Rod Dreher recently decided to review the 1973 novel Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. In my estimation, this is one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, a novel that everyone should read (here’s a free PDF of the English translation), so I was pleased that Dreher was bringing attention to the novel. Nonetheless, I am disappointed at the politically correct tone and factually incorrect nature of the review.
For instance, Dreher writes:
Raspail does not separate skin color from culture and civilization… …Everything else in the novel ties civilization precisely to skin color.
Dreher throughout the review seems disturbed that Raspail considers race as an important factor. Dreher seems to think that culture somehow hovers in some hyperdimensional sphere completely removed from the biological reality of race. I know that Dreher occasionally reads HBD blogs, so I’m a little surprised that he would advocate a position so contrary to recent findings in science.
Here are some problems with Dreher’s account….
Dreher is too hung up on skin color. Yes, skin color, or let’s just say general “looks,” are important in evolution. For instance, in the famous Russian fox experiment, we know that when the foxes were selected for behavior it also affected their looks. As the foxes became more behaviorally domesticated, their looks become more domesticated as well. In short, as far as we can tell at this point, “looks” are probably in many cases tied to behavioral traits.
Nonetheless, race is more than just skin color. It encompasses tens of thousands of years of evolution. As this chart shows, humans genetically cluster into races:
And you can measure the genetic distances between ethnic groups and races:
Cavalli-Sforza’s team compiled extraordinary tables depicting the “genetic distances” separating 2,000 different racial groups from each other. For example, assume the genetic distance between the English and the Danes is equal to 1.0. Then, Cavalli-Sforza has found, the separation between the English and the Italians would be about 2.5 times as large as the English-Danish difference. On this scale, the Iranians would be 9 times more distant genetically from the English than the Danish, and the Japanese 59 times greater. Finally, the gap between the English and the Bantus (the main group of sub-Saharan blacks) is 109 times as large as the distance between the English and the Danish.
On average, Europeans are around 100x more closely related to each other than to sub-Saharan blacks. Something more than mere “skin color” obviously is going on here.
What Dreher fails to understand is the gene-culture evolution thesis. Ancestry / race and culture are interlinked – and probably deeply so.
For instance, Peter Frost offers a succinct summary here of recent findings.
For a more detailed and theoretical account, Cochran and Haprending’s 10,000 Year Explosion is necessary reading (free PDF). This book traces the gene-culture evolutionary history of humans over the past 10,000 years. It is definitely one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. If Dreher has not read it (I suspect he hasn’t), I hope he does so. Perhaps he could even write about it at TAC.
Raspail in the 1970s was not aware of recent findings in human genetics and evolution, but as a novelist he was way ahead of his time.
Here’s a translation of an essay Jean Raspail wrote more recently: “Fatherland Betrayed by the Republic“