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Kevin MacDonald: Is The Family Cut-Off From Kinship The Basis of Western Individualism as well as Liberalism? Chapter 4 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition4

Have you spent countless hours searching for the origins of individualism in the philosophical treatises of the Western Canon? Reading Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition may make you think this was wasted time: the origins of individualism lie in the pedestrian world of family life. Individualism is not an idea, a concept, or a philosophical insight, but, as explained in Part 3 of my extended review of MacDonald’s book, its essence lies in “the cutting off” of the Western family “from the wider kinship group”. And this cutting off was started by illiterate northern European hunter gatherers during the last glacial age in the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. In chapter four, the subject of this article, MacDonald continues his analysis of the “familial basis of European individualism” in response to those who argue that this family was a by-product of individual family ownership in the Middle Ages.

In what follows I will bring out the salient features of MacDonald’s argument, how incredibly different was the Western family, while raising questions about the degree to which we can reduce the essence of Western individualism to family patterns. I will use MacDonald’s argument that Sweden stands as the most extreme case of the Western individualist family to suggest that there are other key principles of individualism which are actually absent in current Sweden. A key principle of the liberal ideal is the realization of the variety of individual personalities, along with institutions that encourage such variety, unpopular opinions and the freedom to advocate them openly without reprisals. By this criteria, it is hard to identify Sweden as a liberal nation notwithstanding its individualist family patterns.

Individualistic Families in the Middle Ages

There has long been “a consensus among historians of the family that the family structure of northwest Europe is unique.” The consensus is no longer, as MacDonald notes, that this family was a by-product of modern capitalism; it is that Europe’s peculiar family patterns were already observable in medieval times. We have seen in Part 3 of my analysis of MacDonald’s book that he goes “back to prehistory” to  explain the primordial “evolutionary/biological” basis of this family. In chapter four, which we are currently examining, he attempts to refute the consensus argument that the Western individualist family sprang out of the manorial system of northwest Europe where land ownership was centered on singular family holdings rather than on kinship groups.

Without getting into MacDonald’s careful argument against the manorial thesis, his counter-argument is that “there were already strong tendencies toward individualism” among north-western hunter-gatherer-derived Europeans and Indo-European-derived cultures. Since there is no direct evidence of genetic selection in prehistoric times of these family patterns, MacDonald accentuates instead how the genetic findings he adumbrated in chapters one to three (regarding strong individualist tendencies among northwest hunter-gatherer Europeans and Indo-Europeans) parallel the well attested existence in Europe of “extreme individualist” families in the northwest, “moderate individualist” families in north-central Europe, and “moderate collectivist” families in the south where more collectivist Anatolian farmers settled.
In other words, the areas in Europe with “extreme individualist” families tend to be the ones that came under the heavy influence of the “egalitarian individualism” of northwest hunter-gatherers (Scandinavia). The ones with “moderate individualism” tend to be the ones heavily influenced by the aristocratic individualism of Indo-Europeans, along with some Nordic egalitarianism influences, namely, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland. The ones with “moderate collectivism,” where kinship ties remained relatively strong in family patterns, tend to be the ones heavily influenced by collectivist Anatolian farmers, namely Italy, Greece, and Spain, though MacDonald observes a moderate collectivism in eastern Europe and Russia as well.
The protypical “extreme individualist” family is characterized by seven key characteristics:
  • monogamous marriages
  • marriages at a relatively older age than the married teenage girls we see in non-western world
  • similar age of husbands and wives
  • a relatively high proportion of unmarried individuals (women in particular)
  • household settlement independently of parents and extended families
  • rather than marrying a close kin or cousin, exogamy prevailed
  • marriage based on individual choice and romance rather than arranged
While I was aware of the consensus literature contrasting Western and Eastern family patterns, MacDonald’s thesis goes well beyond in its evolutionary/biological perspective and its persistent focus on how this family was cut off from extended family kinship networks, and how this separation is the foundational basis of Western individualism. Individualism is not a theory but a deeply seated behavioral inclination among Whites. This counters the naive conservative supposition that individualism can be exported to the rest of the world and assimilated by cousin-marrying Muslims in Europe.

Because MacDonald presses this incredible contrast between Western and non-Western family patterns, he sometimes uses expressions which may give the misleading impression that, for him, the Western family was “cut-off” altogether from kinship networks. But his point is that there were substantial differences in degree of kinship connections, and that these differences existed within Europe as well. It is not a matter of absence or presence of kinship networks. This becomes clearer in the next chapter, as we will see, when he acknowledges in full the additional, and indispensable, “cultural” role of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages in breaking down to a higher degree extended kinship networks and thus reinforcing the individualist tendencies already present.

It may come as a surprise, and it is a big contrast between the West and the Rest, that the choosing of marriage partners in the West, more so than elsewhere, was based on “warmth and affection, and physical appearance”. “Close relationships based on affection and love…became universally seen [by the 18th century] as the appropriate basis for monogamous marriage in all social classes” including the aristocracy. I am sure there is a strong correlation between these family patterns and the fact that Europeans were responsible for the best romance novels ever written. Only in the West do we find such novels as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Marguerite Duval’s The Lover, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Is Contemporary Sweden “Individualist” and “Liberal”?

Who is more individualistic and liberal, the feminist or the nationalist?
In a closing section, “State-Supported Extreme Individualism in Scandinavia”, MacDonald addresses the paradoxical convergence in Sweden of a socialist state “supporting egalitarianism…as necessary precisely for achieving individualist autonomy”. It would misleading, he observes, to describe Sweden as a communitarian culture since the function of its socialist state is “precisely” intended to afford greater equality of opportunity to the greatest number of individuals by giving them access to health, education, high wages, and good jobs. Nordic societies generally score very high in “emancipatory self-expression” because the socialist state has afforded the greatest number of individuals the economic wherewithal for self-creation, the ability to develop educationally and physically. Likewise the state has solidified the ability of Swedes to have the most individualistic family patterns by freeing parents from child rearing tasks — not by  discouraging high investment on children, but by helping families with child care and thereby giving couples more time to express themselves creatively as individuals rather than being burdened too many hours with mothering roles.
This freeing of Swedes from all the remaining collective components of the family has indeed entailed a questioning of the notion that there are “fathers” and “mothers”. Families are “voluntary associations” or contracts between private individuals that may come in multiple forms. There are no deep biological differences between boys and girls. Swedes are “free” to decide which gender (among a growing number of possibilities) they prefer to be identified with, rather than being boxed, as feminists like to say, into a “male-female binary.” MacDonald does not get too much into the downside of individualism at this point in his book other than to mention Sweden’s high levels of divorce, lack of filial attachments, sexual promiscuity and drugs — alongside a political culture that discourages any strong attachment to Sweden’s ethnic identity.
As insightful as MacDonald’s emphasis on family patterns is to our understanding of the nature and dynamics of Western individualism, I wonder whether he is pushing too far the argument that Sweden today is “on the extreme end of individualism” based primarily on the criteria that this nation has exhibited, and continues to exhibit, “the most individualist family patterns in all of Europe”. I wonder whether Sweden can be classified as an individualist society given the extremely conformist culture it has engendered. We call Nordics “radical liberals” but they are not liberals anymore, since very little independent thinking and dissent is permitted against politically correct values enforced by the state without dialogue.

It is not as if MacDonald does not recognize the presence of moral communities which regulate the beliefs of its members and limit dissent in the West. As we will see later, this is a key component of MacDonald’s thesis: the very same cultures that minimized in-group kinship ties engendered powerful moral communities to sustain their individual egalitarian behaviors in opprobrium to individuals who did not play by these rules. But if we agree that there is more to liberalism than individualistic families, and that allowing for the realization of the variety of individual personalities and freedom of expression are essential traits, it may be a stretch to call Western societies today, the same ones that prohibit any criticism of diversity, liberal. Expression of one’s inner potentialities and highest talents, in competition with others and against pre-reflective norms, is central to the liberal ideal of freedom.

Although some socialistic measures such as equality of opportunity are consistent with liberal thinking, the egalitarian ideal is not. The fundamental drawback of socialism is that it opposes human variety and divisions, the reality of human conflict and disagreement. Socialism seeks harmonious, well-satisfied citizens well-attended by a nanny state within an ordered whole in a state of happy coexistence. But a cardinal principle of Western liberal thought has been that variety, the right to think for yourself, and to strive in a state of competition with others, is good, for it awakens human talents, allows for individual creativity, and discourages indolence and passivity. Sweden however is striving for egalitarian conformity and uniformity of thought.

While equality before the law, equality of individual rights, including the socialization of education and health care, is consistent with liberal thinking, there is an internal logic within the egalitarian ideal that runs against individualism. The end of egalitarianism is to make all individuals as alike as possible in their attainments, their thoughts, and their standing in society. As John Stuart Mill said, the chief goal of a free society should be the expansion of the expression of individuality, which requires competition of ideas, liberty of opinion, a free press, right of free assembly — the very same traits that are being denied in Sweden and the West at large. Just because we are witnessing in the West indulgent self-expression, disdain for marriage, narcissistic behaviors, breakdown of family patterns for the sake of personal greed and narcissism, it does not mean that Sweden has not become an authoritarian state that is anti-liberal and anti-individualistic.

The West may well be in the worst of all possible worlds, a very weak ethnic identity, breakdown of family relations, confused gender identities, regulated by a nanny state with everyone behaving increasingly alike in their conformity to diversity and lack of individual daring and originality against PC controls.

The Egalitarian Individualism of HG Nordic Europeans and the Origins of WEIRD Whites: Chapter 3 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

The essence of liberalism is individualism, and the primordial evolutionary fact of individualism is the “the cutting off from the wider kinship group”, and the origins of this cutting off can be traced back to northern hunter gatherers in Europe during the last glacial age in the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. This argument becomes transparent in chapter three of Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition, which is the subject of Part 3 of my analysis of this book. Here are Parts 1 and 2.

The furthest back historians have gone to explain the origins of Western liberal civilization is Ancient Greece. I traced the uniqueness of this civilization back to the prehistorical Indo-Europeans during the period between 4500 BC to 2500 BC. It makes sense for MacDonald, an evolutionary psychologist, to go back in time as early as possible to determine when Europeans may have been selected for those traits he considers to be crucial for the evolution of Western uniqueness. He argues that “egalitarian individualism” has been a crucial characteristic of the West along with the aristocratic individualism of Indo-Europeans, which “dovetailed significantly” with the egalitarianism of the H-Gs they “encountered in northwest Europe” from about 2500 BC.

MacDonald observes that, as members of the same Homo sapiens species, all humans have common biological adaptations, but they do “differ in degree in adaptations” depending on environments, and these differences can generate “major differences” between cultures. Under the “harsh evolutionary pressures of the Ice Age,”  there would have been more pressures to live in small groups and in relative social isolation, rather than to form “extended kinship networks and collectivist groups” competing in close proximity for resources. There were selective pressures for males to provision simple households or nuclear families characterized by monogamy, exogamy, and bilateral kinship, because the ecology and availability of resources could not have selected for large polygynous families. This was in contrast to Near Eastern regions with their long fertile rivers supporting “large tribal groups based on extended kinship relations”. The strategy pursuit by northern Europeans was quite successful, enabling them to develop complex hunting gathering cultures during the Mesolithic era for a long time, 15,000 to 5,000, delaying the advance of farming which was slowly spreading into central and north Europe after Anatolian farmers settled in various parts of southern Europe starting 8000ybp.

Mesolithic cultures in Europe did consist of larger bands of hunter-gatherers due to their more efficient exploitation of resources and improved stone age tools, but  lacking any “stable resource” that could be controlled by an extended lineage group, their residences remained seasonally occupied by relatively small families living in a state of egalitarian monogamy and without one extended family superimposing itself over the others by controlling fertile and stable land areas. In northern Europe, families “were periodically forced to split up into smaller, more family-based groups”. These smaller groups were forced to interact both with related families and with “non-kin and strangers” also moving around from season to season. These interactions were not regulated by kinship norms but instead led to emphasis on “trust and maintaining a good reputation within the larger non-kinship based  group”.

These evolutionary selected behaviors characterized by small families, exogamous and monogamous marriages, and relations based on trust with outsiders, were the primordial ground out of which Western individualism emerged.

In the Near East complex hunting gathering societies soon evolved into agrarian villages controlled by lineage groups in charge of stable resources. I would add, as Jared Diamond observed, that most of the animals and plants susceptible to domestication were found in the Near East, which encouraged or made it easier to develop farming villages with plentiful resources controlled by the stronger kinship groups. Whereas monogamy and exogamy persisted in the West, in the East the tendency was for marrying relatives, even first cousins.

The European practice of marrying outside the extended family meant that marriage was more likely “based on personal attraction”, which meant that there was selection for physical attractiveness, strength, health and personality, in contrast to the East where marriage was arranged within the extended family. Love and intimacy between wife and husband, including greater affection and nurturance of children, MacDonald observes, were a salient trait of Europeans. Whites invented romance, in contrast, for example, to Semitic marriages where marriages were intended to solidify kinship ties, arranged by elders, with love and romance having a far lesser role.

Joseph Henrich on WEIRD Europeans

In the last pages of this chapter, MacDonald shows in quick succession how his evolutionary perspective can effectively explain the origins of the WEIRD traits Joseph Henrich and his colleagues detected among Western individuals. I should explain a bit Henrich’s argument since MacDonald assumes prior knowledge. For Henrich, humans do not have the same cognitive apparatus, the Western mind is more analytic, it separates things from each other, it focuses on what makes objects different rather than seeing objects only in relation to what’s around it. We can’t talk about “the human mind” as such, “human nature” and “human psychology,” because the Western mind is structured differently and perceives reality differently, thinks differently about fairness, cooperation, and judges what is right and wrong differently.

Henrich does not express himself in these blunt terms, but for the sake of immediate clarity, his basic argument about WEIRD people is that they see themselves as individuals rather than as members of collective ingroups. Their individualism is the difference that underlies all the other differences. It is the difference that explains why WEIRD people are less attached to extended families, tribal units, religious groups and even nation states. Because WEIRD people judge others as individuals, they are willing to extend their trust to outsiders, to people from other ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. They are more inclined to be fair to outsiders, judging them on the basis of impersonal standards rather than standards that only serve the interests of their ingroup. WEIRD people are less conformist, more reliant on their own individual judgments and capacities, willing to reason about issues without following the prescribed norms and answers mandated from collective authorities. In the non-Western world, trust is circumscribed within one’s ingroup rather than extended to individuals from outgroups.

The key to the individualism of WEIRD people is their lack of kinship ties. The most important norms and institutions humans have developed to regulate their social behavior revolve around kin groups, which are networks of individuals connected by blood ties, extended families and clans. Humans are born into these kin groups; their survival, identity, status and obligations within society, as well as their sense of right and wrong, who and when they should marry, where they should live, who owns the land and how property should be inherited, are determined by the norms of the kin group.

Given the importance of kinship networks in determining whether people are “normal” or WEIRD, Henrich set out to find what factors may have led to the breakdown of kinship networks in the West. His conclusion was that the Catholic Church was responsible for the “demolition” of kinship networks and the rise of WEIRD people.

The Catholic Church, he says, promoted individualism through the prohibition of cousin marriages, polygyny by powerful males (which weakened kinship households consisting of closely related families) coupled with the Church’s promotion of monogamy and nuclear families. This encouraged the rise of many voluntary associations in the West outside kinship ties, guilds, universities, monasteries, chartered towns. This creating competition for members between voluntary associations combined with rising impersonal markets in which individuals interacted with strangers and learned how to trust each other in the conduct of business ventures.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the traits Henrich identifies as WEIRD have been highlighted by past sociologists and historians. Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Ferdinand Tönnies, along with “modernization theorists” in the 1950s and 1960s, all drew clear contrasts, in varying ways, between i) traditional communities (including Europe before the modern era) with their kinship, rigid sanctions, ascription, collectivism, low mobility, obedience, loyalty, and ii) modern (Western) societies with their voluntary contracts, autonomy of private organizations, achievement orientation, inventiveness, free markets. Nevertheless, Henrich should be appreciated for his excellent research, which “synthesizes experimental and analytical tools drawn from behavioral economics and psychology with in-depth quantitative ethnography”.

Although some may argue that MacDonald does not have direct genetic evidence demonstrating that crucial elements of these WEIRD traits were selected in hunting and gathering times, we will see in our examination of Chapter 4 that he does bring up solid findings on the family structure of Europe showing a gradation in family relations, very early on in its history, from an “extreme individualism” in the northwest Europe, where the family was cut off from extended kinship networks, to a “moderate individualism” in central Europe, to a “moderate collectivism” in south and eastern Europe. It stands to reason that an evolutionary psychologist would want to dig far back in time to identify possible environmental conditions that may have selected for individualism, in light of the fact that these traits tend to be exhibited so early in Europe’s history, rather than assume, as Henrich seems to do, that the psychology of human across the planet was identical before individualistic traits made their entry into history with the “demolition” of kinship networks in the medieval era by the Catholic Church.

Henrich likes to insist that his arguments emphasize the “co-evolution” of biological and sociological factors — both natural and cultural selection of genes, not just how people learn and transmit culture but, in his words, “how culture shaped our species genetic evolution, including our physiology, anatomy and psychology”. But if he really is interested in “co-evolution,” why does he avoid thinking about the possibility of deeper psychological-genetic changes among Europeans, rather arguing that the Catholic Church imposed new norms on a psychological profile that was identical across the world? How can the “fundamental aspects” of the “psychology, motivation, and behavior” of Europeans were transformed suddenly in the Middle Ages without any prior genetic dispositions?

MacDonald acknowledges that humans create cultures that select “for different mutations and ultimately for different traits”, which is why he takes seriously the unique culture created by northern European hunters and gatherers before he considers (as we will see in our examination of later chapters) the important role the Catholic Church played in reinforcing the breakdown of kinship networks.
MacDonald observes that, because northern Europeans evolved in the context of small families interacting with outsiders, they were selected to think morally beyond their own kin group about how best to cooperate with strangers, in which breach of trust was shunned and maintaining one’s reputation as honest was important for future dealings. In contrast, the larger kinship groups of the East restricted cooperation with outsiders, and thus felt less pressure to nurture moral principles that would extend beyond their group or that would involve altruistic attitudes towards outsiders. In the East, morality was defined mostly in terms of the needs of the in-group, but northern Europeans began a tradition of moral thinking that would apply to humans generally.
MacDonald hints that the northern environment resulted in the selection of traits for spatial and mechanical ability, a tendency toward analytical thinking, which involves “thinking of oneself as independent” in contrast to the East where thinking remained “linked to thinking of oneself as interdependent with other people”. I will return to this incredibly important point when MacDonald picks it up again in Chapter 9 when dealing with “individualism as a precursor of science”.

A fair criticism, which I am sure MacDonald would welcome, is that much research is still required in support of the thesis that northwestern European h-g cultures were characterized by a bilateral kinship system, nuclear families, exogamous and monogamous marriages, individual choice in marriage and a relatively high position of women. Our side barely has any scholars willing to study European uniqueness, and zero interest if such research is initiated by white identitarians. I think it is a very promising line of research. I wish there was research as well about how the peculiarities of the European environment — its incredible ecological diversity, numerous rivers of all sizes, mountains, variations in temperatures, the longest coastlines in the world, the most seas, the most beautiful landscapes — may have selected for higher analytical abilities and aesthetic sensibilities.

Andrew Joyce’s podcast: Talmud and Taboo

Editor’s note: No surprise, but Spreaker just terminated AJ’s podcast. Stay tuned.

Andrew Joyce has undertaken to do a podcast series, Talmud and Taboo. Enjoy!

https://www.spreaker.com/user/12735720/welcome-to-the-jq

On Getting Control in Your Life

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”  

This writing begins with a meditation on the quote above, the slogan of the authoritarian, repressive Party in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, often referred to as 1984, published in 1949.  I’ll let the process take me wherever it does.   I’m not working from an outline.

The word “control” is used four times in the 1984 quote, so it makes sense to define it for the purposes of this exploration.

In this context, control denotes an outcome, or influence.  You have control of something when you make things different than they were before in ways you favor, and only then.  You aren’t in control just because you have the top job and can call the shots, and have everything thought out and have your plans all drawn up and can marshal sound and persuasive arguments for what you want to happen.  You’re in control when you actually get the results you seek: in the way people think and behave, in the way things operate.  By this definition, if you didn’t alter the world, you didn’t control it.  You may be an informed and insightful and wise person, and dedicated and hard-working and articulate and courageous and morally upright, and have the very best intentions, but, as they say in sports, you have to put numbers on the board—hit home runs and strike people out—actually produce, to be in control.

Looking at control as a tangible outcome surfaces three other considerations: power, authority, and intention.  Put together in the right way, these three phenomena produce control.

Power has to do with capability, skill.  You have the personal wherewithal to get the controlling job done.  You’re smart enough, you know enough, you are strategic enough, you’re healthy enough, you’re diligent enough, and you’re resilient enough to make things happen.  You have the ability to hit home runs. That’s not to say you will hit home runs—control something—but you are capable of it, you have the potential.  (Writing that last sentence, I was reminded of what a college football coach told me when I was doing research on successful coaches in my university work.  “Potential,” he confided, “is what I lose with.”)

Authority gets at being in a position, or slot, where you have the green light to make what you want to happen actually occur.   You might be able to chatter away cleverly on social media all day long, but if you aren’t in a place in the scheme of things where people have to take you seriously, your only move might be to heat up a frozen pizza and play “Call of Duty” until bedtime.

Intention has to do with no-kidding commitment, resolve.  Intention is a way of experiencing your mind and body with regard to accomplishing something so that it’s not just a good idea or goal or hope.  It’s something that, dammit, I WILL GET DONE!  I’m not omnipotent, but if I don’t get the results I’m going for, it’s not going to be for a lack of trying.  I’m giving this everything I’ve got.  I intend to make this picture in my head a concrete reality.

How about, right now, taking stock of yourself.  With reference to race, the focus of this magazine, and everything else in your life, how are you doing?

What do you control?  Name it.

How powerful—capable, strong, effective—are you?

How much authority do you have; what are you mandated to make happen?

What do you, for real, intend to accomplish right now?

*   *   *

The opposite of anything worth our attention is invariably also worth our attention.  Similarly, the opposite of anything of value is very likely also of value.  (If you are interested in this kind of thing, I’m working with the Jungian—psychologist Carl Jung—concept of enantiodromia.)  In this case, looking at public control (society, culture, politics, history), which is the focus of Orwell’s book, should remind us to look at private control (health, work, relationships, fulfilment, happiness).  The public and private are complementary, interactive concerns; each affects the other.   What is going on around public control has an impact on what is going on with private control, and vice versa.   As we consider how the “Party” in our time controls public realities, let’s keep in mind that, right now, you and I are controlling, or failing to control, ourselves and our circumstances, and that those are not independent, mutually exclusive, occurrences.  All to say, if you want to control the larger world, one way to go about that is to achieve control in your smaller, personal world.

I’ll add a moral standard to the idea of control.  It not just getting any things done, it’s getting good things done—worthwhile things, decent things.  Now in old age, I can attest to the fact that there’s a time in your life when you are aware that it’s the end and you ask and answer the question, what good did I accomplish in my life?  Depending on the answer to that question, you either experience gratification and peace or despair and regret.

In 1984, the Party depicted the past—history—in a way that supported its current goals and programs.   The Party knew that if the past is viewed by the citizenry as idyllic and inspirational, it will support efforts that continue and build upon it.  If, alternatively, the past is considered nightmarish and evil, people will seek to create new, better circumstances.  The Party portrayed the past as a time of misery and slavery and injustice, and since it was all people heard, it became the accepted Truth.  The Party effectively sold itself as the force that would rectify those historical injustices, and people deferred to it and felt compelled to support its programs.  Sound familiar?

Is there a real-life counterpart to the fictional Party in America in 2020?   (I’m a culture-bound American.  I’ll let non-Americans judge whether anything I write has applicability to their circumstance.)  Yes, there is.  It’s people who in one way or another are in the communication business: they get facts and ideas and values and images across to the masses.  I’m thinking of people in news and entertainment, politicians, educators at all levels, prominent internet figures, clergy, and the owners and managers of companies like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Google.  To understand control, you need to take into account who’s doing the talking (broadly defined) in the main arena of the society and culture and who’s stopping people from talking.

What kind of talk are the talkers talking?  Basically, they are telling stories; another way to put it, they are setting out narratives.  A story, or narrative, says this happened and then this happened and then this happened, and this is what the story is all about.

An example:

In 2014, an 18-year-old black Ferguson, Missouri resident, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson.   It was national headline news for months.  The consensus perception was that this was a racist cop-killing of a young innocent black.

However, on November 24th of that year, a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Wilson.  The evidence and testimony the grand jury had reviewed in the process of coming to its decision was released to the public. It put Brown in a very unfavorable light: riveting testimony from Wilson describing his struggle with a 6’4’’, 280-pound assailant bent on killing him; pictures of Wilson’s facial bruises from Brown’s punches; evidence of marihuana in Brown’s blood and urine, which could have caused impairment in his judgment; the incompatibility of the forensic evidence with eye witness accounts that had played time and again in media reports describing Brown being shot in the back by Wilson or with his hands up attempting to surrender, along with eye witness accounts that squared point-by-point with both the forensic evidence and Wilson’s version of what had occurred.

The grand jury’s finding and the newly-released evidence had no impact—zero—on the those who had decided early on that this was an instance of racially motivated police misconduct and part of the larger problem of racial injustice in America.  These people didn’t speak to this new information, they didn’t refute it or explain it away, and they certainly didn’t incorporate it into how they looked at the case.   The talking heads on CNN and the writers in The New York Times never missed a beat: racism!  Rioting and looting erupted in cities across the U.S.

What accounted for this phenomenon?  I’ve decided that a big part of the answer to that question was the way people come to know things.  The word for that process is epistemology.

There are three main epistemologies.

One is to draw conclusions based on concrete reality: what’s right in front of you, what you can discern with your senses, and from detailed accounts of what others have discerned with their senses.  It could be called the empirical, or scientific, method of coming to the truth about something.

Another way of knowing is to use your mind: to carefully consider various positions and arguments and employ reason and logic to come to conclusions about what is true.

The third epistemology is to understand and reach conclusions on the basis of how something fits into a narrative, or story, you have accepted as a valid one.  This epistemology, I believe, was operative in the people who ignored the facts of the Michael Brown case.  They plugged what happened in Ferguson into a story that had been told them by the talkers.

The story went like this: From the earliest days of America, black people have been oppressed by white people.  A big part of that oppression has been the discriminatory and abusive conduct of racist white police officers in urban black communities, especially toward young black men.  It’s a huge problem in this country and something has to be done about it.

A simple story, or tale–no complications, no ambiguities, easy to understand.  Something comes up, say a cop-killing in Missouri.  What does it mean, you ask yourself?  Where does it fit in the scheme of things?  What went on down there in Missouri?  What should be done about it?  The story answers all that for you in a flash.  You’ve got it wired.

Narrative-based epistemologies serve some people’s interests very well.   If reality and logic don’t make your case, a story might do the job.  Let’s say you want to explain black pathologies as coming from something other than their own limitations.  Or MSNBC signs your checks.  Or you’re a politician with a large liberal or black constituency.  Or you want to put on display the one skill you’ve got going for you, running wild and destroying and stealing and setting fire to what other people have created, and get attention and praise to boot.  There is nothing that goes on in the world, including a plague—like the one we’re supposedly having right now—that doesn’t scratch somebody’s back.

Also, narratives don’t require any heavy lifting.  Mucking around in reality and working things through in your mind can get complicated and confusing and turn up qualifications and contingencies, and that can lead to uncertainty, and that can be unpleasant   Poring over grand jury records or reading books and thinking things through from this angle and this other one can give you a headache and insomnia.  Who needs all that work?  Better to fit what happened into a story and get on with eating dinner and watching HBO.  After spending a career studying human behavior as a university academic, I regret to have to report that much of human behavior can be attributed to laziness.   Narratives are a gift to the lazy.

Another upside of narratives is that if you buy into the currently fashionable ones, life goes smoothly for you.  You will be considered in the know and one of the heroes in life’s drama, and that’ll make you feel good about yourself.  People will like you and want you around.  You’ll get good grades and recommendations and awards and jobs and promotions, and romantic interests will invite you to stay a while to “talk” at the end of the evening.

Of course, the obvious parallel to the Michael Brown incident six years ago as this is written is the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd while in the custody of police.  Déjà vu all over again.  Plug the incident into the narrative and let the ranting and finger-pointing and rioting begin.  My daughter is a sophomore in high school on the west coast.   Shortly after the Floyd incident came an oh-so-sincere, pedantic email message from the principal of her school addressed to parents and students deploring the tragic death of George Floyd “and countless others at the hands of the police,” and the “systematic racism that exists in this country.”   This woman knew for a fact what went on 1,500 miles away in Minneapolis and what is going on generally from coast to coast.  I strongly suspect that what she knew about the “countlessness” of that incident and systematic racism (another airy, vague story we’ve all had drilled into us), as my mother use to say, you could put in your eye.  Even though I’m sure she didn’t realize it, she was reciting stories she had been told.   Something else I am sad to report is that it is next to impossible to overstate the gullibility and malleability of the mass public.

On the other hand, my daughter’s principal still has a job.  The high school principal in Windsor, Vermont, the state where I live, dared to contradict the Black Lives Matters story (saints, all of them).  She wrote a social media post criticizing the “coercive behavior” of Black Lives Matter activists.  She expressed her opinion that people shouldn’t be “made to choose the black race over the human race.”  Her school board immediately—as in knee jerk—called her “ignorant and prejudiced” and put her on leave and—speaking of coercion—said they would get rid of her permanently.  Never kid yourself that agreeing with today’s Party stories is an option.  Freedom of speech, you say?  Due process, you say?  Come on.

*   *   *

So, what follows from what I’ve laid out so far?  A lot of things obviously.  I’ve chosen in the space I have available here to focus my attention on you sitting there reading this right now.  You.  With the ideal of living a life characterized by a reasonable amount of control over yourself and your world as the frame of reference, I’ll offer some advice for your consideration.  Realistically, if you are young you will be better able to make use of it than if you are old.  As life goes along, our energy and options steadily diminish.  At some point, they become all but non-existent, and at some point, we become completely non-existent.  But however old you are, you still have some time left.  See if anything I offer is helpful in spending it wisely and well.

As I think about it, that’s my first observation or piece of advice: the only currency that really matters in life is time.  You and I have just so much of it.  We “spend” it however we do, and it is never replenished, and someday—we’re not certain when—it runs out.  Life comes down to how we spend our allotted time.  The challenge is to spend it judiciously and not get to the end of our lives with the painful realization that so many old people have to live with: “I’ve wasted my life.”

The second piece of advice: develop what Ernest Hemingway called “a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”  This writing has focused on stories that people use to control other people.  The obvious point in that explication was that one way to control the world is get yourself in a position—like behind a university lectern–to tell compelling, easy-to-understand stories.  But there’s that “the opposite of a good thing is also a good thing” idea to keep in mind: one way to get control in your life is to become effective at critically analyzing the stories coming at you.  An inelegant way to put it, à la Hemingway, get good at detecting shit.  And give no story’s, no story-teller’s, shit a pass.  It’s easy enough to detect the shit in the “racist police” narrative.   But look for shit on this site too, including in what you are getting from me right now.  Most often, the spreaders of shit think they are spewing daisies, but it can still be shit–or probably more accurately, daisies with a lot of shit mixed in.

Distinguish between being inside and outside in society.  By inside, I mean you are part of the action, you’re doing it, not watching it and commenting on it.  You’re not over in on the side complaining or amusing yourself or hurting yourself or waiting around hoping somebody will make it all better for you.  By inside, I don’t just mean you are in news and entertainment or a politician or an educator or writer, as it may have come across in the first section.  To me, you’re inside if you are a skilled electrician or own a successful Ford dealership or do a good job of selling cars, or are a committed doctor or a nurse, or effectively manage a McDonald’s franchise, or are a dedicated parent.  My advice is to do what you can to get on the inside.  That’s where the control is.  That’s where the self-respect and gratification and happiness are

In this highly politicized, cancel culture, don’t set yourself up for demonization and marginalization and exclusion.  Be savvy.  Watch what you say on the internet and social media or in an email; if you wouldn’t welcome it being the headline in the newspaper, keep it to yourself.  Be extremely careful how you identify yourself.   There are people around who themselves keep their identities hidden telling you to go public as a far right-winger; it’ll be great, they say.  It makes me cringe.  Look at the fates of people who have gone that route—trashed, fired, relegated to pariah status, on the outside looking in for the rest of their lives.

Play the game that’s on the table.  And what’s the game?  Hard work.  Personal responsibility.  Good grades.  Degrees.  Credentials.  Positive recommendations.  Being respectful and kind to people.  A track record of busting your behind to do the job—any job—you been assigned the very best you can.  No scandals.  My life has brought me into contact with Asians and it’s been eye-opening for me.   They don’t whine or feel sorry for themselves or march with banners or ask anybody for special favors.  They couldn’t care less what you call them; they know damn well who they are, and they are not inferior to you.  They aren’t cynics or wise-asses.  They are sincere and focused on getting good things done and feeling good about themselves as a consequence.  They use family and mutual aid and schooling and they get degrees in fields that pay good money, and they look out for their wives and children.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s more to be learned from them than Lil Wayne.

Hone your instrument.  Your instrument is your body and mind and personal character.   I came out of poverty and a tough home situation.  I realized that I was coming from way back in society and that if I was going to make something out of my life, I had to be like a boxer in training for the big fight.  I couldn’t afford to bring myself down even one degree with drugs and alcohol.  In my day it wasn’t opioids, but you wouldn’t have had to save me from that scourge.  It doesn’t take a genius—which for sure is not me—to see that one thing leads to another in life.  I had a job as a janitor and I was there clear-eyed with my hair combed earlier in the morning than I had to be and swept the hell out of those floors.  One of the best memories I have in my long life is when I was told that I did a really good job cleaning a very dirty recreation room I had been assigned to clean; I used that as a foundation to move forward and upward.  I had trouble looking at people and I was shaky and put myself down and I didn’t pronounce words properly.  I worked on it.  I practiced looking at people by maintaining eye contact with the newscasters on television, and I practiced speaking as they did.  When I was around people, I silently reminded myself to be “calm, confident, in charge.”  I noticed that people who made it in life didn’t numb themselves out with television and watching strangers play with a ball (now it’s video games).  They did things—they read good books, they hunted and fished and hiked, they worked in the garden.  All of that—I mean it—helped give me get control in my life.

Work on being intentional.    Have intentions you can put into words and imagine in your mind’s eye being realized.  Keep commitments you make to yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, do it.  Don’t let reasons and excuses replace results.  You learn anything by practicing, and it doesn’t have to be something big.  If you say you’re getting up at six tomorrow morning, you’re up at six.  Small successes lead to big successes; see the connection.

Become like a top-rank boxer.  I assume you are reading this magazine because you care about the fate of white people.  If you’re going to make anything of consequence happen in this area, be in control of anything in this area, you’re going to have to become a ring warrior.  I did boxing writing in my younger years and was around top boxers.  They were in super condition.  They were tough as leather and could take a punch.  They didn’t just cover up and stay on the defense.  They counterpunched, viciously.   They went on the attack full-out, nothing held back, and they took your head off.  They were battered and scarred, but they were proud and honorable men.

The “Extraordinary Successful” Aristocratic Individualism of Indo-Europeans – Chapter 2 of Individualism

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of Prof. Duchesne’s commentary on Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition.

Part 2 of my detailed examination of Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects For the Future (2019), examines his emphasis in chapter two on the aristocratic individualism of Indo-Europeans. In Part 1 I covered MacDonald’s argument in chapter one that Europe’s founding peoples consisted of three population groups:

  1. Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs) who were descendants of Upper Paleolithic peoples who arrived into Europe some 45000 years ago,
  2. Early Farmers (EFs) who migrated from Anatolia into Europe starting 8000 years ago, and
  3. Indo-Europeans (I-Es) who arrived from present-day Ukraine about 4500 years ago.

Using MacDonald’s argument, I emphasized how these three populations came to constitute the ancestral White race from which multiple European ethnic groups descended.

The task MacDonald sets for himself in chapter two is a most difficult one. He sets out to argue that the most important cultural trait of Europeans has been their individualism, that this trait was already palpable in prehistoric times among WHGs and I-Es, that it is possible to offer a biologically based explanation for the emergence of this individualism, and that this individualism was a key component of the “extraordinary success” of Europeans. How can one employ a biological approach to explain individualistic behaviors that seem to defy a basic principle of evolutionary psychology — that members of kin groups, individuals related by blood and extended family ties, are far more inclined to support their own kin, to marry and associate with individuals who are genetically close to them, than to associate with members of outgroups? It is also the case that the concept of “group selection”, to which MacDonald subscribes, says indeed that groups with strong in-group kinship relationships are more likely to be successful than groups in which kinship ties are less extended and individuals have more room to form social relations outside their kin group.

Evolutionary psychologists prefer models that explain group behavior in animals and humans generally. They also prefer to talk about cultural universals — behavioral patterns, psychological traits, and institutions that are common to all human cultures worldwide. When they encounter unusual cultural behaviors, they look to the ways in which different environmental settings may have resulted in genetically unique behaviors, or to the ways in which relatively autonomous cultural contexts may have promoted or inhibited certain common biological tendencies.

MacDonald combines these two approaches to argue that the individualism of Europeans is a genetically based behavior that was naturally selected by the unique environmental pressures of northwest Europe. However, it is only in reference to the egalitarian individualism of northwestern hunter gatherers, which is the subject of chapter three, that MacDonald tries to explain how this egalitarian individualism was genetically selected. He takes it as a given in chapter two that the I-Es were selected for their own type of aristocratic individualism, without linking this individualism to environmental pressures in the Pontic steppes. In Part 3 we will bring up his argument about how Europe’s egalitarian individualism was naturally selected.

Cultural Peculiarities of Indo-Europeans

MacDonald refers often to my book, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, in his analysis of the culture of Indo-Europeans, while putting a stronger and clearer emphasis on the way kinship was “de-emphasized” within the central institution of the Männerbund, or the warrior brotherhood of the I-Es. These warrior bands, as I also observed in Uniqueness, were organized primarily for warfare, which was the main way aristocrats found a livelihood consistent with their status as warriors, opportunities to accumulate resources and followers, and a chance to attain heroic renown among peers. Membership was open to any aristocratic warrior willing to enter into a contractual agreement with the leader of a warband, with the greatest spoils and influence going to those who exhibited the greatest military talents. In other words, these war bands were open to individuals on the basis of talent, rather than “on the basis of closeness of kinship”.

My emphasis in Uniqueness  was less on the looser kinship ties of I-Es than on the “aristocratic egalitarianism” that characterized the contractual ties between warriors — how the leader, even when he was seen as a king, was “first among equals” rather than a despotic ruler. MacDonald emphasizes both this aristocratic trait and the ways in which I-Es established social relations outside kinship ties.

I-Es were aristocratic in the true sense of the word: men who gained their reputation through the performance of honorable deeds, proud of their freedom and unwilling to act in a subservient manner in front of any ruler. In addition to, or as part of the Männerbund, “guest-host relationships (beyond kinship) where everyone had mutual obligations of hospitality”, and where “outsiders could be incorporated as individuals with rights and protections,” were common among these aristocrats. By the time the Yamnaya migrated into Europe some 4500 years ago, they had developed a highly mobile pastoral economy coupled with the riding of horses and the development of wagons, in the same vein as they initiated a “secondary products revolution” in which animals were used in multiple ways beyond plain farming, for meat, dairy products, leather, transport and riding. This diet, together with the open steppe environment, where multiple peoples competed intensively to support a pastoral economy requiring large expanses of land, encouraged a highly militaristic culture. Indo-Europeans became a most successful expansionary people: Currently 46% of the world’s population speaks an Indo-European language as a first language, which is the highest proportion of any language family.

Egtved Girl wears a well-preserved woollen outfit and a bronze belt plate which symbolises the sun – a well-travelled woman at the dawn of the Celtic Urnfield culture who found herself visiting Denmark.
MacDonald could have clarified for readers unfamiliar with evolutionary theories of marriage and family that when he writes about “an  aristocratic elite not bound by kinship,” or about how ties between aristocrats “transcended the kinship group,” he is not denying the importance of blood ties between extended I-E family members and extended I-E families grouped into clans. He observes that marriages occurred within clans and that punishments and other disputes were decided in terms of kinship customs. The difference is that I-Es developed social ties above their kin relations that “tended to break down strong kinship bonds”.  While the strong kinship cultures of the East were characterized by arranged marriages within the extended family, and political-military ties were heavily infused by kin customary relations, among the Corded Ware culture that grew out of the Yamnaya one finds exogamy or marriage outside the extended family or with females “non-local in origin”, including the practice of monogamy. Exogamous marriages between I-E groupings, including the peoples they dominated, were a key component of their guest-host networks and a means to pull together military alliances and integrate new talent.

Individualism and Ethnocentrism Among Ancient Greeks

But it could be that MacDonald does assume that, in the degree to which Europeans created social ties outside kinship ties, it would have been inconsistent for them to retain kinship affinities and ethnocentric tendencies. He observes that “despite the individualism of the ancient Greeks, they also displayed [in their city-states] a greater tendency toward exclusionary (ethnocentric) tendencies than the Romans or the Germanic groups that came to dominate Europe after the fall of the Western Empire” (48).

The Greeks had a strong sense of belonging to a particular city-state, and this belonging was rooted in a sense of common ethnicity…The polis was thus…exclusionary (serving only citizens, typically defined by blood)…Greek patriotism based on religious beliefs and a sense of blood kinship was in practice very much focused on the individual city, making those interests absolutely supreme, with little consideration for imperial subjects, allies, or fellow Greeks in general (48-49).

I don’t think it should surprise us that despite their individualism the Greeks had a conception of citizenship defined by kinship. I would argue, rather, that it was precisely their individualistic detachment from narrow clannish ties that allowed the Greeks to develop a new, wider and more effective, form of collective ethnic identity at the level of the city state. Citizenship politics was introduced in Greece in the seventh century BC as a challenge to the divisive clan and tribal identities of the past. A citizen in a Greek city-state was an adult male resident individual with a free status, able to vote, hold public office, and own property. Bringing unity of purpose among city residents, a general will to action to communities long divided along class and kinship lines, was the aim behind the identification of all free males as equal members of the city-state.

As I argued in “The Greek-Roman Invention of Civic Identity Versus the Current Demotion of European Ethnicity“:

We should praise the ancient Greeks for being the first historical people to invent the abstract concept of citizenship, a civic identity not dependent on birth, wealth, or tribal kinship, but based on laws common to all citizens. The Greeks were the first Westerners to be politically self-conscious in separating the principles of state organization and political discourse from those of kinship organization, religious affairs, and the interests of kings or particular aristocratic elites. The concept of citizenship transcended any one class but referred equally to all the free members of a city-state. This does not mean the Greeks promoted a concept of civic identity regardless of their lineage and ethnic origin […] The Greeks…retained a strong sense of being a people with shared bloodlines as well as shared culture, language, mythology, ancestors, and traditional texts.

City-states were indispensable to forge a stronger unity among city residents away from the endless squabbling of clannish aristocratic men, for the sake of harmony, the ‘middle’ good order. To this end, the ancient Greeks enforced a set of laws (nomoi) that applied equally to all citizens, de-emphasizing both kinship ties and differences between classes — which brings me to another point I may elaborate in more detain in another post: the aristocratic individualism of I-Es contained a democratizing impulse.

In the creation of city-states, and the subsequent democratization of these polities, particularly in Athens, we see an egalitarian impulse emerging out of the aristocratic war band and the prior aristocratic governments of ancient Greece when a council of aristocratic elders, without input from the lowers classes, was in charge. It is not that the old aristocratic values were devalued; rather, these values trickled downwards to some degree. The defense of the city, and warfare generally, would no longer be reserved for privileged aristocrats but would become the responsibility of hoplite armies manned by free farmers. Heroic excellence in warfare would no longer consist in the individual feats of aristocrats but in the capacity of individual hoplites to fight in unison and never abandon their comrades in arms.

Solon

The democratization of the city-states from Solon (b. 630 BC) to Cleisthenes (b. 570 BC) to Pericles (495–429 BC), the creation of popular assemblies, were associated with the adoption of hoplite warfare, starting in the mid-seventh century, the abolition of debt slavery, the securing of property rights by small landowners, and the creation of an all-embracing legal code. This unity of purpose was taken to its logical conclusion in the ideal city state imagined by the character of Socrates in Plato’s Republic, “Our aim in founding the city was not to give especial happiness to one class, but as far as possible to the city as a whole”.

Individualism and Ethnocentrism Among Romans

The ethnocentrism of the Greeks beyond their city-states should also be recognized. The ancient Greeks came to envision themselves as part of a wider Panhellenic world in which they perceived themselves as ethnically distinct precisely in lieu of their individualistic spirit, which they consciously contrasted to the “slavish” spirit of the Asians. As Lynette Mitchell observes in Panhellenism and the Barbarian in Archaic and Classical Greece (2007), “there was in antiquity a sense of Panhellenism”. Panhellenism was “closely associated with Greek identity”. While this unity was ideological, rather than politically actual, weakened by endless quarrels between city-states, the Greeks contrasted their citizen politics with the despotic government of the Persians.

Europeans, however, would have to wait for the Romans to start witnessing a strong common identity beyond the city.

The same pattern from an aristocratic form of rule towards citizenship politics was replicated in Roman Italy, followed by the creation of an actual, and more encompassing, form of collective identity. MacDonald analyzes very effectively how the aristocratic individualist ethos of Indo-Europeans shaped the course and structure of politics throughout the Roman Republican era in an Appendix to Chapter 2. Even though an individualist ethos prevailed in Rome, we should not be surprised by the observation that, for the early Romans, “family was everything” and that “affection and charity were…restricted within the boundaries of the family.” We should not be surprised either that “there were also wider groupings” shaped by strong kinship ties, and that “cities developed when several of these larger groupings (tribes) came together and established common worship,” and that Roman cities were not “associations of individuals”, which is a modern phenomenon.

We must look for this aristocratic individualist ethos in the “non-despotic government” the Romans created, their republican institutions. This was a government in which aristocratic patrician families contested and shared power in the senate, which would eventually expand to include representative bodies, tribunes, for non-aristocratic plebeians with wealth, towards a separation of powers, between the senate of the patricians and the tribunes of the plebs, along with two consults from each body elected with executive power. The I-E aptitude for openness and social mobility was reflected in the rise of plebeian tribunes and the eventual acceptance of marriage between patricians and plebs. It was also reflected in the gradual incorporation of non-Romans, or Italians, into Roman political institutions. As MacDonald writes,

Instead of completely destroying the elites of conquered peoples, Rome often absorbed them, granting them at first partial, and later full, citizenship. The result was to bind ‘the diverse Italian peoples into a single nation'” (80).

Unlike the Greeks who restricted citizenship to free born city inhabitants, the Romans extended their citizenship across the Italian peninsula, after the Social War (91–88 BC), and across the Empire, when the entire free population of the Empire was granted citizenship in AD 212. MacDonald believes that this openness beyond Rome and beyond Italian ethnicity “resulted in Rome losing its ethnic homogeneity” (84). He cites Tenney Frank’s argument (1916) that Rome’s decline was a product of losing its vital racial identity as Italians become mixed with very heavy doses of “Oriental blood in their veins”. He believes that the Roman I-E strategy of incorporating talent into their groupings worked so long as “the incorporated peoples were closely related to the original founding stock”.

I am not sure if by “closely related” MacDonald means only the Latins; in any case, I see the forging of all Italians “into a single nation” as a very successful group evolutionary strategy in Rome’s expansionary drive against intense competition from multiple cultures and civilizations in the Mediterranean world. Similarly to the Greeks, the Roman-Italians retained a very strong sense of ethnic national identity throughout their history.

It is important to keep in mind that Italian citizenship came very late in Roman history, some five centuries after Rome began to rise. We should avoid conceding any points to the erroneous and politically motivated claim by multiculturalists that the Roman Empire was a legally sanctioned “multiracial state” after citizenship was granted to free citizens in the Empire. This is another common trope used by cultural Marxists to create an image of the West as a civilization long working towards the creation of a universal race-mixed humanity.  Philippe Nemo, under a chapter titled, “Invention of Universal Law in the Multiethnic Roman State,” want us to think that “the Romans revolutionized our understanding of man and the human person” in promulgating citizenship regardless of ethnicity. But I agree with the Israeli nationalist Azar Gat that ethnicity remained a very important marker for ancient empires generally, no less an important component of their makeup than domination by social elites over a tax-paying peasantry or slave force. “Almost universally they were either overtly or tacitly the empires of a particular people or ethnos.”

It should be added that Romans/Latins were so reluctant to grant citizenship to outsiders that it took a full-scale civil war, the Social War, for them to do so, even though Italians generally had long been fighting on their side helping them create the empire. Gat neglects to mention that all the residents of Italy (except the Etruscans, whose status as an Indo-European people remains uncertain) were members of the European genetic family. Let’s not forget how late in Rome’s history, AD 212, the free population of the empire was given citizenship status, and that the acquisition of citizenship came in graduated levels with promises of further rights with increased assimilation. Right until the end, not all citizens had the same rights, with Romans and Italians generally enjoying a higher status.Moreover, as Gat recognizes, Romanization was largely successful in the Western half of the empire, in Italy, Gaul, and Iberia, all of which were Indo-European in race, whereas the Eastern Empire consisted of an upper Hellenistic crust combined with a mass of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Judaic, Persian, and Assyrian peoples following their ancient ways, virtually untouched by Roman culture. The process of Romanization and expansion of citizenship was effective only in the Western (Indo-European) half of the Empire, where the inhabitants were White; whereas in the East it had superficial effects, although the Jews who promoted Christianity were “Hellenistic” Jews. This is the conclusion reached in Warwick Ball’s book, Rome in the East (2000). Roman rule in the regions of Syria, Jordan, and northern Iraq was “a story of the East more than of the West.” Similarly, George Mousourakis writes of “a single nation and uniform culture” developing only in the Italian Peninsula as a result of the extension of citizenship, or the Romanization of Italian residents. Perhaps we can also question Tenney Frank’s argument about the heavy presence of Oriental blood in Italy. According to David Noy, free overseas immigrants in Rome — never mind the Italian peninsula at large — might have made up 5% of the population at the height of the empire, which is not to deny Orientalist elements among the enslaved population.

For these reasons, I would hesitate to say that the I-E strategy of openness dissolved the natural ethnocentrism of Italians and Europeans generally. Their aristocratic individualism should be seen as a more efficient and rational ethnocentric strategy re-directed towards a higher level of national and racial unity, without diluting in-group feelings at the family level. It was only at the level of clans and tribes that the Greeks and the Romans diluted in-group kinship tendencies when it came to the conduct of political affairs. In Rome, the Senate worked as a political body mediating the influence of families in politics, not eliminating kinship patron-client relations at the level of families, but minimizing their impact at the level of politics. The Senate was a political institution within which elected members (backed by their extended families and patron-client connections) acted in the name of Rome even as they competed intensively with each other for the spoils of office holding.

It has indeed become clearer to me, after thinking about MacDonald’s contrast between kinship oriented and individualist cultures, why the East was entrapped to despotic forms of government. Rather than viewing this government as a purely ideological choice, it can be argued that the prevalence of despotism in the East was due to the prevalence of kinship ties in the running of governments and the consequent inability of Eastern elites to think about higher forms of identity in the way the Greeks and Romans did. Eastern empires were highly nepotistic, with rulers using the state to expand their kinship networks, favoring relatives while behaving in a predatory way against rival ethnic-tribal groups, without a sense of city-state or national unity, and without the ability to generate loyalty among inhabitants or members belonging to other kinship groups. The historian Jacob Burckhardt once observed about the Muslim caliphates that “despite an occasionally very lively feeling for one’s home region which attaches to localities and customs, there is an utter lack of patriotism, i.e., enthusiasm for the totality of a people or a state (there is not even a word for ‘patriotism’)”. Burckhardt does not say anything about kinship, but it seems reasonable to infer that the strong kinship ties that prevailed in the East made it very difficult to forge a common identity beyond these ties.

What ultimately allowed the Romans to defeat the Semitic Carthaginian empire, thereby securing the continuation of Western civilization, was their ability, in the words of Victor Davis Hanson, to “improve upon the Greek ideal of civic government through its unique idea of nationhood and its attendant corollary of allowing autonomy to its Latin-speaking allies, with both full and partial citizenship to residents of other Italian communities”. This form of civic identity among Italians was the main reason Rome was able, as MacDonald observes, “to command 730,000 infantry and 72,7000 cavalrymen when it entered the First Punic War” and to sustain major defeats in the early stages of the Second Punic War without losing the loyalty of its Italian allies and the ability to marshal huge armies.

We will see in our review of future chapters that what I have said above is not inconsistent with MacDonald’s thesis but relies on his own observations that a fundamental by-product of individualism is the formation of ingroups that are based on reputation and moral norms rather than on kinship. We will see that the same Christian Europe that pushed further the breakdown of kin-based clans, cousin marriage and polygamy, created a powerful moral community across Europe: Christendom. The point I am making now is that we should also see the ancient Greek city-states and the idea of Romanitas (or Romanness) as attempts to forge broader ingroup unities without relying solely on kinship relations. It is no accident that Europe would eventually give birth to the formation of the most powerful nation-states in the world, capable of fighting ferociously with each other while dominating the disorganized, clannish, despotic non-White world.

The Indigenous Europeans Consisted of Three Distinct White Population Movements: Chapter 1 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

Editor’s note: Prof. Ricardo Duchesne has written a series of articles on my book Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition, originally posted at Eurocanadian.ca. These essays are not only informative on the contents of the book, but also contain incisive commentary. Well worth reading!

General Remarks

Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects For the Future (2019) is the first book that employs an evolutionary psychological approach to explain the rise of the West — actually, it is the first book that aims to comprehend the dynamics of the entire history of the West from prehistoric to current times to explain as well the decline of the West, the ways in which the “egalitarian individualism” originated by northwest Europeans in hunting and gathering times planted the seeds of the West’s current decision to destroy its genetic heritage through the importation of masses of immigrants.

Difficult as this task may seem, MacDonald performs it extremely well. In a normal academic world in which criticism of immigration was permissible, MacDonald’s book would have been the subject of immediate debate rather than complete silence. The books currently dominating the “rise of the West” tend to downplay any substantial differences between the West and other civilizations. They talk about “surprising similarities” between the major civilizations as late as the 1750s, and argue that the West diverged only with the spread of the Industrial Revolution. Some books go back in time to the family structure of medieval northwest Europe, or to the enforcement of monogamy by the Catholic Church, or to the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century. While MacDonald makes effective use of earlier arguments on Western uniqueness, including my own argument about the importance of the “aristocratic egalitarianism” of prehistoric Indo-Europeans, he believes that the starting point must be “the genetic history of the West”.

For MacDonald, the most unique trait of Europeans is their individualism, a trait manifested in two different forms, in the aristocratic individualism of Indo-European cultures, and in the hunter-gatherer egalitarian individualism of northwestern Europe. There is a genetic basis for these two forms of individualism. To understand their origins it is necessary to document how these two forms were naturally selected within populations living in particular environmental settings, as well as within the novel cultural-environmental settings they created. The egalitarian form of individualism, in MacDonald’s estimation, was the form that eventually came to dominate European culture. While the aristocratic individualism of Indo-Europeans predominated in ancient Greece and Rome, the trend in European history was for the accentuation of egalitarian individualism, with the Church playing a critical role, and then the Puritan revolution with its “moralistic Utopianism” gradually spreading in the United States.

The Jews did not invent this egalitarian individualism. They interpreted this egalitarianism into a call for a plurality of cultures and races inside the West — the “ethnic dissolution of non-Jews” — while protecting Jewish in-group solidarity and ethnocentrism. They insisted that the egalitarian values of Europeans required them to abolish their exclusive and unequal ethnic-based concept of citizenship for the sake of a truly egalitarian multiracial concept  open to the arrival of millions of immigrants.

MacDonald’s emphasis on the “primordial” foundations of the egalitarian individualism of northwest hunter gatherers should not be confused with the standard observation that hunters and gatherers across the world were egalitarian. His focus throughout the book is on kinship systems, whether lines of descent were bilateral or patricentric, whether marriages were exogamous or endogamous, monogamous or polygamous, whether families were nuclear or extended, whether there was individual choice in marriage or arranged marriages, and whether individuals were inclined to establish relations outside their kinship group, with relatively weak ethnocentric tendencies, or whether they were seen as embedded to their kinship group, with relatively strong levels of ethnocentrism. His central argument is that already among northwest European hunter gatherers we can detect relatively weaker collective kinship systems, which gave room for more individual initiative and relationships outside extended families and blood lines, with individuals forming associations outside kinship relationships, as if they were in a state of equality rather than in a state of inequality between ingroups and outgroups.

It is this focus on the individualistic family systems of the West that allows MacDonald to offer a comprehensive explanation of both the rise and the decline of the West.  Most scholars writing about the rise of the West today are concerned to answer why the Industrial Revolution occurred in eighteenth century England/Europe. Some emphasize the unique family structure of northwest Europe, but they trace this family structure to the Middle Ages, and none of them go back to the evolution of genetic dispositions among northwest hunter-gatherers to explain the rise of the West. I am not aware of any scholar who focuses so consistently on the weak ethnocentric tendencies of Europeans to explain both the rise and decline of the West. If meeting the scientific criteria for parsimony is valuable to you, then reading MacDonald’s book will be very illuminating indeed.

What follows is the first of nine or ten commentaries I will be writing about Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

Three Foundational Genetic Populations of Europe

Chapter One brings up the latest research on population movements into prehistoric Europe to argue that three distinct populations came to constitute the genetic foundations of this continent:
  1. A “primordial population” arriving in Europe about 45,000 years ago, which he calls “Western hunter-gatherers (WHGs),” and which developed a unique culture of egalitarian individualism in the northwest areas of Europe.
  2. Early Farmers arriving from Anatolia about 8000 years ago, bringing agriculture and having the greatest genetic effect on the WHG population in the southern areas of Europe.
  3. Indo-Europeans migrating from the Pontic-Steppes beginning around 4500 years ago, starting with the Yamnaya peoples and later associated with the Corded Ware culture. The greatest genetic impact of the Yamnaya and Corded Ware peoples was on central Europe and some regions in the north, with less impact in the east and south.

This first chapter, the shortest at 25 pages, may be the most tricky for readers to digest; and I fear that, if not read carefully, it may create the impression that MacDonald is arguing that Europe’s population was formed by non-white genetic groups coming from the outside, “mysterious” Yamnaya peoples coming from “the steppes”, as they were described in the mainstream media, and by farmers from the Near East. Because MacDonald presents this argument in a scholarly and judicious manner, using the geographical and ethnic terminology of the literature, and avoiding descriptions about the “white race” until the last pages, it may lead some readers to infer that only the WHGs in the northwest were white and native to the continent.

Up until about page 13, MacDonald describes (correctly) the EFs as a people from “Anatolia”. He describes the I-Es as an “amalgam of Armenian-like Near Eastern people,” Caucasus hunter-gatherers, Siberian North Eurasians (“related to North American Indians”), and Eastern Hunter-Gatherers. I have no dispute with this terminology, except that it may lend itself to manipulation by the mainstream media — into the notion that only one genetic population, WHGs (in the north) was white. This seems to be the impression of Morris V. de Camp, the reviewer of Individualism and the Liberal Tradition at Counter Currentswhen he writes that “Western Hunter Gatherers are Europe’s indigenous population” while describing the other two populations using the ethnic-geographical terms MacDonald uses, without adding that these two other populations were also white, or undergoing selection for white skin, brown eyes and tallness.

Readers may underestimate the subsequent points MacDonald develops in the closing pages of this chapter where he states with definiteness that the EFs who entered Europe from Anatolia had “white skin and brown eyes” and that they actually eliminated “the dark-skinned WHGs in the south of Europe” (24). While “proto-Indo-European genes for light skin pigmentation were relatively infrequent…compared to contemporary Ukrainians,” there was selection for white skin and other European physical traits as the I-Es “spread north”. He describes the I-Es from the Pontic Steppes that migrated into Europe 4000 years ago as “white-skinned, brown eyed peoples”.

Making  white skin or eye color the defining traits of Western Civilization is not the point. I am in agreement with MacDonald that “individualism” is the best word that defines and allows us to understand the unique trajectory of Europeans. But we must be upfront about the racial identity of Europeans in light of the extremely deceitful way in which the mainstream media and academics are using these recent findings on the population genetics of Europeans to argue that Europe was not the “ancestral home of white people”, but was from the beginning  a continent populated by “diverse immigrants” from external regions.

The current promoters of mass immigration want us to believe that Europe’s original populations were already diverse and that whites were not the original population, even though these findings actually demonstrate that evolution, or genetic differentiation along different racial paths, occurred in different regions of the world, including Europe, after homo sapiens migrated out of Africa some 60 or 50 thousand years ago. The media, and the scientists themselves, are deceitfully speaking about the “mysterious” Yamnaya and the Anatolian farmers as evidence that Europe was a “melting pot” of “immigrants” from “diverse” racial groupings arriving from “Eurasia” and the “Near East”. Indeed, since the WHGs themselves were descendants of African migrants, the media has been contriving headlines and arguments about how Europeans were an amalgam of “Africans,” “Near Eastern migrants,” and “mysterious” Yamnaya people who “shared distant kinship with Native Americans”.

Many reacted with disbelief at the African look of the “first European” Dr. Richard Neave created from fragments of fossils of a 35,000 years old skull found in Europe, with Lawrence Auster calling it an “undisguised fraud“. But why should we expect the first generations of homo sapiens in Europe to have evolved “white” traits not long after they entered this continent? The research that is coming out suggests that today’s races are very young (outside Africa), and did not appear until about 12,000 to 10,000 years ago; and it may be that the European race is the youngest race, the last evolutionary stage of homo sapiens.

The WHGs were not intially European but evolved into Europeans thousands of years after they had inhabited the northwest regions of Europe. From a Darwinian perspective, the question that should matter is when and how the inhabitants of Europe became European. According to Sandra Wilde et. al. “strong selection favoring lighter skin, hair, and eye has been operating in European populations over the last 5000 years“.  In terms of these physical markers, Europeans are a very young race emerging in the course of centuries from a preceding people that were not European. This evolution, of course, was not merely about the evolution of “white” physical traits, though we should not underestimate the importance of these traits. It stands to reason that there were other key traits, including behavioral traits, which did not emerge at once but through time, which means that it is difficult to state with any definiteness when the inhabitants of Europe became “European”.

This argument is implicit in MacDonald’s observation that new evolutionary pressures in the natural environment of Europe, including in the “novel environments” created by farmers and by Indo-European horse riders, selected for different mutations and eventually different traits, including lighter skin and eyes combined with individualist behaviors. He uses the phrase “selection in situ” to refer to how the environment of Europe selected for new mutations among the EFs and I-Es, or for physical and psychological predispositions, making them more pronounced. Genes for lighter skin and eyes likely become more pronounced as I-Es and EFs spread into the northwest. MacDonald writes, “the larger point is that…selection for lighter eye, hair, and skin pigmentation occurred within Europe after the EFs and I-Es migrations”.

We need to think of Europeans as a race that evolved through thousands of years inside Europe, not always gradually, but at an accelerated pace from about 10,000 years ago, in response both to the unique ecology of Europe and to their own unique cultural activities. The upper Paleolithic peoples who first inhabited Europe, coming from Africa via the Near East, were not Europeans but a people closely descended from the homo sapiens who left Africa some 50,000 (or 60,000 years ago), carrying in their genes only a fraction of the African genetic diversity, which set them on a different evolutionary trajectory as they inhabited and reproduced under very different environmental pressures, relatively isolated from other evolving/isolated races.

Anthropologist Alice Roberts: I look at that face and think “I’m actually looking at the face of [my ancestors] from 40,000 years ago.”

The genetic history of Europeans has been totally politicized. The media used the African-like reconstructions of the “first Europeans” to put Africans at the center of European ancestry, with the British anthropologist Dr. Alice Roberts gushing over the reconstruction, and going to Africa to trace her ancestral roots, for a BBC documentary called “The Incredible Journey”, which aired in 2009.

The fact that this early Upper Paleolithic inhabitant of Europe was dark, and that lighter skin, eyes, and hair were later evolutionary acquisitions, supports our side of the debate. The cultural Marxist view that human genetic evolution somehow came to a halt after homo sapiens migrated out of Africa, as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin argued, and as the entire establishment today continues to insist, has been falsified.

Population Movements into Europe after Origins of European Race

We don’t know exactly when other racial traits and differences may have evolved in Europe, such as rate of physical maturation, gestation period, details about body built, blood types, resistance and susceptibility to various diseases, and brain size. But we know that Europeans were a race that evolved certain anatomical and behavioral traits by reason of breeding for thousands of years within a geographical area we call Europe. The I-Es were not a “mysterious” people who came from outside Europe but a people native to this continent. The official geographical definition of the “continent of Europe” is consistent with the cultural history of this continent in comprising “European Russia”, the Pontic Steppes located north of the Black and Caspian seas, present day Ukraine, the original homelands of the I-Es.

Other than the EFs who came from Anatolia, who already had genes for white skin, and then evolved into Europeans in Europe, there is strong genetic evidence showing that once a European race emerged out of the three populations MacDonald highlights, Europe did not experience any major genetic mixing from non-European immigrant races.

We learn this from Jean Manco’s Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings (2013). This book draws on recent ability of geneticists to trace ancestry and human migrations by studying two types of DNA, mtDNA, which traces direct chains of descent from mother to maternal grandmother, and Y-DNA, which traces descent from father to paternal grandfather. Using this technique it investigates the “peopling” of Europe from the “first Europeans” all the way to the Viking era. Even as Manco plays up politically correct tropes about multiple “migrants” moving into Europe, most of the “invaders” and “migrants” she mentions came from within Europe’s boundaries, and the ones coming from outside barely had any genetic impact, which is why she can’t help saying there is a “high degree of genetic similarity among Europeans”.

Manco shows that the Angles and Saxons who colonized Britain around AD 400-600 came from the Proto-Germanic Corded Ware and Bell-Beaker cultures that had melded during the Nordic Bronze Age (1730-760 BC) in Jutland, or what is present day Denmark. After connecting the Mycenaeans to the Indo-Europeans, she writes that the Classical Greeks “came to think of themselves as European” (177). She refers to Rome as a “melting pot”, but then adds that those contemporaneous Roman authors, in the first centuries AD, who “railed against the level of immigration” for diluting the Roman character, were “rather short-sighted” since the Italian-born, she estimates, made up about 95% of its inhabitants (199). She writes about the “great wandering” of the Germanic peoples who overran the Roman empire, the Goths, Gepids, Vandals, Burgundians, Angles, Saxons, in favor of her ‘migrationist’ thesis, but not only were these movements strictly intra-European affairs, but, as she observes, “we should not expect much, if any, genetic distinction between these peoples. They were of the same stock” (213).

She writes about the Slavic expansion and movements between 300-700 AD in-through what we today consider to be Slavic countries, yet goes on to emphasize “the striking genetic similarity of Slavic speakers…Slavic populations are more similar across national boundaries than non-Slavic nations.” (224). She describes the movements of Bulgars and Magyars in the seventh century AD, two mobile peoples from the Asian side of the steppes, connected to the Turkic-Mongoloid in race. But she then informs us that, while the Bulgars gave their name to Bulgaria, the Bulgarians of today are genetically similar to Slavic speakers, with genes distinctive for Asian Turkic speakers occurring in only 1.5 percent of Bulgarians. While the Magyars gave their Ugric language to Hungary, “modern Hungarians appear genetically much like their Slavic neighbors”, for even though Magyars imposed their rule upon a Slavic population, subsequent migrations from Slavs diluted the Magyar input to Hungary (235-40).

Europeans evolved in the course of time inside Europe and have remained European through almost their entire history until mass immigration came to be promoted in the last three decades. In our examination of chapters 2 and 3 of MacDonald’s book we will go over his crucial argument that Europeans were selected for egalitarian individualism as well as aristocratic elite social ties “where kinship was deemphasized, and individual talents and accomplishment valued”. How important these two behavioral traits were in determining the unique historical trajectory of Europeans?

Free Expression Foundation, Inc. Press Release

June 23, 2020

On June 17, 2020, the Free Expression Foundation, Inc. (“FEF”), filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of declaring the Anti-Riot Act of 1968 unconstitutional.  A year ago, in a well- reasoned decision in the case of U.S. v. Rundo, et al., District Court Judge Cormac Carney, influenced by one of FEF’s prior amicus briefs, struck down the Act as an unconstitutionally overbroad regulation of protected speech and assembly.  The government appealed.

Rundo is an important and interesting case, troublesome both factually and legally.  Robert Rundo and three other California residents, members of an organization called the Rise Above Movement, had been invited to provide security at a Pro-Trump rally in Berkeley, California due to expected violence from Antifa extremists.  The legal rally was held, Antifa showed up, attendees of the rally wore red MAGA hats, waived “Don’t Tread on Me Flags,” and shouted “Build the Wall.”  This, of course, got the Antifa worked up and scuffles broke out, between RAM members and Antifa, among others.  A score of people, mostly Antifa and their friends, were detained by Berkeley police.  Rundo was stopped by police but let go.  Everyone went home.  That would have been the end of the story except for the events at Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, which was attended by four different California RAM members, triggered a wave of highly negative media coverage with demands that “something be done about White extremist violence.”  After an urgent directive came down from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice department brushed off the long dormant Anti-Riot Act and launched coast-to-coast prosecutions of supposed sinister conspiracies to cause riots.  And the Joint Terrorism Task Force (“JTTF”) swung into action.  The four California RAM members who had attended the Unite the Right rally, who had returned home and were peacefully going about their lives, were arrested and dragged off to federal court in Charlottesville, Virginia where, despite the stalwart efforts of the Federal Public Defender’s office, they ended up with negotiated plea bargains of three to four years in prison.  They faced up to 10 years.  They remain in prison, where for many days they were kept in solitary confinement and ill-treated.

About the same time the Charlottesville RAM members were arrested, Rundo and the three other California RAM members were also arrested.  In Rundo’s case, about 15 JTTF agents broke into his apartment in the middle of the night, threw him up against a wall, ransacked his apartment including punching through walls, and took him off in handcuffs.  He and the other RAM defendants (one was let out on bail) then languished in prison for nearly ten months, until through the efforts of the California Federal Public Defender’s office and FEF, Judge Cormac Carney struck down the Act as unconstitutional and ordered the defendants released.

During all this belligerent activity by the government based on an unconstitutional statute neither the ACLU nor any other Civil Liberties group lifted a finger to help the alleged “right-wing extremists.”  In fact, these organizations turned a blind eye despite pleas for help.  There is, accordingly, a certain irony that after the latest spate of arson and violence by Antifa types, the following letter was circulated by the American Civil Liberties Union:

Dear Comrades/FPDs/CJA lawyers:

The national ACLU has been following a recent spate of federal prosecutions under the Anti-Riot Act, 18 USC 2101 and 2102.  This statute was enacted in 1968 and infamously used against the Chicago 7, but rarely since then.  But in recent days, US Attorney’s Offices have been charging people, including Black activists and protestors, under the statute.

The ACLU has long been interested in striking down the statute as unconstitutional because it criminalizes protected speech.  We would like to (1) track current prosecutions under the Anti-Riot Act and (2) offer to file amicus briefs or participate as co-counsel for the limited purpose of briefing the First Amendment issues or simply assist behind the scenes in these cases.

If you catch one of these cases, we would love to hear about it.  You can contact me at the email address below.

Cecillia D. Wang

Pronouns: she, her, hers
Deputy Legal Director
Director, Center for Democracy

The point to emphasize in all this is that the RAM young men, most innocent of any crime at all, have been railroaded into years of prison and stress-filled and unfair criminal trials by the profound neglect, distortions, and other failures of the media, the FBI, the Justice Department, and what could be called the Civil Liberties establishment — those organizations that raise millions of dollars pretending to defend Free Speech.  (We should, however, be grateful for judges such as Judge Cormac Carney, who still are watchful guardians of the First Amendment and equal justice before the law.)

FEF, as the only amicus in the RAM cases so far, has now filed four amicus curiae briefs in support of striking down the Anti-Riot Act as unconstitutional and freeing the RAM defendants (in the Virginia case) and exonerating the RAM Defendants (in the California case):  one in the California District Court, two in the Fourth Circuit, and one in the Ninth Circuit.  A true friend of the court, FEF has supported the arguments of the defendants’ counsel not by merely repeating them but by providing several different angles on the manifest defects in the Act, including, for example, by providing extensive research on the Act’s legislative history directed at suppressing legitimate, if robust and unpopular, public dissent.  In particular, FEF has presented an argument nearly unnoticed by any of the other parties that should drive a stake through the heart of this sinister statute: that the Act does not even properly describe a crime. This is so because the Act, originally enacted in 1968, was amended by Congress in 1996 in a way that makes complete gibberish of the statute.  It reads now like a bad Monty Python skit.  So our government has for decades been threatening, and now prosecuting, people for political reasons based on a statute that not only violates First Amendment principles in a host of ways but does not even state a crime.

It bears emphasis that the Anti-Riot Act is not only unconstitutional but unnecessary, as there are many other criminal laws on the books, state and federal, for prosecuting assaults and other bad conduct at group assemblies.  Among the many problems with the Anti-Riot Act is that it gives enormous discretion to the government to pick its prosecutions based on political factors.  And that is exactly what the government has done.

As noted, these RAM prosecutions are interesting and troublesome both factually and legally.  FEF is a fledgling 501c3 non-profit that is trying to make them more interesting – by having the Anti-Riot Act on which they are based stricken all around the country, by an appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary — and less troublesome to those who want to vigorously and fearlessly exercise their First Amendment rights.

FEF needs and will wisely use your financial assistance, which will be tax deductible in accordance with the tax laws.  Here is FEF’s website for donations:  Freeexpressionfoundation.org. You may also send check or money order to FEF, P.O. Box 1479, Upper Marlboro, MD 20773.

For Liberty and the Rule of Law,
Paul Angel, Chairman of FEF
Glen Allen, Esq., Counsel for FEF