Western Civilization

A Conversation with Ricardo Duchesne, Part 3 of 3

Go to Part 1.
Go to Part 2.

Grégoire Canlorbe: It is not uncommon to claim the self-assertive longing for “prestige,” “respect,” and “fame” is fully intelligible within the framework of the selfish-gene theory, according to which the individual is biologically designed to propagate his genes—and therefore, to pursue personal survival, reproduction, and kin solidarity. Despite the Indo-European warlord’s disdain for his own biological survival, and despite his heroism being recognized and praised by people who are not necessarily related to him genetically, do you still subscribe to the universal relevance of the selfish-gene framework?

Ricardo Duchesne: In Uniqueness I contrasted the aristocratic obsession with honor and respect to the universal instinct for survival, giving the impression that Indo-Europeans were somehow standing above the evolutionary pressures that all groups face in maximizing their chances for reproduction and survival. Kevin MacDonald correctly clarified, in his long review, that “prestige and honor among one’s fellows is in fact typically linked with material possessions and reproductive success. Like other psychological traits related to aggression and risk-taking, the pursuit of social prestige by heroic acts is a high risk/high reward behavior, where evidently the rewards sufficiently outweighed the risks over a prolonged period of evolutionary time.”[1]

Darwinian selective pressures are always at work. But this should not be taken to mean that human culture does not have its own internal dynamics, and that all our beliefs and behaviors are explainable in Darwinian terms. Evolutionary psychologists (not MacDonald) can be quite presumptuous in their fundamentalist belief that they can instruct sociologists, philosophers, and members of the humanities, about human nature and the ultimate origins and biological foundations of our cultural practices. They like to emphasize the cultural patterns, institutions, customs, and beliefs that occur universally across many cultures, as a demonstration that humans will only engage in cultural practices that are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations.

It is worth noticing, however, that the examples of cultural universals they offer — such as the universal presence of athletic sports, dancing, music, housing, funeral rites, language, greetings, courtship, calendars, division of labor, status differentiation, tool-making — are examples of basic cultural practices performed by everyday humans. They represent the lowest cultural denominator. They can’t account for the superlative achievements of Europeans in music, the fact that classical music is singularly European, in evolutionary terms. They can’t account for the fact that almost all the greatest thinkers are European, the architectural styles, the invention of sports, etc. Their inclination, rather, is to trivialize high culture and high achievements that are not easily fitted into an evolutionary scheme.

Why did Europe produce almost all the great scientists in history? Steven Pinker is not interested in these questions but concentrates on the universal traits of the human mind as “a neural computer, fitted by natural selection with combinatorial algorithms for causal and probabilistic reasoning about plants, animals, objects and people.”[2] How do we explain Europe’s superlative achievements in the arts? Pinker’s angle is that “the value of art is largely unrelated to aesthetics: a priceless masterpiece becomes worthless if found to be a forgery; soup cans and comic strips become high art when the art world says they are, and then command conspicuously wasteful prices.”[3]

They know that natural selection can only play a foundational role in understanding human culture and that “human culture itself,” in the words of another Darwinian hardliner, Daniel Dennett, “is a more fecund generator of brilliant innovations” than genetic endowment. This is why they came up with the concept of memes, which they think “can do justice to the humanities and sciences at the same time” by providing an explanation of cultural changes in terms of “new selective pressures” created by culture itself. They acknowledge that culture has evolved through cultural selection transmitted “perceptually, not genetically”[4]

Richard Dawkins defines the term meme “to refer to the ways of doing and making things that spread through cultures.” Dennett realizes that many selected memes have not enhanced human fitness, and that in fact “many of our most cherished memes are demonstrably fitness-reducing in the biological sense,” such as postponing procreation to get a very expensive college education. Once we meet our survival needs, humans “think there are more important things in life than out-reproducing their conspecifics.”  “We are the only species that has discovered other things to die for (and to kill for): freedom, democracy, truth, communism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, and many other meme complexes (memes made up of memes).”[5] We are the only species that articulates reasons to account for why we do things and the only species that attempts to persuade others why those reasons are good, often in the name of goals that cannot be accounted for in straightforward evolutionary terms. They have also argued that human cultural activity has changed the environments they respond to, creating “cognitive niches” or “cultural niches” with very different selective pressures. Pinker believes that humans evolved sufficient genetic capacities to be able to select the best memes and discard culturally inefficient or dysfunctional memes. Read more

A Conversation with Ricardo Duchesne, Part 2 of 3

Grégoire Canlorbe: Western civilization, originating from the Indo-European heroic ethos, turned out to be both the most creative and Faustian civilization and the most war-ridden and war-dominated one. Islamic civilization has been equally militaristic and expansionist; yet it quickly became frozen and hostile towards innovation and individual genius—despite the fact that praising Muhammad’s heroic lifetime has permeated Islamic societies to this day. How do you explain this duality?

Ricardo Duchesne: Almost all cultures have been expansionist, if not warlike, in one form or another. This universal trait does not make a people Faustian. Even highly expansionist peoples such as the Assyrians, Aztecs, Huns, Turks, or Mongols, were not Faustian. Oswald Spengler was aware that medieval and modern Europeans were not uniquely militaristic and imperialistic. Spengler spoke of the “morphological relationship that inwardly binds together the expression-forms of all branches of Culture.” For him, such things as Rococo art, differential calculus, the Crusades and the Spanish conquest of the Americas, were all expressions of the same soul. He saw something Faustian about all the great men of Europe, both in reality and in fiction: in Hamlet, Richard III, Gauss, Newton, Nicolas Cusanus, Don Quixote, Goethe’s Werther, Gregory VII, Michelangelo, Paracelsus, Dante, Descartes, Don Juan, Bach, Wagner’s Parsifal, Haydn, Leibniz’s Monads, Giordano Bruno, Frederick the Great, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. For Spengler, Christianity, too, became a thoroughly Faustian moral ethic. “It was not Christianity that transformed Faustian man, but Faustian man who transformed Christianity —and he not only made it a new religion but also gave it a new moral direction”: will-to-power in ethics. This “Faustian-Christian morale” produced the incredible variety of personalities we witness in Europe, such as Luther, Loyola, Pascal, St. Theresa, “giant-men like Henry the Lion and Gregory VII, … the men of the Renaissance, of the struggle of the two Roses, of the Huguenot Wars, the Spanish Conquistadores, … Napoleon, Bismarck, Rhodes.”

By contrast, other than the Islamic efflorescence between 700 and 1200, which consisted primarily in commentaries on Aristotle, preserving some contributions from Persia and the Greco-Roman world, the Islamic world barely produced any truly creative personalities. Spengler attributed this to the “the Magian Soul” of Arabic-Muslim culture; in Islam “the civil and the ecclesiastical are identical.” This identification means that the world of man is subordinate to the dictates of Islam, everyone is essentially a believer or a non-believer, a member of the “We” of Islam or an outcast standing alone. There is no “I” in Islam, no room for personalities to affirm their “self-asserting egos” as we find in Christianity. Faustian Christianity “presupposes the strong and free will that can overcome itself.”

It is difficult to sum up this contrast, but perhaps this passage may do for this interview: “Whereas the Faustian man is an ‘I’ that in the last resort draws its own conclusions about the Infinite, … the Magian man, with his spiritual kind of being, is only a part of a pneumatic ‘We’ that, descending from above, is one and the same in all believers. As body and soul he belongs not to himself alone, but something else, something alien and higher, dwells in him, making him with all his glimpses and convictions just a member of a consensus which, as the emanation of God, excludes error, but excludes also all possibility of the self-asserting Ego. Truth is for him something other than for us. All our epistemological methods, resting upon the individual judgment, are for him madness and infatuation, and its scientific results a work of the Evil One, who has confused and deceived the spirit as to its true dispositions and purposes.”[1]

Once we understand the “morphological” unity of culture, we can see that Islam has not been “equally militaristic and expansionist.” There is a beautiful creativity in European expansionism that is lacking in all other cultures. Europeans were far more expansive, and successfully so: by 1800 they controlled 35% of the land surface of the globe, increasing this control to 85% by 1914. Almost every single military innovation in weapons, strategy, and organization, from ancient Greek times to the present, was European. There is no comparison. Read more

A conversation with Ricardo Duchesne, Part 1 of 3

Editor’s note: Prof. Ricardo Duchesne will be the featured guest on the monthly video show promoting TOQ with James Edwards and me on Monday, February 4—details to come. In addition to his contributions to TOQ, Dr. Duchesne has authored several books, including The Uniqueness of Western CivilizationFaustian Man in a Multicultural Age, and Canada In Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians.

Ricardo Duchesne is a Canadian historical sociologist whose main research interests notably include the Indo-European aristocratic-warlike and individualist ethos, the Faustian mentality and the creativeness of Western civilization from ancient Greek times to the present, and the pernicious effects of the multicultural and multiracial ideal on modern Western society.

Grégoire Canlorbe: In your eyes, the European civilization of the White man has been systemically downsized by contemporary world historians—to name but a few, Patrick O’Brien, Sebastian Conrad, or Ian Morris. Could you develop?

Ricardo Duchesne: At this point in time, the downplaying of European civilization goes well beyond the observations I made in The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (2011). The globalist establishment is no longer satisfied with the replacement of Western Civ courses, which were part of the standard curriculum in North America throughout much of the twentieth century, with Multicultural World History surveys that emphasize “reciprocal connections within the globe.” The academic establishment is no longer satisfied instructing students that European achievements can only be understood in connection with the rest of the world’s cultures, that Muslims were key creators of the West no less than Christians, that the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, were world historical affairs, that Europe only managed to industrialize thanks to the resources and hard labor of Africans and Aboriginals. That is no longer enough, they are now insisting, as I indicated in my second book, Faustian Man in a Multicultural Age (2017), that Europeans don’t have a distinctive identity because they have been mixing racially for thousands of years as a result of migratory movements. They are forcing their students to equate the current state-sponsored immigration movements from the Third World, purposely aimed at diversifying all White nations, with internal European migrations that occurred over the course of many centuries. They are trying to strip Europeans of any sense of ethnic identity, by making them believe that the race-mixing globalists are incessantly promoting today is a natural continuation of migratory movements thousands of years ago.

Rather that truthfully teaching students that the genetic makeup of Europeans, before diversity was imposed a few decades ago, remained very stable for most of their history, with next to zero genetic additions from Africans and Asians, they are indoctrinating them to believe that African/Asian-looking peoples were the original migrant-inhabitants of Europe. They are saying that Europeans were not indigenous to Europe, that this continent was the creation of waves of immigrants from outside Europe. They are extending the same false argument they have been making about the settler nations of America, Canada, and Australia — “Nations of Immigrants” — to all White nations. Yet, this argument does not even hold for these settler nations. As I argued in my best-selling book, Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians (2017), Canada was not a nation of immigrants but a nation built from the ground up by settlers and indigenous Quebecois, Acadians, and Anglo Loyalists. The same goes for America, Australia, and New Zealand; they were founded by White settlers who created a uniquely indigenous culture in these homelands.

Let it be said that these arguments are not being made by world historians alone, or by typically crazed academics in some half-baked field — what we now identify as “Grievance Studies.” What is so disconcerting, as I argued in “Deceptive Use of Scientific Data to Promote Ethnocide of Europeans,” is that academics in the natural sciences, population geneticists, archaeologists, paleogeneticists, and evolutionary biologists, are deceptively interpreting their otherwise objectively gathered findings (that there were intra-European migratory movements thousands of years ago) as if these movements consisted of non-Whites from Asia and Africa. They are arguing that these movements are a demonstration that there is no such thing as a uniquely German, a uniquely Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, or British people, because “all Europeans are already a mishmash of repeated ancient migrations” from non-European lands. But this is not true; what has been really documented is that there was some degree of intra-European racial mixing over the course of many centuries of migrations and invasions. It has also been documented that there was a “massive migratory movement” from the “Pontic-Steppes”, but these migrants were none other than the Indo-Europeans, once known as “Aryans”, and they did not come from “Asia” since the Pontic Steppes are part of the continent of Europe, and these migrants were White. The only migrants who came from outside Europe were the Anatolian farmers who started colonizing southern Europe about 8800 years ago, who did have considerable genetic impact on Spain, Italy, and Greece. Read more

“The Mightier Our Blows, the Greater Our Emperor’s Love”: The Crusader Ideology of Germanized Christianity in the Song of Roland

There is a mysterious quality to the first literature of any ancient nation. The earliest recorded poems are those produced right at the edge between the forceful spontaneity of barbarism and the dead letter of civilization. They almost invariably reflect a primordial and manly mindset very different from that of our own time. They express the psychology and values of conquering peoples, heeding closely to the law of life, by which nations prosper or die. So it is with the Iliad of ancient Greece,the Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxons, and the Song of Roland of the French.

The Song of Roland is the French national epic and the first great piece of French literature, emerging in the eleventh century, on the back of the First Crusade to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims. The poem’s author is even more mysterious than Homer, for we do not even know his name. The Song is a vivid and powerful expression of the values of medieval European chivalry and indeed of the centuries-long clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam, dating back to the Muslim conquests of Roman Christian Levant and North Africa.

In contrast with later criticisms of Christianity as embodying a universalist “slave-morality,” in the Song we find Christian values perfectly fused, and perhaps subordinated to, the essentially Germanic warrior ethos of the French knightly aristocracy in the form of a novel crusader ideology. The Song presents a perfect case-study of what James C. Russell called the “Germanization of early medieval Christianity” or what William Pierce called “Aryanized” Christianity.[1] The heroes of the poem are obsessed with honor, family, nation, religion, and service to the emperor. I shall present the historical Charlemagne and the values of the Song of Roland. These can help us understand both the emergence and defense of European identity in past centuries. Read more

William Gayley Simpson on Christianity and the West

William Gayley Simpson in the early 1940s

The following is adapted from a book I wrote based on interviews with the late white activist William Pierce, The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds.

“Someone else you might want to include in this [book] project,” Pierce called out to me as I was leaving his office at the end of one of our evening talks, “is William Gayley Simpson.  Do you know about him?”

Very little.  All I knew about Simpson was that he had written a book called Which Way Western Man? (free pdf) and that Pierce had published it under his own imprint, National Vanguard Books.  I hadn’t read the book.

“Simpson was born in 1892, the same year as my father,” Pierce continued, “so he was a generation ahead of me.  In the ’30s he was interacting with the public in a big way, speaking at a lot of universities, mostly about peace issues, how we must never get into another world war and that sort of thing, and at one time he taught Latin, mathematics, and history at a boarding school around where he lived in New York state.  Somehow, he had gotten hold of something I had written—this must have been around 1975—and he wrote me about it.  At that time, he was over 80-years-old [he died in 1991 at 99].

“We started corresponding.  I found Simpson to be a deep, sensitive, and serious man.  He invited me to visit him up at his farm.   He had built a farmhouse with his own hands, a really nice house, and he had a shop and outbuildings.  He did some planting, but mostly he just lived there and thought and wrote and maintained contact [letters in those days] with people from all over the world.  I stayed with him a few days and visited him a couple more times after that.

“Simpson told me about a book he was finishing up, which turned out to be Which Way Western Man?  I read it and was very impressed and published it.  We sold that printing, and then we did two more printings, about seven thousand copies, and sold out on those.   Let me get you a copy of Which Way Western Man?

Pierce stood up from his desk, turned to his left, took a couple of steps, and turned left again through an open door into his library.  I followed.   It was dark in there—I could barely make out the titles of the books.  It was a good-sized room, about fifteen-by-twenty feet.  It reminded me of the stacks in a university library, the same kind of metal shelving.   Rows of shelves tightly packed from floor to ceiling with books spanned the room’s interior.  Pierce had labels taped onto the shelves categorizing his collection, so he knew right where to find the Simpson book.  I stood behind him and took in this tall grey-haired man standing in this gloomy library as he turned a few pages of the Simpson book, his eyes just a few inches from the print as he had very poor sight.  

Pierce handed me the bulky, dark blue paperback.  My hand gave way a bit from the weight of what I later learned was a 758-page volume.

I thanked Pierce for the book and told him I would spend the rest of that evening and the next day looking it over, and that if I could get my thoughts organized I’d talk to him the next evening about what Simpson had written.   Read more

Biopolitics, Racialism, and Nationalism in Ancient Greece: A Summary View

The following is a brief summary of the ancient Greek theory and practice of biopolitics, racialism, and nationalism. These themes, which are so taboo in the West today, were integral to the Hellenic way of life at the founding of our Western civilization and of our unique tradition of civic self-government. I will also refer to some of the copious mainstream academic literature documenting this.

The Greeks believed that, despite their political divisions, they belonged to a common nation, defined by shared blood, language, religion, and culture. According to Herodotus, the Greeks were“one race speaking one language, with temples to the gods and religious rites in common, and with a common way of life” (Histories, 8.144). Patriotic Pan-Hellenic rhetoric – on the supreme value of Greece and the glory of sacrificing oneself to save Greece – is pervasive across centuries of Greek literature and political discourse.[1]

The Greeks had a primitive and unsystematic racial theory. They believed that peoples gradually acquired characteristics due to their environment (e.g. Ethiopians became black because of the heat) and that these traits became hereditary.[2] These observations certainly prefigure Darwin’s later evolutionary theory.

The Europeans north of Greece were generally considered barbaric and spirited, while Asians inhabiting Persia were considered effeminate and submissive. Barbarians were often thought incapable of civic self-government. The Phoenicians were sometimes perceived as having certain Semitic stereotypes (mercantile, dishonest, greedy, mercenary) but were also sometimes perceived as a fellow advanced people, comparably organized and capable in terms of trade, warfare, and civic self-government.

The Greeks did not talk about anything analogous to racial differences in IQ and it is often unclear to what extent they believed ethnic characteristics to be due to culture, geography and climate, or heredity. The Greeks were however certainly very struck by the physical differences of the few Blacks they encountered, producing pottery contrasting Caucasian and Negroid features, in styles rather reminiscent of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Greeks had a primitive theory and practice of eugenics. Following the practice of animal breeding and simple observation, the Greeks understood that human physical and psychological traits were at least partly hereditary. It was often said that men should choose the best women as wives so as to have the best children possible. Due to economic difficulties, infanticide through exposure was a cruel accepted practice, at the parents’ discretion. In Sparta and Rome, the killing of deformed children was mandatory, an exercise in negative eugenics. Read more

Decline and Empire in Ancient Rome and the Modern West: A Review of David Engels’ Le Déclin, Part 2

Go to Part 1.

Cato the Elder

Roman Conservative & Imperial Responses

The Roman authorities, whether republican or imperial, did not passively accept these developments. Engels observes that “[f]rom the second century B.C., a large number of conservative politicians opposed with a marked traditionalism the Hellenization of the Roman elite and the Orientalization of the population” (142). This was embodied above all by Cato the Elder, who argued that Greek culture, which had become so rational, skeptical, and cosmopolitan, would mean the end of Rome:

Concerning those Greeks, son Marcus, I will speak to you more at length on the befitting occasion. I will show you the results of my own experience at Athens, and that, while it is a good plan to dip into their literature, it is not worth while to make a thorough acquaintance with it. They are a most iniquitous and intractable race, and you may take my word as the word of a prophet, when I tell you, that whenever that nation shall bestow its literature upon Rome it will mar everything. (Pliny, Natural History, 29.7)

In terms of immigration, as previously mentioned, Gaius Papius had on behalf of the people apparently sought to expel non-Italic foreigners from the city altogether. Augustus later limited the emancipation of slaves, “lest they should fill the city with a promiscuous rabble; also that they should not enroll large numbers as citizens, in order that there should be a marked difference between themselves and the subject nations” (Cassius Dio, 56.33).

The Roman leadership also sought to counter native demographic decline. As early as 131 B.C., the censor Quintus Metellus Macedonicus urged making marriage mandatory. Later, “in order to ensure the biological survival of the Roman elite, Augustus . . . decreed very unpopular laws” (83), including making marriage mandatory for men between 25 and 60 and making divorce more difficult. The emperor is supposed to have justified the measures as follows:

For surely it is not your delight in a solitary existence that leads you to live without wives, nor is there one of you who either eats alone or sleeps alone; no, what you want is to have full liberty for wantonness and licentiousness. … For you see for yourselves how much more numerous you are than the married men, when you ought by this time to have provided us with as many children besides, or rather with several times your number. How otherwise can families continue? How can the State be preserved, if we neither marry nor have children? . . . And yet it is neither right nor creditable that our race should cease, and the name of Romans be blotted out with us, and the city be given over to foreigners — Greeks or even barbarians. Do we not free our slaves chiefly for the express purpose of making out of them as many citizens as possible? And do we not give our allies a share in the government in order that our numbers may increase? And do you, then, who are Romans from the beginning and claim as your ancestors the famous Marcii, the Fabii, the Quintii, the Valerii, and the Julii, do you desire that your families and names alike shall perish with you? (Cassius Dio, 56.7–8)

Tellingly, Augustus himself however was married twice and had a reputation for licentiousness. His only biological child, Julia, was notorious for her licentiousness. Read more