Print this post Print this post

Massimo Pigliucci’s Cognitive Dissonance on Illegal Immigration & the Fall of the Roman Empire

1,359 words

Massimo Pigliucci is an evolutionary biologist and professor of philosophy at the City University of New York. He has played an important role in the popularization of a modern Stoicism in recent years (see his useful collection of materials for practicing Stoicism on his blog).

While some of the renewed interested in Stoicism, like Buddhism, has a somewhat commercial flavor, I for one think this is a very good development. Stoicism is a powerful antidote to the individualist and egalitarian excess that has so dominated the West since the 1960s. In contrast to this, Stoicism posits that our good and our duty is to live in natural harmony as part of a wider, hierarchical whole which is our society and the universe. Pigliucci said on one podcast:

The Stoics had a recurring phrase which was that you should be “living according to Nature.” Living according to Nature doesn’t mean that you should go naked in the woods and hug trees. It means you should understand how the world works: both the world at large, the cosmos itself, and in particular human nature. You should have the best understanding possible of the kind of being that a human is. And, for the Stoics, the two most important aspects of a human being is that we are a social animal, that we are interdependent on each other, and that we are capable of reason. …

When something happens to you, that you don’t like … one of the ways you should put things in perspective is to think of yourself as an organ of a larger organism. You are the foot, and the larger organism has to go home, and in order to do it has to step through mud. You as a foot are not going to like [that], it doesn’t feel good. But it is what you do as a foot because you are part of a larger organism. …

There are both social roles and biological roles that we play in our lives, and our lives are going to be much better if we play those roles better. Doing so means understanding what those roles are, understanding how you fit in the rest of the world.

There is a lot of wisdom here. At the very least, it leads one to ask questions: What is the role of a young man with regard to the fitness and well-being of the species? What is the role of a young woman? What is the role of a European in a context of decline? And so on. Stoicism represents one powerful way in which postmodern Westerners, conquered by liberalism, can learn to stop being so frivolous, narcissistic, and selfish, and begin living our lives in a mindful and communitarian fashion.

We stress here that Pigliucci has highlighted that Stoicism involves investigation into “human nature … the kind of being that a human is” and recognition that we should fulfill our “social and biological roles.” Stoicism, as an ancient philosophy, can and must then be powerfully supplemented by the insights and discoveries of modern Darwinian evolutionary science, notably in the fields of evolutionary psychology, psychometrics, and genetics/heredity.

All this begs the question: what are the implications of human biodiversity for an enlightened cosmopolitics? Could this entail that we should have demographic policies aimed at maximizing the harmony and cognitive quality of our societies? Certainly, Plato and Aristotle advocated extremely muscular policies in this direction, even if in practice, for lack of science and technology, the eugenic ideal in antiquity remained a largely negative and ineffectual phenomenon.

I raise all this because Pigliucci is also an opponent of both President Donald Trump and of his immigration policies, notably the building of a wall on the Mexican border to reduce illegal immigration. This is despite the fact that he recognizes the analogy between late-Roman barbarian invasions and modern mass immigration to North America and Western Europe. Pigliucci argued during a lecture (actually, a good NEET should isolate this 90-second segment and share it on Twitter), citing the popular classicist Mary Beard, that the Roman Empire did not fall, as is often said, due to a collapse of morals, but because of massive illegal immigration by northern barbarians:

The Roman Empire – if you want to have any direct analogy to what is happening today – … very likely collapsed because of forced immigration from the outside, from people who had no better way of living. Very few people are aware that the so-called barbarians the Visigoths, the Goths, and so forth actually wanted to become Roman citizens. The first waves of barbarians were immigrants! These people were coming in with their families. … The analogy there is actually with the current waves that we are seeing these days in the news of immigration, not just in the United States but in Europe. … These are the people that so-to-speak bring “the end of the world.” Not because they’re going to conquer you, not because they’re evil or anything like that, but because when millions of people are in need of resources, they’ll move.

So far, so good. According to Pigliucci (and Mary Beard): Cleander did nothing wrong! Pigliucci then adds:

And there is no freaking barbed wire or wall or anything like that which is going to stop them. Nobody has ever stopped them in the history of humanity, and no wall, even one built by Donald Trump, will ever stop them.

Pigliucci, as far as I can see, seems then to be suffering from a severe case of cognitive dissonance concerning immigration. I am perfectly ready to concede that Trump is a legitimately repulsive figure for many people – one need only consider his style, his personality, his environmental policies, his friends in the Big-Business and Israel-Lobby wings of the Republican Party. However, one must also recognize that Trump represents an instinctive and very real attempt by the historic American people, what is left of it, against precisely the kind of mass immigration which, Pigliucci says, destroyed Rome. Does the Trump phenomenon not merit some consideration in that regard?

It does no good to say that immigration is a force of nature and therefore no policy can prevent it. We cannot prevent all traffic accidents, but that does not prevent us from trying to minimize them. Furthermore, the policies of Israel, Japan, or Hungary all clearly show that immigration can be reduced to negligible levels if there is the political will to do so. President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel both, clearly, showed no will to enforce the laws of their country and the will of their citizens concerning illegal immigration. And both have rightly paid a price as a result of this, with natural backlash in the form of the rise of nativist populism. Finally, we note that Trump – despite being hobbled by his own open-borders Republican Party and the liberal Establishment – has succeeded in reducing illegal immigration to the lowest level in 17 years. This shows that a government’s mere expression of a will to enforce immigration laws was sufficient to significantly dissuade would-be illegal immigrants!

Pigliucci is perhaps motivated by apparently generous concerns: that after all, no immigrant moves unless there is a compelling reason to do so, most commonly severe economic discomfort in his own land. However, a “humanitarian” immigration policy is no good if it harms American society as a whole. Immigration cannot be accepted if it harms the community – for instance, if it undermines that common national identity so necessary to civic solidarity or if it lowers the average quality of the citizenry.

For, as the Ancients incessantly affirmed, what matters is the good of the community, of the whole. Our beloved Marcus Aurelius himself says so again and again: “What brings no benefit to the hive brings none to the bee” (Meditations, 6.54), “What causes no harm to the city causes no harm to the citizen” (5.22), and we should do whatever is “opportune and advantageous to the community . . . directed to this single end, the common benefit and harmony” (7.5). I for one have not given up on the ability of reason and dialogue to produce salvatory fruits for the West and indeed for humanity in this century.

Related

This entry was posted in North American New Right and tagged , , , , , . Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

3 Comments

  1. Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    1) Stoicism canot teach a postmodernist anything. 99.9% of postmodernists are postmodernists because postmodernism gives them what they want. Not because they studied philosophy and came to accept postmodernism as the best approach to life.

    2) Mary Beard is a SJW and a pretty bad historian as a consequence.

    3) IMO Rome collapsed because of the massive shift from K-select to r-select. The same phenomena is going on in the western countries currently. Only, this time we have a chance to reverse the outcome because we are now beginning to understand the r-K oscillation.

  2. R_Moreland
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    It could be argued that the Roman border defenses, the limes, did hold the frontiers for several centuries. The real issue is what is behind the fortified frontier.

    As long as the legions were militarily efficient, barbarian invasions could be repulsed. The question becomes: why did this efficiency decline in 376-476 AD (from the time the Goths crossed the Danube to the official Fall of Rome)? Part of it is in a permanent defensive strategy reaching a point of diminishing returns. All you have to do is lose once and then you lose forever.

    There were also the endemic civil wars among Roman elites for control of an increasingly meaningless purple; this made a consistent defense difficult to impossible. Emperors such as Theodosius who used barbarian clients as muscle against their rivals have analogs with today’s hostile elites importing third worlders as economic-cultural muscle against the White middle class. To use an obvious example from the 2016 election: Hillary Clinton’s stated opposition to Trump’s proposal for a Border Wall in defense of her mass migration clientele.

    Some of it comes down to population pressures. An expanding population has the edge in competition for territory against foes who have declining birthrates. Boots on the ground being nine points of the law, and especially where ideology backs the expansion: whether civis romanus sum, the Islamic caliphate, Manifest Destiny, or globalism-multicultism.

    The actual numbers of barbarian peoples who moved into the Roman Empire, 376-476AD, have been estimated as anything from countless “hordes” down to a more realistic quarter million per tribe (Goths, Vandals, Franks, etc.). The Roman population has been estimated to be circa 50 million, so the Empire had the numbers. But the tribes had a solid core of fighting men with warlord leadership. It can be argued that militarism among the Romans was on the skids since the establishment of a military caste system in the 4th century AD. There was no reserve of citizen-soldiers behind the limes. Effectively, Rome was living on its frontier defenses and once those collapsed, so did the interior.

    The point of all this digression is that a border wall by itself is not enough. What counts is the strength of the people behind the defenses. A people-nation-race has to be healthy and ready to fight for its territory.

  3. Marko
    Posted January 24, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    The invasions happened because they weren’t able to fend them off. And he’s wrong they didn’t want to become Roman citizens per say they wanted the Roman life style, some things never change, eh’!? And also the invasions didn’t number more than a million people.

    Kindle Subscription
  • Our Titles

    East and West

    Though We Be Dead, Yet Our Day Will Come

    White Like You

    The Homo and the Negro, Second Edition

    Numinous Machines

    The World in Flames

    Venus and Her Thugs

    Cynosura

    North American New Right, vol. 2

    You Asked For It

    More Artists of the Right

    Extremists: Studies in Metapolitics

    Rising

    The Importance of James Bond

    In Defense of Prejudice

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (2nd ed.)

    The Hypocrisies of Heaven

    Waking Up from the American Dream

    Green Nazis in Space!

    Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country

    Heidegger in Chicago

    The End of an Era

    Sexual Utopia in Power

    What is a Rune? & Other Essays

    Son of Trevor Lynch's White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    The Lightning & the Sun

    The Eldritch Evola

    Western Civilization Bites Back

    New Right vs. Old Right

    Lost Violent Souls

    Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations

    The Non-Hindu Indians & Indian Unity

    Baader Meinhof ceramic pistol, Charles Kraaft 2013

    Jonathan Bowden as Dirty Harry

    The Lost Philosopher, Second Expanded Edition

    Trevor Lynch's A White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    And Time Rolls On

    The Homo & the Negro

    Artists of the Right

    North American New Right, Vol. 1

    Forever and Ever

    Some Thoughts on Hitler

    Tikkun Olam and Other Poems

    Under the Nihil

    Summoning the Gods

    Hold Back This Day

    The Columbine Pilgrim

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater

    Taking Our Own Side

    Toward the White Republic

    Distributed Titles

    Reuben

    The Node

    A Sky Without Eagles

    The Way of Men

    The New Austerities

    Morning Crafts

    The Passing of a Profit & Other Forgotten Stories

    Asatru: A Native European Spirituality

    The Lost Philosopher

    Impeachment of Man

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance