July 01, 2008
Paul Gottfried’s a lot more patient than I am, if he’s willing to spoon through thousands of pages of Marxist analyses to find the chunks of edible meat that float in the spoiled soup. If I see that an argument is based on false premises, I rarely spend time tracing its every convolution through to the end, in case the author has accidentally said something that happens to be true. Instead, I’ll usually shrug and say, “Life’s too short, and so am I.” (Three score and ten, five-foot six, alas!) Lucky thing I’m not a political scientist….
Likewise, Gottfried does a very good job straining out from the fishy gumbo of white nationalism the bits that are worth a second look—without suggesting that we tuck in and consume the stuff. I can’t improve on Gottfried’s analysis of what the white-nats share with conservatives—we both reject a fake, this-worldly egalitarianism shoved down citizens’ throats by the managerial state—or his critique of the movement as rootless and reductionist.
It’s easy to join with people whose worldviews you reject in fighting a greater evil. Sometimes it’s necessary, and it’s always tantalizing. Conservatives spent some 50 years cooperating with Trotskyites against Stalinists… and we all know how that turned out. Looking back, we all wish that William F. Buckley and his circle had been a lot more skeptical about which “anti-Communists” they promoted. So pardon me if I’m more than a little queasy about aligning with another set of ideologues, just because we share a common enemy.
Particularly since on both a tactical and a strategic level, the white-nats do more harm than good. This is true even on the issue where they work hardest to cite real research and troubling facts. In a recent piece at VDare, prominent white nationalist Jared Taylor offers a case for using data on racial IQ differences to oppose affirmative action. I’ve written before on why I think it’s uncivil, even anti-social to harness such research for political purposes. (I don’t need to reach very far to prove my point; Taylor published in his own newsletter an article by Prof. Michael Levin, suggesting that low IQs and the “African morality” evolved by blacks are the source of anti-social behavior among impoverished African-Americans, justifying whites in avoiding blacks’ company altogether.)
In paranoid moments, I wonder if racialists aren’t really agents provocateurs, working to help the Left. (Remember how handy dandy David Duke proved when the NY Sun wanted to smear Professors Walt and Mearsheimer?) If these “whites’ rights” guys were doing so consciously, they could hardly do a better job. If you really, really want to make sure that our country is always hobbled by a fantasy-based egalitarianism, enforced by a massive state bureaucracy that programatically excludes white males from legal protection… take up white racial solidarity as the flag under which you fight it. It will be (in George Tenet’s words) a “slamdunk.”
I’ll go further: One of the most toxic effects of the mass immigration which threatens to Balkanize this country is that if it continues it will (sooner rather than later) encourage large numbers of white Americans to join the sad sorority of skin—to abandon political affiliations based on principle, and band together for protection against all the other groups that also organize along racial lines. The key social good that comes from maintaining a clearly predominant ethnic majority in a country is the avoidance of such conflict. In a society where there is a clear majority of one particular group, it is typically only minority groups which are reduced to the tragedy of tribalism. When a shrinking, embattled majority also adopts this tactic (see the Pan-Germanists of Austria who tutored Adolf Hitler), the common ground which supports a unified society cracks up. Shelled and gassed from every side, it’s a No Man’s Land.
I don’t want that for my public square. I’m glad my ancestors left what became Yugoslavia, and would rather not see Bosnia pop up in Boston. So my message to worried white folks is: Let’s shut the borders, and shut up. Absent the mass influx of nationalistic Mexicans and aspiring Islamists, we’ve got it pretty good here. American blacks—our fellow citizens, whose ancestors picked our crops and fought in our wars—are the least of our problems. And as the heirs of a group which not so long ago really was oppressed by our government, their well-being is also in some sense our responsibility. Unlike illegal aliens, we actually owe them something.
As Samuel Huntington suggested in his irreplaceable book Who Are We?, America still has a perfectly workable principle of unity in the tolerant, Christian Anglo culture we have inherited. Whatever threatens that culture must be named as an enemy and fought—be it mass immigration, affirmative action, or identity politics tinted black, brown, or white.
What we as conservatives should be seeking is to apply the authentic principles of liberty to questions of racial politics: freedom of contract, freedom of association, avoidance of regulation, and the principle of race-blind justice. (While these arguments might not have held true in 1964, in the immediate aftermath of State-imposed segregation, they surely could be put into practice now.) All of those legitimate, intellectually respectable and widely appealing ideas—which fueled the Goldwater, Reagan, and Ron Paul movements—would point toward a radical scaling back of the race-enforcement bureaucracy, and the elimination (not the tweaking) of absurd initiatives such as No Child Left Behind. To fight a massive, federally enforced program which proposes to impose equality of educational outcome on a country as large and diverse as the U.S., it’s not really necessary to bring out the nerve gas.
Why introduce the unbelievably divisive idea of group divergences in IQ scores? Instead, we should revive the quaint custom of citing the Constitution, fight for localism, emphasize excellence, and reject the nutty, Lake Woebegone notion that every child must somehow be above average. Let’s question the institution of public schools—which arose as an engine of Progressive secularization, an attempt to homogenize and tame the many ethnicities of America into a bland, Transcendentalist porridge. There are entirely respectable, broadly appealing arguments for liberty that should lead conservatives to oppose this kind of program in Switzerland or Iceland. Why descend to the level of Hobbesean groupthink? We can see firsthand how well societies turn out when people act and argue that way—on the days that the Baghdad airport isn’t closed by rocket attacks.
In his article, Taylor insists that there’s nothing toxic about what he’s saying. How could talking about IQs harm anyone? Here’s how: In the 1920s and 30s, in a much more deeply Christian America, where using birth control within marriage was deeply controversial among Protestants and completely rejected by Catholics, solid majorities were rolled up in over a dozen states requiring the sterilization (and in some cases castration) of those who were deemed “unfit” to procreate. What was their crime? They flunked IQ tests. I don’t think that Americans who routinely resort to self-sterilization, in vitro fertilization, selective abortion of the handicapped, cannibalistic stem cell research, and even euthanasia are less likely than the contemporaries of Margaret Sanger to misuse such knowledge as comes from comparative IQ testing—although the religion of anti-racism will probably ensure that the main victims of medical abuse will be working-class, rural whites.
In the absence of a Christian respect for the sanctity of marriage and of human life, we’re in even graver danger. I would hate to see the day when the only thing standing between the U.S.A. and eugenics was political correctness—itself a festering relic of Christian charity. By encouraging us to think of ourselves and each other in even more reductionistic terms, IQ determinism only hastens that dismal dawn.
So instead, when it comes to race and human nature, I’ll cleave to the counsel of wiser men. Pope Pius XII in October 1939 condemned as a “pernicious error… widespread today… the forgetfulness of that law of human solidarity and charity which is dictated and imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, to whatever people they belong, and by the redeeming Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Altar of the Cross to His Heavenly Father on behalf of sinful mankind.”
If none of that is true, it’s hard for me to care much what happens to my neighbor, or even America, much less one particular race. Might as well stick to watching reruns of Law & Order—where all the criminals are white.