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Category: Science

Ethnogenesis in America

Interracial marriage in the United States foretells, not so much a post-racial society, as the birth of new peoples. This essay is drawn from the new book Making Sense of…

Interracial marriage in the United States foretells, not so much a post-racial society, as the birth of new peoples.

This essay is drawn from the new book Making Sense of Race, which can be purchased here.

When we hear the word “ethnicity,” we tend to think of peoples, like the Irish or Han Chinese, that trace their ancestry and history back millennia. But, of course, race and ethnicity are dynamic and evolving. Ethnic groups that have a “timeless” conception of themselves have, in fact, experienced more genetic change and engaged in more interbreeding than they might want to admit. Furthermore, there is no reason why we wouldn’t expect new and different ethnicities to emerge in the future.

Race is best understood as a subspecies of mankind; and ethnicity, a kind of “sub-sub-species” or hybrid cline. In other words, sometimes an ethnicity is a subgroup of a race, which has been relatively isolated for some reason or another; other times, ethnicities emerge through the combination of two or more races. Over the past 50 years, the world, and particularly the Western world, has become increasingly multicultural and multiracial, due to immigration and the tremendous advancements in transportation and communication. This has led, unsurprisingly, to increased interbreeding between races and ethnicities—and interbreeding between groups that, before the age of globalization, would have scarce contact with one another. There comes a point at which a hybrid between two groups merits being understood as an ethnicity all of its own. This process of ethnogenesis—literally, the generation of a new ethnicity—takes centuries, but we can look at current trends in mating and dating and at least speculate about the ethnicities of the future.

The United States has emerged as a kind of laboratory in this regard. As of this writing, (non-Hispanic) Whites compose roughly 60 percent of a population of 330 million; African-Americans, 13 percent; Hispanics, 20; Asians 6; and American Indians, just over 1. According to current projections, America will become a “majority-minority” nation in the next 25 years; that is, no one race will hold sway demographically. Even in such an environment, marriages are still overwhelmingly intra-racial.1 If love were truly blind, that would not be the case. At the turn of the century, Americans were 75 percent less likely to know a person of another race “with whom they discuss important matters” than would happen by chance.2

It is important to point out, however, that the number of mixed- marriages has more than tripled since the overturning of anti- miscegenation laws in 1967. The Pew Research Center reports that, as of 2015, “intermarriage” occurred among around 17 percent of newlyweds (people married in the past year). The intermarriage rate is slightly higher in metropolitan areas, where Americans are more likely to encounter people of other races.3

Among 2015 newlyweds, White people chose a spouse of another race just over 10 percent of the time. Rates of intermarriage are significantly higher among other races: African-Americans, 18 percent; Hispanics, 27 percent; and Asians, 29 percent.4 While Asians are intermarrying slightly less often than 40 years ago (from 33 to 29 percent), the rate at which Blacks intermarry has tripled in the same period of time (from 5 to 18 percent).

Table 1: Percentage of U.S. Newlyweds Who Are Intermarried

1980 2015
Asian 33 29
Blacks 5 18
Hispanics 26 27
Whites 4 17
Total 7 17

There are significant racial and sexual differences in intermarriage. While White and Hispanic men and women intermarry at largely the same rate, Blacks and Asians do not. Twice as many Black men (24 percent) intermarry as Black women (12 percent). With Asians, something like the reverse is true: more than a third of Asian women intermarry, while 21 percent of Asian men do.

Table 2: Percentage of 2014-15 U.S. Newlyweds Who Are Intermarried, Broken Down By Sex

Men Women
Whites 12% 10%
Hispanics 26% 28%
Blacks 24% 12%
Asians 21% 36%

The most common form of intermarriage by far is between Whites and Hispanics, which makes up 42 percent of the total, followed by White and Asian partnering (15 percent) and White and Black marriages (11 percent).

Table 3: Percentage of 2014-15 Opposite-Sex Newlywed Couples

Coupling % all intermarried couples
White/Hispanic 42%
White/Asian 15%
White/Multiracial 12%
White/Black 11%
Hispanic/Black 5%
White/American Indian 3%
Hispanic/Asian 3%
Hispanic/Multiracial 3%

Male and female Whites and Hispanics marry each other, more or less, at the same frequency. But from there, significant disparities emerge. As mentioned, Asians are the most likely race to “marry out,” and when they do, 75 percent of them marry Whites. The number of couples with a White husband and Asian wife is almost three times the size of a pairing of an Asian husband and White wife. Similarly, couples with a Black husband and White wife are more than twice as common as ones with a White husband and Black wife.

Table 4. Percentage of opposite-sex Newlywed Couples, Broken Down By Husband and Wife Pairing

Couplin Share of intermarried
White Husband/Hispanic Wife 22%
Hispanic Husband/White Wife 20%
White Husband/Asian Wife 11%
Asian Husband/White Wife 4%
White Husband/Black Wife 3%
Black Husband/White Wife 7%
Hispanic Husband/Black Wife 1%
Black Husband/Hispanic Wife 4%

In many ways, the Pew Research Center’s Report from a half- decade earlier provides more detail than the one which employs data from 2015.5 According to this data, in 2008, when Whites males who had married someone of a different ethnicity in the last 12 months were asked what ethnicity it was, 46.1 percent said “Hispanic” and 26.9 percent said “Asian,” the second highest category. Only 6.9 percent said “Black.” For White women, only 9.4 percent said “Asian,” whereas 51.4 percent said “Hispanic” and 20.1 percent said “Black.”

A White-Hispanic partnering, the most common intermarriage in America, does not foretell ethnogenesis. The term “Hispanic” has always been ambiguous, because it is a linguistic, not an ethnic, category. Genetically speaking, “Hispanic” connotes people of mixed European and Amerindian backgrounds—which is not being fundamentally affected through these intermarriages. Their offspring will simply be regarded as Hispanic or White, depending on the case. It’s worth pointing out, however, that this identity choice will have a small, though significant, effect on overall demographics as it is calculated by the U.S. Census.

More noteworthy is the next most common interracial pairing: Whites and Asians (again, usually East Asians), which accounts for 15 percent of the total. This is a new cline. Just as breeding between White males and Amerindian females produced Hispanics—who then went on to intermarry—there is an on-going process whereby White American males forming unions with East Asian American females might become an example of ethnogenesis.

This high rate of out-marriage among Asians likely reflects the relatively low number of Asians in the U.S.; indeed, as their population has grown, Asian “marrying out” has become slightly less common, falling by some 12 percent between 1980 and 2015. It may also reflect the way that females in particular would be predicted to wish to marry hypergamously and thus, potentially, to someone of another race, and especially to a White man, if being White is associated with status.

Consistent with this, according to 2008 data, 39.5 percent of Asian American women marry people of a different race—76 percent of these to Whites—compared to 19.5 percent of Asian American males who do so. Among African-Americans, this relationship is reversed: 22 percent of Black males marry someone of a different race (in 57 percent of cases to White women), compared to 8.9 percent of African-American women (58 percent of these cases to White men).

We see this “inequality of attraction” in dating as well. In 2009 and 2014, the popular dating site OkCupid released meta-data on race and gender generated by its tens of millions of users. It was analyzed by the site’s co-founder, Christian Rudder—who subsequently deleted his post. As New York magazine lamented, “the results did not quite suggest a colorblind utopia of post-racial love.

Most races preferred to date within their own race. Asian men and black men received fewer messages than white men, while black women received the fewest messages of all users.6

One of the most salient analyses was based on “QuickMatch” scores, in which the user is asked to rate a photo of a potential date between 1 and 5. The scores below are separated out by race and sex and show the percentage compared to the average; for example, Asian men rate Asian women 15 percent above the average woman, but rate Black women 20 percent below the average. We find that women strongly prefer men of the same race, somewhere between 18 to 24 percent above the average. The same, however, is not true for men. Both Black and White men seem to prefer Asian women slightly more than women of their own races. Black men are the least picky in terms of the race of the women they seek to date, as revealed by the small range of their responses. And overall, Black women and Asian men receive the lowest scores from other races.

Asian Women Black Women Latina Women White Women
Asian men rating… 15% -20% 2% 3%
Black men rating 2% 1% 2% -6%
Latino men rating… 4% -18% 10% 4%
White men rating… 9% -17% 3% 6%

 

Asian men Black men Latino men White men
Asian women rating… 24% -27% -15% 18%
Black women rating… -13% 23% -3% -6%
Latina women rating… -14% -16% 18% 12%
White women rating… -12% -8% 1% 19%

These differences would be explicable in terms of three strands of research. On the one hand, when White women are shown photos of male Black, White, and East Asian people, they tend to regard Blacks as the most attractive, probably because they are the most masculinized, and East Asian males as the least. This is reversed in White males, because East Asian females have typically ultra-feminine and neotenous features (rendering them “cute”), whereas Black females typically have the least feminine features, as researchers on race and attractiveness have pointed out.7 This would also help to explain why Black women are particularly unlikely to “marry out.” Males, as we have discussed, mainly select for youth and beauty and are less interested in status. Traditionally, being Black is regarded as low status; and, more importantly, Black females are low in neoteny.

In addition, with regard to the racial marriage patterns noted, Genetic Similarity Theory would predict that Whites and Hispanics would be attracted to each other, due to their relative genetic similarity. Finally, there is some evidence that U.S. inter-racial marriages involve a trade-off of desirable traits, especially in Black male/White female unions. In these unions, the Black male tends to be of relatively high educational status compared to the woman, meaning that the female marries hypergamously in terms of education. It is proposed that this compensates for the fact that the female is marrying hypogamously (that is, socially downwards) in terms of racial status. In other words, she has engaged in status exchange.8

Regardless, we can see that a process of ethnogenesis is occurring in the U.S., primarily based around unions between White males and East Asian females. This has long been occurring in Hawaii, due to the established Japanese minority there, and the products of these unions are known by the Hawaiian word “Hapa,” which refers to a person of mixed ethnicity. Young people throughout the U.S. who are part White and part East Asian have increasingly embraced Hapa as a marker of their identity, though some Hawaiian activists have criticized this as an example of “cultural appropriation.”9 It is worth noting that Black-White biracials in the U.S. likely have a White mother, whereas Asian-White biracials are likely to have a White father. It is possible that this may lead to some effects in terms of which traits are inherited, but with the current state of research, this can only be speculated upon. According to Pew’s research, contracting a mixed-race marriage is positively correlated with education level. This may be due to the relationship between educational attainment and intelligence, something which is in turn associated with Openness. It may also be because of “exposure”: as Blacks, in particular, become more educated, they are more likely to live in areas where there are many Whites.10 However, there remains only a very weak relationship with education level.

What is clear is that the American nation is changing dramatically. To understand this, one can look to Silicon Valley, California—America’s avant-garde region in terms of technology, culture, finance, and, increasingly, demographics. As of 2017, “Asians”—mostly from China and India—made up the largest majority (34 percent) in Silicon Valley, a collection of counties of 3.1 million. Among the share of highly skilled and educated workers, some 14 percent alone were from China, which rivaled the numbers from the state of California (17 percent) and the U.S. at large (16 percent). India outnumbered them all, making up 26 percent of high-skilled tech workers.11

A situation like this will not render race “irrelevant” so much as it will generate a new people—or, more likely, peoples. We shouldn’t expect Peoria, Illinois, to resemble Silicon Valley anytime soon; however, the dramatic transformation that America is currently undergoing will unquestionably transform its collective feeling of nationalism—and xenophobia—in the not-too-distant future.


  1. Del Thiessen and Barbara Bregg, “Human Assortative Mating and Genetic Equilibrium: An Evolutionary Perspective,” Ethology and Sociobiology, 1 (1980): 111-140. ↩︎
  2. Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and James M Cook, “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks,” Annual Review of Sociology, 27 (2001): 415-444. ↩︎
  3. Gretchen Livingston and Anna Brown, “Intermarriage in the U.S. 50 Years After Loving v. Virginia,” Pew Research, May 18, 2017, https://www. pewsocialtrends.org/2017/05/18/intermarriage-in-the-u-s-50-years-after-loving-v- virginia/ (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  4. “Asian” in a U.S. context appears to refer mainly to East Asians, while in Britain it refers to South Asians. In the following discussion, I use “Asian” in the U.S. sense. ↩︎
  5. Paul Taylor, Jeffrey Passell, Wendy Wang, et al., “Marrying Out: One-in- Seven New U.S. Marriages in Interracial or Interethnic,” Pew Research, June 4, 2010, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2010/06/04/ marrying-out-oneinseven-new-us-marriages-is-interracial-or-interethnic (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  6. Allison P. Davis, “New OkCupid Data on Race Is Pretty Depressing,” New York, September 11, 2014, https://www.thecut.com/2014/09/new-okcupid-data- on-race-is-pretty-depressing.html. ↩︎
  7. Michael Lewis. “A Facial Attractiveness Account of Gender Asymmetries in Interracial Marriage,” PLoS ONE, 7 (2, 2012): e31703, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031703 (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  8. Aaron Gullickson, “Education and Black/White Interracial Marriage,” Demography, 43 (2006): 673-689. ↩︎
  9. Ameki Johnson, “Who Gets to be ‘Hapa?’” National Public Radio, August 8, 2016, https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/08/08/487821049/who-gets-to-be-hapa?t=1596013424206 (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  10. Gullickson, “Education and Black/White Interracial Marriage,” op cit.. ↩︎
  11. Joint Venture Silicon Valley, “2019 Silicon Valley Index,” Institute for Regional Studies, https://jointventure.org/images/stories/pdf/index2019.pdf (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
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The Arguments Against “Race”

“Race” is a coherent biological category, as much as is “species,” and the cases against it simply don’t add up. This essay is drawn from the book Making Sense of…

“Race” is a coherent biological category, as much as is “species,” and the cases against it simply don’t add up.

This essay is drawn from the book Making Sense of Race, which can be purchased here.

 


 

Is “race” an outmoded, morally dubious idea that was deservedly cast into the dustbin of history, along with Stalinism, astrology, and blood-letting? Many say so. Indeed, there is a vociferous movement in anthropology, as well as in the mass media, opposed to the use of race as a biological category. Their opposition functions through a series of “memes” or “variations on themes,” which recur again and again. It is to these arguments that we now turn an informed and critical eye.

How Can You Draw a Line Between Different Races?

A chapter summary in Race and Intelligence includes the lines:

There are no biological races. Human physical appearance varies gradually around the planet, with the most geographically distant peoples generally appearing the most different from one another.1

In other words: there is no clear way to divide different races. They merge into each other, with great variation in-between. A version of this argument is that there is no specific gene that is found only in one specific race. It can be countered that races are, of course, not entirely discrete categories because, if they were, they would be more like species, or perhaps genera, families, or orders on up the taxonomic scale.

Even if it were true that no unambiguous line can be drawn between races, this does not undermine the utility of race. The line between Grizzly bears and Brown bears is blurry, too—but you still know one when you see one and making distinctions between these subspecies is meaningful. Moreover, even if we were to accept that a species varies in small ways due to slightly different environments, then those at the extremes would differ so much, and in consistent ways, that it would become useful to distinguish between them.

Ultimately, it seems like people who make this argument are flirting with a kind of “tactical nihilism.” After all, no concept about the real world is mathematically pure. If “race” is “problematic” because it has blurry borders, then the concept of “history” is equally “problematic”—indeed, the term “problematic” is “problematic.” We use categories to divide our world into manageable chunks and thus negotiate it successfully. If we could not do that, we’d die. So the “blurry borders” argument fails the philosophical test of pragmatism. There exist population clusters that differ profoundly due to varying degrees of evolutionary isolation. These allow correct predictions to be made. That is all that is being argued.

Race is a “Western” Concept

Some say that race is illegitimate or immoral because it is steeped in Western history (and thus things like slavery and oppression), as well as the supposedly myopic and suffocating outlook of “Western science.” But this same argument could be made about almost any concept—including the ones that supposedly undermine or overcome Western hegemony. At some point, we have to accept a basic framing.

And the central question is whether race is a predictive category or not. If race is “problematic” because it’s Western, then, presumably, we cannot use Western concepts at all to analyze anything non-Western. Following this logic, we shouldn’t even talk about anything that is non-Western using a Western tongue. Such argument may sound profound, but under inspection, they’re rather shallow. And for what it’s worth, non-Western cultures clearly have words and concepts that track with the Western notion of “race.”

Race Has Meant Different Things

It has been noted that the word “race” can mean different things. Historically, it has been used in ways that “culture,” “ethnic group,” “nation,” or even “family” are now employed. Lord Acton’s Cambridge Modern History, for instance, referred to the “Habsburg race” in reference to the dynastic line.2 While the history of words is interesting, the fact that the meaning of words change over time is simply irrelevant to our purposes here. We are clear that by “race” we mean breeding populations separated in prehistory and adapted to different environments. If anyone uses race to mean anything else, then our use of race and his are merely homonyms. For what it’s worth, the word “mean” has meant different things historically. In Middle English, it meant “to intend.” Only by 1834 was “mean” widely being used in the way in which it is above.3 Does that “mean” that we cannot use the concept of “meaning”?

Studying Race Leads to Bad Things

Another supposed problem with race is that developing the concept leads to bad consequences. It legitimizes “racist groups,” “inspires hatred,” and so forth. That it might do this is clearly of no relevance to whether or not it is a scientifically justifiable and predictive category. This argument commits the fallacy of an “appeal to consequences” and, depending on how the consequences are described, an “appeal to emotion.” Firstly, it’s obvious that concepts of all kinds can have bad effects. Ecology—as well as awareness about pollution and natural degradation—has, on some level, “inspired” eco-terrorism and murder. Does that mean that research into cleaning the oceans and preserving their ecosystems should cease because it has led, in some way, to violence? To ask the question is to answer it.

Beyond that, it can be convincingly argued that suppressing the concept of race leads to very bad consequences. If a South Asian person has a kidney transplant and is given the kidney of a White person, then his body will likely reject it, elevating the possibility that the patient will die of kidney failure. This scenario is the reason why Britain’s National Health Service regularly appeals for more Black and South Asian organ donors.4 During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, it was found that mortality was particularly high among Blacks and South Asians living in Northern Europe, something that was argued to be for genetic reasons. Specifically, Vitamin D deficiency rendered one more susceptible to serious complications from Covid-19, and non- Europeans were much more likely to be deficient due to their darker skin, leaving them less able to absorb Vitamin D from the sun.5

There are consistent genetic racial differences in the prevalence of many serious medical conditions. Sometimes these stay in populations because a single inherited allele had positive consequences in ancestral environments, overwhelming the negatives consequences for individual carriers of two alleles. An example is sickle cell anaemia, a condition associated with Sub-Saharan Africans. If you carry two copies of the mutant allele, then you develop this debilitating condition. If, however, you carry one copy, then you will likely be immune to malaria.6 Cystic Fibrosis, a congenital disease among Northern European, is similar.7 It only appears when two carriers of the faulty allele have a child, there being a 50 percent chance that such a child will have Cystic Fibrosis. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain why Cystic Fibrosis has remained in European populations. One states that carrying a single copy of the faulty allele causes carriers to be better able to fight off tuberculosis.8

In some cases, something is adaptive under Darwinian conditions but is maladaptive under modern conditions. For example, South Asians are particularly good at storing fat, and this is useful in the context of food scarcity, for obvious reasons. But with food abundance brought on by the Industrial Revolution and the use of fossil fuels, South Asians become diabetic more easily than Europeans.9 Helping South Asians deal with these problems can only occur with a proper understanding of their nature.

There is evidence that Northeast Asians are less well-adapted to flu-like viruses than either Europeans or Sub-Saharan Africans. This may be because flu thrives in cold and wet or hot and wet ecologies, meaning that Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans would be more strongly selected to be resistant to flu.10 Moreover, races that never developed complex agriculture—such as the Inuit, the Australian Aborigines, the Pacific Islanders, and many Native American groups—have low resistance to flu because animal husbandry often causes viruses to jump the species barrier, and races that evolved in such a context developed better adapted immune systems.11 This would imply that, during an influenza pandemic, East Asians in Western countries should get special protection from the flu. Denying that race exists would simply put people in danger. All of these are poignant illustrations of why race is definitely not a “social construct” and a proper understanding of it is literally a matter of life and death.

Lewontin’s Fallacy

A more scientifically informed criticism of race can be found in the common criticism, “There are more differences within races than there are between them.” This is wheeled out with great profundity by biased scientists when interviewed in biased newspapers, without any references. It has come to be known as “Lewontin’s Fallacy,” named after biologist Richard Lewontin (b.1929), who argued that 85 percent of human genetic differences are due to individual variation, and only 15 percent due to differences between populations and ethnic groups; ergo, “there are more difference within races than between them.”

This fallacy can be easily dispatched. The sheer number of differences is less important than the direction of the differences. If a variety of small differences all push in the same direction—which they will in the case of subspecies evolved to different ecologies— then this can add up to significant overall differences between average members of different races.12

British biologist A.W.F. Edwards presented a systematic critique of Lewontin’s argument (along the way, coining the phrase “Lewontin’s Fallacy”).13 He noted that Lewontin simply looked at a small number of genetic loci and found that, indeed, 85 percent of human variation was due to individual differences. However, argues Edwards, if you look at lots of loci, then you will find these loci correlate differently in different groups, due to gene frequency differences, leading to very different results. Indeed, this leads to races being very different in numerous predictable ways, rendering “race” a scientific category. Edwards pointed out that, using Lewontin’s logic, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish between different tree structures, because these differences are hidden in the correlational data, just as race differences are. But using only genetic data, scientists were able to correctly highlight 15 forms of tree structure. As Edwards notes, Lewontin’s argument could only work if each of the genetic loci highlighted were randomly distributed between races, but it is in the very nature of races—being adaptations to different ecologies—that genes are not randomly distributed. Thus, Lewontin presents us—albeit wrapped up in abstruse scientific language—with nothing more than a circular argument.

To make matters worse, the loci which Lewontin used do not vary substantially between races. He used markers such as blood-type, and, as anthropologist Peter Frost has noted, these are “not particularly selectively important. . . . [W]hen genes vary within a population, despite similar selection pressures, it’s usually because they have little or no selective value.”14 When methods were used with markers that do vary between races, such as craniometric variation and skin color, it was found that 81 percent of the variation is between races.15 Lewontin, therefore, only uncovered the findings he did by using genetic loci that aren’t especially relevant to regional evolution—despite evolution to different regions being the essence of race. So, Lewontin’s argument is a kind of sleight of hand.16 What he is actually proclaiming is this: When you use genetic loci that are distributed very similarly in all races, and in which there is much variation within races due to these loci not being very important to selection to different ecologies, then there are, indeed, more differences within races than between them. He hardly disproved the reality of race.

We’re All 99% The Same

In recent years, an argument against race has arisen that is much like the Lewontin fallacy: “Science has proven that every individual is more than 99 percent identical to every other.” This meme of “99%” was introduced at the turn of the century by none other than the Human Genome Project.17

On the individual level, tiny genetic differences (humans only differ by 0.0012 percent on average) have important consequences, and it is highly misleading to downplay them. The genetic differences in heritable musical ability between a professional musician and Mozart are probably rather small, but they are obviously profound. Moreover, on the level of species, humans share a remarkable amount of genetic similarity (upwards of 98 percent) with our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee. We even share much in common with other animals, like pigs and dogs. Clearly, small differences can have dramatic physical, psychological, and behavioral effects. And no one is willing to assert that since humans and chimpanzees are “98% the same,” we should not make distinctions between the two.

The Concept of Race Makes Me Uncomfortable

Another argument—and there are many versions of it—amounts to an appeal to emotion, in which a person essentially argues that “race” makes him feel unhappy. All that can be said is that this is manifestly fallacious and thus should be dismissed out of hand. How you feel is irrelevant to whether or not something is true. If being told that you have a rare blood disorder makes you feel unhappy, does that mean that it is not true or that you shouldn’t be told about it?

On a deeper level, we should understand that science is fundamentally amoral. It is about the relentless search for the objective truth. New scientific discoveries almost always offended some vested interest or other. This is why the kind of scientists who tend to make really important discoveries—so-called “geniuses”— seem to combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness (altruism and empathy) and moderately low Conscientiousness (impulse control, rule following). This means that they can “think outside the box,” not bound by conventional rules—maybe they even take pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. It also means that they either don’t care about offending people or they are sufficiently high on the “autism spectrum” that they wouldn’t be able to anticipate offending people even if they did care.18

If You Are Interested in “Race,” Then You Are Probably “Racist”

This criticism—that discussing race is “racist”—amounts to a so-called “fact-value conflation.” That a person presents something as being a “fact” has no bearing at all on his “values.” Facts are value-neutral. If a doctor tells you that you only have a week to live, does that mean he wants you to die? Furthermore, we should probably be, at the very least, suspicious of those who regularly employ the word “racist.” The first recorded use of the word “racist” was in 1932, with “racism” first observed in 1928. These terms gradually came to replace “racialist,” which was first recorded in 1910, and “racialism,” first noted in 1882.19 In 1928, “racism” meant the belief that each “race” (meaning “ethnic group”) should have their own state and that civic society was optimal if states were racially based.20 “Racialism” referred to prejudices against other races and the belief that one’s own race was superior.

In the wake of World War II, “racist” gradually came to mean what “racialist” had once meant.21 However, the term “racist” has been extended far beyond this, to refer to anybody who is seen to deviate from ideological orthodoxy with regard to the issue of race. Terming such a person the “racist” associates him with that which is accepted as somehow evil and immoral. As this association is damaging, the term “racist” is an emotionally manipulative means of keeping people on the “correct” ideological path. In other words, it is an ad hominem criticism. The essence of the accusation is that the subject has strayed sufficiently far from orthodoxy that he is immoral; he is a heretic. There are many terms of this kind. As English historian Alexandra Walsham summarizes, in her analysis of Early Modern religious non-conformity in England, the accusation of “atheist” was “available for the expression and repression of disquiet about ‘aberrant’ mental and behavioral tendencies—for the reinforcement and restatement of theoretical norms.” Both “atheist” and “papist” were “categories of deviance to which individuals who were even marginally departed from the prescribed ideals might be assimilated and thereby reproved.”22

There is simply no logical reason to reject the concept of race, and there are very persuasive reasons to accept it as what it is—a scientific category. On this basis, one should be rather guarded about the motives of those who refuse to accept it, who resort to name-calling and obfuscation, or who are mired in the contradictions and incoherence.


References

  1. Jefferson M. Fish, ed., Race and Intelligence (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2011) ↩︎
  2. Lord Acton, Stanley Mordaunt Leathes, Sir Adolphus William Ward, and G. W. Prothero, eds., Cambridge Modern History, vol. 2 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1902). ↩︎
  3. Online Etymology Dictionary (2019), “Mean,” https://www.etymonline.com/ word/mean (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  4. Sandish Shoker, “The Health System’s Struggle to Get More Black and Asian Donors,” BBC News, July 4, 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england- nottinghamshire-33101610 (accessed May 15, 2020) ↩︎
  5. Susanne Bejerot and Mats Humble, “Inhabitants of Swedish-Somali Origin Are at Great Risk for Covid-19,” British Medical Journal, 368 (2020): m1101. ↩︎
  6. Lucio Luzatto, “Sickle Cell Anaemia and Malaria,” Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases, 4(1) (2012): e2012065. ↩︎
  7. Brian P. O’Sullivan and Steven D. Freedman, “Cystic Fibrosis,” Lancet, 373 (2009): 1891–1904. ↩︎
  8. Joanne K. Tobacman, “Does Deficiency of Arylsulfatase B Have a Role in Cystic Fibrosis?” Chest, 123 (2003): 2130–2139. ↩︎
  9. Emma Pomeroy, Veena Mushrif-Tripathy, Tim J. Cole, et al., “Ancient Origins of Low Lean Mass Among South Asians and Implications for Modern Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility,” Scientific Reports, 9 (2019): 10515. ↩︎
  10. Office of the Ministry of Health, Monthly Bulletin of the Ministry of Health (1954), 173. ↩︎
  11. C. L. Chen, Li Xiao, Y-P. Zhou, et al., “Ethnic Differences in Susceptibilities to A(H1N1) Flu: An Epidemic Parameter Indicating a Weak Viral Virulence,” African Journal of Biotechnology, 8 (2009): 25. ↩︎
  12. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (New York: Basic Books, 2009). ↩︎
  13. A.W.F. Edwards, “Human Genetic Diversity: Lewontin’s Fallacy,” BioEssays, 25 (2003): 798-801. ↩︎
  14. Peter Frost, “Lewontin’s Fallacy?” Evo and Proud, July 31, 2008, http:// evoandproud.blogspot.com/2008/06/lewontins-fallacy.html (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  15. John H. Relethford, “Apportionment of Global Human Genetic Diversity Based on Craniometrics and Skin Color,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 118 (2002): 393-398. ↩︎
  16. Nathan Cofnas, “Science Is Not Always ‘Self-Correcting’: Fact–Value Conflation and the Study of Intelligence.” Foundational Science, 21 (2015): 477-492. ↩︎
  17. Eric S. Lander, John Sulston, Robert H. Waterston, et al., “Initial Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome,” Nature, 4 (2001): 860–921. ↩︎
  18. Dean K. Simonton, “Varieties of (Scientific) Creativity: A Hierarchical Model of Domain-Specific Disposition, Development, and Achievement.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4 (2009): 5. ↩︎
  19. Online Etymological Dictionary, “Racist,” https://www.etymonline.com/word/ racist (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  20. Ibid. ↩︎
  21. Robert Miles, Racism (London: Routledge, 1989). ↩︎
  22. Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity, and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999), 108. ↩︎
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The Death of Atheism

It seemed like only yesterday that all those online atheists were dominating YouTube—owning the fundies with facts and logic. *The dinosaurs are real—take that, Christians!* Chief Atheist Richard Dawkins just…

It seemed like only yesterday that all those online atheists were dominating YouTube—owning the fundies with facts and logic. *The dinosaurs are real—take that, Christians!*

Chief Atheist Richard Dawkins just released a new book, *Outgrowing God*. If anything, it expresses the intellectual exhaustion and growing irrelevancy of the movement he launched some 15 years ago.

Ed, Keith, and I look back at so-called “New Atheism,” revealing how those liberal edge-lords never asked any serious questions and how the battle between science and religion is not what it’s cracked up to be.

 

Podcast Version:

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The Mythoid of the Neutrality of Science

Editors Note:  By Israel Lira, Peruvian Political Theorist. Translated by Zero Schizo. In order to have myth, what is needed is that the culture in which it appears would be…

Editors Note:  By Israel Lira, Peruvian Political Theorist. Translated by Zero Schizo.


In order to have myth, what is needed is that the culture in which it appears would be a mythological one. This culture supposes a complex group of mythical categories, among them those of time, space and causality. Mythoid lacks the transcendental character of myth, it isn’t, above all, overlapped with the totality of the culture in which it works. It is, in certain sense, isolated and could even oppose essential aspects of a given culture, but possess the fundamental characters of myth. (Miro Quesada Cantuarias, 1986:84-86). As exposed, myth, understood as a fact or event which does not have empirical correlate, is differentiated from mythoid, by the socio-cultural framework in which it is produced, by which in contemporaneity we would talk more of the generation of mythoids than myths, given that our current culture is found inside of a logocratic (reason) framework eminently and not a mythocratic one.

Following the aforementioned, one of the mythoids of our contemporaneity is configured in the belief in the fact that science enjoys of an absolute neutrality in which scientific research (creation of explicative theories) and technological application (execution of theories already given to concrete cases) are not just one. Disconnected, but instead they are at the same time, estranged from external powers which could exert influence in them.

This mythoid has a clear origin in Popperian vision inside of the philosophy of science, in which precisely the separation between scientific research and technological application is made. For Popper (1970), scientific research has, as such, an intrinsic value which is guided by determined norms of methodological character that could have a moral content, insofar as the objective of the investigation is the discovery, and thus the results of such research also have that inherent value, but are neutral regarding the moral. That one could make good or bad use from the results of a scientific research a-posteriori is an entirely different thing. So, the scientist has two obligations, to follow the moral requirements of the very same scientific praxis (the scientist as scientist), and to limit himself to foresee the possible uses of his results and denounce its bad praxis (the scientist as citizen).

This Popperian approach, which is the traditional one, opposes the historic-sociological approach of epistemologists like Bernal (1939) and Richta (1971), where it is remarked that by the nature of the scientific research, the scientist –in effect– has a double responsibility, to follow the norms of the scientific method, but above all to involve himself in an active way in the changing of society in order for science to fulfill its role of serving mankind, insofar as one is conscious that scientific knowledge could be used both in order to liberate and in order oppress mankind. These are symptomatic facts which are derived from the lacking of the very same social system to which science serves. Meaning, scientific research and technological application are not separated concepts, but instead they keep an intrinsic relationship.

This last point is reaffirmed by the fact that in the praxis of scientific research, the search for some theories or others and the choice between them is not an entirely free enterprise, remembering Quintanilla (1978), regulated exclusively by the canons of objectivity and in service of truth, as the unmistakable reality is that the scientist is a wage worker whose priorities of research are given as such to an order of priority which is established by particular interests which are the ones who direct, what things can be researched and what things are left relegated, “to the extent, for example, that research devoted to a determined topic are financed and not others, etc” (1978:54). As was exposed, “it is clear that we must renounce the comfortable consolation or illusion that science, in itself, has guaranteed autonomy and value despite the wrong applications that would be made of it circumstantially or despite its historical insertion in an unjust society” (1978:56).


References

MIRO QUESADA CANTUARIAS, Francisco. (1986). «Ciencia y técnica [en América Latina]: ideas o mitoides», in: Leopoldo Zea (Ed.), América Latina en sus ideas. Mexico: UNESCO/Siglo XXI; pp. 72-94.

POPPER, K.R. (1970). «The Moral Responsibility of the Scientist» in P. Weingarther and G. Zecha (eds.), Inducfton. Physis and Ethics. Dordrecht, p. 22-326.

BERNAL, J.D. (1939). «The Social Function of Science». London.

RICHTA, R. (1971). «La civilización en la encrucijada». Madrid.

QUINTANILLA A. Miguel. (1978). «El Mito de la Neutralidad de la Ciencia: la responsabilidad del científico y del técnico». EL BASILISCO, Revista de Materialismo Filosófico. En: http://fgbueno.es/bas/pdf/bas10105.pdf

 

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Accelerationism and Coronavirus

Two weeks ago, on the “Chimerica” stream, audience member Diem Golightly asked to “apply Nick Land to current Chi-Virus situation.” Let’s give it a short try and talk Accelerationism.

Two weeks ago, on the “Chimerica” stream, audience member Diem Golightly asked to “apply Nick Land to current Chi-Virus situation.” Let’s give it a short try and talk Accelerationism.

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Madison Grant and the American Nation

The critic Northop Fye wrote of Oswald Spengler’s magnum opus, “If _The Decline of the West_ were nothing else, it would still be one of the world’s great Romantic poems.” Much the same could be said Madison Grant’s Conquest of the Continent, or rather that it is, all at once, a great history and a great poem. The book is exhaustively researched, with some four years of preparatory work, and it announces itself, modestly and scholarly, as “an effort to make an estimate of the various elements, national and racial, existing in the present population of the United States and to trace their arrival and subsequent spread.” At the same time, Conquest is a grand vision of bio-cultural struggle and evolution, in which demography comes alive. 

The critic Northop Frye wrote of Oswald Spengler’s magnum opus, “If The Decline of the West were nothing else, it would still be one of the world’s great Romantic poems.”[1] Much the same could be said Madison Grant’s Conquest of the Continent, or rather that it is, all at once, a great history and a great poem. The book is exhaustively researched, with some four years of preparatory work[2], and it announces itself, modestly and scholarly, as “an effort to make an estimate of the various elements, national and racial, existing in the present population of the United States and to trace their arrival and subsequent spread.” At the same time, Conquest is a grand vision of bio-cultural struggle and evolution, in which demography comes alive.

Personages and historical actors are few and far between; personalities are entirely absent. With Conquest, as with his earlier Passing of the Great Race (1916), Grant creates a genre of his own—racial history. The 19th century had witnessed the flowering of biography—in-depth portraits of men and their individual minds. Grant writes “bio-graphy” in a new sense of the word—the story of the movements and developments of peoples across great swaths of earth. Much like the French Annales School[3], Grant gives the reader a vision of the longe durée: time ticks away in decades and centuries; familiar tropes like leaders, events, and intrigues, if they appear at all, are subordinated to the flow of peoples; geography becomes a kind of character in that it forges race through natural selection.

As Henry Fairfield Osborn, the President of the American Museum of Natural History, notes in the first sentence of his preface, “The character of a country depends upon the racial character of the men and women who dominate it.” Thus, Grant turns historiography on its head (almost in a way comparable to Marx): History is no longer to be understood merely in terms of the actions of “Great Men” or the “culture” bestowed on peoples by king, artists, and churches; to the contrary, what is called culture, morality, and society are the outward effects of millennia of evolution.

As demography is destiny, Conquest is the story of how America became, not just the White Man’s Country, but a Nordic country. Grant writes of his historical subject, circa 8,000 B.C.:

There is was, through the fogs and long winters of the north, that they developed in complete isolation their great stature and musculature, their fair or flaxen hair, and their blue eyes.

The race survived the Ice Age by means of its peculiar Geist, whose modern manifestations include individualism, Protestantism, uprightness, and the pioneer spirt. It was these hearty souls who crossed the Atlantic to the New World and, unlike Whites in South America, resisted intermixing with the natives. In Grant’s words, “It is probably accurate to say that there never has been a nation which was so completely and definitely Protestant as well as Nordic as was the United State just after the American Revolution.”

Conquest is certainly an act of patriotism, in a broad sense; however, it is important to remember that Grant was never enthralled with what is often called the “American Experiment” or “American Exceptionalism”—that is, the idea that the country traces its political tradition back to the Age of Enlightenment and that it is nation rooted on values, not blood. In Grant’s mind, the Nordic race made America. Ideals like “equality” might reflect Nordic self-regard; however, left free-floating and all-encompassing, they are temptations to race suicide and pointless crusades, for which Grant gives ample evidence in Conquest.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Grant’s demographic history is that it is so compelling and readable. Reacting, no doubt, to its propagandistic value more than anything, the Anti-Defamation League labelled the book “even more destructive than Mein Kampf” and urged U.S. and British not to review the volume, or even mention it.

 

Madison Grant in 1920 Madison Grant in 1920

 

While the text of Conquest speaks for itself, Madison Grant the man—who he was, what he accomplished, and what his ideals were—remains more elusive. This is only partly due to the passage of time. The Second World War, the dominance Boasian anthropology, the decline of Grant’s class, and the postwar “Conservative Movement” each in its way cloud our understanding of this colossus of prewar conservationism, eugenics, and the scientific study of race.[4]

Madison Grant (1865–1937) was “to the manor born” (as the modern doggerel goes); he hailed from an aristocratic family in what was still Anglo-Dutch Manhattan. Through his mother, Grant was descended from Walloon Huguenots who settled “New Netherlands” in the 1620s. His father’s side included a signer of the Declaration of Independence, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor on the battlefield, and various prominent and wealthy professionals. Grant was graduate of Yale and held a law degree from Columbia (though he never practiced with any seriousness.)

One cannot understand Grant, and The Conquest of a Continent, without understanding his place in this pre-war, East Coast, Protestant—simply put, “WASP”—Establishment. Grant was a “conservative” in the most basic and concrete sense of the word—he sought to defend and conserve his people, his class, and his way of life. He defended Nordic America because it was his own.

Grant’s life and work were animated, first and foremost, by naturalism—put simply, his love of the wild and what he viewed as the most excellent expressions of the human species. This awe led him to abandon his law training and dedicate himself to the new sciences of conservationism and eugenics.

One could say that Grant is an avatar of two great “Old Americas” (both of which are ceasing to exist). The first of these is the aforementioned WASP Establishment, increasingly displaced or absorbed by a global elite. While the contemporary “Conservative Movement” is comprised of a strange coalition of free-market apologists, advocates for military hegemony, and Biblical fundamentalists, Grant’s sensibilities were aristocratic and European in character, his pessimistic historical outlook closely resembling that of his analogues Henry and Brooks Adams.[5]

The second “America” that Grant represents is that of the frontier and the “undiscovered country” of the West. This was the America of big-game hunting beneath Rockies and Tetons—a world where man’s existence hung in the balance, threatened by savages and the elements. One of Grant’s most emblematic accomplishments was not only to help preserve the dwindling American Bison but to bring a herd of them to the Bronx Zoo, not too far away from his redoubt in the hoity-toity Upper East Side. The act stands as an almost comical conflation of the two worlds he straddled.

Grant was a compulsive “joiner” and “founder,” and he was involved in the creation of a host organizations and entities with social purposes, many of which remain prominent today, such as the Save the Redwoods League and Glacier National Park. Through his membership in the Boone and Crocket Club—dedicated to “promoting manly sport with the rifle” and protecting the endangered Bison—Grant broke bread with future presidents, senators, explorers, diplomats, and writers; he counted Rudyard Kipling and Theodor Roosevelt among his circle of friends and acquaintances.

Fresh out of law school, the young Grant acted an eminence grise in the creation of the municipal New York Zoological Society, whose crown jewel was the Bronz Zoo, which first realized the then-quite novel conception of broad enclosures, which allowed Bison, and even at one point an African Congolese Pygmy named Ota Benga, to roam in great refuges within urban modernity.[6] Through his involvement with the American Bison Society, Grant helped preserve the majestic creature that had, shocking, dwindled from some 30 million to less than 100 in the first decade of the 20th century.

Ota Benga in the Bronx Zoo in 1906 Ota Benga in the Bronx Zoo in 1906

On top of this, Grant was one of the premier advocates of eugenics in the Western world, acting as President of the Galton Society (named after Charles Darwin’s cousin and eugenic’s progenitor). Most all of Grant’s societies were interlocking in nature, as he would recruit his naturalist colleagues to collaborate with him on his political efforts and eugenic research, tasks which were seen as deeply related.

Grant’s naturalism—what might be termed his “green,” “environmentalist,” or even “tree-hugging” inclinations—inflected his racialist writings. The title Conquest of the Continent might lead one to believe that it is a brutalist, “Might Makes Right” history of expansion. In fact, Grant’s admiration for the “the most vigorous race in history” is always tempered with an abiding concern for the natural world. As he writes, in the period between the Colonial era and the Civil War, “A continent was occupied and the territory of the Union was swept westward to the Pacific.”

The forests were cut down and the wild life destroyed. The Indians were evicted. The mineral wealth of the western mountains was ransacked. The coal was exploited, and the once fertile soil of the Southern States greatly depleted through the reckless growing of tobacco and cotton. Waste was the order of the day in America.

All this was perhaps inevitable, but never since Caesar plundered Gaul has so large a territory been sacked in so short a time. Probably no more destructive human being has ever appeared on the world stage than the American pioneer with his axe and his rifle.

One major reason for the neglect of Grant today, especially by self-styled conservatives, is that he does not “fit in” with the current Left-Right dialectic nor the portraits the mainstream Right and Left like to paint of themselves. Grant comes down to us at a time when environmentalism has never been more popular and White racialism, never more reviled. And yet, as Grant’s recent critical biographer, Jonathan Peter Spiro, writes,

There was no duality to Madison Grant’s life, no basic conflict between his espousal of conservation and his preaching on behalf of Eugenics and immigration restriction.”[7]

 


 

The Conquest of the Continent is inseparable from Grant’s greatest achievement as a political activist—the 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act and 1929 National Origins Act (which superseded the former). Indeed, both pieces of legislation inform the structure of the book and reveal many of Grant’s motivations in writing it.

Today, the Johnson-Reed Act enjoys scarce support among mainstream commentators; and in truth, it was quite unlike any piece of immigration legislation being proposed today, even by avowed restrictionists. The ’24 and ’29 Acts were not merely attempts to “control the borders” or “shut the gates” (though they were that), and they were decidedly not efforts to “keep America the same,” in the sense of pulling an emergency break on the Second Great Wave of immigration. From a Grantian perspective, they were Acts of racial reconstruction: they marked abrupt reversals of the immigration trends that had predominated for the previous 75 years and were aimed at recreating a specifically Nordic America. Not all of the Acts’ supporters, including legislators and the Presidents who signed them into law, would use such terminology; yet all were well aware of the Acts’ overarching goals. Moreover, the Act was conceived by Grant and his colleagues as a eugenic project. Indeed, much as the Communist “Third International” (1919–1943) looked to Moscow, the Second International Eugenics Congress (which met in 1921 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City) looked to America as the premiere homeland of the Nordic race.

Though Grant founded so many organizations, he joined the one that would play a determined, behind-the-scenes role in passing immigration restriction—the Immigration Restriction League (IRL), created by friends from the Harvard class of 1889.

The IRL’s first political effort was to advance a Literacy Test for entry, which it promoted over the course of the William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson administrations. Restricting immigration on the basis of literacy (a test could be taken in a variety of languages) certainly gave restriction a neutral, non-racialist patina; however, when Grant was lobbying politicians, he explained his motivations in no-uncertain terms. Writing to President Taft,

[T]he old theological views in regard to the unity of the human race and its relatively recent origin (some six thousand years ago), is giving away to the knowledge that man as such dates back two or three hundred thousand year, and that consequently the line of cleavage between the so called races of mankind is fundamental and cannot be modified by any change in environment in the life time of a nation.[8]

In turn, Grant later lobbied Woodrow Wilson by explaining that his advocacy for restriction was based “solely in blood.” Both Presidents were not persuaded.

The IRL had better luck with congressmen, who avidly passed a series of Literacy Test Acts by broad margins—only to have them consistently vetoed by Taft and Wilson. Success finally came in February 1917, when yet one more Literacy Test Act was vetoed by Wilson—who was then overruled by two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate.[9]

A decisive influence on Congress was the pressure of the American Federation of Labor, led by Samuel Gompers (himself an immigrant Jew), who recognized the simple arithmetic that, all things being equal, more laborers equals lower wages. The bill thus marked an interesting point in time at which elitist racialists were in a functional coalition with “big labor.” On the other hand, those who opposed the bill—and would oppose future restrictionist acts, including Reed-Johnson—are recognizably the same cohorts who push for “open borders” today: the industrialists who seek cheap labor and (in Grant’s words) the “wishy-washy sentimentalists” of either Christian or liberal persuasion.[10]

Bolstered by the enactment of the Literacy Test, the Grantians felt the time was ripe for substantial immigration reform made on a racialist foundation. The subsequent political victories of the 1920s included three connected pieces of legislation: the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, and the National Origins Act of 1929 (which replaced the former bill). The “Emergency” bill was justified on the fears of mass European immigration following the Great War, and in particular “radical” and “anarchist” immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Acts of ‘24 and ’29, however, were meant as lasting, principled expressions of America’s character; Representative Albert Johnson, indeed, called the piece of legislation that bears his name “a second Declaration of Independence.”

Each of these Acts regulated immigration not simply on the raw number but on each immigrant’s ethnic and national origins and, in turn, the place of this ethnicity within the American nation. The 1924 Act established an immigration quota of two percent of the foreign-born presence in the country, as enumerated by the 1890 census.[11] The choice of the base year 1890 was key, for, as mentioned above, the Act did not seek to “keep things the same”; it instead sought to re-constitute the American nation that existed before the Second Great Wave of Southern and Eastern European immigration. The National Origins Act (which originated in the Senate’s version of the ‘24 restriction) capped total annual immigration at just over 150,000—a dramatic reduction considering that more than a million immigrants per annum obtained permanent-resident status during the first decade of the 20th century.[12] It also regulated immigration based on the national origins of the existing population (as of 1920), which was, of course, soundly Northern and Western European.[13] As Grant writes in Conquest, the purpose of both the ’24 and ’29 Acts was, “frankly, to encourage new arrivals from the countries of the old immigration”—

the countries of northern and western Europe who had contributed most to the American population and whose people were, therefore, most easily assimilable in the United States; and, conversely, to discourage immigration from the countries of souther and eastern Europe most of whose nationals had come here since 1890.

The law reduced the total possible immigration under quota to 167,750 as against 357,800 permitted by the act it supplanted, and favored the European Nordic whose people made the United States what it is, as against the European Alpine and the Mediterranean who were late comers and intrusive elements.

A full understanding of the racial constitution of the United States—so as to aid in administration of the National Origins Act—was, as Grant puts it in Conquest, “the reason for the existence of this present book.”

Though the Grantians were effective activists behind the scenes, it is wrong to think that the ’24 and ’29 Acts were passed in a stealthy fashion, without any meaningful debate or popular support, or that the Acts appealed only to the educated classes interested in Darwinism. Representative William Vaile of Colorado certainly spoke for million of majority Americans when he said plainly that Czechs, Jews, Italians, et al. immigrated to a country that was “already made as an Anglo-Saxon commonwealth.”

They added to it, they often enriched it, but they did not make it, and have not yet greatly changed it. We are determined that they shall not. It is a good country. It suits us. And what we assert is that we are not going to surrender it to somebody else or allow other people, no matter what their merits, to make it something different.[14]

While immigration restriction appealed to the common sense of the common man, Grant saw the Act in more lofty terms: “one of the most decisive events in the racial history of America.” Perhaps he might call the Reed-Johnson and National Origins Acts the final chapter of The Conquest of the Continent.

President Coolidge signs the Johnson–Reed Act on the White House Lawn on May 26, 1924. President Coolidge signs the Johnson–Reed Act on the White House Lawn on May 26, 1924.

In 1933, Conquest appeared at an equivocal, and, in many ways, doleful, moment in Grant’s life. Grant could look back on major successes, most prominently the ’24 and ’29 Acts and the success of his first book,The Passing of the Great Race. On the other hand, Conquest amounted to Grant’s Last Stand: he would die some four years after its publication and the eugenics and racialist movement he led was in the process of losing legitimacy and its ability to affect politics and culture.

The critical reception and popularity of Grant’s two magna opera is, in fact, a lesson in the changing winds of social mood. Though The Passing of the Great Race might never have been a “bestseller,” it achieved something more powerful—the formation of elite opinion. The book, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, was endorsed by university presidents and Pulitzer Prize winners; it was used as a textbook in college classrooms. Its powerful status was, ironically, confirmed by the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald deemed it worthy of being parodied in The Great Gatsby (1925); the author expected his audience would readily recognize the fictional Nordicist known as “this man Goddard”—a conflation of Grant and his disciple Lothrop Stoddard— whom Tom Buchanan bombastically paraphrases in a famous scene.

An even more telling sign of racialist hegemony in the ‘20s was that Grant’s ideas were appearing in William Randolph Hearst ladies magazine Good Housekeeping. Take, for instance, this Grantian editorial on immigration from February 1921.

Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides. Quality of mind and body suggests that observance of ethnic law is as great a necessity to a nation as immigration law.

The writer mentions some economic arguments for restriction, which “respectable” restrictionists today might favor, but he leaves no doubt as to the true character of his injunction: “Our country must cease to be regarded as a dumping ground.”[15]

The author of the passage was President Calvin Coolidge

By 1933, so much had changed. The Conquest of the Continent was published with little fanfare or public interest. By 1940, only 3,000 copies had been sold, and apparently not believing that the book had a future, Charles Scribner’s Sons melted down the plates.[16]

In Conquest, Grant observes that “American public sentiment regarding the admission of aliens has undergone recently a profound change”:

At the end of the nineteenth century a fatuous humanitarianism prevailed and immigrants of all kinds were welcomed to “The Refuge of the Oppressed,” regardless of whether they were needed in our industrial development or whether they tended to debase our racial unity.

The “Myth of the Melting Pot” was, at that time, deemed by the unthinking to be a part of our national creed.

But ultimately Grant was wrong. The tremendous shift in public sentiment that had occurred in the 1920s was fleeting, and by the time of Conquest, things were trending in the opposite direction. The “Melting Pot Myth”—however hokey and seemingly outmoded—would get a second life (despite that actual immigration in the Depression era was virtually nil).

Grant went from making public opinion to being unmade by it; the reasons why are worth enumerating, for many of the dynamics involved are very much still in play 70 years later.[17]

Certainly, “Reductio ad Hitlerum”—the spoiling of anything that can be associated, however tangentially, with the Third Reich—played a decisive factor in this regard; indeed, the Second World War would utilized by egalitarians of every stripe. Moreover, Grant laments many times in Conquest the tendency towards sentimentality over Ellis Island and the “unity of mankind,” which seems to be part an permanent part of the American national psyche.

Another important factor was the Great Depression. The popularity of Grantian racialism and eugenics came in the 1920s, at a point when majority Americans were, generally speaking, proud of their race and culture and had a forward-looking outlook. With the onset of the Great Depression, Darwinism in the social sphere became associated with advocates of “survival of the fittest” qua dog-eat-dog capitalism.[18] The Grantians were mostly uninterested in economics, outside vague warnings of the implications of importing low-quality immigrants; they were certainly not concerned with weeding out those who lacked business acumen. Nevertheless, the Depression made it easy for egalitarians to smear eugenics as an expression of haughty, even sadistic “class privilege.”

This new stance towards the Grantians was taken by the paper of record (then and now), the New York Times. which had actually endorsed immigration restriction in 1924. Reporting on the Third International Eugenics Conference of 1932, the Times declared that for the participants,

[eugenics] seems to have become a disguise for race prejudice, ancestor worship and caste snobbery… . Such were the views of the promoters of the now discredited doctrine that social salvation lies with the supposedly pure Nordics.”[19]

The Grantians also failed to control academia. As racialism gained hegemony in the ‘20s, it was inevitable that it would spur some kind of strong left-wing reaction. This came in the person of German-born Jew Franz Boas (1858–1942) and his disciples, who across two decades produced a library of Anthropology, so much of which was directed polemically against the Grantians.[20] The Boasian shift from race to “culture”—in the form of tribal customs, primitive rituals, and, most famously, “coming of age in Samoa”[21]—was, in itself, neutral. However, all of Boasian writing was undergirded by an egalitarian faith in “the psychic unity of mankind.”[22]

 

Franz Boas in 1940 Franz Boas in 1940

 

On a more pragmatic level, the Boasians were quite astute at professionalizing their movement and co-ordinating mutual promotion. And the fact that they were successful in academia gave them a decisive advantage over the Grantians, who as a class were gentlemen amateurs.

Jonathan Spiro writes,

On a theoretical level the debate between the Grantian and the Boasians pitted the defenders of heredity against the proponents of environment. Intellectually, the split was a disagreement between adherents of polygenesis, who were obsessed [sic] with the classification of races, and adherents of monogenesis, who were fairly certain that races were socially constructed myths. And professionally, it was a conflict between an older generation of physical anthropologists (often gentlemen amateurs with no academic affiliation or perhaps an association with a museum) and the newer generation of cultural anthropologists (usually trained professionals with full-time positions in academia).[23]

But for all that, it was difficult not to notice that at heart it was a confrontation between the ethos of native Protestants and immigrant Jews.

The older generation of amateurs were aristocratic WASPs with the money and leisure time to ponder fossils as an avocation, whereas the younger generation of professionals were immigrant Jews who saw higher education as a route to social respectability…

Though evolutionism (if not racialism) is paradigmatic in the biological sciences, the Boasians have not lessened their grip on Anthropology departments. For better and for worse, a revival of racial thinking will have to emerge, at least at first, outside the walls of the academy.

Happy Days! A eugenics exhibit at the Kansas State Fair, Topeka, Kansas, 1920. Happy Days! A eugenics exhibit at the Kansas State Fair, Topeka, Kansas, 1920.

What made The Conquest of the Continent anathema to the Boasians—and what makes it notorious to this day—is not its demographic history per se so much as the eugenic spirit that underlies it.

In the popular imagination, the word “eugenics” conjures up images of death panels, concentration camps, and piles of bodies … or a faustian “super villain” who seeks to wipe out humanity and breed a Master Race in space (a scheme that was thwarted by James Bond in the campy adventure Moonraker (1979).) For those who love to hate it, eugenics amounts to little more than rhetorical bogeyman or scarecrow—something to point at in horror.

Interestingly, in these depictions, eugenics alternates between being, on the one hand, a “pseudo-science”—that is, ineffective, ungrounded, fraudulent, and bizarre—and, on the other, all-too scientific—that is, marking the point at which religious or governmental authorities must intervene to prevent science from “going too far.”

But ultimately, the “totalitarian” connection to eugenics has never held much water. For instance, the eugenics programs in Nazi Germany were, historically speaking, quite unremarkable: they were begun during the Weimar Republic and were no more advanced than those of Sweden or the State of California.

Furthermore, the Nazis’ brutally against Jews, in what has come to be known the Holocaust, and Slavs, during campaigns on the Eastern Front, were not eugenic in any real sense of the word and should be criticized in other contexts.[24]

It is worth pointing out that state science during the other reviled totalitarian regimes of the 20th century was based on the very opposite of Darwinism. The head of Soviet Biology during Stalin’s regime (and beyond), Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898–1976), believed, quite literally, that a plant could be genetically altered by its pot—and that these acquired characteristics would be passed down to its offspring. “Lysenkoism” was applied as both agricultural policy during collectivization as well as “political science,” with equally disastrous results. The philosophy of “environmentalism”—the ideal of the “Blank Slate” that can be written upon by progressive leaders—justifies, much more so than Darwinism, the treatment of people as “material,” whose nature can be altered at will, with the “reactionary” parts simply cut off and discarded.[25]

Madison Grant never sought to create a “New Man.” He sought, instead, to conserve the results of natural selection, as he sought to conserve the natural world.[26] Moreover, eugenic thinking is a logical implication of the Darwinian and the Mendelian (i.e., genetic) scientific revolutions. The first chapter of Charles Darwin’s (1809–1882) On the Origin of Species (1859), “Variation under Domestication,” is an extended analogy between evolution through natural selection, Darwin’s thesis, and evolution through artificial selection, which was well known to his readers as the breeding and domestication of birds, dogs, livestock, and the like. As Darwin notes, “the great power of this principle of selection is not hypothetical.” Francis Galton (1822–1911), Darwin’s cousin and originator of the theory of eugenics, was likely thinking of that passage when he quipped, “If a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create!”[27]

Whatever the case, it is eugenics, and Darwinism generally, that is forever associated with mass-murder, whereas the Blank Slate is let off scott free. (For instance, whenever a public figure denies the reality of race, he rarely get scolded by journalists—“What are you saying!? We know where that kind of thinking leads!”)

Franz Boas—whose scraggly visage appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1936 announcing the triumph of “environmentalism”[28]—actually theorized that as Italian immigrants entered the United States, their head shapes would mutate according to environment, with the second generation having a shape closer to that of the American majority than their parents.[28] This marked Boas’s frontal assault on Grant, in particular, his distinction between Dolichocephalic (long-headed) Nordics and Brachycephalic (round-headed) Eastern and Southern Europeans (i.e., Second Great Wave immigrants.)

And as it turns out, Boas’s study was bunk. He “fudged” his data for a good cause (in this case, the myth of the American “Melting Pot,” where democracy dissolves heredity).[29] More importantly, Boas’s thesis is preposterous and risible on its face from the standpoint of Darwinian evolution, that is, from the standpoint of accepted biological science in the 21st century. Boasianism is, at its core, little different than Lysencoism or various other experiments in Marxian biology. Madison Grant’s oeuvre, on the other hand—however we might want to revise Nordicism—remains scientifically and rationally defensible.

Indeed, one of the primaries lessons that racial idealists can draw from studying Grant’s career is that, as trite as it may sound, science matters—and it is likely no coincidence that the most successful effort in racial idealism in modern American history was grounded in Darwinism.

Of course, as good science, Darwinism can be revised, expanded upon, and, potentially, falsified. Also, as good science, Darwinism does not favor or justify any one group or desired outcome. Indeed, as the 2005 science-fiction comedy Idiocracy painfully points out, natural selection does not even favor what one might call the strongest, most beautiful, and most intelligent.[30]

That said, Darwinism offers a compelling and rational justification for Whites to act on behalf of their ancestors and progeny and feel a shared since of destiny with their extended kin group. As Kevin MacDonald correctly points out, “rational, scientific discourse” is granted pride of place in advanced Western societies; and one shouldn’t underestimate the “emotional commitment” that Darwinism can instill in Whites—as it raises politics to the level of collective survival, above claims to fairness that dominate the language of liberalism. Darwinism is seemingly more “effective in rallying Whites, especially elite Whites, than religious feelings.” Indeed, “the story of religious feeling in the modern age has been to either sink into irrelevance for secular Whites (who are likely to be more educated) or be diverted into causes that are suicidal for religious Whites.”[31]

Viewed from another angle, Madison Grant had become relevant for contemporary racial idealists due to the increasing irrelevancy of what might be called “respectable” or “patriotic” immigration reform, that is, restriction on the basis of legality or concerns about assimilation (which are the only restrictionist arguments that are granted a hearing in the mainstream media).[32]

According to the U.S. Census Department, by the summer of 2011, the majority of births in the United States were non-White infants. This means that if all immigration, legal and illegal, were (quite miraculously) halted immediately, nothing of significance demographically would change. The proverbial 2050 “tipping point”—when America reaches “majority-minority” status, with no single racial or ethnic groups defining the national character—will merely be delayed by a decade or two. Moreover, “assimilation” has become a deceptive and misleading term, as it begs the question “To What?” Hispanic immigrants have been assimilating downward across generations towards the culture and behavior of African-Americans.[33] Indeed, one possible outcome of the ongoing demographic transformation is a thoroughly miscegenated, and thus homogenous and “assimilated,” nation, which would have little resemblance to the White America that came before it.

Put simply, the discourse that has predominated for the past 60 years on the Immigration and National Questions is increasingly disconnected from reality; for the racial idealist, it has become useless. To even understand the phenomenon of mass immigration—and the globalized world that underlies it—one must, following Grant, think racially. And for the racial idealist, the point is not just to understand…

This essay was first published in 2012.


  1. Northrop Frye. “The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler,” Daedalus, Vol. 103, No. 1, Winter 1974. ↩︎
  2. Grant’s chief research assistant, who compiled the bibliography, was Paul Popenoe. ↩︎
  3. The Annales School is associated with academic journal by that name, founded in Strasbourg by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre in 1929 and later relocated to Paris. The School sought to examine long-term evolution of societies, geographies, and economies. ↩︎
  4. The name Madison Grant does not appear anywhere in the two official chronicles of the American conservative movement, George Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America and Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Grant is a non-person as well as The Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s putatively exhaustive 1,000-page American Conservatism—An Encyclopedia. In the face of all this, one can be forgiven for thinking that Grant was simply an artifact of a benighted, bigoted age, perhaps best treated like the “haters” one reads about in the bulletins of the Southern Poverty Law Center. (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot, 7th edition (Regnery Publishing, 2001); George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, 2nd Edition (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006); Bruce Frohnen, Jeremy Beer, Jeffery O. Nelson (Eds.), American Conservatism—An Encylopedia (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006).) ↩︎
  5. A useful, though often hostile, introduction to such thinkers is Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History (The Free Press, 1997). ↩︎
  6. The Zoological society was later transformed into the Wildlife Conservation Society, which currently manages some 200 million acres worldwide. ↩︎
  7. Jonathan Peter Spiro, Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant (Vermont University Press, 2009), 136. ↩︎
  8. Quoted in Spiro, 201. ↩︎
  9. In the U.S. political system, the power to legislate is vested in Congress. The President can only has veto bills he deems unsatisfactory. Congress has the additional authority to override a presidential veto with two-thirds majorities in both Houses. ↩︎
  10. In his books, Grant rarely dilates on the Jewish Question; however, his correspondence reveals that he was quite prickly about Jews in positions of power, such as Congressmen Isaac Siegel and Adolph Sabath and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of the American Jewish Congress, whom he considered the most aggressively and effective opponents of immigration restriction. ↩︎
  11. The Act also extended the restriction on the Chinese to include the Japanese. ↩︎
  12. Accessible and accurate histories of American immigration can be found in Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation (HarperCollins, 1995), Byron Roth, The Perils of Diversity (Washington Summit Publishers, 2010); and Otis L. Graham, Unguarded Gates: A History of America’s Immigration Policy (Rowen and Littlefield, 2006). ↩︎
  13. Worth noting, the 1924 and ’29 Acts did nothing to address immigration from South America, which was not politically significant at the time. Quite prophetically, Grant laments this oversight in Conquest. ↩︎
  14. Quoted in Roth, 294 ↩︎
  15. Good Housekeeping, volume 72 number 2, February 1921. ↩︎
  16. Spiro, 346. ↩︎
  17. “The Melting Pot,” for instance, has returned as self-styled conservatives’ answer to multiculturalism. ↩︎
  18. Notably, “survival of the fittest” was coined by Herbert Spencer, not Darwin; the former attempted to associate his economic theories with evolution through natural selection. ↩︎
  19. “Genes and Eugenics,” New York Times, August 24, 1932; quoted in Spiro, 231. ↩︎
  20. See, for instance, Franz Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man (MacMillan, 1911) and “This Nordic Nonsense,” The Forum, October 1925. ↩︎
  21. Margaret Meade, Coming of Age in Samoa (William Morrow & Co., 1928). ↩︎
  22. This term was coined, not by Boas, but by German ethnologist Adolf Bastian (1826–1905), whom Boas worked for briefly at the Museum of Folkart in Berlin. ↩︎
  23. Spiro, 302. This conflict also brought to the fore some of the painful ambivalences of assimilation for immigrant Jews, something best expressed by the Polish immigrant Moses Israel Ehrenberg, who as an academic and public intellectual—the man who would write UNESCO’s statement rejecting the existence of race—refashioned himself with the absurdly WASPy name “Ashley Montagu.” ↩︎
  24. For a discussion of this issue, see John Glad, Future Human Evolution: Eugenics in the Twenty-First Century (Schuylkill Haven, PA: Hermitage Publishers). ↩︎
  25. See Steve Pinker, The Blank Slate (Viking, 2002). ↩︎
  26. Galton, “Hereditary Talent and Character.” ↩︎
  27. Time, May 11, 1936. ↩︎
  28. Franz Boas and Helene M. Boas, “The Head-Forms of the Italians as Influenced by Heredity and Environment,” American Anthropologist, April-June 1913. ↩︎
  29. Corey S. Sparks and Richard L. Jantz, “A Reassessment of human Cranial Plasticity: Boas Revisited,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 8, 2002. See also, Nicholas Wade, “A New Look at Old Data May Discredit a Theory on Race”, New York Times, October 8, 2002. ↩︎
  30. In film’s opening scenes, a stereotypical high-IQ WASP and Jewish couple is depicted as a continually forego child-rearing (“Not now, not with the market as it is…”), while a stereotypical low-IQ redneck family breeds with passionate intensity. The ultimate outcome, by 2050, is a collapsing, exceedingly vulgar world in which the average IQ of the population is at retardation levels. ↩︎
  31. Kevin MacDonald, “The Dispossessed Elite,” in Richard B. Spencer (ed.), The Great Erasure (Washington Summit Publishers, 2012). ↩︎
  32. As Byron Roth observes, the “debate” on immigration in the Western world throughout the 2000s was over whether Third World immigrants should or should not assimilate to the dominate culture, not whether this is possible or desirable. Roth, The Perils of Diversity, Chapter 1. ↩︎
  33. See Richard Spencer, “Who’s Taking Over?” American Renaissance, Vol. 21, no. 4, April 2010. ↩︎
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Infinite Monkey Theorem: Redux

With the largest vocabulary of any rap artist ever at over 150,000 words and generates unique word count scores in the region of 10,000 plus- easily surpassing the all hip hoppers and even the totals of many of the average rappers combined, I feel it has accomplished the mission.

Whilst many ideas are theoretically possible, they are also practical impossibilities. The well-known idea that enough monkeys, given enough time, could type out the entire works of Shakespeare, by pressing keys at random, is certainly an example of this, as even a billion diligent monkeys would be hard pressed to develop a passable copy of Macbeth, before the entire universe evaporated into cold, dead soot.

**

Now, on a completely unrelated topic, a New York based data scientist, Matt Daniels, has undertaken a purely quantitative analysis to determine and compare the vocabulary depth of various rap artists. Ordinarily, an event such as this would (and should) elicit absolutely zero interest amongst myself and Radix Journal readers, however Daniels happened to use both Shakespeare and Moby Dick as benchmarks for the analysis, where it seems both the Bard’s and Herman Meville’s works have been surpassed in vocabulary by the more loquacious rappers.

Daniel’s himself, went to some pains to point out that quantities does not necessarily equate to quality, however, predictably, certain exotic parts of the internet, then soon followed by the more the mainstream news sites, started to herald titles such as “Science Proves it: Today’s Rapper’s More Poetic than Shakespeare.”

Clearly, claims such as the above need to not go unanswered, lest the lack of response be taken for bludgeoned acceptance of Cultural Marxist inspired iconoclasm, particularly such as that outlined in Michael McGregor’s “Modern Art Comes Full Circle,” where it’s suggested a Wu Tang Clan album will soon be played in a high-end art gallery for “pretentious SWPLs” to enjoy. The fact that Wu Tang appears to possess are larger lexicon than Shakespeare will be used to give intellectual credence to this type of display.

Presumably, a peer review won’t be forthcoming from the gang-banging set either, so the ball remains reluctantly in the court of the alternative Right.

Initially, I performed a couple of spot checks and found similar numbers to the original research, however, this isn’t surprising – any significant errors are likely to be conceptual, rather than merely arithmetical.

To wit, methodology used involved determining the number of unique words used in the various rappers’ works to determine their breath of vocabulary. For reasons Daniels himself points out, there are a few issues here, as for instance “pimps, pimp, pimping and pimpin” will be counted “as four unique words,” along with the myriad of bizarre spelling permutations which seem to be de rigueur for the hip hop crowd, which will further inflate the apparent depth of vocabulary.

Now, when I initially started writing this article, I based it on the notion that the rigid sentence structure used in Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter and the narrative flow in Moby Dick, would hinder the “unique word count”, however, whilst most likely technically correct, even to my own ears, this argument came across shrill and whiny – unlikely to sway any opinions in either the mah dick and wigger brigades, nor the self-myopia suffering SWPLs, who would likely deliberately pretend not to understand the argument.

Puzzled as to how to continue, I mused that that cruel satire and sarcasm had always been the S.O.P. of the Left, (no matter how severe the mis-application either…) so, all that was required whip up a few rap songs, plug them in the analysis to demonstrate numerical superiority and then point out that the unique word count used in a rap song is not in any way congruent to other literary works, and even an amateur can surpass even the best rap artists with ease.

Unfortunately, given my minimal interest in the genre I couldn’t really consider how to start. Fortunately however, salvation was a hand, as I do have at least moderate Microsoft Excel skillz. So with creativity augmented with a half bottle of merlot, and a nod to the novel writing machines of Orwell’s 1984,1 without further ado, I present:

The RadixJournal RAPBOT™.

With the largest vocabulary of any rap artist ever at over 150,000 words and generates unique word count scores in the region of 10,000 plus- easily surpassing the all hip hoppers and even the totals of many of the average rappers combined, I feel it has accomplished the mission.2

Admittedly, as the bot actually plucks words at random on the screen, without cause nor consciousness, and would hence fail the Turing Test miserably, I was concerned that the output would be mere gibberish, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that probability was on our side and most of the output seems like a bona fide approximation to the structure and content of the seemingly all pervasive hip hop that saturates the MSM airwaves at present. Here’s a sample:

“….

Kings unlimited, here, Africa, the counterweight.

Rome, hook, hoes, penetrate,

Hail Luciano, y’all obligate.

…”

I can’t discern any difference.

However, not content with trolling the hip hop fraternity, I think we can go one step further here.

All that is now required is to market the bot’s output with an imaginary thug, who has a fabricated and appropriately lengthy criminal record, in order that deluded fans can interpolate their own narrative, where none exists at all (in short: so dem suckas know, ‘dis Bot’s from da streets,dawg!) and let the profits roll in, all of which, will of course be wholly donated to Identitarian causes.

The next stumbling block is to find a music label that isn’t controlled by members of the Tribe, which is sadly proving somewhat more difficult…

Footnotes:

1) If anyone is at all interested, the bot grabs words at random via VLOOKUP from a word list with the RAND function, around a weighted RAND function from a smaller pool of “Rap” words (pimp, bitch, hoes etc) to give the output a more rap flavour, and then ends the line with rhyme, selected from another data set. A bit of experimentation with a few different variables to fine tune sentence length and number of syllables etc. was also employed.

2) After this exercise, I actually wouldn’t be at all surprised if the lyrics of modern pop icons Miley Cyrus et al were algorithmically generated, as commentator “TS1709” suggested in this Paul Treitschke article. It seems the cultural vacuity described in Huxley’s “Brave New World” is almost upon us.

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Evolving Before Our Eyes

In Chapter Four of _The 10,000 Year Explosion_, Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending discuss the astonishing speed of genetic diffusion for skin lightening in Caucasians. The single most important gene is Solute Carrier 24A5, and the authors state that the skin lightening variant arose only about 5,800 years ago, yet now has a frequency of 99 percent in Europe and is found at significant levels as far away as Ceylon. Subsequent research has shown that it’s probably a little older, but as Cochrane and Harpending suggest, either way, the variant must have had a huge selective advantage and might have spread so rapidly that, at the most accelerated stage, a particularly old farmer could have noticed the change in appearance in his own village within his lifetime.

Watching the recent film Gangster Squad, my thoughts went something like this:

What is it about the Ryan Gosling’s character that doesn’t quite work? The Josh Brolin and Sean Penn characters—they work. And it’s not that Gosling’s a bad actor and that his looks are unappealing. But somehow, he just doesn’t quite fit 1949. What is it?

Even his suit doesn’t seem right. But it can’t be that—Hollywood must have experts in costuming working on style and tailoring. And I can suspend disbelief on Gosling’s perfect dentition; almost no one had perfect teeth in 1949, but now the entire middle class does. No, it’s no one feature, but the gestalt. I just don’t feel cops looked like Gosling in 1949.’

I’ve had a similar thought watching many period movies: times are changing in fundamental ways.

In Chapter Four of The 10,000 Year Explosion, Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending discuss the astonishing speed of genetic diffusion for skin lightening in Caucasians. The single most important gene is Solute Carrier 24A5, and the authors state that the skin lightening variant arose only about 5,800 years ago, yet now has a frequency of 99 percent in Europe and is found at significant levels as far away as Ceylon. Subsequent research has shown that it’s probably a little older, but as Cochrane and Harpending suggest, either way, the variant must have had a huge selective advantage and might have spread so rapidly that, at the most accelerated stage, a particularly old farmer could have noticed the change in appearance in his own village within his lifetime.

The Gangster Squad is set in 1949—not so long ago, but over a decade before I was born, so I’m not quite the equivalent of that long-lived farmer. Also, there’s the time-travel aspect of film: I suspect a long-lived Bronze Age farmer could have noticed the skin change, but in reality I doubt he would have, because he was brought to the boil too gradually in a pot of lightening skin. But in a film set in 1949 and released in 2013, I can erase those 64 intervening years all at once. It’s as if that farmer, dreaming of his youth and the dusky charms of his maiden field companions, woke to find the fair-haired son of the local warlord showing a particular interest in his great-granddaughter.

It all got me to thinking, once again, about the evolution taking place within our lifetimes. There are a few items people wonder about.

First are the trends that “everyone knows”—those that, like Darwinism itself, we all think we understand. Increased race-mixing may be the most obvious. Whenever I get “race-realist” with my scientist wife, her reaction: ‘It’s all going toward one mixed brown race and there’s nothing anyone can do.’ And if I take that to my scientist father, his reaction boils down to ‘Whites deserve it in the end.’

That’s how it is with scientists; they are self-selected for incredible patience; the key segment of any experiment, no matter how creative, is one of passive observation of external nature; and scientists tend to orient to the geological scale of time. All this leaves them with little faith in the long-term power of will.

I doubt modern race-mixing is quantitatively so different from past upheavals, say, with the great migrations in the wake of Rome’s decline. For that matter, the Roman expansion must have spurred a lot of miscegenation, and the rise of sailing before that. To genes, planes are no faster than boats. Sure, migrants can now get to a new country within hours instead of months. But any descendants they have there will still require several generations, at least, to become truly comfortable. Geographic determinism got a bad rap under race-denying Jared Diamond, but that’s because he left a step out. Diamond believes geography determines culture, but it clearly should be geography determines genes determine culture. Race-realists should note the primacy of geography either way. Mountains and plains are not going away any time soon, are still important, and will re-assert themselves still more if the jet and the air conditioner run their course.

Something else race-realists all think we know is the dysgenic aspect of demographic transition theory. Leading edge dogma now is that a group of gene-based qualities, basically those that select for a prosperous farmer, have been favored reproductively since the dawn of agriculture; but with the maturation of the Industrial Age, they no longer are. Among these were relatively high intelligence, more patience through delayed gratification and impulse control, the capacity for hard, sustained work, and relatively low aggression. Essentially, high paternal investment. For 10,000 years in the earth’s temperate zones, these qualities led to having more children on average; but they no longer do. That change is the basis of demographic transition theory, with much speculation about widening IQ gaps, smaller elites and benighted mobs.

But I want the personal touch. Here’s one: I confess to being occasionally so masochistic that I listen to NPR. And the morning of this writing, I was tuned in to an interview with a blogger well-known in “popular genetics.” I’d never heard his voice before. My immediate impression was how feminine it sounded, not to the degree of the overt gay accents commonly heard on NPR, but very different from the deep, reassuring voices that were the rule among male radio personalities until very recently. The topic of the conversation was the genetics of the fetus his wife and he were expecting. Not absolute proof of heterosexuality, but good enough for me.

I see the “metrosexual” voice as something of a milder version of the gay accent. A portmanteau for the ability to pick out distinctions like the latter is “gaydar.” It’s interesting that the validity of gaydar (and its nearly instantaneous, gestalt aspects) have been scientifically validated, though mostly visually. (It’s even more interesting that the original research into gaydar failed to validate it and subsequently, more careful research did—one wonders whether the first group had an ideological motivation.) Yet auditory recognition is typically more implicit and indescribable, more gestalt, than visual. If you find it hard to describe a friend’s face in detail, trying to describe his voice is really dancing about architecture. Yet you can instantly recognize both. And some kinds of 10,000-hour people, like old-school sonar operators, find that even when they have simultaneous video and audio versions of the signals they are trying to distinguish from background noise, it is the audio that tells them the most, but in ways that are almost impossible to describe, ways in which there is no substitute for experience.

Seeing Ryan Gosling in a period movie and wondering whether faces really looked like that only seven decades ago is fraught with all kinds of bias. So is concluding that the metrosexual voice is evidence of a feminization that is partly genetic. Nevertheless, I think it is. Mike Judge nailed it in Idiocracy: the 100-point IQ of Joe Bauers, the definitively ordinary hero, becomes ingenious in the idiocy of the future, and his middle-of-the-road voice becomes correspondingly “faggy.”

If I’m right, then evolution toward more pliant husband material, originally reflecting higher paternal investment, is not over in the developed world. Women are continuing to choose softer men, or at least men who are far from being natural masters, to breed with. Many will argue that the metrosexual voice must be all cultural, that it burst far too quickly on the scene to reflect anything genetic. Maybe they’re right, but I like my version. I bet that old farmer’s wife tried to convince him the young folk of the day were just spoiled by a soft new culture, and didn’t spend enough time out working in the sun.


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The Fourth Estate

The concept of the “middle class” is crucial for the liberal-capitalist ideology. Although it appeared later than the Marxist theory of class struggle and the famous communist doctrine of the two antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the very meaning of the term “middle class” has a much longer history and has its roots in the period of bourgeois revolutions and the rise of the Third Estate, which claimed henceforth a monopoly in political and economic spheres. 

 

The History and Meaning of the Middle Class


Science and Ideology: A Problem of Method

None of the words we use in the course of social and political discussions and analyses is ideologically neutral. Outside of ideology entirely, such words lose their meaning. And it is not possible to determine one’s attitude toward them unambiguously, since the content of any expression is shaped by context and semantic structures, a kind of operational system. When we live in a society with an obvious ideology, openly maintained as the dominant one, things are clear enough.

The significance of words flows directly from the ideological matrix, which is instilled through upbringing, education, and instruction and is supported by the active ideological apparatus of the state. The state forms a language, defines the meaning of discourse, and sets—most often through repressive measures, broadly understood—the limits and moral tint of the basic collection of political and sociological concepts and terms.

If we lived in a society in which communist ideology dominates, concepts such as “bourgeoisie,” “fascism,” “capitalism,” “speculation,” etc. acquire not only strictly negative connotations but specific meanings, with which capitalists, fascists, and speculators would categorically disagree. The disagreement concerns not only signs, but the very significance of words. The way a communist sees a fascist, or a capitalist seems to the fascist, might seem to a different party to be little more than a caricature or a distortion. And this, of course, works the other way around: fascism seems natural to the fascist, and communism, utterly evil.

For a capitalist, communism and fascism are equally evil. The capitalist most often does not think of himself as bourgeois. Speculation is for him a form of the realization of natural economic rights, and the system he defends he usually regards as a “free” society, an “open” society. Neither the Marxist analysis of the appropriation of surplus value, nor the fascist critique of the web of interest obligations and payments, and the international financial oligarchy, which usurps power over peoples and nations, ever convince him of anything.

Ideologies are similar to religions; hence Carl Schmitt speaks of “political theology.” Each believes sacredly in his own values and ideals, and criticism of or apology for alternative values most often has no effect (except for a few cases of confessional change, which occurs in the history of religion and in the history of political teachings).

Consequently, before speaking seriously about one or another term, it is necessary to determine in which ideological context we will be considering it. Someone will surely object: science must take a neutral position. That is impossible. In this case, science would pretend to the status of a meta-ideology, i.e. a kind of “true ideology,” of which all other ideologies are relative forms. But nobody will agree with this, even it should come into someone’s head to flaunt such ambitions.

In the religious sphere, syncretic teachings periodically arise, claiming that they are the expression of “absolute truth” and that all other historical religions are its relative manifestations. But as a rule, such tendencies do not enjoy great popularity, remaining the property of rather small circles and denied by major confessions as “heresies.” Science, likewise, cannot claim the status of a meta-ideology and remain relevant. But it differs from ordinary ideology by three features:

  1. It reflects distinctly upon the structures of the ideological paradigm it considers. (Ordinary people do not even suspect that what seems to them their “personal opinion” is a secondary or even tertiary product of ideological processing, the mechanisms of which are entirely hidden from them.)
  2. In the course of analysis of ideological discourse, it uses the techniques of classical logic (Aristotle’s laws and Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason).
  3. It is able to build a comparative matrix of the correspondences between diverse ideologies, juxtaposing structures in their foundations and establishing symmetries and oppositions between separate discourses and their elements.

Thus, in considering any concept or term, it is possible to proceed in two ways: either to interpret it from the position of one or another ideology, not digging into its foundations and not comparing it with other interpretations (this is the level of propaganda and low-quality applied analysis/journalism), or to attend to the scientific method, which does not free us from adherence to an ideology, but forces us to reason, observing the three above-mentioned rules of the scientific approach (paradigm, logic, comparison).

We propose to consider the concept of the “middle class” in precisely this scientific spirit.

From Caste to Class

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century) Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century)

The concept of the “middle class” is crucial for the liberal-capitalist ideology. Although it appeared later than the Marxist theory of class struggle and the famous communist doctrine of the two antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the very meaning of the term “middle class” has a much longer history and has its roots in the period of bourgeois revolutions and the rise of the Third Estate, which claimed henceforth a monopoly in political and economic spheres.

Before considering the “middle class,” let’s turn to the concept of “class” as such. Class is a concept of the social organization of modernity. Ancient orders and social-political systems were built on the caste principle. “Caste” should be understood as the doctrine that the inner nature of different people differs qualitatively: there are divine souls and earthly (feral, demonic) souls. The caste reflects precisely this nature of the soul, which man is not able to change during his life. The caste is fatal. The normal society, according to this conception, must be built so that those of a divine nature (the elite) are above, and those of an earthly (feral, demonic) nature remain below (the masses). That is how the Indian Varna system is arranged, as were ancient Jewish, Babylonian, Egyptian, and other societies.

This caste theory was replaced by a more flexible estate theory. The estate also proposes a difference in people’s natures (the existence of higher and lower), but here the fact of birth in one or another estate is not considered a final and natural factor in the determination of belonging to a certain social status. Estate can be changed if the representative of a lower estate accomplishes a great feat, demonstrates unique spiritual qualities, becomes a member of the priesthood, etc.

Here, alongside the caste principle, is the principle of meritocracy, that is, rewards for services. The meritocratic principle extends also to the descendants of the one who accomplished the feat (ennobling). Estate society was predominant in Christian civilization right to the end of the Middle Ages. In estate society, the highest estates are the priesthood (clergy) and the military (aristocracy), and the lowest is the Third Estate of peasants and craftsmen. Precisely the same way, in a caste society, priests and warriors (Brahma and Kshatriya) were highest, and lowest were peasants, artisans, and traders (Vaishya).

Modernity became the era of the overthrow of estate society. Europe’s bourgeois revolutions demanded a replacement of the estate privileges of the higher estates (the clergy and the military aristocracy, the nobility) in favor of the Third Estate. But the bearers of this ideology were not the peasants, who were connected with traditional society by the specific character of seasonal labour, religious identity, etc., but the more mobile townspeople and burghers. “Bourgeois” is itself formed from the German word “Burg” meaning “town.” Hence, modernity gave first priority to precisely the townsfolk-citizen-bourgeois as a normative unit.

The bourgeois revolutions abolished the power of the Church (clergy) and aristocracy (nobility, dynasties) and advanced the model of building society on the basis of the domination of the Third Estate, represented by the townsfolk-citizen-bourgeois. This is, essentially, capitalism. Capitalism, in its victory, replaces estate distinctions, but preserves material ones. Thus, the notion of class arises: class signifies an indicator of the measure of inequality. The bourgeoisie abolish estate inequality, but preserve material inequality. Consequently, precisely modernity’s bourgeois capitalistic society is a class society in the full sense of the word. Previously, in the Middle Ages, belonging to an estate was one’s primary social attribute. In modernity, the entire social stratification was reduced to the attribute of material riches. Class is thus a phenomenon of modernity.

Class War

Georg Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun (1926) Georg Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun (1926)

The class character of bourgeois society, however, was perceived most distinctly not by the ideology of the bourgeoisie, but by Marx. He elaborated his revolutionary teaching on the basis of the concept of class. At its foundation was the idea that class society and the material inequality characteristic of it, elevated to the highest criterion, exposes the essence of the nature of society, man, and history. In Marx’s class picture, there are always rich and poor, and the rich always get richer, and the poor, poorer. Consequently, there are two classes, the bourgeoisie and proletariat, and their struggle is the motor and meaning of history.

All of Marxism is built on this idea: when we speak of classes, we speak of two antagonistic classes, the difference between which is not relative but absolute, since each embodies in itself two irreconcilable worlds: the world of Exploitation and the world of (honest) Labor. There are two classes: the class of Labor (the proletariat) and the class of Exploitation (the bourgeoisie). In the capitalist system, the class of Exploitation dominates. The class of Labor must become conscious of itself, arise, and overthrow the class of Exploiters. They must create, at first, the Government of Labor—socialism. Then, after the last remnants of bourgeois society have been destroyed, communist society will appear, now fully classless. According to Marx, a classlessness is possible only after the victory of the proletariat and the radical destruction of the bourgeoisie.

For Marx, a “middle class” simply cannot exist. This concept has no independent semantics in Marxist ideology, since everything that is between the bourgeoisie and proletariat (for instance, the petty bourgeoisie or prosperous peasantry) relates essentially either to the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. For Marxists, the “middle class” is a fiction. It doesn’t exist, and the concept itself is nothing but an instrument of the ideological propaganda of capitalists, trying to fool the proletariat, promising a future integration into the class of the bourgeoisie (which, according to Marx, cannot happen, since the appropriation of surplus value prevents the proletariat’s enrichment).

We can draw the following conclusion: the term “middle class” is a fiction for Marxists, an artificial figure of bourgeois ideology, called upon to conceal the real picture of society and the processes occurring in it. At the same time, Marxists admit the fact of a transition from estate society to class society and, consequently, agree with the bourgeoisie that a society of material inequalities (class society) is “more progressive” than a society of estate inequality; they disagree with the bourgeoisie in that, for communists, this is not the “end of history,” but only the beginning of a full-fledged revolutionary struggle. Liberals, on the other hand, insist that material inequality is entirely moral and justified and maintain that the communists’ striving for material equality is, by contrast, amoral and pathological. For liberals, “the end of history” begins when everyone becomes “middle class.” For communists, it begins when the proletariat finally destroy the bourgeoisie and build a communist society of total equality.

The Middle Class within Liberalism

The concept of a middle class is implicitly present in liberal ideology from the very beginning. That said, it only receives full implementation in the course of the establishment of sociology, which endeavors to combine many avant-garde theses of Marxism (in particular, the centrality of the concept of class) and bourgeois conditions. Sociology is thus a hybrid form: ideologically, it is between communism and liberalism; methodologically, it emphasizes a scientific, analytic approach. We can distinguish two poles in sociology, the social (the school of Durkheim, the theories of Sorokin, etc.) and the liberal (Weber, the Chicago and “Austrian” Schools in the United States, etc.)

In any case, the specific character of the liberal understanding of class is the conviction that, in the standard bourgeois society, there is only one class, and all differences between the depths and the heights are relative and conditional. If, for Marx, there are always two classes, and they exist in implacable enmity, for liberals (Adam Smith, for instance) there is always ultimately one class—the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie nominally embraces the entire capitalist society. The poorest layers of this society are, as it were, incompletely bourgeois. The richest, on the other hand, area super-bourgeois. But the social nature of all people is qualitatively identical: all are given equal starting opportunities, setting out from which the bourgeois can either reach a certain level of success, or fail to reach it and tumble down into the incompletely bourgeois.

Hence, Adam Smith takes as a standard situation the following classical liberal narrative:

The baker hires a worker, who has recently come to the city for work. After working as an assistant to the owner, the hired worker learns to bake bread and observes the organization of processes of interaction with suppliers and customers. After some time, the hired worker borrows credit and opens a bakery. After first working independently, he eventually hires a helper, who has come to the city for work, and the cycle repeats itself.

In this model, we see the following. Not only is society thought of as middle class, but there exists the already-middle-class and the not-yet-middle-class. In this picture, the hired worker does not form a peculiar type, but represents the potentially bourgeois, while the ready baker is actually bourgeois (though even he, coming to ruin, can theoretically be in the position again of the hired worker, the not-yet-bourgeois).

According to Marx, the quantity of riches in society is a fixed quantity, and the presence of two classes is based on precisely this: those who have riches will never share them with the poor, since life in capitalist society is a zero-sum game. For Smith, on the other hand, riches constantly increase. As a result, the boundaries of the middle class continuously expand. Capitalism is based on the presumption of the constant growth of riches for all members of society; ideally, all humanity must become middle class.

At the same time, there are two approaches to the middle class in liberal ideology. The first corresponds to left liberals: they demand that the super-bourgeois (the big capitalists) consciously share a part of the profits with the middle class and petty bourgeoisie, since this will lead to the stability of the system and to an acceleration of the growth of the middle class globally.

The second approach is characteristic of right liberals: they object to the burden placed on the super-bourgeoisie by taxation and welfare projects; they believe these contradicts the spirit of “free enterprise” and slows the dynamics of the development of the capitalist system, since the super-bourgeoisie stimulates the growth of the middle-bourgeoisie, which, in turn, urges on the petty bourgeoisie and the not-yet-bourgeoisie.

Accordingly, the concept of the middle class becomes, for left liberals, a moral value and ideological slogan (as in, “We must build a stronger middle class!”). For right liberals, on the other hand, the growth of the middle class is a natural consequence of the development of the capitalist system and does not demand special attention or elevation to a value.

Class as Social Strata in Sociology

In sociology, this basic ideological attitude of liberalism concerning the primacy of the middle class manifests itself in the relativization of the model of stratification. Sociology divides society into three classes: upper, middle, and lower (to this is sometimes added the underclass of pure marginals and social deviants). These classes are not identical to Marxist, nor to strictly liberal class concepts (since liberalism knows only one class, the middle class, while the others are thought of as its variations). This division fixes the dimension of individuals along four indicators: material sufficiency, level of fame, position in administrative hierarchy, and level of education. On the basis of strictly qualitative criteria, any person can be related to one of three social strata.

Here, the concept of class does not have a direct ideological content, but, as a rule, it is applied to bourgeois society, where sociology as a science appeared. This sociological classes, identified with social strata, should be distinguished from Marxist classes and from standard liberal conceptions about the middle class as the universal and single class.

In this case, in a bourgeois framework, the struggle for the rights of the underclass or support of the lower class (in a sociological sense) can be thought of as a left continuation of the liberal approach: attention to the lower layer of bourgeois society stipulates striving to facilitate its integration into the middle class, i.e. to pull them up the level of the bourgeois. For right liberals, such an effort is “amoral,” since it contradicts the main principle of social freedom: initiative and honest competition (the strong win, the weak lose, but such are the rules of the game; all should endeavor to become strong). The extreme version of right or even far-right liberalism is the “objectivism” of Ayn Rand.

The Middle Class and Nationalism

Thomas Hart Benton, Steel in America Today (1930) Thomas Hart Benton, Steel in America Today (1930)

There is one other ideological system of modernity, which we have yet to consider—nationalism. Nationalism is a variation of bourgeois ideology, which insists that the standard horizon of bourgeois society should not be humanity (the “cosmopolitanism” and “globalism” of classical liberals) but society as defined by the borders of a nation-state. The nation or people is taken as the maximal unit of integration. The market is open within the boundaries of the nation. But in the inter-state system, economic activity transitions to the level of the state, not private actors. From here, there arises the legitimization of such instruments as tariffs, protectionism, etc.

Nationalism thinks of the middle class not abstractly but concretely, as the middle class of a given national formation of the state. Nationalism also, like liberalism, accepts as a standard figure of society the townsperson-citizen-bourgeois, but puts the accent precisely on citizen, and what’s more, the citizen of a given national state.

The “nation” as a political formation becomes a synonym of bourgeois society. For nationalists, beyond this society, there exists only a zone of national and social risk. The nation is thought of here as a community of the middle class. And the task consists in integrating the lower layers into the national whole, often with the help of welfare measures. That is why nationalism can possess numerous socialist features, though the ideological basis here is different: pulling the economically weak to the level of the middle class is a task of national integration, not a consequence of orientation towards justice and material equality. We see something similar with left liberals, who consider integrating the under-class into broader society as a condition for the stability of the development of the capitalist system.

Nationalism, as a rule, relates negatively to national minorities and especially to immigrants. This is connected with the fact that in the eyes of nationalists, these elements disturb the homogeneity of the national middle class. Moreover, some national minorities are blamed for concentrating in their hands too much material wealth, in other words, those who challenge the national middle class “from above.” Nationalist feelings of injustice are expressed in antagonism towards “oligarchs” and, often times, as “economic anti-semitism,” a sentiment that was not foreign to Marx himself. In turn, other non-nationals (usually immigrants) are blamed for increasing the numbers of the lower strata and underclass, the integration of which is complicated by national differences. A variant of anti-immigrant nationalism consists in the charge that the increase of cheap labor slows the process of enriching the “native” population and the “harmonious” (for nationalists) growth of the middle class.

The Problem of the Middle Class in Contemporary Russia

After making these necessary methodological refinements, we can finally raise the question: what is the middle class for Russia? What are its prospects? Is it important for us or, on the contrary, are discussions about it optional and secondary?

It is impossible to answer this without turning to one of the three classical ideologies (including the versions contained in each through the polarities of left and right).

If we take the position of right liberalism, the answer is this: we should not pay attention to the middle class; the most important thing is to secure maximum economic freedom (that is, complete removal of government from business, taxes approximating zero, etc.), and everything will fall into place. Right liberals and consistent globalists are convinced that the growth of the middle class in Russia is not the goal; it is a consequence of the nation’s integration into the global economy, the opening of internal markets for external competition, and the prompt dismantling of an overbearing state.

If we take the position of left liberalism, then our attitude changes substantially. The broadening of the middle class is the number one task for our society, since the successful establishment of capitalism in Russia depends on precisely this, as does its integration into the international community. A small and weak middle class facilitates the degradation of society into “lumpens” and “oligarchs” and indirectly helps nationalistic and socialistic anti-liberal tendencies capture the minds of the population. Social injustice and inequality, the volume of the underclass, and the slow growth of the middle class demand special attention and the execution of goal-directed policies, since the fate of capitalism in Russia is at stake. Again, the struggle for the middle class is a slogan of left liberals. And they are the ones who would most likely focus this topic, since it is the core of their ideological positions.

If we are contemporary Marxists by inertia or conscious choice, then any mention of a middle class must evoke our rage, since this is the ideological platform of the sworn enemies of communism—bourgeois liberals. For communists, the following is correct: the narrower the middle class, the sharper the social contradictions and the more acute the imperative of the class struggle of proletariat against bourgeoisie. Thus, the communist perceives a large lower social strata and underclass against the background of prospering oligarchs as the ideal social picture. For communists, the middle class is a lie, an evil, and its absence or underdevelopment is a chance and window of opportunity for revolution. If some “communist” thinks otherwise, then he is not a communist, but a revisionist and compromiser with the bourgeoisie.

If we are nationalists, then the middle class acquires for us an additional dimension. It is thought of as the skeleton of national society in opposition to the “immigrant underclass” and “foreign-born oligarchy.” This is the peculiar notion of the middle class in the nationalist framework. And the cutting edges of this conception of the middle class are directed against oligarchs (the upper class) and immigrants (the lower class and underclass); the middle class itself is regarded as the national class, i.e. as the Russian class, which includes Russian entrepreneurs, Russian proprietors, the Russian bourgeoisie, etc.

It is impossible to speak of the middle class as such, without adhering (consciously or not) to an ideological position. But since in Russia, according to the constitution, there is no state ideology, theoretically we can interpret the middle class however we want. The fact that this concept has become the center of discussions attests to the fact that in contemporary Russia, by the inertia of the ‘90s and early 2000s, a liberal paradigm prevails. In the absence of a state ideology, liberals nevertheless strive to impose on us their paradigm as dominant.

Let’s conduct a thought experiment: a discussion about the middle class is taking place in a socially significant platform, for instance on one of Russia’s major television stations. Representatives of all possible ideologies of modernity are participating: Russian liberals, Russian communists, and Russian nationalists.

The first, a Russian liberals, would say:

The growth of the middle class and elevation of the level of wealth for the citizens of Russia is the main task of our society and government.

The second, a Russian communist:

Illegal privatization in the ‘90s put national property in the hands of oligarchs; look how our people live in the provinces in poverty and squalor!

The third, aRussian nationalists:

Illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Russians, and they’re all led by Jewish and Caucasian oligarchs. That is a catastrophe for the Russian middle class!

Despite the fact that the viewers might like all three positions, the jury and “respected experts” will, undoubtedly, grant victory to the liberals. For ultimately, we still find ourselves in the condition of the ideological dictatorship of liberalism. This would happen despite the fact that society, recognizing the right of liberal discourse, fully and persistently denies its supremacy and absolute right. (In contrast, for the political elite, liberal dogmas remain sacred and unshakeable.)

From this, we can draw a conclusion: the middle class and discussion about it reflect the ideological order of liberals among Russia’s political and economic elite. If we do not share liberal axioms, then we might not consider this topic at all, or else offer an interpretation (Marxist, nationalistic, etc.) that liberals will vigorously reject.

The Fourth Political Theory: Beyond Class

In conclusion, we can conduct an analysis of the middle class in the context of the Fourth Political Theory. This theory is built on the imperative of overcoming modernity and all three political ideologies in order (the order has tremendous significance): (1) liberalism, (2) communism, (3) nationalism (fascism). The subject of this theory, in its simple version, is the concept “narod,”roughly, “Volk” or “people,” in the sense of “peoplehood” and “peoples,” not “masses.”

In its complex version, the subject of this theory is Heidegger’s category of Dasein. We can say, as an approximation, that narod must be thought of existentially, as the living, organic, historical presence of Russians in a qualitative spatial landscape, in the expanses of Great Russia. But if the subject is the narod and not the individual (as in liberalism), not two antagonistic classes (as in Marxism), and not the political nation (as in nationalism), then all the obligatory elements of the modern picture of the world change. There is no longer materialism, economism, recognition of the fatefulness and universality of the bourgeois revolutions, linear time, Western civilization as a universal standard, secularism, human rights, civil society, democracy, the market, or any other axioms and buzzwords of modernity. The Fourth Political Theory proposes solutions and horizons knowingly excluded by liberalism, communism, and nationalism. (More on this is found in my book The Fourth Political Theory and my new book The Fourth Way.)

On the whole, The Fourth Political Theory, when applied to the problem of the “middle class” says the following:

The transition from caste to estate and from estate to class is not a universal law. This process can occur as it did in modern Western Europe, or it can fail to occur or occur partially, as is happening today in non-Western societies. Hence, the very concept of class as applied to society has a limited applicability. Class and classes can be identified in modern Western European societies, but whether they can replace the caste inequality of the soul and human nature is not at all obvious. Western societies themselves are confident that classes do so. But an existential approach to this problematic can call this into question.

The most important thing is how the human relates to death. There are those who can look it in the face, and those who always have their backs turned to it. But the origins of the social hierarchy, the fundamental distinction between people and the superiority of some to others consists in precisely this. Material conditions are not decisive here. Hegel’s interpretation of Master and Slave is based on this criterion. Hegel thinks that the Master is the one who challenges death, who steps out to encounter it. Acting in this way, he does not acquire immortality, but he acquires a Slave, one who runs from death, lacking the courage to look it in the eye. The Master rules in societies where death stands at the center of attention. The Slave acquires political rights only where death is bracketed and removed to the periphery. So long as death remains in society’s field of vision, we are dealing with rule by the wise and heroic, philosophers and warriors. This is caste society or estate society. But not class society. Where class begins, life ends, and the alienated strategies of reification, objectivation, and mediation prevail.

Hence, the Fourth Political Theory thinks that the construction of society on the basis of the criterion of property is a pathology. The fate of man and narod is history and geography—but in no way economics, the market, or competition.

The Fourth Political Theory rejects class as a concept and denies its relevance for the creation of a political system based on the existential understanding of the narod. Even more so does it reject the concept of the “middle class,” which reflects the very essence of the class approach. The middle class, like the middle (that is, average) person, is a social figure situated at the point of maximal social illusion, at the epicenter of slumber. The representative of the middle class corresponds to Heidegger’s figure of das Man, the generalized bearer of “common sense,” which is subject to no verification or examination. (Das Man is often translated into English as “The They,” in the sense of “They say so-and-so will win the election this year…) Das Man is the greatest of illusions.

The middle, average person is not at all the same as the normal person. “Norm” is a synonym for “ideal,” that to which one should strive, that which one should become. The middle person is a person in the least degree, the most ex-individual of individuals, the most null and barren quality. The middle person isn’t a person at all; he is a parody of a person. He is Nietzsche’s “Last Man.” And he is deeply abnormal, since for a normal person, it is natural to experience horror, to think about death, to acutely experience the finitude of being, to call into question—sometimes tragically insoluble—the external world, society, and relations to another.

The middle class doesn’t think; it consumes. It doesn’t live; it seeks security and comfort. It doesn’t die, it blows out like a car tire (it emits its spirit, as Baudrillard wrote in Symbolic Exchange and Death). The middle class is the most stupid, submissive, predictable, cowardly, and pathetic of all classes. It is equally far from the blazing elements of poverty and the perverted poison of incalculable wealth, which is even closer to hell than extreme poverty. The middle class has no ontological foundation for existing at all, and if it does, then only somewhere far below, beneath the rule of the philosopher-kings and warrior-heroes. It is the Third Estate, imagining about itself that it is the one and only. This is an unwarranted pretension. Modernity and capitalism (in the sense of the universality of the middle class) is nothing more than a temporary aberration. The time of this historical misunderstanding is coming to an end.

Thus, today, when the agony of this worst of possible social arrangements still continues, you must look beyond capitalism. At the same time, we must value and take interest in both what preceded it, the Middle Ages, and in that which will come after it and that which we must create—a New Middle Ages.


Translated by Michael Millerman


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