Addressing Some Common Objections to the Alt-Right

The alt-right is on the lips of many people these days. Some sing its praises; others mention it only to speak of its horrors and to sternly disavow it. Nevertheless, the emergence of the alt-right movement presents an opportunity for philosophical evaluation of its merits, and we at Rightly Considered would like to earnestly and honestly engage with the ideas of the alt-right in the spirit of truth-seeking. If it is intellectually bankrupt, reason ought to demonstrate that it is. If it has some intellectual merit, reason ought to demonstrate that it does.

A recent interview about the alt-right with prominent political commentator Ben Shapiro presents a good opportunity to address some objections typically launched at the alt-right. Let us take his criticisms to be representative of the most common criticisms to the alt-right. In this post I want to consider some of Shapiro’s objections to the alt-right and evaluate them.

Consider Shapiro’s opening salvo at the alt-right:

The alt-right are people like Richard Spencer who think that Western civilization and Western culture are inseparable from ethnicity. In other words, European ethnicity is the dominant force behind Western culture and Western civilization biologically. So it’s a racist and anti-Semitic movement.

Notice the conclusion Shapiro draws here: that the alt right is, by virtue of holding that Western culture is inseparable from ethnicity, “racist and anti-Semitic.” This seems like a paradigmatic example of a non-sequitur. A person who is sympathetic to the alt-right, for example, would likely claim that, say, Jewish civilization and Jewish culture are inseparable from Jewish ethnicity, or that Japanese civilization and Japanese culture are inseparable from Japanese ethnicity. Would it follow that such claims are “anti-Christian” or “racist”? It seems not. These claims simply amount to the claim that ethnicity influences the sort of civilization and culture that a people will create. This claim is hardly laughable and cannot be refuted by mere hand waving and accusations of racism.

A key thesis of the alt-right, as some contributors here have discussed, is that race is a real feature of the human person (just as sex is a real feature of the human person) and that one’s race can, to a large extent influence (or perhaps outright determine), a people’s intelligence, personality types, temperament, and so forth. The truth of this thesis, the alt-righter might claim, can be grasped at the level of common sense by simply having interactions with persons of various races.

Quite innocently and without meaning to cause scandal, an observer may notice, for example, that the Japanese he has met tend to be deferent and non-confrontational, or that Sub-Saharan Africans he has met tend to be joyous and energetic, or that the Italians he has met may be expressive, loud and impatient, that the Swedes he has met tend to be smarter than the Pygmies he has met, and so forth. But there is also plenty of empirical evidence for this thesis. (Perhaps this is the claim that Shapiro finds “racist”; if so, then either he has a very trivial account of what racism (e.g., the claim that there are racial differences, something that is hardly objectionable and is as true as the claim that there are differences between the sexes) is or he is simply wrong.)

Next comes the following claim by the alt-righter: these biological facts about one’s race go on to influence, outright determine, or, more poetically, flavor the sort of civilization that a race will establish.[1] Thus the high-IQ race that is characteristically deferent and non-confrontational race will establish a peculiar and unique sort of civilization and the low-IQ race that is characteristically brutish, violent and present-thinking will establish a peculiar and unique sort of civilization. The alt-righter might additionally—and very plausibly—claim that a low-IQ race that is characteristically brutish, violent, and present-thinking will not—and perhaps cannot—establish the sort of civilization that the high-IQ, deferent and non-confrontational race can establish (and vice versa).

Now, if there really are racial differences in intelligence, personality, temperament, and so forth—and there is overwhelming evidence that there are such differences between the races—and these differences contribute to (or give a flavor to, or determine, etc.) the sort of civilization that a race will create, then it is not implausible at all to suggest that Western civilization—by which we mean European civilization—can only be fully and genuinely carried on by people of European biological stock (just as, say, Jewish civilization can only be genuinely or fully carried on by people of Jewish stock). Other races that have some biological similarity to people of European stock may carry European civilization forward to some extent—we could say not genuinely (as do, for example, the Japanese, to some extent, in their appreciation of classical music). But the differences between the race groups will inevitably result in differences in the way that European civilization can be carried out, just as we would expect Europeans (that is, people of European biological stock) to be able to carry on with Japanese civilization in a limited manner but never genuinely.

Shapiro continues:

[The alt right] truly believe[s] that multiethnic democracies cannot succeed.

To the extent that the alt-right believes that multiethnic democracies cannot succeed, it does so on the basis of empirical evidence. The alt-right notices on the basis of empirical evidence that racial diversity is a source of conflict and almost invariably results in conflict. Here observations of the sort that alt-right thinker Jared Taylor makes would be germane: schools in Southern California have had to be shut down on a number of occasions because of racial violence between blacks and Hispanics; the violence in prison tends to happen uniformly upon racial disputes; conflict in work environments tends to be a result of racial disputes; etc.

But there is also research that indicates that multiracialism is a source for conflict. Robert Putnam’s infamous study on the living conditions of racially heterogeneous (“diverse”) communities and racially homogenous (non-“diverse”) communities in the United States would be relevant here. His study found, to his own chagrin and to the chagrin of believers in the cult of diversity, that racially homogenous communities tended to have the highest levels of trust between the persons living there, the highest level of charitable giving, highest levels of carpooling, and so forth. The most heterogeneous communities, on the other hand, had high levels of distrust amongst the persons living in them, lower levels of charity giving, and so forth.

There is more empirical evidence that suggests that racial homogeneity is generally conducive to peacefulness and productivity and that racial heterogeneity is a source of conflict, such as Tatu Vanhanen’s book-length study on ethnic diversity. Vanhanen’s research indicates that racially homogenous countries like Iceland and Japan have low levels of conflict and that racially heterogeneous countries like Sudan and Lebanon were brimming with conflict.[2]

In another (and similar) interview on the topic of the alt-right, Shapiro offers more critiques of the alt-right:

The whole principle of Western civilization is that anybody can involve himself or herself in civilized values.

Why think that this claim is true? Shapiro doesn’t offer an argument. On the face of it this seems to be an implausible claim. For when we use the term “Western civilization,” what we invariably mean, again, is European civilization. Yet for thousands of years, Europeans did not ever think that Europeans could be separated from the civilizations they created. In fact, they fought tooth and nail against invaders who sought to take over their lands, from Berbers to Turks to Mongols. To people like Charlemagne or Charles Martel or Pope Urban II or King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the claim that European civilization could continue in the absence of European peoples (or if millions of non-Europeans were to be shipped into Europe and turned Europeans minorities in their own homelands) would be as absurd as the claim that Japanese civilization could continue in the absence of Japanese peoples or that Arab civilization could continue in the absence of Arab peoples. Shapiro probably accepts something similar about Jewish people: that Jewish civilization, with its all its uniqueness and peculiarities, could not be separated from the Jewish people who created it and carry it on. If he does, the alt-righter would think such a view eminently sensible and indeed true.

Indeed, even the founders of the United States didn’t seem to think that just any people from any corner of the world could continue the civilization of the United States, much less European civilization more generally.

In the interview linked earlier, Shapiro also claims:

I don’t care if someone immigrates here [to the U.S.] so long as they’re willing to imbibe the principles of Western civilization. I don’t care what someone’s race happens to be. This is consistent with the founding vision of the country. But the alt-right doesn’t accept that.

Consider the claim that allowing anyone of any race to immigrate to the U.S. is “consistent with the founding vision of this country.”

Is it? Perhaps the founders wouldn’t object to small numbers of non-Europeans being able to immigrate to the U.S. (just as Japan allows a very small number of non-Japanese to immigrate to Japan). But it is undeniable that the founders of the U.S. had a vision of the United States as being a European country, not a multiethnic one.

John Jay, writing in the second of the Federalist Papers, writes that “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…” This seems like a clear rejection of a vision of the United States as a multiethnic state.

A clear rejection of the idea that the United States would be a multiethnic, non-European state can also be found in the very first Naturalization Act of 1790, which provided that only free white persons of good character could be eligible to become citizens of the United States, disallowing Amerindians, blacks, and other non-whites from becoming citizens.

It seems, then, that the alt-right is on good grounds to reject the claim multiracialism is consistent with the founding vision of the country.

All things considered, then, Shapiro’s objections to the alt-right are either greatly underdeveloped or simply unsatisfactory.

——————————————–

[1] Here is another way to put it: a race’s biological endowment places limits on the sort of civilizations that a race can establish.

[2] Vanhanen also claims that racial diversity results in conflict whatever sort of wealth a country has: “Ethnic nepotism belongs to human nature and…it is independent from the level of socioeconomic development (modernization) and from the degree of democratization.” Ibid., pg. 16.

Charles Martel

Charles has degree in philosophy and is currently studying in France. He is staunchly Catholic, staunchly opposed to leftism, and wants to save western civilization. For some reason, he thinks studying philosophy might help achieve that goal.

View All Posts

68 Comments

  1. I have always found Shapiro’s objections to be off base. All of the fundamental alt-right points you mentioned are reasonable positions. Of course there are some anti-Semitic and racist people that travel with the alt-right, but pointing the finger at these people doesn’t discredit the entire movement. Personally, I believe that ethnicity and race are highly correlated with culture and thus I remain skeptical that certain groups will assimilate, at least when there numbers pass a certain threshold.

    The funny thing is that transgendered Zoey Tur has accused Ben Shapiro of being part of the alt-right. To those on the left, the alt-right means “anything I disagree with”.

  2. I want to make two points on your response to Shapiro’s “opening salvo”.

    The first is to point out that your supposed empirical grounds for there being biologically-grounded racial differences in intelligence, personality, temperament “and so forth” is contentious. I don’t want to contend that here and now, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s contentious.

    The second point is on this paragraph of yours:

    Now, if there really are racial differences in intelligence, personality, temperament, and so forth…and these differences contribute to (or give a flavor to, or determine, etc.) the sort of civilization that a race will create, then it is not implausible at all to suggest that…European civilization…can only be fully and genuinely carried on by people of European biological stock (just as, say, Jewish civilization can only be genuinely or fully carried on by people of Jewish stock). Other races that have some biological similarity to people of European stock may carry European civilization forward to some extent—we could say not genuinely (as do, for example, the Japanese, to some extent, in their appreciation of classical music). But the differences between the race groups will inevitably result in differences in the way that European civilization can be carried out, just as we would expect Europeans (that is, people of European biological stock) to be able to carry on with Japanese civilization in a limited manner but never genuinely.

    You talk about how ‘genuinely’ the Japanese or other non-Europeans can’t develop European civilisation as though a people’s capacity to develop a civilisation is based only on abstract personal qualities like their intelligence and temperament. But surely that’s wrong. Surely what makes a civilisation genuinely European isn’t just the intelligence or temperament or personality of the people who inherit and transmit it (if those things are involved at all), nor is it just the profile of those traits required by that civilisation for any people to inherit or transmit that civilisation (again, if those things are involved at all). What makes that civilisation genuinely European is the Europeanness of the people whose civilisation it is.

    European civilisation is the civilisation of Europe and Europeans.† We might find distinctive things about the generation and preservation of that civilisation which we can put down to the biology of the people whose civilisation it is, but it doesn’t follow from that that a people with a similar or better (according to the standards of excellence for developing that civilisation) biology would be able to make anything that can genuinely be called European civilisation, far less a more genuinely European civilisation.

    Just imagine that the Japanese combination of temperament, intelligence, personality etc is actually better at preserving and developing whatever you consider to be distinctive about European civilisation. Would you really say that Japanese contributions would therefore be more truly European than the inferior (on your view) contributions of (white) Britons and Lithuanians and Spaniards and Greeks? If you were to separate Japanese and German classical music culture for a hundred years and then check the state of that music (or its descendants) in each culture, would the Japanese — with their superior temperament etc for maintaining and developing European culture — of 2116 have even the smallest claim of their music being more European than that of 2116 Germans’?

    † That’s assuming that such a thing as “European civilisation” can really be said to exist. I’m assuming for this argument that it can.

    • Hi Kamal,

      I fully agree with your second point. I also agree with your first point but would say this: certainly the claim that there are racial differences in intelligence, temperament, personality, and so forth, is contentious. It is only contentious, however, because modern day leftists and egalitarians despise that claim insofar as it contradicts their evidenceless commitment to racial egalitarianism. There is simply overwhelming amounts of evidence that there are racial differences in those things. See, e.g., the work linked to, or Michael Levin’s Why Race Matters.

    • Charles Martell,

      I’m a bit surprised that you didn’t fight my second point. That’s good, I guess!

      Since you so easily accepted that definition of Europeanness and the corresponding explanation of why a Japanese person couldn’t contribute to European culture/civilisation in that way, I’m curious: what motivated you to try to ground those things in racial-biological differences in intelligence, temperament etc in the first place?

      As I said, here and now, I don’t want to contend the supposed empirical grounds for biologically-grounded racial differences in intelligence, personality, temperament etc.

    • I suppose it’s just a roundabout way of saying that only people of European biological stock, of which intelligence, temperament, and so forth, are a part, can carry on with European civilization.

    • But I thought we agreed it’s not a roundabout way of saying that, since even if we assume that the Japanese have those capabilities (or superior ones), we agreed that they still wouldn’t be carrying on European civilisation.

      To take another case: I suspect you don’t think that white, British-descended Americans and white Britons are significantly different in those regards, but those Americans can’t really carry on British civilisation and culture without in the process also making it American. Or, to put it another way, they can’t carry on British civilisation and culture without thereby changing it from British to American, or making it American, where what is American today and what is British today both spring from what was British in the 18th century. The same applies, I think, for Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. When that happens you have to either reach for an existing label to reshape for this purpose or invent a new label. Since the British are still around and have a culture that definitely differs from Americans’ (and Canadians’, Kiwis’ etc) we can’t really mangle ‘British’ for that purpose, so we talk about the English-speaking/Anglophone world, or Protestants and their work ethic, or ‘Western’, or ‘European’ as you’ve been using it here.

    • Sorry for jumping in here, and for a long post. Couldn’t help myself…

      Kamal, you write:

      “What makes that civilisation genuinely European is the Europeanness of the people whose civilisation it is.”

      Unless this is tautological it seems like a red herring. Maybe it is possible in theory for some non-white groups–the Japanese, for example–to integrate themselves somehow into European civilization and even develop that civilization just as well as ‘ethnic’ Europeans would have done. But it’s pretty obvious that many other groups have no realistic chance of doing that. Congolese pygmies or Australian aborigines or Mexican indios. There is just way too much that stands in the way–very low IQs, very different average personality structures, the very different socio-cultural heritage they bring with them, etc. We could debate the degree to which those kinds of differences are rooted in biology–though you say you don’t want to–but the plain fact is that the differences exist and they make it astronomically improbable that such groups could become truly “European” in any realistic sense. And even with the Japanese, who are no doubt very smart and capable and interested in western culture, there are major obstacles. And in any case, Europe and other sites of Europeanness are not being flooded with Japanese people. They’re being flooded with people who give no indication of being both able and willing to become ‘European’.

      So if we turn from mere logical or metaphysical possibilities to the real world, it just doesn’t matter whether some non-white or non-‘ethnically’-European groups just might be capable of ‘Europeanness’. That possibility is almost certainly not going to be actual. Not in any foreseeable future, anyway. And so, if white people or (real) Europeans care about their own culture and civilization, they should care about preserving white and ‘ethnically’ European majorities in every European or European-derived nation. That’s the only _realistic_ way to preserve Europeanness. Again, it makes no practical difference whether Congolese pygmies just might have exactly the same biological capacities as Germans or Poles. Unless you think there is some realistic chance that European civilization can be carried forward by the random mix of non-white, non-European, non-Christian groups now flooding our lands, this whole line of objection fails to address the very serious immediate practical concerns of the alt right (and lots of other people).

      “You talk about how ‘genuinely’ the Japanese or other non-Europeans can’t develop European civilisation as though a people’s capacity to develop a civilisation is based only on abstract personal qualities like their intelligence and temperament.”

      Charles never said it requires _only_ those qualities. But notice that the more qualities we take to be necessary, the less likely it will be that biologically distinct groups who _also_ differ culturally and historically will be able to adapt to European civilization in a deep (or “genuine”) way. Let alone that they’ll be able to develop it further just as well as white ‘ethnic’ Europeans would have done. Here the empirical questions you want to ignore can’t be ignored. If you think there are no important biological differences between whites and Japanese, or (‘ethnic’) Europeans and Arabs, the likelihood will be somewhat higher. But, again, even if we pretend that all important differences are purely cultural in origin (which is clearly untrue) the plain fact is that there are these ancient, deep cultural differences. So for practical purposes it remains _very_ unlikely that anyone other than white (‘ethnic’) Europeans have all the qualities needed for the best kind of preservation and enhancement of European-ness or European civilization.

      “but those Americans can’t really carry on British civilisation and culture without in the process also making it American… the British are still around and have a culture that definitely differs from Americans’ (and Canadians’, Kiwis’ etc)…”

      I find it puzzling that you think we can identify a British culture distinct from American or Canadian culture while being skeptical about the idea of European civilization. Isn’t it equally clear that European culture “definitely differs” from Asian or African or Amerindian culture?

    • Gah! I accidentally posted my response to this at the bottom of the thread instead of here. It begins “There’s no need to apologise, Jacques!”.

  3. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be an underlying current to the alt-right narrative that brings to mind, for me at least, echoes of early 20th century Darwinian-influenced social theory.

    In reading the various theses and thoughts put forth which I’ve encountered I can’t help but wonder about the logical conclusions if the theories were put into practice. How might it avoid the slippery slope into eugenics and ubermensch?

    It feels like we’ve been down this road before and it didn’t work out great for everyone.

    Would the DPRK qualify as an examplar of a modified alt-right culture? Not necessarily a success story to point toward and celebrate and emukate mind you, but at least a real world example of a state-enforced culturally, racially, and politically homogeneous society.

    • I think the alt-right simply respects human nature and doesn’t want to run roughshod over it in the way leftists (and modern day “conservatives”) do. Humans are by nature tribal and hierarchical and have biological preferences for members of their racial in group. Placing groups of various different races in a shared territory and government invariably creates conflict (i.e., diversity is actually bad, not “our greatest strength”). There are racial differences in intelligence. And so forth.

      It is true that many on the alt-right favor eugenics. I have no problem with eugenics if all we mean by it is encouraging persons to choose actions that will produce more intelligent and more healthy children reared in marriage by their mother and father. As I don’t think contraception and abortion permissible, I would rule out some means towards eugenics. Other alt-righters don’t share my pro-life and anti-contraception views and so they will approve of other means that I don’t. Simply put, to the extent that I have a grasp of what eugenics is, I think it is permissible (and desirable) as an aim and I think that certain means are permissible to that aim. But there are very many people on the alt-right and they often hold to different conceptions of the good and what is permissible as a means towards the good.

    • Thanks for the feedback CM.

      It’s striking to me that even as European civilization is upheld as a cultural benchmark and high-water mark by alt-righters as they point toward the constant conflicts and inferior cultural advancements of non-European homogenous and heterogeneous peoples, many alt-righters seem oblivious to, or else have selective memories about, the incredibly bloody history of Western Europe.

      I’m not sure how this inconvenient truth fits into (what I perceive to be) the alt-right’s overarching Western European ethnic/racial/cultural superiority metanarrative. Maybe it doesn’t fit at all.

  4. As to what countries we could point to as exemplifying an alt-right culture, I’d say that present day Japan would probably qualify. But really, pretty much every nation prior to WWII was “alt-right.” They basically all took it for granted that there are racial differences and they sought to retain and assert their racial and cultural identity in their homelands (Spain for the Spanish, Italy for the Italians, Arabia for the Arabs, etc.).

  5. “It’s striking to me that even as European civilization is upheld as a cultural benchmark and high-water mark by alt-righters as they point toward the constant conflicts and inferior cultural advancements of non-European homogenous and heterogeneous peoples, many alt-righters seem oblivious to, or else have selective memories about, the incredibly bloody history of Western Europe.”

    I think this just reinforces the alt-righter’s claim that diversity results in conflict. The source of conflict between Europeans was not really racial differences but differences in, e.g., language, religion, etc. But this is a topic of discussion in the alt-right: whether pan-Europeanism is a viable or desirable project. I think it can be successful only if it is taken to be cooperation amongst distinct European nation-states for the interests of Europeans. It won’t be successful if it entails forcing different European nations to share governments, and won’t be desirable if it erases or runs roughshod over distinct European nations.

    “I’m not sure how this inconvenient truth fits into (what I perceive to be) the alt-right’s overarching Western European ethnic/racial/cultural superiority metanarrative. Maybe it doesn’t fit at all.”

    Many alt-righters do claim that European civilization is the best. I do think it is the best and I think the fact that so many non-Europeans wish to live in or emalute European civilization is evidence of this. But ultimately the European alt-righter simply sees European civilization as valuable *because it is his own and his peoples’.* The European alt-righter would perfectly accept that the Japanese alt-righter will hold that Japanese civilization is the best *because it is his own.*

    • Thanks again for the interaction CM. I think the closing observation of your last comment brings the discussion full circle. What group today can lay claim on the USA as being *his own* culturally?

      For me it’s exceedingly difficult to envision how the alt-right’s narrative and its contingent sociopolitical accoutrements could be plausibly deployed in the real world.

      I guess this is why it strikes me that alt-right ideas seem more akin to interesting thought experiments, like time travel or possible worlds for example, than amounting to anything serious or viable.

    • “Thanks again for the interaction CM. I think the closing observation of your last comment brings the discussion full circle. What group today can lay claim on the USA as being *his own* culturally?”

      I think the fact that this is a viable question to ask tells us how successful leftists have been in destroying the American nation, which was always taken for granted to be European, by moving in millions of non-white immigrants since the passing of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965.

      “For me it’s exceedingly difficult to envision how the alt-right’s narrative and its contingent sociopolitical accoutrements could be plausibly deployed in the real world.”

      “I guess this is why it strikes me that alt-right ideas seem more akin to interesting thought experiments, like time travel or possible worlds for example, than amounting to anything serious or viable.”

      I think the alt-right are the only people offering honest solutions and predictions. Conservatives somehow think that if we talk about the wonders of the Constitution and limited government to non-whites who have no history whatsoever of limited government or Constitutional rule we’ll get em on our side and we will “overcome race” and be raceless, individual loci of individualityness following the amendments. Leftists are so deluded that they think women are men and men are women and that shipping in millions of violent Muslims into historically Christian Europe will end with everyone holding hands and singing kumbaya. The alt-right seem to be the only people willing to tell truths that may be inconvenient or depressing but that are essential for proper governance and that we ignore at our own peril.

    • It could be deployed by deporting illegal aliens and restricting immigration only to Europeans. That is at least the minimum of what can be done.

  6. How do the alt-right explain the Britons? They were savages. And even after being forced in to a generally civilized culture, under Roman rule, once this was removed, they were savages again. They couldn’t build a civilized society on their own. The Britons had pretty much nothing positive to provide other European societies, and a whole lot of negatives. They had abundant resources, they had been introduced to Christianity and still couldn’t get their act together.

    But supposedly,being part of the European biological stock, they technically should be able to build a decent society on their own, especially after being introduced to one.

    I find it hard to believe that they were superior to many societies that were developed by other races, and its hard to explain how they didn’t succeed given the alt-rights view. And, they are just one example.

    • This is a topic that has been written about fairly commonly by Alt-Right commentators. At the time of the Roman Empire the Britons were indeed a bunch of savages. It took centuries of demographic changes to the British people, including a prolonged period of comparatively higher birth rates among the more intelligent upper classes, to produce the distinctive Anglo-Saxon character that we now identify with the British. Thus, when we talk about the British of today in comparison with the Britons of eons past , we are talking about a people subjected to centuries of genetic changes. Nobody thinks that the British people, circa 400, would have been as capable of producing and maintaining an advanced civilization as the British people circa 1500. Being a race realist does not commit one to believing in the immutability of racial characteristics or any of the other silly folk-essentialist caricatures that are projected onto them.

      As an aside, I am not a card carrying Alt-Rightist but I have sympathies with them. These are highly intelligent, scientifically well informed people you are dealing with. On the whole they are far better informed about the science of heredity than your average leftist intellectual. The average leftist intellectual typically has a grade school level understanding of genetics and heredity which has been filtered through several layers of deliberate obfuscation. Hence, if you think you a “gotcha” type question on race of the sort even an 18 year old could think up is going to put paid to them and expose their theories as “pseudo-science”, then you are in for a rude awakening.

    • Thus, when we talk about the British of today in comparison with the Britons of eons past , we are talking about a people subjected to centuries of genetic changes. Nobody thinks that the British people, circa 400, would have been as capable of producing and maintaining an advanced civilization as the British people circa 1500.

      Ah, so it’s not a property of all white people, it’s very recent evolution specific to particular regions/localities within Europe? Is there a similar story for every region and locality within Europe? Or are there European peoples who haven’t gone through the genetic changes required for advanced civilisations like Britain’s from 1500?

    • “Ah, so it’s not a property of all white people, it’s very recent evolution specific to particular regions/localities within Europe?”

      Much of it likely is. To the extent that Europeans were shaped by similar environments, religious codes, proximity to one another, etc, it seems likely that there is both a general and local “story” about how they ended up the way they did. Why would that even be controversial?

    • Much of it likely is.

      Much of it likely is what? A property of all white people, or very recent evolution specific to particular parts of Europe?

      And do alt-righters and other white nationalists tend to think that there are white peoples today who are — like the Britons ~400 AD were — genetically incapable of supporting advanced civilisations?

  7. There’s no need to apologise, Jacques! It’s an open forum. And at this stage in these kinda things, long posts tend to be good posts.

    My primary aim with that response to Martell was to point out that racial-biological differences weren’t doing — and couldn’t do — the work he wanted them to do. Even with well-suited combinations of intelligence etc, no one but a European can develop genuinely European culture. And that’s just because of what it means for a culture to be a people’s. So if you’re trying to make an argument that non-Europeans can’t maintain and develop European culture, you don’t need to — and probably shouldn’t — resort to arguments about those people’s intelligence etc and whether or not those things (intelligence etc) are biologically determined.

    The same applies to what you’re saying. Whether or not people are capable of carrying on European culture isn’t about the intrinsic or other capabilities of pygmies or Amerindians or Europeans; it’s about whether they’re European or not. Or, to stop using ‘European’ in the awfully euphemistic way we’ve been using it so far: whether or not people are capable of carrying on white culture is about about whether they’re white or not.

    I find it puzzling that you think we can identify a British culture distinct from American or Canadian culture while being skeptical about the idea of European civilization. Isn’t it equally clear that European culture “definitely differs” from Asian or African or Amerindian culture?

    Why is that puzzling? Civilisations are a lot more ontologically demanding than cultures — they need more things to exist — not least because they are cultures plus a bunch of other stuff. Why might I not think that white culture is a single thing and human culture is a single thing, but that the white world has several dozen civilisations that are configured in such a way that white civilisation isn’t a single thing, just as the earth has hundreds of civilisations that are arranged in a way that does not allow us to truthfully speak of “human civilisation” as though it’s a single thing?

    More profitably, though, I’d like to know why you think it’s truthful or useful to talk about “white civilisation”. It seems to me at least as contrived as someone talking about Commonwealth civilisation or Francophone civilisation or the (single) civilisation of the Americas. The white world lacks anything like the unity or organisation required for it to be considered a single civilisation. The same applies to any group defined by a whole continent, or colour, or sizeable religion. (Whatever they were in the past, neither Christendom nor the Umma has the unity or organisation to be seriously considered a single civilisation.)

    If you fall back to the more plausible “white culture”, a question in the neighbourhood arises. So yes, you can define a term ‘white nation’, draw a line around the nations that meet that definition, identify some cultural things they have in common, and contrast those things with the things that each of a few other places you draw lines around (the black nations, the surviving nations of people who have been alienated from their own land in the last 5 centuries, the nations of people of average height below 5 ft 8, the nations of languages that write from the right to the left) has in common. But so what? Why should anyone care about the line you’ve drawn? What indication is there that it’s as firmly grounded in our shared reality as it is in the minds of the alt-right?

    • “So if you’re trying to make an argument that non-Europeans can’t maintain and develop European culture, you don’t need to — and probably shouldn’t — resort to arguments about those people’s intelligence etc and whether or not those things (intelligence etc) are biologically determined.”

      I don’t follow your reasoning Kamal. It seems we all agree now that there are lots of different qualities needed to maintain European culture, and you’re just adding–if I understand you–that things like IQ aren’t enough all by themselves. People have to belong to the culture in order to maintain and develop it, and having some threshold IQ (for example) isn’t enough for belonging. Okay, sure. But why would any of this count against Charles’ initial claim (as I understand it) that many groups are incapable of maintaining or developing European culture because they differ with respect to IQ and other such traits? I mean, I agree that they are _also_ incapable of doing that because they just don’t belong to any European culture, but Charles was saying that they are incapable for these other reasons. These claims are all compatible. Earlier, though, you seemed to be arguing that the necessary (and sufficient?) condition was “Europeanness”, and you seemed to be suggesting that Europeanness could be distinguished from any particular racial-ethnic population–that others could be just as European so long as they had the right IQ or interests or whatever. So in response to that idea it seems relevant to point out that no one but (some) white people is likely to have the whole set of qualities needed for Europeanness, hence those qualities needed for maintaining and developing European culture or civilization. But maybe we are talking past each other?

      “Or, to stop using ‘European’ in the awfully euphemistic way we’ve been using it so far: whether or not people are capable of carrying on white culture is about about whether they’re white or not.”

      Again I’m puzzled. If you yourself think that ‘European’ just means ‘white’, or something like that, then how could it be that any non-white group is capable of Europeanness, or capable of developing any European culture? But I actually think this is kind of weird. For me ‘European’ is not a euphemism, doesn’t just mean ‘white’. Not in contexts like ‘European civilization’. The pre-Roman Britons really were white but they weren’t part of ‘European civilization’. I assume we agree on that? There are probably some distinctive features of any cultures that whites produce, but most people on the alt right aren’t interested in preserving just any old kind of ‘white culture’. They’re attached to the specific kind of white culture that developed over maybe the last 2500 years in Europe (and especially western Europe, I think). And the alt right is not asserting the tautology that only whites can develop white culture. The claim is that specific valuable and important cultural achievements of Europe can be maintained and extended only if whites are, at least, an overwhelming and stable majority. Or something to that effect.

      “So yes, you can define a term ‘white nation’… But so what? Why should anyone care about the line you’ve drawn? What indication is there that it’s as firmly grounded in our shared reality as it is in the minds of the alt-right?”

      I think most people would recognize intuitively that the racial (ethnic, demographic) make-up of a nation is a very important and non-arbitrary fact about that nation. Intuitively, the fact that China has a majority Han Chinese population does _not_ seem like the fact that most people who live there are under 6 foot 1 inch tall. Why? Well, for one thing, pretty much every nation throughout history either (a) has an identity that is openly and consciously and historically grounded in the racial identity of its majority, or (b) is divided along racial lines between different racial groups, usually with one or more of them seeking to form their own nation. (Here I’m using ‘racial’ in a broad sense, so that, for example, ethnic differences between Scots and Irish or Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs are ‘racial’ differences.) Another reason would be that people just do seem to naturally sort themselves by race and feel racial loyalty and solidarity. So unless that tendency is going away in the near future, it would make sense to allow people to form political and social units that correspond to their deep feelings. By contrast, people don’t seem to care in the same way about height (for example). I would ask you what “shared reality” you’re thinking of when you ask these questions. Is it not pretty obvious in your world that people strongly tend to be tribal, racist or racialist, and that most movements for ‘national’ identity and sovereignty and so on have always been grounded in racial or ethnic identity? (Even if in some cases the racial identity is partly or wholly mythical–as in the case of diaspora Jews, for example, or maybe the Irish or French–what matters is that people do tend to think in these terms about nations and nationality.)

    • Jacques,

      Earlier, though, you seemed to be arguing that the necessary (and sufficient?) condition was “Europeanness”

      Yes, that’s what I’m saying: as far as people go[1], the necessary and sufficient condition for a person inheriting, maintaining, or developing white civilisation is being white. That follows from what I think is a general rule about civilisations, which is that, as far as people go, the necessary and sufficient condition for a person inheriting, maintaining, or developing a civilisation is belonging to that civilisation or (equivalently) being one of the owners of that civilisation.

      …most people on the alt right aren’t interested in preserving just any old kind of ‘white culture’. They’re attached to the specific kind of white culture that developed over maybe the last 2500 years in Europe (and especially western Europe, I think)…The claim is that specific valuable and important cultural achievements of Europe can be maintained and extended only if whites are, at least, an overwhelming and stable majority.

      I think this is the cause of a good bit of our confusion and our talking past each other. There are at least two, related senses of the term ‘white civilisation’ being used here. One is what I’ve been focusing on, which I think is the proper sense, the basic sense, maybe the essential sense: that is, the civilisation of white people. The other is the sense you’ve given here (something like “the great civilisation of white people now”) as the important one, which is a historically accidental sense.

      On my definition, you can only really destroy white civilisation by destroying white people — either by destroying the ‘white’ or by destroying the ‘people’. But even white people can lose the second sense — the Great White Civilisation/Culture sense — while there remains a distinctive group called “white people”, perhaps by becoming so liberal that they forget themselves, or because of an(other? :p) apocalyptic event.

      I’m not sure you’re right that “most people on the alt right aren’t interested in preserving just any old kind of ‘white culture’”. Charles Martel, for one, in one his comments here said “ultimately the European alt-righter simply sees European civilization as valuable *because it is his own and his peoples’.*” I think there’s a mixture of the two: people value it because it’s theirs, and they value it because they think it’s objectively great.

      I think there’s been some messy conflation of the two definitions; Charles’ talk about the Japanese not being able to develop European culture because of IQ etc is an example of that. But I also now see more clearly why you, he, the alt-right and other white nationalists are so invested in racial-biological explanations of what’s distinctive about white people. Thanks.

      (Here I’m using ‘racial’ in a broad sense, so that, for example, ethnic differences between Scots and Irish or Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs are ‘racial’ differences.)

      I don’t think that’s a good idea. You, Charles and the alt-right invest a lot into “race” as a real, biological entity with strong, genetically heritable effects on things like intelligence, personality, and temperament. Ethnicity is intentionally about socially constructed differences regardless of (and often presumptively without genuine) biological bases for those differences.

      …pretty much every nation throughout history either (a) has an identity that is openly and consciously and historically grounded in the racial identity of its majority, or (b) is divided along racial lines between different racial groups, usually with one or more of them seeking to form their own nation.

      Another reason would be that people just do seem to naturally sort themselves by race and feel racial loyalty and solidarity.

      So yes, race has been used in forming a people’s coherent sense of themselves while none of the things I mentioned have been. (Though one of those things was about language, and languages have, of course, been used about.)

      But we’re not talking about nations here. We’re talking about a supposedly cross-national culture that’s part of a supposedly cross-national civilisation. You’re claiming a real, common culture and a real, single civilisation for hundreds of millions of people from populations that have in some cases diverged millenia ago, people who are now scattered across dozens of countries in most inhabited continents, who speak dozens of generally mutually unintelligible languages, and virtually all of whom do not think of themselves as being a single people according to your chosen property. Whatever uses that property has when forming certain nations with those people, in the pan-European context that we’re actually talking about it seems no more real than pan-Africanism, or pretending that the Semitic peoples are all actually one people, or fighting for the civilisation and culture of those who drive on the left (most former British colonies and Japan unite!).

      Or is your talk about “European/white civilisation” more aspirational than real?

      ——

      1. I say “as far as people go” because I think there are also requirements on contributions made by said people for them to be recognised as contributions to that civilisation and not, say, something new entirely, or something that isn’t cultural at all.

    • Hi Kamal,
      Thanks for an interesting exchange.

      “the necessary and sufficient condition for a person inheriting, maintaining, or developing a civilisation is belonging to that civilisation or (equivalently) being one of the owners of that civilisation.”

      Okay, so we agree on this point. Now what I’m saying (and I think Charles is saying) is that the necessary conditions for belonging to European civilization include all kinds of traits that–on the whole, for the most part–are just not found in any non-white groups. In order to belong a group must be sufficiently intelligent, and lots of non-white groups just aren’t. Pygmies and Aborigines, for example. In order to belong, a group must be capable of identifying deeply with the people and history and values of some particular European nation and culture. Even if Japanese or Arabs are smart enough, there’s no way they can do that.

      You keep saying that most whites don’t think of themselves as white. Well, clearly most non-whites don’t think of themselves as Europeans. Even after being in Europe for 1000 years, Jews still gripe about how they were treated by “Europe” or “Europeans”. This is not how you think about the culture or civilization to which you belong (or take yourself to belong). Based on many of your own comments in an earlier thread, it’s clear that you, as a black person, don’t really identify with historical America or its people. In fact I don’t know if there’s even a single example of a racial out-group successfully integrating into the culture or civilization of the racial majority, so that these distinct races both fully belong to a single civilization. (Cases where two races inter-breed and become one, sure, but that’s different.)

      So in realistic terms, only (some) white groups can be the inheritors of European civilization. I still don’t understand what your objection is to this claim. You seem to be pointing out that _other_ conditions beyond whiteness are necessary. Yes, sure, but why do you doubt that whiteness is necessary? No one is saying it’s sufficient.

      “I’m not sure you’re right that “most people on the alt right aren’t interested in preserving just any old kind of ‘white culture’”. Charles Martel, for one, in one his comments here said “ultimately the European alt-righter simply sees European civilization as valuable *because it is his own and his peoples’.*” I think there’s a mixture of the two: people value it because it’s theirs, and they value it because they think it’s objectively great.”

      I also want to preserve European civilization–more importantly, distinct European nations. Sure, I value it because it’s mine, and also because it’s objectively great. Why would this suggest that I’m “interested in preserving just any old kind of ‘white culture'”? If there were some particular culture of white people somewhere on earth that was exactly like the culture of present-day Australian Aborigines, for example, then I’d have no interest in preserving that. It wouldn’t be mine, and it wouldn’t have any objective worth either. On the other hand, if I were a member of that culture, I might well want to preserve just because it was mine. None of this seems problematic to me. Is there a problem?

      “I don’t think that’s a good idea. You, Charles and the alt-right invest a lot into “race” as a real, biological entity with strong, genetically heritable effects on things like intelligence, personality, and temperament.”

      When I say I’m using ‘race’ in a broad sense, ‘broad’ doesn’t mean ‘non-biological’. There are measurable genetic differences between Irish and Scots, or between different sub-groups within Ireland and Scotland. Jews and Arabs really are biologically different too. But these kinds of differences are small compared with those between whites and blacks or Chinese and Aborigines.

      “But we’re not talking about nations here. We’re talking about a supposedly cross-national culture that’s part of a supposedly cross-national civilisation. You’re claiming a real, common culture and a real, single civilisation for hundreds of millions of people from populations that have in some cases diverged millenia ago.”

      Yes, that’s what we’re talking about. Again I just don’t understand the problem. Can we speak of human civilization? I think that makes perfect sense. And if we met Alpha Centaurians we’d almost certainly be able to make some comparisons between our human terrestrial civilization and theirs. Even though the components of human civilization are very diverse, the populations diverged millenia ago, etc. Likewise, we can distinguish European civilization from Asian or Indian civilization, it seems to me. There are obvious things. European civilization, as we normally understand the concept, was a fusion of Greco-Roman, Christian and Germanic-Aryan pagan influences. And that’s very different from what we find in the Arab world, for example, or in Meso-America. Why can’t we appeal to these kinds of obvious historical-cultural (and other) differences to distinguish cross-national cultures or civilizations?

      “virtually all of whom do not think of themselves as being a single people according to your chosen property.”

      What is my chosen property? Whiteness or Europeanness? In either case I think you’re wrong about this. For example, most Europeans until _very_ recently did think of themselves as white people. Now that doesn’t mean they thought of themselves as “a single people” in the sense of being a single nation or culture; but they did think of themselves as a single race, with many different nations and cultures. And most white Europeans even now are probably quite aware of being white, and blood related to other European whites, even if this awareness is virtually illegal (except for purposes of blaming and persecuting whites). We’re already starting to see real Euro nationalist movements in western Europe. Where do you think that comes from? I think it comes from people being more explicitly racially aware, because their governments are pursuing aggressive policies of anti-white racism and racial displacement. If you’re thinking of the property of Europeanness, again it seems to me that most white Europeans _always_ thought of themselves as Europeans too. But they had other identities also, of course. Surely the different European nations that came together to fight Muslim invaders had some sense of belonging to a shared European (Christian) world.

      But suppose you’re right–no one thinks in these terms. Why would that matter? In that case it would only show that Europeans are now so deranged that they’ve forgotten who they are. It would still be true that European civilization exists, that whiteness is a necessary condition for belonging to that civilization, etc. The task would then be to convert these deranged people back to reality.

    • Jacques,

      So in realistic terms, only (some) white groups can be the inheritors of European civilization.

      I thought you guys use ‘European’ as a euphemism for ‘white’, but in this sentence and in other places it sounds like you in particular (and maybe you guys in general?) don’t. What do you mean by ‘European’? How do you think it relates to ‘white’? Do you think that non-whites can be (truly) European?

      Well, clearly most non-whites don’t think of themselves as Europeans. Even after being in Europe for 1000 years, Jews still gripe about how they were treated by “Europe” or “Europeans”. This is not how you think about the culture or civilization to which you belong (or take yourself to belong).

      Do Jews gripe about that? When? Where?

      And of course Jews have had a hard time identifying as European. For centuries until recently, virtually all of Europe was thoroughly — both officially and unofficially — Christian. And, incidentally, that difficulty that Jews had was an example of a non-biological, non-racial ethnic division. As far as most black people are concerned, white Jews are as white as white Christians, and viewing white people solely from the perspective of the black-white racial divide, Christian Europeans’ treatment of Jews is virtually incomprehensible.

      Based on many of your own comments in an earlier thread, it’s clear that you, as a black person, don’t really identify with historical America or its people. In fact I don’t know if there’s even a single example of a racial out-group successfully integrating into the culture or civilization of the racial majority, so that these distinct races both fully belong to a single civilization.

      I’m not American. Ironically, in terms of people’s identification with a national project that sees itself as (and probably is in fact) more an inheritor of European civilisation than any other civilisation, the formerly British slave colonies of exploitation in the West Indies have been more successful than their trueborn sister, that glorious city-on-a-hill colony of settlement to their north (and west, in the case of the Bahamas). The same applies to their successfully belonging to a single civilisation, perhaps with the exception of Guyana (which could easily have turned out otherwise, as Richard Drayton argues in https://www.scribd.com/document/47566699/Drayton-Liberal-Imperialism-in-British-Guiana-1953-64-2006).

      And do you really think that America’s historical and contemporary difficulties in making one out of its Amerindian, black, and white many are more down to biological facts of racial difference like personality, intelligence, and temperament than to white plunder, murder, kidnapping, and racialised chattel slavery?

      When I say I’m using ‘race’ in a broad sense, ‘broad’ doesn’t mean ‘non-biological’.

      Ahm, so when you said —

      Well, for one thing, pretty much every nation throughout history either (a) has an identity that is openly and consciously and historically grounded in the racial identity of its majority, or (b) is divided along racial lines between different racial groups, usually with one or more of them seeking to form their own nation.

      — how does that apply to the Christian states of Europe? Weren’t those created — openly and consciously and historically — along the lines of religion, language and defensible conquest rather than along the lines of obvious biological races? How does this apply to Portugal and Spain? To Catalonia and the Basque Country and Galicia? To what is now the United Kingdom? To France and Germany and Italy?

      Yes, that’s what we’re talking about. Again I just don’t understand the problem. Can we speak of human civilization?

      The problem is that your chosen boundaries are arbitrary. They seem to exist more in the minds of white nationalists than in reality. My point in talking about drawing lines around the Americas or the Commonwealth or le Monde Francophone was to show that neither the existence of commonalities within the group you’ve drawn a line around nor the existence of differences between that group and others that you draw lines around shows that your group is more real than imagined. You need to do more than that.

      I’d expect, for instance, any serious method of drawing those lines to be more than just “But look at their skin!” or “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Maybe an unsupervised machine learning algorithm (like k-means clustering) on a huge, multi-dimensional, multi-level dataset of the people you’re studying might find some real boundaries.

      And I’d also expect more sense-checking than just answering “Are there similarities among this group?” and “Are there differences between this group and other groups?” with yeses. How about asking, “In each of these groups, are there more (significant) similarities than there are differences?” Or, “For each of these groups, is the ratio of significant similarities to differences high? And how does it compare to that ratio for each of the groups divided according to a different method (such as GDP, or common language, or proportion of population that’s Christian)?”

      For example, most Europeans until _very_ recently did think of themselves as white people.

      They think of themselves as white people in what sense? Maybe people who are under 5ft tall think of themselves as short whenever they’re asked about it, but that doesn’t mean that they think about it otherwise, or that they think it materially affects their lives, or that they define themselves individually or communally by that property.

      If you’re thinking of the property of Europeanness, again it seems to me that most white Europeans _always_ thought of themselves as Europeans too. But they had other identities also, of course. Surely the different European nations that came together to fight Muslim invaders had some sense of belonging to a shared European (Christian) world.

      Right, and where did this European identity rank in their list of identities? Did that European identity exist apart from the need to band together to defeat Islamic invaders? Did anyone think of it other than in the context of defending their Christian European lands from Islamic invaders?

      But suppose you’re right–no one thinks in these terms. Why would that matter? In that case it would only show that Europeans are now so deranged that they’ve forgotten who they are. It would still be true that European civilization exists, that whiteness is a necessary condition for belonging to that civilization, etc. The task would then be to convert these deranged people back to reality.

      That’s assuming that it’s 1) a reality, and 2) that reality is a significant one that we ought to care about (or that it’s good for us to care about, even if maybe there’s no ought to it) when people are thinking about and acting on these things.

  8. Funny enough, a few weeks ago I actually wrote an article about Shapiro’s comments and this very topic:

    https://reconquistainitiative.com/2016/11/28/europeans-are-required-for-western-civilization/

    In essence, I think that all our present evidence points to the fact that Europeans are required for the maintenance of what we would broadly take to be Western Civilization, thereby making it reasonable to believe that this is the case. Furthermore, even though there exist certain ethnic groups–the Japanese or South Koreans, for example–who have been able to approximate Western Civilization, it is interesting to note that they have only done so given European influence and example, thus allowing us to legitimately wonder whether they could have done so on their own.

    Finally, there is also a pragmatic argument to consider here: namely, given that Western Civilization is so valuable, and given that our evidence points to the fact that Europeans are required for Western Civilization, and given the uncertainty of whether Western Civilization could survive without Europeans, then, given all these points, we have a strong pragmatic reason to ensure the continued existence of Europeans as homogeneous and culturally-strong ethnic groups until and unless shown clear evidence that Western Civilization could survive without a base of Europeans.

    Regards.

  9. “Quite innocently and without meaning to cause scandal, an observer may notice, for example, that the Japanese he has met tend to be deferent and non-confrontational, or that Sub-Saharan Africans he has met tend to be joyous and energetic, or that the Italians he has met may be expressive, loud and impatient, that the Swedes he has met tend to be smarter than the Pygmies he has met, and so forth. But there is also plenty ofempirical evidence for this thesis.”

    Can you provide more than a citation to these books? I’ve read the latter book and what the authors say there hardly qualifies (without some kind of argument) as empirical support.

    • Jared Taylor has a good video on YouTube where he presents evidence for racial differences in intelligence (simply look up ‘Jared Taylor Race and IQ’ and you should find it). Michael Levin’s Why Race Matters is also very compelling.

  10. “We’re already starting to see real Euro nationalist movements in western Europe. Where do you think that comes from? I think it comes from people being more explicitly racially aware, because their governments are pursuing aggressive policies of anti-white racism and racial displacement.”

    I don’t think the nationalist movements in Europe are primarily self-conciously white in their reaction to recent events. Racial self-conciousness is not what it was 100 years ago. The world is becoming ever more interconnected across a range of variables, and the fact of increasing interconnectedness won’t go away. This is simply inertia. Cross-demographic dynamics (interacial marriage, contact through media, communciation forging bonds across social groups, etc.) are changing the way people perceive the world.

    The more probable dynamic is people strongly reacting to a massive f***up by many European governments. I mean, there were 3000 person towns in Germany that in a single night were required to allow ~3000 refugees to live in the city for the foreseeable future. The majority of people don’t care about the racial characteristics of the refugees, they care about being able to go about their lives in relative comfort.

    ——-

    Much of the scientific conclusions the alt-right leans on are still up for debate. People should be absolutely free to pursue the types of scientific thinking and discussion they want (whether as researchers, students, lay persons, etc.). However, something alt-righters and their supporters should admit is that there are immensly harmful policies, dicussions, behavior, and the like that are a stones throw from the type of discussion in this thread. The memory of WWII should necessarily inject circumspection into these lines of argument.

    • Most alt-righters just want to pursue peaceful means to ensure that whites continue to exist and to have explicitly white ethnostates (if present demographic trends continue, whites will go extinct). This is what everyone of every other race wants and this is perfectly healthy to want. So I’m not sure why whites in particular should be treated with circumspection or suspicion for desiring the same thing people of other races want.

    • Hi Jordan,
      I agree that the nationalism now isn’t based on explicit racial awareness. But I’m pretty sure racial awareness is playing a role, if only implicitly or semi-consciously. People notice when their small town is suddenly flooded with people who not only speak and act very differently (usually worse) but who also look profoundly different. People tend to become racially aware when their government imposes race-based policies that pretty obviously target them, because of their race, in order to benefit others, because of theirs. I’m making a prediction: if things keep going this way we’re going to see ever more explicit, conscious racial identity and solidarity across the white world. (I think the Trump thing is an indication, the very first stirrings of white racial consciousness–as all the lefties keep moaning and shrieking.)

      You write:

      “However, something alt-righters and their supporters should admit is that there are immensly harmful policies, dicussions, behavior, and the like that are a stones throw from the type of discussion in this thread. The memory of WWII should necessarily inject circumspection into these lines of argument.”

      I will agree with this IF we can get everyone to agree that ideas of equality, diversity, multi-culturalism and multi-racialism have been WAY more “immensely harmful” than anything that we “racist” alt right people believe. Millions more people have been enslaved and murdered by Communists than by Nazis. Far more nations have been impoverished and turned into miserable dysfunctional dictatorships by leftism and racial egalitarianism than by our “racist” ideas. The memory of the Holodomor, the Stalinist show trials and genocides, the Cultural Revolution, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the French Revolution (etc.) “should necessarily inject circumspection” into any “lines of argument” meant to support leftism, egalitarianism, socialism, etc.

      And we could add that leftist notions of multi-racialism and racial equality have been pretty disastrous too. We could think of the millions of people raped, assaulted or murdered by racial minorities in the west who would not have been raped, assaulted or murdered if our policies weren’t based on these leftist notions. We could think of how formerly prosperous orderly nations like Rhodesia and South Africa have been turned into miserable dysfunctional hellholes.

      And so on. The point is: “the memory of World War II”, i.e., the sacred status of the Holocaust and the unique ultimate evil of Nazism, are not actually special. Pretty much all interesting and important ideologies and ideals have been associated with some really bad stuff. This isn’t a problem for right-wingers any more than anyone else.

  11. “And, incidentally, that difficulty that Jews had was an example of a non-biological, non-racial ethnic division.”

    No, Ashkenazic Jews are genetically distinct from Christian host populations. Right now scientists are working on the details, e.g., to what extent they have Italian admixture.

    Jews are distinct in part because their ancient religion is based on ideals of racial purity and supremacy. So this is actually a good example of how cultural traits can end up producing genetic-biological differences; even if the original Jews were exactly like others genetically, their racialist religion produced a distinct race.

    “Right, and where did this European identity rank in their list of identities? Did that European identity exist apart from the need to band together to defeat Islamic invaders? Did anyone think of it other than in the context of defending their Christian European lands from Islamic invaders?”

    I guess European identity might have been more or less important than other kinds depending on circumstances. But given that white Christian Europeans were being enslaved in the hundreds of thousands, invaded and attacked by Muslims and others for a thousand years, there weren’t a lot of times when we wouldn’t have been at least dimly aware of some kind of shared identity. Most social identities are formed by confrontation with enemies and other outsiders. So what? Does that mean that such identities aren’t real? Or that they aren’t real once those particular confrontations are done? Explain to me why you think we can’t identify some obvious major things such as Greco-Roman, Christian and Germanic influences that distinguish Europe from other civilizations? It’s entirely traditional and natural to distinguish in this way. The onus is on you to explain why you reject this way of thinking–if that’s what you’re doing.

    • Ah, okay.

      No, Ashkenazic Jews are genetically distinct from Christian host populations.

      And…do you think they had those difficulties in Europe mostly because of their genetic differences or mostly because of their religious difference?

      I guess European identity might have been more or less important than other kinds depending on circumstances. But given that white Christian Europeans were being enslaved in the hundreds of thousands, invaded and attacked by Muslims and others for a thousand years, there weren’t a lot of times when we wouldn’t have been at least dimly aware of some kind of shared identity.

      Weren’t you guys invading and attacking each other far more often than those on the periphery were being invaded and attacked by Muslims and others? And weren’t the pan-European efforts to fend off Muslims and others actually pan-Christian efforts? How much space can there have been for any but the dimmest awareness of a shared racial identity?

      Most social identities are formed by confrontation with enemies and other outsiders. So what? Does that mean that such identities aren’t real? Or that they aren’t real once those particular confrontations are done? Explain to me why you think we can’t identify some obvious major things such as Greco-Roman, Christian and Germanic influences that distinguish Europe from other civilizations? It’s entirely traditional and natural to distinguish in this way. The onus is on you to explain why you reject this way of thinking–if that’s what you’re doing.

      No, they’re real. Yes, they probably stop being real once the confrontations are gone, provided there’s nothing else (like sustaining a sense of nation) to keep them around.

      You can probably find things that distinguish European nations as a group from other groups of nations, but, as I’ve said before, 1) the mere existence of differences between one group and others isn’t evidence that either group is significant, or ought to be significant; and 2) that’s a long way from establishing that there’s such a thing as European/white culture or European/white civilisation.

      Also, that combination of influences you gave — “Greco-Roman, Christian and Germanic influences” — applies to how many European countries? 10? Does it even cover half of all Europeans?

    • I think the difficulties of Jews in Europe had a lot to do with their usury and tax farming. The poor viewed them as oppressors (reasonably enough). Maybe that kind of social niche was natural for Jews in part because of their genetic traits. Probably it was easier for them to treat gentiles callously because they regarded them as a different inferior race (and religion and culture). There’s a chicken-egg problem here. Quite possibly racial differences between Jews and some host groups are small enough that everyone would get along if there were no religious and cultural differences. In any case, whatever the causes, we do find that multiracial societies tend to be either deeply conflictual or harshly oppressive (to suppress racial conflict).

      Your point about Europeans fighting each other seems mistaken to me. Identity is complicated. I often have conflicts with men, but I still have a strong sense of identity as a man–relate to men of all races more than white women on some deep levels. I also have a strong sense of identity as a philosopher, relate to female philosophers deeply in ways I can’t relate to male truck drivers. Humans fight with each other just as much as they fight with other species, probably more. But we humans do have a strong sense of identity as humans and against non-human animals. I don’t see why Europeans couldn’t have many strong identities, relative to different interests and contexts.

      Is European identity ‘significant’? Hard to know how to argue about this. I think the European cultural heritage is a very great thing in human history (including also some of the worst stuff). I think that’s significant. Do you disagree? Let me ask you: why do you think there is no such thing as European civilization, or that it would not be ‘significant’ if there were? It’s common and traditional to speak of European civilization, as distinct from others. I don’t see why the burden of proof is on me here.

      Combination of influences: I don’t think there’s any European nation that hasn’t been strongly influenced by these things. (I don’t count Albania as a part of Europe.) Spain had Visigoths. The Romans were everywhere. Everyone was Christian til very recently, and later secular European thinking is obviously derived largely from Christianity or reactions against it. (E.g., socialism and utilitarianism and egalitarianism and ‘social justice’…) You disagree?

    • Jacques,

      I think the difficulties of Jews in Europe had a lot to do with their usury and tax farming. The poor viewed them as oppressors (reasonably enough). Maybe that kind of social niche was natural for Jews in part because of their genetic traits. Probably it was easier for them to treat gentiles callously because they regarded them as a different inferior race (and religion and culture). There’s a chicken-egg problem here. Quite possibly racial differences between Jews and some host groups are small enough that everyone would get along if there were no religious and cultural differences. In any case, whatever the causes, we do find that multiracial societies tend to be either deeply conflictual or harshly oppressive (to suppress racial conflict).

      To the man with a hammer…

      Your point about Europeans fighting each other seems mistaken to me. Identity is complicated…I don’t see why Europeans couldn’t have many strong identities, relative to different interests and contexts.

      This isn’t about overlapping, mostly non-conflicting identities relative to different interests and contexts. The “interests and contexts” here — “being enslaved in the hundreds of thousands, invaded and attacked by Muslims and others for a thousand years” — which supposedly bred a European identity were more widely and deeply available for breeding individual national European identities that would undercut (and in fact did undercut and continue today to undercut) any sense of shared European or even Christian identity.

      Is European identity ‘significant’? Hard to know how to argue about this. I think the European cultural heritage is a very great thing in human history (including also some of the worst stuff). I think that’s significant. Do you disagree? Let me ask you: why do you think there is no such thing as European civilization, or that it would not be ‘significant’ if there were? It’s common and traditional to speak of European civilization, as distinct from others. I don’t see why the burden of proof is on me here.

      Europe’s contribution to the world has certainly been significant, both for good and for ill. My point there was the same point I’d made a time or two before in the same argumentative thread: just because you, having arbitrarily selected two groups, can find that there are differences between the groups doesn’t mean that the grouping you have selected is significant in the sense that you’ve thereby found the properties that cause those differences. Correlation doesn’t generally imply causation.

      I’ve said before why I don’t think there’s such a thing as European civilisation. To quote myself: “you’re claiming a real, common culture and a real, single civilisation for hundreds of millions of people from populations that have in some cases diverged millenia ago, people who are now scattered across dozens of countries in most inhabited continents, who speak dozens of generally mutually unintelligible languages, and virtually all of whom do not think of themselves as being a single people according to your chosen property.”

      (I don’t count Albania as a part of Europe.)

      Isn’t that convenient? And lemme guess: Turkey isn’t a part of Europe either, but Armenia and Georgia are?

      Combination of influences: I don’t think there’s any European nation that hasn’t been strongly influenced by these things…Spain had Visigoths.The Romans were everywhere. Everyone was Christian til very recently, and later secular European thinking is obviously derived largely from Christianity or reactions against it. (E.g., socialism and utilitarianism and egalitarianism and ‘social justice’…) You disagree?

      Good point re Spain and Portugal. That means that your combination covers a lot more than I thought.

      What about the rest of Southern Europe though? And Eastern Europe?

  12. I am surpised at this post, but certainly of its content. Let’s first start with our gold old friend, morality. A moral obligation is that which is overriding of another’s desire and impartial. If we can agree to that and think living an ethical life is a good thing in that it requires us to step outside of our own desires, then why the fuck would anyone think it wise to advocate for “respecting human nature”? Why think that egalitarianism is a bad thing? Really… for fuck’s sake.

    I’m sorry, but this post is despicable and not because there are not plenty of arguments to go against such an idiotic post, but now I know why all of you publish under pseudonyms. This post means that you must be challenged. You’ve basically given up on democracy and living alongside others. You want your pure racial differences and essentialist ontologies, you’re going to have to go through some existentialists to get there. I’ll always fight your kind. In the streets, in the churches, and not under Leftist grounds, but under the auspices of a morally objectivist ethics that doesn’t try to essentialize differences.

    For fuck’s sake, many of you are assholes.

    • “I’m sorry, but this post is despicable and not because there are not plenty of arguments to go against such an idiotic post”

      But you, of course, aren’t going to offer any of these supposed arguments. Instead, it’s the typical hysterical name-calling, and, this time, threats too.

      But I don’t fully blame you, Mr. Sutton. The time for debate really is over. This is a civil war. If it makes you feel better, your side is destroying ours and there looks to be little chance to me that our side will win.

    • fuck would anyone think it wise to advocate for “respecting human nature”? Why think that egalitarianism is a bad thing? Really… for fuck’s sake.

      How about we first start with our good old friend, Truth. How could it possibly be unwise to respect the truth? If you wish to understand why egalitarianism is a bad thing, there are plenty of articles, blogs, and books with arguments.

      I think Criticus Ferox is correct. This is a civil war. Another distinction I have seen between mainstream conservatives and the alt-right, is that conservatives believe that reason and good argument is all that is required. The alt-right understands that you cannot reason with SJWs. Instead, the alt-right uses rhetoric, memes, and mockery. Basically, they are using the tactics of the left against them.

    • To Criticus,

      I’m a personalist in the Christian tradition. I start from the assumption that there is something essentially correct about morality—that we OUGHT to be concerned with others, how they are faring, and that the moral beliefs reflect the all encompassing other-regarding duties we have to other people. This is not just SJWs, a fallacious ad hominem used by conservatives any more than my outburst.

      A call to action is not a threat, but merely that respecting a person’s dignity is the central starting place of what I take the Gospels to be eliciting in me and what I think they might call for from others.

      Next, to Urban II:

      Fine, truth is a propositions adequation with reality.

      Next, egalitarianism is, at its core, what morality requires. Anyone that denies that is either a mora skeptic or a revisionist about what morality typically means.The burden is on you to either embrace skepticism about morality or give me another philosophical story about what morality typically means. Either way, I think you are stuck on the horns of a dilemma. let me explain.

      Given that both disjuncts are at odds with what many take to be what morality requires, I think we can prima facie reject alt-right proposals given they are either skeptics about what morality requires with respect to its other-regarding content OR they are using morality in such a unique way that it will fail to satisfy what most agree is conceptually significant about morality.

      Once you essentialize racial differences, you’ve flown off the planet; ;you might as well justify your arguments by reference to Dark Horse comics and the Sith.

    • “The burden is on you to either embrace skepticism about morality or give me another philosophical story about what morality typically means.”

      No, the burden is most certainly not on me to spend the time refuting some kind of abstruse and idiosyncratic theory of “egalitarianism” that you’ve constructed and what you think it implies. The idea of ethno-nationalism is based on common sense observations of the world and common sense morality. If you don’t agree with that position and want to debate the details, feel free to express a serious argument against it and people here will probably engage with you.

      But it sounds like you want to pound the table and declare that the ideas of the at-right are beyond the pale because your preferred esoteric theory of morality is _obviously_ true,

    • Jim Sutton,

      May I purchase you some diapers? Maybe when you are done crying that someone wrote a (respectful) post you disagree with you can come back to the big boy table with your big boy pants and actually engage the arguments and claims made here and on the comments on their merits.

  13. “You want your pure racial differences and essentialist ontologies, you’re going to have to go through some existentialists to get there.”

    Those existentialists sound pretty scary. Most people on the ‘alt right’ don’t believe in “essentialist ontologies” or “pure racial differences”, whatever those might be. This is a tired straw man. We think race is a real and important distinction between human groups grounded in their very different ancestry, and we can make useful generalizations about how different races tend to behave and interact. I think most unbiased people would regard this as common sense, or close enough, while mainstream ‘philosophy of race’ seems to be mostly obfuscation and sophistry. For example, claiming to challenge race realism on the grounds that races aren’t ‘pure’ or that we can’t give ‘essentialist’ necessary and sufficient conditions for racial identity–as if we need to do that in order to justify the belief that race is a real biological distinction.

    Jim Sutton writes:

    “egalitarianism is, at its core, what morality requires.”

    Maybe that’s plausible on a certain interpretation. For example, it could be argued that morality requires giving equal consideration to the interests of everyone, or that it requires believing that every person has a certain basic worth or dignity. But why would _that_ kind of thing be incompatible with belief in racial differences? We all know that some individual people are smarter or kinder or wiser than others, but these facts about individuals isn’t generally taken to be incompatible with these kinds of moral ‘equality’. There’s no reason you can’t consistently allow that groups, such as races, also differ in lots of important ways while believing that all individuals deserve equal consideration or that they all have equal dignity. To be sure, race realism is incompatible with believing that all racial groups have the same average personality traits; but it would be absurd to hold that _empirical_ egalitarianism of that kind is a requirement of morality. (Though lots of weird people nowadays do seem to hold that absurd belief.)

    I myself don’t believe in any of these kinds of egalitarianism. I’m also not a ‘moral skeptic’. I think it’s wrong to murder and steal, right to honor promises and care for others, etc. As far as I can tell, I’m not being irrational. For example, I don’t see why I need to assume that every murder is exactly equally bad just in virtue of being a murder of a person (whose value is exactly equal to that of any other person) in order to know that murder is bad. Maybe some persons are intrinsically better than others. Or not. Murder would still be really bad and wrong regardless. My sense is that philosophical principles like ‘egalitarianism’ are just attempts to sum up a whole bunch of moral beliefs and feelings that don’t really need philosophical support. Usually the attempt fails anyway. Philosophers who call themselves ‘egalitarians’ can’t agree on what equality means and none of them has a worked out theory that properly accounts for the moral facts. We don’t really learn anything new or useful about how to live morally from studying moral philosophy (though we might learn other things). Who cares? Morality doesn’t need philosophy. Certainly race realism and rightism don’t need to be validated by leftist egalitarian moral philosophy.

  14. If you want an argument, you will have it.

    In this post and several commentators later are racial realists. To say that one is a realist means that a property X obtains independently of our cognition of X. We do not contribute anything to its being. That’s what the function of mind-independence is in various forms of realism whereas someone may be a constructivist about race. Race is a social construction, and it is a contingent product of many social and political forces. The category is historically mediated and depends on our propagation and construction of its reality. In this way, racial constructivists think racial differences are a constructed category.

    A strawman fallacy is when an opponent distorts and misrepresents the central position of another such that one can argue more easily against the caricatured view. In a previous post, I was accused of doing this, but it seems to me that if one thinks of race as a mind-independent category, one thinks of this as an mind-independent property, and while the mind-independent metaphysical status is left incomplete in my opponents here, it’s not wrong to think that mind-independent properties are committed to a view that there is an essence to race; otherwise why be a realist? I am a moral realist in that I think cognitivism about moral judgments is true, and that there are moral facts in the universe. I, too, must give a story philosophically about why I think there are moral facts and the function of moral language and its truth-aptness. And if there were a conference in metaethics, I have reasons why I adopt intuitionism just as it is reasonable to have you explain why and how it is wrong to think you are not essentialists about race. Even more to the point, the fact that one thinks biological differences can posit race as a category also demands explanation, and I would think it a hard task given that one must impose upon biology non-biological concepts to be a racial realist to the point that one might undermine the study and function of what biology truly is. Let alone how one might defend biology making that distinction in the very first place. Certainly that’s not a common idea coming from biologists.

    As for morality, let’s construct an argument, and in this argument I will concede racial realism to my opponents here.

    1) Common-sense morality requires that everyone’s worth be considered equally (stipulated definition of what we might agree upon)
    2) Racial realists justify putting their in-group first with policy X before other races of other out-groups.
    3) If someone puts others before themselves as we see racial realists justify from premise 2), then they are prima facie in violation of basic moral requirements.
    4) Racial realists are prima facie in violation of basic moral requirements.

    The reason I would defend 4) as true are several, but most importantly even if I concede all the social science cited and the basic ontology of race here, all it does is pragmatically tell me we are really bad at being moral. These positions add nothing to the fact that morality is a strategy to get us outside of ourselves. Even on naturalistic grounds, morality is the type of thing that gets us beyond what the politics of racial realists would be. That’s a good thing. Morality promotes pro-social and adaptive strategies for complicated societies. Along these lines, it’s an evolutionary advantage.

    Since many here might be religious, I would add that the moral law is realized by love. We are called to be beings for community. In the call to emulate Christ, we are called to live a life based on the same love and devotion he sacrificed for us—Agape. Given that, the basic ethno-nationalism being defended here is incompatible with the basic starting position of Christ’s conception of love we are called to emulate in Philippians.

    • “3) If someone puts others before themselves as we see racial realists justify from premise 2), then they are prima facie in violation of basic moral requirements.”

      I think what you meant to say with the first part of that was “If someone puts their in-group before others”, right? Assuming so, your reasoning seems to be that putting an in-group before others is in violation of the moral obligation that “everyone’s worth be considered equally”.

      But common sense tells us that we are morally justified in putting members of in-groups (e.g., family, friends, fellow countrymen, etc.) before others in many different ways (e.g., who is allowed to reside in your house, who receives gifts or affection, who you fight along side of in battle, etc.).

    • Yes, but all of your examples are common intuitions about when partial obligations are allowed. When it concerns public policy, that changes things (impartial obligations) like who you fight alongside in battle. If I am a US Marine, I don’t get to pick who is in my squad and so the duty I would have to anyone in my unit would hold for who is in my unit, and yes, you’re right about what I meant.

    • Common-sense morality requires that everyone’s worth be considered equally (stipulated definition of what we might agree upon)

      I hope you don’t have kids.

    • Non-sequitur. I’d really hope that you don’t have kids either. Thanks for asking though.

      And if you consider yourself concerned with what’s right and morality in general, why would any conservative be skeptical about those moral beliefs that have been with us in our traditions for a long time. The fact that people are loved before God equally expresses the same standard underlying the impartiality of morality; this is also why Nietzsche critiques Christianity and secular moral theories together.

    • It’s an obvious counterexample to your initial premise. A parent should favor his own children.

      This universal egalitarian morality you speak of hasn’t been with us that long and it certainly isn’t the historical understanding of Christian morality. Is it found in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics? Is it found in Aquinas’ writings on natural law? Is it found in the Catholic Church?

  15. “Next, egalitarianism is, at its core, what morality requires. Anyone that denies that is either a mora (sic) skeptic or a revisionist about what morality typically means.”

    Given the complementarianism of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, and evidently God, must be moral skeptics or revisionists about what morality means on the definition above.

    This may give one who claims to be a Christian pause.

  16. Sorry, I can’t brook the sloppy thinking of the most extreme of the alt-right or the bigots that represent the worst of it.

    Democratic or Republican government could be said to be a Mediterranean idea, and Samuel Rutherford could not write Lex, Rex, without the reference to some Semitic tribe, in the design of a specifically distinct Semitic people. In fact, Western Civilization wouldn’t be what it came to be without the total abandonment of the religious rites of distinctly European paganism, to the preference of the Levant monotheism.

    Equal to linked “argument” of Jared Taylor which highlights a strain of bigotry which goes back a long way in the American tradition–without a note of difficulty he mentions the Roger Taney, and the Dred Scott decision obliquely citing that “the Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that no black, slave or free, could be a citizen of the United States” (and anyone who doesn’t understand what black magic Taney did in the Dred Scott decision should rethink calling themselves conservative…or at least have the decency to add “historically-illiterate” or “ignorant” in front of it) — the only way that Greek and Italian polity becomes the heritage of English/Scottish stock on another continent, is not relying on the antiquity of distinguishing swarthy Mediterraneans from Gothic and Celtic stock, but simply adopting a heritage from a wholly different group. Including as mentioned above, completely wiping the slate of European nature religions in preference for the tanner tradition and desert tropes of sky-figured monotheism (which first shows in Egypt of all places!!).

    You can probably find a record of vigorous Goths dismissing the lazy Romans–but that doesn’t speak to the value of the cluster which we call “Western Civilization”, simply because no one demographic made did it all.

    Also, the article above fails to confront the Heisenberg problem with “diversity”. Do we have very many representative cases of diversity that are absent a quasi-religious dogma that seeks to push different people together in such a way, and provide a correction and orthodoxy as to how one should reform your thinking as the only acceptable mode of thought. The liberals adopt a paradoxical approach that the only way we can “increase diversity” is promote a stereotype and compression of a variety of people to their race and perhaps class. Such an incoherent approach cannot help but fail, and so the inward pressure to insist on its success and fight a sort of “sedition” among the ranks of the throngs to be educated.

    Although I resist pronouncing the alt-right as “white supremacist” to the extent that they are willing to entertain a non-objectionable nature of Taney’s decision, they effectively are. I’m a unabashed defender of “Western Civilization”. But to not realize that it’s a story of the eventual ascension of the best ideas and the realization of the universal rights of man, rather than some Volkisch expression of race, is to reside in delusion. Worst is to fail to recognize the central effect on an imported religion from the Levant.

    And I can site a clear source of Shapiro’s idea of the universality of these principles: And I find for the second comment in a row the need to stress Locke. IF government is instituted among the people for the defense of liberties, and if each of us is created equally, and endowed with the same rights, why should only a certain homogeneous group of people have access to the best protection of human rights?

    That’s forgetting where rights come from: they don’t come from the genius of Europeans–or their fellow Caucasoid Semites, but from God–and the eminent Europeans that we would cite, would tell us the same.

    This is what I fear the rhetoric and the narrative of the left can only be countered by the rise of a rhetoric and narrative on the right, as opposed to sensible dialog and sane analysis.

    • Jim,
      If you look into the field of ‘population genetics’, a current and perfectly respectable field of real science, you’ll find that we can divide humans into different ‘populations’ differing genetically. These ‘populations’ are races or sub-species (or sub-sub-species). Or we could just appeal to biological principles such as evolution by natural selection: when human groups are largely reproductively isolated for long periods in very different environments they will tend to end up with different heritable traits. Everyone accepts that this is human biology for traits like skin and hair and resistance to malaria. Why can’t such differences extend to brains and psychology and behavior?

      Maybe you could explain why you think such ideas are _not_ grounded in biology, or why you think race realism is _not_ “explained by biology”. Good luck.

    • Jim, I’m not an alt-righter, but I have a few responses to what you’ve written:

      1. It’s false that race is merely a social construct. There are real genetic/biological differences between racial groups that make the categories biologically meaningful. These differences are the result of natural selection together with dozens of thousands of years of reproductive isolation in very different environments after humans left the African continent. This explains the phenotypic differences we observe between human groups every day, such as skin colour and facial characteristics. But these superficial characteristics are not the only differences between ‘racial’ groups. The groups are different with respect to average brain size and intelligence, for example, and it’s not at all implausible to suppose that phenotypic differences in average intelligence between groups (as measured by IQ and other tests) are partly explained by genotypic differences (we know, to use just one piece of evidence, that brain size and IQ are related: generally, bigger brain, higher IQ). There is no consensus against this empirical hypothesis in the relevant field and so one cannot dismiss it a priori, only because it might conflict with one’s sensibilities.

      As far as I can see, the primary objection to the view that racial groups are real and distinct biological categories is as follows: There’s more genetic variation within groups than between groups. The problem with this is that the same is true of domesticated dog breeds: there’s more variation within breeds than between them (see here https://www.princeton.edu/genomics/kruglyak/publication/PDF/2004_Parker_Genetic.pdf). Presumably that fact doesn’t entail that German Shepherds and Chihuahuas don’t belong to different biological sub-groups. And yet, like human racial groups, all dogs belong to the same species. So what’s the relevant biological difference between dog breeds and human races? Or should we also say that dog breeds are just human constructs?

      In any case, Richard Dawkins provides a nice refutation of this objection: (Apologies for the long quote.)

      “It is genuinely true that, if you measure the total variation in the human species and then partition it into a between-race component and a within-race component, the between-race component is a very small fraction of the total. Most of the variation among humans can be found within races as well as between them. Only a small admixture of extra variation distinguishes races from each other. That is all correct. What is not correct is the inference that race is therefore a meaningless concept. This point has been clearly made by the distinguished Cambridge geneticist A. W. F. Edwards in a recent paper called ‘Human genetic diversity: Lewontin’s fallacy’. R. C. Lewontin is an equally distinguished Cambridge (Mass.) geneticist, known for the strength of his political convictions and his weakness for dragging them into science at every possible opportunity. Lewontin’s view of race has become near-universal orthodoxy in scientific circles…

      …But that doesn’t mean that race is of’ virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance’. This is Edwards’s point, and he reasons as follows. However small the racial partition of the total variation may be, if such racial characteristics as there are are highly correlated with other racial characteristics, they are by definition informative, and therefore of taxonomic significance.

      Informative means something quite precise. An informative statement is one that tells you something you didn’t know before. The information content of a statement is measured as reduction in prior uncertainty. Reduction in prior uncertainty, in turn, is measured as a change in probabilities. This provides a way to make the information content of a message mathematically precise, but we don’t need to bother with that.* If I tell you Evelyn is male, you immediately know a whole lot of things about him. Your prior uncertainty about the shape of his genitals is reduced (though not obliterated). You now know facts you didn’t know before about his chromosomes, his hormones and other aspects of his biochemistry, and there is a quantitative reduction in your prior uncertainty about the depth of his voice, and the distribution of his facial hair and of his body fat and musculature…Your prior uncertainty about his ability to lift weights or excel at most sports is quantitatively reduced, but only quantitatively. Plenty of females can beat plenty of males at any sport, although the best males can normally beat the best females. Your ability to bet on Evelyn’s running speed, say, or the power of his tennis serve, has been slightly raised by my telling you his sex, but it has not reached certainty.

      Now to the question of race. What if I tell you Suzy is Chinese, how much is your prior uncertainty reduced? You now are pretty certain that her hair is straight and black (or was black), that her eyes have an epicanthic fold, and one or two other things about her. If I tell you Colin is ‘black’ this does not, as we have seen, tell you he is black. Nevertheless, it is clearly not uninformative. The high inter-observer correlation suggests that there is a constellation of characteristics that most people recognise, such that the statement ‘Colin is black’ really does reduce prior uncertainty about Colin. It works the other way around to some extent. If I tell you Carl is an Olympic sprinting champion, your prior uncertainty about his ‘race’ is, as a matter of statistical fact, reduced. Indeed, you can have a fairly confident bet that he is ‘black’.*

      We got into this discussion through wondering whether the concept of race was, or had ever been, an information-rich way to classify people. How might we apply the criterion of inter-observer correlation to judging the question? Well, suppose we took standard full-face photographs of 20 randomly chosen natives of each of the following countries: Japan, Uganda, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Egypt. If we presented all 120 people with all 120 photographs, my guess is that every single one of them would achieve 100 per cent success rates in sorting them into six different categories. What is more, if we told them the names of the six countries involved, all 120 subjects, if they were reasonably well educated, would correctly assign all 120 photographs to the correct countries. I haven’t done the experiment but I am confident that you will agree with me on what the result would be…

      If the experiment were to be done, I do not think Lewontin would expect any other result than the one I have predicted. Yet an opposite prediction would seem to follow from his statement that racial classification has virtually no taxonomic or genetic significance. If there is no taxonomic or genetic significance, the only other way to get a high inter-observer correlation would be a worldwide similarity in cultural bias, and I do not think Lewontin would want to predict that either. In short, I think Edwards is right and Lewontin, not for the first time, wrong. Lewontin did his sums right, of course: he is a brilliant mathematical geneticist. The proportion of the total variation in the human species that falls into the racial partition of variation is, indeed, low. But because the between-race variation, however low a percentage of the total
      variation, is correlated, it is informative in ways that could surely be demonstrated by measuring the inter-observer concordance of judgement.”

      2. This is a bit of a distraction. Even if races are just social constructs, we can still speak of differences between people whose ancestors came from Europe or Asia or sub-saharan Africa. As a matter of fact, these groups of people differ with respect to many characteristics, some of which are explained by genotypic differences.

      3. Of course, even if all of the above were true, it wouldn’t follow that the substantive policy prescriptions of the alt-right ought to be implemented. One can still believe that, despite the differences mentioned above, all people are equal with respect to their basic human dignity or (prima facie) moral rights. One can still believe that all people, whatever their race, deserve to have their interests considered equally. This is my own view and I certainly would not subscribe to the racial separatism that is concluded from the above differences by alt-righters.

      It is unwise to base one’s opposition to the alt-right on dubious empirical assertions such as that there are no human races or that there are no non-superficial genetic differences between groups. That makes one’s opposition to the alt-right hostage to empirical fortune. And if science ends up refuting those assertions, what will one do then?

    • The fact that there are physical differences between various groups does not evince that there exists something called race. The fact that brains can sort through family resemblances just proves that our neural network is good at pattern recognition. Our competency with sorting is evidence of sorting, not race as a reified concept.

    • I also never said that races do not exist. I claimed that race is not an essence. To say that something is socially constructed is not to deny its existence, but rather to call attention to just how it exists as a mind-dependent concept. The concept can still be informative, but in no way is it so essential as to be a concept alt-rightists exploit for ethno-nationalist justification.

    • Jim,

      You didn’t answer the arguments I made. Are dog breeds just human constructs? If not, then what’s the relevant biological difference between dog groups and human groups? The question is whether dozens of thousands of years of reproductive isolation between groups and evolution have led to mind-independent distinct human sub-groups.

      And I already pointed out that they don’t require the mind-independent existence of races for their claims. Even if races do not exist, or are merely socially constructed, we can still talk about (genetic) differences between groups of people whose (distant) ancestors were from Europe or East Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. Michael Levin makes this point in his book Why Race Matters:

      ‘To anyone bent on denying come what may that race is a useful concept, I surrender the word ‘race.’ Such an individual may read what follows not as a discussion of race differences at all, but of differences between descendants of Africans and Eurasians. Nothing is lost but a word.’

      And he’s right. That races are social constructs doesn’t imply that blacks, East Asians, Ashkenazim, and whites do not differ genetically in important ways. As a matter of fact, there are genetic differences between people whose ancestors were from Europe and people whose ancestors were from, say, Korea. The alt-right doesn’t require that race be anything more than a social construct.

    • David, I’m not about to buy Michael Levin’s Why Race Matters any time soon, but you guys keep bringing it up, so I’m curious about the scientific basis for claims like “[the racial] groups are different with respect to average brain size and intelligence, for example, and it’s not at all implausible to suppose that phenotypic differences in average intelligence between groups (as measured by IQ and other tests) are partly explained by genotypic differences (we know, to use just one piece of evidence, that brain size and IQ are related: generally, bigger brain, higher IQ).” Is there any way I can read about those without buying the book?

      Breadth of evidence from tests on populations in more places than just the US and its fellow rich nations would be especially great. (So if there are ones on black people or east Asians or arabs, I’d love to see results from testing black people in Africa and the rest of the Americas, east Asians in east Asia, and Arabs in Arabia as well as from those populations in America or Europe or wherever.) If it helps, I have access to most academic journals.

    • Kamal, why do you appear to be so skeptical of and unfriendly to the claim that there are racial differences in intelligence? Ashkenazi Jews are smarter, on average, than whites. As are East Asians. Sub-Saharan Africans are, on average, more athletically fit than whites. I am white and none of these things bother me or make me feel sad or morally inferior.

    • You’re right, Jim. Those DNA tests that determine ethnicity and race are really tracking social constructs imbedded in DNA.

    • Hi Kamal,

      “Is there any way I can read about those without buying the book?”

      Yes. There are many studies that are relevant to these questions. Here’s just one summary of the evidence and you can use the references section to find others:

      Rushton, J. P. & Jensen, A. (2005). ‘Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability.’ Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11(2): 235-294.

      “Breadth of evidence from tests on populations in more places than just the US and its fellow rich nations would be especially great.”

      Are you talking about IQ tests? If so, many studies have been performed on groups outside the US. The findings of these studies almost invariably indicate the following averages for groups (from memory):

      East Asians: ~106.
      Whites: ~100.
      American blacks: ~85.
      African blacks: ~70-80.
      Australian Aborigines: ~64.

      I don’t believe that these averages are particularly controversial. What’s controversial is the explanation of them. (Is it all down to environmental factors or do genetic differences partly explain the gaps?) For the evidence, see section 3 in the article I cited above. In addition, you might find the following helpful:

      Lynn, R. & Meisenberg, G. (2010). ‘The average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans: Comments on Wicherts, Dolan, and van der Maas.’ Intelligence, 38(1): 21-29.

      Lynn, R. & Meisenberg, G. (2010). ‘National IQs calculated and validated for 108 nations.’ Intelligence, 38: 353-360.

      The latter includes a helpful table that lists average IQs for 108 countries. Once again, you’ll profit from the references.

    • Thanks, David.

      Charles, I have a very healthy scepticism of the social sciences in general and psychology in particular, and of virtually every kind of explanation offered by a dominant group for its dominance.

    • Here is a question for Jim: if the facts that race is real and that there are many races and that there are differences between the races imperil moral realism, do the facts that sex is real and that there are two sexes and that there are differences between the sexes also imperil moral realism? (My guess is that Jim will be inclined to answer “no” on the grounds that sex and race are disanalogous insofar as race is “a social construct” and sex is not. Of course, the claim that race is “a social construct” is false and obviously so, as David eloquently explains above.)

Leave a Reply (Be sure to read our comment disclaimer)