Western Civilization

Why Are Whites Cancelling Their Race? Chapter 8 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

Whites cleaning messy destruction of blacks in Minneapolis

Do you know why Europeans across the political spectrum — Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists — are morally committed to a politics that is leading to the dissolution of their millennial racial identities while promoting the racial identities of non-white immigrants within their own nations?

There are many answers out there. Whites have been brainwashed by elites in control of our schools, media, and government institutions. The importation of immigrants is a strategic ploy by leftist parties to create a permanent bloc of immigrant voters. Corporations are looking for cheap labor and real estate development.

But the deeper answer puts the blame right in front of White themselves: immigrant diversity is rooted in a culture that takes the individual as its basic ontological principle, disparages any form of ethnic nationalism among Whites in favor of the rights of all humans to become citizens of European nations. The Western ideals of individualism, egalitarianism and moral universalism are the ultimate causes.

White Moral Communities

In our extended review of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition we have seen that for Kevin MacDonald individualism is the core principle of Western civilization. The root of this principle is the separation of the individual from kin-based ties. It would seem, then, that MacDonald would hold this separation responsible for the plight of Whites today. His answer to this question, however, goes beyond a straightforward blaming of liberalism. The West today is not dominated by free-wheeling individuals. It is dominated by extremely powerful “moral communities” in the media, universities, “civil rights” organizations, political parties, and business groups. These moral communities are “pervasive throughout the institutional structures of the West”. The “conventional morality and intellectual discourse” of the West is dominated by “leftist ideologies of race and ethnicity”. While the “cohesion” of these communities is not grounded in ethnic ties, it is still “tribal” in the sense that those who dissent from its values are “socially ostracized” and curtailed in their ability to make a living.

These moral communities, moreover, are not bereft of a biological basis — they are anchored in an evolved psychological need humans have to seek a “social identity” inside groups where they are positively valued. The members of these moral communities are no less inclined than kin groups to view outgroup members in negative terms. The negatively evaluated outgroup is defined primarily as a white who has an ingroup attachment to his ethnic group or race. The individual rights of those who dissent from these moral communities can be curtailed since they are members of a hated outgroup.

While the moral communities of Whites are not based on kinship ties but on morally approved principles, MacDonald brings up research studies, including his own, showing that ingroup favoritism and discrimination against outgroups remain very powerful biological drives. Experiments have shown that Western individualists will favor their own group even when those groups are “constructed using random labels for ingroup and outgroup…and even if there are no conflicts of interest between the groups”. The need to identify with a group, to wish to be validated by ingroup members and discriminate against outgroup members is an evolved result of natural selection, and it is a tendency that continues to prevail among Whites despite their condemnation of biologically based identities. The mental processing that goes on in the expression of these identities is “not the result of conscious reflection but more like an innate psychological reflex”.

In the same vein, MacDonald draws a distinction between implicit and explicit processing of social or ingroup identities among Whites. Just as Whites have an instinctive need to form ingroups that exclude outsiders, they have an instinctive inclination to prefer members of their own race, as is evident in white flight, choice of neighborhoods and schools, and in what some have identified as “stuff White people like to do”. But since these biases are prohibited in White communities, these behaviors are manifested implicitly rather than expressed consciously or explicitly. Whites have been socialized to control their ethnocentric tendencies. Their evolved ethnocentric inclinations are thus kept in check by their conscious “higher brain centers located in the cortex”, which is the area of the brain that reasons and assimilates the values of society. Since Western culture is “hostile to white ethnocentrism”, the higher brain inhibits the instinctive ethnocentrism of Whites.

White moral communities also provide lucrative jobs, security, and emotional comfort to White individuals who abide by the ideological rules. We are not dealing with ethereal beings motivated by high minded principles. Those who engage in “competitive virtue signaling” are self-interested creatures with highly charged emotional feelings of moral righteousness. These feelings are very pleasurable and may lead to an irrational addiction for incessant moral approval from one’s ingroup members. MacDonald cites an authority about “the pleasure of knowing, with subjective certainty, that you are right and your opponents are deeply, despicably wrong…that your method of helping others is so purely motivated and correct that all criticism can be dismissed with a shrug, along with any contradicting evidence”.

PM Justin Trudeau’s political career has been all about virtue signalling

In other words, to understand why Whites are so vehemently obsessed with diversity and so keen (or at least indifferent) about their own replacement, one needs to keep in mind the powerful economic incentives and emotional comforts which characterize the supposedly “conscientious” communities of Whites. The “empathy” whites have for non-whites is backed up by “a very elaborate infrastructure” that provides multiple opportunities for Whites. Whites have been “incentivized” economically and emotionally.

Some in the dissident right think the way to overcome these moral communities is to encourage Whites to exhibit stronger ethnic identities just like blacks and other minorities. But this message would go against the central thesis of MacDonald’s book, which is that White individualism has a genetic basis. The moral communities Whites created in the past were not antithetical to their interests but were indeed the most successful communities created in history, the basis of immense achievements. As I argued in earlier parts, following MacDonald’s line of thought, the city-states created by the ancient Greeks, the incredibly successful republican form of government created by the Romans, the highly dominant nation states of modern Europe, can all be seen as “moral communities” created beyond the old tribal and highly nepotistic communities of non-whites.

Personality of Whites

This chapter has a very insightful section showing that Whites have unusual personality traits. Insomuch as Whites developed relations with wider tribal networks and went on to create city-states and institutions based on merit, their concern for reputation did not end “at the border of the family and the wider kinship group”. Whites sought “a moral reputation as capable, honest, trustworthy and fair” in the wider society and nation. There were evolutionary pressures for conscientiousness, responsibility, reliability, trustworthiness, dutifulness, and honesty outside the kin group. It is not accident that all the moral philosophies seeking concepts with universal validity (fairness, impartiality, due process) were developed by Whites.

I can’t recall a historian of civilizations writing about this fundamental contrast in personalities. Modernization theorists in the 1950s identified these personality traits as products of modernity per se. Educational experts and aid packages were lauded as the way to create multiple Switzerlands in the African continent. But personality systems run deep. Corruption and ethnic nepotism are pervasive in modernized Third World nations.

This lack of trust beyond the kinship group is the fundamental problem that prevents the development of civil societies in much of Asia and Africa, where divisions into opposing religious and ultimately kinship groups define the political landscape. People who have good jobs are expected to help their relatives, leading to high levels of corruption.

But if we can’t remake our personalities in an African way, how are we going to counter the suicidal moral communities of the West? MacDonald’s answer is that Whites do have an implicit inclination to favor their own race, to be ethnocentric. The problem is that the left controls the moral communities. These communities were not anti-White in the recent past. But the “culture of critique” is currently in charge of “programming the higher areas of the brain” of Whites, so the explicit culture is continually suppressing the “implicit ethnocentric tendencies of White people”. This is what the ADL and the SPLC are about: policing the thoughts and behavior of Whites while promoting the ethnic interests of Jews.

MacDonald anticipates that as Whites become aware of their “impending minority status” this will trigger White ethnocentrism. Whites will come to the realization that their culture of individualism, rule of law, and social trust require them to create moral communities that are “adaptive in a Darwinian sense”. Whites will come to the realization that in nations that are committed to multiculturalism and the celebration of the ingroup identities of non-whites, their only hope for survival is to create strong ingroups based on moral principles that value white history, traditions, and family — and exclude those who seek the destruction of Whites.

Reposted from EuroCanadian.ca

From Puritan Individualism To Jewish Infiltration – Chapter 6 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

Editor’s note: Chapter 6 is an important part of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition because the Puritans became an elite group in the United States, dominating the academic, media, financial, and industrial establishment. They instigated for the Civil War, and their moral idealism remains with us today as we confront our current moral panic surrounding Black Lives Matter and our wars for democracy in the Middle East. Since around 1950 they were increasingly replaced by a new Jewish elite with very different values and outlook, and this cultural revolution was substantially accomplished by the 1970s, resulting in the America we see today. I thank Dr. Duchesne for his excellent introduction and commentary on this material.
Franklin Roosevelt (front, second from left) with football team, 1899

Chapter 6, “Puritanism: The Rise of Egalitarian Individualism and Moralistic Utopianism,” of Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition, claims that Puritanism and the intellectual movements descending from this religion were the “most important” forces shaping the culture of the United States “from the eighteenth century down to the mid-twentieth century.” Puritanism, and the WASP culture it engendered, would cease to be hegemonic over American culture as Jews came to infiltrate “critical sectors of American life” from the early 1900s onward.

For some time, Anglo-Saxon Darwinism managed to hold Jewish influence at bay, winning the battle for immigration restriction with the passing of the Immigration Act of 1924. But the Jews were growing behind the scenes.  Two million arrived from Eastern Europe between 1890 and 1924. While they lost the fight against immigration restrictions, their influence would grow unimpeded in the media, the social sciences, the legal profession and in finance. Darwinism, and the theories of race associated with this movement, would soon face defeat in academic circles, in no small measure because of the influence of Franz Boas. By 1965 Americans would come to agree with Jewish elites that their WASP nation was meant to be a “melting pot” of multiple races based on universal principles.

Jewish Infiltration of WASP Community Norms

Was there something in Puritanism and the Anglo-Saxon mind set that made them susceptible to this kind of infiltration? Contrary to common interpretations, MacDonald does not frame this debate solely in terms of  WASP individualism versus Jewish in-group strategic control. He distinctly says that individualism is not incompatible with in-group strategies and collectivist norms. The Puritans had strong in-group markers. Their Anglo-Saxon descendants had a strong sense of ethnic identity, what it meant to be “distinctively American”. In fact, as we will see in our examination of later chapters, MacDonald believes that the “liberal cosmopolitanism” ruling the Western world today resembles “the Puritan tradition of combining individualistic tendencies with strong social controls”.

Western individualism has engendered its own forms of collectivism. The difference is that the collective identities the West promoted have tended to be based on moralistic/ideological principles rather than on kinship relations. Their ethnic attachments were exhibited within in-groups far larger (city-states and nation-states) than the typical clannish tribal groups we find outside the West. The argument is not that Western individualists were bereft of any communitarian ties. The argument revolves around different types and degrees of individualism in relationship with different types and degrees of “ideological” collectivism.

The type of moral communities whites created (relatively freed from kinship ties) left them susceptible to out-group infiltration. While Americans managed to create very powerful nation-state with a strong in-group WASP ethnic identity, their liberal and egalitarian values left them susceptible to out-group infiltration. The Jews successfully radicalized  the Anglo-Saxon “sense of fairness and egalitarianism” against  an America based on a WASP identity.

“Puritanism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy”

MacDonald believes that the English Civil War, which established the influence of Puritan culture in both Britain and the United States, should be “seen as a turning point in the history of the West”:

It marked the beginning of the end of aristocratic individualism with its strong emphasis on hierarchy between social categories and the beginning of the rise of egalitarian individualism with its ideology of social leveling and parliamentary democracy — blended with capitalism and wealth accumulation.

In other words, the egalitarian individualism that originated among northwest European hunters and farmers took the upper hand away from the aristocratic individualism which prevailed in ancient and medieval times. MacDonald notes that Puritanism originated in East Anglia, a region with a strong tradition of freedom, fond of town meetings and arguments, with the “highest average intelligence in Britain,” a larger proportion of literate inhabitants, scholars and scientists.

I would add that East Anglia was a region with a high proportion of yeomen farmers, that is, a “middle class” of farmers, just below the gentry, in possession of their own land, without subordination to feudal lords, as well as free to serve on juries and in municipal police forces, from the 15th through 18th centuries. They were also individualistic in their heavy participation in the woollen cloth industry since the fourteenth century, which nurtured a tradition of self-determination and consensual social contract.

However, the one cultural trait Puritans have stood out for historically, and Protestants generally, is liberty of conscience; every individual should be allowed to live by the faith that seems to true to him; every individual should have “direct, unmediated access to God”. MacDonald observes that the “Puritan revolution was carried to its extreme in the United States,” where they were “freed of the hereditary aristocracy and religion of England, during the Jacksonian era”. Another feature of Puritanism was its tendency to “pursue utopian causes framed as moral issues,” in terms of “appeals to a ‘higher law’ and the belief that the principal purpose of government is moral.”

There was a tendency to paint political alternatives as starkly contrasting moral imperatives, with one side portrayed as evil incarnate — inspired by the devil.

This brings me to a trait MacDonald brings up right from the beginning, and it is that Puritans were also “strongly collectivist”, with clear ingroup-out group distinctions. This is why he writes of Puritanism as a “group evolutionary strategy”. It was not a “genetically closed strategy” (even though Puritans were ethnically homogeneous for a long time) since they were open to outsiders who converted to Puritanism. Puritans came to constitute, nevertheless, a very cohesive group with a

powerful emphasis on cultural conformity…and public regulation of personal behavior via social controls related to sex, lack of religious piety, public drunkenness, etc.

MacDonald calls these controls “anti-individualist” in the same vein as he designates Puritanism as an “individualistic group strategy”. This may seem confusing to those who think that individualism is inherently anti-collectivist, but it is not. The Puritan “individualist group strategy” was “remarkably adaptive in an evolutionary sense,” both in England and the United States. In the United States, Puritans “multiplied at a rapid rate, doubling every generation for two centuries”. They nurtured very strong families, with strict yet warm family practices and bonds. They emphasized literacy in both sons and daughters, supporting public libraries and schools. Within their communities, Puritans were indeed committed to egalitarian fairness “and the good of the group as a whole”, rather than allowing each individual to maximize his interests as a private agent. They had a strong moral commitment to the moral well being of others. Farmers without any educational background, for example, “voluntarily contributed some of their harvest to support university faculty and students”.

Early Puritan in America

At the same time, in the United States, as Puritans prospered and “became more inclined to commercialism and materialism,” the religious controls waned, particularly as the population grew, and the areas originally inhabited by Puritans grew into cities, as they were opened to waves of immigrants who were not committed to a Puritan way of life. But these developments did not bring an end to the moral commitments of Puritans, but resulted in the rise of a “secular version of moral utopianism”.

 Puritan-Descended Transcendentalist Intellectuals

Transcendentalists were a very influential intellectual elite (roughly from 1830 to 1860) in America with Puritan origins. They are called “transcendentalists” because they believed that humans could transcend their animal instincts by using their minds in the creative way it was meant to be used. They believed that humans could overcome their greedy impulses, lust for sex and power, and ethnocentric biases, through socialization in the ideals of “brotherly love” and control over their bodily senses and appetites. MacDonald notes that this utopian optimism coincided with the incredible material progress American was witnessing in the nineteenth century, in science and technology. This progress inculcated the belief — and not just among transcendentalists — that a “golden age of peace, harmony, righteous behavior and material comfort” was attainable.One could get into a long discussion here about how the ability of whites to form groups freed from biologically-based kin-groups is what allowed them, not just transcendentalists, but Western thinkers from ancient times onward, to employ their minds in far more creative ways than all the other cultures combined. This creativity, witnessed in multiple fields — the arts, architecture, music — can hardly be identified as inherently naive just because it presupposes the freeing of the mind from purely Darwinian pressures. It can, and has been, the basis for Western “realism” and the formation of powerful ethnic states, and indeed the creativity behind Darwinism. This transcendence, however, can be very dangerous as we have seen aplenty in the many utopian worlds whites have concocted out of their imagination. The American transcendentalists, as was observed of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the main intellectuals of this group, tended to be men with a “cheery, child-like soul, impervious to the evidence of evil” — easy prey to manipulators of the mind.

Although the ideas of transcendentalists would lose their preeminence after the bloody Civil War, and American intellectuals would be influenced by ideas of progress based on realistic assessments of human nature, their illusions about a peaceful “brotherhood” across the world would continue to influence American liberalism thereafter.

Anglo-Saxon Individualism and Ethnic Identification

One could argue, roughly speaking, that the Anglo-Saxon liberalism that came to dominate America from the late 1800s through to the 1960s was a compromise between the universalism of transcendentalism and the materialism of Darwinism. On the moderate side (so to speak) were the Anglo-Saxons who were proud of their ethnic identity and view their individualism as a unique attribute of their ethnic heritage, while believing, at the same time, that immigrants from other European ethnic groups could be assimilated into the dominant WASP culture. They were influenced by the Social Darwinists, but they also believed that non-Anglos could be socialized to act like “good Anglo-Saxons”. They believed that their individualism “sprang from their ethnic heritage” and that if this heritage was to be preserved immigrants had to be raised as good Anglos.
Some Anglos were more radical in their individualism, advocating individual freedom from all remaining Puritan social controls; identified by MacDonald as “early precursors of 1960s’ hippiedom, celebrating self-discovery, emotion over logic, intuition, rebellion free love, Black jazz”, but others were on the right of the Anglo-Saxon spectrum, influenced by Darwinian theories of race. While we can say that the Anglo-Saxons intellectuals who advocated assimilation were voicing the majority view among Americans, MacDonald identifies the long period from 1880 to 1965 as a period of “ethnic defense” in acknowledgement of the considerable influence that Social Darwinian ideas (developed by Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Gustave Le Bon, Herbert Spencer, Madison Grant, and Lothrop Stoddard) played in ensuring the Immigration Act of 1924 and keeping the borders close until 1965. For these Darwinians, racial differences were real, and the races were “in competition with each other for supremacy”.
For MacDonald, then, the WASP culture of Americans, had nurtured within itself a strong Darwinian movement capable of instilling a solid sense of ethnic identity among white Americans. But this current would not last. Right from the beginning, as this school held sway, a cadre of Jewish immigrants, freshly off the boats, set out to argue that the American ideals of individualism and universalism were inconsistent with any notion of America as an Anglo-Saxon ethnic state.

Between Jewish Universalism and Jewish Nationalism

Some Jews argued that all races, including Jews, should dissolve themselves within an American melting pot of races. But the more influential Jews, themselves influenced by Darwinian race theories, believed that Jews, in the words of Felix Adler (1851-1933), should only “universalize themselves out of existence when the task [of ethnic dissolution of non-Jews] was complete”. The Jews had their own unique universalist ethics, with a commitment to bring an end to the ethnic and racial identities of Americans (and the rest of the world). Jews should preserve themselves as the harbingers of a new world order. At the same time, Jews should build their own nationalism in order to protect themselves in a world full of antisemitism. Some Jewish intellectuals (Israel Zangwill, for example) would argue that “Jews were a morally superior race” with a morally superior religion—Judaism—with a “moral vision” to become the shinning light for a future America bereft of its historic Anglo-Saxon identity.
I was very surprised to learn from MacDonald (when first I read some four years ago his article, “Jewish Involvement in Shaping American Immigration Policy, 1881-1965“) that Jews were the first to articulate the idea of multiculturalism. I thought that the theory of multiculturalism was quintessentially Canadian. While I still think that Canadians, such as Will Kymlicka and Charles Taylor, would go on to develop a full explanation of how multiculturalism, not assimilation, was consistent with Western liberalism, it continues to surprise me (reading this chapter) that back in the early 1900s Jews were already making the case that America was meant to be a “polycentric” nation characterized by cultural pluralism. To compel immigrants to assimilate to a dominant Anglo-Saxon culture, Jewish intellectual were arguing long ago, would constitute a violation of their “human dignity”. Assimilation entailed the denigration of the culture of immigrants. The nation of America must be de-linked from its Anglo-Saxon ethnic core. Anglo-Saxon culture should be seen as just one culture among many others.
Jews arriving in America

Worse than this, actually, for Jews the Anglo-Saxon majority culture in America was never meant to be a particular culture in its own right, but a culture inherently open to multiple cultures with their own particular identities. This view was only a few steps away from the Canadian idea that immigrant minorities deserve special group rights to protect themselves from the majority European culture with its inherent tendency to be racist and discriminatory.

MacDonald emphasizes how Franz Boas and his followers would assume control over the American Anthropology Association, as well as every major department of anthropology, by 1926, displacing the Darwinians. Jewish intellectuals effectively exploited the moral universalism of American liberals, a task becoming all the more easy after the Second World War, which discredited ethnic nationalism as inherently belligerent and genocidal. This intellectual displacement of the Darwinians (and the American intellectuals who emphasized their Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage) came together with the “unseen power” of Jewish international finance, increasing control of the media and outright ownership of major newspapers. Henry Ford famously wrote about this influence, observing in the 1920s that Americans had been made to feel that public discussion of the Jewish Question was improper.
It does not seem quite accurate to say that collectivist Jews exploited the inherent inability of American individualism to generate any form of ethnic identity. It seems more accurate to say that they hijacked Anglo-Saxon moral communities. The same Jewish intellectuals who would “expose the power structures of white America” would come to create a rigid ideological community with norms prohibiting debate on race differences, biological differences between the sexes, criticism of mass immigration, and white identity.  A strange social order would appear, characterized by the decline of the family, paternal authority, and genuine individualism. The Anglo-Saxons were genuine individuals in their appreciation of the capacity of the rational ego to decide what is the good life in communication with others. But this rational self, capable of choosing its own religious beliefs, was substituted by what Christopher Lasch would call in the 1970s a narcissistic individualism entrapped to a world of consumerism, helpless, dependent and passive, but assured by the politically correct community that he is living a meaningful life as long as he accepts diversity without rational criticism, views whites as inherently racist, praises non-whites for their authentic culture and longs for a multicultural world across the West.

Hail the Catholic Church for Forcing Monogamy Upon the Nobility: Chapter 5 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

Prof. Ricardo Duchesne comments on Chapter 5 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

Since the beginning of his academic career in the early 1980s, Kevin MacDonald has been wondering why only in the West “wealthy, powerful men” have not sought “to control ever larger numbers of women”. Evolutionary biology teaches that male reproductive success benefits greatly from the acquisition of multiple mates. In all societies, except those in which harsh ecological conditions limit the amount of surplus the society can generate, “it is expected that males with wealth and power” will employ their surpluses to “secure as many mates as possible”. This is evolutionary biology 101.

It is also what the historical record shows.

The elite males of all of the traditional civilization around the world, including those of China, India, Muslim societies, the New World civilizations, ancient Egypt, and ancient Israel, often had hundreds and even thousands of concubines.

White elite men were the only ones in history who did not follow this biologically prescribed tendency. We saw in Parts 3 and 4 (of my extended analysis of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition) MacDonald’s argument that a genetic disposition for monogamy may have evolved among European men back in hunting and gathering times due to harsh environmental conditions in northwest Europe during the last glacial age. In chapter five, “The Church in European History,” which is the subject of this article, MacDonald explains that, while “the Catholic Church cannot be seen as originating monogamy,” this Church was very effective in regulating the sexual behavior of powerful aristocratic men, the ones most inclined to pursue sexual variety.

Many books have been written about how and why Catholicism birthed the modern world. The most popular one is Thomas E. Wood’s How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (2012). This book persuasively shows the indispensable role Catholicism played in the creation of universities, the promotion of science and rational law. It asks many interesting questions, such as: “How the Church humanized the West by insisting on the sacredness of all human life?” “How the idea of a rational, orderly universe — fundamental to the Catholic worldview, but absent in non-Christian cultures — made possible the flowering of science in West?”

MacDonald acknowledges the importance of Christian ideas in history. The crucial difference is that he wants to know whether these ideas were actually able “to exert a control function over behavior and evolved predispositions”. What stands out for MacDonald about the Catholic Church was its ability to regulate the sexual behavior of powerful White men in a monogamous direction away from the strong inclination of such men for polygamous relations. Essentially what the Church did was to instill strong religious norms (about mortal sin and punishment in Hell) in the mental processing of the higher brain centers of aristocratic men, damping down the instinctive appetite of the lower parts of the brain for multiple mates.

In this effort, MacDonald pays careful attention to Larry Siedentop’s book, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (2014). This book is about the Papal Revolution of the 11th and 12th centuries, which involved the establishment of the supremacy of the papacy over religious affairs, control over the selection of the clergy away from secular aristocrats, the revitalization of Roman law leading to development of Canon law, coupled with the moral restoration and expansion of monasteries manned by a clergy committed to celibacy and the weakening of kinship networks among traditional German aristocratic families. There was a concerted emphasis, this time in the history of the Western family, on marriage based on consent of spouses, prohibition of divorce even if the marriage was infertile, elaboration of rules against consanguineous marriages, and delegitimization of concubinage.

In other words, the Church promoted consensual and egalitarian marriage relations based on the free will of individual men and women. This is what Siedentop means by the Catholic “invention of individualism”. This individualism, according to Siedentop, was rooted both in the Christian notion that humans had individual souls with moral agency and equal value in the eyes of God and in the Greco-Roman idea that one could be a citizen of the polis regardless of tribal identities.

The collapse of Rome, however, and the conquering barbarian Germanic peoples, had resulted in the reinforcement of tribal identities. This is what the Catholic Church set out to undermine. It set out to break down “Germanic tribes organized as kinship groups based on biological relatedness among males,” while simultaneously harnessing their warrior ethos for the spread of Christianity. Codes of honor about one’s kindred and one’s war band, as well as marriage of blood relatives, were still quite strong among  Germanic barbarians, notwithstanding their individualist tendencies. MacDonald observes that the prohibition in the sixth century of consanguineous marriages among second cousins was extended by the eleventh century to sixth cousins.

Christian Collectivism Replaces Kin-Based Collectivism

But how can we say that the same medieval age everyone has characterized as “communal” and “collectivist” was the age in which the individualist tendencies of the West were consolidated? MacDonald is quick to point out that the Church itself took on the role of building in the West “a strong sense of group identification and commitment”. The “collectivism of European society in the High Middle Ages was real,” but it was a pan-European ideological-Christian form of collectivism set up against the in-group biological collectivism of smaller kinship groups. It was (if I may express MacDonald’s thesis in unmitigated terms) a collectivism of moral precepts operating at the conscious “higher brain centers located in the cortex” rather than at the instinctive biological levels of the reptilian and mammalian brain. It was a collectivism with its own ambitions for power set up “at the expense” of traditional sources of power — kings and the aristocracy with their persisting kinship networks — with the ability to provide power-seeking Christians incentives to join the expanding and revenue-generating institutional structures of the Church.

It was a collectivism that promoted Western individualism by promoting monogamy, individual choice in marriage outside one’s kinship network, and sexual restraint among powerful aristocratic men. MacDonald goes over other aspects of the Christianized monogamous families of the West, late marriage, relatively high number of unmarried women, celibacy, along with its attendant “low pressure” demographic profile, which lessened consumption of scarce resources and allowed for greater capital accumulation and economic well-being.

But the point I would like to emphasize is the implicit idea in MacDonald that a collective moral identity is consistent with the promotion (or existence) of individualism. Collectivism versus individualism is not the issue. There has never been, and there will never be, a society based on individualism alone. The question is both degree of individualism/collectivism, and the nature of the individualism and collectivism prevailing in a society. As I started arguing in Part 2, weak kinship/tribal ties are not a bad thing, but indeed allow for the rise of broader forms of collective identities, as occurred in ancient Greece when equal citizenship was granted to all native members of the city-state in order to avoid endless tribal conflicts.

Christianity ran against the particular kinship relations and interests of Germanic tribal groupings and aristocratic blood networks, and it did so by cultivating a moral community of believers. Many on the dissident right today blame Christianity for promoting universal values and the equality of human souls across the earth in the eyes of God. MacDonald does not blame Christianity. He does not argue that the Catholic Church created the conditions for the subsequent rise of multicultural collective norms. He is aware, as we will see in future parts, that the same leftists who advocate for the breakdown of biologically-based identities have created powerful moral communities which stand against individual dissent. Instead of calling the West a flat out “individualist” culture, we should rethink very carefully the changing relationships and substantive natures underlying the uniquely Western dialectic between individualism and collectivism.

We will see in our examination of chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9 of MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Tradition that he looks at other intervening stages in the rise of Western individualism, including the way Jewish intellectuals transformed Western individualism into a call for the complete erosion of Western ethnocentric collectivism. One anticipatory question I will allow myself to make now is whether we can look at the rise of Western nationalism in the modern era as a rational strategy by European ethnic groups freed from restrictive tribal identities on the basis of broader territorial ties, historical memories, linguistic similarities, and ethnic lineages.

From their inception, Western national states were heavily ethnic-oriented territories with strict immigration controls up until the 1970s — the most efficient fighting machines and engines of growth created in human history. But increasingly since WWII Whites have been made to believe that the very idea of sovereignty goes against the principle of individual freedom because it “discriminates” against individuals from other nations who have a “human right” to become citizens of Western nations. Europeans need to understand that their individualism can only be fulfilled within a nation state that recognizes the reality of racial and sexual groupings.

There are no chapters in MacDonald’s book on nationalism, and I have never conducted an in depth study of the grand epoch of Western nationalism. But in light of MacDonald’s insights about the peculiar dissolution of Western kinship ties and the rise of individualism, we should start thinking about the dissolution of kinship ties as a process whereby Europeans were trying to generate wider forms of collective identity controllable by the higher brain centers, beyond the lower Darwinian drives that came to prevail in the non-Western world.

This article originally appeared at Eurocanadian.ca.

 

Can Church Influence Explain Western Individualism? Comment on “The Church, Intensive Kinship, and Global Psychological Variation,” by Jonathan F. Schulz et al.

Because of its uniqueness, Western individualism presents a daunting question for scholars and in particular for a theory based on evolutionary psychology. There are essentially two ways for an evolutionary perspective to attempt to understand uniqueness. One is to propose a unique evolutionary environment resulting in genetically based uniqueness; the other is to propose universal psychological mechanisms interacting with particular cultural contexts.  Jonathan Schulz et al.’s “The Church, Intensive Kinship, and Global Psychological Variation” is an example of the latter. It presents a theory of Western individualism in which the cultural context created by the medieval Catholic Church, particularly the prohibitions on relatedness in marriage, played a central role in the development of the individualistic psychology of the West. More precisely, the paper attempts to explain “a substantial portion” of the variation in psychological traits widely recognized to be characteristic of individualism (“individualistic, independent, analytically minded, and impersonally prosocial [e.g., trusting of strangers] while revealing less conformity, obedience, in-group loyalty, and nepotism”) by exposure to the medieval Western Church.[1] Within this cultural framework, there is no attempt to present the motivations of the Church for creating this cultural context in terms of particular psychological mechanisms.

These issues intersect with much of the discussion in my recently published Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future. However, my theory is based on the proposal that Western uniqueness derives ultimately from unique ancestral environments in northwestern Europe, with emphasis on a north-south genetic cline in the relative genetic contributions of northern hunter gatherers, Indo-Europeans, and Early Farmers from the Middle East. While Schulz et al. control for a wide range of variables, they do not control for regional genetic differences within Western Europe that have been uncovered by recent population genetic research (reviewed in my Chapter 1), nor do they review research by family historians indicating important regional variation within Western Europe that does not at all map onto exposure to the Western Church (reviewed in my Chapter 4).

However, I do discuss the influence of the Western Church, concluding that the Church’s

influence was directed at altering Western culture away from extended kinship networks and other collectivist institutions, motivated ultimately by the desire to extend its own power [analyzed as an evolved human universal]. However, although the Church promoted individualism and doubtless influenced Western culture in that direction, this influence built on individualistic tendencies that long predated Christianity and were due ultimately to ethnic tendencies toward individualism unique to European peoples (Chapters 1–4). [From Chapter 5, 170]

My approach thus combines pre-historic natural selection for individualist psychology with particular cultural contexts, one of which is the influence of the Catholic Church, the latter interpreted as building on pre-existing tendencies. My Chapter 5 on the medieval Church argues, on the basis of data similar to that cited by Schulz et al., that the Church facilitated individualism—and may well have sped up the establishment of individualism, but did not cause it. Given that Schulz et al. claim to have achieved only a partial explanation, there is thus no fundamental disagreement. However, based on my treatment, here I attempt to show why exposure to the medieval Church is an inadequate explanation of psychological individualism in the West.

There is much that our approaches have in common. In particular, they note that kinship relationships are central in understanding human societies and that the general trend has been a shift away from extensive kinship relationships typical of hunter-gatherers throughout the world (i.e., relatively weak ties to many people of varying genetic distance—discussed in my Chapter 3) to intensive kinship relations (i.e., kinship deeply embedded within closely related groups, e.g., clans and kindreds with a distinct hierarchy based on degree of genetic relatedness) commonly found in agricultural societies. Read more

New book: Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future

Available at Amazon: Paperback or e-book.

Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition argues that ethnic influences are important for understanding the West. The prehistoric invasion of the Indo-Europeans had a transformative influence on Western Europe, inaugurating a prolonged period of what is labeled “aristocratic individualism” resulting form variants of Indo-European genetic and cultural influence. However, beginning in the seventeenth century and gradually becoming dominant was a new culture labeled “egalitarian individualism” which was influenced by preexisting egalitarian tendencies of northwest Europeans. Egalitarian individualism ushered in the modern world but may well carry the seeds of its own destruction.

Triggered by Bach: Classical Music as Implicit White Supremacy

“White supremacist” has long been the preferred Jewish epithet to throw at White people who have the temerity to do what Jews do routinely: openly advocate for their ethnic interests. This hackneyed label has always been utterly beside the point: whether Whites are superior to non-Whites has no logical bearing on the moral legitimacy of White people defending their collective interests. Having said this, everyone is well aware that the achievements of White people in countless cultural and scientific domains surpass those of other groups, and can objectively be regarded as “superior.” A conspicuous example is the Western musical tradition.

The superiority of Western classical music is so decisive one could almost rest the argument for the superiority of Western culture on it alone. There exists a hierarchy in the world of sound, as in other phenomena. Noise occupies the lowest rung in this hierarchy; it is an undifferentiated mass of sound in which no distinction exists. The lowest kind of music, say that of Australia’s Aborigines, most closely corresponds to noise. Western classical music, by contrast, exists on the highest rung because it apprehends sound in the most highly differentiated way possible. It is the farthest from noise and most fully exploits the inherent potential of the world of sound.

How well this potential is apprehended and developed can lead to Bach’s inimitable counterpoint, the extraordinary tonal architecture of Beethoven’s symphonies, Bruckner’s sonic cathedrals — or to banging on a hollow log with a stick. Besides stimulating pleasure in audiences, great classical music has an unrivalled capacity to shed light on our ontological predicament and connect aesthetic experience with the transcendental. Goethe once noted, with reference to Bach’s great fugues, where as many as five separate lines of musical argument are simultaneously sustained, that “it is as though the eternal harmony has a conversation with itself.” Only Western classical music, I would argue, can create this sublime impression.

To point out the foregoing is to trigger rage from anti-White commentators who huff that it has “long been an argument of white supremacists, Nazis, Neo-Nazis, and racial separatists that ‘classical music,’ the music of ‘white people,’ is inherently more sophisticated, complicated, and valuable than the musical traditions of Africa, Asia, South America, or the Middle East, thus proving the innate superiority of the ‘white race.’” The problem with this assessment, aside from denying the very existence of the White race, is the inability to demonstrate (or even attempt to demonstrate) that Western classical music is not inherently more sophisticated, complicated (and yes valuable) than other musical traditions. Read more

The Rise and Decline of the West: Review “At Our Wit’s End” by Edward Dutton and Michael A. Woodley of Menie

 At Our Wit’s End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for Our Future
Edward Dutton and Michael A. Woodley of Menie
Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2018

We in the West have long become accustomed to the idea that scientific and technological progress is the normal state of things, although decline—technological deterioration and loss of knowledge—is by no means uncommon across world history. The contemporary West may be declining in many ways, but what stage in our history could we point to as the summit of our scientific knowledge and technological capability if not the present? And wouldn’t it be absurd to suppose this progress has reached its completion?

Authors Dutton and Woodley, however, would note that a civilization may pass its peak long before the sum of its achievements is complete. We may look for our greatest era not when our knowledge and capabilities were most extensive, but when they were growing most rapidly. And that point, they believe, is already well behind us.

They begin their study by drawing our attention to two technological breakthroughs of the year 1969: the first flight of the Concorde supersonic passenger jet, cutting transatlantic travel time from eight to three and a half hours, and the first manned moon landing. At the time, most people assumed more such aeronautical wonders lay in store. This writer can remember the ubiquitous “artist’s impressions” of future manned flights to Mars and beyond; every little boy of that generation wanted to become an astronaut.

But a Concorde crashed due to human error in 2000, and all flights were discontinued three years later. We have not returned to the moon since 1972. The authors do not mention this, but by 2010 a NASA administrator was saying that “perhaps [the] foremost” of the space agency’s missions was to “reach out to the Muslim world … to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.” We are not exactly aiming for the stars any more.

In the authors’ view, the best explanation for such regression is extremely simple: we are becoming less intelligent. Other explanations have some validity: the end of the cold war, e.g., partly accounts for the lowered ambitions of NASA, although not the end of the Concorde. But on Ockhamist principles, as the authors write, “if we can plausibly explain two separate events with one theory, that is superior to having a different theory for each event.” Read more