Towards Totalitarianism: An Interview With Rod Dreher And Mathieu Bock-Côté

Through the generosity of La Nef, we are greatly privileged to present this interview with Rod Dreher, the well-known Orthodox journalist and writer, who is the author, most recently, of Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents – and Mathieu Bock-Côté, the Quebec sociologist, thinker and writer, whose new book is La Révolution racialiste, et autres virus idéologiques. The interview is conducted by Christophe Geffroy.


La Nef (LN): How would you summarize the main dangers threatening our Western democracies and do you consider that there is a serious risk of drifting towards a form of totalitarianism?

Mathieu Bock-Côté (MBC): Whatever those who do not want to see anything say, the diversity-regime everywhere imposes increasingly severe ideological control of populations, as if it was necessary to transform Western societies into a vast ideological re-education camp. Whether we are talking about the situation in universities, in the media, or in private enterprise, Wokism is normalizing and turning into the Inquisition. Through it, political correctness becomes fanatical.

Mathieu Bock-Côté

At the heart of this ideological dynamic is the demonization of the so-called white man who must kneel down, self-criticize and even self-destruct, in order for the world to be reborn, under the sign of diverse revelation. All Western societies are structured around white supremacy, and they must tear themselves away from it. It is only in this way that “systemic racism” will collapse, which however requires a complete reconstruction of all social relations and a permanent control of public speech, to prevent remarks transgressing the “inclusive” and diverse orthodoxy. Western historical majorities have taken up the baton from the Vendée and the Kulaks in the narrative of the scapegoat – they are treated like the dead wood of humanity.

So, to answer your question, I believe, yes, that we are faced with a totalitarian temptation – the resistance of peoples is extreme right-wing; dissent is assimilated to hatred; the laws to combat the latter are increasingly coercive; phobization of the political opponent becomes the norm; and through this, we dream of making a new, New Man, forever renouncing his Western filiation to be reborn purged of his past. History is accelerating – the woke inquisition represents the 1793 of the diversitarian regime.

Rod Dreher (RD): We are already in what I call “soft totalitarianism.” I call it “soft” for several reasons. Firstly, since it does not look like the Soviet version, with the gulags, it is more difficult to detect. Second, it makes people believe that it is full of compassion towards the victims. Yet it is still totalitarianism! Twenty years ago, René Girard understood this. He said: “The current process of spiritual demagoguery and rhetorical escalation has transformed concern for the victims into totalitarian command and permanent inquisition. “

A totalitarian order is an order in which there is only one acceptable political point of view, an order in which all of life is politicized. This order is conquering the institutions of life in the Anglosphere with astonishing speed. What is soft today will become hard.

Solzhenitsyn said that communism conquered Russia because “men had forgotten God.” This is also true for us, in our time and in our country. We have turned our backs on God and find that it is impossible to build a life-giving civilization without Him. Michel Houellebecq is a great diagnostician of the fatal malaise of the West. When the transcendent dimension of life has been forgotten, or denied, people try to fill the void of God within themselves through sex, shopping, and hedonism. And when that doesn’t work, they turn to political pseudo-religion.

Rod Dreher

Hannah Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), studied how Germany and Russia fell into totalitarianism. All of the major signs identified by Arendt are present today, in particular our deep sense of social atomization, our love of transgression and our contempt for the truth.

LN: The new tyranny is exercised by a police force of thought which has acquired an exorbitant power. How do you explain this hold on people’s minds, and especially the fact that it affects subjects unanimously rejected not long ago (the new “racialism,” “marriage” between people of the same sex, surrogacy, euthanasia, etc.)?

RD: Eminent American sociologist James Davison Hunter argues that almost all cultural revolutions begin with the elites, who disseminate their ideas through their networks and then to the masses. In the United States, this highly ideological way of thinking first won over the elites in the universities. Most of their ideas were so extreme that one didn’t worry about their spreading. But when these ideas hit the media, the propaganda never stopped.

Six years ago, large corporations got heavily involved in promoting progressive cultural policies – pro-LGBT, pro-Black Lives Matter, etc. – perhaps to prevent the Left from asking too many questions about their business practices.

Today, what is called “woke capitalism” is perhaps the most effective force in American society that drives these progressive follies. At the heart of the problem is that its followers now control all points of entry into the middle class and career success. This is now the ideology of those who want to succeed professionally, and of the young generation heavily indoctrinated by social media.

MBC: I absolutely agree with Rod Dreher about the revolutionary power of woke capitalism. Having said that, you will allow me to sort out the subjects you raise and not to condemn or accept them as a whole; but I understand the meaning of your question. The peculiarity of the “diversitarian” regime is precisely to normalize the claims from “minorities,” and to pathologize what was until recently called common sense, by reducing it to an aged stock of prejudices and stereotypes. It appropriates the reference to democracy in order to reverse its meaning – which now boils down to the extension of the rights of “minorities” and the de-substantialization of the historical people. It has the administrative apparatus of the social state, converted into a therapeutic state, to modify social behavior.

Thus, it suffices for a movement claiming to be for “minorities” to formulate a demand for it to be immediately translated into a fundamental right which it therefore becomes scandalous to oppose. Whoever confesses the slightest reservation will be designated for public revenge, as we have seen with the fate reserved for J.K. Rowling, who had the nerve to recall that a man is not a woman, and to contest the transformation of identity fluidity as a new anthropological norm in Western societies. It is not without reason that gender theory takes place so much in our public life – if we manage to make a society accept that men and women do not exist and are only arbitrary social constructions, then we can make society accept everything. At the heart of the diversitarian regime, we find a constructivist fantasy – that of the integral plasticity of the social order. We also see it in what is called “inclusive writing.” Everything, everything, everything, must be ideologized.

LN: Are not all these drifts, which gradually reduce our freedoms, due, in particular, to the fact that, like children too spoiled by a long period of prosperity without major hardships, Western people have lost the love of freedom. We have seen with the Covid-19 pandemic that most prefer “health security” to their freedoms?

RD: I don’t know if it’s correct to say that the problem is a loss of our love of freedom. I cannot speak about the situation in France, which has experienced a much more severe health lockdown than in the United States. But in America, I saw something different during the Covid. Many people thought that any attempt at coercion was intolerable. The idea of making a sacrifice for the common good struck them as bizarre and offensive.

My experience of speaking with Christian dissidents in the Soviet bloc has made me realize that, in addition to strong faith, the two things absolutely necessary to resist oppression are solidarity with others and consent to suffering. We don’t have that anymore. It feels like America is collapsing.
I believe things will become clearer with the under 40s. They are much more anxious than previous generations. Many of them will willingly give up their political freedoms in exchange for a guarantee of personal enjoyment and security. They will not only accept soft totalitarianism, but demand it. A professor told me that he had stopped teaching Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World (1932) because none of his students recognized it was a dystopia; they all thought it looked like paradise.

MBC: The real issue lies elsewhere, I think. We underestimate the effect of the ideological conditioning of the last decades, which has delegitimized all common norms and which has sanctified the victim position. “I am a victim of the white man therefore I am.” This is how we now access public space.
Our civilization is haunted by the fantasy of its own annihilation, as also evidenced by antispeciesist neurosis.

LN: In Europe, massive immigration has imported a major problem with Islam being now the majority in certain neighborhoods and impossible to assimilate, not to mention Islamism and the terror it blindly sows. What do you think? Do you think the dangers are the same in North America and Europe?

MBC: No society can be absolutely indifferent to the population that makes it up. A people is not just a legal, administrative or statistical abstraction. It would be wrong to underestimate the effect of massive immigration which is destroying the cultural and demographic balances of Western societies, especially as it goes far beyond their capacity for integration. This is also true in North America, which is not, however, a homogeneous bloc. The United States seems to me to have taken over from the USSR as the revolutionary power of our time and is now getting lost in an obsession with diversity that will ruin it. This country seems doomed to me to be lost in a spiral of regressive violence. I say it with sadness – I loved the United States.

Canada is a non-country. It has renounced its history to become the receptacle of the embodied diversity utopia, the place of radicalized multiculturalism. As a proclaimed post-national state, it believes it represents the next step in the history of mankind.

Allow me a few words on the situation of the people of Quebec, landlocked in a federation that denies its existence, and accuses it of ethnic supremacism every time it seeks to recall federation. The question of Quebec is inseparable from the old aspiration of the Quebecois people to assume their “vital difference” in America, and ultimately to establish themselves as an independent state. But massive immigration condemns French-speaking Quebecers to become a minority in their own country – in other words, to become foreigners at home, because populations of immigrant origin are Canadianizing and Anglicizing themselves much more than they are Quebecizing and francizing. We are witnessing the quiet erasure of a people in their own country, where it is gradually transformed into a residue of folklore. The question of small nations, to use the category forged by Milan Kundera, reminds us of one thing – it is important for what we will call a “historic people” to remain clearly in the majority at home. It is on this condition that they will succeed in integrating men and women from elsewhere into their culture.

RD: I would like to respond to Mathieu about the disintegration of the United States. I am living in Budapest for the summer months on a scholarship. It is utterly astonishing to me how clearly obvious America’s suicide appears from Europe. I’m not surprised that we Americans are destroying our country – that’s obvious to anyone with a brain. But stepping outside the borders of the United States makes you realize that it’s even worse than we thought. I have felt for the past few years that the best way to understand what lies ahead for America is to look at the history of the Spanish Civil War. Americans have a lot of guns, but it’s impossible for me to imagine that we’ll have a real civil war. I believe that the state will eventually impose a social credit system to control the population, because that is the only way to contain the violence of people who despise what the ruling ideologues do to them.

To come back to your question, I believe that Islam is first and foremost a European problem. In North America, Muslim immigrants assimilate more easily. It seems to me that you Europeans cannot face the problem because the Left will not let you speak frankly about it. God help you if this Anglo-Saxon cultural virus of racialist theory finds a way to infect Europe, and mutates into a pro-Islamic form. There will be no possible solution in that case.

We see in America that where this racialist ideology has prevailed, dialogue is utterly impossible; everything becomes a question of power. I don’t know if a peaceful solution is even possible now. This is why I believe more than ever in the “Benedictine Option.” There is no escape from what is to come – but with God’s help we can bear it.

LN: A purely procedural democracy like ours, emancipated from all limits, because having rejected the idea of a truth that goes beyond us, can only lead to the tyranny of the majority, or more precisely of organized minorities practicing a severe police force of thought to impose their views “democratically.” Is a democracy without God, that is to say without transcendence imposing limits on the human will – is such a democracy even viable?

MBC: In this regard, I am modern – modern democracy cannot be based on the assumption of God, even less in a world where his existence is no longer taken for granted. This does not mean, however, that the question of transcendence can be abolished. But the transcendence of the moderns is culture, knowing that we are rubbing shoulders with the abyss, and that the world can slip away under our feet. Hence the importance of transmission, of ensuring its duration, bequeathing the heritage of civilization, which is ours, while enriching it. Let me add that the Covid crisis has shown us how inhuman a ritualized, artificialized existence is. The abandonment of funeral rituals during the pandemic brought us, in the name of sanitary reason, to the threshold of barbarism. Likewise, it is not a question of denying the sacred, which is consubstantial with the political and historical order, and which has invested in the nation – are we not talking about the sacred love of the fatherland?

One thing is certain. The integral contractualism of existence pushes towards the dissolution of the world, insofar as it is reality itself which must dissolve under the weight of a tyrannical subjectivity, which comes to the conclusion that it is the non-existence of the world. The West, existentially pitted and reduced to a series of disembodied principles, no longer knows how to respond to Islam, which it wants to see as a spiritual preference among others, and no longer as a civilization; no more than before Islam. massive immigration. We need to rediscover a political philosophy allowing us to perceive and politically recapture anthropological permanence.

RD: This is an extremely important question. The short answer is no, it is not viable, for the reason given in your question. I think of the famous line of T.S. Eliot: “If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.” Maybe I lack vision, but I don’t see how we can live in peace without God, except under tyranny. Most of us see clearly that liberalism is dying because it has been so successful in “freeing” the individual from God, from the community and from the past. No one can live like this forever. But what will replace it?

In North America, Mathieu and I live in pluralistic countries. If liberalism can no longer rule us, then what? In the United States, there are a few Catholic intellectuals who offer an integralist view, but it is a utopian dream. Catholics are a minority in America, and the number of them who would submit to a “full Christian state” would not fill a small town ballpark. They are looking for a political solution to a problem that is basically spiritual. And they are not alone. Both on the Left and on the Right, everyone is really looking for God – but a God compatible with their individual and liberal conceptions that they will not be able to find, so they create a world ready to accept the Antichrist.


Translated from the French by N. Dass.


The featured image shows, “Safe and Sanitized,” by Jordan Henderson; painted 2021.

Resist Wokism

Until recently, the word “woke” seemed to belong to vocabulary reserved for American campuses, and really only for the most radical among them. It referred to a particularly active fringe of American students believing themselves to be in a crusade for social justice and more particularly concerned with questions of “race” and “gender,” and who were determined, in a way, to carry out a definitive lawsuit against the Western world, and more particularly, against the white man who incarnated in himself all his abjectness. This movement was recognized for its extremism, and even, for its fanaticism, being convinced that it had, and still has, a monopoly on the true, the just and the good. Barack Obama, in 2019, had warned the students claiming this: he could see that the claim they had to be awake, in front of a sleeping mass, or enlightened, in front of a people deep in the darkness from the past, could only increase tensions in an already very polarized society. A man of the left, to be sure, Obama nevertheless sought to remind these young minds that human nature is murky, and that social conflict cannot be reduced to a fight between good and evil.

In some respects, we see in Wokism the new wave of the movement associated with political correctness, which from the 1980s wanted to decolonize the American university and its knowledge by getting rid of the figure of the Dead White Male. Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare and so many others had all to be sent packing; their overwhelming presence had contributed to the marginalization of minority knowledge and perspectives, from which it would be possible to lead an epistemological and political revolution against Western civilization. A new relationship with the world had to be imposed. Back then, it was well and good to just laugh at all this, and to reassure oneself that this fad was destined to fade away. We even wanted to believe, in Paris, that this fad could never cross the Atlantic. That could never happen. Absolutely not. But political correctness is now institutionalized through the proliferation of departments and fields of university study essentially devoted to the repudiation of Western civilization. This fad now rules the American University. Wokism is the culmination of this movement of political correctness; and it is no longer allowed to believe that it is marginal.

Wokism deconfined from campuses quite some time ago and is spreading through public life like an ideological epidemic. Even more so, for it imposes itself upon the heart of public life on both sides of the Atlantic, and its concepts are normalized in media-vocabulary and in political and managerial discourse. These concepts colonize the collective imagination; or at least, its authorized expressions. Woke militants find themselves in positions of responsibility within municipal administration, which in turn makes these agencies accomplices and promoters of Wokism. It permeates the language of management and advertising. This religious left expands into collective life under the sign of fanaticism, and in front of a political class which does not quite know how to respond to it, let alone stand up to it, and is even tempted to make more concessions towards it, never understanding that it is not dealing with a reformist movement which is bringing reasonable demands in the public space, compatible with democratic logic.

All the power of Wokism lies in its Orwellian manipulation of language – its theorists and activists invent a diverse newspeak that functions like an ideological trap. The strategy of Wokism is transparent, and even demanded, in certain cases – it is a question of seizing a word that has universal disapproval and sticking a new definition to it, which is then said to be scientifically validated, because it is readily legitimized by militants disguised as experts who are now rampant in the departments of the social sciences. There are many examples, whether it is racism, white supremacy, discrimination, hate or hate speech. Too often, bona fide commentators or observers are fooled. Rightly horrified by the traditional meaning of these words, they fail to realize that these words no longer refer to the same reality.

Thus, from the woke perspective, racism today no longer designates an ideology calling for racial discrimination or the hierarchization of human groups according to a racial criterion. Rather, the refusal, precisely, to define people on the basis of the color of their skin, it designates as racist – it accuses those who do not want to consent to the racialization of social relations of racial color blindness. Racism thus culminates in universalism which then supposedly serves as a mask for the interests of the “white majority.” Apparently, it is no longer by going beyond or transcending “race” that we will fight racism, but by over-valuing racial consciousness as the primary form of collective identity. The claimed anti-racism therefore becomes uninhibited racialism.

White supremacy, on the other hand, no longer refers to movements like the Ku Klux Klan, or its descendants, but to the deep structure of Western societies. In France, for example, the racialist far left equates secularism with white supremacy. The concept of discrimination is also demonized. Discrimination, for the woke, consists in treating everyone as the same. Conversely, choosing someone according to the color of their skin, as long as they are considered “racialized,” is not discriminatory. Hate, finally, becomes one-sided, unidirectional – only the majority can be hateful by rejecting the definition that the self-proclaimed leaders of minorities often claim to give to those they claim to represent. We are thus faced with an ideological system that operates by reversing the meaning of the concepts it demands. Wokism makes us walk on our heads. In the name of intellectual hygiene, this exercise of analyzing Wokist vocabulary can be unending.

At the heart of Wokism, we must understand, is the white male who embodies absolute evil. It radicalizes political correctness, moving from criticism of the Dead White Male to the living white male, who should, in order to undertake his rehabilitation, engage in a process of permanent self-criticism, which takes the form of an atonement without redemption, because the pathologies constitutive of its identity are so inscribed in the processes of socialization defining it that it can never tear itself away completely. But by denouncing himself, by criticizing his privileges, by doing everything to become an ally of “minorities,” he will at least send the expected penitential signal. This is the only way, in the long run, that he will regain his humanity, or at least, that he can strive for it. He will also be able to thank people from minorities for allowing him to make his way towards his “un-whiting.”

The woke wave seems to carry everything in its path. It is, however, necessary to resist it strongly. We will only succeed when we learn to decipher its strategy of vocabulary manipulation, which forces us switch to a parallel world, a world filled with alternative definitions, which cuts off the relationship to reality, and forces us to evolve under the authority of accusatory ideologues who deem that those who resist them deserve social banishment – one does not speak without reason of cancel culture. But it also means not being satisfied with opposing Wokism by a sole reference to common sense. Faced with a violent ideological surge, which exerts a form of bewitchment on the new generations, often knowing no other language than its own, and who are fully socialized through social networks, where Wokism is dominant – it is necessary to rediscover the fundamental principles on which is based the civilization that Wokism wants to destroy.


Mathieu Bock-Côté is a Quebec sociologist, writer, essayist and journalist. His writing appears in various newspapers and journals, including la Presse, le Devoir, le Journal de Montréal and le Figaro. This article is made possible by the generosity of La Nef.


The featured image shows, “Promis’d Horrors of the French Invasion, or Forcible reasons for negotiating a regicide peace,” a print by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey in 1796.

Christianity and Immigration: Christianity Versus The Religion Of Humanity

A sort of shortcut, or short-circuit, has pervaded public opinion for many years, especially the Christian opinion, between the “Christian message” and “welcoming migrants.” As if welcoming migrants summed up the demands and urgency of today’s Christian message. As if “being a Christian today” found its touchstone in the welcome, if not unconditional, at least as broad as possible, of migrants. I would like to question the merits of this perspective.

I will first make a few very quick comments on migration. The dominant opinion, that which governs the rulers, maintains that it is fundamentally, if not exclusively, a moral problem, that the reception of migrants is a categorical imperative, perhaps tempered by the limited possibilities of the “host” countries. According to this view, we know what is good work, or a good deed; and the debate can legitimately only be about the appreciation of the circumstances. Yet this emphatically moral perspective rests on a political assumption that is rarely questioned, namely that migration is the major phenomenon of the times, the most significant phenomenon, and against which all others should be considered. This is the argument behind the Marrakesh Pact.

Moral Evidence Or Political Postulate?

However, migrants constitute a small percentage of the world’s population, which continues to live mainly in constituted states. Whatever the specific needs and wishes of migrants, no substantial reason has yet been given to subordinate them in principle to the needs and wishes of non-migrant populations, who are not necessarily less needy. By urging states to do everything in their power to facilitate migratory movements, we immediately deprive political bodies of this essential part of their legitimacy, which consists in freely determining the conditions of access to their territory and to their citizenship. Even urging them to monitor how their citizens talk about migration arrogates the right to regulate public conversation in every country in the world. Thus, in the name of a moral evidence, which is only an arbitrary political postulate, we weaken the legitimacy and therefore the stability of the constituted states, in particular of those which are most sensitive to this argument, namely, the democratic countries, which now host a large number of migrants, and who are by far the most active when it comes to bringing them assistance.

Our democracies provide a life of peace, freedom and even conviviality, which remains enviable for large populations, whose social condition, education, religion, opinions and lifestyles are extremely varied. This associative capacity, the fruit of great efforts over a long history, is not unlimited. No one knows how far a body politic can accept growing heterogeneity without breaking up. It is not only a question of “preserving” oneself, of defending what is one’s own, however legitimate this concern may be—it is a question of preserving and, if possible, improving the conditions of “the good life,” primarily from a common education.

Primacy Of Citizenship

Migrants themselves are no exception to this primacy of citizenship. They were active citizens of the country they left. They most often retain the rights of citizenship or nationality. They received a more or less complete education there, a human formation; in short, a form of life. It is therefore a very superficial view to look at migration exclusively from a humanitarian perspective, and migrants simply as “alike.” Undoubtedly, migrants are our fellow human beings and we are required, if they are in danger, to come to their aid according to our means. But they are also citizens who have been instilled with social or religious rules, which can sometimes be directly contrary to our principles of justice. The duty to help here and now the migrant who is in danger in no way includes a duty to facilitate his migration, let alone that of making him a fellow citizen. All this depends on very varied considerations and ultimately on a judgment that is not moral but political; or rather an ethical judgment in the old sense of the term, that is to say a prudential judgment in which the common good of the community of citizens is the main, although not exclusive, criterion.

What “Christian Message?”

I come to the second point. What exactly do we mean, or what do we mean seriously, when we speak of the “Christian message?” The answer is all the more difficult because over the course of a long history, the Christian proposal has found very diverse expressions, depending on the evolutions of the Church—of those of the world and of the interactions of the Church and the world. In particular, it appears that the modalities of the Christian proposal are very different depending on whether the Church is in a position of command or of authority, as she was during much of European history; or in a position of marginality or subordination, as she is today. I’ll proceed from there.

We constantly meet with traces, remnants or signs of the once central and commanding position of the Church. But, if we look at things as they are, it appears that the Church is increasingly rejected and lies at the margins of European society, including French society. The ecclesial institution, and Catholics in general, have long become accustomed to this diminished condition; but at the cost of increasing difficulty in carrying out the Christian proposal. How can the breadth and gravity of her appeal to humanity be heard without departing from the modesty to which her present situation obliges her? This proposal is addressed to all men, it concerns the whole of man, and the mission of Christians is to carry this call.

However, if the Church, through her liturgy and her sacraments, continues to fulfill this mission in the direction of her active members, she no longer really knows in what terms to formulate it in the public space. Indeed, the sovereign state has gradually imposed its point of view on all participants in common life, including the Church. From the point of view of the state, the Christian faith is one opinion among others, the freedom of which it guarantees, but which does not deserve any special consideration, as it hastens to let her know as soon as she intervenes in the public space. However, even though the Church today does not demand any special consideration, she cannot renounce her raison d’être. How to address humanity, and first of all the members of the civic body, when an increasingly rigorous interpretation of secularism leads the state to exercise increasingly precarious surveillance over any public expression that can be linked to religion?

It is therefore a great temptation in the Church to seek the ear of the public and to preserve its audience, by linking the proclamation, which is specific to her, to the prevailing opinion today, by confusing the Christian proclamation with this “religion of humanity,” which envelops Europe and the Americas, reducing charity to that “sentiment of similarity,” in which Tocqueville already saw the deepest and most powerful psychic spring of modern democracy. It’s a temptation, because like all temptations, it’s an ease, and it’s a lie. Indeed, the religion of humanity proclaims a human family, virtually united and healed. It invites us to perceive, under the still virulent separations, a humanity in which the similarity of men under their differences would be immediately visible and perceptible. One understands the attraction of a prospect that promises the unification of humanity through the contagion of pleasant feeling. We must also point out the cost. Once rooted, this point of view implies a relaxation of all our ambitions; a renunciation in principle of all our common actions, since there can be no ambition or common action without an effort to distinguish oneself from those who do not share this ambition, or have no part in this common action. A humanity which claims to unite by the contagion of the feeling of the similar, is a humanity which has given up acting, since, as soon as we act, as Rousseau explains, we must “take into account the differences that we find in the continual use we have to make of each other.”

The Religion Of Humanity

In the eyes of the Christian, in particular, the religion of humanity is superficial because it does not understand the depth of what separates men and where their enmity is rooted: how to imagine that men will find the healing of their divisions in that feeling of sympathy which, reduced to itself, has little strength and constancy? Moreover, it is because the human capacity for sympathy is naturally limited that compassion is prolonged, spreads and is distorted in political projects, which introduce new divisions by seeking new enemies. How can we fail to see the political and ideological passion behind the project of a world “without borders,” which presents itself as the necessary conclusion of the awareness of human similarity?

The humanitarian proposal is difficult to refuse because it postulates that it is enough for everyone to be aware of the evidence of human resemblance to enter into justice. The Christian proposal is difficult to accept because it affirms that all human beings are prisoners of an injustice from which they cannot escape by their own strength, and that in order to come out of it they must accept the mediation of Christ both man and God, mediation of which the Church in turn is the mediator. It is indeed a lot of mediation— when the religion of humanity offers the immediate feeling of human likeness; but it opens up an incomparably more instructive and demanding path of improvement, since its end is God himself, of whom every human being is the image.

It would be unfair to underestimate the virtues and the happy effects of humanitarian compassion. In fact, the gestures of charity are in part the same as those of compassion. But in the face of the fabulous powers bestowed on compassion, in the face of precisely this religion of compassion which has established its authority among us, it is important to underline its limits. Christians would lose the sense and intention of their faith if they could no longer distinguish between compassion and charity.

Fascination With The “Migrant”

Thus, after sketching a political perspective on migration, I have just emphasized the specificity of the Christian message. The two approaches, by various paths, aim to deliver us from a vertigo that sweeps away many of us, Christians or not. From a giddiness to a fascination, the fascination of the “migrant,” a figure which sums up humanity because he is the loss of the human as Marx said more or less of the proletarian, a Christ-like figure who tends to substitute for Christ as the object of the intention if not of the faith of Christians. However, the attraction, the bewitchment by the figure of the migrant in one part of public opinion inevitably finds its counterpart in another part of public opinion; in the form of a more or less vehement rejection of migrants, so that the reception or refusal of migrants tends to constitute in our countries the most powerful motive for political and moral divisions. I have tried to suggest that migration does not force us to change the character of our political system, or the meaning and standards of the Christian religion. Yet, if migration does not fundamentally change the political condition of men, it exerts pressure on our countries which, in fact, deeply affects both our political system and, if I may say so, our religious regime. This pressure is both the cause and the effect of the surprisingly rapid progress of this “religion of humanity” which is profoundly transforming the conditions of our common life.

This new political religion has delegitimized our representative republic by imposing the idea that there is something radically unjust in a community of citizens who govern themselves, because in doing so they separate themselves from the rest of men, and at the same time exclude all those who are not part of it. As democratic as it wants to be, our community of citizens is considered radically unfair since the rights it grants to its members are not granted to all the men who ask for or claim them. The only fair rule is that which applies to men in general. It is according to the same logic that the religion of humanity has tended to delegitimize the Christian religion which, a community sharing objects of faith, criteria of judgment and a form of life which are specific to it, separates itself from the rest of humanity. In fact, any community of action or education, in short just about all that humanity has been able to produce, is delegitimized by the religion of humanity which only wants to see similar people, where men have created great different things.

The difficulty, one is tempted to say, the perversity of our situation, is concentrated in the relationship between migration and the religion of humanity. This commands us to open up to migrants, without asking for anything in return—and certainly not to open up to our form of life. Yet are we not “the others” for them? In truth, there is no question here of equality or human resemblance. The meeting to which we are invited is that of a presumed innocent and a presumed culprit; it is ordered by a moral inequality of principle. It is that the religion of mankind was not produced by united mankind, but by old Christendom tired of itself, or in revolt against itself. Humanitarianism is not only a weakening of Christianity. Rather, there is, at the root of the religion of humanity, which has taken possession of Europe, an enmity and resentment, specifically directed against the Christian religion. This state of affairs concerns non-Christians as well as Christians if not in the same way; since, while Christianity seems to be withdrawing from European life, another religion has taken hold of consciences to deprive Europeans of any right to govern themselves and to preserve a form of life of their own. While Europe persists in erasing the last traces of Christendom, nothing can stop it from disappearing into a humanity without form or vocation.


Pierre Manent is a political philosopher at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron, and Boston College. His many books are widely translated into English, including, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic, A World beyond Politics?: A Defense of the Nation State, and Modern Liberty and its Discontents.

This article appears courtesy of La Nef. Translated from the French by N. Dass.


The featured image shows, “De bruiloft te Kana (Marriage at Cana),” by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, painted 1530-1532.

Neo-Positivist Realism: A Discussion With Emil O.W. Kirkegaard

Grégoire Canlorbe continues his intriguing interviews with people who are forging new ways of understanding the world. This time around, he is in conversation with Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, who is a Danish intelligence researcher and freelance data scientist. Learn more at his website. Before you ask—there is no connection with existentialist philosopher, Søren Aabye Kierkegaard. However, Emil Kirkegaard’s great-grandfather, Harald Rudyard Engman, was a Danish dissident, anti-Nazi artist, who was exiled to Sweden during Word War II. The featured image is a work by Harald Engman. We are so very delighted to have Mr. Kirkegaard join us.


Grégoire Canlorbe (GC): Your name is notably associated with the study of stereotype accuracy—especially those stereotypes underlying immigration policy preferences in Danes. How would you sum up your research in this field?

Emil O.W. Kirkegaard (EOWK): It all began some years ago, around the time of my father’s 50th birthday (in 2014). I was visiting Sweden, because his girlfriend is Swedish, and my father decided to rent a house in Skåne, occupied East Denmark, for the birthday party.

Emil O.W. Kirkegaard.

Some years prior I had read Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, and recalled that he made some reference to the accuracy of demographic stereotypes. Checking out the supporting references, I found the same names repeated many times: Lee Jussim and Clark McCauley (all the cited works are in an edited book, Lee et al., 1995). I Googled the names of the authors and found a copy of a book chapter with the great title, The Unbearable Accuracy of Stereotypes. It contained a neat summary of the evidence, as it was at the time (Jussim et al., 2009).

I realized there was an entire scientific literature on this topic, one that wasn’t as stupid as my general impression of social psychology. Recall this was in the middle of the early years of the replication crisis, with priming results falling left and right. After that, I checked out the library (that is, Library Genesis, the Russian pirate library), and found that Lee Jussim had written a book in 2012, Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, and I immediately started reading it (Jussim, 2012). While reading this book, I immediately saw the connection to Bayesianism, which I was familiar with because I had long been reading the blogs from people in the Silicon Valley rationalism movement (focused on LessWrong in those days; now mostly reduced to the Scott Alexander-verse).

Say that you’re judging some person for some trait, say being anti-social. The prior belief is the initial guess about some individual based on whatever demographics one can immediately glance at, whether this is sex, age, country of origin, race, name, clothing and so on.

As such, the question of stereotypes is easy to attack scientifically: simply ask subjects to estimate the group means of various groups, and see how well these line up with reality. In fact, a decent sized, but haphazard, set of studies had been done like this, and they pretty much invariably turned up strong evidence of accuracy (the exception being when the data assumed to represent reality was questionable (see, Heine et al., 2008).

At the same time, I had just started studying immigrant outcomes in Europe, and had in my possession a big dataset from Denmark, where we had crime rates, mean incomes, rates of use of social welfare, educational attainment, and unemployment for some 70 immigrant groups in Denmark, as grouped by country of origin (or of their mothers (Kirkegaard & Fuerst, 2014).

In other words, I had the perfect criterion data to study stereotype accuracy in Denmark, and I knew that similar data existed for other European countries, so there was a way to expand afterwards (Kirkegaard, 2014b; 2015). I then found a way to buy survey data fairly inexpensively. We first conducted a pilot study and found quite large accuracy, despite recruiting unrepresentative people online (such as from my Facebook!).

I then managed to raise some funding from friendly sources, and our first big study was published in Open Psych journals in 2016 (Kirkegaard & Bjerrekær, 2016a; 2016c). I tried to do things right, from the start: large sample size (about 500), pre-registered analyses, and open science practices (open access, data, code, and reviewing).

As mentioned above, I was familiar with the replication crisis issues in social psychology and did not want to contribute to such poor practices. I also knew that my results would get attacked by leftists, and thus had to be extra strong to withstand scrutiny (Gottfredson, 2007; Kirkegaard, 2020). However, our results were crystal clear—the main aggregate stereotype correlated r = .70 with real differences—and the results were closely in line numerically with the findings that Lee Jussim had summarized.

The idea of linking this data to the immigration preferences was good, and obvious in hindsight, but it wasn’t mine. Noah Carl was the first to combine the two ideas in his 2016 paper, also in Open Psych (Carl, 2016). After reading his paper, I knew the next step forward was to measure all three variables in a single study: real group differences (insofar as government data can tell), stereotypes (estimates of those differences), and finally policy preferences for the same groups.

When looking at immigrant groups, it was obvious that popular opposition to immigrants was closely in line with the actual immigrant groups with high rates of social problems, whether crime or welfare dependencies (so in practice, against Muslim groups). I teamed up with Noah for a study like this, and we wanted to get it out somewhere “mainstream.”

So, we tried a bunch of social psychology journals; with not much luck. One editor, Karolina Hansen, at a Polish university, told us we needed to explicitly state, multiple times, that Muslims were not causing their own misfortunates, whereas our study was agnostic on this topic. I guess I should not be so surprised since, despite being in Poland, she has a Danish last name, so was probably infected by the Woke memeplex.

Unfortunately, it was around that time that troubles began for Noah Carl, and he had to divert time to defending himself against the communist campaign and its friends in the media (Carl, 2019). It didn’t end well; and he was fired. We managed to finally publish this work in 2020 (Kirkegaard et al., 2020).

To return to the question, I would say that my work in this field has just begun, and I expect to publish a bunch more studies on immigrants, stereotypes and their links to intelligence. We are currently finishing up a big study in the Netherlands, with similar results. The last part is important, because from an intelligence research perspective, having accurate stereotypes is simply a manifestation of the general factor of intelligence, already strongly correlated with general knowledge.

So, one should see pervasive correlations between stereotype accuracy and intelligence. And, in fact, that is the case. Some left-wing psychologists and their media cheerleaders hilariously tried to brand this as a negative aspect of intelligence (Khazan, 2017; Lick et al., 2018; Sputnik News Staff, 2017).

GC: A well-known investigation of yours deals with the dataset of OKCupid’s users. You especially focus on the association of cognitive ability with self-reported criminal behavior—and with religiousness. Could you tell us more about it?

EOWK: Back in 2010, or thereabouts, I discovered the OKCupid dating site, and used it myself. The dating site really was very special, as no other dating site collected so much interesting data on their users. Most dating sites attempted only crude social matching, or even dumber things like astrological signs. However, OKCupid was started by a mathematician, and he had a better idea, despite having no background in psychology.

As a big fan of open science, I was wondering how to get a copy of the data for my own curiosity. I teamed up with a programmer to do a scraping (automatic download) of the website, and we managed to download data from nearly 70,000 users. Mind you, a lot of these profiles are essentially empty and not useful. But still, the dataset is amazing, and one can typically use about 10-30k users in a study, depending on which variables are desired and which subgroups.

Again, in the spirit of open science, we wanted to share this data with the world, so we sent our paper to review at Open Psych (Kirkegaard & Bjerrekær, 2016b). I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but some mainstream social psychologists started retweeting my tweet to the data (e.g., Brian Nosek of OSF), and eventually the SJWs joined in (Oliver Keyes was a notable nutty blogger who wrote some rambling blogpost on this, since apparently deleted), or maybe the other way around.

In any case, it ended up being a global media event of sorts, where we got featured in various big outlets: Wired, Forbes, Vox, Vice, even Fortune magazine. A guy I went to school with, in 2006, called me and wanted some input for an article he was writing for the Danish state media. The data on the website was really already public, and just required a free user (some of it). It’s just that when this data sits in 70,000 profiles, it is not as useful for analysis as when it is in a spreadsheet-type format. The task of scraping could be done by a chimpanzee, and involves visiting random profiles and copypasting the data into a big spreadsheet. In fact, the website itself wrote in its user agreement that users should consider the data public (“You should appreciate that all information submitted on the Website might potentially be publicly accessible. Important and private information should be protected by you”).

In the end, OSF deleted the copy of the dataset on their service, following a copyright complaint from OKCupid’s owners. Someone reported me to the Danish data protection agency, and they sent me some questions in a threatening manner, which I didn’t answer; and then after a few months, they gave up the case. The media never reported on this dropping of the case. So, in the eyes of the media and the public, it appears I was accused and presumed guilty of some crime; when, in fact, a case was not even filed against me in court.

Aside from all, the dataset is really quite something. This is because the questions on the site were mostly made by users themselves; and because of this, some of them asked about things that psychologists would not dare to ask about. They are also a lot more diverse in topics than what interests psychologists. We have published some studies looking at intelligence estimation based on some 14 questions with high g-loadings; and intelligence scores from these do in fact relate to religiousness, crime (self-reported, not optimal), political interest and so on, in the usual ways (Kirkegaard, 2018; Kirkegaard & Bjerrekær, 2016b; Kirkegaard & Lasker, 2020).

This is doubly interesting because the data was filled out by users knowing well that other users would be reading their answers; thus suggesting that social desirability bias should be large here. Evidently, it is not large enough to remove the usual associations. Later on, the website got bought out by Big Dating, that also owns Tinder and others, and the website is now a low quality clone of Tinder; a shell of its former glory. Sad! The most interesting remnant of the website, aside from this (unfortunately) partial copy of the site’s database (and others that exist), is that the founder wrote a book on some analyses he did (Rudder, 2015). It’s really a commercialization, and not a very good at that, of the old OKTrends blog. Fortunately, internet polymath Gwern has archived the blog, so people can, and should, read the unredacted analyses.

GC: Your university background is linguistics. Do you believe race differences may be manifested in language? What are your thoughts about Umberto Eco’s remark that “the language of Europe is translation”?

EOWK: I did a bachelor degree in linguistics, starting in 2010. Before that I studied philosophy for two years, but I was disillusioned with that department and the field, and did not finish the degree. I was always good with language in school, and since I was already interested in the philosophy of language, branching out to linguistics was not a big step.

Honestly, though, studying linguistics had a big advantage: there were no class attendance requirements, so I could avoid going to classes (these are a waste of time). This freed up a huge chunk of time, and allowed me to sleep during the day and work at the night, whenever this was practical (I have non-24 disorder). Passing exams was really mostly a matter of writing three essays (10-15 pages in length) every 6 months, one for each class that one took that semester. Each class was usually based on some book or some papers, which you read. All in all, writing a paper takes perhaps two days, editing included, and reading the required material takes maybe another three days; so we’re looking at about fifteen days of work every 6 months.

In Denmark, the state pays students a stipend to study, about US $800, and there is low-cost, subsidized student housing available too. So, this income is livable; and one can even invest some of it in Bitcoin on the side (Moon Inc.). The rest of the time, I used unwisely to play too much on the computer. But still a large proportion of the time I used to self-study psychology, genetics, statistics and programming. When I was doing the master’s (candidate) in linguistics, in 2015, I was already good enough that a high-profile professor wrote to recruit me for his startup in genetics. That ended my career in academia, not that I was keenly interested in pursuing a linguistics PhD.

So, with my unusual linguistics background aside, what about race and language? It’s hard to say because linguists are, generally speaking, non-quantitative people, and don’t look at these things, except in bland ways. There are some findings on how the physical shape of humans differ by race, and this affects the sounds they produce. Africans have notably larger lips and a broader nose (for cooling), and this results in slight differences in the sounds they make. I don’t think this is very important, however.

More interesting in the big picture are associations between culture and language (an extreme version is called linguistic relativity); and of course, some cultures are vastly more complex than others. Some languages are really quite simple, lacking words for most scientific concepts, some for even basic mathematics, like counting. I am not aware of any formal study of ethnic group IQs and their language features. Economists conduct these kinds of studies, trying to spot relationships between psychological traits and languages, and how this should be reflected in economic outcomes. Best thing they have come up with is that languages that allow dropping of pronouns are higher in some good stuff (Feldmann, 2019; He et al., 2020; Mavisakalyan & Weber, 2018).

There is a big dataset of language features called The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS), which is used to study this stuff (the field is called linguistic typology). It has data for some 2700 languages last time I looked, and these are given geographical coordinates, countries, and so on. One could match this to ethnic IQs and national IQs, failing that, and maybe something useful would come out of this. Honestly, I have not looked, because I don’t think anything interesting will come out of it. I did take an initial look at the data from a quantitative perspective in a preprint never published (not even submitted anywhere, (Kirkegaard, 2021); I posted it as a formal preprint for the purpose of this interview).

The national data is rather small for languages, because of the extensive family relationships between them. So, the effective sample size is less than the number of countries. Biologists are familiar with this problem, and have standard phylogenetic regression methods to handle it, and linguists also (they do it in a worse way), but economists less so. I think it is better to proceed here with ordinary national IQs work, and expanding to the genetics of these, á la what Davide Piffer has been doing since 2013 (Piffer, 2013; 2015, 2019, 2020a, 2020b), and what we did in our big 2016 paper looking at the genetic ancestry of countries and their subdivisions (Fuerst & Kirkegaard, 2016). I am not familiar with Umberto Eco, so I have no comment on that quote.

GC: As an avowed proponent of eugenics, do you share the belief in COVID-19 pandemic’s purifying role? What is your assessment of the reservations on negative eugenics that Charles Darwin—while acknowledging the attenuation of natural selection in Victorian England—expressed in The Descent of Man? Namely that “the surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

EOWK: COVID-19 almost only kills old people who are no longer reproducing, so it has no eugenic or dysgenic effect. If one wanted to be really cynical, one could say that by killing off a bunch of unproductive people, it is easing the state’s welfare budgets, though causing large initial costs in healthcare.

I agree with Darwin. There is an uneasiness with realizing the problem of dysgenics and doing anything about it. Galton himself commented on this in his autobiography (1908): “Man is gifted with pity and other kindly feelings; he also has the power of preventing many kinds of suffering. I conceive it to fall well within his province to replace Natural Selection by other processes that are more merciful and not less effective.” So, how can we do things more mercifully? Many have thought about this problem (Glad, 2004).

I submit that we don’t need to do too much. Some countries have already managed to reduce the intelligence-fertility relationship to quite a weak negative or null association through existing social policies and cultural changes (Kolk & Barclay, 2019; Meisenberg, 2008; Reeve et al., 2018).

Aside from that, we have the tools at hand to reverse the problem: embryo selection and genome editing. With the latter, we can edit embryos to remove some known errors, insofar as these are known (typically well-known genetic disorders). The former technology has been here for years, but needs to be augmented with a modern genomics approach, and to get rid of the communist ethos that prevents this from happening (Anomaly, 2018; 2020; Anomaly & Jones, 2020).

Interestingly, survey evidence shows that large fractions of the world population, with notable differences between countries, are already in favor of such technology, and this fraction is increasing over time, just as it did when the original IVF technology emerged (Pew Research Center, 2020; Zigerell, 2019). On the technology side, we need to figure out how to produce a lot of egg cells (sperm are plenty!), and combine these with the best sperm cells if possible (sperm selection), nurture the resulting embryos, and pick the best combination of genes among the sibling embryos according to the best genetic prediction models.

This approach was outlined in Gattaca back in 1997, so this is hardly new. We just need to get serious about it. Galton suggested the same more than 100 years ago (“I take Eugenics very seriously, feeling that its principles ought to become one of the dominant motives in a civilised nation, much as if they were one of its religious tenets”).

If we let the power of capitalism achieve this, we can all have healthier, smarter, prettier, more creative children, and work towards improving our Kardashev score. Considering the current way Western elite thought is moving, there is probably not so much hope for this. Richard Lynn made similar forecasts in his 2001 book, Eugenics: A Reassessment.

GC: A nation’s collective intelligence partly lies in its average IQ. It also lies in its ability to network the various individual IQs within it in an efficient way, i.e., in a way allowing the nation to solve challenges and to prevail in intergroup competition. Efficient networking within a national brain notably includes intragroup competition for innovation—and the shifting of resources towards sound innovators, i.e., individuals bringing a way of thinking which is different, novel, but also more efficient than the previous admitted thought patterns. Do you sense a correlation between average IQ and efficient networking? Historically, which nation performed best in terms of intragroup cognitive collaboration?

EOWK: It’s a tough question because competing nations throughout history have not generally been so easy to compare, since they differ in population size, and change their borders and thus populations over time as well (e.g., modern Austria vs. Austria-Hungary vs. Greater Germany). The ultimate test of inter-group competition is warfare, and so one can look at which countries are very good at this, or have good standing militaries (Karlin, 2020). One can go beyond looking at who won a lot of wars.

One can look at efficiency specifically, and for World War II, there are some numbers here on the combat efficiency of soldiers from the warring states. Though these were calculated by the US army after the war, it probably won’t surprise many to learn that Nazi Germany’s soldiers were the most efficient in per capita terms. Specifically, the research computed the worth of a solider, setting the Nazi German one to 1.00, yields values of 1.10 Americans, 1.45 British, and >4 Slavic (Polish or Russian) (Kretaner, 2020; Turchin, 2007). Details of the calculations are hard to find, and I have been unable to find numbers for World War I or any other wars.

But I admit to not being a military historian and not having spent more than a few hours looking. Peter Turchin talks a lot about this collective efficiency. He uses the term, Asabiya for this, from the great Islamic golden age thinker, Ibn Khaldun. We can make some guesses though. Group efficiency is higher when people have a feeling of belonging.

Most academic research finds negative effects of ethnic/race diversity on social trust (Dinesen et al., 2020), and given the iniquitousness of ethnic voting in democracies, and the endless anti-European hatred from the European left, it’s hard to disagree with a diagnosis of an overall negative effect of ethnic diversity on collective effectiveness.

We currently live in a time of extreme political polarization (mostly Europeans versus other Europeans in the same countries), mostly caused I think by the radicalization of the global media by communist Woke theories from academia. Zach Goldberg is doing great work on this topic (Goldberg, 2019a; 2019b).

China, on the other hand, is going strong in terms of collective efficiency, insofar as their human capital allows (corruption is endemic outside WEIRD populations; (Henrich, 2020)). All this aside, collective efficiency is positively affected by national average intelligence, and this shows up in any kind of analysis one does. Intelligence is at the individual level related to trust, honesty, competence at any job, patience and so on. So, it is not surprising that countries with smarter people outcompete others by large margins (Kirkegaard & Karlin, 2020).

GC: You dedicate yourself to exploring the relationship of personal names to factors like social status, intelligence, age, and country of origin. What are your conclusions at it stands? Do you subscribe to the Jewish belief that someone’s name predicts his destiny?

EOWK: I’ve never heard of this Jewish belief, but it is certainly true that names have associations with outcomes in life. You see when most social scientists discover such patterns, they immediately think it results from some kind of discrimination (the so-called second sociologist fallacy: any group difference is caused by discrimination by the above average groups). They devise experiments to show that people preferentially hire people with higher status names, and so on (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004; Oreopoulos, 2011). Yes, I am sure one can find some evidence of this stuff. It goes back to the stereotype discussion initially. People act in a crudely Bayesian manner; they use whatever information about an individual they can find. Sometimes researchers give people only names, and so of course people will use such information until they can get better information. This is both rational and not a big mystery.

My entry into this topic was, again, due to nice data presenting itself, but in a less useful format. A Danish newspaper bought government statistics about first names of people living in Denmark, specifically about their average incomes, crime rates, and so on. This data were then published on a website, sort of. There was a search function and one could look up any name to see the stats for that name; but no way to download all the data.

Together with a friend, we figured out how to get the entire dataset behind this website. We then carried out a bunch of analyses of this. We confirmed the usual “S factor” pattern. Maybe we should call this Thorndike’s Rule, as he wrote in 1920: “a still broader fact or principle—namely, that in human nature good traits go together. To him that hath a superior intellect is given also on the average a superior character; the quick boy is also in the long run more accurate; the able boy is also more industrious. There is no principle of compensation whereby a weak intellect is offset by a strong will, a poor memory by good judgment, or a lack of ambition by an attractive personality. Every pair of such supposed compensating qualities that have been investigated has been found really to show correspondence.” (Quoted from Gwern’s page on correlations).

Anyway, in our data, names with higher mean incomes were also, on average, less crime prone, and worked better jobs and so on (Kirkegaard & Tranberg, 2015). So, for every name, one can score it on this composite measure of social status, or “general socioeconomic factor,” as I called it in 2014 (Kirkegaard, 2014a), in a study of countries. I got the idea from reading Richard Lynn and Gregory Clark’s books in short succession (Clark, 2014; Lynn & Vanhanen, 2012). Clark talks about how everyone is born with a latent, genetic score for this generalized social status; and the various social status indicators in life are an imperfect indicator of this (and the other part being mostly luck).

However, if one relies on last name data, one can actually see that the heritability of the latent general social status is about 75%. This finding replicates across many datasets from different countries, even in Maoist China. It’s really quite astonishing. I realized then, that the same thing can be said for countries and subpopulations inside countries, such as immigrant groups (Kirkegaard & Fuerst, 2014).

In our follow-up study, we were also able to show that average intelligence measured in the Danish army correlated quite well with this general social status of names (Kirkegaard, 2019). Personally, I don’t think having a funny name does much to harm one’s career; and it’s a quite simple matter to change it these days, if one really thinks so.

The fact of the matter is rather than funny parents give their kids funny names, and low status parents their kids low status names, and so on. This results in first names being differentiated by genetic propensity for social status, despite not being a family. One can even see dysgenics this way in our Danish data, as higher social status names had fewer “kids;” a kind of pseudo-fertility measure; and so these reduce their share of the population over time. Elite families dying out is a familiar finding for many historians.

GC: It is sometimes asked whether our ontological concepts (causality, identity, quantity, and so on) are intended in the human mind to relate to objective properties of the observed things. Or, on the contrary, only serve as molds, allowing the human mind to clarify, organize the empirical data; but having nothing to do with the content of reality. It is also asked whether the human mind is able to draw its concepts from an immaterial dimension reached through suprasensible perceptions. Or, on the contrary, is condemned to rely on itself—and on sensible experience. What is your take on such issues?

EOWK: That philosophy is a waste of time. For those few who still want to wade into this territory, I highly recommend Alan Sokal’s writings on ontological realism, quantum mechanics and postmodernism (Sokal, 2008; Sokal & Bricmont, 1999).

In my opinion, the best philosophy is written by working scientists or philosophers with a very close relationship to science (and I don’t mean doing some pop-neuroscience). For those wanting to put a label on me, I like to refer to myself as a neo-positivist scientific realist. This is essentially the view that evolution favors organisms that have some level of accuracy of their perception of the real world, which come equipped with a bunch of mostly adaptive cognitive biases (“tinted glasses”), and that through rigorous application of the scientific process, we can better see reality as it really is.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that social science is close to this scientific ideal, being staffed by the wrong people, with the wrong incentives. Social science would do better if we fired everybody who works there, and hired some random physicists to figure things out. This is essentially what Dominic Cummings did in order to win the 2016 Brexit vote, his blog has a bunch of stuff on this.

GC: Going back to linguistics, you may have heard of the proposition “Est vir qui adest.” Namely the anagram for Pilate’s question to Jesus, “Quid est veritas?” What does such connection inspire to you? Which one of Jesus or Pilatus is the chad—and which one the virgin?

EOWK: I generally don’t read fiction, so I am not overly familiar with the Bible stories. Considering that Jesus supposedly died as a childless Virgin (if we disregard the Mary possibility), and Wikipedia tells me that Pilate apparently had a wife, and we don’t know anything about any potential children. So, it boils down to the interesting question of whether Jesus was as holy as he claims to be (i.e., the Gospels claim him to be!), considering the base rate of fertility rates among cult leaders. On the balance of probabilities, I am going with Chad Jesus and the groupies theory, and may God forgive my atheist sins!

GC: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add something?

EOWK: These were some very far reaching questions. You certainly have a talent for interviewing. Maybe you can get a job at Playboy!


The featured image shows, “Nyboder with figures, evening,” by Harald Rudyard Engman, painted in 1931.

Humans In Society: A Conversation With Aurelio José Figueredo

This month, we are especially honored to present this invigorating conversation with Professor Aurelio José Figueredo, who is a Cuban-American evolutionary psychologist. He is a Professor of Psychology, Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona, where he is also the Director of the Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology Laboratory.

Aurelio José Figueredo

He has also been a long-time member of the interdisciplinary Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona, which has regrettably been closed just this past month. His major areas of research interest are the evolutionary psychology and behavioral development of life history strategy, cognition, sex, and violence in human and nonhuman animals, and the quantitative ethology and social development of insects, birds, and primates. He is interviewed by Grégoire Canlorbe, on behalf of the Postil.

Grégoire Canlorbe (GC): Welcome, Professor Figueredo. It is a great pleasure to have you with us. You are notably known for your research on personality in nonhuman primates (including monkeys and chimpanzees). The Hominoid Personality Questionnaire was used as a quantifier of the big five personality traits in chimpanzees. Could you start by telling us more about it?

Aurelio José Figueredo (AJF): To be clear, the research on stumptail macaques, published in 1995, used a different list of behavioral traits which had been developed by Stevenson-Hinde, & Zunz (1978). The Hominoid Personality Questionnaire was used for our study of personality in chimpanzees in 1997, and was later extended to other Great Apes. That is an important distinction, because the findings of these two studies were different. The Great Apes all showed human-like personality structures resembling the human “Big Five,” although to varying degrees. The macaque monkeys showed a simpler pattern of three major factors; but whether this was a result of differences in the list of items used is unclear.

GC: A controversial hypothesis by J. Philippe Rushton is that fast life history – including traits like psychopathy – and a healthy, powerful mind, which is high in g, are negatively correlated at the individual level. Do you believe such correlation is indeed displayed – from lower animals to the most sophisticate of mammals?

AJF: There is something that we have called “The Rushton Paradox.” On the level of individual-differences, at least two meta-analyses (Woodley, 2011; Figueredo et al., 2014) have found weak and trivially small correlations between life history speed and general intelligence.

On the other hand, at the aggregate level of human social groupings or biogeographical regions, there is a strong positive correlation between slower life history strategies and aggregate cognitive abilities (e.g., Figueredo, Hertler, & Peñaherrera-Aguirre, 2020). This paradox was resolved by modeling the evolution of higher levels of aggregate intelligence as an emergent property of social groups rather than an individual-level adaptation (e.g., Figueredo et al., 2017).

In the 2017 paper that I cited, the one we called “Plants, Parasites, and People,” we constructed a model, which is a multiple-stage “Cascade Model,” that slow life history, first of all, is attributable to ecological factors; that we have warmer and wetter climate as well as higher parasite loads predicting human life history speed. Then, life history predicts a variety of other things in sequence before we get to intelligence.

For example, slow life history people are generally more cooperative – they have less crime and conflict within their groups. So, it creates a more cooperative society. And what we found out in other publications is that they are more strategically differentiated. They’re more diverse, both in their cognitive abilities and their life history strategies. Those are called the cognitive and strategic differentiation effort hypotheses.

What that cognitive and strategic diversification leads to is macroeconomic diversification where the society becomes, first of all, more productive as per Ricardo’s Law of Comparative Advantage – there’s a higher economic productivity consequent to having a greater degree of specialization and trade between the different specialists. It boosts the productivity of a society, and we use various indicators of macroeconomic diversification in that paper. And we show that the intelligence of a slow life history population is elevated indirectly, through this macroeconomic diversification, increasing their aggregate wealth, and thereby indirectly increasing their human capital.

Now see, once you increase your human capital, that leads to gains in IQ. But this kind of thing is called an emergent property of social groups, so that an individual can have individual traits like extraversion, or weight, or height, or anything like that, but an individual can’t have something like macroeconomic diversification all by himself or herself. That is not a property at an individual level. That is a property of an aggregate economy.

For example, I can’t have inflation. I can live in a society that has inflation, and I can be affected by inflation; but I don’t personally have an inflation rate, per se. Similarly, macroeconomic diversification is something that only exists at the aggregate level, and it is produced indirectly by a population’s aggregate slow life history.

Once you have that, it has the effect, and we documented that in this paper, of increasing the cranial capacity and the intelligence of the population. And that was our explanation of the Rushton paradox because it wasn’t just in one study. In study after study after study, the relationship between individual level IQ and individual level life history is trivially small. It’s extremely small, in many cases, not statistically significant.

Actually, J. Philippe Rushton, who passed away in 2012, is one of the people who were somewhat resistant to the results of such analyses. But this is what you get, like it or not. So, on an individual level, Phil Rushton was wrong. Now, I’m not saying this to bash Rushton. He was a very good friend. And I agreed with him on many things, but there are other things that we frankly argued about in a friendly way because we were friends for years. And we would argue – I’m sure you argue with your friends, that happens. And there are points of contention between you.

There is virtually no empirically-validated relation between individual IQ and individual life history strategy. But at the aggregate level, there is a very strong relation. And I sent you a couple of papers that show that between aggregate intelligence and aggregate life history. And that is the answer to the Rushton paradox. At least, that’s the answer that our group has proposed. As far as I know, nobody else would propose any solution to this paradox because most people are not even aware that there’s a paradox. But that is my answer to that question.

GC: A fundamental debate in psychology focuses on how knowing whether a certain behavioral pattern that is widespread, if not in all human societies, at least in most human societies (for instance, the prohibition of murder and incest), comes as the result of cultural selection. Or, on the contrary, it comes as the result of genetic selection – whether such a pattern was inherited from our primate ancestors, or designed in the Pleistocene era (or even later in the course of our species’ biological evolution). As an evolutionary psychologist, what criterion do you resort to when it comes to distinguishing between those of widespread (if not universal) behaviors due to cultural selection, and those due to genetic selection?

AJF: The framing of this question presupposes that “cultural selection” and “genetic selection” are two distinct and independent processes. Quite simply put, they are not. Since at least the 1980s, most mainstream theories of human evolution have incorporated the idea of gene-culture coevolution (e.g., Lumsden & Wilson, 1981; Richerson & Boyd, 2005), meaning that genetic changes produce selective pressures for cultural changes, and that cultural changes produce selective pressures for genetic changes.

You are correct that genetic selection continued to take place well after what is commonly presupposed to have been either in our distant nonhuman primate ancestors or in our own species during the distant past in the Pleistocene Era. Gene-culture coevolution has continued (and even accelerated) throughout the Holocene (Cochran & Harpending, 2009) and up to and including the Modern Era (Hertler et al., 2020).

One notable example is that of lactose tolerance, the ability of people like you and me to drink cow’s milk in adulthood. Now, all mammals are born with an enzyme called lactase, which digests the milk sugar, lactose, but they only have it for a certain period of time during infancy because mammals only feed on milk during their infancy, and afterwards no longer feed on milk. So, they don’t need the enzyme for lactose after that time. In certain human, not all human populations, but in certain human populations, that created a cultural adaptation because dairy farming is not genetic. They had a cultural innovation for dairy farming, and they substantially enhanced their nutrition and fitness.

And as a result of that, those populations evolved what’s called lactase persistence. In medicine it’s called lactose tolerance, but it’s really the persistence of that enzyme into adulthood. It is not distributed evenly throughout the world. Studies have been done, where, according to the archeological record, there has been like 5000 years of dairy farming.

So, in those areas, the gene for lactase persistence is highly prevalent. Where there has been very little to no dairy farming, you know, then, lactase persistence is absent. And for a long time in medical circles, this absence was called lactose intolerance and treated as a disorder. Because in societies derived from European or Mediterranean societies, it is rare to be lactose intolerant because everybody digests the milk from cows even as adults. Dairy farming is a clear-cut case of a cultural innovation – because nobody has ever identified a genetic mutation for dairy farming.

But wherever dairy farming took place over sufficient evolutionary time, and adults were drinking milk, a genetic mutation followed and spread throughout the population. I said cow’s milk, but it could be sheep’s milk or mare’s milk. It’s believed by some that mare’s milk was the first kind of non-human milk that we started drinking, out in the Eurasian steppes.

The proto-Eastern Europeans started doing that thousands of years ago. It is in those populations where that gene is not universal, but it’s highly prevalent because of the fitness advantages of being able to consume the milk of non-human animals even as an adult, even after you are past the breastfeeding period.

GC: Your name is attached to the claim that, instead of religion being the cultural cause of moral intuitions, the association between religiosity and moral intuitions comes as “a spurious correlation” caused by slow life history strategy. How do you develop that insight?

AJF: We developed and empirically supported that idea by testing various alternative structural equation models, some of which hypothesized religion as the cause of moral intuitions, and comparing them for best fit to the data that we had collected. The best model, by these empirical criteria, has life history strategy as the common cause of both. Both behavioral traits are thus ultimately reducible to that single biological cause, rather than one psychosocial trait causing the other.

GC: As a proponent of the multilevel selection approach, you probably know E.O. Wilson’s suggestion to leave behind kin selection theory (i.e., the claim that group selection only occurs at the level of groups of kin-related individuals), which he says has been refuted in Hymenoptera and a variety of other species (including homo sapiens). Do you believe kin selection, instead of being wholly inoperative, applies in some specific cases? What is your take on E.O. Wilson’s suggestion of a more comprehensive model of group selection – namely eusociality?

AJF: We do not agree (see, Hertler et al., 2020) that kin selection theory has been entirely “refuted” in Hymenoptera. In fact, we just wrote a recently accepted entry (“Hymenopteran Eusociality”) to the Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior on that topic, which I can provide upon request.

What has been refuted is the idea that kin selection is the sole selective pressure underlying Hymenopteran eusociality. Other forces have also been conclusively shown to be at work, and kin selection alone is neither a necessary nor sufficient explanation for advanced forms of sociality.

In our view, kin selection models have largely been subsumed under more complex models of multilevel selection, only applying to altruistic relations among very close kin. For more diffuse kin networks, such as in human hypersociality among quite distant relatives, or ultrasociality, as it is sometimes called (Turchin, 2016), other theories need to be incorporated. The relative degrees of genetic relatedness within-groups and between-groups (as captured in the statistic Fst, for example) is still a cardinal parameter underlying social evolution, but it is not the only consideration. Ecological factors, for example, also feature prominently.

GC: The cover of your very new collaborative book, Multilevel Selection, reproduces Lionel Royer’s famous painting of Vercingetorix surrendering to Caesar. What motivates such illustration choice? In group selection and life history terms, how do you explain that the West has been unique in producing such a variety of great men (both in history and fiction)? To name but a few, Achilles, Ulysses, Alexander the Great, Sulla, Julius Caesar, Vercingetorix, William the Conqueror, Cesare Borgia, Julius II, Davy Crockett, Rhett Butler, Tony Montana, Frank Castle.

AJF: That cover was selected because we wanted to emphasize the continuing importance of competition between groups as a persisting selective pressure in historical populations. That scene was a particularly dramatic one, illustrating a relatively recent outcome of intergroup conflict.

As far as the West producing a disproportionate number of “great men,” I am not really sure that is true. Most of the examples that you give are military leaders. To those, I would retort with Temujin son of Yesugei (the “Genghis Khan,” which was a title, not a proper name), who conquered the largest contiguous land-based empire in human history, and his General Subutai, arguably the greatest military strategist that ever lived! If we are instead talking about spiritual/philosophical leaders, I could counter with the cases of K’ung Fu-Tse (“Confucious”), Lao-Tsu (founder of Taoism), and Prince Siddhartha Gautama (“The Buddha,” founder of the eponymous religious philosophy). In what way are these lesser men than their Western counterparts? I am simply skeptical of the premise behind this particular question.

GC: The fall of the Soviet Union resulted in ending the intergroup tournament between America and Russia. How do sum up the Cold War’s intragroup consequences on America’s biocultural fabric? What happened to the latter once the war was over?

AJF: The fall of the Soviet Empire clearly reduced the intergroup selective pressures to which US populations are subjected. Our current conflicts are cases of “asymmetrical warfare” against substantially weaker opponents. There hasn’t been a major war among “Great Powers” for over half a century. Not that I am looking forward to having one, mind you, but it would definitely ratchet up the group-selection pressure, as by providing a true “existential threat,” which the current crop of Jihadis simply do not do, in spite of all the fear-mongering about them. In several of our recent publications, we have documented the decline in group-selected values in “Britannic” populations (meaning the successor states of the British Empire, including the USA) as a direct consequence of the reduced intensity of competition between groups over the Late Modern Era (reviewed in Hertler et al., 2020).

Within our collaborative writing group, including colleagues like Michael A. Woodley of Menie, these group cohesion factors and things like loyalty, altruism, martial valor, self-sacrifice are thought to be group-selected traits that, within the context of a multilevel selection model, have sometimes been able to partially overcome the forces of individual selection, which are disruptive of these traits. They have been able to partially counteract, in certain historical periods, the forces of individual selection, which oppose group cohesion. But this can happen only under conditions of intense inter-group competition. And when that intense inter-group competition declines, for whatever reason, then these traits erode. We have documented this trend during the relatively peaceful and prosperous period that followed the very harsh and conflict-ridden Little Ice Age.

The Little Ice Age had raged throughout most of the early modern era, starting in the mid 14th Century, actually early 14th Century. And that was a period of very intense competition, resource scarcity, famine, pestilence, warfare. But the Little Ice Age came to an end at about 1817, and things have been relatively benign since that time, and the prevalence of warfare has substantially decreased. The prevalence of inter-group competition has decreased, generally.

So, we have been trying to frame group selection within a broader historical perspective in that respect. A lot of people don’t get the fact that social conflict has been decreasing over the past couple of centuries – actually, Steven Pinker (2011) wrote about this phenomenon in his own book, that even though millions and millions of people died in World War One and Two, your per capita risk of dying, corrected for the total population size, was much less in those two wars than in most of the wars of the more distant past. The actual per capita rate of war mortality has plummeted. Also, the rate of criminal homicide – the rate at which we kill each other – has declined, and all social competition has been substantially reduced since the end of the Little Ice Age. And as a result, the amount of violence has decreased in European and European-derived populations.

But we’ve also – Michael and I – found, for instance, that a lot of these pro-social values, a lot of the idea of sacrifices for the security of the group have been eroding consistently since the 1800s. In fact, we’re just now revising the paper that we recently submitted that show the data for this as well. And we can send you that paper, if you’re interested. But right now, it’s still in the review and revision stage.

The Soviet Union, in my reading of history, was the last great existential threat that the United States faced since the defeat of Germany and Japan in WW2. That was a serious challenge. Had the Germans and the Japanese won WW2, the Anglo-American hegemony that had been exerted over the world since the end of the Napoleonic Wars would have been reversed, and the dominance and hegemony of the Anglo-American, Britannic people would have been essentially broken. Similarly, had the Soviet Union won the Cold War, the same thing would have happened. That was a real threat.

Once the Soviet Union fell, there was virtually no threat from anyone in the world to the global dominance of the Britannic people for a long time. And as a result, we have shown by various types of evidence that their group selected traits and social cohesion have been eroded, and are presently in a state of decay.

Now, this may not persist, because some people believe that communist China is going to be the next big threat to this Pax Americana, so to speak. I don’t know enough political science to know whether that’s true or not, but some people are saying that there’s going to be another threat, whether there will be a cold war, or a hot war, or any kind of war is unknown. I have no way to predict that. But if that should happen, you will see a resurgence of this kind of nationalism and this kind of group cohesion in response – with respect to the external threat.

But without an external threat, the forces of group selection cannot overcome the forces of individual selection. Individual selection puts a premium on self-interest and not group welfare. And as a result, those are the evolutionary conditions that lead to the proliferation of individually-selected people and the erosion of group cohesion. So, the fall of the Soviet empire was just the latest episode in this process. It may not be the last. I can’t tell the future with any degree of confidence because there are still uncertainties, for example, as to what’s going to happen over time.

GC: Anthropologist Robert Ardrey did not hesitate to characterize man as a territorial animal, most likely evolved from carnivorous African primates; and not – as was then the scientific consensus – from Asian herbivores. Unless in the case of defensive wars, those intended to expulse one or more intruders, Ardrey nonetheless refused to include war among the manifestations of the territorial imperative. Rather he thought war to fall within cultural selection. Do you follow him on that point – or do you judge war to fall within biological adaptation?

Besides, how do you account for those inter-ethnic differences in territoriality we witness today? With superorganisms in the West proving prone to tolerating an ever-higher proportion of foreign ethnicities on their soil; and, conversely, those in Asia and Africa exhibiting persistently high levels of territoriality.

AJF: First off, Robert Ardrey was not much of an “Anthropologist.” He was primarily a playwright and screenwriter for most of his life (a very good one, in fact!) He then wrote some semi-popular science books to cash in on the then-current fad of writing potboilers based on human evolutionary science and ethology.

Ardrey’s speculations notwithstanding, war is indeed a biological adaptation and is a straightforward manifestation of violent intergroup competition. We see it in many other species besides ourselves, as with many eusocial insects. We also have evidence for the antiquity of warfare in our own species, dating back to prehistoric as well as contemporary pre-state societies (see, Keeley, 1996), where it has been present nearly universally.

For example, the archeology of the European Neolithic is littered with the mass graves of the defeated, with bones clearly exhibiting signs of violent deaths. Many sites in Africa show similar patterns – so this is not limited to ancestral Europeans. Once again, in response to Ardrey’s position on the matter, recall that cultural and genetic selection are not mutually exclusive nor independent of each other; so his dichotomy there is both useless and obsolete.

With regards to current trends in demographics, I can only speculate. My first reaction is to see how long they last. The “superorganisms in the West” of which you ask might well be in the process of fragmentation as a result of the relaxation of the formerly intense group-selective pressures. However, as you know, in places like France, there is a substantial opposition to this. And in many other countries, there is a substantial reaction to these open immigration policies that they have had.

So, I don’t know that that is going to be viable long term, because a lot of the natives have been reacting to this quite strongly. And governments may be pressured to avoid this kind of thing, or at least, to limit the ethnic separatism that is practiced by some of these immigrant communities. For example, you know, I speak a little French – I’ve been to France several times – so I hope you don’t mind if we talk a little bit about the specific example of France.

I don’t think any French people, at least none that I know, and I know quite a few of them, object to the Muslims staying in France. They just insist that anyone, whether Muslim or not, has to adapt to French culture, French civilization, if one wants to live in France. You have to speak French, abide by the laws of France, and be a normal citizen of the republic. That’s what French people have told me. It is not that they don’t like Muslims per se, but that the kind of separatist impulses that some of these communities have are objectionable to French nationalism. That’s my understanding.

The idea that incorporating diverse cultural elements within one society is unfeasible, I don’t think that’s completely correct. To wit, if you look at European history, the Roman Empire lasted for over a thousand years, but I’m talking about the Western Empire. If you count the Eastern Empire, the so-called Byzantine Empire, that lasted – their collective existence might be close to two thousand years.

Those were empires that, although established by particular ethnic groups (the Romans), ruled over a very multicultural, diverse array of nations, for century after century. And they had a thriving civilization going. Now, were individual ethnic groups pursuing their own self-interest? Of course, they were. You know, everybody pursues their own self-interest, regardless of who it is. So, was there a certain amount of ethnic nepotism among all the groups involved?

Absolutely. That’s really what any evolutionist would expect. But does that mean that within an empire, you cannot coexist with these other groups for perhaps centuries, and perhaps even millennia? I would say the history of Europe would answer no, it is not impossible. You can have a multicultural empire that includes a diverse set of ethnicities, provided they are all guided by a common set of laws and principles. In that sense, I completely agree with the French attitude on this matter.

The Romans referred to this principle as Romanitas, or Romanness. And, the law was the law; and it was the law for everybody; and Roman law was strictly enforced. And after a few centuries, everyone in the Empire was granted Roman citizenship. At least, all free persons (not slaves) were granted Roman citizenship. And there were many emperors from Gallia, from Hispania, even some from North Africa that actually became Roman emperors. And they were all incorporated.

In fact, there was one semi-popular book I remember called, The Celtic Empire, in which the author made the case that Gallia, which is now France, became one of the dominant parts of the Roman Empire after the second century. It was a really critical part of the Empire. The Roman Empire wasn’t just Italians. So, I frankly don’t agree that ethnic homogeneity is absolutely necessary for a functional multinational society or state – what I’m calling an empire regardless of type of government. There have been plenty of examples where that has been made to work.

Another example, if you don’t want to think of Rome, is the so-called Inca empire, correctly called Tawantinsuyu, of the Andes in South America. They had a very multicultural empire. However, they had a brilliant road system, just like the Romans, and any province that rebelled or tried to practice separatism was crushed by the imperial army. Rebellion was not tolerated. You had to follow the rules, and you had to actually be part of that Andean state. And if not, there were dire consequences. So, a certain degree of conformity to social norm was enforced both by the Romans and by the Andean people. And they both were very good examples of multinational states, multi-ethnic states that lasted with some degree of stability, literally for centuries.

So, even though I’m an evolutionist and yes, genetic relatedness is an important factor in group selection, it is not the only factor. It is not necessarily the predominant one. And it is not strictly necessary, as some theorists have argued. The historical evidence indicates that nationalism, as we know it today, arose in the 19th century. It – that ideology of nationalism – was not even a coherent doctrine in Europe before that. I’m not saying there aren’t some instincts for ethnic nepotism. Those clearly exist in every human group; everywhere, you find ethnic nepotism.

But the kind of radical nationalism that Europeans came to accept in the 19th century is a recent historical invention, and it may be degraded over time as a result of these different social realities. I think this phenomenon was actually caused by the imperial expansion of the European powers; the fact that they incorporated ethnically different groups into their empires; often against the objection of the natives; but they incorporated these diverse groups into their societies.

So, for example, to use the case of France again, you have a lot of Algerians in France. The Algerians never invaded France. France invaded and conquered Algeria. That’s historical fact. So, we have Algerians now in France. Just understand – you asked for them, right? They did not voluntarily do this. And it’s not just like that in France, but in all the formerly imperial powers. They just incorporated these other people, created worldwide empires and global trade networks. So, that automatically incorporates these people within your society whether you acknowledge it or not.

So, now the question is how to deal with these diverse groups – and how to incorporate them as part of an orderly society. I believe that historical evidence indicates that that is possible.

But you cannot tolerate the separatists. This kind of multiculturalism philosophy that’s being preached nowadays, where everybody is just pursuing their own ethnic interests and there’s no loyalty to any kind of higher power, is not feasible in the longer term. But is it possible to create a true multicultural state where everybody engages in a cooperative network and everybody plays by the same rules? I think that historical evidence indicates that yes, it is possible. But you have to be firm. You can’t be weak. Only strong empires can do this.

GC: You challenge the idea that interindividual romantic relationships are primarily influenced by communication. You instead suggest that life history strategies in partners serve as the most fundamental force in shaping the outcome of their relationship. Could you come back at that issue?

AJF: Again, I tend to favor more fundamental and biological explanations to purely psychosocial and behavioral ones. “Communication” is only a proximate cause, whereas life history strategy better specifies the ultimate selective pressures that might have led to that behavior. Specifically, the need for biparental care in species with altricial offspring (such as our own) requires long-term bonding between fathers and mothers for the purpose of raising their offspring. It is that biological function that requires the communication. I am not downplaying the important role of supportive communication in maintaining human romantic relationships, but merely trying to explain why it is there.

GC: Thank you for your time for this enlightening conversation. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

AJF: I should point out that all the work that you have attributed to me was instead the work of many collaborative efforts over the years, and the role that my coauthors have played, as well as the massive contributions that they have made, should not be downplayed. I just wanted to acknowledge that before we finish. The citations provided present only a partial list of those collaborators. I think this was a very good interview, and I thank you for being honest, and as you said, not hostile. I don’t feel on the spot like you’re trying to catch me in something as some interviewers have tried to do in the past. And I appreciate your being open-minded.

The featured image shows, “Vercingetorix jette ses armes aux pieds de Jules César (ercingetorix throws down his arms at the feet of Julius Caesar),” by Lionel Royer, painted in 1899.

The Failure Of Woke Morality

A large portrait of William Shakespeare was torn down at the University of Pennsylvania in December 2016 , and a portrait of Audre Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” was placed on the wall in its place by student protesters.

Students did this to express their disgust with the perceived male chauvinism, white privilege, racism, straight sexuality, and poor judgment of UPenn and the Western canon of literature. When no action was taken against the rebels, and when the change of portraits was allowed to remain, as an alum of the Univ. of Pennsylvania, I had a brief correspondence with the chairs of the English Dept and of Graduate English Studies at Penn.

They assured me that Shakespeare was still actively taught. Thus, the mere fact that Shakespeare continues to be taught justifies their rationalization that (1) it’s only a picture, (2) kids will be kids, (3) throw them a bone (the new portrait on the wall was the “bone”) and they will be satisfied, and (4) life goes on in spite of caving in to student expressions of pique. They felt no need to publicly affirm Shakespeare’s rightful place on the wall, nor that student vandalism is unacceptable.

In a similar vein, during September 2020, the University of Edinburgh’s David Hume Tower was re-named 40 George Square because of some deplorable remarks Hume, a great 18th-century philosopher, made at one point about “negroes.” However, the University assured the public (just as UPenn had two years ago) that it will continue to teach Hume, and had a cadre of specialists more than able to do so.

The author of this article, Julian Baggini, took the tack of splitting hairs to explain and ultimately justify the name change. He’s against the dead “getting a free pass” on prejudice as being too lenient, but on the other hand, trying to punish them in absentia by today’s “higher standards” is too harsh. Instead the author equivocates and writes, “So before abolishing or renaming memorials to those who have views that offend or even distress us, maybe we should instead challenge our understanding of what such memorials are for. They are not there to encourage hero worship, to elevate certain figures above criticism.” What does this say about the University’s ultimate decision? He means it was too harsh, but he does not have an alternative.

Sadly, Mr. Baggini is legitimizing this action, and thus is still splitting hairs about this controversy. Actually, the name change is wholly ILLEGITIMATE. Changing the building’s name but still teaching Hume is like telling someone they still have a right to food, shelter, and clothing, but they can’t go out of the house because they should be ashamed to show themselves in public. At one point in my career, I taught the background of the Civil War in the U.S., and traced Abraham Lincoln’s attitudes towards blacks throughout his political career….

The Lincoln who opposed the popular sovereignty idea of Stephen Douglas was not as compassionate as the Lincoln who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, nor was that Lincoln as humble and godly as the Lincoln who prayed on his knees with black workers (not slaves) in the White House or the Lincoln with the passionate sense of God’s judgment in his Second Inaugural Address. He set the slaves free, but he was not always thinking that, who knows, maybe another Isaac Newton is now a slave, and being held back from his true destiny. Although he fully understood the justice and holy truth of emancipation, he did not repudiate totally the Confederate rebels who had brought about so much death and destruction. His hope in Christ had increased dramatically during the years of his presidency, and forgiveness was a central theme despite his anti-slavery commitment. If we took some earlier snippets of Lincoln’s views than the ones that emerged during the war years, we might find some reason to fault him or purge his name even. Instead, we purposely see the greatness of the whole man.

Of course some people are so evil that they are remembered for their wickedness, but in most cases that does not apply. “The good a man does lives after him, and the bad is oft interred with his bones.” Dishonoring someone for having had some opinions that seem wrong to many is a debacle. Hume did not go out of his way to harm any black folks. Slavery finally came to an end in the British Empire in 1833. To rename the Hume building is not just a wrong emphasis in thinking as the article suggests, but a case of egregious pandering to the racial demagogues.

Looking for reasons to debunk heroes of Western Civilization for their whiteness and supposed inappropriate statements – that supposedly reflect a deeply entrenched and abhorrent racism – has become a cottage industry in our political and educational institutions.

Not only do we see it at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Pennsylvania, but we see it in the self-confident ranting of a Scottish Member of Parliament, a man of Pakistani descent, SNP Justice Minister, Humza Yousaf. In August, he expressed his outrage that except for two seats belonging to two men of Pakistani descent, himself and one other man, the Scottish Parliament and so many other public officials who were – here’s the horrible word: white. This he proposes is white privilege run amuck. He is shocked and offended that in Scotland almost all the leadership is white.

Yet, a friend of mine, well informed about ethnography, wrote to me that “1) The northern parts of Pakistan are white – like the Kailash and the Kafirs, who are largely blued-eyed blondes and red-heads. Are they ‘white?’ According to Yousaf’s logic, they are not. 2) The rest of the population of Pakistan is Indo-Aryan – notice the term ‘Aryan’ – which means they are an Indo-European population (i.e., genetically, ‘white’).” This reality suggests that by having more Pakistanis in office, Scotland would be extending its pattern of whiteness, not counteracting it as Yousaf states. Despite his ethnographic ignorance and illogicality, Yousaf’s rant on Youtube led me to some radical introspection.

Why is it all the members of my birth family are… white? Is this a dreadful exclusivity? How dare they marry and procreate with people who look like themselves, and have similar mores to themselves?! And am I therefore now on the moral high ground because I married an Asian woman? My wife is Asian, but our daughter LOOKS white. That must mean that part of her is racist – against herself!

And why is it that so many of those in government in the West who are white believe in liberty while ignoring their white privilege? Why am I not relieved that my centuries old hypocrisy masquerading as “liberty” and “natural rights” is now being exposed?

Many are starting to say how “bourgeois” and inauthentic those words from the 18th-century now sound, how middle class and how WHITE (!) those calls for liberty and rights seem to be. The liberty talk we frequently hear, we are told by the left, is a cover for entrenched Western – especially American — racism. And worse still, this racism is linked to sexual militancy against LGBQ and especially T for transgenders. Think of it, neither Scotland nor the USA has had a head of state who is a transgender woman.

When we hear UPenn condemned or the Scottish Parliament condemned for its racism, do we not simultaneously tremble at the thought that trannies have been so systematically excluded from political leadership? There is a repugnant intersectional bias in Scotland and elsewhere, even too repugnant to be mentioned by Mr. Yousaf.

If we believe in liberty, are then people not free to have any genitalia they please – and to be elected for their stability of mind, values, and knowledge with or without their birth genitalia! Isn’t this the deep hypocrisy that the portrait of Shakespeare or the tower named after Hume exposes? Certainly, the rebels and iconoclasts on our campuses and in our legislative bodies believe this. Once persons admit they are racist, that puts pressure on them to admit they are also trans-phobic. And the phobic road is a long road indeed.

However, as we reflect on racism in the West (with its implied links to other generic, gender prejudices of custom and psyche via intersectionality), we see it extends beyond education and beyond public office. It is embedded in the warp and woof of society as a whole. This is true according to the latest big-name race baiting guru of America, Ibram X. Kendi, née Ibram Henry Rogers.

“You’re either racist or antiracist; there’s no such thing as ‘not racist’,” Kendi says. But then Mr. Kendi goes on to say that people are in a variety of complex situations with regard to race. In the criminal justice system, they may be racist, but in regard to the environment they are not racist. When it comes to healthcare they may be antiracist, but then in regard to education they are racist. The complexity does not have the effect of diluting racism, but instead helps perpetuate it. Complexity feeds racism rather than breaks its back.

And if you are white, you are hooked into racism by your attachment to capitalism, and you may be hooked into racism by saying you believe in assimilation. However, anti-racism is not compatible with assimilation. Ultimately, M. L. King Jr. got it wrong.

Thus, I attended an alumni day at the University of Pennsylvania a few short years ago, and was surprised to learn that there was a black segregated dorm on campus. The integration model of the civil rights movement had given way to a new black-initiated segregation. Listening to Kendi, I better understood why my beliefs in de-segregation were now being rejected. Anti-racism cannot identify with assimilation.

Kendi asserts this unequivocally. His view thus incorporates the Nation of Islam ideal of black separatism. But if it is true as stated in the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that “separate is inherently unequal,” then separatism by blacks is not announcing equality and not announcing inferiority.

Therefore, it appears that black separatism is a cover for black dominance and contempt for persons of European origin. However, by saying this, a white can be accused of trying to make blacks appear prejudiced, which itself brings out yet another accusation by blacks of racism.

Every verbal move – even a logical move – is considered a white racist gambit. Mr. Kendi and his ilk, like Mr. Yousaf from a different starting point in Scotland, are driven by the same demons, the same paranoia, the same demagoguery, and, on a kinder note, the same insecurities.

Jeffrey Ludwig is presently a lecturer in philosophy and has taught ethics, introduction to philosophy, American philosophy, and philosophy of education. He also spent many years teaching history, economics, literature, and writing. For ten years he served as pastor of Bible Christian Church; and his theological focus is on the five solae. He has published three books, the most recent, The Liberty Manifesto, being a series of essays about the importance of reasserting liberty as a social, political, economic, and theological value. His other two books are The Catastrophic Decline of America’s Public High Schools: New York City, A Case Study, and Memoir of a Jewish American Christian.

The image shows, “Auf der Flucht [On the Run],” by Magnuz Zeller, painted in 1920.

The Decline Of Postivism: A New Culture War

The current ideological spasm seen widely in the West has a quasi-religious aspect. The idea of racism as a demonic force operating everywhere fits that. So does the iconoclasm, the attempt symbolically to reorder urban spaces in order to drive home a set of political imperatives.

What is most striking is the suspension of any sense of critique of the new order. Debate is so beneath you when you possess all truth. Much better just to steamroll people into subjugation. Debate is seen as oppressive. Instead, edicts are issued from on high, as befits a cult. Those who hold contrasting views are readily dismissed and shunned: if you do not think you are a white supremacist that means that you are guilty. If you feel uncomfortable about being accused of being a white supremacist – that means you are guilty. This is like a blatantly constructed trap; as is the reference to having “a conversation” when that is the very last thing that is intended.

In practical terms, we are seeing a bringing to fruition of the attack on positivism that has been so insistent since the 1960s, an attack that is bridging from academic circles to a wider public. In particular, there was, and continues to be, a critique of subordinating scholarship and the scholar to the evidence; and a preference, instead, for an assertion of convenient evidence that was derived essentially from theory. Empiricism was discarded, or at least downplayed, as both method and value, and there was a cult of faddish intellectualism heavily based on postmodernist concepts.

Divorcing the Arts and Social Sciences from empirical methods invited a chaos that some welcomed but that others sought to reshape in terms of a set of values and methods equating to argument by assertion and proof by sentiment: ‘I feel therefore I am correct,’ and it is apparently oppression to be told otherwise. The conventional academic spaces, the geopolitics of academic hierarchy and method, from the lecture hall to the curriculum, have all been repurposed to this end.

In this view, the statues that are unwelcome are not isolated residues of outdated and nefarious glories, but a quasi-living reproach to the new order. Indeed, the statue of Cecil Rhodes that decorates Oriel College, Oxford is referred to by its critics as making them feel uncomfortable. So also with crests of arms or stained glass, or the names of buildings and streets. All are to be removed because they are seen not as mute products of the past, but, instead, as toxic reproaches in a culture wars of the present in which there is no space for neutrality or non-committal, or, indeed, tolerance and understanding.

Iconoclasm, therefore, from whatever political direction, is a matter of a set of values that is inherently anti-democratic, in that the legitimacy of opposing views is dismissed, indeed discredited as allegedly racist, and anti-intellectual because there is an unwillingness to ask awkward questions and to ignore evidence which does not fit in the answer wanted. Examples of the latter might include the extent of slavery and the slave trade prior to the European arrival in Africa or the role of European powers in eventually ending both. It is possible to debate these and other points, but debate is not accepted if it involves questioning assumptions.

However, such questioning is crucial to understanding the past, which is the key aspect of history as an intellectual pursuit rather than as the sphere for political engagement. Historians need to understand why practices we now believe to be wrong and have made illegal, such as slavery or (differently) making children work or marrying them, were legitimate in the past. It is not enough, in doing so, to present only one side of and on the past because that is allegedly useful for present reasons. Nor to refuse to recognise debate in earlier, plural societies.

People in the past believed that they were right for reasons that were perfectly legitimate in terms of their own times, experience, and general view of the world. Imposing anachronistic value-judgments is antithetical to the historical mindset of the scholar, and is inherently transient as the fullness of time will bring in fresh critiques of present-day values, which will also be wrenched out of their historical context, not least by ignoring inconvenient evidence. Thus, iconoclasm will be perpetuated, providing a form of blood of (stone) martyrs to revive revolution, and to the detriment of any sense of continuity, unless, that is, the sole sense that is sought is that of an anarchic presentism.

Again, there are elements that can be traced to the assault on positivism. In particular, the notion of accumulated wisdom, and/or of source criticism based on an understanding of past practices, have in large part been discarded as a consequence of an academic culture being brought into line with those within it who use virtue-signalling to push their views. Iconoclasm is to the fore here.

The theme of a difficult ‘conversation’ about Britain’s past and its legacy in the present was pushed hard by critics, but their view of conversation was only one-way. It encompassed growing calls for iconoclasm, with Rhodes a target in Oxford from 2015 and Afua Hirsch, in an article in The Guardian, calling for Nelson’s Column in London to be pulled down. She described Nelson ‘without hesitation’ as a ‘white supremacist’ because he spoke in favour of slavery. Hirsch, who pressed for Britain to face its role in the slave trade and attitudes linked to its empire building, backed the Rhodes Must Fall movement vigorously and, in ‘The Battle for Britain’s Heroes’, a BBC programme on 29 May 2018, returned to the attack on Nelson and presented Churchill as a racist. Meanwhile, in February 2018, the controversy was over the exhibition ‘The Past is Now’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in which information boards claimed that “the relationship between European colonialism, industrial production and capitalism is unique in its brutality.’”

The key Birmingham politician of the Victorian period, Joseph Chamberlain, an exponent of a stronger British empire who became Secretary of State for the Colonies (1895-1903), was described as “still revered despite his aggressive and racist imperial policy.” One board attacked Britain’s ‘hasty’ departure from India in 1947 for ‘trauma and misogyny,’ and a second board offers another partisan context: ‘capitalism is a system that prioritises the interests of the individuals and their companies at the expense of the majority.’

Janine Eason, the Director of Engagement, said that it was “not possible’ for a museum to present a neutral voice, particularly for something as multifaceted as stories relating to the British Empire,” and, instead, that the exhibition was both a way to serve the multicultural population of Birmingham and was intended ‘to provoke.” Of course, real “provocation” would have been to offer a different account, one that was more grounded in historical awareness; or, even more, two or more accounts, but such an approach is indeed regarded as provocative.

The toppling of statues is far from new in Britain which has had its share of revolutions. Indeed, in addition to those of political and constitutional transformation, which included the execution of a king and declaration of a republic in 1649, and an overthrow of another king in 1688 leading to constitutional change, came those of three religious revolutions: the Henrician under Henry VIII, the Edwardian under Edward VI, and the Puritan one of the mid-seventeenth century. These saw state-imposed iconoclasm in every community in the country, which was far more extreme than political revolution. Church decorations and paraphernalia, from mass-books and roodscreens to wall-paintings and statues, were destroyed, with particular emphasis on the destruction of shrines to saints, for example, that of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Every monastery, nunnery and chantry was despoiled and terminated. This iconoclasm left the ruined monastery as an abiding image in British culture.

Yet, the brutal iconoclasm of the British past was also left in the past because of the nature of British politics and political culture after the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9. The emphasis switched to one of organic change and a government of consent expressed through, and in, parliamentary accountability. The British came to convince themselves that their politics was one that was far more orderly than those of most others, and notably so France, where there were revolutions in 1789, 1830, 1848 and 1871, followed by the instabilities of the Third and Fourth Republics.

So also with the British view of their own political culture, society and emotions. Iconoclasm, therefore, was not part of the British design. There were radical movements in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but they were those of minorities, and there was an essential ‘lawfulness’ about Methodism in the eighteenth and Chartism in the nineteenth.

Attacks on symbols of power and continuity were pronounced in the case of Irish nationalism, but that was a separate tradition and one that did not influence the British one. The continuity of British political culture proved able to absorb the impact of trade unionism and the rise of the Labour Party, while the end of empire did not have the disruptive impact in the metropole that was to be seen in some former colonies.

That was very different to the situation today. In one respect, the disruption of decolonisation is being brought back now into the metropole, and that element is certainly apparent in the case of some members of minority groups from the former empire. Alongside the attempt to use slavery to discredit imperialism, different immigrant sensitivities play particular roles, with those of people of Caribbean descent especially concerned about slavery and those of Indian descent more so about the legacy of imperial rule. Conversely, there is less comparable critique from those originating in Hong Kong about British imperial rule.

In this overall context of contrast, statues in practice have different resonances. That of Edward Colston (1636-1721), the Bristol merchant who played a role in the slave-trading Royal African Company was one of particular note for the controversy over slavery, and the 1895 statue of him was pushed into Bristol Harbour in June 2020. The statues of Robert, 1st Lord Clive (1725-74) in London and Shrewsbury had more resonance for empire and India, and petitions in 2020 calling for the removal of the Shrewsbury one had 23,000 signatures between them. A counter-petition argued that removing the statue would erase part of the town’s history. Shrewsbury Council decided on a 28-17 vote not to remove the statue, and this decision was criticised on the grounds of supposed racism.

Similarly, there was a petition to remove the London statue, while the highly-overrated historian William Dalrymple, writing in The Guardian on 11 June 2020, declared that Clive “was a vicious asset-stripper. His statue has no place on Whitehall … a testament to British ignorance of our imperial past…. Its presence outside the Foreign Office encourages dangerous neo-imperial fantasies among the descendants of the colonisers… Removing the statue of Clive from the back of Downing Street would give us an opportunity finally to begin the process of education and atonement.” And so on with the usual attacks on Brexit being apparently a consequence of an imperial mentality that has never been confronted. Leave aside the extent to which Dalrymple is strong on assertion but no evidence, and that “Little Englanders” were of far more consequence in the 2016 referendum, what you get is a running together of past and present with the modern British supposedly trapped by the past. Therefore, in this approach, the statues have to fall, and the libraries and reading lists must be reordered.

The alleged validity of these views is allegedly further demonstrated by the false consciousness adduced to those who do not share them. Other statues then come up for immediate criticism. The most prominent in Exeter, that of General Redvers Buller on his horse, Biffen, is allegedly rendered unacceptable because he was a general of empire. That Buller was not associated with anything particularly bad is ignored by referring to him as having invented concentration camps during the Boer War of 1899-1902. In fact, one, he was no longer in command then; two, these were not the same as the later German camps, being more akin to detention centres; and, three, such camps had a long provenance, most recently being used by Spain in fighting an insurgency in Cuba in the 1890s.

Why, however, let facts stand in the way? In each and every case, there is misrepresentation in the iconoclastic demands; but that is not the point. We are in the midst of a postmodernist world in which facts are allegedly subjective, an irrational one in which emotion trumps reason, and one of gesture in which the statue is all-too-prominent as a target and the senses of continuity and identity that go with it deliberately attacked. If this is not a culture war, a war on culture, it is difficult to know what is.

The image shows “Fraternité Avant Tout (Brotherhood Above All),” by Asger Jorn, strategically vandalized in 1962.

Sheriffing The Sheriffs

In January 1992, I had the displeasure of meeting a German in Havana. Heinz Dietrich was his name, and he was a great friend of Chomsky’s, and an unswerving pawn in any anti-Spanish plot that was being hatched around the world. Dieterich along with a woman, a Catalan separatist, whose name I do not remember, had been commissioned by the liberal Naumann Foundation to collect signatures denouncing the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the New World. That woman (and what is there to say about her two traveling companions, Pedro and Pablo, that will not come across as nasty?) – that Catalan woman forgot, for example, that all of us Spaniards were footing the bill for their Olympics. But to expect nobility and gratitude from such people is just wishful thinking.

The conversation was brief and unpleasant and I will not waste time trying to remember it, except for one thing: They were trying to organize a landing in Barcelona of Canadian Indians in their canoes (the Catalan resided in Canada and was doing her best to stir up anti-Spanish sentiments among indigenous people who could not even tell you where Spain might actually be located). These Canadian Indians were going to come to “discover” Spain, as a slap-in-the-face to the feat of Columbus and his sailors, although these Indians would, of course, be transferring from a mother ship. I do not know what became of such antics for October 12 (Columbus Day), although I do know for sure that their water carnival was kept from going to Palos de la Frontera. Just in case.

I have referred to this trivial comedy, as it is part of a constellation of similar acts with which they stir up bad actors throughout the American continent, especially in those countries where the indigenous peoples are large in number, and precisely those countries which Anglo-Saxons did not colonize and settle. And how timely the reminder by ABC of the words of John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts Colony: “For the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.”

Everywhere, insulting and ill-founded actions proliferate to achieve objective goals – against statues, names of institutions, streets, and so forth, of Columbus, Fray Junípero, Pizarro or anyone who has done something positive for the land: Founded a city, opened up a jungle trail to commerce and human interaction, inaugurated a trade route, introduced livestock or cereal species, drawn essential maps, studied the mammals or the botany of a region.

In short, anyone who has put the American continent within the general march forward of humanity, all fed by a lot of sweat and some blood of indigenous people, of Spaniards, or the Portuguese, and of black people who came as slaves and were eventually freed – sometimes a nice story and sometimes a hard one – but was there an alternative possibility in that time-period?

They certainly had a lot of fun in other latitudes making Spain a global laughingstock, especially thanks to our indifference or complicity. But now, after France (with Pierre Loti or Colbert), it’s Canada’s turn. Since last February 6, ecologists, indigenous activists and rabid decolonizers have been trying to block the railways in protest against the construction of a pipeline in the west of the country. The well-meaning, like Justin Trudeau, have seen their lure of “reconciliation” turn against them, and the rebels, whom he believed he could control, no longer settle for anything less than turning the country upside-down by delegitimizing the entirety of the colonization and construction of Canada.

The emergence of the politically correct reaches everyone; and the summary of such refinement of thought is, ”The West is bad,” and “This country should never have existed.” This is not the famous miscegenation of completing, or complementing, one culture with another. No, the objective is to destroy everything that exists and to replace it with an ideal and mythical transcript of the native past that, by definition, is perfect – like the imaginary return to the origins of Islam that the Islamists claim, even though both claims lack any factual basis.

In March 2018, in Montreal, there was a quarrel with such advancement. A plaque in memory of Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve’s victory over the Iroquois in 1644 was removed at the behest of a citizen, apparently greatly injured, because to this citizen the text on the plaque was not respectful and inclusive; and – ultimately – it was decolonized: “Near this square afterwards named la Place d’Armes the founders of Ville Marie first encountered the Iroquois whom they defeated in March 1644.” The Sieur de Maisonneuve killed the Indian chief with his own hands. But since the indigenous and decolonizing demagogues are, by definition, insatiable, now they are going after the monument to de Maisonneuve itself, erected in 1895. If their whim is catered to, the city will be left without its founder, just as in South America, the City of Kings, also called Lima, was left without its founder.

But, in a drugstore, everything is useful, and taking advantage of the fact that the coronavirus is already passing through the entire world, the epidemics that have taken place in America, indeed, since the arrival of the Europeans (smallpox, diphtheria, measles) that caused great deaths among the indigenous people, are now instrumentalized. Obviously, not for the profit of the Spaniards, who needed the population as a workforce, a detail that is often forgotten by those who cling to Cook’s spurious numerical speculations, in order to blame the conquerors for the demographic catastrophe that occurred after the Conquest – and who thus arrive at the magical number of one hundred million, as the number of Indians that perished at the hands of the Spanish – while ignoring the fact that the total number of the pre-Hispanic indigenous population is very unclear (Rosenblat sets it at 13 million for the entire continent, while the Berkeley gang raises it to 120 or 130.

The objective is clear: The more aborigines missing, the greater the fault of the Spaniards. But now – thanks to the fashionable issue of the coronavirus – it turns out that the Spaniards were just a little less evil than the North Americans in Vietnam, dumping thousands of tons of defoliants and poisoning the fields with bacteria.

And in the same order of things, a final memory, softened by the penultimate sheriff of sheriffs: The denouncers are getting their own dose of popular democracy, in the same classroom where they generously force-fed it to others. Those of the government who promoted pot-banging against the king, for the sake of freedom of expression, have now little moral authority to repress those who only ask for freedom – to get out, to move, to live. However, the Spanish Communists are, at last, happy. They already have the Spanish as they always wanted them: Unemployed, and queuing up to get food. Paradise has arrived.

Serafin Fanjul of the Royal Academy of History, and Professor Emeritus at CEU San Pablo University.

Translated from the Spanish by N. Dass.

The image shows a 16th-century copper plate engraving of Christopher Columbus landing in the Caribbean by Theodore de Bry.

Indeed, Let Us Apologize

It is not a good argument (and if we cannot offer another) to simply reject the recurring and very dire accusations about the Conquest of the Americas, by saying that the current Hispanic Americans are the descendants of conquerors and settlers of the 16th- and 17th-centuries. It is escapist and leads to a contradiction: If we do not acknowledge the bad, we will not be able to fully claim the good. And, by way of global analysis, there was a lot of good.

Thus, assuming “the account of grievances,” as the grandson of a Santanderian likes to say, and if it is a matter of proven historical facts, rather than demagogic talking points, we would like to offer the Mexican president something to really chew on. Why scold him like any other father might when he hears a spoiled child let loose some impertinence. Therefore, let us accept that ours is a more moral than genetic responsibility, as successors to the nation called Spain.

Therefore:

We apologize that in 1536 Fr. Juan de Zumárraga founded the College for children of Aztec nobles, paid for by Viceroy Mendoza. The institution was known as Colegio Imperial de Sta. Cruz de Tlatelolco. In it, worked Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún and Fr. Andrés de Olmos, and this College was replicated in Tepozotlán, Puebla, Guadalajara, Valladolid (Morelia), Texcoco.

Also, we apologize because in 1536, Zumárraga established the first printing press on the continent, in a building that still exists, near the Zócalo.

Likewise, we apologize for founding the University of Mexico, in 1551, under Royal Patronage and which followed the model of Salamanca and Alcalá, with studies in Philosophy, the Arts, Theology, Law, Medicine.

And we apologize for giving you Fr. Cervantes de Salazar – professor of Rhetoric in Mexico and author of México en 1554. Crónica de la Nueva España. Túmulo imperial de la gran ciudad de México – in which he brought to you the thought of Luis Vives, the great humanist.

And we apologize for the very gracious attempt by Vasco de Quiroga, Bishop of Michoacán, to establish Thomas More’s utopia, which still survives, like the olive trees, now hundreds of years old, that he planted in Tzin-Tzun-Tzan; the towns he founded to welcome and promote the Indians; and that wonderful altarpiece in the church of Tupátaro, from the 18th-century, indigenous coffered ceiling, square. with ocher and white arcades.

And we apologize for developing livestock, agriculture and mining, which brought about the rise of urban classes that, together with the clergy and the vice-regal bureaucracy, promoted the great public works and construction. And these they are still there, despite the deterioration – Mexico, Morelia, Puebla, Pátzcuaro, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Querétaro, San Miguel Allende, Veracruz – and which surpass Toledo, Madrid or Seville. In the 17th-century, Mexico City, being now a great economic pole, was home to more inhabitants than Paris, London or Rome. And in Mexico are found four of the most important works of the Baroque: The tabernacle of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Jesuit College of Tepozotlán, the convent of Santa Rosa in Querétaro, and the parish church of Sta. Prisca in Taxco.

And we apologize for the greatest work of ethnography and archaeology of our 16th-century, in three languages (Latin, Spanish and Nahuatl), La Historia Universal de las cosas de Nueva España by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún.

We apologize for the great Mexican scholar, Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora; for Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz; for Juan Ruiz de Alarcón from Taxco; for the book-poem by Bernardo de Valbuena, Grandeza mexicana (1604), where he establishes the “Story” of art, letters and prosperity of the city, visible, for example, in the Casa de Comedias by D. Francisco León (from 1597) in which three companies operated.

And we apologize for the Mercurio Volante (1693), the first newspaper in Latin America, (in 1737 it would be followed by La Gaceta de México); and for the Mexican School of Mining (1792), where worked Fausto de Elhúyar, the discoverer of tungsten, and Andrés del Río, the discoverer of vanadium. And there is no space to “relate” the admiration that the country aroused in Humboldt at that time.

And we apologize because the population of the viceroyalty of New Spain (almost six million), in 1776, doubled that of the English colonies of North America because of the economic, technical and cultural development in New Spain exceeded that of the English in all these areas.

So, draw your conclusions about this past that you do not want to remember and which you so carefully hide. Otherwise, it would be necessary to take responsibility for what has happened since 1821, and not place blame on distant conquerors. For example, instead of crying for the umpteenth time over Cholula, call out by name, General Jesús González Ortega, a good liberal, who in 1857 plundered the cathedral of Zacatecas, or who in the same city (in 1862) handed over the convent of San Agustín to the Presbyterians, who razed it to the ground.

We apologize for having instituted Nahuatl and Otomi as common languages for evangelization, which enlarged their role and rank, as well as their extension to lands that were previously alien to them.

Also, we apologize for having had a king (Philip II) who, opposed the calls of advisors and viceroys to exclusively impose Castilian, and instead agreed with the friars (who wanted to limit contact with the indigenous people) and favored missionary work to be only in the local languages (Royal Cedula 1565 to the bishops of New Spain), and who even issued this command: “It does not seem advisable to urge them to leave their native language…. Do not provide the parishes with priests who do not know the language of the Indians” (1596). And this was the case until the end of the 18th-century, when in view of the notable problems that multilingualism presented (in the diocese of Oaxaca alone, there were sixteen aboriginal languages) that the Mexican bishops, Fabián and Fuero from Puebla, Alvarez Abreu from Oaxaca and Lorenzana from Mexico, obtained the Royal Cedula of Aranjuez (May 1770).

We apologize for having been the main players in the global knowledge of the planet, facilitating the interrelation between its various parts, with the Discovery of the New World and with the first circumnavigation of the Globe and establishing communication between the various empires and nations of America that were previously completely isolated.

And, finally, we apologize for enjoying a mole poblano, a pozole taxqueño, some chilaquiles and a chilpachole of crab, although afterwards, given our Spanish stomach – we have to head to the hospital.

But we do not apologize for the disasters in which the triumphant creoles, in their independence, immersed their countries, by breaking the entire vice-regal commercial and administrative systems, to become cacique-holders of millions of square kilometers.

That is enough apologizing for today.

Serafin Fanjul of the Royal Academy of History, and Professor Emeritus at CEU San Pablo University.

Translated from the Spanish by N. Dass.

The image shows a portrait of Antonio Mendoza, Viceroy of New Spain, dated 1535, by an unknown painter.

Universities As Political Actors: The Case Of UBC

You would think that with all the looting, the statistics showing blacks are 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, the billions of dollars white taxpayers have paid to create the best possible schools for blacks, the decades of affirmative action, the endless celebration of black culture in the media, the presence of blacks in almost every advertisement, the rap music on Sunday mornings in CBC radio — you would think that universities might reflect critically, for once, about black and white relations in the West in light of the destructive George Floyd riots.

But instead universities are already announcing they will intensify their celebrations of the black race and their condemnation of “institutional white racism.” Just like Porn Hub and every major corporation from Bank of America to Nickelodeon, university presidents across Canada are announcing they will increase their commitment “for the recruitment, retention and support of Black students, staff, and faculty”, including the allocation of “Excellence Chairs to Black Studies.”

Let’s examine one case from which these cited words are taken: The University of British Columbia, the third biggest university in Canada. It started with a rather odd tweet sent on May 31 by president Santa Ono to the UBC community of himself playing a “song” in his cello dedicated “to George Floyd & everyone who is suffering today from racial injustice.”

The next day he released an open Letter to the UBC Community, “Together against Racism and Injustice” announcing that his office plans “to diversify our community at every level through defined programs.” What could Santa Ono mean by the words “at every level” considering that white students are currently a minority at UBC, every member in the Faculty of Arts is a leftist, there are numerous institutes and programs dedicated to diversity, and there is a massive “Equity and Inclusion Office” with an army of 23 professional race-hustlers working every day to “assessing, planning, developing, and monitoring” efforts to make UBC “diverse and inclusive”?

We are not joking, whites are already a minority at UBC. In 2015, the Vancouver Sun reported that only 35% of the student population was white, with white males accounting “for only about one in six students.” The proportion of Chinese students alone was 39 percent. We can safely assume there are less white students in 2020. Will a lower percentage of white student applicants be admitted to make space for foreign students who pay significantly higher tuition fees? It is well known that university administrator lust after the much higher fees of international students to finance their hyper-inflated salaries and bloated diversity offices. For the record: international students at UBC numbered 16,322(!) for the 2017/18 calendar year, of which the majority were Chinese.

Ono says he wants to “ensure adequate resources to implement the goals and actions of the Inclusion Action Plan.” This plan was implemented by UBC’s Executive in December 2019. Its basic goal is to attract and retain “the best and brightest students, staff, and faculty from around the world.” Never mind the immorality of a program dedicated to enticing the “best and brightest” from the Third World, we know that this program is inherently anti-white. Contrariwise, why does Ono write in his Letter to the UBC Community that he wants to meet with “Black Caucus and the Asian Canadian Community Engagement Group”, as well as the Indigenous community, without a word about meeting an European ethnic group?

Massive Diversity Infrastructure At UBC

“We will be organizing a series of public engagements focused on anti-racism”, says Ono. What could this possibly entail if not an all out war against white students? The Equity and Inclusion Office, as I said, is already engaged every day in “institution-wide efforts to create a supportive environment for working, learning and living where respect, diversity, opportunity and inclusion are valued.”

And this office is the tip of a massive iceberg. Here is a list of some of the academic programs and institutes dedicated to “principles of equity and social justice,” “ethnicity and immigration”, “equitable outcomes”, “transformative knowledge”, etc:

This is not all. “UBC has academic programs and concentrations specifically addressing Aboriginal topics and many courses with significant Aboriginal or Indigenous content.” All the courses in the Department of Sociology are dedicated to cultural Marxism with a long list of courses on “Culture and Power; Race, Ethnicity and Immigration.”

The Department of History has a few courses on European history, which consist mostly in condemnations of white imperialism, whereas the descriptions of courses on Asia and non-whites generally are positively about their achievements, backed by multiple courses on “Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism; Gender, Sexuality, and the Body; Migration, Borderlands, and Transnational History; Culture/Power/History; First Nations, Aboriginal, and Indigenous History.”

The School of Social Work is all about “critical transformative knowledge” against “white racism.” There is a little Institute of European Studies which is distinctly preoccupied with immigration and the threat of “right wing populism” in Europe. You don’t believe me? Take a look at their “Speaker Series” for the calendar year 2019/20, you will find titles such as “Radical Diversity: Postmigrant Perspectives on Art, Culture and Politics.” Here is one of their Talks: “Right-wing Populism and Climate Change in Europe.”

Most of the student clubs at UBC are non-political in orientation, but the political ones are into radical leftist politics and diversity, and quite a few are dedicated to the promotion of the race of Asians, Blacks, Indigenous peoples, and other ethnic groups. A few clubs are about the culture of ethnic Europeans but these are apolitical, folksy like, very subdued.

The incredible bias that exists at UBC against white male students was well documented by the prolific student activist in Canada, Franz Kurtzke, as we reported at CEC a few months ago. Kurtzke, a philosophy student at UBC, has filed 11 anti-male and anti-white discrimination claims against UBC.

Ono and Yip

There is no point going over the rest of Ono’s points, which consist in nothing more than robotic statements we read all day from dull academic administrators about “diversity and inclusion.” It is really irresponsible for someone whose expertise revolves around the rather trivial subject of “eye inflammation” without any background in the Social Sciences and the history of Canada to talk about the “deeply rooted racism in Canada.” How can this charlatan insist that “UBC itself is not immune to racism and injustice” given the overwhelmingly obsessive dedication of UBC to diversity? One cannot but conclude that Santa Ono is seeking to wipe out every remaining feature of UBC’s Euro-Canadian character.

When he put together this contrived tribute “to George Floyd” did he even do some research about this case? Had he done so he would have found out that Floyd was a meth addict, cocaine addict, beat and robbed a pregnant woman, a porn star, served 5 years in prison, tested positive for Covid-19, and resisted arrest. This is not to justify his death. I just find it beyond comprehension that UBC is planning to intensify the ethnocide of whites in honor of this character. Does he not know that a university is an institution created by whites for the purpose of advancing to the next generation highest achievements of humans?

His Chinese wife, Wendy Yip, who is a public figure, hired as “UBC Ambassador”, actually tweeted the other day a link to an Asian group claiming “that the fact that so many people are avoiding Asian food it’s just a sneaky new form of racism.” She has been regularly implying in tweets that White Canadians are “racist” because they are eating less Asian food since Covid-19 was unleashed upon the West by the Chinese Communist Party. Neither one of them has ever objected to the Chinese demographic replacement and mass imprisonment and torture of the Uighur minority in China. How about one talk about the incredibly inhuman and barbaric practice of dog eating by the Chinese? 10 million dogs and 10 million cats are devoured by the Chinese per year, with thousands boiled alive.

One cannot but conclude that the goal of Santa Ono is to bring to completion the ethnocide of Euro-Canadians at UBC at the same time that he promotes stronger research partnerships with the Communist Party of China.

Email Santa Ono: presidents.office@ubc.ca

Here are some suggested questions to ask this university president who claims his office is open to the public:

  • Why do you think that UBC needs to build even more its massive infrastructure againast “white racism”?
  • What evidence do you have that Canada remains “deeply rooted in racism”?
  • Why do thousands of international students from Asia and Africa come to study in racist UBC?
  • Why hundreds of thousands of immigrants crave to inhabit white created countries if they will suffer from white supremacists?
  • Why does he never say a word about promoting diversity in Asia?

This article appears courtesy of the Council of European Canadians.

Ricardo Duchesne has been interviewed in the Postil. He the author of The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, Faustian Man in a Multicultural Age, Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians.

The image shows a poster by He Kongde, dated September 1965. The caption reads: “The struggle of all the people in the world against American imperialism will be victorious!”