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The deep Crisis of the West
Are nation states out of date?
31.08.2013. The urge to apply era-defining labels to global affairs is strong and enduring. A label and a few easy-to-understand attributes associated with it can impart a reassuring simplicity to what is actually a complex and often-intractable reality. While the disadvantages of era labeling, including oversimplification, are probably as great as the advantages, the practice is here to stay. Thus writes Paul R. Pillar in his article The Age of Nationalism. He concludes as follows:
No single model of the world can generate an all-purpose grand strategy. But the best fit for the nationalist era is a pragmatic realism that takes as the basic ingredient of global affairs the sometimes conflicting and sometimes parallel interests of individual nation-states—while recognizing the power that can be generated by nationalist sentiments within nation-states.
Read the entire article in The National Interest. Paul R. Pillar is Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and Nonresident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is a contributing editor to The National Interest.
The War against Human Nature III
24.08.2013. On two earlier occasions (in May and June, respectively) I have linked to Frank Salter's articles in Quadrant Magazine about the war against human nature that has been waged by Western elites with considerable intensity since 1945. Now that the summer season is about to end, it's time to link to the final articles in this series.
Salter's article The War Against Human Nature III: Race and the Nation in the Media begins as follows:
For the intellectual Left that came to power in the 1960s and 1970s, no front of the culture wars is more important than the national question—what constitutes a nation, the benefits and costs of nationhood, the connections between national identity and interests, ethnic and racial differences, and the proper relations between nation, state, immigration, domestic ethnic groups and other countries. Four of the five taboos in the social sciences are related directly or indirectly to these issues: race differences; blaming the victim; stereotype accuracy; and nativism.
Leftist values are not automatically anti-national. In the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, Western elites often combined affection for their peoples with liberalism, including support for expanded civil rights. The Christian drive to end slavery in the late eighteenth century was not associated with unpatriotic sentiment. Labour movements have often supported protectionism and restrictive immigration in alliance with conservatives. However, as Eric Kaufmann has documented, the internationalist strand in socialist thought rose to prominence during the course of the twentieth century. From before the Bolshevik coup of 1917, cosmopolitans have fought against beliefs that would bolster Western identity and confidence.
One such activist was Columbia University anthropology professor Franz Boas, who helped supplant the nascent biosocial sciences in the United States with the cosmopolitan New Social Sciences. Boas’s opposition to biosocial science is valorised as “scientific anti-racism”, which he pioneered in a famous publication of 1912. The research purported to demonstrate that races rapidly converge on a common type when living in the same country. His goal was to assuage Anglo-American concerns that mass immigration would alter national identity. Boas was so strongly motivated in this direction that he opposed all biological theories of human nature. To that end he abandoned liberal and academic standards. Despite evincing the values of the 1848 liberal revolutionaries, he remained a stalwart of the Soviet Union through the Ukrainian genocide of 1931–32. On the scientific side, he doggedly supported official Soviet Lamarckianism, the theory that characteristics acquired by individuals during their lifetimes are passed on genetically to children. Boas remained a Lamarckian long after the theory was discredited in scientific circles. He approved Margaret Mead’s deeply flawed doctoral thesis on Samoan teenage sexuality that attributed white puberty blues to pathologies of Western civilisation. His 1912 research, a keystone document in the effort to radicalise American social science, was recently shown to be fallacious, not in the data collected by junior colleagues but in the statistical analysis conducted by Boas, a master statistician. Subsequent attacks on biosocial conceptions of ethnicity and nationhood have frequently been tempted to trade truth for ideology.
I am not suggesting that the pioneer leftist social scientists were Soviet agents. But they were sympathetic. For example John Dewey, held by Kaufmann to have co-founded the New Social Sciences with Boas, was not a Stalinist. Neither was he a revolutionary. But he did move in far-Leftist circles and in 1937 chaired the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, organised by a Trotskyist front organisation that included Boas. The Commission concluded that Trotsky had been loyal to the revolution.
A century after Boas the flaws in Marxist economics are understood but communist doctrine regarding the national question is triumphant. This is manifested intellectually in a near absence of biology in media and academic discussions. Politically it is evident in the intolerant utopianism of multiculturalism, revolutionary levels of immigration, and censorship of free speech on the subject.
The loss of this front of the culture wars unhinged the West’s political leadership’s capacity to comprehend ethnic affairs in a growingly diverse and mobile world. The same political elite that was surprised when the Soviet Union broke up into its constituent nations—because they did not regard it as an empire consisting of captive nations praying for release—is also managing the progressive swamping of Western nations by mass immigration. The policy is fascinating from the evolutionary perspective because it is drastically reducing the collective fitness of Western populations. Not everything about the process is new. Displacement of populations through colonisation has been happening since time immemorial, usually on a much smaller scale. What distinguishes the present situation throughout much of the West is that it was not initiated by armed invasion. Instead, colonisation is occurring at the invitation of Western elites, often contrary to public opinion. The process is epochal whether viewed through zoological, national or democratic eyes.
Read the entire article in Quadrant Online. In the November 2012 issue of the same magazine, Salter published his final article in this series, viz. The War Against Human Nature III - Part II: Race and the Nation in the Universities. Here are some excerpts:
In the October issue I reviewed elements of the quality media, mainly the Sydney Morning Herald and intermittently the ABC and SBS, for one year, from mid-September 2011 to August 2012. These media outlets represent the apogee of respectable, mainstream Left-liberal ideology in Australia, ostensibly the heart of sophisticated cosmopolitanism, what the elite read and watch. I found confused understandings of ethnic behaviour, numerous incidents of baiting and defamation of Anglo and white Australians, but no chauvinism directed at minority ethnic groups. The search was not exhaustive but the trend is unlikely to be altered by a few missed cases running in the opposite direction. Neither is the trend altered by articles that report unpleasant facts about minorities in a dispassionate manner. An example is a 2010 article by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald-Sun, a Murdoch-owned newspaper. Bolt criticised the Victoria Police for suppressing information on the ethnicity of criminals and presented some statistics showing high rates of imprisonment for some immigrant groups. He did not use terms of abuse such as those directed at Anglos and whites in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Spread over twelve months, the hostility shown towards Anglo Australians occurred at a moderate frequency. Viewed in isolation it was not out of place. Some ethnic and ideological sniping is normal. Remarkable was the near total lack of similar abuse directed at minorities in the quality media and an absence of warmth towards Anglo Australians identified as such. Clearly the latter do not enjoy the immunity from defamation bestowed on migrant and indigenous communities. The review revealed a hierarchy of regard with Anglos and whites in the subordinate position.
In this instalment I examine the contribution of Australia’s universities to public culture regarding the national question. There was little evidence in the media I reviewed of academics stepping in to correct the anti-white bias and theoretical confusion. Could it be that the relevant knowledge is scarce in Australian universities, at least in the social sciences?
Indirect evidence that the ghost of Franz Boas still haunts the antipodean ivory tower comes from leading scholars of ethnicity and nationalism who I contacted. They could not name one Australian scholar who professes biosocial theory. This is in line with the survey reported in the first essay in this series in the June issue. No political science or sociology department reported a scholar basing his or her research or teaching on behavioural biology. The skew towards Marxist and other environmental theories means that scholars of nationality do not know what to do with the wealth of findings drawn from evolutionary psychology, ethology, and sociobiology—except ignore them.
Further evidence comes from a recent student in a leading university studying nationalism, who reports that the approach was heavily Marxist. In the first year his course consisted of one week covering supposedly primordial theory and thirteen weeks of the usual fare. The core texts were Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Eric Hobsbawm’s Nations and Nationalism since 1780. I have also drawn on these texts as teaching material. But they need to be treated critically because both are radically constructionist. Both argue that ethnicities and nations are socially constructed, not based on realities of genetic and cultural similarity. The late Eric Hobsbawm was a Marxist at the London School of Economics who emphasised the recency of ethnic traditions and whose formulaic dismissal of behavioural biology allowed him to downplay primordial origins.
The interesting development among LSE ethnic theorists has come from the circle around Anthony D. Smith and Australian John Hutchinson and other scholars such as Walker Connor in the USA. Their comparative approach and theory of ethnosymbolism allows for behavioural and genetic factors to be introduced to the analysis. Unlike radical theorists they do not criticise Western societies as notably egregious. Smith’s seminal contribution has been to show that nation-states develop around ancient ethnic cores. When clarified in biosocial perspective by theorists such as Walker Connor and J. Philippe Rushton this finding contradicts the view that nations represent ideals or are secondary effects of class processes.
A Sydney Morning Herald editorial made this error in implying that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service’s mission is to stop the enemies of the open society. That would be a congenial outcome but is not its prime mission, which is to defend the Australian nation, whatever its present economic or social system. The great Enoch Powell made this point in discussion with Margaret Thatcher shortly before the Falklands War. The prime minister said that a strong defence force was needed to protect Western values.
Powell: No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.
Thatcher: Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.
Powell: No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.
Mrs Thatcher looked utterly baffled. She had just been presented with the difference between Toryism and American Republicanism.
Consistent with Powell’s distinction is the hierarchy of bonds. People are more likely to sacrifice for their nations than for abstract principles. The nation is the largest secular entity able to elicit robust solidarity.
Implicit anti-white bias also contributes to the unbalanced analysis of the national question. A frequent approach is to treat Anglo ethnicity mainly as a risk factor for racism, but immigrant ethnicity as a legitimate and rich human value.
Anglo Australians are a subaltern ethnicity. They are second-class citizens, the only ethnic group subjected to gratuitous defamation and hostile interrogation in the quality media, academia and race-relations bureaucracy. The national question is obscured in political culture by fallout from a continuing culture war against the historical Australian nation. Many of the premises on which ethnic policy have been based since the 1970s are simply false, from the beneficence of diversity to the white monopoly of racism and the irrelevance of race. The elite media and strong elements of the professoriate assert that racial hatred in Australia is the product of Anglo-Celtic society. But in the same media and even in the Commission for Race Discrimination most ethnic disparagement is aimed at “homogenised white” people.
What would correct the situation? At the minimum, analysis based on human nature needs to be injected into the study of the national question. Behavioural biology is necessary but not sufficient for that project. The conservative intellectual heritage also needs to be revived and updated for modern times to breathe compassion and affection for Anglo Australia into ethnic studies. The philosophy of Edmund Burke regarding homeland and national cohesion—that a healthy society resembles a family with obligations to generations past, present and future—is supported and signified by the discovery of ethnic kinship, the benefits of relative homogeneity and the issues raised by the political arena’s expansion to the global stage.
Such reveries appear hopelessly academic when confronted with the intolerance of Left intellectuals and an immigration industry that exercises undue influence on the Australian state. Initiatives by isolated academics will be inadequate to counter entrenched politicisation. Dissent exists but not many have the tenure or the stomach to suffer isolation and contumely. Lone heroics are simply not a viable strategy for young scholars seeking to build careers studying the national question without teaching lies. It will be necessary to organise.
One or more Anglo councils are needed, non-governmental organisations along the lines of other ethnic councils but oriented more towards promoting the scientific study of ethnicity and nationalism. The council should also advocate for Anglo Australians, broadly defined. An Anglo council, and ultimately a federation of Anglo councils, would defend its constituents’ ethnic interests—against defamation, exploitation and demographic swamping. It would demand full representation in multicultural bodies and seek consultative access to government. It would lobby for schoolchildren to be taught the true history of the nation. It would affirm its attachment to the land of Australia. And it would insist that if any people is to be recognised in the Constitution, pride of place should be given to that which founded the nation and provided its infrastructure, political and legal systems, culture and language. Representing the core national identity and the majority of Australians, such a council should adopt a conciliatory role to smooth ethnic relations but in a manner compatible with defending its constituents’ rights and legitimate interests. The effect would be to democratise multiculturalism and the immigration industry by giving the majority of Australians representation in those spheres for the first time.
The handful of existing Anglo-Australian associations mostly promote culture and the English language, including the Britain-Australia Society and the English Speaking Union. The body that most closely approximates an ethnic agency is the British Australian Community, a small service organisation originally established to provide assistance to British immigrants.
The rise of a powerful Anglo-Australian lobby would acknowledge the partial separation of nation and state. The latter would be treated as it is conceived in classical liberal theory—a Leviathan of incomparable power that can be hijacked by hostile forces. In a diverse world of self-serving elites, the state inevitably develops agendas that sometimes conflict with the national interest. That has happened in Australia since the 1960s. The case can be made that the nation needs its own institutions, a national lobby that represents its constituents’ ethnic interests. Such a national whip would defend Anglo-Australia’s interests against a political class that has been squandering those interests for decades. That is one, perhaps the only, way, to retain the benefits of the nation-state in an era of mass migration and self-serving elites.
Frank Salter (website socialtechnologies.com.au) is a political ethologist who consults on the management of conflict and diversity and is a visiting scholar at the University of Sydney. His first three articles on “The War against Human Nature” appeared in the June, July-August and October issues. Footnoted versions of these articles appear on Quadrant Online.
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