It’s Official: Conservatism is Dead

If there is one pic that could be put on the obituary of conservatism, it’s this pic of British philosopher Roger Scruton visiting Michaela to talk about philosophy and fox hunting, where he allegedly was met with blank stares and mild ridicule.

Don’t get me wrong.  I respect Scruton and have read the majority of his books.  His writings on conservatism, aesthetics, classical music and modern philosophy are superb.  But this pic symbolizes the changing times.  The 20th century was the century of competing ideas like liberalism and conservatism – which largely took place within white homogenous states.  The 21st century will be the century of ethno-politics.

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The Western “Demographic Crisis” Myth and the Cathedral Hive Mind

John Derbyshire has up an insightful post about Japan, wherein he surmises that the 21st century might belong to Japan since Japan appears to hold steadfast in avoiding Third World immigration and to be solving internally its own demographic transition.  History suggests that labor shortages (tight labor markets) often lead to greater efficiency and innovation.  David Frum wrote recently along these lines about robotics undercutting the “need” for immigrants.

Nonetheless, it has become a mantra in the West that declining birthrates and an aging population will lead to catastrophe — unless we open our borders to the Third World. These warnings, though, often seem greatly exaggerated.  Dennis Mangan wrote, “Russia’s population today is about the same as it was in the early 80s. That constitutes a crisis?”

History doesn’t really bear out this supposed demographic crisis.  The Malthusian and pre-penicillin West often saw great population vicissitudes that worked themselves out.   The Black Death might have killed off 1/3 of the European population, but the end result was tighter labor markets, increased efficiency, and an eventual increased standard of living.   Europeans and North Asians are resilient and can respond to changing circumstances.

The call for “more immigration” really isn’t a reflection of a “demographic crisis” but one of the Cathedral’s central religious doctrines:  Immigration Is Good.

How the chattering heads could be so wrong about the need for more immigration reflects a central problem with Western democracy today: no effective feedback system.  Nick Land writes,

The result is that every effective discovery process — whether economic, scientific, or of any other kind — is subjected to ever-more radical subversion by political influences whose only ‘reality principle’ is internal: based on closed-circuit social manipulation…. Democracy is thus, strictly speaking, a production of collective insanity, or dissociation from reality….

In short, Western democracies believe and promulgate Immigration is Good, and that’s all that matters.  Everything else is inconsequential; the Cathedral Hive Mind says so.

Interestingly, a hive mind in nature is generally adaptive. For instance, in a hive of honey bees, various worker bees perform dances demonstrating the location of food.  The information of some scouts might be wrong, so the hive mind eventually is able to discern the reliable from the unreliable information, which results in the creation of more honey, an absolute necessity for the survival of winter.  If this feedback system fails, the hive dies.

Our Cathedral hive mind, however, figured out how to make honey for multiple winters in one season, which provided immediate benefits, but now results in living off stocked-up capital and inaccurate signaling feedback.  The Cathedral has become a closed system, and it no longer receives signal feedback from nature; it is at war with nature.

But in the end, my money is on nature.

Updates:

Helian Unbound on Derb & Demographics.

Aristotle, Darwin & HBD

After reading over Noah Millman’s hyperbolic piece on neoreaction, I noticed another post by him nominally about atheism but substantively about an evolutionary basis of morality. He writes:

Evolutionary psychology comes in to explain why some kind of morality is natural, since we can’t rely naively on an Aristotelean teleology which we now know has no empirical basis (but which, I cannot stress enough, Aristotle thought was scientific – I feel pretty confident that, were he alive today, Aristotle would be making precisely the same move). But much of the edifice of Aristotle’s ethics can be readily re-built on a Darwinian foundation. Now we have a theory of virtue and human flourishing, and an ethics to promote same within society. Between Aristotle and the neo-Darwinians, we’ve also probably got a Burkean bias towards existing institutions and arrangements and a preference for spontaneous order over imposed rules.

Minus Millman’s predilection for J.S. Mill, I have long thought along similar lines, and have in fact argued similar points (here, here, and here).  I’ve long thought that Aristotle (foremost a biologist) in his political and ethical writings was working along the same intuitions as a sociobiology ethicist would today, albeit with Aristotle’s more limited understanding of human science.

But there is a larger problem here. Call it the “Western blind spot”.  As automobiles have blind spots, so do biological Westerners, and this blind spot is “universalism,” the tendency to prescribe Western norms universally.  And this is the primary problem with evolutionary psychology today — the tendency to think evolution stopped from the neck down some 50,000 years ago and that all races are behaviorally and cognitively the same.  Anyone who has taken the time to look into human biodiversity, knows this simply isn’t and cannot be true.  Thus, it’s better to think of human natures (plural) and not human nature.  Call this the HBD caveat, which brings us back to Aristotle, who, in his Politics, essentially gives an HBD account of politics:  different ethnic groups are better suited for different forms of government.

Further reading:

Peter Frost: “Can evolutionary psychology evolve?,” “Whither evolutionary psychology?,” and “Human nature or human natures?

Johan Bolhuis et al:  “Darwin in Mind: New Opportunities for Evolutionary Psychology

AWC: “Is Natural Law Anti-Nature?” and “The Ancient Greeks & Romans, Beauty and Human Biodiversity

The rise of identitarian thought…

As Conservatism now scuttles toward its much-deserved death, in Europe, and to a lesser extent in the United States, we are witnessing the rise of identitarian thought.

What is identitarianism?  Well, it’s about identity, but not a superficial cultural identity, which one can easily exchange for another, but deep identity, that is a genetic / hereditarian /  racial-ethnic identity that cannot be exchanged.  (Yes, blank slatists / culturists / Cultural Marxists  will despise identitarian thought.)

We previously discussed the implications of identitarian thought on religion:  “Religion 2.0: Identitarian Religion

Now here are some other recent articles on identitarianism:

Gregory Hood: “Waking Up from the American Dream: Markus Willinger’s Generation Identity

John Morgan: “Identity vs. Globalism in Stockholm: The 2013 ‘Identitarian Ideas’ Conference

Saul Lilleby: “Identitarians Meet in Stockholm

Roman Bernard:  “Remaking A People

Georges Feltin-Tracol:  “Back to the Future: Guillaume Faye’s Archeofuturism

F. Roger Devlin: “The Rectification of Names: Guillaume Faye’s Why We Fight

Updates:

What are characteristics of the Dark Enlightenment?

Regarding the recent conversations on the Dark Enlightenment (here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I’d like to offer a few comments.  (If you’re unfamiliar with the Dark Enlightenment, read British philosopher Nick Land’s series “The Dark Enlightenment“.)

As I’ve noted previously, the Dark Enlightenment, largely an American phenomenon notwithstanding Land, has much in common with the European archeofuturist or identitarian movement, although the later is less influenced by libertarianism (perhaps for the better).

But what are these underlying characteristics?

Here are some:

– A rejection of sociological universalism, and a preference for particularism.

– An acceptance of human biodiversity.

– An acceptance of Darwinian evolution, shunning egalitarian political correctness both from the left and from the Trotskyite right.

– On religion, if not agnostic or atheistic, then a preference for ancestral neopaganism or a form of Christianity that is ethnocentric and particularist.

– An acceptance of science and futurism as a means to improve at least some peoples’ lives while not rejecting one’s ancestral folkways (i.e. archeofuturism).  And a recognition that ‘progress’ will be available only to some, and not the entire human population.

– A rejection of The Cathedral (or whatever other names it goes by, such as Universalism or Political Correctness).

– The recognition that there is no single best political order.  As Aristotle notes in the Politics, some ethnies are better suited for monarchy; others, for aristocracy; others, for a limited form of politea.

– Skepticism about mass Third World immigration and the realization that human populations are not fungible but unique.

– A realization that liberty is incompatible with democracy, and that democracy leads to mediocrity.

–  A realization that terms like ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ and ‘feminist’ are beyond their expiration date.

– A concern with bio-politics, oriented to a particular people’s biological and demographic imperatives.

– A rejection of egalitarianism.

Please leave other suggestions, or commentary, below.

Updates:

Radish Magazine provides a list Dark Enlightenment articles.

Education Realist discusses his placement in the Dark Enlightenment.

Nick Land warns (me) that Darkness will never be popular.

Primer on Immigration and Human BioDiversity

The Laws of the Cathedral. Obey or Perish!”

The Ancient Greeks & Romans, Beauty and Human Biodiversity

“The anthropologists among the criminologists tell us that the typical criminal is ugly: monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo [monster in face, monster in soul].” ~ Nietzsche

As many others have noted, pre-Christian Europeans unified the concepts of beauty and morality into a single concept.  The Latin bonus, as well as the Greek agathos, can imply good but also noble, good-looking, well-bred, brave, etc.  For instance, in Book II of the Iliad, Thersites taunts Odysseys and questions why the Greeks must remain at Troy:

But a single man kept on yelling out abuse—
scurrilous Thersites, expert in various insults,
vulgar terms for inappropriate attacks on kings,
whatever he thought would make the Argives laugh.
Of all the men who came to Troy, he was the ugliest
bow legged, one crippled foot, rounded shoulders
curving in toward his chest. On top, his pointed head
sprouted thin, scraggly tufts of hair. Achilles hated him,
as did Odysseus, too, both subject to his taunts.

Shortly thereafter, Odysseus beats Thersites to a pulp and is cheered on by the soldiers.  One warrior comments:

Before now Odysseus has done good things
thinking up fine plans and leading us in war.
But that’s the best thing he’s done by far
to help the Argives, shutting up that rabble-rouser.

Thersites was seen as a flawed man — flawed to question the wisdom of Odysseus and Thersites’ mental flawedness is mirrored by his physical ugliness.  The two went hand in hand.  In modern evolutionary terms, beauty was seen as a fitness indicator of mental, moral and physical superiority.

While early philosophers, such as Socrates / Plato, began to unpack the combined concepts of beauty / morality / nobility / bravery, their combined tendency continued through the classical period.  Aristotle, in Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics, writes regarding the prerequisites of eudaimonia (contentedness or human flourishing):

“…and there are some things the lack of which takes the luster from happiness [eudaimonia], as good birth, goodly children, beauty; for the man who is very ugly in appearance or ill-born or solitary and childless is not very likely to be happy….”

Again one sees beauty as an indicator of potential human flourishing.

Regarding the Romans, Plutarch, in his biographies, often juxtaposes physical descriptions of Romans and their temperaments.  Many of the upper-class Romans he describes as quite fair.  For instance, Cato the Elder (although somewhat of a miser was the exemplar of upper-class Roman virtue) is described as having red hair and grey eyes.  Virgil (or whoever the author was) in the poem “Moretum” implicitly contrasts Europeans with African blacks, providing a description of blacks that would probably satisfy current norms in human biodiversity.  Like the Greeks, the Romans saw physical appearance as closely tied to the way one behaved.

What was the standard of beauty?

For the ancients, as well as Medieval Europeans, the upper-class standard of beauty was an aristocratic standard:  the upper classes tended to be taller and fairer than commoners.  This standard of beauty was so engrained that wealthy women who didn’t meet these standards would try to lighten their skin or purchase blonde or red-haired wigs.

Was this standard of beauty taken as a fitness indicator for other behaviors? Is this why beauty / morality / nobility / bravery are grouped together?  As  markings demarcate certain breeds of dogs and their affiliative behaviors (e.g. hunting skills), so certain phenotypes demarcated desirable upper-class behaviors?

One might  speculate that a type of selection was taking place at this time.  The Greeks openly advocated eugenics.  As with Peter Frost’s account of the Roman state, Clark’s of Medieval England, or Unz’s of China, the ancient Greeks and Romans probably had their own unique selection pressures.  It might not be improbable to think that Greco-Roman upper classes reproduced at a greater rate than the lower classes and thus spread their phenotypes, which were linked in popular thought of the day to favorable behavioral characteristics.

Updates:

Peter Frost: “Puzzle of European hair and eye color

Gregory Cochran:  “Biology of Slavery

John Harrison Sims:  “What Race Were the Greeks and Romans?

E. Christian Kopff: “History and Science in Tenney Frank’s Scholarship

Sarich & Miele:  “The Ancient Concept of Race

Is “Natural Law” Anti-Nature?

Noah Millman has a sensible post up at the American Conservative criticizing natural law.  He begins with the definition:

“If I understand the way natural law is supposed to work, it’s supposed to be an instance of deriving social “oughts” from a natural “is.” Human beings have to some degree immutable natures, natures we can comprehend with reason, and these natures determine, to a considerable degree, what social arrangements will “work” and what arrangements won’t – in the sense of contributing to human flourishing.”

And then goes on to criticize how an understanding of natural law is implemented.  (Rod Dreher tries to argue that natural law is necessary for morality, which Razib Khan criticizes.) What both Millman and Dreher miss, I think, is how ambiguous the question “What is Human Nature?” is. (Millman has the right instinct but doesn’t take his analysis to its logical end.) Let me explain.

The entire natural law tradition, although it is supposed to based on some Aristotelian understanding of man, is a massive structure of centuries of Thomistic scaffolding upon scaffolding, where the original structure is no longer recognizable.  (It’s like this rendition compared to the original Mona Lisa.)

Back to the source. Aristotle was primarily a biologist, whose understanding of biology influenced the rest of his philosophy.  His writings on ethics and politics are secondary to his writings on natural science.  Like Charles Darwin, Aristotle examined the natural world and drew empirical conclusions.  For instance, in politics Aristotle takes a rather relativistic stance that different forms of government are better suited for different groups of people. If Aristotle were alive today, he most certainly would be influenced by evolutionary theory.  Who knows, his views on ethics and politics might dovetail E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology.  (I know, I know, I unfairly summarize Aristotle in three sentences what a book could be written on.)  But this is not the case with natural law theory, which which now survives in some a priori stratosphere wholly removed  from any biological understanding of men. (There I go again…)

Look at almost any modern natural law theory and you will find a theory either wholly ignorant of or implicitly hostile toward evolutionary theory.  And on what are these natural law theories based? What is their view of “human nature” upon which this law is supposed to rest?  A bunch of a priori assumptions that probably have little resemblance to reality.

As those of us who are part of the “Dark Enlightenment / Anti-Enlightenment” already know, there really isn’t a “human nature.”  It’s an oversimplification.  As  Johan Bolhuis, Peter Frost, Cochran & Harpending and others have recently noted, humans have undergone more selection in the past 10,000 years than in the previous 40,000 years.  In short, there are “human natures” (plural), and these “natures” largely correspond to what we think of as continental races – discrete groups of people who underwent natural and sexual selection to adapt to particular circumstances.  (Heck, we’re now learning that different races aren’t even completely the same species.)

Thus, natural law theory is, in many respects, anti-nature in that it doesn’t wholly incorporate a realistic understanding of human biodiversity.  If there is a true “natural law,” it’s the recognition of HBD.

Update:

Here are two clear-cut examples to demonstrate that natural law theory does not have a natural appreciation of human nature.

Monogamy: Usually within the context of the gay marriage debate, natural law theorists tend to argue that the “natural” order of things is monogamy among a man and a woman. While “gay marriage” might be a new invention, the scope of monogamy is limited. Throughout human history, the norm has been polygyny (which actually accelerates selection). Most of human history has been a history of hunter-gatherers and among hunter-gatherers polygyny is the norm. In fact, the fragile institution of monogamy seems to only be strong among Europeans and North Asians (and even there it has its limits — e.g. Chinese emperors taking multiple concubines, 1/4 of the Irish descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, etc.) who switched over to agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago. So, while monogamy might be the natural current norm of North Asians and Europeans, is it for everyone?

The Abortion Debate: There’s a tendency of many natural law theorists to be obsessed with a “right to life,” which somehow is supposed to be grounded in nature. A quick survey of human history, however, shows otherwise. While the popularization of abortion might be fairly recent, the exposure of defective or unwanted infants has been the norm throughout human history — continuing even up until the 19th century. This practice was so widespread that it baffles the modern mind. While pro-life advocates today cite “high” numbers of abortions, these numbers are dwarfed by the numbers of infants routinely exposed throughout history.

While I’m not advocating a return to infant exposure or polygamy for Westerners (there are other reasons to reject these institutions), my point is that “natural law” seems to have no basis in a nature.  Again, many natural law theorists seem wholly ignorant of any naturalistic understanding of human nature.

Updates:

Historical Reality: Infanticide vs Abortion