Can the Darwinian racialists defend the West?
As someone who is quite new to race-realism (my interest sparked recently by the outrage over the James Watson comments on black IQ), I have recently started to read up some of the works of people such as yourself, Jared Taylor and even David Duke. Duke comes across as an obvious crackpot; but both Jared Taylor and yourself are engaging and thoughtful writers. However, one thing that has struck me, as an evangelical Christian, is the extreme Darwinian approach of not only Taylor , but many others on the racialist right—people such as Michael Hart, Phillipe Rushton and the webmaster of “Inverted World.” Do these men, who would be western civilization’s most ardent defenders, realise that they are purveying a nihilistic world-view which is the very antithesis to the Christian one which gave rise to our Western civilization in the first place? In Taylor’s case, I find this very surprising—after all is he not the son of missionaries? I would be very interested to hear your views on this.
Without commenting on individuals, I would say that your general point is central to my thinking and my idea of traditionalism. Traditionalism means an appreciation for what makes us what we are, all the dimensions of what we are, what our civilization is. A view that reduces us and our civilization to race, or that makes race the primary factor, is woefully incomplete and distorted. Race is a part of the structure of reality that makes us what we are, and liberalism denies that. But God and transcendent truth are also part of the structure of reality that makes us what we are, and the Darwinian racialists deny that.
Because they deny this fundamental aspect of existence on which our civilization and any society is founded, the Darwinian racialists are unable to articulate a meaningful politics and are unable to defend Western civilization effectively. The Darwinian racialists help us understand the truth of the racial question, which, while it may not have been important in past ages, is of indispensable importance for us, living as we do under liberalism which requires the total mixing of all races in our society and thus our extinction as a distinct people and civilization; but the Darwinian racialists are unable to relate the racial question to the larger whole of which it is a part.
Most Christians today are anti-racialists, a view incompatible with the survival of the West. Most racialists are non-Christians and reductive materialists, a view incompatible with the survival of the West. The key insight is that Western man and Western civilization are multi-layered. A view that takes just one part of the whole and treats it as the whole is no good. The West cannot survive unless it goes beyond these reductive, partial views and starts to see things whole. The true thinkers of Western civilization, the authors of the Hebrew Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, the founders of Christianity, Augustine, were never reductionists, they saw the multileveled nature of reality, and man as its epitome. Modern Western man has lost that. Western survival depends on regaining it.
Trevor H. replies:
Thanks for your excellent response. Also, would not the Darwinian approach also inevitably lead to viewing those races who are considered to be less “evolved” as something less than fully human? While one can accept differences in abilities between the various races, and also argue for the right of a nation to decide on its own demographics, a Christian must surely accept that all men are equally human in the eyes of God and that God desires for the salvation of the black man as much as the white man. This of course does not mean that we need to share the same territory, but any form of racialism which denies the humanity of any particular group of men I would find abhorrent.
I agree, and have argued the same many times.
I did not real carefully enough what Trevor was saying when I said that I agreed with him. [Meaning, on his point that the Darwinian approach inevitably leads to viewing those races who are considered to be less “evolved” as something less than fully human; I agree with the rest of what Trevor said.] . As I also point out in this entry, I do not believe that having a Darwinian view of the evolution of races “inevitably leads to viewing those races who are considered to be less ‘evolved’ as something less than fully human.” What I meant was that there is a tendency for the first to lead to the second, and this is something I’ve seen, but it is certainly not inevitable and probably does not even characterize the majority of cases. My apologies to Ian Jobling and to anyone else who was offended by my statement.
Trevor H. writes:
I will have to disagree with you here. A wholly Darwinian and naturalistic world view most definitely will lead to the view that some races are less evolved than others—and hence somewhat less than fully human. Even putting race to one side—a godless naturalism will quite likely lead to the grading of people—based perhaps on some figure conflating IQ, attractiveness, athleticism, height whatever.
Christianity is the only belief system which holds that all people, while not necessarily equal in ability, have equal spiritual worth in the eyes of God. That is why the Christian West cares for our disabled, our halt, our lame and our aged. Without a belief in God, anything can be justified—including human sacrifice. Certainly I admit that the Darwinian racialists mentioned in my original post have not said they view other races as less than human. But why is this? The obvious reason is they have been born and raised in the West, where Christian values still, to some extent, hold sway. But our belief in the inherent worth of each and every individual, is not some kind of common sense idea which we would have arrived at naturally if left to our own devices. It comes from our Christian heritage, it comes from God himself.
When two European nations in the twentieth century very explicitly jettisoned God, we all know what horrors ensued—almost immediately. Surely we should have learnt our lesson.
The focal point of God’s creation is man himself. God bestows each and every human with infinite worth. Without God, man becomes just another part of nature, he may be sacrificed to appease an angry volcano, unwanted children may be left out to die (as in China today and ancient Greece), tigers, whales and dolphins have more intrinsic worth than humans, and nature herself exists not for the benefit of man but has some numinous ‘spiritual’ value beyond that of what she can provide to humanity.
Some racialists seem to think that just by preserving our race, our racial nature will be all that is required to keep Western civilization, as we understand it to be, humming along. How wrong they are. Racial integrity, while perhaps a necessary condition for the survival of the West, is in itself insufficient. The West bereft of Christianity is not the West. Without Christianity, what exactly do these Darwinian race realists think they are defending? Indeed, why worry about the corrosive cultural and societal effects of non-white immigration when these Darwinian race realists themselves, are advocating the dismantling of the main underpinning of our civilization?
I’m afraid I will have to admit—a non-Christian West appalls me just as much as a non-white “West.”
Well, this is an impressive statement by Trevor H. As for the point at issue, it seems to me that there is a way of reading his original comment that would render it not automatically offensive to Ian Jobling, or at least less offensive. We could say that the idea that the Darwinian approach would “inevitably lead to viewing those races who are considered to be less ‘evolved’ as something less than fully human” is the general trend. However, as even Trevor admits, not all Darwinian-believing individuals in our society will have that view, because of the society’s still active Christian heritage. But we could also say that as the Darwinian view spreads and the Christian residue and the secularized Christian residue—i.e. liberalism—of the society weakens, the Christian and liberal “exception” to the logical Darwinian conclusion must progressively weaken.
The point is that Trevor’s original comment was not directed at individuals. He was not saying that each and every actual Darwinian person, e.g., Ian Jobling, views the “less evolved” as less than fully human. He was saying that the Darwinian view inevitably leads in that direction. Therefore it would appear that Ian Jobling unnecessarily personalized the issue by taking it as a statement about him personally, rather than about the general nature of the ideas. But I will have to read the opening part of Mr. Jobling’s article again at The Inverted World to see whether he was defending Darwinians as individuals or Darwinism as a belief system.
“Albert Nock” writes:
I’m not a racialist, but I am a self-described “human biodiversity realist” (see this) and a non-believer. I agree that Western Christianity built our civilization and that rejecting it rarely led to good things (see Jacobin France or Bolshevist Russia). It is for that reason I am not a secularist and hope merely to free-ride off the religious folks who sustain our society. Right now many atheists are feeling triumphant over the long, losing battle religion has been fighting since its peak in the Middle Ages, but if they took their Darwin seriously they would recognize that the future is going to look like Phillip Longman’s Return of Patriarchy. Some may ask why I do not abandon Darwinist reductionist materialism and accept religion, and the answer is that I cannot. I do not believe the latter is true and/or the former is false and could not force myself otherwise, regardless of any argumentum ad consequentiam.
In response to Trevor, it is silly to think we must believe other races are “less than human.” Are we to believe certain breeds of dog are “less than canine”? It is merely the case for us that “human” doesn’t imply what it might for his hypothetical racist. The notion of something being “less evolved” (which I ascribe to the hypothetical racist rather than Trevor) betrays an ignorance of evolution common among racists. Selection acts constantly and it does not have any ultimate goal, only favoring that which creates more copies of some gene. Plants, dogs and all races of people are evolved for their own different historical circumstances.
Darwinism has its own amusing form of good cop / bad cop. We might call it non-teleological Darwin / teleological Darwin. And we see it at work in Mr. Nock’s reply to Trevor. On one hand, faced with the charge of racism, the Darwinians tell us that they believe that there is absolutely no purpose in evolution, no direction , it’s simply about variations producing organisms that can better survive and produce more offspring. So there can be no notion of superiority or racial supremacism. On the other hand, central to Darwinian belief and rhetoric is the notion of a grand teleological project leading to better organisms and species, as reflected in the full title of Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” Favored races.
And indeed how could the inference of teleology and thus of superiority be avoided, given the actual fact that life on earth has become steadily more complex and higher? A mammal, for example, maintaining its own body temperature, mating with the opposite sex, carrying its young within it, raising and nurturing its young to adulthood, does not just live longer than a fish, it represents vastly higher order of existence than a fish. (Please note: this is not to put down fish. Fishes are perfect and awe-inspiring creatures.) And of course the whole appeal of Darwinism was that it supposedly supplies a naturalistic explanation for this grand progress of life, culminating in the progress from ape to man. (Look at the cover of this edition of Origin of Species at Amazon.) Yet the contradiction within Darwinism is seen in the way the Darwinists simultaneously evoke the sense of wonder over the fact that mere random mutation and natural selection could have produced the higher and higher forms of life, while at the same time, faced with the liberal charge that they are racists, they deny that there is such a thing as purpose and “higher.”
The teleological side of the Darwinian movement does most certainly value the superiority of the more “highly evolved,” the favored races, over the backwardness of the less evolved, the disfavored races. And it is further the case, as Trevor argues, that in the absence of Christianity or Christian-based belief, the notion of “more evolved” easily gets connected—and has repeatedly been connected—with the idea that the favored races of man are more human, the less favored less human.
“Albert Nock” replies:
The purpose or direction is evolution (as far as there can be said to be one) is that which creates more copies of the vehicle of replication, the gene. As Darwinism and racism are somewhat orthogonal, so that one can be a racist or non-racist Darwinian and vice-versa (I would say that the majority of people who lived before Darwin were racist, and it is not surprising people would latch onto it as a justification for a belief they would have had anyway), though more education tends to be associated with Darwinism and against racism. A Darwinian would certainly not espouse racial essentialism though. Any notion of superiority or inferiority (in general, though one could say cheetahs have a superior speed over tortoises) would be a normative one and thus outside the bounds of any science at all.
It is a bit misleading to say that life on earth has steadily gotten more and more “complex.” Most life is exceedingly simple. [LA replies: Yes, and “most” of the matter in the universe is hydrogen atoms. Which means—what? That complexity is a myth? And the human genome is 35 percent identical to the orchid. Which means—what? That humans are 35 percent the same as orchids?] One scientist quipped that what nature reveals about God is that he has an extraordinary fondness for beetles. It is true that a complex lifeform is extremely unlikely to come together by chance and so the first one was extremely simple. Since then life has expanded in all sorts of directions and exploited many different niches which includes avenues of complexity. [LA replies: “Avenues of complexity”? You mean something moving in a direction?] There is something of a limit to the complexity though due to mutation. Eliezer Yudkowsky discusses that here. At any rate, scientists do not view homo sapiens as any sort of culmination of evolution and to say we are the “most evolved” or “highest” would get a laugh. [LA replies: Yes, you and your fellow Darwinians are so superior to the idea that man is superior.] As Charles Murray said regarding “Who wants to be an elephant?,” we are prone to thinking that certain things about us are special (like intelligence), but if some other species could contemplate evolution they would consider their own traits to be more so (in the Ancestor’s Tale Dawkins says elephants would be focused on proboscitude).
Darwin did indeed use the term “favored races.” What is a favored race? One that is not extinct! [LA replies: So then all existing species and races are equally favored?] As people of European descent are having below-replacement birth-rates it would seem that it is not we who are favored in a Darwinian sense, but the people of the Third World! I happen to like European civilization and I don’t think that’s only because I’m of Scots-Irish descent. [LA replies: Why do you like European civilization? why do you like anything? How do you value anything? Given your idea that complexity is overstated, given your view of life that there is nothing better or higher than anything else, given attitude that the idea of man being higher than animals is laughable, given your view that beetles express the true meaning of the universe and are more typical of the universe than man, on what basis do you say that one thing is better than another? The fact is, given your beliefs, you have no right to like anything more than anything else. You certainly have no right to speak of your fondness for civilization, the product of man, whose very value, his “highness,” you just scoffed at. You have no right to be a parasite on a civilization the very basis of which you mock.] ,The revealed preference of much of humanity is that living here is preferable to their homes. However, that is again a subjective preference and not a matter of objective science and has little to do with Darwinism. Genes are selfish things that care for our enjoyment only to the extent that it encourages their reproduction. [LA replies: Amazing how you, having denied any purpose or meaning in existence, refer to genes as selfish things that have an intention. Again, more spiritual parasitism. Your ideology denies all meaning and purpose, but you keep appealing to things that involve meaning and purpose. The fact is, you have no right to do that. Given your beliefs, you have no right to any moral preferences or civilizational values. You don’t even have the right to use human language, another “higher” human attribute that you sneer at. The only thing you have right to do is reproduce and die.] If we were happy all the time we would not bother to do so. Eliezer Yudkowsky discusses that in a number of posts, but this one is a good example.
“Albert Nock” replies (with LA’s previous comments bolded):
Yes, and “most” of the matter in the universe is hydrogen atoms. Which means—what? That complexity is a myth? And the human genome is 35 percent identical to the orchid. Which means—what? That humans are 35 percent the same as orchids?
Complexity exists, it is just not the case that evolution selects for complexity at the sake of complexity. Complexity actually comes with costs so if some complexity ceased to give any advantage, it would be selected against. There are fish that somehow wound up in extremely dark caves. The fish started out with eyes (which would be more complex than no eyes) but after many generations they evolved back to sightlessness. Are the sightless fish “less evolved” than their ancestors? No, they are just differently adapted. I don’t know what it means to be “35 percent the same as orchids”. There can be very large changes in phenotype due to small changes in genotype, so it can be misleading to talk of shared percentages of DNA.
[LA replies: “Avenues of complexity”? You mean something moving in a direction?]
Think of it as an area in probability space. Evolution has created organisms that inhabit many different areas of that space with varying degrees of complexity.
LA replies: Yes, you and your fellow Darwinians are so superior to the idea that man is superior.
I like human beings more than other species. If you asked me how many members of any non-human species I’d be willing to kill to prevent the death of a single human, it would be a mighty large number. That, however, is merely my subjective preference and not any reflection of a preference for humanity on the part of evolution, nature, the universe or whatever.
LA replies: So then all existing species and races are equally favored?
We could say that the ones growing the fastest are the most favored. I don’t like to speak of species or races as the unit of selection as it is really genes that are being selected for and the outcome of that process of selection are the species/races we see.
Why do you like European civilization? why do you like anything? How do you value anything? Given your idea that complexity is overstated, given your view of life that there is nothing better or higher than anything else, given attitude that the idea of man being higher than animals is laughable, given your view that beetles express the true meaning of the universe and are more typical of the universe than man, on what basis do you say that one thing is better than another? The fact is, given your beliefs, you have no right to like anything more than anything else. You certainly have no right to speak of your fondness for civilization, the product of man, whose very value, his “highness,” you just scoffed at. You have no right to be a parasite on a civilization the very basis of which you mock.
The second Eliezer Yudkowsky post in the e-mail you are responding to explains where our preferences come from. You have to remember the distinction between the objective, which is what scientists study, and the subjective which an individual like myself merely feels. I don’t believe in rights at all, though I may speak of them in a positivist legal sense. If there was a God who disapproved of my actions, I would like Stirner disregard his opinion in favor of my own as after all he does the same for himself. I do not rely on being handed some “right” to do something, I seize it for myself. The civilization I am a parasite on may dislike my free-riding, but I enjoy free-riding and will continue to do so. That being said, I recognize that there will be limitations imposed on me and I don’t expect for others to co-operate or tolerate my egoism. I am open to a sort of contractarian resolution of our disparate interests, but that is merely a limitation of what I can get away with and not any sort of duty I will impose on myself if I can help it.
Amazing how you, having denied any purpose or meaning in existence, refer to genes as selfish things that have an intention. Again, more spiritual parasitism. Your ideology denies all meaning and purpose, but you keep appealing to things that involve meaning and purpose. The fact is, you have no right to do that. Given your beliefs, you have no right to any moral preferences or civilizational values. You don’t even have the right to use human language, another “higher” human attribute that you sneer at. The only thing you have right to do is reproduce and die.
I explained my use of the term “selfish” applied to genes in another e-mail. I discussed rights above, but you are flat wrong that I have any right to reproduce, and if the transhumanists are successful I may not have any right to die. It is precisely because organisms do not have the right to reproduce that many do not and their genes are removed from the pool. Also, remember the is-ought distinction and try to avoid the naturalistic fallacy. Rape exists in nature, but nobody infers from that any right to rape.
You’re in the house of this civilization and you’re dismissing everything it’s based on, even as you express your liking for it. I tell you you have no right to do that, and you reply in your amiable nihilistic way that you don’t believe there is such a thing as rights. You may not think there’s such a thing as rights, but I’m telling you that I don’t recognize your right to speak as you are doing.
“Albert Nock” replies:
I don’t mind if you don’t recognize my right as I don’t recognize your authority to recognize rights! I’m not sure if I can be said to dismiss the basis for the civilization as I acknowledged its importance. I merely choose not be a part of that basis. It is also inaccurate to consider me a nihilist. I explained the huge difference us here. I am not a secularist and in fact favor a strong Christianity, I merely don’t believe any sort of God or morality exists.
First, of course I have authority to recognize rights. If I say that you don’t have the right to speak as you are doing, I stop conversing with you and I stop posting your comments.
Second, not believing that any sort of morality exists is the very definition of nihilism.
(Note: My exchange with Mr. Nock is summarized in this post
Mark K. writes:
Concerning the defense of Western civilization by Darwinists, consider first the defects in Darwin’s attempted definition of man. Here are some excerpts from Darwin himself whose own words undo Albert Nock’s arguments.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 17, 2008 01:08 AM | Send
1. Darwin has a difficult time pinpointing where the term “man” should be used. So, when Darwinists appeal to the term “man,” this is not a well-defined term for them. Darwinians cannot logically designate what is human or not. Given this lack of definition, how can Darwinists defend Western civilization, or, indeed, any historical and social formation?
“In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point when the term “man” ought to be used. But this is a matter of very little importance. So again, it is almost a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of man are thus designated, or are ranked as species or sub-species; but the latter term appears the more appropriate.” (Descent of Man, Chapter Seven: On the Races of Man: Sub-species).
Given that “man” is not a well-defined term for Darwin, any individual “man” can be designated an animal or a transitional species. The political implications are staggering! Darwin cannot posit a time when a species becomes human so history may in fact be used against a species deemed sub-human.
2. Can Darwinists reliably defend Western civilization when Darwin himself did not believe in one of our roots?
“The western nations of Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors, and stand at the summit of civilisation, owe little or none of their superiority to direct inheritance from the old Greeks” (Descent of Man). [LA replies: Without knowing the reason why Darwin denied the modern West’s cultural inheritance from the ancient Greeks, it’s hard to understand the meaning of this passage.]
So much for Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, etc. Augustine, one of the fathers of the Judeo-Christian foundation of Western civilization took his inspiration from Plato. Darwin on the contrary breaks this intellectual and spiritual line of descent. If Darwin does not know when a species becomes human, of course he then has no reliable way of assessing cultural descent. If there is no valid cultural assessment available through Darwinism, then Darwinists indeed cannot defend Western civilization. They can do so on personal grounds but not through the focus of their “science.”
Notice also that he uses the word “surpass”—which denotes movement as a qualitative assessment. Also note use of the word “superiority.” All qualitative and teleological assessments that Lawrence has shown in other essays to be contradictions in Darwinian rhetoric.
3. Darwinists claim that there is no movement in a qualitative direction. Yet notice the use of the word “improved” here:
“On the theory of natural selection, the extinction of old forms and the production of new and improved forms are intimately connected together.” (Origin of Species, Chapter Eleven: On the geological succession of organic beings: Extinction).
4. Notice Darwin’s hierarchical grading of the human species below:
“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (Descent of Man, Chapter Six: On the Affinities and Geneology of Man, On the Birthplace and Antiquity of Man).
Look carefully at the word “extermination” in the quote. It is used in the active sense—one race will exterminate another. Not that the environment will merely replace one race with another, a race will exterminate another in the active sense (and nature is not even used as an agent in his sentence). The historical implications of that statement are chilling (need I say more?). Notice how different races fall into place on the Darwinian scale of evolution—there is no subtlety as to who is at the bottom. There is no species preservation in Darwinism—Africans and Black Americans should look carefully at the fact that Darwinism is disseminated so profusely in the education system throughout the world! Darwinism does not give Western civilization any humanistic lens through which to view another culture or national group.
If evolution is a soulless process with no moral inclination, then why does Darwin say, “as we may hope,” with respect to the hoped-for replacement of the Caucasian race by an even “more civilized” one? This is a gross contradiction.
5. Notice in the following quote how Darwin morally assesses different social classes and national groups even though Darwinians claim that no moral evaluation is done in and through Darwinian “science.”
“A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton, namely, the fact that the very poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves and their children in comfort…Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr. Duncan they produce many more children. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: ‘The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits…”(Descent, Chapter Five: On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties During Primeval and Civilised Times: Natural selection as affecting civilised nations.)
Mr. Knock’s line of argumentation does not present a single quote from the master himself and is quite generic in nature. It pays to look at the originator of the theory himself and his own words. That is unless Mr. Nock knows Darwinism better than Charles Darwin! The original thesis that Darwinists as Darwinists cannot defend Western civilization is true.