Ethnocentrism is normal and rational

The most often heard accusation by liberals against white nationalists and critics of mass immigration is that they are bedevilled by “irrational fears”.  White nationalists are parochial and unsophisticated, outside the standards of morality, lacking in sympathy and compassion for others and for “humanity” itself.

But none of this is true. Science is now educating us that White nationalists are normal humans beings who happen to exhibit a healthy and “positive” evaluation of their own ethnic group consistent with evolutionary theory. This is the argument white nationalists can opportunely take from a scientific paper published in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (January 2011), with the fitting title: “Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism”.

It is not an argument liberals wanted to hear. Written by a research team at the University of Amsterdam, directed by Dr. Carsten de Dreu, this article shows that oxytocin is a molecule associated with in-group favoritism and out-group derogation. Through a series of experiments in which participants were administered doses of oxytocin,   the researchers learned that “a key mechanism facilitating in-group cooperation is ethnocentrism, the tendency to view one’s group as centrally important and as superior to other groups” at the expense of an out-group.

Oxytocin had long been identified as a hormone made in the brain during sexual reproduction, particularly during childbirth and breastfeeding, in association with motherly bonding and affection.  In the last few years, many were even calling it the “love hormone” after researchers observed that the human body released the highest doses of oxytocin (into the bloodstream) during intimate situations, caressing, and sexual climax. The pop psychology establishment and the liberal press could not contain their enthusiasm for what appeared to be a “moral molecule” which could be studied, nurtured, and then administered medically to enhance love across the world. Here is part of an abstract to a 2007 article “Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans,” from PLOS One Journal:

In this study, participants were infused with 40 IU oxytocin (OT) or placebo and engaged in a blinded, one-shot decision on how to split a sum of money with a stranger that could be rejected [in which case, no one got any money]. Those on OT were 80% more generous than those given a placebo. … OT and altruism together predicted almost half the interpersonal variation in generosity. Notably, OT had twofold larger impact on generosity compared to altruism. This indicates that generosity is associated with both altruism as well as an emotional identification with another person.

It was not long before the liberal media picked the good news. With an endearing title, “A Dose of Oxytocin Increases the Cuddles,” Jeffrey Kluger from Time reported (May 02, 2010) on the efforts of Psychiatrist Rene Hurlemann of Bonn University and neuroscientist Keith Kendrick of the Cambridge Babraham Institute to determine if oxytocin “could be artificially administered to a person to manipulate feelings of empathy and perhaps even learning.”  Kluger described their experiment as follows:

To test how oxytocin might affect those capabilities, Hurlemann and Kendrick ran a two-part experiment. In the first, 48 males were divided into two groups — half received an aerosol shot of oxytocin and half got a placebo — and then shown evocative pictures of things like a crying child, a grieving man and a girl hugging a cat. They were then asked to describe how deeply they were feeling the emotions associated with the pictures. On the whole, the men in the oxytocin group exhibited “significantly higher emotional empathy levels” than those in the placebo group.

But the “ethnocentric” paper I cited above soon came upon the scene. This article’s conclusion was clear:  the “widespread view” of oxytocin as a ‘cuddle chemical’ or ‘love drug’ was simple minded; oxytocin was a peptide shown to promote “intergroup bias: the unfair response toward another group that devalues or disadvantages the other group and its members by valuing or privileging members of one’s in-group”. These findings were framed in evolutionary terms; humans favor their own ethnic group because this attitude enhances their adaptive capacity.

This evolutionary perspective was emphasized in an earlier paper by the same author, Carsten de Dreu, and his associates, published in Science (11 June 2010), “The Neuropeptide Oxytocin Regulates Parochial Altruism in Intergroup Conflict Among Humans”.  Oxytocin is a “bonding hormone,” but one which functions for group unity (and not only for motherly love) in the face of out-groups. The point is not that in-groups needlessly seek to attack any out-group; it is neither that in-groups have an inborn disposition to hate others. In-group members concentrate on the performance of altruism within the group rather than aggression towards outsiders unless the competing out-group comes to be seen as a threat. Conflict escalation between ethnic groups is lower when physical barriers exist between them. The role of oxytocin is thus to promote altruism within in-groups and aggression towards out-groups  that are threatening the interests of the in-group.

The liberal world was at a loss how to react to this scientific research.  The pseudo-psychologist Paul J. Zak, prolific author, wannabe entrepreneur, public speaker and featured writer in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, pushed ahead with a book entitled The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity (2012), claiming he had discovered and explored the biochemistry of sympathy, love, and trust – never mind that he paid no attention to any contrary argumentation.  Other liberals were not as oblivious, but instead switched gears and went on to condemn the molecule oxytocin as if it were a right wing political party spoiling the ennobling ideals of liberalism: David Mosher from Wired Magazine (January 12, 2011) announced “‘Cuddle Chemical’ Also Fuels Favoritism, Bigotry”. Lindsay Abrams from The Atlantic (September 21, 2012) declared: “Study: Oxytocin (‘The Hormone of Love’) Also Makes Us Conformists.” The Social Capital Blog, dedicated to human interaction and community, spoke of “Oxytocin’s Dark Side” (August 2012). Slate warned us “why the hype about oxytocin is dumb and dangerous” (July 2012). Psychological Science printed an article (September 2012) ratified as “The Herding Hormone: Oxytocin Stimulates In-Group Conformity”.  Nicholas Wade from the NYT, to his credit, reported Carsten de Dreu’s findings in a matter of fact tone, writing that “the love and trust it [oxytocin] promotes are not toward the world in general, just toward a person’s in-group. Oxytocin turns out to be the hormone of the clan, not of universal brotherhood.”

But here’s a dilemma Carsten de Dreu and his group seem unable to handle, despite their realization that ethnocentrism is not an irrational fear but a natural reaction: how is it that a hormone associated with breastfeeding and love, promotes “tribal” behaviour, aggression and conflict? How can the same “cuddle chemical” be associated with ostensibly opposite behaviours such as out-group derogation and violence? It is not that these scientists view this molecule naively in either-or, good-bad terms; de Dreu uses affirmative words —“loyalty,” “reliable and trustworthy,” “cooperation” —to describe in-group favoritism. But the use of these words, by de Dreu and his associates, are minimal and pretty much restricted to these examples. This compares to the many occasions in which they write of such “unfortunate” behaviours as “in-group bias,”  “unfair treatment, negative emotions,” “violent protest, and aggression among disfavored and excluded individuals.” These traits are abhorrent to a liberal psyche seeking to equalise rights and results regardless of race and gender —within a cultural landscape in which every institution operates in the name of a projected universal community in which everyone does or can belong.

In the face of these findings, liberals have invariably reacted  in two closely related ways: i) reject the experiments as “abstractions” which do not take into consideration the way in which “proper” socialization may encourage other dispositions and eventually break the “irrationality” of tribalism, or 2) find ways to medicate this disposition through experimental, psychological intervention; that is, they attempt to find ways to re-engineer other attributes within human nature in order that these may grow to colonize the rather “irrational” and “archaic” trait of ethnocentrism.  These reactions can be ascertained through the sources cited above. I encourage readers to watch “The Great Debate – Xenophobia: why do we fear others?” This debate, which took place recently (March 31, 2012) at Arizona State University, was about the human instinct to form in-groups and out-groups particularly along ethnic lines.  The scientists in this panel (primatologist Frans de Waal, economist Jeffrey Sachs, psychologist Steven Neuberg, neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe, and physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson) all recognized in varying ways the powerful drive within all living beings, including bacteria, to organize themselves into in-groups and out-groups; and yet the tenor and objective of the conference, as evident from the title itself, was to view this   as a challenge for Western, diversifying societies, to press on towards newer forms of community and human solidarity without outside-ness and without the irrational fear of xenophobia. Jeffrey Sachs   openly acknowledged that societies with strong ethnic homogeneity (for which he mentioned the Nordic countries of Europe) were more peaceful and “happier” than diverse ones; and yet he did not even dare to ask why these societies and the European world generally are implementing diversity! The underlying motif of the whole gathering was to call for a greater sense of the “we” across ethnic lines, and for more integration. Some walked over their own findings to emphasize the “plasticity” of human nature, its flexibility and ability to be changed in ways that will make humans (Whites) become non-ethnocentric and willing participants in the creation of new, cosmopolitan identity. To top it all, the last panelist, New York Times editorialist Charles Blow, no scientist himself but a gratified Black man, reminded the audience how racist America still remains.

Liberals recoil from the possibility that an ethnocentric chemical is likewise a source of motherly affection.  This is why Carsten de Dreu sets up his findings as if they negated the “widespread view of oxytocin as a ‘cuddle chemical’ or a ‘love drug’”.  Instead of thinking of ethnocentrism in positive terms as involving loyalty and commitment (hence love) for one’s group, liberals draw a sharp dichotomy between these two emotions. They operate under the illusion that it is possible to speak of a universal humanity without outside-ness.  As Carl Schmitt wrote, for liberalism “humanity as such and as a whole has no enemies. Everyone belongs to humanity” (Cited in the “Foreword” to The Concept of the Political (1995, xxii).  Schmitt’s argument in The Concept of the Political that “the specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy” (p. 26) is, in fact, consistent with this research on ethnocentrism.  And, contrary to the mindset of liberalism, the political member of an out-group, according to Schmitt, “need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly; he need not appear as an economic competitor,” even if he is, “nevertheless, the other, the stranger” (p. 27). The liberal automatically assumes that the other, the enemy, can only be seen in a hateful way by in-group members.  Carsten de Dreu observes, in fact, that the tendency for in-group members is to favour their own rather than to hate outsiders:

[T]here is good reason to believe that the in-group prejudice effect is far more basic to human life than is the out-group hate prejudice effect, and research on human ethnocentrism supported this positive-negative asymmetry of social discrimination…showing that oxytocin creates intergroup bias primarily because it motivates in-group favoritism and not because it motivates out-group derogation.

The liberals are the ones who speak in terms of good and evil in the realm of politics; having infused politics with a militant ideology in which everyone and anyone who refuses to join the universal “we” is despised as a xenophobic outsider. Rather than cave in to their accusations we should reply that their primary motivation is not in-group favoritism but out-group prejudice, since their objective is to create a universal community in opposition to any group that wishes to remain different.

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