Western Greatness and Its Enemies  

Faustian Man in a Multicultural Age
by Ricardo Duchesne
London: Arktos, 2017

Prof. Ricardo Duchesne’s first book, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (reviewed by Kevin MacDonald in TOQ 11:3, Fall 2011) argued that the West was already a uniquely creative culture several millennia before the industrial revolution led to today’s vast differences in wealth and living standards between it and most of the rest of the world. The West’s uniqueness lay not in institutions such as democracy and representative government, nor in great books and abundant artistic production, nor in free markets and a ‘work ethic’—but in a more primordial Faustian drive to overcome obstacles and achieve great things. The original historical expression of this drive is the heroic ethos which informs Homer’s Iliad and Germanic heroic poetry: the overriding ambition of the aristocratic warrior to achieve immortal fame by engaging in battles for prestige in contempt of his own mortality. This ethos the author traces back to the Proto-Indo-European pastoralists of the Pontic steppes.

Following publication of The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, the author turned his attention to the decline of the West. He notes the prescience of Oswald Spengler, the major theorist of civilizational decline of the past century, who anticipated

the eventual exhaustion of the West’s energies in the rise of internationalism, quasi-pacifism, declining birth rates, hedonistic lifestyles, coupled with the spread of Western technology in the non-Western world and the rise of ‘deadly competition’ from Asia.

All this is, of course, right on target. But Duchesne sensed something missing from Spengler’s account. There is one major factor at work in the contemporary West which goes well beyond the spiritual, political, economic or geopolitical exhaustion that was the fate of Rome, China and other ‘old’ civilizations: the massive immigration of cultural and racial aliens. As he remarks, this is “a new variable with truly permanent implications.”

But why should immigration be so decisive if the West lacks any ‘fixed ethnic boundaries,’ as the author had maintained in The Uniqueness of Western Civilization? This earlier statement of Duchesne’s reflected academic orthodoxy, which allows two ways of accounting for the success or failure of nations and civilizations. One is geographical explanations which emphasize, e.g., the number of domesticable plants and animals in various regions of the earth and the difference between a balkanized geography encouraging small, competitive political units (characteristic of Europe) and a more easily connected geography that tends to favor centralized administration (characteristic of Asia). This style of interpretation has been popularized in recent years by Jared Diamond, and tends to portray the rise of the West as a matter of geographic luck.

The second is the institutional approach which emphasizes free markets, democratic governance, the rule of law, and so forth. On this view, the West owes its success to the ‘values’ embodied in such institutions. European man may have been the first to discover the right combination of institutions, but other races can achieve similar success by adopting them; once they do so, they too will be fully ‘Western.’ Partisans of this institutional approach see nothing wrong with mass immigration so long as new arrivals are ‘assimilated’ to Western ways of thinking. Some of them, such as Niall Ferguson and Mario Vargas Llosa, even consider universal racial panmixia the ultimate consummation of Western civilization—and devoutly to be wished.

Neither approach satisfied Duchesne, who had come to agree with Samuel Huntington’s observation that successful modernization in non-Western countries had actually encouraged indigenization and ethnic confidence rather than Europeanization. Looking at the country where he currently resides, Duchesne noticed that

non-European immigrants arriving into Canada were interested in assimilating only to those aspects of Canadian culture that allowed them to keep their ethnic identity and advance their own ethnic interests.

Observations like this seemed to belie the approach of traditional Western Civilization textbooks of treating as ‘Western’ all lands and peoples who happened to be under Western governments at any particular time. Egypt, for example, was depicted in such textbooks as part of the West during the centuries it was under Macedonian and Roman rule, but not before or after. But had Egypt really changed its nature during those centuries? In fact, Middle Eastern populations, certainly including Jews, retained their collectivist tendencies, including cousin marriage, even after centuries of Greek and Roman domination.[1] With the rise of Islam, these cultures returned to their Middle Eastern roots.

Duchesne attempted an historical essay on the location of the West through history, but could not attain any consistency in his views until he began to look into the forbidden subject of race. He began visiting websites like VDare, American Renaissance, and The Occidental Observer and reading taboo authors such as Steve Sailer and Guillaume Faye. Eventually, he retrieved a copy of the 2nd abridged edition of Rushton’s Race, Evolution and Behavior which had been sent to him years previously only to be laid aside as a ‘racist’ tract. He learned that the races of mankind were populations which had lived in reproductive isolation from one another and been subject to different environmental pressures over thousands of years, thereby evolving innate statistical differences in behavior, intelligence and personality.

Paul Kersey’s Escape from Detroit convinced Duchesne that the character of a place is closely dependent on its racial makeup. Detroit was one percent black in 1912, rising to 25 percent in 1960. As late as the 1970s, the city still hosted universities, museums, good schools, a symphony orchestra, parks, beaches and other public amenities. But in that decade, Blacks captured control of the city government and Whites began leaving en masse. The downtown core of Detroit is now 92 percent Black; half its population is classed as functionally illiterate and many children attend school only to take advantage of subsidized lunches. Violent crime is extremely high, and entire neighborhoods have been abandoned and fallen into ruin. The city only avoids bankruptcy thanks to regular federal handouts.

Mainstream explanations of Detroit’s decline point to the downturn in the automobile industry. But as Kersey shows, Pittsburgh was simultaneously being hit much harder by the loss of its steel industry, yet the effects have not been as drastic. The city diversified its economy and prospered to the point of being named ‘the most livable city in America’ by The Economist in 2004. The difference is that Pittsburgh is 65 percent White; the figure for the metro area is 90 percent.

Duchesne found it hard to avoid the conclusion that today’s Detroit is no more part of the West than ancient Egypt had been under the rule of a tiny Greek-speaking elite. The same goes for majority-Chinese Vancouver, where the remaining Whites are being forced into small apartments as foreign Chinese millionaires buy up the city’s housing stock, pricing them out of the market. A city can no longer meaningfully be considered Western when the majority of its population is pursuing interests opposed to those of its European-descended inhabitants.

Duchesne began investigating what the academic literature had to say about the phenomenon of ethnocentrism. As early as 1981, Pierre L. van den Berghe produced a sociobiologically informed study called The Ethnic Phenomenon, which concluded that ethnic and racial sentiments are an extension of kinship sentiment and a universal tendency among humans. Yet van den Berghe, like most scientists, is a political liberal and agrees with the supposed need to suppress ethnocentrism. In his view, the usefulness of a neutral scientific explanation of such behavior lies in helping policy makers combat this natural tendency more effectively.

Turning to contemporary psychology textbooks, Duchesne found ethnocentrism treated differently from all other behavioral traits. Everything else was considered a product of biological evolution, but ethnocentrism was depicted as “an irrational disposition to be understood within the context of a cultural background … and to be eliminated through proper education.” Indeed, some textbooks championed the usefulness of psychological techniques such as B. F. Skinner’s ‘operant conditioning’ for creating a new type of human being who welcomes racial diversity. Others offered guidelines on how students could overcome their own prejudices. Some textbooks featured photographs of hooded Klansmen, but none provided any examples of racial prejudice on the part of non-Whites. The average unsophisticated undergraduate is being given to understand that the struggle against White ethnocentrism enjoys the authority of ‘science.’

But the instinct to organize into in-groups and out-groups along lines of genetic relatedness is found in all living things, from bacteria to elephants. This is because it helps organisms survive, and is therefore consistently favored by natural selection. Why, asks Duchesne incisively, should such a behavioral disposition be viewed as a ‘problem’ only among humans—or, even more specifically, only among White people?

A generation ago, sociobiological perspectives were viewed with deep suspicion by the academic establishment, and this continues to be the attitude of many social scientists. But a survey of recent literature convinced Duchesne that today’s ruling ideology has made its peace with biologically based explanations of human behavior as long as they avoid the subject of race. Cultural Marxism has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to assimilate scientific findings; what it will not tolerate is any challenge to efforts to equalize outcomes by race or import massive numbers of non-Whites into White nations. Academics can do all the research they want in evolutionary psychology, but they had better not question why the defenders of one set of ethnic interests are ‘civil rights activists’ while those of another are ‘haters’ and ‘supremacists.’

By 2014 Duchesne was reading Frank Salter’s On Genetic Interests, with its call to incorporate the evolutionary interests of ethnic groups into political theory and its recognition that the best strategy for preserving ethnic interests is “a well-defined territorial state.”

It became obvious to me after reading his book that the ‘ultimate’ factors in Western decline were not cultural, economic or even environmental, but the complete control of Western nations by elites dedicated to mass immigration and the dissolution of the racial interests of Europeans.

Duchesne even goes so far as to recognize the cogency of Michael Polignano’s reservations about Salter: that universal nationalism is more likely to appeal to fair-minded Whites than to other more competitive and ruthless groups.

This was a long journey to make in three years, and the first chapter of Faustian Man in a Multicultural Age, in which he recounts it, is for me the most compelling part of the book. In the second chapter, he carries out his old project of an historical essay on the location of the West through history—taking race into account this time around. Europeans are a subgroup of Caucasoids which evolved on the European continent during the past 45,000 years. The “first Europeans” of the Aurignacian era (45,000 to 28,000 years ago) were less European than later populations, since fewer distinctively European traits had yet had time to evolve. Duchesne suggests that the Magdalenian era, from 18,000 to 11,000 years ago, may have been the most fertile for the development of such traits, possibly because of increasing intelligence. He also makes some shrewd observations on the way the mainstream media spin discoveries in this domain to make ancient Europe appear both non-White and open to ‘immigration.’

Duchesne’s third chapter reviews the desperate efforts of cultural Marxist historians to deny the West credit for the scientific revolution, portray the enlightenment as a global phenomenon, and interpret classical Greek culture as derivative of Egypt and the Near East. This material first appeared in the Fall 2013 and Winter 2013–14 issues of TOQ (13:3–4).

The later part of Faustian Man in a Multicultural Age highlights the seminal historic importance of the Indo-Europeans in contrast to other, later inhabitants of the steppes, such as Turks and Mongols. These groups were influenced by the sedentary peoples with whom they came into contact far more than they ever influenced them.

Finally, Duchesne considers geographical exploration as a useful subject matter for elucidating the Faustian spirit of Europe. Much writing on Western achievement, such as Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment, focuses on the arts and sciences, but these are later, sublimated expressions of the primordial European heroic ambition. The history of exploration not only brings us closer to that primordial ambition; it shows up the contrast between the West and the non-West at its most stark.

Almost all the explorers in history have been European. Concise Encyclopedia of Explorations lists a total of 274 explorers, of which fifteen are non-European, with none listed after the mid-15th century. World Explorers and Discoverers, a bibliographical dictionary containing profiles of 313 of the most significant individuals in the history of exploration, lists only 7 non-Europeans.

But European writing about exploration is entirely free of racial pride or boosterism, commonly depicting the drive to explore the unknown as a human universal. In New Found Lands (1998), Peter Whitfield writes that “the desire to penetrate and explore the world’s wild places is a fundamental human desire.” Numerous general histories of exploration present themselves as accounts of “man’s” progress into the unknown, but contain few or no accounts of non-European exploration.

As Duchesne points out, this projection of European drives and ambitions onto humanity at large is precisely the sort of error academics would decry as ‘Eurocentrism’ in other contexts. Perhaps embarrassment at the overwhelming reality of European dominance makes them reluctant to point it out in this case.

Duchesne catalogues for us some of the techniques employed by cultural Marxist scholars in order to conceal Western greatness in the field of exploration. Some portray European exploration as nothing more than a quest for gold; others portray non-European migrations within the known world as ‘exploration.’ Zheng He’s fifteenth-century expeditions meant to impress foreigners with Chinese greatness are elevated above Henry the Navigator’s stated determination to make ‘great and noble conquests and to uncover secrets previously hidden from men.’ The fourteenth-century Arab Ibn Battuta, who recorded his visits to scattered shrines within the Islamic world is championed at the expense of Marco Polo, who brought home a greater body of new geographical knowledge than any other person in history.

The resentment aroused in the cultural Marxist by European excellence in exploration can be studied in the writings of a curious character named Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a faithful mirror of the current academic Zeitgeist who has seen his work translated into 27 languages and been loaded down with awards and honors. In 2006, he published Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration. Early on, he is content to ignore the Greek achievement in cartography and equate non-European trade and migration with European exploration of the unknown; but

as his narrative reaches the modern era, with only European explorers holding center stage and outperforming the Chinese, there is a conspicuous change in attitude toward the whole business of exploration. The tenor becomes extremely cynical and disparaging.

Fernandez-Armesto accuses modern explorers of ‘amateurism, naivety, credulousness, bombast, mendacity [and] sheer incompetence.’ Concerning one of David Livingston’s expeditions, he writes that it ‘failed in all its objectives: no trade, no converts, no suitable sites for British colonization, no new geographical discoveries resulted. … His meanderings took him nowhere.’ Duchesne then lists several geographical discoveries of Livingston’s which Fernandez-Armesto somehow missed.

Elsewhere in Pathfinders we read that Henry Morton Stanley ‘spent his patron’s wealth and his men’s lives with equal profligacy’ and that Ernest Shackleton’s exploration of the Antarctic was a ‘failure’ and ‘pointless.’ Robert Falcon Scott is charged with orchestrating his own death and that of his men as ‘the best career move’ for a man who ‘preferred to die dramatically than live in obscurity.’

If men can be judged by their enemies, the defenders of Western greatness have little cause for concern.

Duchesne concludes with a call to restore the history of exploration to the curriculum, ‘not to elicit self-satisfaction among [European] students but to teach them the meaning of endurance and hardship and the inimitable European thirst for adventure and risk.’ If young men are bored with college today or prefer to avoid it altogether, it may be because higher education is in the hands of resentful mediocrities who feel compelled to tear down the achievements of the past in order to shore up their own egos.

[1] Ladislav Holy, Kinship, Honour, and Solidarity: Cousin Marriage in the Middle East (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1989), 12, 13.

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