association Test, a test that taps unconscious pro-white biases and unconscious negative attitudes toward blacks. Research shows that the largest gaps between unconscious attitudes toward African Americans and conscious, explicit attitudes are found among white liberals like Keillor.) He is among the many in the media in the midst of a slobbering love affair with President Obama. On being told recently that Obama was not a good singer, Keillor noted something to the effect that he was glad that there was something Obama didn't excel at because he was beginning to think that Obama was superhuman.

For a revolution we need to legitimize an explicit sense of white identity and interests. All the science, the morality, and the common sense are on our side. Basically, we have to stop being wimps. And stop being so damned principled. 

Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.  

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