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Politicized Science vs. Scientific Politics

Gabriel von Max, “The Vivisectionist,” 1883, detail

2,731 words

It may seem ironic for those who are said to have “far Right views,” but perhaps one of the biggest obstacles in the struggle for the West is the far Right’s obsession with the scientific understanding of human races. It is not so much that scientific knowledge about race is irrelevant to our political purpose (which is the struggle for the West), but, rather, that this science is thought to possess a political utility it does not and will never have.

As I have stated before, unless he is already temperamentally predisposed towards elitism, the man in the street in the 21st century will never be induced to alter his views on race by dint of scientific data alone, because that data will be interpreted always in relation to extra-factual social considerations that, in the West, hinge on the dominance of egalitarian liberal morality.

This is not to say, however, that the science of race has no place in the struggle for the West, because it does. This is to say that the scientific conceits of those who are involved in that struggle are in need of a reassessment or repositioning. In this essay I will examine the relationship of the far Right with the science of race and its use as a campaigning tool.

The Liberal Penumbra

Liberalism was the first of the egalitarian ideologies of modernity. It gained its political ascendancy in the 18th century, most memorably in France, but, before it, in the United States, which went on to become the leading global exponent of political liberalism. (France, nevertheless, defined the modern political terminology, based on the seating arrangements of the National Assembly, where those who sat on the Right represented the ancien régime, and those on the Left the supporters of the Revolution.) Marxism, the second egalitarian ideology, which emerged during the industrial revolution, criticized liberalism for not delivering on its promise of equality.

In political terms, these two ideologies were criticized during the 20th century by fascism (with an uncapitalized “f”), which found its best-known expressions in Italy under Mussolini and in German National Socialism. Metapolitically, however, liberalism, and then Marxism, had been under attack from the Right since the 19th century, which saw the crystallization of a modern anti-egalitarian intellectual tradition.

Today’s far Right is the political heir to this tradition—though, it has to be said, for all its elitist pretensions, its approach has been largely populist. Despite a unifyingly hierarchical worldview (one that essentially puts a premium of quality rather than equality), the far Right’s conceptions of race are divided, notably along Anglophone and North Atlantic lines. In Europe, particularly in the continent, race is wrapped up with culture and at times with a certain mysticism. In America, race is conceived much more concretely, in almost purely biological terms.

Indeed, there is a tendency towards biological reductionism within the American far Right that is unusual in Europe, even though the science of race is also studied there. For the American far Right dissident, race is an empirical problem: it is about facts and evidence, it is a problem that is to be understood numerically, and which requires a quantitative solution. It reflects an extreme, pragmatic outlook, the origins of which may lie generally in the English temperament, and intellectually in the British Empiricists, who developed out of the scientific revolution that began during the Renaissance. There are exceptions, of course, and one is Francis Parker Yockey, whose views on race had been influenced by continental European philosophy.

There are historical reasons for the North Atlantic divide. The most obvious ones have to do with how North America was settled, and by whom. What later became the United States was initially a series of British colonies populated by Englishmen, some of whom decided to import into the new territories West African slaves not intended for citizenship or assimilation. Subsequent immigrant waves from Europe then progressively diluted the specifically English identity in favor of a generic Whiteness, which, since it was determined by ancestry, was necessarily biological.

A less obvious reason, but no less important, has to do with the period of intellectual European history when the United States came into being. The Founding Fathers were Classical Liberals. Thomas Jefferson was influenced by John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Francis Bacon, the latter two key figures in the scientific revolution; Benjamin Franklin, whose work in the then incipient field of population studies later influenced Adam Smith and the utilitarian Thomas Malthus, who in turn influenced Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace; George Washington and Samuel Adams were enthusiastic about Thomas Paine, who lived in France during the 1790s, was actively involved in the French Revolution, and wrote an apology for it—the Rights of Man. Along with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, these men were all firm believers in republicanism.

Accordingly, the founding documents bear the influence of John Locke, extending Thomas Hobbes’ contract theory—indeed, the United States Declaration of Independence follows closely John Locke’s phraseology; Montesquieu, another Enlightenment figure, who argued for the separation of powers, though he is controversial; Sir William Blackstone, a jurist of the British Enlightenment, author of the Commentaries of the Laws of England; and Edward Coke, another jurist, who extended the protections of the Magna Carta to all subjects, rather than just the aristocracy.

In sum, while we may argue that there is in American culture a deeply-buried alternative strand, which is archaic, deeply religious, and quasi-barbarian; which goes back to the colonial period and was extended by the pioneers, adventurers, and frontiersmen of the Old West; which existed prior or beyond the reach of established liberal philosophy; and which was subsequently recuperated to end up in the fiction of Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft among others—while we can say all of the above, we can also say without question that the United States is a liberal or Enlightenment project, and the interaction of egalitarian liberal morality with multi-ethnic Whiteness and a very unequal multiracial society created a deep preoccupation with race.

In addition, part of the North American project involved the recreation of an English, and later a North European, society, without the burdens of European history. The North American continent was, as is often the case with settler colonialism, seen as an empty landscape (the various Indian nations residing in it were mentally and then physically “disappeared”), to be inscribed by settlers according to their visions and/or ambitions. North America was, in essence, a construction site, physically and metaphysically, and this attracted a particular type of immigrant—a man of action, with daydreams of a very material character—who, in turn, then faced immediate practical problems. The pragmatic, theory-averse temperament of the British was distilled, in this way, into a purified concentrate, which defined a type of extremism in the American character.

It is interesting to note that many of the prominent names associated with the scientific study of race and its improvement have been English, beginning with Charles Darwin and his cousin Sir Francis Galton, through Mary Scharlieb, Elizabeth Sloan Chesser, Stella Brown, and Alice Ravenhill, through to present-day proponents Richard Lynn and the late J. Philippe Rushton. It is also interesting to note that this field found its most fertile soil in the United States: Charles Davenport, Henry H. Goddard, Madison Grant, David Starr Jordan, Harry H. Laughlin, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Seth Humphrey, Paul Popenoe, Samuel George Morton, William Z. Ripley, Margaret Sanger, and Lothrop Stoddard come to mind—a tradition that touched both ends of the political spectrum, and that continued to our day in an attenuated fashion with E. O. Wilson and the late Arthur Jensen.

Indeed, the American eugenics movement received institutional support and funding (the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation, which later funded Theodor Adorno), influenced government policy (e.g., the Immigration Act of 1924, signed by then U.S. President Calvin Coolidge), and enjoyed support from household names like John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of Corn Flakes. Moreover, the principal disseminators of this body of work in recent times have nearly all been American. This type of material is, meanwhile, deeply underground in Britain, where it enjoys a much lower level of receptivity. Of course, the legal guarantees of freedom of speech are greater in America than in Britain, and greater in Britain than in continental Europe, reflecting how pre-existing tendencies have been exacerbated by legislation.

The Death of Classical Liberalism

In previous essays I discussed the nature of modern liberalism, so I will not again go over it here. Suffice it to say that while liberalism eventually defeated its Marxist critics, it also absorbed the criticism. This is why, in a way, the defeat of Marxism did not matter in the end, because by 1989 the process of absorption had been largely accomplished, and Western liberalism had by that time diverged significantly from its classical formulation.

The Politicization of Science

Marxist critics of classical liberalism have for decades attempted to demonstrate the various ways in which, in their opinion, Western science is ideologically biased. All of the scientists named above comprise what Marxists refer to as “scientific racism,” a term that has been adopted by modern liberals. In so doing, they have politicized the science they complained had been politicized by “White supremacism.” To be fair, their complaint was not without foundation, because the scientific study of the races of man was meant not only to satisfy intellectual curiosity but also used to maintain inter-racial power relations and influence government policy. Jordan deployed eugenic arguments to campaign against war; Grant and Stoddard to campaign against immigration; Sanger to campaign for birth control.

Since the 1930s a reverse politicization has taken place: science remains politicized  but now it is the view of the Marxist critique that dominates. The “White supremacist” view has not gone away, however. It survives in the outer fringes of the opposition, so far from the mainstream it is almost impossible to see it unless it is dragged into the limelight for purposes of demonization (which is a form of Leftist self-confirmation).

For the reasons outlined in previous sections, the far Right in the United States has tended to confuse politicized science with scientific politics. In other words, they believe that defeating the Marxist view is a matter of disproving it scientifically. Hence, we see an endless stream of race-related statistics and IQ studies interlacing attacks on modern liberalism and Marxism, their tendentious interpretations of scientific evidence, and their egalitarian pseudoscience.

The cause of the problem is the adoption of a modern liberal mindset by the Right, where this mindset has taken root via the intersection with libertarianism. Having “liberated” man from religion and mysticism, the world is for liberalism entirely material. In turn, Marxism, which radicalized this view and shares liberalism’s roots in the scientific revolution, continental rationalism, and British Empiricism, cast itself from the beginning as “scientific.” (Capital is written in a prose that has obvious scientific affectations, a style that at the time had the added benefit of helping with the censors.)

The effort to disprove the egalitarians’ bad science with good science assumes a conception of man as a rational actor, able to reach correct conclusions from empirical data by rational means. It also assumes that political victory is a matter of competing effectively in the marketplace of ideas and persuading enough people—with “hard facts”—that the science of race is correct, for then the egalitarian liberals would be discredited, giving way to their opponents. Egalitarian liberal morality is dismissed as merely “ideology,” which, it is assumed, can be refuted with facts, when the truth is that a morality can never be refuted, only discredited. In sum, these far Right activists adopt a liberal methodology and a liberal conception of man and the world, thereby operating in enemy territory, where they play a game invented by the enemy. No wonder they are not more successful!

Scientific Politics

None of the above means that the science of race is irrelevant, or that there is no place for science in politics. On the contrary, both are important. Their place and application, however, are different to those assigned to them by many supporters of, and campaigners on, the far Right. A fundamental confusion among many of them is one between policy and campaigning: believing that effective policy is made up of objective knowledge, they also believe that objective knowledge makes up effective campaigning. In this they are wrong.

Knowledge is always assessed against prevailing morality, and therefore accepted or rejected on the basis of whether the conclusions that stem from that knowledge are “right” or “wrong” morally. This is clearly seen in attitudes towards eugenics. Eugenics presupposes that humans are of unequal value, so liberal/Left morality classes it as “wrong,” which fuels efforts to deny its scientific status; indeed, eugenics is often referred to by liberals and Marxists as a “pseudoscience.” If the science is ever looked at seriously, it is only for the purposes of debunking it. In fact, debunking it is of such moral importance, that the truth of the facts does not matter at all.

Effective campaigning—essentially marketing—relies mostly on the extra-factual considerations and processes involved in human motivation. Any factual information used in campaigns tends to be simple, short, and often trivial.

This is not to say that campaigning is unscientific. In areas where success or failure depends on campaigning, such as commerce and democratic politics, a thorough scientific understanding human psychology, motivation, and social norms is essential. Perhaps because they see man in purely material terms, which means in purely biological terms, the advantages of studying the human animal qua animal was well understood by the liberals and their critics on the Left. Even Freudo-Marxists in the business of churning out fraudulent pseudoscience, such as The Authoritarian Personality, focused not on convincing people that their facts were right (for them this was a given), but on human psychology.

In the case of the Frankfurt School, it was in order to short-circuit what they saw as the “fascist” instincts of the Western mind. Later forms of Leftism, growing out of (and partially rejecting) Marxism, such as the early Jean Baudrillard in The System of Objects, The Consumer Culture, and The Political Economy of the Sign, worked one level up, where social psychology interacts with culture and ideology, in order to understand the psychological basis of capitalism and find a way to short-circuit the capitalist system (and, somewhat implicitly, the inequalities that arise in it). If they politicized science, this was a by-product—albeit an intended one—of their involvement in a form of scientific politics, by which I mean approaching the game of power and authority in social relations with a scientific methodology.

The political role of the science of race is not, therefore, the persuasion of the neophyte, but the confirmation of the inveterate and the reassurance of the sympathizer  Beyond that it offers the basis for a future development in the science of man, its future interpretation, and its future translation into policy, all of which are contingent on a paradigm-shift in moral philosophy and are therefore the elements of only one possible scenario in the struggle for the West. Whether that scenario becomes a reality will dependent on the time frame and direction of the shift, which is entirely up to what disestablishmentarian movements are able accomplish inside their window of opportunity.

Conclusion

The struggle for the West comprises multiple theaters of war, ranging from raw demography to abstract theory. Science is one of them. That the far Right’s strategy in this theater relies on liberal assumptions about man is ironic, but perhaps understandable given that the biological conception and study of race emerged in a thoroughly liberal context. The result has been a confusion between politicized science and scientific politics.

The far Right in the Westernmost part of our hemisphere has focused on attacking the scientific vices of modern egalitarian liberalism (i.e., the politicization of science), while failing to emulate successful practices (i.e., scientific politics). As usual, the focus has been on attacking effects rather than causes. Any movement seeking to defeat liberalism in the West would need to unthink all liberal assumptions first, understand thoroughly how and why this is to be done, and be able to articulate why doing so is morally right in a manner that makes those listening feel good and righteous about paying attention.

 

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17 Comments

  1. Richard Williams
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    An interesting intellectual exercise, but mistakes the subject of the inquiry (egalitarianism, racial differences, etc.) as the reason for focusing on the subject.

    The real reason for focusing on that subject is the same reason that intelligent young diverse white Americans focus on libertarianism, conservatism, or constitutionalism. Almost everyone is in flight from their whiteness which requires that one put down the bucket where one happens to be, and work on local issues to teach us how to speak about immediate events, whether textbooks or slander in the local paper.

    It is stunning to realize that, alone of all the demographic affinity groups, our members constantly seek to work at one remove — any remove will do — from real issues on the ground in our neighborhoods. We simply will not use the white voice in a white-centric context ever…we make everything about master narratives that will never touch ground.

    Yet history teaches us that the current caste-in-charge in America accomplishes their dominance by local, neighborhood hard work. They do a lot at one step removed, but when the pedal hits the pavement, a great screech arises about their rights and privileges.

    We can do the same when we sort the master narratives and get to work locally.

  2. rhondda
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    A very astute essay. Thank you.

  3. excalibur
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    “Liberalism”,”conservatism,”right’,”left”,”traditionalism” are labels that do not clarify the present reality..They even may confuse, old labels are inadequate.Is there any doubt that what passes today as liberalism is far removed from the liberalism of the past.Let us mention just few examples of the liberal slogans as “Equality”, we see that certain groups have privileged treatment and the privileges are expanding.
    We can go on and on and de-construct every shibboleth thrown at us, as “free market”, “universalism”,”progress” and so forth.We should state the true meanings of the words,the meaning is anti-white.
    Is the science helpful ? Of course it is .The precepts of the science are “nothing is sacred” everything is subject to question and doubt,every hypothesis should be considered as provisional.

  4. The Mechanic
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    The paradigm-shift in moral philosophy on which all else is contingent will take place on a personal level as the result of tension. As long as a people who value comfort as highly as we do are comfortable no re-evaluation and no shift will take place. As politics continues to become more racialized and economic opportunities more scarce, an increasing number of Whites will feel and understand the hostility that motivates the minority alliance: it is not a desire for fairness, but for revenge, which is apparent in their emphasis on historical wrongs and their rhetoric. The natural tendency of people in a liberal mindset to this circumstance to think in terms of fairness and to attribute their increasing discomfort to a lack of it must be broken like a spell by shifting the moral paradigm from fairness to interest. Emphasizing the constant harangue of minority interests and hostile rhetoric against the shrinking scope of White opportunity will give context to the increasing tension and allow us to use the ever increasing minority confidence and hubris to our advantage. Demonstrating that we have become victims in a pluralized society comes first; then, that appeals to fairness are futile; then, the realization of identity and interest as against the “others” who have us surrounded. Tension is the golden path to the ascendency identity and interest over fairness, and the essential shift that is needed.

  5. guiscard
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    “Whites will feel and understand the hostility that motivates the minority alliance: it is not a desire for fairness, but for revenge”
    I have a hard time believing that most whites are not instinctively aware of this truth. I remember a video posted at this site of Jim Carrey saying something derogatory about whites but the unnaturalness was clear. The fact is we KNOW it is ‘revenge’ they’re after and there’s no sufficient way to argue against this.

    I think one under-utilized method in order to make white people more aware is the use of comedy. The Jews got away with every destructive anti-white meme under the sun by using it whilst White advocates, up until this point, have relied on a statistic based (dry) reasoning and/or anger driven pleas.

    Just like the Caddyshack type comedians that first pointed to the evil oppressive WASPS, thereby making it an accepted meme and THEN weaponizing it. I’ve seen some good signs of this recently on the internet. ie. It’s easier to get away with joking about Jewish Supremacy/Forced Diversity, rather than be like Mike Sanchez/Mel Gibson who are emotionally reacting and exhibiting ‘hate’.

  6. SD
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    “…one of the biggest obstacles in the struggle for the West is the far Right’s obsession with the scientific understanding of human races.”

    The groups that focus on racial differences from a scientific perspective are small and apolitical. I’ve never heard of a group using science facts as a political strategy. Describing this as one of our “biggest obstacles” doesn’t even make sense.

    “John and Samuel Adams were enthusiastic about Thomas Paine, who lived in France during the 1790s, was actively involved in the French Revolution, and wrote an apology for it—the Rights of Man. Along with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, these men were all firm believers in republicanism.”

    This is totally false. John Adams and Thomas Paine despised one another. Adams called Paine’s Common Sense a “poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.” Thomas Paine appears an anarchist compared to some of these men. Hamilton’s idea of a republic was vastly different from men like Paine, and even Madison. The federalism proposed by Hamilton was opposed by Jefferson and Madison’s republicanism. Kurtagic rolls them all into one tendency.

    This is not mere nitpicking. Kurtagic has built a pseudo-historical narrative by fabricating a seemingly unified “liberalism” from which Marxism arose as though it were a natural development. This kind of writing obfuscates the real causes behind the crisis of the West. It’s worse than irrelevant, it’s misleading.

    • JustAWhiteMom
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Mr. Kurtagic that pro-whites should attack equality as an ideal because it is clearly vulnerable. On the other hand, you are quite right that there is no monolithic liberalism. Kurtagic himself has conceded that some “liberals” emphasize liberty and others emphasize equality. But this is more than a mere difference of emphasis, it is a chasm.

      Those of us who post the mantra can see the difference in how these two types of “liberals” respond to the mantra. True liberals object to the use of state power to preserve ethnic purity, while Marxists pretty much come right out and say that whites deserve genocide. Thom Hartmann did this in his interview with Matt Heimbach the other day, and that was not even a response to the mantra but rather a justification for hot, violent genocide in South Africa.

      Mantra thinking is more effective on Marxists, because they already believe in group rights, and there entire worldview is based on the demonstrably false notion that whites are uniquely evil. Their assertion that whites deserve genocide can easily be refuted by reference to white ingenuity and benevolence on the one hand and non-white atrocities on the other.

      True liberals are more resistant to the mantra. They simply assert that they do not care if there are no more white children in a couple of generations. They can be reached, however, by pointing out that diversity, not purity, requires the use of force, including forced redistribution of wealth to aliens. Moreover, their individualism and economism logically entails freedom of association and the pursuit of qualitative “goods” such as cohesive communities, safe schools, etc. Whites must be micro-targeted according to their pre-existing values and assumptions.

      • Lew
        Posted December 21, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        some “liberals” emphasize liberty and others emphasize equality. But this is more than a mere difference of emphasis, it is a chasm.

        Exactly. I think it’s more than a chasm. It’s possible to bridge or “link” two sides of a chasm. This is a war between worldviews that differ at their foundations.

        Liberty versus equality is different in kind from secular liberalism versus Christianity. In the latter case, one can somewhat plausibly point to shared foundational premises. In both cases, a form of egalitarianism is the highest value (universal equality in this world or the next). On this view, modern, secular liberalism versus Christianity is a sectarian war like Catholic and Protestants.

        This isn’t true with the liberty versus equality grouping. Any society that emphasizes liberty will automatically have a lot of inequality — the highest sin for modern, secular liberals.

    • Lew
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      Kurtagic has built a pseudo-historical narrative by fabricating a seemingly unified “liberalism” from which Marxism arose as though it were a natural development. This kind of writing obfuscates the real causes behind the crisis of the West. It’s worse than irrelevant, it’s misleading. — SD

      I think you are right. I’ve noticed this tendency in his writing myself. For example, he makes this misleading statement about Thomas Hobbes in that theory article.

      Social contract theory comes from Thomas Hobbes, who believed in the natural equality of men, individual rights, and the liberal interpretation of the law (according to which, all that is not explicitly forbidden is allowed. — Alex Kurtagic, Why All that Theory

      This isn’t entirely correct. Hobbes believed individuals were equal as matter of political right in the state of nature where political equality was meaningless because life was solitary, poor, brutish and short. Hobbes certainly did not mean men were naturally equal in other respects or that people had “rights” as that concept is understood today.

      Also, Kurtagic doesn’t mention that the “liberal” Hobbes’ main political conclusion was that society should be governed by highly centralized, authoritarian state with absolute power. So while Hobbes was indeed the founder of the influential natural rights idea, he also saw a need for the extreme centralization of government power. Once you bring in this detail, not exactly a trivial one since it’s Hobbes main conclusion, Hobbes as doesn’t exactly fit in Kurtagic’s paradigm of a monolithic liberalism.

      You summed it up well with this notion Kurtagic peddles a “pseudo-historical” narrative founded on the false claim there is a “unified liberalism from which Marxism arose.”

      I don’t know that he is intentionally fabricating a misleading narrative, but some of his claims are wrong and therefore misleading. I would be interested to read your thoughts on which causes of the West’s decline this pseudo history is obscuring.

      • Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Lew,

        In my article I said that there is a body of theory behind liberalism and pointed out the aspects of Hobbes thought that went on to compose some of the fundamentals of liberal ideology. This is different from saying Hobbes was “a liberal” or only of interest to liberals.

        This type of extrapolation is all too common, I find.

      • Lew
        Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        I perceive that you believe Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, etc. were theoretical founders of the type of egalitarian liberalism that prevails today, and that to make this dubious (IMO) case you gloss over some important information. In my opinion, your arguments about the roots of liberalism are flawed because they don’t account for important distinctions (see, for example, SDs comment about the problems with grouping Adams, Paine, etc.).

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink

          There is nothing dubious about aligning Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, etc. with the liberal tradition, and Hobbes really is the founder of modern liberalism. He created the basic premises from which everything else has followed over time.

      • Lew
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:30 am | Permalink

        Hobbes also saw a need for an authoritarian government entirely unaccountable to the people, essentially the exact opposite of governance premised on mass democracy. Madison designed a federal government that would be limited to its specific enumerated powers, again, the exact opposite of what we have. Jefferson did not mean all people are equal in the sense equality is understood today. The outcome of the American constitutional convention, an Enlightenment project, was a nation where only select white men had voting power. A lot of what we see around us doesn’t reflect their principles. I don’t think it’s as clear cut as the conventional interpretation makes it out to be that they laid down the deepest political premises for form of liberalism we live under now. I’d say, more accurately, they laid down the political premises for a nation that hasn’t existed since 1861.

      • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        The comments above contain at least half a dozen errors: a conflation of classical and modern liberalism and the ascription of that conflation to me, when I distinguish between them and say how they are different; a conflation of intention (theory) and outcome (practice), and the ascription of that conflation to me, where I am dealing with theory; and the ascription to me of an incomplete and simplified version of my own arguments, which ignores the distinctions I have made between classical and modern liberalism, and between egalitarian and libertarian strands of liberalism.

        The basic criticism, however, is that it is wrong to speak of liberalism as having a clear set of theoretical bases simply because there were disagreements between individual liberals or because liberalism developed over time. All ideological intellectual traditions develop over time and have a variety of tendencies, currents, factions, and strands of opinion, as well as members who engage in micrological analyses where mere differences of opinion (e.g., Jefferson vs. Hamilton and their respective political parties) acquire enormous importance in the mindset produced by a given tradition’s worldview. This results from a failure or inability to step outside of that worldview. The purpose of this discussion is precisely to help look at the liberal worldview from the outside.

      • Lew
        Posted December 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        All right, Alex. I stand corrected on ascribing things to you that aren’t your position. I’ll cop to that one error.

        I understand that intellectual history is about a continual process of ideas merging, intersecting and cross-pollinating. At some point though, over time, a particular worldview initially influenced by some set of ideas becomes something totally different, so different it makes it problematic to treat the latter worldview as meaningfully descended from or related to the former.

        You could say Pythagoreanism influenced Platonism which influenced Neo-Platonism which influenced early Christianity which influenced Calvinism which influenced Christian Zionism and Black Liberation Theology. At some point, the offshoots don’t have anything meaningful in common some of the ideas they’re descended from.

        My point is raising the outcomes was to give examples that show the theoretical principles of the early American founders share nothing meaningful in common with the theoretical principles of modern liberals. Outcomes reflect or express theories; if you want to understand what a person’s theory implies, how he understood his theory working, you look at his application of his own theory. Madison’s theory implies a very restrained government. This, again, is the exact opposite of what we have. Therefore, I really don’t see how Madison and the other founders’ theoretical ideas can credibly be said to be guiding American governance today.

        In point of fact, the portions of Madison’s ideas that survive in practice today are the only legal structures standing in the way of left totalitarianism formally taking over in America. The American powers that be are still forced to go through the kubuki show of an election every four years because the constitution based on Madison’s theory says it has to happen every four years.

  7. Greg Johnson
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    1. If morality always trumps facts, then why does the enemy invest so much in debunking racial science and promulgating egalitarian pseudo-science? Morality does not always trump science. Science also transforms worldviews including morality. This happened in classical Greece at the very beginning of natural philosophy. It happened in modernity with the rise of modern natural science. The enemy seeks total cultural hegemony on all fronts, because they know that power does not reduce to holding a single trump card. Thus we need to contest their hegemony on all fronts and construct a similarly comprehensive counter-hegemony.

    2. Liberalism does have a utopian view of replacing strife with rational persuasion, but that is not the only set of assumptions upon which scientific discovery is morally and politically relevant. Presocratic Greek natural philosophy produced two revolutions in moral thought: first the sophists, who concluded that traditional morals were merely conventions, then the Socratic/Platonic/Aristotelian “natural law” revolution, which showed that morality can be founded in nature. Man is a rational animal, even if reason does not work the way that liberals think it does. Thus reasoned argument, moral and scientific, are both relevant to politics.

    3. If morals trump science, which is a matter of facts and reasoning, then don’t pre-existing moral attitudes also always trump moral facts and reasoning? And if that is so, then moral philosophy and changes in moral attitudes are impossible as well. But if moral reason and facts can change people’s existing moral attitudes, then so can scientific reason and facts. The only way that one can deny this is to maintain the dogma that values cannot be derived from facts or influenced by reason.

    4. Science’s power to persuade has little to do with reason. Science persuades because of the modern technological-industrial cargo-cult it has founded. Science persuades because it incarnates deep ascetic ideals about commitment to truth. I remember when I was teaching ethics to undergraduates. I became so frustrated dealing with their moral relativism, which seemed immune to argument. Finally, I just said, but “science has proved that values are not relative.” And THAT WAS THE END OF THAT. Sure, it was pure sophistry, but it did get them to shut their mouths and open their minds. We would be foolish to underestimate the irrational power of science to persuade, but we have to be able to back up our assertions with genuine science if challenged.

    5. If science sometimes trumps or transforms morals, then there is more to scientific politics than the psychology of marketing.

    • Posted December 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      1.

      If morality always trumps facts, then why does the enemy invest so much in debunking racial science and promulgating egalitarian pseudo-science?

      The answer is in your question number 4. That is: because within a materialist worldview of facts science is seen as necessary to provide a “solid” and incontrovertible justification for equality. Also, as I stated in the article, science is one theatre of war in the wider war of ideas. Unfortunately, the egalitarians can use science with greater effect than we do, because the dominant moral system is their system, which is why they mostly get away with pseudo-science and why, when fraud is discovered, as in the case of Stephen Jay Gould, they live on, as Teflon gurus, seemingly immune to infamy.

      2. Yes. Reasoned argument is certainly relevant and it is essential to be able to present the case for inequality in a rational way. Having said that, rational arguments that deal purely with facts work only with those who already have an inegalitarian predisposition. To go beyond that constituency we have to attack, and successfully undermine, the idea of equality as an absolute moral good. My contention is that the latter cannot be achieved simply by disproving it empirically, because that has been tried for decades without success; it can only be achieved by discrediting it morally, which does not negate reasoned argument by any means—on the contrary, reasoned argument is the weapon, which, if used successfully, will then allow for a re-evaluation of the empirical evidence we already have.

      3. See above.

      4.

      Science’s power to persuade has little to do with reason. Science persuades because of the modern technological-industrial cargo-cult it has founded. Science persuades because it incarnates deep ascetic ideals about commitment to truth . . . We would be foolish to underestimate the irrational power of science to persuade

      . Correct—which is why egalitarians find it important to have their moral a prioris scientifically validated.

      5. This tallies with the irrational power of science to persuade, which is, in a way, related to the psychology of marketing. I remember twenty years ago the third-wave feminist author Naomi Wolf had a discussion in her then recent book (The Beauty Myth) about ridiculously pseudo-scientific language used in women’s anti-ageing creams and the way this language was used to help justify inflated prices for what at the time were in many cases cheaply made placebos. Egalitarian pseudo-science operates more or less like those miracle-working anti-ageing creams.

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