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The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom, Mark S. Weiner, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 272 pages
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It’s hard to remember back to the Margaret Mead era when cultural anthropology was the neuroscience of its day, the glamor subject for aspiring middlebrows. During the early Cold War, more than few Americans diligently tried to take an intelligent interest in the vast array of foreign cultures that were suddenly deemed of strategic importance to the new American empire, so the insights of anthropologists were in popular demand.

Unfortunately, cultural anthropologists soon lost sight of the forest for the trees, leading to a glut of unreadably detailed studies, such as our current President’s mother’s 1,043-page dissertation on Indonesian blacksmithery. In turn, the public lost interest in alien cultures. Barack Obama, for example, who had been raised to be a diplomat or international affairs scholar, moved to insular Illinois in hopes of becoming mayor of Chicago.

This decline in attention paid to exotic mores has cost America dearly in the post-Cold War era, as America’s leaders blundered into countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya with little awareness of how radically alien their cultures are. The successes of postwar American occupations in Germany and Japan turned out to be irrelevant in Iraq, a fundamentally tribal land where roughly half of all married couples are also first or second cousins by blood. Saddam Hussein proved not to be a Hitler at the controls of a terrifyingly well-organized state, but an aging bullyboy who had scared a fundamentally fractious population, divided into countless family mafias, into temporarily refraining from drilling holes in each others’ heads.

The withering of public respect for cultural anthropologists has opened the door for a handful of outsiders, such as ornithologist Jared Diamond, to offer the public readable accounts that try to draw broad lessons from the seeming trivia of anthropology. A worthy entrant in this genre is law professor Mark S. Weiner’s account of the continuing global appeal of clannishness: The Rule of the Clan.

The subject of how people align themselves with relatives beyond their nuclear families is central to traditional cultural anthropology, but academics frequently get blinded by what renegade anthropologist Robin Fox calls “ethnographic dazzle.” Each individual’s family tree extends outward almost indefinitely to countless relatives, so different cultures have different rules for which relations matter most. Researchers tend to get lost in the thickets of whether a culture emphasizes ties with the paternal or maternal extended families, in-laws or nephews, cross or parallel cousins, and so on.

Weiner wisely sidesteps most of these technical questions, with just a few standard examples from the anthropological literature, such as the Nuers of South Sudan exemplifying segmentary lineages. (“Me and my brothers against my cousins, me and my cousins against the world.”)

The minutiae of family structure generally bewilder English-speakers because the English embody an extreme degree of nuclear-family orientation. What French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd calls the “absolute nuclear family” was traditionally only found in Europe in the old Anglo-Saxon lands around the North Sea. For at least 800 years, the fondest dream of the English (who will send even their small children off to boarding schools rather than have them underfoot) has been, as much as possible, to avoid dealing with their kin. Perhaps parliamentary government, the common law, the rights of Englishmen, and other individualistic innovations were just an attempt by the English to avoid having to set up the usual mafias for self-protection because they don’t get on well with their family connections.

Weiner focuses on a few central lessons. Exactly which side of the family a particular culture deems proper to team up with is less important than the fact that in much of the world they do team up. And they have very good reasons to do so. We all need protection from predation, and we need assurances that our contracts will be enforced so we can engage in complex enterprises.

Clans provide fellow warriors to fight for you in return for your fighting for them. Clannishness even offers nonviolent methods, such as ostracism, to make sure that business partners aren’t cheated. For instance, the Antwerp diamond market has long been run by clans of Orthodox Jews and (increasingly) certain South Asian castes. Why? Because the transaction costs of appraising diamonds with microscopes for arms-length transactions are prohibitively high for wholesalers. Instead, clan members deal quickly with each other on their word of honor. If one dealer were to develop a reputation for cheating his distant relatives, his fraud wouldn’t be laboriously documented to the Belgian state. Instead, his children wouldn’t find anyone suitable to marry. Thus, classic clannishness prospers today even in a city that may have been the richest in Northern Europe in the 16th century.

Of course, clannishness has its downsides. Because cultural anthropologists have abjured objective research in favor of political advocacy for their subjects, they are loath to discuss it. But the disadvantages of tribalism—such as frequent blood feuding and restrictions on love marriages—are a staple of literature and movies. Juliet isn’t free to marry Romeo, for example, because she has been promised to Count Paris as part of the Capulets’ system of alliances.

Weiner’s grandparents include Serbs, Croats, and Jews, so he knows from tribalism. But Weiner has an even better example of clannishness, one that only the most paralytically politically correct would object to as racist: Scottish Highlanders, who made one of the more successful transitions from clannishness to modernity. The kilted clansmen of the wild north of Scotland were not brought wholly under state control until the clans were crushed by the British government after they invaded England in 1745.

Weiner points out that Sir Walter Scott revolutionized literature in 1814 with what is sometimes described as the first historical novel, Waverly, an account of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s uprising as witnessed by a young English gentleman who finds himself fighting on the side of the rude Highlanders. Weiner loves Scott because he was not only the most popular of the Romantic writers, glamorizing a region and culture that had previously been ignored by the English, but he was also a lawyer. (A remarkable fraction of the leading creative artists in European history were lapsed lawyers or law students.) In Waverly, Weiner points out, Scott offered the first careful analysis of clannishness. Scott ultimately preferred the Saxons’ rule of law, but he grasped the emotional power of the old ways.

How can present-day societies of status evolve into modern societies of contract, to use Henry Maine’s famous distinction? Weiner commends the example set by the liberal professions—especially his own. And while Weiner may be biased, there arenumerous recent examples of law professionals providing heroic role models, from the brave Italian prosecutors who took on the Mafia in Sicily two decades ago to the Pakistani prosecutor recently assassinated on his way to charging that unhappy country’s former dictator.

Still, Weiner’s book raises more disturbing questions than it answers. For instance, how do we know that clannishness isn’t the wave of the future?

While Weiner emphasizes the positive benefits of modern states, they triumphed mostly because they were better at total war. As the years go by, though, the bravery of the men who sacrificed themselves for their countrymen at Gettysburg or the Bulge seems less replicable. Likewise, some of us old-timers remember when space exploration was expected to become “the moral equivalent of war.” The Enterprise’s Captain James Kirk was modeled directly upon the Endeavour’sCaptain James Cook , that symbol of meritocratic advancement from farm boy to explorer of the Enlightenment.

In a mostly peaceful and earthbound 21st-century, however, why not instead connive to advance your family at the expense of your fellow citizens? Thus, the immigration debate is being conducted in the press as if the entire “citizenist” notion of Americans having responsibilities to their fellow citizens just because they are their fellow citizens is unimaginable.

Weiner writes: “The heart of the feuding process beats with the principle that individuals have no legal identity independent of their kin. Harms they suffer are recognized as injuries to the group. Actions taken in response to those harms are pursued by the group on its own behalf.” This sounds rather like how the media are imploring Hispanic voters take racial vengeance upon the GOP for not letting in as many of their foreign co-ethnics as care to immigrate here.

Similarly, America seems to be moving toward a society of status based on the proclaimed victimhood of one’s clan. For instance, the highly productive Weiner was long employed as a law professor at Rutgers’ satellite campus in Newark. In contrast, a decade ago Obama, a part-time lecturer, was offered tenure at the prestigious University of Chicago Law School despite having published no legal scholarship. Why? Because of Obama’s inborn racial status.

In a world where it pays to belong to a designated victim tribe, a perhaps unsurprising phenomenon is the current rush by some whites, who can’t claim special status by ancestry, to have themselves elevated above criticism by the privileged status of their sexual orientation. Homosexuals have often formed pseudo-clans, perhaps the most famous being the Bloomsbury cabal to undermine Victorian virtues organized by biographer Lytton Strachey around John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, and Virginia Woolf. When Harvard historian Niall Ferguson recently alluded unflatteringly to this immensely well-documented bit of history, he was denounced worldwide for his insensitivity to a powerless victim group. He’d never lecture in this town again!

Ferguson, a financial historian who knows which side his bread is buttered on, immediately apologized.

Steve Sailer is a columnist for VDARE.com and TakiMag.com.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Charles Murray, Crown Forum, 416 pages

In 1950 my wife’s uncle, the son of a West Side of Chicago ditch digger, won a scholarship to MIT. Back then it was unusual enough for anybody from Chicago to go all the way to Massachusetts for college that the local newspaper printed a picture of him boarding the train for Cambridge. By the 1960s, however, the spread of standardized testing had helped make it customary for elite universities to vacuum up larger and larger fractions of the country’s cognitive talent. The long-term implications of this momentous change are quantified in Charles Murray’s new book on the evolving American class system, Coming Apart.

The book pulls together strands of his thought going back three decades, a period during which Murray has been the model of a public intellectual. Striving to reconcile contrasting virtues, Murray has displayed a dazzling gift for sophisticated data analysis while remaining devoted to making his books as broadly comprehensible as possible. He’s a social-scientific elitist and a civic egalitarian; a libertarian and a communitarian; a truth-teller and a thinker of the utmost judiciousness.

Not surprisingly, none of these strengths have made the co-author of The Bell Curve terribly popular, especially because in the 18 years since the publication of that infinitely denounced book about the growing stratification of America by intelligence not much has happened to prove it in error. In 2012, it looks like it’s Charles Murray’s world and we’re just living in it.

Murray isn’t hated for being wrong but instead for authoritatively documenting the kinds of things that everybody uncomfortably senses are true. But Murray has never been complacent about how Americans are increasingly sorted by college admissions. Is an I.Q.-driven meritocracy compatible with the old middle-class republic that he cherishes? Part of the creative tension behind The Bell Curve was that co-authors Murray and Richard Herrnstein, the Harvard psychologist, could never quite agree on whether the growing cartelization of smart young people by elite colleges was, on the whole, good or bad for America. Herrnstein, a native New Yorker, tended to view the Ivy League’s lock on native talent favorably, while Murray, a Midwestern boy who went to Harvard in 1961, worried that a Jeffersonian republic requires more geographic and cultural diversity.

The subtitle of Murray’s new analysis of the deepening class chasm, The State of White America, 1960–2010, is likely to give the commentariat another case of the vapors. The term “white America” is only to be used these days with obviously hostile intent, and Murray, a loyal son of Newton, Iowa, appears suspiciously objective, even sympathetic.

Yet how can social class be tracked without isolating it from race? Class obsessed intellectuals from before the time of Marx, but interest in it faded after 1960 as race and ethnicity grabbed the spotlight. And yet class still matters. So how do we make apples to apples comparisons over a half-century of rapid demographic change? Murray desnarls the data by focusing solely upon non-Hispanic whites from ages 30–49. He’s scoured the databases to find fair comparisons of the Eisenhower-Kennedy era to the Bush-Obama age.

Ironically, one problem with thinking about class is that the subject suffers from more fundamental vagueness than does race. We’re always being told that race does not exist because races have fuzzy boundaries or because Tiger Woods belongs to more than one race. Yet the federal government collects vast quantities of statistics for use in discrimination lawsuits simply by asking people to check whichever race boxes they feel appropriate on the Census. This system is hardly perfect, but it appears to be good enough for government work.

In contrast, the Census doesn’t bother asking Americans to self-identify their class. Polling shows that large numbers of Americans think of themselves as simply middle-class: too many to be useful to social scientists. So Murray sorts people into classes based on objective markers of education and prestige of occupation. He defines the working class as no degree above a high-school diploma and a blue-collar, service, or low-level white-collar job. The upper middle class has college degrees and professional or managerial jobs. (An intellectual himself, less interested in money than in behavior, Murray largely leaves income and assets out of his class categorizations, but there’s little evidence that would much change things.)

One potential issue is that the working class has been shrinking and the upper middle class growing over time, so Murray alternatively compares the top 20 percent in education and occupation to the bottom 30 percent. Strikingly, this doesn’t make much difference.

The first paradox he’s uncovered is that the upper middle class tends to Talk Sixties but Live Fifties. In terms of not screwing up their lives, “the people who run the country are doing just fine.” For example, among white women with college degrees, the illegitimacy rate remains below 5 percent. Murray notes, “The new upper class still does a good job of practicing some of the virtues, but it no longer preaches them.”

One pattern that leaps out from Murray’s dozens of time series graphs is how beneficial the preachy culture of mid-century America was for the less educated. My mother, for instance, was born into a deeply dysfunctional working class family in 1920 and never went to college. But she had no trouble picking up from society the right lessons about what was required to attain a respectable middle-class life.

Since then, however, the message has gotten muddled. The out-of-wedlock birth rate, which was negligible in 1960, has broken 40 percent for white women with just high-school diplomas and 60 percent for high-school dropouts.

Similarly, among the top 20 percent of whites, the fraction of children not living with both biological parents is only about one out of ten. Among the bottom 30 percent of whites, however, this rate had grown since the 1960s from single figures to over half.

Among the upper middle class, other symptoms of malaise remain minor. Arrests for violent crime have declined from 17 per 100,000 in 1960 to 16 in 2009. Among the white working class, however, arrests are up from 125 to 592. And the percentage of theoretically working-class men who have declared themselves “disabled and unable to work” has grown from 2 percent in 1970 to 10 percent in 2010, versus only 0.2 percent among the well off.

Interestingly, despite all the complaints you read from commentators about how they are being inundated by Tim Tebow-worshipping Christian zealots, religion has declined more severely among the working class. The percentage of upper middle class folks who are “de facto seculars”—those who profess no religion or attend church no more than once per year—has grown from 27 percent to 40 percent since the early 1970s. But among the working class, secular lifestyles have grown from 35 percent to 59 percent.

Murray concludes, “a significant and growing proportion of the American population is losing the virtues required to be functioning members of a free society.” This slow erosion is seldom discussed, however, because on the other side of the class chasm, the upper reaches “have become so isolated that they are often oblivious to the nature of the problems that exist elsewhere.” Murray has ranked every zip code in the country by class, and one of his more informative findings is that vast swathes of the greater Washington D.C. area, which increasingly monopolizes public discourse, rank at the 95th percentile or higher.

To illustrate the degree of social insulation that the people who read serious nonfiction books like Coming Apart have engineered for themselves, Murray has crafted an amusing survey on “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” Questions include “During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?” “Since leaving school, have you ever worn a uniform,” and “During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?”

That last one stumped me since I buy Anheuser-Busch Natural Light, a cheap sub-mass-market product aimed at college kids—on campus, Natty Lights are known as “frat water”—and solitary imbibers who like their modest amount of alcohol without all that tiresome beer flavor. I emailed the author to learn how I should score my answer, but after a lengthy exchange, we concluded that anybody whose first reaction is to contact Charles Murray to discuss one’s taste (or lack thereof) in beer was kind of missing the point of his survey.

Murray put an early draft of this test online last year, which elicited some catcalls, but the final version in Coming Apart is much improved. I scored 31 out of 100 on “access to the rest of America,” which accurately defines me as “A first-generation upper-middle class person with middle-class parents.” My wife scored 56, which also seems insightful: both her parents had advanced degrees, but she grew up in a working class neighborhood of Chicago and then moved to a farm.

Continuing an argument put forward by Herrnstein in a landmark 1971 Atlanticarticle, “I.Q.,” Murray argues that the main engine of class segregation has been “homogamy” or assortative mating driven by increased education. In 1960, Murray reports, only among 3 percent of married couples did both spouses have a college degree. By 2010, that was up to 25 percent.

It’s revealing that the elite education system has succeeded in fulfilling the dream of “positive eugenicists” such as Sir Francis Galton, who called for society to develop institutions to bring together the smartest and hardest-working young people for romance. Among the last three couples in the White House, for example, the Clintons met at Yale Law School and the Obamas were assigned each other because both were Harvard Law students.

Another reason for the growing class segregation is the decline in the economic importance of natural resources. In a farming and mining economy, smart people tended to spread out over the landscape. In an information economy, they cluster with other smart people. Theoretically, they could now live anywhere and work together over the Internet, but instead they seem to crowd into their industry’s dominant metropolitan area. For example, Boston’s once-booming Route 128 technology district has been badly surpassed by Silicon Valley.

At the other end of the class spectrum, however, there’s less huddling. In 1993, Murray penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal called “The Coming White Underclass” in which he predicted the rise of white slum neighborhoods. In Coming Apart, Murray defines the new white underclass as men who don’t make enough money in a year to lift two people above the poverty line, single mothers, or “social isolates”—people who don’t belong to any sort of organized group and don’t attend church more than annually.

By his calculations, only 8 percent of whites were underclass in the late 1960s, but that grew to 17 percent by prosperous 2007, and then over 19 percent during the current downturn. This trend is depressing, but the slope of white working class decay doesn’t seem quite as precipitous as in Britain, where illegitimacy, property crime, and drunken brawling are more pervasive.

Moreover, the growth of distinctive white underclass neighborhoods hasn’t really come to pass over the last 19 years. The white underclass seems either to be dispersed among more functional family members, to dissipate into the hinterlands, or to get absorbed into demographically vibrant Hispanic neighborhoods.

Yet if this trend continues, the underclass would comprise a dystopian 40 percent of the white population by mid-century—which might be enough to notice even in Georgetown.

Steve Sailer is TAC ’s film critic and VDARE.com’s Monday morning columnist.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Steven Pinker, Viking, 802 pages

Reading Steven Pinker’s new opus The Better Angels of Our Nature reminds me of how my father taught me one of my oldest—and long most futile—good habits. As we walked down the street in suburban Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, we’d occasionally come upon a parked car whose headlights had been left on. To spare the driver a dead battery, we’d open the car door and flick the lights off.

My dad’s acts of disinterested neighborliness were feasible because, implausible as it now seems, few people bothered to lock their cars back then. Indeed, it was still common in 1965 for motorists to store their keys conveniently in the ignition switch. One of the earliest magazine articles I can recall reading advised drivers that due to the sudden growth in car thefts, they should start taking their keys with them.

As the 1960s went on, my father and I increasingly found that parked cars with burning headlights were locked, so there was nothing we could do. The last time we successfully turned off anybody’s lights was 1972.

The blight of car theft spread overseas. At a business lunch in the leafy suburbs of Oxford in 1994, a half dozen English colleagues regaled me for 45 minutes with stories of their cars being stolen.

Slowly the forces of order responded. Manufacturers armored the ignition system so that thieves could no longer hotwire cars. In the 1980s, obnoxious alarms became common. The Club came along, a big red steel contraption that sent the message, “It will take too long to steal my car. Steal my neighbor’s car instead.”

In response to all this target-hardening, criminals switched to stealing cars directly from motorists: carjacking. In Los Angeles, the most publicized enormity came in 1993, when a carjacker brutalized a young woman for her BMW in placid Sherman Oaks, killing her unborn child. After the public outcry, the LAPD took carjacking seriously, and this most horrifying version of car theft declined.

Indeed, stealing cars isn’t the career it used to be. According to FBI statistics, despite the recession, motor vehicle theft declined 40 percent from 2006 to 2010. The howling of accidentally triggered car alarms seems to have become less frequent as the need for the devices has fallen.

While reading the galleys of Professor Pinker’s immense book, I paused to take a walk. I passed a car with its lights on. Out of ancient habit, I tried the door. For the first time in 39 years, I succeeded in turning off a neighbor’s headlights.

• • •

Disorder is a dauntingly vast topic. So we are lucky that Pinker, a Harvard cognitive scientist whose 2002 work The Blank Slate may have been the outstanding book of the last decade, has turned his abundant energy and intelligence to understanding violence. No reductionist, Pinker attributes what he sees as the slow retreat from violence to “six trends” interacting with “five inner demons,” “four better angels,” and “five historical forces.”

These 20 factors—ranging from the rise of Leviathan to the expansion of empathy and rationality—aren’t really enough to explain trends in violence, but they’re a start. And I can’t think of anybody who could have done a better job. Pinker’s range is extraordinary. For instance, The Better Angels of Our Nature includes the best introduction to brain anatomy that I’ve read. (And Pinker isn’t even all that terribly impressed by fashionable fMRI scans.) Yet his touch is light. He sums up the research on why marriage makes men behave better with Johnny Cash’s definitive explanatory couplet: “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

(And in case you are wondering, yes, Pinker does quote Edwin Starr’s 1970 Motown lyric “War! Huh, yeah, what is it good for?” Being Pinker, he presents a long list of the pragmatic uses of war, while remaining in emotional harmony with Starr’s sentiment: “Absolutely nothing!”)

Pinker is willing to trash the foremost rule of popularizers: no graphs. As network theorist Albert-László Barabási has joked, “There is a theorem in publishing that each graph halves a book’s audience.” (Notice how few of the bestsellers about the recent mortgage mania include any time series, even though economic trends are almost incomprehensible without them.) With over 100 quantitative graphs, Better Angels will presumably sell about 1/1024th of a copy.

I more or less agree with Pinker’s starting point that violence is down:

This book is about what may be the most important thing that has ever happened in human history. Believe it or not—and I know that most people do not—violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

Much as I’d enjoy complaining that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I have to admit that war, for instance, has become less of a threat in my own lifetime. When I was backpacking in 1980 through the peaceful West German countryside shortly after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I was haunted by the premonition that I’d soon be back as a private with an anti-tank weapon on my shoulder trying to stop the Red Army’s 53,000 tanks from reaching the Rhine before NATO decided it had to go nuclear.

Well, that didn’t happen. The Soviet Union is gone. Having dodged that bullet, it would be awfully stupid of humanity to blunder into World War III now.

When I looked up the numbers on military spending in the CIA World Factbook, it turned out that war is a bore to ever more countries. In 2005, the U.S. accounted for nearly half of the world’s military spending. Even South Korea, which you might think would be worried about its lunatic neighbor, devotes to its military only about two-thirds as large a percentage of its GDP as we do.

As John Dolan, the War Nerd, was complaining a decade ago, war has been tailing off in both quantity and quality. Young men would rather play first-person shooter video games than get shot at themselves. John Mueller, who holds the manliest-sounding academic position imaginable, the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at Ohio State, pointed out in his 2005 book The Remnants of War that the much publicized Balkan wars of the 1990s were not quite the mass frenzies of ancient ethnic hatreds they were commonly portrayed as being. The politicians had such a hard time getting draftees to show up for basic training that they largely turned the fighting over to prison gangs, racketeers, and soccer hooligans.

What’s true for large-scale violence goes for street crime as well. Pinker plots homicide rates in Western Europe going back as far as records are available—to about 1200 A.D.—and finds a steady fall, especially in Oxford, where town-and-gown violence was off the charts in medieval times.

• • •

Encouraging as all this is, Better Angels can be a frustrating read, in part because of the limitations of Pinker’s numbers-driven methodology, his Blue State triumphalist biases, and his sprawling subject. It would have been helpful for him to have distinguished between, at one pole, disorganized violence committed by, say, your local mugger and, at the other, organized violence committed by, say, the Manhattan Project. Ironically, the Los Alamos physicists exemplified the virtues to which Pinker admiringly attributes the decline in violence, such as rationality, cosmopolitanism, and Enlightenment humanism. Yet those traits helped make those men horrifyingly lethal.

Sure, many examples of violence fall into the gray area between a criminal and Niels Bohr. Yet drawing this distinction points out that the opposite extremes of violence might not trend in the same direction at the same time. That crime has been falling for the last few years in the U.S. at the same time as war is becoming less common around the world is hardly proof that the two tendencies are, as Pinker argues, causally connected.

Why should disorganized violence fall in the long run? Because people who engage in disorganized violence are largely losers. As the Big Lebowski tells Jeff Bridges’s The Dude, “Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost. … The bums will always lose.”

Not always. But they usually lose.

So what happened in the mid-1960s that we had to start locking our cars and houses? Why did Watts and then so many other inner cities explode into rape and pillage?

This is a dangerous issue for Pinker, one he handles creatively. He praises the “Rights Revolutions” of the 1960s for reducing domestic death and destruction, but his graphs don’t actually show much evidence for that. His basic marker, the homicide rate, hit bottom in America in 1957 and started shooting up again about the time the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed. A few years later, women’s lib legalized the abortion of tens of millions of fetuses.

(Impressively, Pinker acknowledges this objection to his paean to the pacific powers of feminism. He argues in response that, in the long view, abortion replaced infanticide. Okay, but when I was conceived in 1958, I was in far less danger of being exposed on a mountainside than anyone conceived in the 1970s was of being aborted. A better argument is Pinker’s last one: abortion has been in modest decline for the last two decades.)

Black and feminist leaders object forcefully to mention of any side effects of their ascents to power. Brilliantly, Pinker, who still wears his hair like Roger Daltrey of The Who, sidesteps these landmines by blaming the high crime rate of 1965-1995 on his own kind: the damn, dirty hippies.

While we don’t fully understand crime trends—perhaps lead poisoning played a role in the 1960s?—reducing the imprisonment rate while the murder rate was growing was the most characteristic cause of the 1960s disaster. Pinker notes that from 1962 to 1979, “the likelihood that a crime would lead to imprisonment fell … by a factor of five.” That America allowed rape and robbery to get out of control around 1964 reflected a shameful dereliction of duty by elites.

We’ve since quelled random violence to some degree, primarily by throwing a vast number of men in jail. The actual outcome of the Rights Revolutions appears to be more freedom for the upper reaches of society and more prison for the bottom. In 1960, only 1 percent of black male high-school dropouts were incarcerated, compared to 25 percent in 2000.

• • •

What about war and the state? In the first half of the 20th century, disorganized violence tended to decline throughout the West, while the power of organized violence mounted to previously unimagined levels. It’s not a coincidence that the countries that wreaked so much havoc abroad during the World Wars tended to be orderly at home.

The urge to get better at organized violence drove many of the reforms that Pinker lauds, such as mass education. After the German-speaking lands had been Europe’s designated punching bag in the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, the Prussians increasingly rationalized their society to support an army powerful enough to be victimizer rather than victim. The most famous Enlightened Despot was the Age of Reason’s greatest general, Prussia’s Frederick the Great.

As Edmund Burke pointed out in the 1790s, “The Revolution was made, not to make France free, but to make her formidable.” After Bonaparte humiliated the Prussians at the Battle of Jena in 1806, they redoubled their modernization drive. Educator Horace Mann then brought the “Prussian Model” to Massachusetts in the 1840s.

Yet much of lethality of the past is better described as caused by disorder, of which violence is one manifestation.

Pinker’s charts list “Josef Stalin” as the eighth bloodiest “cause” in history. But consider a Moscow disaster of four decades before the Great Terror, the little remembered Khodynka Tragedy. At a public festivity to celebrate the coronation of Czar Nicholas II, a rumor suddenly spread through the throngs that there wouldn’t be enough free beer and sausages for everybody. In the subsequent stampede, 1,389 people were trampled to death. Stuff like that used to happen all the time. (In Russia, it still does, if not as catastrophically.)

Over time, new methods of order are invented, and, with luck and hard work, the better ones accumulate. Most notably, scientific, technological, and organizational advances have made the world a less Malthusian place. People tend to have enough meat on their bones that they are less likely to run amok over whispers that the pretzels might run out.

Even though Pinker credits economic historian Gregory Clark’s 2007 book, A Farewell to Alms, for much of his data, he shies away from Clark’s incisive Malthusian perspective. Notably, Pinker’s endorsement of the theory that democracy encourages peace seems naïve when 19th-century American history is examined skeptically. The great democratic presidents—Jefferson, Jackson, and Polk—were expansionary leaders who took land from Indians and Mexicans. That’s what the People wanted: land.

So why is war less common now than in the first half of the 20th century? The simplest explanation, I would argue, is not Pinker’s multifaceted movement toward Enlightenment values. Instead, it’s now clearer that war doesn’t pay. In the past, most of the value of the potential conquest was in the dirt acquired: mines or cropland. War couldn’t hurt dirt. Conquering California in 1846, for example, did little damage to the place, which turned out to have gold in the ground.

Today, though, most of the asset value of a territory is in the buildings and people above ground, which are very easy to blow to smithereens with modern weapons. And if you don’t raze your enemy’s cities, they provide formidable makeshift fortresses for resistance to your invasion. You can’t win. The expected profit isn’t worth your trouble. You might as well stay home.

In the West, we have easier ways now to make a killing than killing. If Sir Francis Drake, the great admiral-pirate of Elizabethan England, were a young man today, would he emigrate to Somalia to get a start in the piracy industry? Of course not. He’d apply for a job at Goldman Sachs.

• • •

The subject of violence is so gigantic that even Pinker is eventually reduced to advocating that all-purpose solution of intellectuals: Be Like Me! Fortunately, I’m all in favor of humanity becoming more like Pinker: witty, learned, reasonable, and very, very smart. I’m even half-persuaded by Pinker’s ultimate argument that people are becoming more rational, as demonstrated by the rising raw scores on IQ tests—the celebrated “Flynn Effect.” Thus they are less likely to, say, invade Russia.

Invocations of the “Flynn Effect” are notorious for woozy hand-waving. But Pinker has thought hard about this. Although IQ tests are frequently condemned as culturally biased, the reason they still have a surprising degree of predictive validity in their second century is because their developers anticipated one direction in which the modern world was headed: toward objective rationality.

Pinker emphasizes Flynn’s argument that we continually develop new conceptual shorthands that help us behave more intelligently, even if we aren’t really any smarter. Consider the business catchphrase “win-win solution.” Sure, it’s trite, but “win-win” is an excellent two-syllable cliché if the goal is to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

Unfortunately, the opening chapters of Better Angels—a history of violence—display Pinker’s main weakness. His historical sense isn’t that strong. And a major reason for that is his deep-rooted aversion to engaging intellectually with the effects of Christianity. His distaste for the culture of Christendom before the Enlightenment is palpable. For instance, he responds to historian Barbara Tuchman’s summary of medieval economic theory with, “As my grandfather would have put it, ‘Goyische kopp!’—gentile head.” This old family attitude seems to make this otherwise very bright scholar’s interpretations of the last 2,000 years rather obtuse.

For example, the single most obvious bit of evidence in support of Pinker’s theory that there has been a long trend away from violence is the change in morality from the Old Testament to the New. Pinker recounts at length some hair-raising anecdotes passed on without criticism—indeed, often with approbation—in the Hebrew Bible, such as the tale of what the 12 sons of Jacob did to Hamor the Hivite. Yet when the author’s attention turns to the New Testament, with its radically different moral climate, he’s barely able to begrudge an acknowledgment of this epochal change. He quickly quotes Jesus saying, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

The Enlightenment historian Edward Gibbon famously argued in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that early Christians were too nonviolent, that their pacifistic tendencies undermined the Roman army’s ability to keep out the German barbarians. But that goes unmentioned in Pinker’s history of violence.

Pinker then skips the long Dark Ages, during which the Catholic Church tried, with the slowest success, to turn the illiterate Conan the Barbarian warlords who had overrun Europe into gentlemen. He lands next in the high medieval period. To Pinker, feudalism must represent anarchy because there is no overweening Leviathan to enforce order. To Europeans alive at the time, however, their newly mature feudalism provided them with “stationary bandits”—to use economist Mancur Olson’s term—who protected them from the more terrifying “roving bandits.” The French monk Raoul Glaber exulted in the 11th century that it was as if “the whole world were shaking itself free, shrugging off the burden of the past, and cladding itself everywhere in a white mantle of churches.”

To the visual historian Lord Kenneth Clark, host of the 1969 PBS documentary “Civilisation,” the construction of towering Gothic cathedrals demonstrated that the 12th and 13th centuries were self-evidently better ordered than the wasteland centuries that had preceded them. But Pinker can’t plot the Middle Ages’ improvement over the Dark Ages on his charts because there is no data from the Dark Ages. So he feels free to ignore the considerable progress that Christendom made.

Still, just because Pinker can’t always see that glasses that are half-empty are also half-full doesn’t mean that we should obsess over the inevitable shortcomings of his impressive book. The Better Angels of Our Nature is a major accomplishment.

I was born in an America in which women could walk downtown streets freely at night, where both infanticide and abortion were uncommon, where the prison population was small, and prison rape was not the default punchline as TV detectives handcuffed the bad guys. I have some hopes that, just as with my neighbor’s unlocked car, I might someday live in that America again.

Steve Sailer is a columnist for VDARE.com and TakiMag.com.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
The Norwegian killer is no Christian fundamentalist but a right-wing imitator of Marx and Lenin
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It has long been anticipated—with foreboding on the right but with something approaching longing on the left—that mass immigration would lead to a ghastly backlash atrocity.

Thus, when in January a young white man in Arizona, the frontline state in the struggle over illegal immigration, attempted to assassinate his Democratic congresswoman, numerous voices of respectability, such as Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, blamed the massacre on the hate-filled bigotry of Arizona Republicans, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and anybody else they happened to loathe.

Almost immediately, copious evidence emerged that the killer was psychotic and had never paid attention to conservative commentators. When confronted with the facts, though, some of the press doubled down.

Now in Norway the long-expected enormity has finally happened. Yet the killer of 76, Anders Behring Breivik, turned out not to be a lowbrow soccer hooligan taking out his rage on immigrants. Instead, he is a cold-blooded, excessively rational highbrow who turned his guns not on immigrants but on the children of their sponsors, the white liberal elite.

Among terrorist monsters, Breivik is perhaps the most lucid since the Unabomber, whom he plagiarizes in the 1516 page “compendium” he posted online just before his crimes. So I undertook the unpleasant task of trying to understand what motivates him. Is he a Christian fundamentalist fanatic, as has been widely assumed by the U.S. press? Or is there something else going on here that won’t make sense from an American perspective?

Having thought about this rotten person longer than I’ve wanted, I have finally grasped that Breivik only makes sense when viewed on his own terms, which are those of the bloody history of continental European ideology. Breivik, I’ve come to realize, is a Marxist heretic.

Breivik’s hundreds of pages of planning 72 years of conflict in his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence reflects a Marx-like confidence in his own science of history. His turn to terrorism to begin the recruitment of a revolutionary vanguard is reminiscent of the urge of the first major Marxist heretic, Lenin, to hurry history along with violence. Like the second world-historical Marxist heretic, Mussolini, who substituted for Marx’s emphasis on class his own emphasis on nation, Breivik wants to substitute “culture.” He argues that white leaders influenced the Frankfurt School of “cultural Marxism” import Muslims to deconstruct the indigenous conservative culture they hate. He will set off an (oxymoronic) “conservative revolution.”

Breivik, a smug egomaniac who boasts, “I have an extremely strong psyche (stronger than anyone I have ever known),” looks rather like a 1975 Chevy Chase signing off from Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live” with the catchphrase, “I’m Chevy Chase … and you’re not.”

The only good news is that there probably aren’t many more like him. His odd combination of personal viciousness with self-sufficiency (Norwegian police have concluded he was a “lone wolf”) and the willpower to defer gratification during years of planning makes him rare among murderers. Hollywood has been churning out movies about bad guys just like him for decades—for instance, in 2011’s Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “Source Code,” an ultra-skilled domestic terrorist blows up commuter trains. Fortunately, Breivik is the first to actually have been conjured up.

In the decade since 9/11, we’ve started to notice that many would-be Muslim terrorists in the West, such as the Underpants Bomber and the Times Square Fizzler, aren’t always Islam’s best and brightest. The recent British comedy film “Four Lions,” about a Sheffield jihad cell of Ali G-like morons, satirized this pattern.

Last Wednesday, for example, U.S. Army private Naser Abdo confessed in Killeen, Texas to planning his own personal jihad against Fort Hood, where another Muslim soldier, Major Nidal Hasan, murdered 13 people in 2009. Abdo was caught because he bought his weapons and bomb-making supplies at the same gun shop where Hasan had purchased his murder weapon. The once-burned store personnel, acting on (no doubt deplorable) stereotypes, called the cops.

In tragic contrast, Breivik’s crimes epitomized the Nordic propensity for careful planning. He first set off a bomb in Oslo’s central government building, which drew police downtown. That gave him 90 minutes on the outskirts of Oslo to hunt down and slaughter 68 people at the annual Labour youth camp for future leaders of Norway’s dominant left-of-center party.

His tactic of targeting the next generation of ruling elites for mass assassination is an appallingly horrible refinement of terrorist technique. While liberals gloated that the Norwegian mass-murderer will discredit the right the way that Timothy McVeigh helped launch Bill Clinton’s re-election drive in 1995, Breivik’s calculation is that one such massacre per decade would demoralize and disrupt elites.

The threat of personal assassination tends not to deter politicians because if they don’t show personal bravery, they’ll get replaced by more charismatic figures who do. For example, some of Geert Wilder’s rise in Dutch politics stems from the obvious risks he is taking with his life. Two earlier Dutch spokesmen against Islamic domination of their cities paid with their lives: Pym Fortuyn, killed in 2002 by a Dutch leftist, and Theo van Gogh in 2004 by a Muslim.

On the other hand, in an era of small families, people are more cautious about their children than themselves.

Marketing Murder

Not surprisingly, the analyses of Breivik offered by American pundits have mostly been obtuse.

For self-interested reasons, American liberals have clung to an initial description by a harried Norwegian policeman of Breivik as a “Christian fundamentalist.”

In reality, Breivik used “Christian” as an American might use “Judeo-Christian”—as a cultural identity moniker in the armed conflict he wanted to launch against Muslims and, more importantly to him, elite whites.

The most notable traits of Breivik’s character are a Nietzschean lack of Christian compassion and guilt, grandiose ambition, self-confidence, competitiveness, cynicism, and a lack of normal human emotions. The standard assumption is that he is an unstable individual driven to rage by reading anti-jihad websites such as Gates of Vienna. But I don’t sense a huge amount of anger in the hundreds of pages I endured. Instead, 2083 reads more like a marketing and strategic document—a business plan, as it were—for how to build an ideology and a movement that will win a struggle for control of Europe.

Liberals will be disappointed that Breivik repeatedly claims that his cause is anti-racist, anti-ethnocentric, and anti-anti-Semitic. But it’s difficult to know how much to believe the 1,516 page document he left behind because in it he revels in the need he perceives for insincerity: “In order for conservatives to succeed, they must copy the Marxist strategies. We must actively use deceit … As Muhammad once said: War is Deceit (al-Taqiyya). Many Muslims are masters of deceit, and it’s time we start adapting to these realities as well.”

Breivik is a devout marketer looking for a winning spiel:

“When an American nationalist discuss with a European he will immediately bring up race as this factor correlates with the US issues (Mexican immigration, African Americans etc). Using this form of rhetoric will cause a majority of Europeans to “run for the hills.” … Everyone should know this by now and should be more considerate when choosing their rhetorical approach, because the most essential thing at this point is to continue to build a broad and strong consolidation of conservatives. For Europe, this rhetorical approach will for the most part involve cultural defence relating to Islam(isation) as it is the only issue at the moment that has the potential and potency to unite enough conservatives.

He labels his cause an “Indigenous Rights Movement,” cynically explaining: “Rhetoric related to ‘indigenous rights’ is an untapped goldmine … playing the victim card is the most potent strategy of our times. … The most pragmatical way to move forward is to play the victim card in combination with cruel methods of armed resistance. We must literally focus all our efforts at creating an optimal environment for recruitment.”

Obviously, there’s a logical contradiction between his advice in favor of moderate rhetoric and his terrorism. Perhaps he assumes that his trial will give him a platform for his rhetoric?

Overall, I don’t sense that he’s fundamentally motivated by the reasons he gives. Instead, he seems extremely motivated by competition, by the urge to develop a winning strategy. This is a man who took a year off at age 25 to play World of Warcraft (the popular medievalist online role playing videogame) full time running a guild. His crimes and his vast plan to triumph in Europe over the next 72-years seem like a monstrous scaling-up to the real world of WoW strategizing.

Norway’s McVeigh?

Rote comparisons have been made to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, although there are others that shed more light.

Breivik’s weightlifting and narcissism—“I’m in the middle of another steroid cycle at the moment … I have a more or less perfect body”—call to mind Yukio Mishima, the bisexual militarist novelist and bodybuilder who attempted to overthrow Japanese democracy in 1970. Mishima then committed ritual seppuku, stabbing himself and having an acolyte behead him. (But notice the “more or less” in Breivik’s boast; Breivik is always tempted by the Norwegian urge to try to appear reasonable.)

The Norwegian killer’s assault is reminiscent of the 1997 shootout in North Hollywood, in which two steroid-using, body-armor-wearing bankrobbers fired 1,101 rounds of ammunition at the LAPD. At the time, they were assumed to be the first of an inevitable wave of unstoppable Terminator-like criminals. Fortunately, 14 years later, they remain the American high-water mark for criminals who could have appeared in a Michael Mann movie like “Heat.” Hopefully, Breivik will remain an outlier.

Breivik also bears some resemblances to Charles Manson, who believed John Lennon was sending him a message in the song “Helter-Skelter” to start a race war that would lead to him becoming king of a post-apocalyptic America. On the other hand, Breivik’s only reference to hearing voices is a quote from John Maynard Keynes on the power of intellectuals: “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”

And Breivik’s general plan of provoking a crackdown by the power structure, which will presumably arouse sleeping allies, is a similar to that of South American Marxist guerillas of the 1960s and 1970s. Their two-part strategy was to cause so much chaos that the military would overthrow the democratic government, leading to the long-awaited revolt of the proletariat. As terrorist Carlos Marighella wrote in his influential 1969 Minimanual of the Urban Guerilla: “It is necessary to turn political crisis into armed crisis by performing violent actions that will force those in power to transform the military situation into a political situation. That will alienate the masses, who, from then on, will revolt against the army and the police and blame them for this state of things.”

Of course, they only succeeded in Part I.

Breivik’s endless compendium is a sort of maximanual of what a researcher with a fast Internet connection can dredge up these days on explosives.

Perhaps the most relevant comparison, but one that has gone almost unmentioned over the last week, is Breivik’s left-wing mirror image in Europe’s immigration conflict: Volkert van der Graaf. A similarly cold-blooded Northern European, van der Graaf, a Dutch legal professional, is about halfway through his 18-year-term for the May 6, 2002 assassination of Pym Fortuyn, the gay Dutch sociologist turned politician. Fortuyn had caused a sensation among voters by arguing that no more immigrants should be allowed in who didn’t accept gay rights and other elements of the Dutch progressive consensus.

Fifteen days before van der Graaf gunned down Fortuyn, Jean-Marie Le Pen of France’s National Front unexpectedly finished second in the first round of the French presidential election, qualifying for the run-off on May 5, 2002. Le Pen’s success set off a two-week hate, a continent-wide orgy of demonization of all immigration restrictionists, even one as obviously different from Le Pen as Fortuyn.

The day after the French election, van der Graaf gunned down Fortuyn. The previous month, Fortuyn had said to the Dutch prime minister: “when I am killed or wounded, then you are responsible because you give me no protection and you make the atmosphere in this country so poisonous that people want to hurt me…”

After the shooting, numerous Euro politicians and editorialists responded by implying that Fortuyn had gotten what he deserved. A myth was spread by the prestige press that van der Graaf had killed Fortuyn for some crazy animal rights reason that had nothing to do with immigration. Yet when the killer was tried a year later, he cited as his primary reason protecting Muslims from a man whom mainstream politicians had compared to Mussolini.

Breivik is a former juvenile delinquent. He brags: “Since I was 12 years old I was into the hip-hop movement. For several years I was one of the most notable [‘hip-hoppers’] from Oslo’s West side… I was the most active tagger (grafitti artist) in Oslo.”

He had a friend in a Muslim gang, so he had a pass to run the streets at night. Over time, though, he came to resent that Muslim gangs could get away with violence against white teens. The only whites allowed to form youth gangs in Oslo, he complains, are the far left violent NGOs like Blitz, which are government-subsidized in the name of fighting racism and fascism.

I suspect that this is the key to his psychology: he wants to dominate at ground level.

Upside-Down Lenin

In contrast to liberals’ attempts to exploit the slaughter, conservatives, fearful of guilt by association, claimed Breivik was obviously deranged. Yet a comparison of his writings to those of Loughner, or of Bruce Ivins, the mad scientist who committed suicide in 2008 after the FBI targeted him as the leading suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, shows a disturbingly sane and fairly sophisticated mind at work.

This guy isn’t crazy; he’s evil.

As an example of his calculating nature, after acquiring a small farm to serve as cover while he purchased fertilizer for a bomb, he wrote that this “chemical acquirement phase” was “perhaps the most danger[ous] of all phases … I estimate it is a 30% chance of being reported to the system protectors at the national intelligence agency during this phase.”

And indeed, as we learned a few days after his atrocities, Breivik’s fertilizer purchases did trigger the Norwegian authorities’ interest. They tapped his phone and email for 24-hours, but then lost interest. So his 30 percent guesstimate appears to have been right.

The eeriest thing about Breivik’s 1,518-page “compendium” 2083 is his air of Norwegian reasonableness, as if an unfunny Garrison Keillor were cast as a movie supervillain. In reality, much of the more sensible sounding parts in the first half are plagiarized from conservative and neoconservative sites. He sometimes cites his sources, such as pseudonymous Norwegian blogger Fjordman, Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or, Jamie Glazov, John McWhorter, and Daniel Pipes. Other times he simply steals wholesale without credit, probably to leave the impression that he’s an erudite scholar.

He entitled it 2083 because in the later, less-plagiarized, more vile part of his endless book he offers a detailed scenario for European civil war between the alliance of “cultural Marxist / multiculturalist” and Muslim versus the “cultural conservatives” extending out seven decades until the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Turks before the gates of Vienna in 1683. (His demographic model is how the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990 was triggered by the surging Muslim population.)

The killer would be 104 in 2083. Granted, Norway doesn’t have the death penalty, and some of its prisons are notoriously posh, so he might be around, but still his combination of horrific violence now and patience in his world-historical musings is strange.

Generally speaking, prophets of the apocalypse don’t bother with such glacial changes. Usually, the big one is coming real soon now, like in the John Cusack movie “2012” or the neoconservative historian Bernard Lewis’s predicted Iranian Armageddon on August 22, 2006.

Another oddity is that although Breivik claims to be a constant reader of the “anti-jihad” school of blogs kicked off by Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs after 9/11—and including Gates of Vienna and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugged—the overall tone of the analytical section of the first part of the mass murdering terrorist’s book is less strident than, say, Little Green Footballs was during the first half decade after 9/11.

Breivik endorses a platform that he dubs “the Vienna school of thought”:

The ideological platform advocates a strict anti-Jihad/Islamic stance which indirectly establishes a default friendly stance and support to Israel as an integral part of its fundament. The Vienna School of Thought is a right wing, Western European equivalent and reaction to the Marxist-Frankfurt school (ideological caricature). The purpose of the platform is to ensure a consolidation of anti-Marxist forces before Europe is overwhelmed demographically by Muslims.

He’s drawing from the Gates of Vienna blog, which, even though it concentrates on Europe and the Middle East, is run by a consultant in Virginia. Breivik summed up the Vienna School of Thought’s “less controversial” principles as:

  • Pro-Nationalism
  • Pro-pan-nationalism (pro-Europeanism)
  • Pro-national or pan-European crusaderism
  • Pro-Christian identity
  • Pro-cultural conservatism
  • Pro-monoculturalism (pro cultural unity)
  • Pro-patriarchy
  • Pro-Israel

Liberals wishing to tie Breivik to the Tea Party are out of luck. He’s an agnostic on economics:

Economy—the school of thought does not include a description of a clear economical platform. However, a majority of its supporters are generally against a communist/socialist economical model and at the same time against a laissez faire capitalist model. An economical model may contain socialist and capitalist principles (welfare policies included).

Breivik repeatedly claims to be anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-Nazi, and anti-anti-Semitic.

Let me sum up, however, that I see no reason to believe anything Mr. Breivik says. I’ve read far more of his prose than I care to, and I still don’t know if any of these planks he endorses actually motivated him to commit his terrible crimes. He makes clear that he views stances as mere marketing. His repeated endorsements of dissimulation do not add to my confidence.

In contrast, while I haven’t read enough of Gates of Vienna to comment upon it, I did subject myself to a fair amount of their role model, Little Green Footballs, back in 2001-2003. LGF proprietor Charles Johnson struck me as a disagreeable fool, but a sincere one. Whatever invade-the-world nonsense he was peddling at the time, he appeared to have fallen for hook, line, and sinker. Johnson always seemed to believe whatever storyline was being circulated by Dick Cheney or Ariel Sharon.

In contrast, Breivik seems too smart to fall for scare stories about Muslim capabilities. From his juvenile delinquent days, he understands how Muslims win at the street level in Europe, but he sees them at present mostly as a demographic weapon used by leftist whites.

Why does he hate the European left so much when he spends so much of his book explaining how to imitate the success they’ve achieved through deceit, control of culture, and intimidating violence?

Breivik is essentially a Marxist-Leninist heretic, in the sense that Marx was a Hegelian heretic. The revolutionary Marx kept much of the conservative Hegel’s framework, but reversed Hegel’s notion that ideas drive history. Instead, according to Marx, economic history drives ideas.

Breivik doesn’t quibble much with Marx’s notion of a science of history. And Breivik certainly doesn’t have a problem with Lenin’s revision of Marx’s economic determinism in which Lenin posited that a vanguard elite (such as, oh, say, himself) can hurry history along with acts of brutality. Like the Frankfurt School of postwar “cultural Marxists,” Breivik emphasizes the political importance of hegemony over culture. Like these cultural Marxists, he’s not very interested in Marx’s obsession with class.

Breivik despises Marxists—they are, to him, the enemy team against which he competes—but he accepts much of their intellectual framework.

Yet Breivik is strikingly lacking in any nostalgia or sympathy for his seeming ideological predecessors. To him, Mussolini, say, is a loser. His image is bad for the brand, so he’s largely ignored in 2083, while liberal Englishmen like Mill, Keynes, and Orwell are cited. Indeed, 2083 is written in English, an odd choice for a supposed Norwegian nationalist but a much better choice than his native language for a marketer of a new ideology. In Breivik’s book, history largely began in the second half of 1945, but the influence of earlier European ideologies on him is unmistakable, even if he wishes, for marketing purposes, to avoid all mention of them.

Breivik updates the timeworn Marxian system of analysis by introducing the new reality of the 21st century: the rapidly growing Muslim population within the main cities of Europe. Government-sponsored multiculturalism uses Muslims’ cultural communities to deconstruct indigenous European cultural communities. Nice European conservatives yield or retreat to the countryside in the face of stubborn urban Muslims backed by elite media and government power. In the long run, cultural Marxists are doomed by the rise of Islam in Europe, Breivik contends, but are blinded to the fate they are crafting for their descendants by their hatred of cultural conservatives today.

To Breivik, demographic change has revitalized Marx’s dream of a predictive science of history. Analysis of fertility rates and immigration allows predictions of the relative size of these cultural communities within Europe over the next several generations. Comparative analysis of conditions within countries with different-sized Muslim populations—e.g., Finland vs. Saudi Arabia—shows the stages European countries are likely to endure.

In particular, the chaotic histories of Lebanon and Kosovo, in which Muslims became dominant through immigration and higher fertility, show what Europe can expect in the middle of the 21st century. Lebanon was, by Middle Eastern standards, prosperous and sophisticated under a Christian majority, but the rise of a Muslim majority led to the awful civil war of 1975-1990.

In online discussions, Breivik advanced some of these ideas. But he maintained a passive public façade of quasi-Marxian historical determinism about the inevitability of these changes so that he wouldn’t be suspected of plotting violence. This served to hide his secret Leninist side, his determination to go down in history as the prophet and first mover of the armed resistance.

Did the Marxist-Leninist heresy he invented motivate his atrocities? Perhaps, but I suspect that he is less a true believer in his own rhetoric than a devious marketer looking to promote himself, even (or especially) if he had to do it in the worst way possible.

He appears to be a young man of some talents who failed to achieve lasting success in politics or business, plausibly because others around him could sense the rottenness of his character. He retreated to plot in solitude the enormities that would make him infamous or, at minimum, inflict pain on this enemies.

Steve Sailer’s blog is isteve.blogspot.com.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, Francis Fukuyama, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 608 pages

Whenever prominent national-security intellectual Francis “The End of History” Fukuyama publishes another book, which is often, it’s amusing to wisecrack about how current events show that history has not, indeed, ended. For example, the first half of what Fukuyama intends to be his magnum opus, The Origins of Political Order, landed with a thump on my doorstep the week America plunged into war with Libya. As I write, Americans are astounded by Osama bin Laden being found in the heart of Pakistan’s deep state.

It’s hard to resist making jokes at Fukuyama’s expense, even ones as tired as the non-end of history, because of his self-promoting egotism. This doorstop book is, we are informed: first, an extension forward and backward in time of his late mentor Samuel P. Huntington’s landmark Political Order in Changing Societies; second, Fukuyama’s version of Jared Diamond’s 1997 bestselling History and Theory of Everything, Guns, Germs, and Steel; and, third, a revolutionary work that introduces to political science the cutting edge Darwinian insights of 1960s-1970s sociobiologists. (While Mel Brooks’s “History of the World: Part I” began with cavemen, Fukuyama’s starts with chimpanzees.)

This is not to imply that The Origins of Political Order is a bad book. It’s a very good one, just not as boggling as Fukuyama imagines. Instead, Origins is quite sensible—it traces the historic evolution of what he defines as a good state, one that is strong, accountable, and under the rule of law—unfortunately, it’s also shallow.

A clue to Fukuyama’s astonishing productivity—Who can type that fast?—might be found in his Wikipedia photograph, which shows him wearing a headset microphone. The less-than-magisterial prose style of Origins sometimes sounds as if Fukuyama had dictated it at some haste into Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice-recognition software. For instance, page 10 of Origins reads like Jane Austen on crack:

It concerns the difficulties of creating and maintaining effective political institutions, governments that are simultaneously powerful, rule bound, and accountable. This might seem like an obvious point that any fourth grader would acknowledge, and yet on further reflection it is a truth that many intelligent people fail to understand.

To be fair, Fukuyama’s 1989 prediction of the end of history has held up rather well, as long as you define “history” in his narrowly Hegelian terms as a struggle among ideologies. Indeed, Communism, Nazism, hereditary divine-right monarchy, anarchism, and other ideologies that once entranced Westerners haven’t attracted much buzz recently. As Fukuyama explains in Origins, he’s ending this first volume with the French Revolution because history didn’t really end in 1989, but in 1806. He concludes this tour d’horizon of politics from the Olduvai Gorge to the palace of Versailles by declaring:

Alexandre Kojève, the great Russian-French interpreter of Hegel, argued that history as such had ended in the year 1806 with the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt, when Napoleon defeated the Prussian monarchy and brought the principles of liberty and equality to Hegel’s part of Europe. … I believe that Kojève’s assertion still deserves to be taken seriously.

Origins is a lengthy polemic in favor of the victor at Jena’s political ideal: “careers open to talent.” I suspect that the Corsican adventurer will be the foremost figure in Fukuyama’s second volume, just as this volume’s main man is Qin Shi Huangdi, who clawed his way to becoming first emperor of China in 221 BC by hiring the best advisors available, no matter who their relations were.

In Origins, Fukuyama emphasizes the global importance of governmental developments in China and India, while almost completely ignoring the usual suspects: Sumer, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Yet China and India had very little influence on, say, the French Revolution, that event of such world-historical importance that Fukuyama divides his two volumes around it.

As a marketing plan aimed at airport bookstores, though, this makes sense. We’ve all read textbooks recounting the evolution of governments northwesterly from Middle Eastern river valleys. Learning about the pasts of China and India, in contrast, sounds more relevant to making money in the 21st-century market.

Fukuyama’s enthusiasm for Qin Shi Huangdi’s lack of ethnic bias in hiring advisors is tied into his complex relationship with Huntington. In “The Good Shepherd,” Robert DeNiro’s 2006 movie about the traditional WASP monopoly on the best jobs in the national-security apparatus, Joe Pesci’s mafia don asks Matt Damon’s CIA agent: “We Italians, we got our families … the Jews, their tradition … What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?”

Damon’s Yale Bonesman replies, “The United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.”

The WASP academic was certainly a meritocrat: Huntington earned his Harvard Ph.D. by age 23, despite having served a hitch in the Army. Yet Huntington was also the proud son of one of America’s oldest and most accomplished lineages. “Huntington” isn’t the most famous name in American history, but it’s unavoidable. The Wikipedia disambiguation page distinguishes 34 notable Huntingtons, including three Samuel Huntingtons, one of whom signed the Declaration of Independence. The American Journal of Sociology exclaimed in 1936, “They are a great race, these Huntingtons…”

Huntington over time edged in a paleoconservative direction. In 1993, he responded to Fukuyama’s End of History with his The Clash of Civilizations, which argued that different cultures would continue to rub each other the wrong way. Huntington coined the term “Davos Man” to describe those who “have little need for national loyalty.” In 2004’s Who Are We? Huntington argued that mass immigration from Mexico is undermining America’s national identity. “There is no Americano dream. There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society.”

Fukuyama, of course, comes from more cosmopolitan stock. His immigrant paternal grandfather was interned after Pearl Harbor, while his mother was born in Japan. Yet Fukuyama is perhaps America’s most prominent minority intellectual whose career doesn’t revolve around writing about minorities. He doesn’t speak Japanese and Japan doesn’t come up all that often in his books. In fact, race and ethnicity tend to be conspicuously missing from his work. Fukuyama’s 2000 book about the rise of crime and illegitimacy in the 1960s and 1970s, The Great Disruption, mentioned race on just one page.

This background inclined Fukuyama to the neoconservative camp. After 9/11, he banged loudly for the Iraq War. When it started to go badly, however, he jumped ship, only to have Charles Krauthammer accuse him of anti-Semitism.

In Fukuyama’s telling, Origins is a landmark work of political science because this book finally recognizes that it is human nature to favor your kin. (Even though he deplores nepotism as leading to “political decay.”)

Fukuyama cites evolutionary theorist William D. Hamilton’s famous 1964 papers quantifying “kin selection.” Back in the 1950s, biologist J.B.S. Haldane had quipped that while he wouldn’t give up his life for his brother, he would for more than two brothers or eight first cousins. That joke is funny because each of us shares about half of our variable genes with our siblings and an eighth with our first cousins. Hamilton formalized this insight, offering a revolutionary gene-centric explanation for altruism toward relatives. According to Hamilton’s logic, the ultimate reason you nepotistically gave a job to that useless young nephew of yours was because it might help him thrive and pass on some of your gene variants, one quarter of which you share with him.

Fukuyama’s recent gig trying to foster state building in Melanesia has reminded him that the human norm is politics without much political philosophy. In preliterate times, what mattered instead were kin relations. When the Westminster parliamentary system was transplanted to Papua New Guinea, Fukuyama explains, “the result was chaos. The reason was that most voters in Melanesia do not vote for political programs; rather, they support their Big Man and their wantok.” (Wantok is pidgin for “one talk,” or ethnic group sharing one language.) “If the Big Man … can get elected to parliament, the new MP will use his or her influence to direct government resources back to the wantok.”

Yet how functionally different are these Papuan politicians from my own congressman, Howard Berman (D-Calif.)? Berman’s 28-year career in the House has revolved around kinship, too. His primary concern as the former chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee was empowering the ethnocentrism of his Hollywood Hills constituents in the Middle East conflict. And in the great crisis of his career after the 2000 census showed that the San Fernando Valley was due a Latino seat, thus making likely a strong Democratic primary challenge by a Mexican-American, Berman hired his brother, who craftily redistricted all of California, ensuring his political survival by selecting a new people for him. Who else could he trust?

Unfortunately, Fukuyama never gets around to wrestling with the obvious question that has been central to the study of ethnic nepotism since Hamilton made explicit the genetic basis of tribal altruism in a 1975 paper: Who, exactly, are your kin? Where do your relatives end? The answer is: It depends. You grapple with this same question in your daily life, where the answers turn out to depend upon circumstance. You might send a Christmas card to a third cousin whom you wouldn’t invite to Thanksgiving dinner. Similarly, Rep. Berman clearly trusts his brother more than he trusts voters. Yet he also trusts Jewish constituents more than Hispanic ones because he fears the latter will vote for a hermano instead of him.

When you stop to think about it (which Fukuyama doesn’t), your relations with your relatives are, unsurprisingly, relativistic.

Hamilton’s math was popularized by Edward O. Wilson’s 1975 bombshell Sociobiology and by Richard Dawkins’s 1976 bestseller The Selfish Gene. (A more accurate title would have been The Dynastic Gene.) According to Fukuyama, however, political science has scandalously ignored the implications of these famous books. That’s true in general, although I have on my bookshelves academic works pointing out the fascinating political implications of kin selection by Pierre L. van den Berghe, Frank Salter, Tatu Vanhanen, and J.P. Rushton, none of whom Fukuyama cites.

Confusingly, even though Hamilton used the everyday term “nepotism,” Fukuyama insists on calling this urge “patrimonialism.” Why misuse “patrimonialism,” an obscure term invented by Max Weber for another purpose (and which isn’t in Microsoft Word’s spell-checker), when “nepotism” is universally comprehensible? Perhaps because Fukuyama doesn’t want anyone to associate his book with the three-decade-old study of “ethnic nepotism.”

Illustrating Hamilton’s math with political examples from around the world, van den Berghe’s 1981 book, The Ethnic Phenomenon, developed the concept of ethnic nepotism: discriminating in favor of co-ethnics as if they were nephews and other kin. Van den Berghe, a mordant anarchist sociologist, implied that Marx’s fixation on class as the engine of exploitation was parochially biased by the ethnic homogeneity of 19th-century European nation-states. In most times and places, class and ideological conflicts are overshadowed by ethnic rivalries resembling gang wars between organized crime families writ large.

Extrapolating from Haldane’s witticism, van den Berghe’s book implied that if it makes genetic sense to sacrifice your life for eight first cousins, what about for 32 second cousins or 128 third cousins or 512 fourth cousins? Does Hamiltonian kin selection genetically explain the root causes of tribalism and ethnocentrism, or is ethnic nepotism just a persuasive metaphor for politicians? Van den Berghe was agnostic about whether ethnic groups really were Hamiltonian extended families or whether their leaders simply borrowed family terminology (“We happy few, we band of brothers”) to build solidarity.

Dawkins pooh-poohed the genetic reality of ethnic nepotism, arguing that genetic similarity dissipates outward in the family tree too quickly for Hamiltonian kin selection to matter beyond close relatives. Significantly, however, the great Hamilton himself did not come to Dawkins’s aid. In fact, Hamilton’s memoirs,Narrow Roads of Gene Land, caused a scandal by revealing a host of politically incorrect views.

As Hamilton’s collected papers made clear, Dawkins overlooked the importance of endogamy—inbreeding. Most individuals have less sprawling family trees than Tiger Woods, and thus come from a limited number of semi-closed breeding pools. You tend to be related to your co-ethnics through many genealogical pathways.

Some cultures even try to intensify genetic similarity within families by arranging cousin marriages. If you were a Middle Easterner, an ideal son-in-law might be your nephew, so that you and your brother can leave the family herd to your mutual grandsons. One reason political life in Pakistan is so clannishly conspiratorial, resembling the plot of the “Godfather,” is that in the 1990s over 60 percent of Pakistani marriages were between first or second cousins.

Political scientist Frank Salter’s 2003 book On Genetic Interests attempted to resolve van den Berghe’s quandary by employing population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza’s data and genetic anthropologist Henry Harpending’s math. In this era when the conventional wisdom is that racial groups are merely social constructs, Harpending was astonished to find that the typical human is almost as closely related genetically to the average member of his own ethnic group, relative to the rest of humanity, as he is to his own nephew, relative to their mutual ethnic group. Eventually, it occurred to Harpending that he might indeed have a harder time distinguishing an unknown nephew of his from a random group of children of the same race than he would have distinguishing among races.

Fukuyama is worried enough by this unpublicized but powerful line of logic that he tries to brush off the entire concept of ethnic nepotism:

Since virtually all human societies organized themselves tribally at one point, many people are tempted to believe that this is somehow a natural state of affairs or biologically driven. It is not obvious, however, why you should want to cooperate with a cousin four times removed rather than a familiar nonrelative just because you share one sixty-fourth of your genes with your cousin.

Indeed, it is “not obvious,” but Fukuyama’s challenge is hardly unanswerable. In arranged-marriage cultures, clans, tribes, and castes can perpetuate themselves indefinitely, making states typically either ineffective or tyrannical. For example, as I’m writing, Colonel Gaddafi has so far survived NATO aerial bombardment by rallying many Bedouin tribes to his banner. Even though most Libyan nomads have settled down, they’ve maintained tribalism as what anthropologist Stanley Kurtz calls their “social structure in reserve” precisely for violent times like these when you can only trust blood relations.

In the West, in contrast, over the generations familiar nonrelatives—i.e., neighbors—tend to turn into relatives, or at least potential in-laws, because European cultures frequently permitted love marriages with the girl next door. Moreover, as Fukuyama notes, the Catholic Church discouraged even fourth-cousin marriages. The resulting broad but shallow regional blood ties help explain why Western cultures were able to organize politically on a territorial basis without always being looted by self-interested clans.

Fukuyama’s account is incomplete, but The Origins of Political Order offers a respectable starting point for those looking for a more sophisticated understanding of where states and nations come from.

Steve Sailer blogs at www.iSteve.blogspot.com.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Joel Kotkin’s new book on population growth in America, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, is that rare work of futurism whose title downplays the changes in store for us. The current Census Bureau projection is not that the U.S. will grow by merely 100 million residents from 2010 to 2050, but by 129 million, from 310 million today to 439 million in 40 years.

Although he’s reluctant to be precise about what’s looming, Kotkin, a veteran commentator on social geography and a fellow at Chapman University in Orange County, assures us that the population bubble is, on the whole, very good news. “[B]ecause of America’s unique demographic trajectory among advanced countries, it should emerge by midcentury as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history,” he writes. “No other advanced, populous country will enjoy such ethnic diversity.”

Perhaps. Yet the U.S. already was the most successful nation in human history. In 1969, for example, a mere 203 million Americans, even without the enjoyments of much diversity, got the human race to the moon. Presumably, the 439 million highly diverse residents of the U.S. in 2050 will have reached, at minimum, Alpha Centauri.

But I’m finding it hard to share Kotkin’s enthusiasm for what he calls America’s “vibrant demography” because I’m tapping this book review out at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Van Nuys, California. My son is waiting in a 500-foot-long line to get to the first window so he can wait to get to another window, which will probably shut down for the evening before he finishes. California’s government is broke, so the DMV is closed several Fridays per month and is ostentatiously understaffed the rest of the time.

Van Nuys is in the center of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, where I grew up and where Kotkin has lived for decades. Long ago, the Valley was celebrated for making the California dream affordable to the average American, but we’ve since been test-driving America’s future. When watching all the vibrant demography at the Van Nuys DMV waiting to take their driving tests, the next 40 years appear less edifying than they do in Kotkin’s prose.

On the rare occasions when ordinary Americans are asked what they think about population growth, they are leery. A 2006 Gallup poll inquired, “In the future, do you think population growth will be—a major problem, a minor problem, or not a problem—in the United States?” “Major problem,” responded 57 percent, “minor problem,” said 26 percent, and “not a problem,” breezed 14 percent.

Unsurprisingly, elite indoctrination makes Americans more ignorant about the realities of population and immigration. Gallup noted, “In an interesting twist, Americans with less formal education are the most likely to correctly attribute population growth to immigration, while Americans with post-graduate education are least likely to do so.” Only 37 percent of people with a postgraduate degree knew what they were talking about, compared to 56 percent who had never been to college.

The real question, though, is less how bad a problem immigration-driven population growth will become but the “opportunity cost” of the forgone America—that less crowded and better educated country that we won’t be leaving to our children due to our immigration policies.

Kotkin, who leans mildly in a libertarian direction, can’t really explain why his doubly denser America is preferable. He simply assumes that his readers won’t be so uncool as to notice that illegal immigration tends to create a vast hereditary proletariat. That’s not the worst fate imaginable for America, but if the more productive will be required to subsidize the education, the policing, and now the healthcare of the less productive (which, one way or another, we shall), why would we want to continue to import millions of unskilled and highly fertile foreigners? In California in 2005, foreign-born Latinas were giving birth at the rate of 3.7 babies per lifetime (almost the same total fertility as Haiti) versus 2.2 for American-born Latinas and 1.4 for American-born Asians. Ouch.

Although Kotkin is enthusiastic about the quantity of these upcoming residents, he’s reticent about their average quality. After a generation in Los Angeles, he knows what East Coast pundits don’t yet grasp: the children and grandchildren of illegal immigrants are not merging into the educated middle class. Yet he can’t come out and admit that either. Whenever Kotkin appears finally ready to grapple with this central question about America’s future, he wanders off topic to rave about the technological innovativeness of legal immigrants in Silicon Valley or wax nostalgic about the rise of Ellis Island arrivals.

Why are we betting the country on the hope that a vast influx of foreigners and their descendants will benefit “ourselves and our Posterity” (to cite the Preamble to the Constitution’s explanation of what the fundamental purpose of the United States of America is)? Is 42 percent more crowding really going to make the American citizens of 2010 and their posterity better off in 2050?

Benjamin Franklin observed in 1751 that Americans were happier than Europeans because a larger proportion of Americans could afford to own land, to marry, and to have children. Why? Because there were fewer Americans per acre. Franklin’s logic about high wages and cheap land being conducive to marriage still applies. Yet his insight has been forgotten in the bipartisan elite consensus in favor of lax immigration policies that inflate the supply of labor and the demand for land.

Not surprisingly, the illegitimacy rate rose from 33 percent in 1998 to 41 percent in 2008. At this pace, the whole country will reach African-American levels of illegitimacy by 2050. The number of babies born to married women fell 5 percent over the last decade, while out-of-wedlock births rose 34 percent. As the number of individuals who get off to a good start in life continues to drop relative to those who grow up in disorder, how are the former going to subsidize the latter?

In truth, even Kotkin’s rosy vision of America in 2050 doesn’t sound all that enticing, although that’s to his credit. Kotkin has always been the most levelheaded of futurists. While other writers on urban affairs love to suggest that we’ll all move downtown to hang out with Richard Florida’s gay creative set or that we’ll all commute to work on solar-powered magnetic-levitation high-speed rail, Kotkin predicts that America in four decades will look like America today, only more so: more cars, more suburbs, and more strip malls. In The Next Hundred Million, the America of 2050 sounds like a gigantic version of the San Fernando Valley of 2010, just with lousier weather.

As Kotkin explains, suburbia is where most people (including new immigrants) want to live. Being a regular family guy with a wife, a couple of kids, and a house in the burbs helps make Kotkin a rare voice for common sense among urban-planning pundits, a field that has long attracted megalomaniacally-inclined aesthetes such as Le Corbusier and aesthetically-inclined megalomaniacs such as Hitler and Stalin. To Kotkin, in contrast, the chief goal of land-use policy should be to encourage business and facilitate family.

His book would have benefited from more detailed descriptions of why most American moms prefer to live in car-centric suburbs rather than in the high-rises favored by so many single urban-planning pundits, such as bachelor blogger Matthew Yglesias. Many who write about transportation policies are too inexperienced with life to grasp why women with children prefer to drive. “Walkability” is a pleasant amenity in a neighborhood. Still, the sheer tonnage of groceries that the modern family woman buys, typically at a distant Costco or Walmart, means she needs a car to manhandle her purchases home. And once she decides she must have a car, it makes sense for her to live somewhere with ample parking, light traffic, and other suburban blessings.

But how will adding 129 million people make it easier for America as a whole to cut carbon emissions? (Especially when so many immigrants move here in hope of being able to buy big SUVs—ideally with spinning rims.)

America’s future, according to Kotkin, is Los Angeles writ large. Yet L.A. has wound up with the worst of both worlds. It was planned for low density, with few parks, bike paths, or even sidewalks, but it has wound up one of the densest municipalities in the country. (Among major metropolitan areas, Greater Los Angeles now ranks second only to New York in people per square mile.)

When I was a 13-year-old in 1972 in the Valley, I biked to school. The subsequent increase in cars on the streets means that Valley parents don’t encourage their kids to ride bicycles anymore. Instead, they chauffeur them around, which further worsens traffic.

This kind of path-dependent vicious circle is common in Southern California. The government can’t afford to buy up property to retrofit facilities because land is so expensive. Add in Los Angeles’s NIMBY attitudes and attack-dog lawyers, and you have civic gridlock.

It takes forever to build anything in California, whether a subway or a housing development, especially near the coast. Tracts with golf courses typically require a decade or more of squabbling between lawyers and environmental consultants. Because the supply of housing can’t respond quickly to increases in demand, California is subject to ruinous housing-price spikes. These bubbles can deflate calamitously, dragging down the national and even global economy. A large majority of all American mortgage dollars defaulted in the current economic crash were lost in California.

Not surprisingly, Kotkin is falling out of love with Los Angeles and in love with Houston, an L.A. Jr. less hemmed in by ocean, mountains, and liberal regulations. The housing bubble didn’t much happen in Texas because the second most populous state has flat, well-watered prairies to build upon. And perhaps more importantly, Texas has a pro-business, self-confident conservative electoral majority.

Kotkin almost unloads an interesting political idea, but he can’t quite pull the trigger to explain that the contrasting fates of the only two large majority minority states—high-cost and bankrupt California versus low-cost and mildly prospering Texas—suggest something paradoxical about the future of America when the whole country goes majority minority (now forecast for 2042). As mass immigration renders the population relatively less educated and productive, the only kind of government we’ll be able to afford at the federal level is a Texas-style small one.

Unfortunately, while that theory makes economic sense, it’s politically unrealistic. Modern immigrants and their descendants vote solidly Democratic because, rationally enough, they’re pro-tax-and-spend and pro-affirmative action. And why would that be different in 2050?

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Memorial Day Weekend, 2005

“So, you kids have been engaged, what, two years now?” Travis asks. “That’s great. No rush to get married with the market the way it is. Who can afford to settle down in LA? I couldn’t. George Clooney can’t afford to get married in LA.”

You have this conversation each time you visit your future brother-in-law. He lives out in the Santa Clarita Valley, an hour or two north of West Los Angeles. You get on the 405 at Pico Blvd., head over Sepulveda Pass, down into the San Fernando Valley, onto the 5 and up through Newhall Pass into LA County’s northern exurbs.

You’re sitting on Travis’s deck, peering down into a canyon lined with sycamores. It’s hotter here than back in West LA, where your $1,600 per month one-bedroom apartment doesn’t have air conditioning because it seldom gets over 82.

“Still, isn’t it time to get a place of your own?” he continues. “I mean, West LA’s a great place to meet somebody, but are you going to entrust your kids—and I know how much my wife’s little sister wants some—to the Los Angeles United School District? I’d be all for you staying in LA if you were an entertainment lawyer, but you manage a drug store and Emma’s a nurse. People buy drugs and get sick everywhere.

“I bought this place in 2000 for $255,000,” Travis says, repeating a number you know by heart now. “Here we are, five years later, and the Schmidts next door just sold theirs for $810,000. So I’m up, what, five, six hundred thousand. The home equity loans have paid for some nice vacations, I’ll tell you. My house is my ATM.

“I know what you’re thinking,” says Travis, who generally does know what you’re thinking. “You’re wondering why I’m the lucky bastard who turned 32 in 2000 and decided it was the right time to get out of an apartment in LA and buy a house back when houses were cheap. Meanwhile, you’re 32 in 2005, when they’re expensive. Well, they seemed expensive then, too. But I took the plunge.

“I also know you’re thinking you don’t have $810,000. Who does? That’s what mortgages are for. And you’re good with numbers so you’ve already figured out what a 20 percent downpayment on $810,000 is. It’s like … a lot.

“Okay, coupla things you need to bear in mind. Emma told me about how your dad talks about saving up for the downpayment he made when he got that 30-year fixed rate on his little place in Sherman Oaks. That’s ancient history. Dude, nobody puts 20 percent down anymore.”

Travis’s voice has gone up a third of an octave. When he gets going on real estate, he lets his inner Dennis Hopper out.

“These days, somebody arrives in California from Guatelombia and wants to buy a house. Do you think they make him document his credit history? It’s in Spanish, and who knows how many million pesetas were worth a dollar in 1985, and besides, the courthouse in El Carrumbo collapsed in an earthquake, so he doesn’t have a paper trail. Documents? He’s undocumented. So he just pays some extra points on his rate, but that’s all on the backend. Everybody’s happy.

“Don’t you watch the news? The president says downpayments are un-American because they keep minorities from buying houses. But you don’t have to be diverse to get a zero-down loan. IndyMac is handing them out to everybody.

“Second thing, Santa Clarita seemed like a long way out when I moved from Venice in 2000. So maybe you got to move a little farther, like out to Palmdale, Lancaster. Antelope Valley’s the new Santa Clarita!”

You’re not quite sure how it happens, but ten minutes later, you’re standing in his driveway admiring the rims on his Lexus SUV, which are bigger than the tires on your Corolla. Soon you’re rolling northeast on the 14, past the slanting Vasquez Rocks where, according to Travis, lots of Westerns were filmed, but you only remember them from “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.” The highway turns north away from the mountains through the high desert. A sign says you are heading toward “Edwards AFB.”

“Edwards Air Force Base!” exclaims Travis. “‘The Right Stuff,’ man! That’s where Chuck Taylor broke the speed barrier in 1957. This is all-American country out here,” he says, gesturing vaguely at the gray sagebrush. “Sure, it’s a haul from the jobs in LA, but with Iraq calming down now that they captured Saddam Insane, soon they’ll be pumping like crazy from those Iraqi oilwells and the price of gas will be back down to $1.50.”

You pass another sign. This one reads, “San Andreas Fault.” Travis doesn’t seem to notice.

Once off the highway, you see at least one person on every corner twirling a giant arrow pointing to an open house. “Human signs,” nods Travis, “like back in the Depression when guys would walk around wearing sandwich boards reading ‘Eat at Joe’s.’ But this is the opposite of a depression.” Real estate commissions are 6 percent—$20K on a $400K house. That pays for a lot of twirling.

Stretching off to the horizon are half-built houses and recently finished ones. You follow one particularly active arrow to Cypress Creek Estates. “Yeah, I know,” says Travis, “The nearest creek is 20 miles south and the nearest cypress tree is 100 miles west. But that’s not the point. Everybody in Guatelombia grew up watching ‘Baywatch’ and has wanted to move to California ever since. Do you know how many people there are in the world? Trust me, it’s a lot. There’s an endless supply of people who want to live in California. Do you think Bush is going to shut the borders? The president says, ‘Family values don’t stop at the Rio Loco.’”

Travis’s voice gets intense. “They’re coming, man, and nothing can stop them. It’s the American Dream!”

“Same with the money,” he continues. “When the Chinese get a check from Wal-Mart for a billion bucks for their latest boatload of plastic crud, they ask the smartest guy in Peking where to invest it. He calls up the smartest lad in London, who tells him, ‘Lend it to people buying California real estate. It’ll be safe as houses.’ Nobody cares where they lend in California, just so long as it’s in California. You should see the prices they’re getting this year for dumps in Hawaiian Gardens, Bakersfield, Pacoima, Compton. Compton.

“See, in Abu Dubai, nobody knows nothing about Hawaiian Gardens, other than it’s in California. Over in Arabia, Sheik Rattleandroll thinks, ‘It’s like Hawaii and it’s full of gardens, so how bad could it be?’

“Although, you’d figure,” muses Travis, shaking his head, “that by now, even an Arab would’ve heard of Compton.”

“There’s no stopping them. And the same with normal American people. Every year, kids move from mom and dad’s house in the boring burbs to an apartment in the sexy city. But after ten years or so, they’ve found somebody. The one. They start looking at the price on those cute little cottages around the corner from their favorite restaurant on San Vicente. The price has seven digits, and it doesn’t start with a ‘one.’ They wonder, ‘How does anybody buy in the city?’ They finally realize: people do it family style. If they’re American and they buy on the Westside, then you know that mom and dad gave them half a mil, at least. If they’re Armenian, they have mom and dad move in with them, along with cousin Aram and his uncle-in-law. But Americans can’t live with their relatives. We go nuts. So, it’s out to the exurban frontier for us. It’s a perpetual motion machine.”

You pull up in front of a Mediterranean-style model house. Two stories, 3,150 square feet, the sheet says. It seems enormous—both compared to your apartment and to its lot, with its miniature front yard consisting of a tiny sapling and a tinier sodded lawn. It’s hotter than in Santa Clarita, so the walk to the front door through the grit-laden wind has you sweating.

Then you’re hit by the blast of air conditioning, and you’re standing in the Great Room, with a 20-foot ceiling. “Sure, it seems kind of big, but that’s the crucial element,” explains Travis. “What are they asking, $450K? That’s not a cost to you, that’s an investment, like joining a country club. The sticker price keeps out the riff-raff. You don’t want every peon in Guatelombia moving in next door, do you?”

One stair creaks as you ascend to the lavish master suite. “The construction’s just settling in,” assures Travis. “This house is only, it says here, nine months old. The owner is flipping it. Probably moving to a 4,000 square-foot house with the $50K he’s going to make and do it again. With a no-downpayment mortgage and a low teaser rate for the first two years (which you deduct on your 1040, by the way), that’s about a million percent return on investment. Can you get that kind of interest on your CDs?”

“In fact, I think I’m going to pick up one of these babies, too, and sell it in six months. We’ll be neighbors! Sort of. The mortgage company gets a little snottier about downpayments and interest rates when you tell them it’s an investment, so I’ll just check the “owner-occupied” box. The broker doesn’t care. He gets his commission, then Countrywise bundles it up with a thousand other mortgages and sells it to Lemon Brothers. The Wall Street rocket scientists call this “secretization” because nobody can figure out what anything’s worth. It’s a secret.

“Lemon sells shares in the package all around the world. The Sultan of Brunhilde ends up owning a tenth of your mortgage. Do you think the sultan’s going to drive around Antelope Valley knocking on doors to see if you’re really living there? Maybe you’d like to come in on it, buy yourself a one-eighth share?”

Thanksgiving, 2005

The sky over Antelope Valley is blue, your Marathon Sod minilawn is green, and your bride and her sister are cooking the turkey in your new granite-counter-topped kitchen. You are standing in your driveway in Cypress Creek Estates with Travis, admiring the house you two own next door. “So that couple from Hermosa Beach counteroffered $477K. Nice people. They’d make good neighbors. But I’m going to wait for an even $500K. There’ll be no problem getting that next spring. It’s a nice neighborhood. Quiet.”

That it is. You don’t have many neighbors because about a third of the homes on the street appear to be unoccupied, owned by speculators waiting to flip them. And the people who live on your street tend to start their commutes to LA before dawn and get back after dark. It’s quiet, except on Sunday, when a stream of looky-loos pour through for the open houses.

Voice Mail, April 2006

“Hey, it’s Travis. My accountant was crunching the numbers, and he says I’ve got a slight cash flow problem, what with me paying for 7/8ths of an empty house and the market not quite hitting our target price yet. So he says that we should rent it out, just until we sell it. The thing is, what with everybody buying out there with no money down, there aren’t that many people left in the rental market. Most of the local jobs are in construction, building houses. Now, my accountant keeps the books for this contractor, who tells him he’s got some construction workers from this village down south who need a place to live. Real quiet hardworking types. You hablo un poco español, right? If you need to talk to them, talk to their leader, Juan. He speaks Spanish. The rest of them only speak Mixed-Up. It’s an Indian lingo. But you won’t need to talk to them. They’re very quiet.”

July 2006

It’s Sunday afternoon. Travis peers down as you pry a flattened disk of lead out of the miniature crater in your driveway. “Well, they are real quiet, hardworking types Monday through Friday. I guess they just want to relax on Saturday, have a little fiesta, drink some cerveza, shoot their pistolas in the air.”

“It’s their culture. What are you, prejudiced?”

You look at Travis.

“Okay, okay, I’ll go talk to Juan.”

He comes back 20 minutes later. “Juan is gone, man. That’s what they kept telling me: ‘Juan is gone.’ One of the fellows had his stomach bandaged up. He just got back from the emergency room. I couldn’t quite follow what they were saying, but I think Juan had a bottle of tequila on Saturday night and stabbed this dude. Nothing serious. C’mon, they aren’t gangbangers, they’re working men. But Juan is headed for the border like O.J. in his white Bronco—with the rent money they all owed us. Oh, man…”

Voice Mail, September 2006

“Hey, it’s Travis. I got good news. We’re not going to mess around anymore trying to get our rent from some mob of illegals. No way, Jose. We’re going to get paid on the first of each month straight from the U.S. Treasury! The Department of Housing and Urban Development. Section 8 rent vouchers. They’re tearing down a housing project in the, uh, LA-Long Beach area, in, uh, Compton, I guess, to be precise, and they’ve got this respectable elderly grandmother who needs a place to stay with her family. Really cute grandkids. A few daughters, too. She wants a safe place with good schools to raise them. Actually, she’s not all that elderly. The HUD man said she’s 39. A church lady, you know, pillar of the community, big hat, all that. You’ll like your new neighbors.”

Voice Mail, December 2006

“It’s Travis. Okay, I’ll admit that I hadn’t really thought about the daughters having boyfriends, or grandma either, for that matter. But I think this whole Bloods versus Crips thing is being blown way out of proportion. It’s just graffiti. And lots of kids wear red these days. It’s a very in color. And all the young people make those goofy signs with their hands. How can you know for sure that the Chevy that cruises by every night is full of gangbangers planning a drive-by? Are you sure you read the tattoos on their necks right? It’s nighttime. Maybe they just say ‘mom.’ Did you think about that?”

May 2007

Travis flinches when the 120-pound Presa Canario lunges at him. The steel chain securing the dog to the front of the house across the street from your house snaps taut and its massive jaws come up short. “Man,” says Travis, shaken, “That’s one of those dogs that the Aryan Nation prison gang breeds to guard meth labs, isn’t it? What’s in that house? No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“Look at this neighborhood,” he said, his dismissive gesture taking in the empty liquor bottles on the curb, the wheelless car jacked up on a brown front lawn, and the knots of sullen youths playing hip-hop on boomboxes. “All these speculators buy houses, hit a little bump in the road, need some cash, then start renting them out to lowlifes to get by until they can cash in. Property values drop like a rock. It would be no problem if just one investor did that, but when all these speculator jerks do it, the whole hood is hosed.

“Oh, yeah, I came by to mention that in June the mortgage rates reset. Bush put this new guy in at the Fed, Ben Barnacle, and he’s raised interest rates. So that will push up the payment.”

Voice Mail, June 2007

“It’s Travis. Sorry to hear about you having to sell both your cars to make that new monthly nut. Taking the bus to work in that heat, man, that’s rough.

“But, that’s all history. I’ve got great news! I sold the house next door to the Section 8 grandma. I only got what we paid for it, but I figure that was the smart play. She didn’t think she could qualify for the mortgage, but I told her to add up the income of all the people who have ever stayed in her house and put that down as the household income. Did you think Washington Mutual would be so racist as to question how she could have an income of $160,000?

“Don’t thank me for getting you out of that monthly payment. It’s the least I could do for you, bro.”

Phone call, October 2008

“It’s me, Travis. Long time no hear! Hey, I’m sorry about house prices in your zip code being down 55 percent. Bummer.

“Anyway, I’ve been listening to Omama’s speeches about how he is going to invest hundreds of billions to make America energy independent in ten years. So I wanted to let you in on the next big thing. Alternative energy! It’s going to be bigger than houses. I’ve got great investments lined up with some start-ups like biodiesel trolleys. Al Gore is this close to making a big investment. I just need a little help making the minimum required investment. So, are you in or are you out? Remember, quitters never prosper.”

You say: “I quit.”

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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It often seems as if humanity’s seven-decade struggle with Communism has disappeared down the memory hole. While Nazis in glistening black leather remain our culture’s omnipresent exemplars of evil, Communists are apparently too dowdy to bother remembering.

A few filmmakers have begun to dissent, however. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s superb drama about the East German secret police, “The Lives of Others,” won the 2006 Best Foreign Film Oscar and ran for a half-year in American art houses.

In Warsaw on Sept. 17, 2007, director Andrzej Wajda, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, premiered “Katyn,” his long-awaited epic about the 1940 Soviet decapitation of the Polish nation in which his cavalry officer father had perished. The 82-year-old cinema legend reminisced, “I can’t really talk about him, except to say that he was my ideal and that he died at the age when I needed him the most.” The mass murder’s cover-up lasted a half-century in Soviet-run Poland: not until 1989 was Wajda free to inscribe the year of his father’s death on his tombstone.

A blockbuster in Poland, “Katyn” earned a Best Foreign Film nomination here. It hasn’t, though, found an American distributor. Fortunately, you can buy the Polish DVD on eBay for $25. (Look for “English subtitles” and “Region Zero.”)

“Katyn” begins Sept. 17, 1939, as Polish civilians flee eastward over a bridge from the invading Germans—only to collide with countrymen running westward from the Soviets, who, following the Hitler-Stalin pact that August, were grabbing their share of Poland.

The overwhelmed Polish forces surrender to their fellow Slavs, who send most of the enlisted men home. When the wife of a captured captain locates him awaiting shipment east and begs him to escape with her, he responds, with that fatalistic sense of honor that is the outstanding feature of the Polish character, that his pledge binds him to his brother officers. “Katyn” follows the cavalry captain into a Soviet POW camp inside a defiled Orthodox church and tells of the women who longed for him to come home and of the postwar hoax.

Because all Polish college graduates were commissioned as reserve officers, the Communists found themselves in possession of Poland’s natural leaders, the men who would not abide a Poland ruled by Soviet stooges. On March 5, 1940, Beria, boss of the NKVD secret police, sent Stalin a memo recommending extermination of the Polish POW’s. The NKVD methodically shot 22,000 in the back of the head and dumped most of the bodies in trenches in the Katyn Forest.

In 1943, the German army stumbled upon the mass grave. In perhaps the ultimate example of the pot calling the kettle black, Goebbels launched a propaganda campaign over the atrocity. In turn, Stalin used the outrage expressed by the legitimate Polish government-in-exile in London to accuse them of collaborating with the Nazis, justifying him in imposing his own Polish puppet regime.

FDR and Churchill acquiesced in the Soviet claim that the Nazis had killed the Polish officers during their 1941 attack on Russia, making gravestones with a date of “1940” politically incorrect in Poland until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Germans were doing the same in their half of Poland: “Katyn” depicts the Nazis arresting 144 college professors, including the captain’s father, at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University—incidentally putting young Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, out on the street.

Echoing Solzhenitsyn, Wajda extols remembrance: “The best remedy for political and social problems is to show them and to speak truly about them.” In contrast, the Kremlin shut down its Katyn investigation in 2005 without prosecuting any perpetrators. KGB alumnus Vladimir Putin classified as secret 116 volumes of findings.

“Katyn” is an effective, moving film comparable to “The Pianist,” the celebrated 2002 Holocaust film by Wajda’s old colleague Roman Polanski. Americans will find “Katyn” more comprehensible on DVD than if it had run in the theaters. Wajda perfected his craft under Communist censorship, so his storytelling is implicit—he assumes that his audience knows enough Polish history to fill in his gaps. Luckily, by pausing the DVD periodically to talk it over, we can sort out the large cast of rather similar-looking Poles and distinguish the slight differences in color of the Polish, Soviet, and German officers’ greatcoats.

As Stalin noted, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” Thanks to “Katyn,” the deaths of these 22,000 Poles aren’t a statistic anymore.

The rating would be PG-13.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
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Millions of words have been devoted to Barack Obama and his “post-racial” and “post-partisan” presidential campaign. As a candidate whose policy platform is almost identical to Hillary Clinton’s, Senator Obama has been running largely on the charisma generated by widespread assumptions about the political implications of his personal background.

An avid golfer (16 handicap), Obama brilliantly positioned himself in his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address as the Tiger Woods of politics, the product of a loving marriage bridging the racial gap, thus suggesting he’s suited by nature and nurture to, in the words of countless journalists, “transcend race” and “heal our racial and political divides.”

Remarkably, not until most of the primaries were over did almost anybody in America notice that the candidate’s most personal relationships suggest the opposite of his artfully concocted campaign image.

Obama’s famous persona began to show cracks in late February when his often peeved wife Michelle, an intensely ungrateful beneficiary of affirmative action by Whitney Young H.S., Princeton, Harvard Law School, and the Sidley Austin corporate law firm, was recorded saying her husband’s triumphs meant “… for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

The serious blow, however, came with March 13 telecasts on ABC and Fox News of sermons by Obama’s spiritual adviser, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who fulminated in front of a raucously enthusiastic congregation, “No, no, no, not God bless America—God damn America.”

In response to the belated controversy, the candidate first claimed ignorance, even though Wright’s history of Left radicalism goes back beyond his 1984 trip with Louis Farrakhan to Libya to meet Muammar Khaddafi.

The failure to publicize this side of Obama marks one of the most egregious failures by the press and public in recent political history. How could it have happened?

That Barack Obama is black offers the country a potential advantage: it makes his intellectual sophistication and verbal adeptness more acceptable to the bulk of voters, many of whom found Al Gore and his 1330 SAT score too inhumanly cerebral to trust. If Obama, a superb prose stylist, were white, he’d be written off as an effete intellectual. But white voters are hungry for a well-educated role model for blacks. And blacks see the preppie from paradise’s membership in Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ as evidence that he’s keepin’ it real.

That Wright was a radical leftist and that Obama shared much of his outlook was apparent to anyone willing to read closely the potential president’s graceful but slippery 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. As I explained in my March 26, 2007 article “Obama’s Identity Crisis” in The American Conservative:

Even [Obama’s] celebrated acceptance of Christianity in his mid-20s turns out to be an affirmation of African-American emotional separatism. As I was reading Dreams, I assumed that his ending would be adapted from the favorite book of his youth, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which climaxes with Malcolm’s visit to Mecca and heartwarming conversion from the racism of the Black Muslims to the universalism of orthodox Islam. I expected that Obama would analogously forgive whites and ask forgiveness for his own racial antagonism as he accepts Jesus.

Instead, Obama falls under the spell of a leftist black nationalist preacher, Jeremiah A. Wright, who preaches African-American unity through antipathy toward whites.

My article was denounced as racist in the Washington Monthly and by David Brock’s George Soros-funded Media Matters. Yet my conclusion identified the crucial question about this gifted politician that still remains unanswered:

He possesses one of the finest minds of any politician, but his personal passions routinely war against his acknowledging unwelcome truths, even to himself. Whether his head or heart would prove stronger in the White House remains unknown, perhaps even to Barack Obama.

As Dreams explains to anyone willing to endure Obama’s mellifluous but evasive prose, his parents’ disastrous bigamous marriage psychologically scarred him. He idealized his almost completely missing Kenyan father, while resenting his white American mother who twice dumped him on his grandparents in Hawaii.

To counter the impressions of Obama as either a secret Muslim (preposterous) or an opportunistic agnostic (plausible), the Obama campaign has long trumpeted his ties to Reverend Wright. Indeed, Obama’s tearful hearing of Wright’s sermon “The Audacity of Hope” (Obama borrowed the title for his second bestseller), in which Wright denounces how “white folks’ greed runs a world in need,” provides the climax for the central section of Obama’s first memoir.

Obama, who met scores of black ministers during his years as a Saul Alinsky-style “community organizer,” chose Wright as his mentor because he peddled the anti-American and anti-white paranoia that the white-raised Ivy Leaguer associated with being “black enough.” For example, here is an excerpt from Trinity’s current website explaining its “Black Value System”:

Disavowal of the Pursuit of ‘Middleclassness.’ Classic methodology on control of captives teaches that captors must be able to identify the ‘talented tenth’ of those subjugated, especially those who show promise of providing the kind of leadership that might threaten the captor’s control.

Those so identified are separated from the rest of the people by:

1. Killing them off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.

I hope Obama has matured out of the identity politics obsessions of his thirties. Yet hard evidence for this is sketchy. We have detailed breakdowns of the Obama family’s charitable deductions from their tax returns of 1998, 2005, and 2006. In both 1998 and 2006, Trinity was their favorite charity, with the Obamas donating $22,500 in 2006 alone. So, Obama pays to promulgate the idea that white America is killing off the “talented tenth” of young blacks.

On March 18, rather than holding a news conference in which he might finally be exposed to tough questions, he orated edifyingly about how America’s racial problem is so complex, so deep-rooted, so multifaceted that the only possible solution is to elect him president. Few noticed that, yes, he implicitly admitted that he had lied about what he knew and when he knew it. And, no, he wasn’t going to find himself and his children a less leftist and racist church.

Revealingly, Obama asserted, “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother … who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street …”

Yet pages 88-91 of Dreams reveal both a serious factual conflict and why Obama carefully picked out Trinity, whose “black liberation theology” Wright described in 2007 as similar to the “liberation theology” espoused by Nicaraguan Sandinista revolutionaries.

In reality, Obama’s now 85-year-old grandmother, the most level-headed member of his otherwise irresponsible family, became afraid to take the bus to her bank management job after being abused by a pushy panhandler: “He was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn’t come, I think he might have hit me over the head.”

The self-absorbed Obama’s response was to be overwhelmed by angst and revulsion—not at the potential mugger but at his own grandmother after his leftist grandfather revealed that he didn’t want to give his own wife a ride to work because, “You know why she’s so scared this time. I’ll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me the fella was black. … And I just don’t think that’s right.”

Obama reeled in self-pity:

The words were like a fist in my stomach. … And yet I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers would still inspire [my grandparents’] rawest fear. … The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment. I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone.

Sadly, with the primaries almost over, the press has done little to illuminate the central conundrum about Obama. Who most influences him? His moderate University of Chicago colleagues or his racially outraged minister and wife?

Why were these publicly available facts ignored until ridiculously late?

First, there’s Obama’s sheer political talent. If Hillary is the original Terminator 101 of candidates, a cyborg relentlessly plodding onward, Obama is the quicksilver Terminator 1000 from “Terminator 2,” a shape-shifting quantum leap in political skill, able to persuade voters that he is whomever they want him to be.

Second, very few journalists have finished Obama’s 1995 book. It’s too long, too literary, too fixated upon race, the forbidden topic, and too hard to quote. Obama was at Harvard Law School when HLS graduate David Souter breezed on to the Supreme Court as a stealth nominee who, in sharp contrast to the rejected Robert Bork, lacked a controversial paper trail. The budding politician may have learned from this not to put anything in writing that can provide a controversial soundbite.

Third, despite all the calls to “begin a dialogue on race,” nobody with a career to preserve has any such intention. Just last October, for example, America’s most prominent living man of science, James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, attempted to begin a dialogue on race concerning the far-reaching implications of rapidly improving genetic research techniques. He was immediately shown the door.

Similarly, in January, when Richard Cohen of the Washington Post became the first journalist to mention that back on Nov. 2, 2007, Wright had given his “Lifetime Achievement” award to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Cohen was widely denounced.

Thus the Clintons, who were attacked by Obama supporters as racists merely for using the term “fairy tale,” were terrified of being accused once again of “playing the race card” if they brought up Wright.

Fourth, many journalists assume that they can only report on issues brought up by the candidates. So if Hillary ignored Obama’s racist connections, then, in this Heisenbergian media climate, they effectively didn’t exist.

Fifth, Obama has largely avoided interviews by skeptical experts.

Considering the competition, Obama may be the best candidate of the three remaining. His puerile racial and political views may have matured after his soul-crushing rejection by the black electorate in his 2000 Democratic primary challenge to Congressman Bobby Rush, an ex-Black Panther. Perhaps Obama realized then that his future lay in appealing to white voters.

But we can’t know unless he honestly answers informed questions. What America needs now is for Obama to sit down to a long, live, no-holds-barred interview with someone who has the racial background to ignore political correctness. The obvious candidate is the conservative literary critic Shelby Steele, author of A Bound Manabout Obama, who also has a black father and white mother.

Is that too much to ask of the man who would be president?
______________________________________

Steve Sailer is TAC’s film critic and a columnist for VDARE.com. His blog is iSteve.Blogspot.com.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Remember the crucial passage of Barack Obama’s Oration for the Ages on Race where he lumps his still-living 85 year old grandma with Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.?

“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

By the way, I told you all about Obama’s grandmother getting hassled by a bum on the street a year ago in my article “Obama’s Identity Crisis” in the March 26, 2007 issue of The American Conservative. Of course, the story Obama recounted in 1995 in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance was crucially different from his 2008 speech:

“Obama’s teenage self-consciousness is perpetually crucified by contact with stereotypes about blacks. When his grandmother wants a ride to work because the day before, while awaiting the bus, she was threatened by a black panhandler, he is outraged—at his grandparents. “And yet I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.” In high school, he gets upset when “a white girl mentioned in the middle of conversation how much she liked Stevie Wonder; or when a woman in the supermarket asked me if I played basketball; or when the school principal told me I was cool.”

So, Obama’s grandmother, the most level-headed member of the family, wasn’t in “fear of black men who passed by her on the street,” she was afraid of one “aggressive” bum whom she believed was ready to hit her on the head when her bus arrived.

I also told you the key lesson that Obama left out of his speech:

“The great irony of the book is that so many of the stereotypes about African-Americans and Africans turn out, in his troubling experience, to be true—which doesn’t make Obama happy at all: “I did like Stevie Wonder, I did love basketball, and I tried my best to be cool at all times. So why did such comments always set me on edge?” (When he moves to the South Side of Chicago, he eventually discovers that, like his grandmother, he’s sometimes scared of black males on the street, too.)”

Amusingly, I was immediately denounced in a long article in The Washington Monthly for, among my many other sins, calling attention to Obama’s reaction to the grandmother vs. bum incident:

“But in the book the situation is far more nuanced than Sailer lets on.”

Well, I certainly can’t out-nuance Baroque O’Blarney, especially not when my article summarizing his autobiography is restricted to less than one of my words per one of his pages. Nonetheless, I certainly did a more accurate job of recounting this incident from Obama’s life in 2007 than Obama himself did in 2008!

Indeed, “Obama’s Identity Crisis” would have saved everybody a whole lot of surprise over Rev. Wright in 2008 if they had read my article carefully in 2007. As I wrote a year ago:

“Even [Obama's] celebrated acceptance of Christianity in his mid-20s turns out to be an affirmation of African-American emotional separatism. As I was reading Dreams, I assumed that his ending would be adapted from the favorite book of his youth, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which climaxes with Malcolm’s visit to Mecca and heartwarming conversion from the racism of the Black Muslims to the universalism of orthodox Islam. I expected that Obama would analogously forgive whites and ask forgiveness for his own racial antagonism as he accepts Jesus.

“Instead, Obama falls under the spell of a leftist black nationalist preacher, Jeremiah A. Wright, who preaches African-American unity through antipathy toward whites. Reverend Wright remains a major influence on the presidential candidate. (The title of Obama’s second book, The Audacity of Hope, is borrowed from one of Wright’s sermons.) Ben Wallace-Wells notes in Rolling Stone: “This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr.”

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
Assimilating Latinos into the politics of victimhood
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The slugfest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in which only the most painstaking analyst can discern any disagreement over policy, highlights the ancient yet growing importance of ethnic identity in politics.

The race didn’t start out that way. The 2007 polls showed that blacks favored Senator Clinton, the wife of “America’s first black president,” over Senator Obama, the preppie from paradise. Yet when the crunch came, four-fifths of black Democratic primary voters rallied to the yuppie technocrat’s banner.

Shaken by the defection of an ethnicity Hillary had assumed was hereditarily hers, the Clinton campaign then pointed to the Latino vote as its “firewall.” And in the important California primary, Hispanics did vote 67 percent to 32 percent for the former first lady. Elsewhere, however, the vaunted Hispanic bloc didn’t quite live up to expectations. Hillary responded to her Super Tuesday woes by firing her Hispanic campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, and replacing her with Maggie Williams, who is black. As I write, Mrs. Clinton is left hoping that Latinos will bail her out in the upcoming Texas primary.

The multiracialization of American politics has barely begun. When it comes to identity politics, numbers count. And a new population projection from the Pew Research Center estimates that Hispanics will grow from 42 million in 2005 to a jaw-dropping 128 million in 2050. Meanwhile, African Americans will increase from 38 million to 57 million. (Caucasians will barely creep over the 200 million mark, presumably on the strength of Middle Eastern immigration.)

The relationship between blacks and Latinos will become increasingly central to American life, but it’s a murky phenomenon, poorly understood by the white-dominated press.

Despite the hype, the Latino electorate has been growing much less impressively than the Latino population. Although Hispanics comprise about 15 percent of the residents of this country, they only cast 5.8 percent of the votes in the 2006 midterm elections, according to the Pew Hispanic Center’s crunching of the raw data from the Census Bureau’s big biennial voting survey. That was up from 5.3 percent in 2002—steady growth but hardly the political tsunami that we’ve been told about over and over. In contrast, blacks accounted for 10.3 percent of the vote, 77 percent more than Hispanics.

Thus it’s far better, especially in the Democratic primaries, to get four-fifths of the black vote, as Obama does, than two-thirds of the Hispanic vote, as Mrs. Clinton does. Although Clinton has typically beaten Obama among whites, Obama does well enough that his large margin among black Democrats keeps him competitive. (Clinton’s secret weapon has been Asians, who sided with her 71-25 percent in California.)

One reason the black-Hispanic relationship is poorly understood is that class intersects with ethnicity in complex ways. At the bottom of society, among prison and street gangs, race rules. In the Los Angeles County jail, which is 60 percent Hispanic and 30 percent black, the two groups fought murderous battles in 2006. Last October, federal prosecutors accused the Florencia 13 street gang of trying to ethnically cleanse blacks from its unincorporated neighborhood in LA County. (The political impact of this violence shouldn’t be exaggerated, though. The respectable folk who do most of the voting don’t approve of gangbangers feuding.)

In poorer neighborhoods, black residents feel uneasy about men speaking Spanish around them. Not being able to understand what is being said robs them of their street smarts. Are the two men next to you at the bus stop talking in Spanish about soccer or are they plotting to mug you? Who knows?

At the top of the power structure, in the House of Representatives and state legislatures, blacks and Latinos get along quite well, united by party (92 percent of elected Hispanics are Democrats) and a mutual desire to keep the affirmative action gravy train chugging along. Ward Connerly, a black opponent of ethnic quotas, has noted that when he was a regent of the University of California, the heaviest pressure on the regents to cheat on the anti-preference language written into the state constitution by Prop. 209 came not from the Black Caucus in the legislature but from the larger Latino Caucus. They threatened to cut UC’s budget unless more Hispanic applicants were admitted.

Black politicians tend to view Hispanics today much as Irish politicos once saw their fellow Catholic Poles: silent partners in their coalition who should be grateful for their natural leaders’ experience and charm. Not surprisingly, Hispanics don’t agree. In some of the formerly all-black slum municipalities just south of Los Angeles, where Hispanics now make up the great majority of residents but only half of voters, ethnic politics has gotten nasty. But overall, Hispanic politicians know that time is on their side, so they can be patient about the arrogance of black colleagues.

In the middle levels of society, blacks and Latinos do compete. Relations aren’t warm, but African-American men have tended to cede blue-collar jobs to immigrants without putting up massive resistance. Moreover, the swelling numbers and various dysfunctions of illegal immigrants generate numerous jobs for civil servants (who are typically required to be citizens). Therefore, many blacks are paid by taxpayers to teach, police, guard, administer, and otherwise deal with illegal aliens. It doesn’t make for trans-ethnic amity, but it’s a living.

There’s another reason that black-Hispanic relations are poorly understood. Americans just don’t pay much attention to Latinos. In American public discourse, Hispanics, especially Mexican-Americans, who now number about 30 million, remain what interstellar “dark matter” is to astrophysicists—a quantitatively significant yet mysteriously featureless aspect of the universe.

This is not for a lack of motivation on the part of America’s corporate and political elites. Consultants have been trumpeting the growing numbers of Hispanics for a generation. Marketers have been lusting for the emergence of more Mexican-American celebrities to plug their products at least since Nancy Lopez’s record-setting 1978 LPGA rookie season made her the most popular female golfer ever.

Although the media constantly tries to drum up interest in Hispanics by extolling them as “swing voters” living in “vibrant neighborhoods” and so forth, the tedious reality is that the word that best sums up Latino America is inertia. Things just sort of keep on keeping on in the general direction that they were already moving. While Obama-mania sweeps the more fashion-frenzied white Democrats, Hispanics have stuck by the name brand they know.

Despite long-standing predictions that Americans will soon become fascinated by all things Latin, the public remains much more interested in African-Americans. In popular culture, trends flow from African-Americans to Mexican-Americans. The latter listen to hip-hop, but the former will not listen to music featuring accordions and trumpets. There have been exceptions—the bouncing lowrider cars that were popular in old-school rap videos were a Mexican-American invention—but black remains cooler than brown. Professional trendspotter Irma Zandl admitted in 2003 to American Demographics, a market research trade publication, that her biggest mistake had been predicting the increasing Latinization of American culture back in 1988. Fifteen years later, “there are still no mass fashion trends, no mass entertainment trends, no mass social trends rooted in the Hispanic culture.” While there are a number of prominent Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean Hispanics, there are still remarkably few famous Mexican-Americans.

Consider the forgotten man of the 2008 Democratic race, former energy secretary and UN ambassador Bill Richardson. Quantitatively, Richardson out-Obamas Obama. Is the Illinois senator half-minority? Well, the New Mexico governor is three-fourths minority. Did Obama live from ages 6 to 10 in a fairly important foreign country, Indonesia? Richardson lived from 1 to 13 among the power elite of the country that has the most direct impact on America, Mexico. But nobody cared, and Richardson quietly dropped out. Black simply trumps Mexican in the fascination sweepstakes.

This lack of interest hasn’t stopped white commentators from theorizing about the impact of immigration they would find if they bothered to look. George Will, for instance, has long argued that Latin American immigration is solving America’s racial problem, which he sees as resulting from the traditional American “one drop of blood” rule of thumb for determining race. South of the border, in contrast, racial lines are not as distinctly drawn.

Yet after almost 500 years of intermarriage, most of Latin America still has a quite white ruling class. Darker men who rise up in society tend to marry fairer women, so their descendents are lighter-looking. Thus the genes of the successful rabble-rousers and self-made men get absorbed into the overclass.

It remains to be seen whether Hispanics turn the rest of America away from the one drop of blood theory or vice-versa. Certainly, contra Will, Obama has only benefited from his ardent embrace of the one-drop rule. Although the candidate was raised by the white side of his family in multiracial Hawaii, where mixed-race children have been unexceptional for generations, he strenuously rejected Hawaiian haziness about racial identity. Obama moved to the black slums of Chicago to work as an ethnic activist, joined a stridently Afrocentrist church, and then went into discrimination law so he could sue white-run institutions. The lessons for ambitious young Hispanics would seem clear: ethnic solidarity among minorities is the American way to political success.

Latinos now have a full complement of civil-rights organizations, such as the National Council of La Raza (The Race), modeled on the black prototypes and usually well-subsidized by establishment heavyweights such as the Ford Foundation. Still, copying the black grievance machine hasn’t quite paid off as well as Latino activists had hoped. The institutions are staffed by would-be Alberto Sharptons and Jesus Jacksons, but these leaders tend to lack followers. For example, Hispanic politicians’ protests over Clinton firing Solis Doyle barely made a ripple. One impediment is a low level of trust of strangers, including co-ethnics, among Latinos. Harsh experience has taught Mexicans to put little faith in anybody beyond the extended family.

When millions of illegal immigrants waving Mexican flags and demanding amnesty marched in the streets of America in the spring of 2006, the English-language media was baffled as to which shadowy leaders had turned these throngs out. (The chief answer proved unexciting: funny disc jockeys on Spanish-language radio stations.) And when the illegal aliens didn’t show up at the 2007 marches, the English-language media didn’t know why either.

The language barrier is one clear reason for the charisma gap between African-Americans and Latinos. Yet the Manhattan-Beltway center-right pundits’ assumption that Hispanics are all new immigrants who will assimilate seamlessly as soon as they learn English is wrong. For example, Sen. Ken Salazar claims his ancestors arrived in Santa Fe before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. Hispanics have a long history in America, yet other Americans haven’t much noticed, which allows white intellectuals to make up whatever theories they prefer a priori about what Hispanic immigration portends.

In contrast, African-American history does not lack publicity. A new study by a Stanford researcher asked 2,000 high-school juniors and seniors to name the ten most famous Americans who weren’t presidents. The top three were Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. Although Hispanics now make up over one-fifth of public school students, there were no Spanish surnames on this top-ten list.

Neither do they make much impact at the ballot box. Many are illegal aliens. Moreover, legal immigrants from Mexico are less likely than any other nationality to bother becoming U.S. citizens. (Although American whites tend to see Mexico as tragic and comic, Mexican immigrants love their native land and dream of returning home for their retirement.) And Mexican-American citizens are less likely to register and vote. They tend to find the drama of their private lives more compelling than public affairs.

Hispanics do find their way to the polls in the presidential elections at slightly higher percentages than in the more boring midterm races—6.0 percent in 2004, up from 5.4 percent in 2000. Still, it’s unlikely they will reach 7.0 percent of voters in 2008. Plus, the Mexican-American vote is concentrated in Democratic California and Republican Texas, so the Electoral College makes them less important in presidential elections than even their overall paltry numbers suggest.

Nor are illegal aliens a hot-button issue for Latinos, as Obama discovered to his pain in California where he campaigned in favor of issuing drivers licenses to illegal aliens, while Hillary was on record as being opposed. A 2002 Pew-Kaiser poll of 2,929 registered Hispanic voters found 48 percent believe there are too many immigrants in this country, while only 7 percent said there are too few.

But when the pollsters rephrased the question to specifically mention “Latin American immigrants,” the Hispanic voters switched, with 36 percent now saying “Allow more” and only 21 percent choosing “Reduce the number.” Evidently, while immigration can be ex-ploited as an emotional ethnic pride issue among Hispanic voters, on objective grounds most Latino voters are negative toward illegal aliens. After all, they bear the brunt of the lower wages, overcrowded housing, and overwhelmed public schools and hospitals. However, their ambivalence toward illegal immigration is not reflected among their self-appointed leaders, whose interest lies in simply boosting the number of warm brown bodies they can claim to represent.

In general, Hispanic voters tend to be old-fashioned tax-and-spend Democrats. In the Pew-Kaiser poll, 60 percent of Hispanics said they “would prefer to pay higher taxes to support a larger government that provides more services” compared to 35 percent of whites. Tax-and-spend politics reflect self-interest on the part of Hispanics since they tend to cluster below the national average in income and education.And they do not get much more conservative as they go up the income ladder, perhaps because higher education means more exposure to the multiculturalist mindset reigning on college campuses.

Mexican immigrants don’t bring much human capital with them. The Census Bureau recently estimated that while more than 40 percent of recent immigrants from India have an advanced degree, only about 1 percent of Mexican immigrants do. In fact, over 60 percent of Mexican immigrants have less than a high school diploma. While about 20 percent of African immigrants work in “science, engineering, technology, or health,” only about 1 percent of Mexicans do. Those who have what it takes to make it big in Mexico stay home. That may help explain why there are so few high-profile Mexican-Americans.

Pundits frequently claim that Hispanics either will or will not “assimilate,” although this always begs the question “assimilate toward whom?” It’s hard for many white intellectuals to remember that there are people in this world whose highest aspiration is not to Be Like Me.

Some Latino youths, for instance, are attracted by the glamour of African-American norms. For example, the Hispanic illegitimacy rate has grown from 19 percent in 1980 to 50 percent in 2006 (compared to 71 percent for blacks and 27 percent for whites).

That middle position is characteristic. In recent decades, Latinos have generally fallen midway between whites and blacks on most social statistics. For instance, the Hispanic imprisonment rate is 2.9 times the white imprisonment rate, while the black rate is 7.2 times more. (In contrast, the Asian imprisonment rate is only 0.22 as high.)

Latin American immigrant families tend to make strong educational progress from the first generation to the second. After that, things slow down. In 1992, the last time the National Assessment of Educational Progress test asked if students were born in the U.S., the school achievement test gap between whites and American-born Hispanics was two-thirds as large as the notoriously deleterious one between the whites and blacks.

In addition, some behavior gets worse as immigrants assimilate—illegitimacy goes up and the crime rate appears to be significantly higher among American-born Hispanics. In reality, assimilation isn’t a black or white question but a statistical one. We can be sure that some Hispanics will assimilate toward middle-class white lives, some toward underclass black customs, and many will continue to follow working-class Hispanic traditions.

Consider New Mexico, which has been home to Hispanics for four centuries and is now 44 percent Latino. Although it’s on the border, it doesn’t attract as many immigrants as Arizona, so its assimilated Hispanics should be doing well, right? In 2007, Tim Russert humiliated New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on “Meet the Press” by reading off New Mexico’s ranking among the 50 states on a scale where one is best:

Percent of people living below the poverty line, you’re 48. Percent of children below, 48. Median family income, 47. People without health insurance, 49. Children without health insurance, 46. Teen high school dropouts, 47. Death rate due to firearms, 48. Violent crime rate, 46.

Of course, it’s hardly Richardson’s fault that in five years as governor, he hadn’t succeeded in turning New Mexicans into Minnesotans.

The sheer size of the upcoming Hispanic population makes the statistics ominous. Assume that Hispanic individuals are only, say, one-third as likely as African-Americans to fall into the underclass. That’s not so bad, right? Yet in 40 years, there will be three times as many Hispanics as there are blacks today, so the Latino underclass would then be as big as the black underclass is today.

It would be imprudent to assume that Hispanics in America will forever remain politically quiescent under uncharismatic leaders. There is tremendous pressure from within America on Hispanics to follow the path of blacks in politicizing their grievances and developing a culture of rejection. A young high-school history teacher in Arizona told me that he had initially been disturbed when his Latino students accused him of racism: “Why can’t I turn in my homework late? You let Julio turn his in late. That’s racist!” He finally realized, though, that “racist” was simply the word they had been taught by American culture to mean “unfair.”

Nor is Latin American history uniformly dull. It’s actually quite unpredictable. For example, after more than three decades of stable, unchallenged rule, the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz was suddenly overthrown in 1911. The Mexican Revolution went on to kill perhaps one million people. As he fled to exile in Paris, Díaz is said to have reflected, like a proto-Yogi Berra, “In Mexico, nothing ever happens until it happens.”

Similarly, much of Latin America is currently excited over the rise of leftist populist presidentes preaching racial resentment, such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Whether this “wind from the south” will ever reach America is impossible to foresee, but we may eventually be living in interesting times.
______________________________________

Steve Sailer is TAC’s film critic and a columnist for VDARE.com. His blog is iSteve.Blogspot.com.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
Multiculturalism doesn’t make vibrant communities but defensive ones
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In the presence of [ethnic] diversity, we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.

—Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam

It was one of the more irony-laden incidents in the history of celebrity social scientists. While in Sweden to receive a $50,000 academic prize as political science professor of the year, Harvard’s Robert D. Putnam, a former Carter administration official who made his reputation writing about the decline of social trust in America in his bestseller Bowling Alone, confessed to Financial Times columnist John Lloyd that his latest research discovery—that ethnic diversity decreases trust and co-operation in communities—was so explosive that for the last half decade he hadn’t dared announce it “until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it ‘would have been irresponsible to publish without that.’”

In a column headlined “Harvard study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity,” Lloyd summarized the results of the largest study ever of “civic engagement,” a survey of 26,200 people in 40 American communities:

    When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. ‘They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,’ said Prof Putnam. ‘The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.’

Lloyd noted, “Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, ‘the most diverse human habitation in human history.’”

As if to prove his own point that diversity creates minefields of mistrust, Putnam later protested to the Harvard Crimson that the Financial Times essay left him feeling betrayed, calling it “by two degrees of magnitude, the worst experience I have ever had with the media.” To Putnam’s horror, hundreds of “racists and anti-immigrant activists” sent him e-mails congratulating him for finally coming clean about his findings.

Lloyd stoutly stood by his reporting, and Putnam couldn’t cite any mistakes of fact, just a failure to accentuate the positive. It was “almost criminal,” Putnam grumbled, that Lloyd had not sufficiently emphasized the spin that he had spent five years concocting. Yet considering the quality of Putnam’s talking points that Lloyd did pass on, perhaps the journalist was being merciful in not giving the professor more rope with which to hang himself. For example, Putnam’s line—“What we shouldn’t do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us”—sounds like a weak parody of Bertolt Brecht’s parody of Communist propaganda after the failed 1953 uprising against the East German puppet regime: “Would it not be easier for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”

Before Putnam hid his study away, his research had appeared on March 1, 2001 in a Los Angeles Times article entitled “Love Thy Neighbor? Not in L.A.” Reporter Peter Y. Hong recounted, “Those who live in more homogeneous places, such as New Hampshire, Montana or Lewiston, Maine, do more with friends and are more involved in community affairs or politics than residents of more cosmopolitan areas, the study said.”

Putnam’s discovery is hardly shocking to anyone who has tried to organize a civic betterment project in a multi-ethnic neighborhood. My wife and I lived for 12 years in Chicago’s Uptown district, which claims to be the most diverse two square miles in America, with about 100 different languages being spoken. She helped launch a neighborhood drive to repair the dilapidated playlot across the street. To get Mayor Daley’s administration to chip in, we needed to raise matching funds and sign up volunteer laborers.

This kind of Robert D. Putnam-endorsed good citizenship proved difficult in Uptown, however, precisely because of its remarkable diversity. The most obvious stumbling block was that it’s hard to talk neighbors into donating money or time if they don’t speak the same language as you. Then there’s the fundamental difficulty of making multiculturalism work—namely, multiple cultures. Getting Koreans, Russians, Mexicans, Nigerians, and Assyrians (Christian Iraqis) to agree on how to landscape a park is harder than fostering consensus among people who all grew up with the same mental picture of what a park should look like. For example, Russian women like to sunbathe. But most of the immigrant ladies from more southerly countries stick to the shade, since their cultures discriminate in favor of fairer-skinned women. So do you plant a lot of shade trees or not?

The high crime rate didn’t help either. The affluent South Vietnamese merchants from the nearby Little Saigon district showed scant enthusiasm for sending their small children to play in a park that would also be used by large black kids from the local public-housing project.

Exotic inter-immigrant hatreds also got in the way. The Eritreans and Ethiopians are both slender, elegant-looking brown people with thin Arab noses, who appear identical to undiscerning American eyes. But their compatriots in the Horn of Africa were fighting a vicious war.

Finally, most of the immigrants, with the possible exception of the Eritreans, came from countries where only a chump would trust neighbors he wasn’t related to, much less count on the government for an even break. If the South Vietnamese, for example, had been less clannish and more ready to sacrifice for the national good in 1964-75, they wouldn’t be so proficient at running family-owned restaurants on Argyle Street today. But they might still have their own country.

In the end, boring old middle-class, English-speaking, native-born Americans (mostly white, but with some black-white couples) did the bulk of the work. When the ordeal of organizing was over, everybody seemed to give up on trying to bring Uptown together for civic improvement for the rest of the decade.

The importance of co-operativeness has fallen in and out of intellectual fashion over the centuries. An early advocate of the role of cohesion in history’s cycles was the 14th-century Arab statesman and scholar Ibn Khaldun, who documented that North African dynasties typically began as desert tribes poor in everything but what he termed asabiya or social solidarity. Their willingness to sacrifice for each other made them formidable in battle. But once they conquered a civilized state along the coast, the inevitable growth in inequality began to sap their asabiya, until after several generations their growing fractiousness allowed another cohesive clan to emerge from the desert and overthrow them.

Recently, Princeton biologist Peter Turchin has extended Ibn Khaldun’s analysis in a disquieting direction, pointing out that nothing generates asabiya like having a common enemy. Turchin notes that powerful states arise mostly on ethnic frontiers, where conflicts with very different peoples persuade co-ethnics to overcome their minor differences and all hang together, or assuredly they would all hang separately. Thus the German heartland remained divided up among numerous squabbling principalities until 1870. Meanwhile, powerful German kingdoms emerged on Prussia’s border with the Balts and Slavs and Austria’s border with the Slavs and Magyars.

Similarly, the 13 American colonies came together by fighting first the French and Indians, then the British. In this century, two world wars helped forge from the heavy immigration of 1890 to 1924 what Putnam calls the “long civic generation” that reached its peak in the 1940s and ’50s.

Half a millennium after Ibn Khaldun, Alexis de Tocqueville famously attributed much of America’s success to its “forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types—religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute. Nothing, in my view, deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America.”

The transformation of economics into a technical rather than empirical field discouraged hard thinking about co-operation. It was much simpler to create mathematical models based on the assumption that rational individual self-interest drove human behavior, even though that perspective could hardly explain such vast events as the First World War, that abattoir of asabiya.

In the 1990s, the importance of civil society was widely talked up as crucial in transitioning post-Soviet states away from totalitarianism, but the free-market economists’ prescription of “shock therapy” prevailed disastrously in Russia, as gangsters looted the nations’ assets.

An important contribution to the scholarly revival came in Francis Fukuyama’s 1995 book Trust: The Social Virtues & the Creation of Prosperity. Fukuyama raised the hot-potato issue that Americans, Northwestern Europeans, and Japanese tend to work together well to create huge corporations, while the companies of other advanced countries, such as Italy and Taiwan, can seldom grow beyond family firms. (As Luigi Barzini remarked in The Italians, only a fool would be a minority shareholder in Sicily, so nobody is one.) Fukuyama prudently ignored, though, the large swaths of the world that are low both in trust and technology, such as Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

As an economics major and libertarian fellow-traveler in the late 1970s, I assumed that individualism made America great. But a couple of trips south of the border raised questions. Venturing onto a Buenos Aires freeway in 1978, I discovered a carnival of rugged individualists. Back home in Los Angeles, everybody drove between the lane-markers painted on the pavement, but only about one in three Argentineans followed that custom. Another third straddled the stripes, apparently convinced that the idiots driving between the lines were unleashing vehicular chaos. And the final third ignored the maricón lanes altogether and drove wherever they wanted.

The next year, I was sitting on an Acapulco beach with some college friends, trying to shoo away peddlers. When we tried to brush off one especially persistent drug dealer by claiming we had no cash, he whipped out his credit-card machine, which was impressively enterprising for the 1970s. That set me thinking about why we Americans were luxuriating on the Mexicans’ beach instead of vice-versa. Clearly, the individual entrepreneurs pestering us were at least as hardworking and ambitious as we were. Mexico’s economic shortcoming had to be its corrupt and feckless large organizations. Mexicans didn’t seem to team up well beyond family-scale.

In America, you don’t need to belong to a family-based mafia for protection because the state will enforce your contracts with some degree of equality before the law. In Mexico, though, as former New York Times correspondent Alan Riding wrote in his 1984 bestseller Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans, “Public life could be defined as the abuse of power to achieve wealth and the abuse of wealth to achieve power.” Anyone outside the extended family is assumed to have predatory intentions, which explains the famous warmth and solidarity of Mexican families. “Mexicans need few friends,” Riding observed, “because they have many relatives.”

Mexico is a notoriously low-trust culture and a notoriously unequal one. The great traveler Alexander von Humboldt observed two centuries ago, in words that are arguably still true, “Mexico is the country of inequality. Perhaps nowhere in the world is there a more horrendous distribution of wealth, civilization, cultivation of land, and population.” Jorge G. Castañeda, Vicente Fox’s first foreign minister, noted the ethnic substratum of Mexico’s disparities in 1995:

    The business or intellectual elites of the nation tend to be white (there are still exceptions, but they are becoming more scarce with the years). By the 1980s, Mexico was once again a country of three nations: the criollo minority of elites and the upper-middle class, living in style and affluence; the huge, poor, mestizo majority; and the utterly destitute minority of what in colonial times was called the Republic of Indians…

Castañeda pointed out, “These divisions partly explain why Mexico is as violent and unruly, as surprising and unfathomable as it has always prided itself on being. The pervasiveness of the violence was obfuscated for years by the fact that much of it was generally directed by the state and the elites against society and the masses, not the other way around. The current rash of violence by society against the state and elites is simply a retargeting.”

These deep-rooted Mexican attitudes largely account for why, in Putnam’s “Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey,” Los Angeles ended up looking a lot like it did in the Oscar-winning movie “Crash.” I once asked a Hollywood agent why there are so many brother acts among filmmakers these days, such as the Coens, Wachowskis, Farrellys, and Wayans. “Who else can you trust?” he shrugged.

But what primarily drove down L.A.’s rating in Putnam’s 130-question survey were the high levels of distrust displayed by Hispanics. While no more than 12 percent of L.A.’s whites said they trusted other races “only a little or not at all,” 37 percent of L.A.’s Latinos distrusted whites. And whites were the most reliable in Hispanic eyes. Forty percent of Latinos doubted Asians, 43 percent distrusted other Hispanics, and 54 percent were anxious about blacks.

Some of this white-Hispanic difference stems merely from Latinos’ failure to tell politically correct lies to the researchers about how much they trust other races. Yet the L.A. survey results also reflect a very real and deleterious lack of co-operativeness and social capital among Latinos. As columnist Gregory Rodriguez stated in the L.A. Times: “In Los Angeles, home to more Mexicans than any other city in the U.S., there is not one ethnic Mexican hospital, college, cemetery, or broad-based charity.”

Since they seldom self-organize beyond the extended family, Los Angeles’s millions of Mexican-Americans make strangely little contribution to local civic and artistic life. L.A. is awash in underemployed creative talent who occupy their abundant spare time putting on plays, constructing spectacular haunted houses each Halloween, and otherwise trying to attract Jerry Bruckheimer’s attention. Yet there is little overlap between the enormous entertainment industry and the huge Mexican-American community.

In late October, I pored over the 64-page Sunday Calendar section of the L.A. Times, which listed a thousand or more upcoming cultural events. I found just seven that were clearly organized by Latinos. While it’s a journalistic cliché to describe Mexican-American neighborhoods as “vibrant,” they aren’t.

Some of this lack of social capital is class-related—Miami indeed has a vibrant Hispanic culture, but it’s anomalous because it attracts Latin America’s affluent and educated. In contrast, Los Angeles is a representative harbinger of America’s future because it imports peasants and laborers.

It’s often assumed that low-trust societies can be fixed just by everyone deciding to trust each other more. But that can only work if people become not just more trusting but more trustworthy.

Although most Asian-Americans originate in low-trust cultures centered around the family, they typically adapt well to middle-class American life because their high degree of honesty makes them dependable neighbors and co-workers. Hispanics in America, in contrast, have a relatively high crime rate—while their imprisonment rate is less than half that of blacks, it is 2.9 times worse than that of whites and 13 times that of Asians. Alarmingly, the Latino crime rate goes up after the immigrant generation, suggesting a troubling future. While many American-born Hispanics assimilate into the middle class, others descend into the gang-ridden underclass. Further, the illegitimacy rate has reached 48 percent among Hispanics (versus 25 percent among whites), and it’s higher among Mexican-Americans born here than among newcomers from Mexico.

The problems caused by diversity can be partly ameliorated, but the handful of techniques that actually work generally appall liberal intellectuals, so we hear about them only when they come under attack.

Putnam points out one success story but draws an unsophisticated lesson: “I think we can do a lot to push change along more rapidly. There was a lot of racial tension around the time of the Vietnam War. Now, polls show that US military personnel have many more friendships across ethnic lines than civilians. If officers were told they wouldn’t make colonel if they were seen to discriminate, they changed.”

Imposing martial law on the rest of America might prove impractical, however. And negative sanctions can hardly account fully for the growth of positive relationships within the military.

One important aspect that Putnam ignores is the military’s relentless use of IQ tests. From 1992-2004, the military accepted almost no applicants for enlistment who scored below the 30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. This eliminated within the ranks the majority of the IQ gap that causes so much discord in civilian America. Contra John Kerry, enlistees of all races averaged above the national mean in IQ: white recruits scored 107, Hispanics 103, and blacks 102.

Another untold story is the beneficial effect on race relations of the growth of Christian fundamentalism. Among soldiers and college football players, for instance, co-operation between the races is up due to an increased emphasis on a common transracial identity as Christians. According to military correspondent Robert D. Kaplan of The Atlantic, “The rise of Christian evangelicalism had helped stop the indiscipline of the Vietnam-era Army.” And that has helped build bridges among the races. Military sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler wrote in All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way, “Perhaps the most vivid example of the ‘blackening’ of enlisted culture is seen in religion. Black Pentecostal congregations have also begun to influence the style of worship in mainstream Protestant services in post chapels. Sunday worship in the Army finds both the congregation and the spirit of the service racially integrated.”

Similarly, it’s now common to see college football coaches leading their teams in prayer. Fisher DeBerry, the outstanding coach of the Air Force Academy, who has led players with no hope of making the NFL to a record of 169-108-1, hung a banner in the locker room bearing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Competitor’s Creed, which begins, “I am a Christian first and last.” When the administration found out, he was asked to take it down.

Because policymakers almost certainly won’t do what it would take to alleviate the harms caused by diversity—indeed, they won’t even talk honestly about what would have to be done—it’s crazy to exacerbate the problem through more mass immigration. As the issue of co-operation becomes ever more pressing, the quality of intellectual discourse on the topic declines—as Putnam’s self-censorship revealed—precisely because of a lack of trust due to the mounting political power of “the diverse” to punish frank discussion.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
The Morons Shall Inherit the Earth
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Perhaps the most gifted populist conservative in the entertainment industry is Mike Judge, creator of the TV animated comedies Beavis & Butt-Head and King of the Hill (now scheduled for an 11th season on Fox in 2007), as well as the 1999 cult classic film “Office Space.”

Despite Judge’s commercial consistency, his clever and frequently hilarious new satire “Idiocracy” has been deep-sixed by his own studio, Rupert Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox, with the most hostile passive-aggressive release of any film in memory. Over the Labor Day Weekend “Idiocracy” materialized in 130 theatres in seven cities (but not in New York, so national media coverage was nonexistent) bereft of even a trailer or the smallest newspaper ad. Fox couldn’t even be bothered to tell Moviefone the name of the film — you had to search for it under “New Mike Judge Comedy.”

Judge, who worked for years as an engineer at the kind of manhood-crushing cubicle jobs parodied in “Office Space,” is an intensely intelligent paleoconservative observer of Red State life and its degradation by liberal social mores and commercial vulgarization.

His recurrent themes are masculinity, class, IQ, and character. His hero Hank Hill of King of the Hill is the most admirable sit-com father since The Cosby Show, and likely the white TV dad most worthy of respect since the 1950s. Although a man of no more than average intelligence, Hank diligently embodies the traditional American manly virtues.

“Idiocracy” is an updating of C.M. Kornbluth’s famous 1951 science fiction story about dysgenic breeding, “The Marching Morons.” It opens with a yuppie husband and wife on the left half of the screen (IQs of 138 and 141, respectively) endlessly debating the perfect moment to conceive their one child: “We just can’t have a child in this market.” Meanwhile, on the right side, Clevon is impregnating every woman in the trailer park.

Unambitious Private Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson of “Old School”) is another of Judge’s average man heroes. Because he scored at the median of every bell curve from IQ to blood pressure, Bauers is drafted for a military “human hibernation” experiment, an idea presumably lifted from Robert Heinlein’s The Door into Summer, in which the Army keeps a few divisions on ice in case of war. Due to a scandal, the private is forgotten and awakes in 500 years. To his horror, he discovers that after 20 generations everyone is a Clevon, and he’s now the smartest man in America.

As he showed in Beavis & Butt-Head, Judge has a genius for stupidity. The visual details of a Washington D.C. populated solely by morons are memorable: a collapsing skyscraper is held together by wrapping it with oversized twine; the White House has broken cars up on blocks on the dying lawn and the “President of America” is a professional wrestler; and at “St. God’s Hospital” the illiterate admitting nurse is equipped with a fast food-style touch-screen menu with diagrams of ailments common in 2505 (such as a stick-figure man with a knife stuck in his head). All clothing is plastered with corporate logos and the Secretary of State is paid to insert the phrase “brought to you by Carl’s Jr.” into everything he says.

Although we like to think of the unintelligent as sweet Forrest Gumps, in Judge’s dystopia everyone is a surly jerk to Pvt. Bauers because he speaks in complete sentences, which the denizens of the 26th century find “faggy.”

“Idiocracy” isn’t perfect. At only 84 minutes, it looks like it was hacked up in editing. A narrator very slowly explains natural selection and too many of the jokes.

Did Fox murder this film’s release as part of a complex metamarketing plot to turn it into a DVD hit? Did the corporations satirized in it threaten to pull advertising from the Fox Network? Or did Fox executives not realize until after Judge had delivered his movie in 2004 that he’d lifted his basic idea from The Bell Curve, and that You Just Can’t Say That anymore?

That the poor have more children than the rich has been observed at least since Adam Smith in 1776. The long-term effect is much less clear. Yet, can’t an artist be allowed to explore the comic possibilities of a logic we’ve all privately thought about? Isn’t this the land of the free and the home of the brave? I guess not.

Rated R for language and sex-related humor.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Americans are idealists. This is both one of our glories and curses because it makes us particularly vulnerable to manipulation by self-interested word-spinners. Nowhere is this more evident than in the immigration debate, where the restrictionists have most of the facts and logic on their side, but the beneficiaries of the current system have succeeded in blocking reform largely by defining themselves as the holders of the ethical high ground.

If you want to win at American politics, you need a moral theory. Fortunately, there is a concept that is both more practical and more attractive to American idealism than either liberal “multiculturalism” or neoconservative “propositionism.” I call it “citizenism” because it affirms that true patriots and idealists are willing to make sacrifices for the overall good of their fellow American citizens rather than for the advantage of either six billion foreigners or of the special interests within our own country. The notion is sensible, its appeal broad. Yet it has seldom been explicitly articulated.

Polls consistently show that the public is outraged by illegal immigration and uneasy about the high rate of legal immigration. For example, in a CBS News poll last October, 75 percent said the government was “not doing enough” to keep out illegal aliens, while 15 percent were satisfied and merely 4 percent thought efforts were too restrictive.

Yet legislative action has been limited to the middle of each decade, when Congress passes immigration “reforms” that ultimately do nothing. The 1986 compromise—an amnesty for current illegal aliens combined with sanctions on lawbreaking employers to prevent future illegal immigration—looked fair on paper, but enforcement quickly evaporated as firms complained to their congressmen. Similarly, the damp squib of 1996 legislation did nothing significant to slow the influx. Now, 2006 may well bring more of the same unless we publicize a counter-philosophy that our laws should be biased toward our own citizenry.

In our supposedly democratic system, the will of the people on immigration has been consistently thwarted because America’s elites on both the Left and Right like the current lack of enforcement. A 2002 poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations found that 60 percent of Americans consider the present level of entry to be a “critical threat to the vital interests of the United States,” compared with only 14 percent of prominent Americans. Immigration provides corporations with cheap workers, the upper middle class with off-the-books servants, Democratic political machines with votes, and ethnic activists with careers.

How do they keep winning? The articulate and affluent who profit from illegal immigration look down their noses at anyone who wants to reduce it. They don’t debate dissenters; they dismiss them. Their most effective ploy has been to insinuate that only shallow people think deeply about immigration. The more profound sort of intellect, the fashionable imply, displays an insouciant heedlessness about the long-term impact of immigration.

Yet the well-educated and well-to-do aren’t expected to subject their own children to the realities of living among the diverse. They search out homes removed by distance or doormen from concentrations of illegal aliens—although not so far that the immigrants can’t come and clean their houses tax-free. As our Ascendancy of the Sensitive sees it, that their views are utterly contradicted by how they order their daily lives is proof not of their hypocrisy but of how elevated their thinking is.

This doesn’t mean that the white elites view minorities as their equals. Far from it. Instead, they can’t conceive of them as competition. Nobody from Chiapas is going to take my job. Status competition in the upper reaches of American life still largely consists of whites trying to claw their way to the top over other whites, who, as an example, make up 99 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs.

That’s why the media treats the outsourcing of hundreds of thousands of white-collar jobs to English-speaking, high-IQ Indians as a respectable cause for alarm, but not the insourcing of tens of millions of immigrants to perform blue-collar and servile jobs.

Immigration policy, by its very nature, is about discriminating, about selecting whom we should admit and whom we should keep out. It is one of the fundamental responsibilities of our elected representatives because if they don’t decide, inevitably some private interest is going to decide who gets in.

Of the five billion foreigners who live in countries with average per capita GDPs lower than Mexico’s, how many would like to move to a First World country? The Mexican government recently estimated that one-sixth of all Mexicans now live in the United States, and a poll by the Pew Hispanic Center found that over 40 percent of the 106 million Mexicans left in Mexico wish to follow them here. Without government limits on immigration, the population of America would balloon by hundreds of millions, plateauing only when life here became as miserable as in the Third World.

With countless millions hoping to immigrate to America, our policy could be to choose those applicants whose arrival would most benefit existing citizens. One imperfect but obvious way would be to estimate how much more immigrants are likely to pay in taxes than they cost in government spending. A 1997 National Academy of Sciences study found that immigrants with less than a high-school education each cost the taxpayers $90,000 net over their lifetimes and high-school graduates cost $30,000. But immigrants with a college degree or more brought a net benefit to the Treasury of $100,000.

Yet for a couple of decades, the government has been handing out 50,000 green cards annually via its Diversity Visa Lottery, for which it receives up to 10 million applications, and those are just from countries not represented among the top 15 sources of immigrants. You might think this would be a great opportunity to skim the cream off the top. Yet the federal government simply accepts applicants at random, because choosing would be discriminatory.

Of course, our elites aren’t against being personally selected themselves for higher-status positions. Indeed, they compete fiercely to have their children admitted to the most exclusive schools. In the bestselling novel The Nanny Diaries, the wealthy Manhattan mother hires a developmental consultant to evaluate nanny’s prepping of four-year-old Grayer for the grueling pre-school application process. The expert grills the servant with questions such as, “How many bilingual meals are you serving him a week? … And you are attending the Guggenheim on what basis?” Shocked to learn that nanny is letting little Grayer do the kinds of things four-year-olds like to do, the consultant concludes, “I have to question whether you’re leveraging your assets to escalate Grayer’s performance.”

What is left out of the novel might be even funnier: all toddlers aiming for prestigious private nursery schools in New York City must take the 60-75 minute Wechsler IQ test administered by the Educational Records Bureau for $375. Yet their private obsession with their children’s IQ hasn’t stopped the Manhattan media mafia, ever since the Bell Curve brouhaha, from publicly denouncing IQ testing as a racist and discredited concept.

The typical white intellectual considers himself superior to ordinary white folks for two contradictory reasons. First, he constantly proclaims his belief in human equality, but they don’t. Second, he has a high IQ, but they don’t.

This anti-discrimination ideology does not mean liberals refrain from discriminating among people in private, which would be impossible. Instead, it simply implies that to discuss in public how the choices among individuals should be made and what their consequences might be would be in the worst possible taste.

Decisions over what Lenin aptly described as the key questions of “Who? Whom?” continue to be made, of course, but by special interests in private. Owners of large farms and slaughterhouses, for instance, continue to recruit illegal aliens, recent immigrants bring over in-laws under “family reunification” rules, and foreigners decide for themselves to sneak into America. The outcome is an extreme degree of discrimination in favor of vested interests.

Neoconservatives have long claimed to dissent from this reigning multiculturalist orthodoxy by advocating a philosophy of immigration that observers have dubbed propositionism. The neocons argue that immigrants should be admitted based on their current—or eventual —assent to the propositions underlying the United States government, such as “All men are created equal.” But the neocons have failed to answer numerous questions about how their philosophy would work.

If American values are rare, do we really want to deplete the rest of the world of the few people who agree with us? In many Third World countries, a “brain drain” saps medical care and economic progress. Do we want to be also responsible for “proposition attrition?”

On the other hand, what if agreement with American propositions is as common as the neoconservatives have claimed in trying to justify our Mesopotamian misadventure? President Bush has asserted that most Iraqis share our fundamental political values. If that’s true of the furious Iraqis, who are notorious even among other Arabs for self-destructive lunacy, then how many billions of other foreigners qualify to move to America? How then does propositionism help us choose among the hundreds of millions who want to immigrate?

And exactly whom would the propositionists keep out, other than the most fanatical Muslim fundamentalists? With the exception of a handful of refugee dissidents, the vast majority of immigrants to America are in it for the money and are willing to mouth whatever platitudes would be required to get in.

Finally, there’s an insidiously Jacobin implication to propositionism. If believing in neoconservative theories should make anyone in the world eligible for immigration, what should disbelieving in them make thought criminals like you and me? Candidates for deportation? For the guillotine?

Ultimately, propositionism seems less like a well thought-through philosophy and more like ethnocentric nostalgia, an intellectualized exercise in ancestor-worship. Emotionally, the neocons abhor asking tough questions about today’s immigrants because they see that as the equivalent of asking tough questions about their own Ellis Island immigrant forebears and, thus, about themselves.

Fortunately, in America, citizenship is not an ideological category but a legal one. And emphasizing citizenship offers us a functional, yet idealistic, alternative to the special-interest abuses of multiculturalism and the incoherence of propositionism. Citizenism calls upon Americans to favor the welfare, even at some cost to ourselves, of our current fellow citizens over that of foreigners and internal factions.

Nor does citizenism suffer the fatal paradox dooming the white nationalism advocated by Jared Taylor and others who encourage whites to get down and mud-wrestle with the Al Sharptons of the world for control of the racial spoils system. Unfortunately for Taylor’s movement, white Americans don’t want, as he recommends, to act like the rest of the world; they want to act like white Americans. They believe on the whole in individualism rather than tribalism, national patriotism rather than ethnic loyalty, meritocracy rather than nepotism, nuclear families rather than extended clans, law and fair play rather than privilege, corporations of strangers rather than mafias of relatives, and true love rather than the arranged marriages necessary to keep ethnic categories clear-cut.

Citizenism is patriotism understood not as shouting that America is the best but as wanting the best for Americans.

The pride of Americans in their country is being exploited by those promoting mass immigration, who tell us that having our country fill up with foreigners proves we’re the most desirable place to live. In daily life, though, we recognize that the most prestigious places, such as Harvard, are not the most crowded but the ones with the longest lines trying to get in. For instance, the Augusta National Golf Club reaffirmed its status as the top country club by forcing Bill Gates, the nation’s richest man, to cool his heels on its waiting list for quite a few years before finally admitting him.

It’s important to note that citizenism applies to present citizens, “to ourselves and our Posterity” as the Preamble to the Constitution says. In this, the demands of citizenism are analogous to the fiduciary duty of corporate managers.

When I was getting an MBA many years ago, I was the favorite of an acerbic old finance professor because he could count on me to blurt out all the stupid misconceptions to which overconfident students are prone. One day he asked the class: “If you were running a publicly traded company, would it be acceptable for you to create new stock and sell it for less than it was worth?”

“Sure,” I smugly announced. “Our legal duty is to maximize our stockholders’ wealth. While selling the stock for less than it’s worth would harm our present shareholders, it would benefit our new shareholders who buy the underpriced stock, so it all comes out in the wash. Right?”

“Wrong!” He thundered. “Your obligation is to your current shareholders, not to somebody who might buy the stock in the future.”

That same logic applies to the valuable right to live in America. Just as the managers of a public company have a responsibility to the existing stockholders not to diminish the value of their shares by selling new ones too cheaply to outsiders, our politicians have a moral obligation to the current citizens and their descendents to preserve the scarcity value of their right to live in America.

The American people’s traditional patrimony of relatively high wages and low land prices, the legacy of a lightly populated landscape, has made this a blessedly middle-class country. Uncontrolled immigration, however, by driving up the supply of labor and the demand for housing is importing Latin American levels of inequality into immigrant-inundated states such as California.

Unskilled illegal immigrants pound down the wages of those of our fellow American citizens least able to afford the competition. For example, the wages of slaughterhouse workers today are barely half what they were two decades ago, even without adjusting for inflation. By cutting pay for the worst jobs, illegal immigrants have made honest work less appealing to many citizens, especially young African-American males, too many of whom have dropped out of the workforce and into the lumpenproletariat world of crime. That’s bad for both black Americans and for our country as a whole.

One subtle advantage of citizenism is there would be less need for the politically correct censorship to “celebrate diversity,” which has become such a blight on free speech in America. We would no longer feel so obliged to browbeat each other into claiming that other citizens are exactly the same in their behavior as we are. That constant lying becomes morally irrelevant because under citizenism, the duty toward solidarity means that the old saying “he’s a son of a bitch but he’s our son of a bitch” turns into a moral precept.
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Steve Sailer is TAC’s film critic and a VDARE.com columnist.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
The Rise, Fall, and Revival of the Art of Golf Course Architecture
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Golf course architecture is one of the world’s most expansive but least recognized art forms. Yet this curiously obscure profession can help shed light on mainstream art, sociology, and even human nature itself, since the golf designer, more than any other artist, tries to reproduce the primeval human vision of an earthly paradise.

Yet even this most unfashionable of arts was swept in the middle of the last century by the same Bauhaus-derived tastes that made post-WWII modernist buildings so tedious. Only recently has golf course architecture begun to revive the styles and values of its golden age in the 1920s.

Hidden in plain sight, golf courses are among the few works of art readily visible from airliners. (A golf architecture aficionado can often identify a course’s designer from 35,000 feet.) Assuming an average of a quarter square mile apiece, America’s 15,000 golf courses cover almost as much land as Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Golf architecture philosophy isn’t terribly elaborate compared to the thickets of theory that entangle most museum arts, but one thing all golf designers assert is that their courses look “natural.” Growing up in arid Southern California, however, where the indigenous landscape is impenetrable hillsides of gray-brown sagebrush, I never quite understood what was so natural about fairways of verdant, closely-mown grass, but I loved them all the same.

Research since the early 80s shows that humans tend to have two favorite landscapes. One is wherever they lived during their adolescence, but the nearly universal favorite among children before they imprint upon their local look is grassy parkland, and that fondness survives into adulthood.

Richard Conniff wrote in Discover: “In separate surveys, Ulrich, Orians, and others have found that people respondstrongly to landscapes with open, grassy vegetation, scattered stands of branchy trees, water, changes in elevation, winding trails, and brightly lit clearings…” In one amusing study, 1001 people from 15 different countries were surveyed about what they’d like to see in a painting. Then the sponsors of the research, conceptual art pranksters Komar and Melamid, painted each country’s “Most Wanted Painting.” Even though the researchers hadn’t mentioned what type of picture it should be, the consensus in 13 of the 15 cultures favored landscapes and 11 of the 15 looked surprisingly like golf courses. All over the world, people want to see grassland, a lake, and some trees, but not a solid forest. And they always want to see it slightly from above. The project was intended to satirize popular taste, but it ended up revealing much about about human desires. Above is Komar and Melamid’s rendition of America’s Most Wanted Painting and here’s a par 3 from the Coeur d’Alene golf course in Idaho that is similar in outline but aesthetically superior in execution.

The current theory for why golf courses are so attractive to millions (mostly men), perhaps first put forward in John Strawn’s book Driving the Green: The Making of a Golf Course, is that they look like happy hunting grounds—a Disney-version of the primordial East African grasslands. Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, author of the landmark 1975 book Sociobiology, once told me, “I believe that the reason that people find well-landscaped golf courses ‘beautiful’ is that they look like savannas, down to the scattered trees, copses, and lakes, and most especially if they have vistas of the sea.”

Tasty hoofed animals would graze on the savanna’s grass, while the nearby woods could provide shade and cover for hunters. Our ancestors would study the direction of the wind and the slopes of the land in order to approach their prey from the best angles. Any resemblance to a rolling golf fairway running between trees is not coincidental.

In 1975, geographer Jay Appleton advanced the similar theory that what people like is a combination of a sense of “refuge,” such as the ability to hide in the woods, and of “prospect” across open country. Both theories make the prediction that human beings, especially males, will spend enormous amounts of money to fashion golf courses.

Generally, men (the hunters) tend to prefer sweeping vistas, while women (the gatherers) prefer enclosed verdant refuges. Perhaps it’s no accident that a longtime favorite book among little girls is called “The Secret Garden.” Similarly, women make up a sizable majority of gardeners while men often obsess over lawn care.

To create these pleasure grounds, top golf architects typically spend over $10 million per course, and because designers oversee the creation of multiple layouts simultaneously, a “signature” architect like Tom Fazio will end his career with his name on a few billion dollars worth of golf courses.

Famous works of “environmental art,” such as Robert Smithson’s monumental earthwork “Spiral Jetty” in the Great Salt Lake, are dwarfed by golf courses in extent and thought required.

Among fine artists, only Christo works on a comparable scale, and his projects, such as his recent “Gates” in Central Park, are more repetitious.Nonetheless, Christo’s “Gates,” which re-emphasized the original landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead’s lovely serpentine pathways, and his 1976 “Running Fence” snaking through the undulating grasslands of Marin County, offer some of the same visual pleasures of following alluring trails as golf architects provide.

The great majority of golfers long thought of courses mostly in terms of length or difficulty rather than of artistry. Even though the taste of golfers has improved in recent decades, many still judge a course more by the manicuring of its grass than by its design. Moreover, in the U.S., relatively few women are interested in golf before menopause, although the game is fairly fashionable among young women in East Asia and Scandinavia.

In recent decades, however, the golf world has come down with a severe case of connoisseurship, publishing hundreds of coffee-table books and calendars, making cult figures of long-forgotten early 20th Century architects like A.W. Tillinghast and Charles Blair MacDonaldand brand names out of living designers like Pete Dye and Tom Doak.

Many today truly love good golf design, but until very recently, too few hated poor design enough to name names. Golfers tended to feel that any golf course is nice, so it would be churlish to gripe. It was not until the early Nineties that writing about architecture began to mature when Doak, a young architect, circulated a photocopied samizdat manuscript called the Confidential Guide to Golf Courses that lambasted sacred cows.

Today, the gathering ground for architecture aficionados is the web discussion board www.GolfClubAtlas.com, where it’s common to find, say, 70 messages denouncing the vulgarity of Fazio’s redesign of the 7th fairway’s bunker on George C. Thomas’s classic 1927 Riviera course, where Los Angeles’ Nissan Open is played.

This frenzy of art worship among a minority of golfers has gone almost wholly unrecognized in the establishment art world, which otherwise has been so quick to discern artistry in such unlikely forms as graffiti and toilet brushes. Top museums do not stage retrospectives on the Trent Jones family or stock golf course photo books in their gift shops.

The art community would benefit from exposure to golf architecture simply because the best courses, such as Alister MacKenzie‘s Cypress Point on the Monterey Peninsula, are things of astonishing beauty, comparable in craftsmanship, complexity, and deceptiveness to the finest efforts of 18th-century English landscape artists such as Capability Brown, creator of the majestic grounds for Blenheim Palace.

The first problem limiting the acceptance of golf design as art is that to nongolfers a course can seem as meaningless as a Concerto for Dog Whistle. That a golf course allows people to interact with interesting landscapes without killing wild animals makes sense in the abstract, but not until you’ve driven a ball over a gaping canyon and onto the smooth safety of the green will the golf course obsession make much sense.

The distinction Edmund Burke made in 1757 between the “sublime” and the “beautiful” applies to golf courses. The beautiful is some pleasing place conducive to human habitat — meadows, valleys, slow moving streams, grassland intermingled with copses of trees, the whole English country estate shtick. The sublime is nature so magnificent that it induces the feeling of terror because it could kill you, such as by you falling off a mountain or into a gorge.

Beautiful landscapes are most suited for building golf courses, since a golf course needs at least 100 acres of land level enough for a golf ball to come to rest upon. But golfers get a thrill out of the mock sublime, where you are in danger of losing not your life, but your mis-hit golf ball into a water hazard or ravine. One reason that Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula is so legendary is because it combines sublime sea cliffs with beautiful (and thus functional for golf) rolling plains (My father, though, almost walked off the cliff in the middle of the eighth fairway at Pebble Beach and into the wave-carved chasm, which probably would have satisfied Burke’s theoretical rigor.)

Sociology also separates the worlds of art and golf. Conventional artists are urban, golf architects suburban. The art community delights in the venerable game of Shock the Bourgeoisie, while golf courses are too bourgeois to be hip, too elegant to be camp.

Many of the creators, critics, and collectors who have so enriched the arts are male homosexuals, while golf, for whatever reason, has almost no appeal to gay male sensibilities. (On the other hand, the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Nabisco Championship in Palm Springs has become one of the largest annual lesbian get-togethers in the United States, but, as Camille Paglia has noted, lesbians tend not to be as interested in the visual arts as gay men are, and, indeed, are often resentful of the prestige of Dead White European Male artists.)

At a time when art institutions are fixated on celebrating demographic diversity, the golf architecture business remains white (even the golf-mad Japanese frequently import English-speaking designers), male (the woman with the largest influence on architecture has been Pete Dye’s wife Alice), and intensely nepotistic (most prominent names in the business today are either champion golfers, such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Crenshaw, or the male kin of architects, such as the two sons of Robert Trent Jones, the dominant architect of the postwar modernist era, Rees and RTJ II.). Further, many of the classic courses are owned by exclusive clubs accused of racism, sexism, or anti-Semitism.

Golf architecture might have been the great WASP art form of the 20th century—indeed, it’s arguable that the decline of the WASP ascendancy stemmed in part from too much time spent on the golf course. The overwhelming majority of prominent architects have been of British, especially Scottish, descent. Fazio is one of the very few golf architects whose name ends in a vowel. Amusingly, Fazio’s detractors often discuss his lovely but not all that strategically interesting courses using much the same terminology as a 19th Century Scotsman might have employed to dismiss an Italian artist: flashy but not fundamentally sound.

Two major novelists, P.G. Wodehouse and John Updike, have written about golf at length, and the golf sportswriter Bernard Darwin was a prose stylist of comparable distinction. But golf doesn’t attract as many literary intellectuals as baseball does. Golfers tend to overlap with football fans—prototypically, businessmen with a talent for getting things done but not terribly reflective.

Golf architecture’s acceptance has been held back by a lack of persuasive historical accounts that could make sense of its profusion of styles. And the mutability of courses constantly trips up the acolyte. For example, Augusta National has been revised by 14 different architects, none as talented as MacKenzie, the original designer. Only in the last decade have aficionados begun to pull together comprehensive histories of the evolution of individual courses.

Besides, the unpredictable interplay between the architect and the peculiarities of the land can mock theories of stylistic evolution. For example, Trent Jones’ savage New Course at Ballybunion, Ireland, with its tiny greens clinging to shaggy 100-foot tall sand dunes, looks nothing like his standard American course, such as mellow Firestone South in the gentle parkland outside Akron. Throughout the history of golf architecture, the genius of a special piece of land has shaped the architect as much as any genius of an architect has shaped the land.

Building courses can be extraordinarily expensive. Back in 1989, Fazio and casino owner Steve Wynn spent about $40 million dollars on Shadow Creek. In the barren desert outside of Las Vegas, Fazio dug a half-square mile hole 60-feet deep. He then converted its interior into an apotheosis of the North Carolina Sand Hills by building giant undulations, installing creeks and lakes, and planting 21,000 pine trees. Golf is undergoing a recession, so the price of a four-hour round at Shadow Creek was recently lowered from $1,000 to $500.

On the other hand, St. Andrews’ Old Course, the “home of golf” in Scotland, cost almost nothing since it mostly wasn’t designed. Instead, it evolved during golf architecture’s Folk Era out of the sheep-shorn, grass-covered sand dunes, or “linksland,” through which sailors would stroll from the town to the shore, striking stones with sticks as they went. Over the centuries, favorite corridors, or fairways, emerged. In the low spots where rocks, and later balls, were most likely to wind up, repeated swings tore through the grass and exposed the underlying sand, which is why the placement of St. Andrews’ bunkers are so frustrating that the links remains enough of a test to host this July’s British Open.

In the subsequent Craftsman Era of golf course design—beginning around the revolutionary year of 1848 with the building of the famous 17th green at St. Andrews—golf pros like Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris would construct greens or bunkers only after trying to find natural golf holes already latent amidst the dunes.

Despite their seaside locations, many Scottish courses aren’t instantly scenically appealing, often being more of an acquired taste as one’s understanding of golf strategy matures. The thrifty Scots made golf courses out of sandy, crumpled land of little value for farming. Lacking rich enough soil to grow trees, they are more open to the wind, which adds to the complexity of the game, but they don’t furnish the natural pleasure of providing both forest and grassland together that the standard inland American course does. When the American hillbilly champion Sam Snead first sighted the Old Course in 1946, he supposedly scoffed, “Down home, we plant cow beets on land like that.”

In 1901, Willie Park Jr. unshackled golf from the linksland by forging the first excellent inland courses, Huntercombe and Sunningdale, outside of London. This opened the Golden Age of golf architecture (roughly 1901-1934).

The vast concentrations of wealth that existed before income and estate taxes could do their leveling work made possible daring, idiosyncratic designs. At the first great American golf course, Charles Blair MacDonald‘s National Golf Links of America in the Hamptons, robber-baron industrialists would dock their steam yachts next to his mind-bendingly intricate course, featuring holes modeled on the best of St. Andrews and other British links.

These decades combined flamboyant creativity with an appreciation of the sturdy principles behind the old Scottish courses, including a taste for quirkiness, irregularity, “fidelity to place,” and random rubs of the green. This innovative era coincided with the similarly fertile period in American architecture that stretched from Louis Sullivan through Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arts and Crafts Movement to the Art Deco of the Chrysler Building. It was a period of legendary golf architects such as Tillinghast, William Flynn, George C. Thomas, and Donald Ross. There were also gifted amateurs such as Philadelphia hotel-owner George Crump, who lived for years in a wilderness cabin as his crews carved from the forest his stupendous Pine Valley, now usually rated the best course in the world.

The WASP elite were snobs, which meant they insisted on rigorous standards, resulting in exquisite courses, including Shinnecock Hills and Pinehurst #2, the sites of the 2004 and 2005 U.S. Opens, respectively.

A recurrent pattern in art history is that a style becomes progressively more complicated over time until a new, simpler manner sweeps the old clutter away, such as the pompous 1970s progressive rock of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer getting undermined by the three chord punk rock of The Ramones and the Sex Pistols, or over-decorated Victorian furniture giving way to Mies van der Rohe’s unadorned steel and leather Barcelona chair.

The transition golf course between the originality of the Golden Age and the rationality of the Modern Age was Augusta National, which opened in 1932. As the perpetual home of the Masters Tournament, the only major championship played on the same course each year, Augusta became the most influential course of the middle of the 20th century. Originally, a showcase for MacKenzie‘s fertile Golden Age imagination, with boomerang-shaped greens and vast, sprawling bunkers, after the master’s death in 1934, Augusta was slowly streamlined into the archetypal Modernist course with roundish greens and sand traps, threatening water hazards, and perfect greenskeeping. The most notable remodeler was Trent Jones, who redesigned the 11th and 16th holes with his trademark lakes coming right up to the edge of the greens. Today, only one of MacKenzie’s bunkers is left, the spectacular but curiously placed 70-yard long sand trap in the middle of the 10th hole.

Following the long hiatus in course building caused by the Depression and World War II, Trent Jones rationalized and internationalized course design during the Modern Era (1948-1980). His approach was curiously similar to that of the Bauhaus architects dominant at the same time, such as van der Rohe, who believed the phrase “form follows function” offered the only moral philosophy of design.

Prosperity was broad, but with income tax rates as high as 93 percent, wealth was too widely dispersed and bureaucratically managed to permit many rich men’s follies like Pine Valley. Trent Jones’ golf courses were big, sleek, straightforward, and efficient, just like Skidmore, Owings & Merrill‘s Lever House and the other flat-roofed steel and glass skyscrapers that sprouted across America during the age of the Organization Man.

Unfortunately, like the modernist office buildings, Jones’ courses got a little … boring. Much of the appeal of golf courses is that they epitomize a particular landscape, offering focus and continuity of form to guide the eye and help you notice the local differences. Yet by building the same style everywhere, the Modern look made courses repetitious. Trent Jones would put one set of bunkers alongside the fairway about 250 yards off the tee to capture wayward drives, and another set around the green to menace approach shots. A perfectly logical formula, but formula is the enemy of charm. In contrast, Golden Age architects distributed their traps more unpredictably to pester different classes of golfers.

During the Los Angeles Nissan Open in February, I sat by Riviera’s sixth hole, where in 1927 George C. Thomas had built a pot bunker in the center of the green. Tour pros are not a happy-go-lucky bunch, but even they were laughing at the perplexities of navigating around, over, or through that devilishly spotted trap.

Trent Jones could break out of his mold to do excellent work, such as the devilish 4th hole on 1966′s Spyglass Hill, but the tenor of the times was not favorable to creating great golf courses. The mediocrity of golf architecture during this long era after World War II paralleled the contemporary lousiness of building architecture. With confidence sapped by two World Wars and a Depression, there was an almost palpable sense that Western man didn’t deserve the superb structures and golf courses of the past and should be satisfied with the perfunctory creations of the postwar period.

After WWII, Trent Jones made use of modern earthmoving equipment to dig water hazards wherever was most challenging. Early in his career, Trent Jones often manufactured water holes, such as the 4th at Tillinghast’s Baltusrol Lower, site of this August’s PGA Championship, and the 16th at Ross’s Oakland Hills, site of the 2004 Ryder Cup, to solve the problem of what to do with a dull stretch of topography on an otherwise interesting course. Perhaps because they photographed better than more naturally gifted undulating holes, however, they quickly became the most celebrated holes on classic courses.

The results could be wonderful, as at the island green on the 16th hole of the Golden Horseshoe course in Colonial Williamsburg (1963), where the construction complemented the interesting natural topography, rather than substituted for it wholesale. Within a few decades, golfers came to expect on every new course what once would have been spectacular water hazards.

Unfortunately, golf architects’ new ability to build from scratch any hole imaginable eventually became a little ho-hum. Just as the computer-generated movie dinosaurs in 1993′s “Jurassic Park” were stunning, but by 2005, audiences were getting jaded by Hollywood’s latest digitally synthesized wonders, golfers were becoming less excited by lakes, fountains, waterfalls, and other gimmickry. And the essential do-or-die shortcoming of the water hole remained: when you hit into trouble on dry land, you can still try to improvise a recovery shot, but when you hit into a water hazard, all you can do is reload and try again.

A more subtle problem was that the hallmarks of modernist art—abstraction and reductionism—may not work well in golf course architecture. While a stroke of genius in sculpture is often to eliminate the unnecessary, complexity is currently seen as a general virtue in golf course architecture. The amount of value an architect adds to a site is often a simple equation of talent multiplied by time spent studying the land. MacDonald fiddled with The National for decades, and Donald Ross spent the Depression refining Pinehurst #2, where the U.S. Open will be held this June.

Somewhat like Robert Venturi in architecture, Dye ushered in the Postmodern Era (1981-?), with a series of striking courses culminating in his Tournament Players Club. In contrast to Trent Jones’ balanced and sweeping corporate look, Dye revived the abruptvertical discontinuities, contrasts, and oddities of the old Scottish links. He would prop a flat green over a flat sand trap by means of a six-foot high wall of railroad ties, leading Bob Hope to note that Dye built the only courses in danger of burning down.

Everybody says they want their courses to look “natural,” but nature comes in many varieties, so even Dye’s vertical slopes can be justified, since the banks of meadow streams are abrupt. Yet Dye’s style, which borrowed heavily from MacDonald’s dignified engineered look, may have gone back not to nature, but to grassed-over Civil War battlefield memorials, with their trenches and breastworks.

Facilitated by advances in earthmoving machines and fueled by easy savings and loan financing, the Scottish revival courses of Dye, Fazio, and Nicklaus ironically emerged as some of the most staggeringly opulent relics of the 80s. For example, Nicklaus built award-winning courses with supposedly dunes-like mounding, but these excrescences have come to symbolize the bad taste of the era, and he has since removed much of it.

Examples of truly horrendous design, fortunately, appear to be rarer in golf architecture than in building architecture, and are generally bulldozed into something more pleasing to the eye within a few years. Still, I can’t resist a picture of Desmond Muirhead’s legendary “Clashing Rocks” par-3 from his 1987 Stone Harbor course in New Jersey. Muirhead, who, while partnered in the early 1970s with Nicklaus, was largely responsible for the routing of the superb Muirfield Village course, became increasingly enamored with artistic self-expression in the 1980s. He explained:

“This hole has been published in hundreds of magazines worldwide, in art and architecture as well as golf. It was based on Jason and the Argonauts. The symbol came from my subconscious where it had probably been hanging around for a great many years. According to Jungian psychology, it is a mandala, a Sanskrit word meaning perfect circle which is the most common archetype drawn in psycho-analysis. The central form is female and the jagged forms are male.”

Indeed.

Stone Harbor’s members, however, found Muirhead’s theoretical rhetoric less intimidating than the sand shots over water he’d inconsiderately created for them, and they had the hole rebuilt into something a little more traditional. Golf course architecture is one of the remaining arts where theory doesn’t sell.

Budgets became even more extravagant in the 90s, with f loating greens and other attention getters. When the tax deduction for club dues was eliminated, “Country Club for a Day” courses, open to the public proliferated. Three digit greens fees became common.

Prosperity and technology have made anything possible in design, whether Frank Gehry’s titanium UFO-crash of a Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, or Dye’s 1999 Whistling Straits golf course, where faucet king Herb Kohler gave him an unlimited budget. Dye famously exceeded it reproducing on a flat Wisconsin shoreline the fifty-foot tall sand dunes of the wild Irish links. While Whistling Straits and its 500 or so sand traps was much admired at last year’s PGA Championship, critics might be overreacting against the stripped-down Modern style by judging any degree of elaboration an asset. If tastes shift back toward simplicity, the next generation might label Whistling Straits a labyrinthinemonstrosity. But, at least for now, its convolutedness appeals.

Yet just as American culture in general has become slightly more traditionalist over the last ten years, the last decade saw enthusiastic efforts to restore great pre-Depression golf courses to their eccentric glories, and to build new courses worthy of comparison to the old American and British standard-bearers. Numerous Golden Age courses have been rebuilt according to their original designs.

After decades of building courses on tedious flat ground, entrepreneurs have begun to search out the best land for golf courses, as epitomized by Coore and Crenshaw’s Sand Hills (1995) in a remote Nebraska dunescape, and the Bandon Dunes complex on the southern Oregon coast.Rustic Canyon, a remarkably inexpensive public course in pricey Ventura County, California demonstrates how interesting a course can be without much earthmoving if the architects take the time to learn the land thoroughly.

Today, the great controversy is between the established Fazio, the maestro of aesthetics who recently revamped Augusta, and challengers like the team of Ben Crenshaw – Bill Coore and the sharp-tongued Doak, the expert on angles who crafted on the remote Oregon coast the gnarled and byzantine Pacific Dunes links in the Scottish tradition. Fazio frames his holes so that first-time players can instantly see the proper line, while Doak’s baffling holes defy golfers to figure out which direction will work best.

Golf architecture is a young art, and just as Tiger Woods showed that the best was yet to come among players, it’s forgivable to hope that we will someday see a design prodigy who can fully merge beauty and guile.

The single best resource for learning about golf course architecture is www.GolfClubAtlas.com.

Caddybytes.com has terrific pictures of the PGA Tour courses, along with strategy commentary by pro caddies.

For more of my articles on golf, see here.

Steve Sailer (www.iSteve.com) is a columnist for VDARE.com and the film critic for The American Conservative.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
A Tale of Two States: America's Future Is Either Texas or California
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The eventual fates of the Republican and Democratic Parties rest upon whether the United States will become more like California or Texas, our two most populous states.

Now that California is a bastion of liberalism, having given the Democratic Presidential candidates victory margins of 10 to 13 points in each of the last four elections, it’s easy to forget that Republican hopefuls carried the state nine times out of ten from 1952 up through 1988. Indeed California’s GOP paladins, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, were on the national ticket seven times in this stretch, winning all but once.

In contrast, Texas, while not utterly loyal to the old Democratic Solid South (Dwight Eisenhower won the state in 1952 and 1956), voted Democratic in four out of five elections as recently as 1960 through 1976. Yet, it has gone Republican the last seven times, with the Bushes of Texas on the GOP slate on six occasions, losing only once.

Texas and California epitomize America’s red-blue divisions, which, since the election, have elicited more name-calling and chest-beating than hard thinking about why such apparently stable regional differences have emerged in this decade.

In reality, the Electoral College divide grows out of discordances over the fundamentals of social life: marriage and children. In 2004, Bush carried the 19 states with the highest expected lifetime fertility among non-Hispanic white women (with Texas at 1.93 babies to California’s 1.65). Even more strikingly, he won the 25 states where white women are married the most number of years on average between 18 and 44 (15.2 years in Texas to 12.5 years in California),

Why the correlations? Consider how differently one well-known issue can seem depending on your family structure: Should the government let the Boy Scouts ban gay men from becoming scoutmasters? To voters who are single, or married but childless, or have only daughters, this often appears as a purely abstract question of justice: of course, everybody should be guaranteed equal opportunity to be a scoutmaster. Yet, to citizens with sons, a ban may seem like a common sense precaution against temptation: of course, homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to lead their boys into the woods overnight.

Both the marriage and fertility factors are likely tied to another statistic that correlates remarkably well with the 2004 voting: Bush won the 26 states with the least inflation in housing prices between 1980 and 2004. While the arrow of causality no doubt points in multiple directions, it’s plausible that the price of a house with a yard can sometimes make the difference between whether or not young adults start down the road to marriage, children, and voting Republican.

In turn, the sizable gap between home prices in expensive blue and affordable red America appears rooted in their dissimilar landscapes, as vividly illustrated by coastal California and expansive Texas.

Understanding why California and Texas have become so politically polarized is crucial for making sense of intra-Republican disputes as well. For example, the insouciant obsession of the Texans George W. Bush and Karl Rove with opening the borders to an unlimited number of guest workers strikes many of the surviving California Republicans as politically suicidal. Not only are the immigrants and their children much less likely to vote Republican than are natives (according to the corrected Texas exit poll, Bush’s margin among Hispanics was 50 points worse than among whites; in California, he ran 35 points worse), but heavy immigration raises the cost of homes and makes public schools less attractive, which makes the Republicanizing processes of marriage and childrearing less feasible.

Yet, the lessons of recent political history look much different from the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas. Just like California, Texas was 32 percent Latino in the 2000 Census, but that hasn’t hurt the Bush family fortunes.

Partly, that’s due to the lower rate of immigration into Texas: in the last Census, only 14 percent of residents of the Lone Star State were foreign-born, compared to 26 percent of the Golden State. Many Texas Hispanics are from families that have lived in the Rio Grande Valley since the Alamo. Others, especially in San Antonio, are the scions of conservative middle-class Mexican families that fled the radical Mexican Revolution four score years ago. Finally, many of the more recent immigrants are from the relatively prosperous Monterey region in northeast Mexico, the homeland of Vicente Fox’s business-oriented PAN. In contrast, California’s Latinos tend to trace their roots back to the poorer central and southern Mexico, where the PRI machine and the leftist PRD are strongest.

Still, the most politically vital differences between Texas and California are in the impact of immigration on non-Hispanic white voters..

The red-blue distinction is often described in shorthand as rural-urban, but the 2000 Census revealed that 79 percent of all Americans live in urban areas (broadly defined), so there is relatively little variation by state. California is the most urbanized state at 94 percent, but Texas is also above average at 83 percent urban. Overall, the urban-blue correlation is spotty at best: for example, Utah, the reddest state, is 88 percent urban, while Vermont, the third bluest, is the least urban at only 38 percent.

There’s a far better fit between Bush’s share of the vote and lack of real estate inflation. In Texas, where Republicans have grown in strength over the decades, housing prices are up only 89 percent since 1980, the second lowest growth rate in the country (only Oklahoma has had less housing inflation). In California, however, home prices are up 315 percent since 1980. (First is John Kerry’s Massachusetts at 516 percent.)

Home inflation in Texas over the last two dozen years is especially low because 1980 was near the peak of the oil boom, but, then, real estate prices were high in California in 1980 too.

This restrained land price growth for Texas reflects a bedrock geographic reality about the metropolises of Texas, and of red states as a whole. Red state cities simply have more land available for suburban and exurban expansion because most of them are inland and thus not hemmed in by water, unlike the typical blue state city, which is on an ocean or a Great Lake.

Let’s look at the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the country. Of the ones in blue states, 73 percent of their population lives in cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where physical growth is restricted by unbridgeable water, compared to only 19 percent of the population of the biggest red state metropolises, such as Dallas, Atlanta, and Phoenix.

The Law of Supply and Demand controls housing prices. The greater supply of available land for suburban expansion in red metropolises keeps house prices down.

Contrast the Dallas-Fort Worth conurbation, the largest in red America, to San Francisco, culturally the bluest spot on the entire map.

Exurban Dallas-Fort Worth can expand outward around 360 degrees of flat, adequately watered land, easily bulldozed into lots and streets. In sharp divergence, San Francisco sits on a peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west, the San Francisco Bay to the east, and mountain ranges to the north and south. This makes for superb scenery, but also for vastly expensive homes within an hour’s commute of downtown San Francisco.

(Amusingly, there’s even a correlation between the quality of the views in a city and the local enthusiasm for environmentalist Democratic candidates. Scenic views create liberal views. On average, the denizens of hilly San Francisco can see farther from their backyards than the residents of flat Dallas, so they are more inclined toward not-in-my-back-yard opposition to unsightly developments.)

San Francisco therefore fills up with two kinds of people who don’t need as much space per paycheck — singles, most famously gays, and immigrants from countries where families don’t expect American-style square footage. Neither is likely to vote Republican. The Chinese in San Francisco might have conservative social views, but, as journalist Arthur Hu has perceptively pointed out, they tend to take their voting cues from their native neighbors, who are more often than not quite liberal.

White heterosexual couples who meet in San Francisco know that if they want to marry and have several children, they are likely to have to leave this adult Disneyland of scenic beauty and superb restaurants and move inland, perhaps as far as the hot, smoggy, and dull Central Valley. The ones who do make this sacrifice to have children are more likely to become Republicans, but the ones who stay will likely vote Democratic.

Overall, I don’t see much point in living in California unless you reside in the mellow coastal climate zone that runs from the beach to the first range of tall mountains. The Central Valley is dreary and California’s deserts strangely unattractive compared to inland states without the hassles of California’s budget disaster. This makes competition for the relatively small amount of level land along the ocean ferocious, which is one reason that Californians’ reactions to the enormous influx of illegal aliens in recent decades has been more negative than Texans’.

If immigration into the Los Angeles basin means that, if you want a spouse and kids, you’ll have to leave the wonderful Mediterranean-climate zone of L.A. and move over the 10,000′ tall San Gabriel Mountains into the searing hot winds of the Palmdale exurb, well, you might feel bitter too.

In comparison to California, the immense eastern half of Texas is all about equally mediocre. Unlike the western half of Texas, it has enough water and the climate is survivable with air conditioning, but that’s about all you can say for it (other than there is some pleasant hill country around Austin, which, not surprisingly, is the scenic blue dot in the middle of the broad red plains of Texas.)

If too many illegal aliens drive you from a suburb of Dallas or Houston to an exurb, well, no big loss. The terrain is all flat and hot.

As recently as 1990, non-Hispanic white women in California had higher fertility than in Texas, averaging 1.93 babies compared to Texas’ 1.85. Over the next dozen years, though, California’s white fertility rate dropped 14.4 percent to 1.65 babies. Not surprisingly, the continuing affordability of a house with a yard in Texas helped the fertility rate there grow 4.3 percent to 1.93 in 2002.

All this suggests the GOP should search out new pro-marriage and pro-babies strategies for growing more Republican voters. For example:

– Deep-six Bush’s Open Borders plan. Driving land prices up and wages down by flooding the country with foreigners would mean that more potential Republican voters couldn’t afford to get married and start families.

– Appeal to Hispanics as family values voters, not as an aggrieved ethnic bloc to be bought off with more immigration and more quotas.

– Oppose the Democrats’ NIMBY environmentalism with a Teddy Roosevelt-descended pro-family conservationism that makes it more attractive for Americans to get out and camp in our great outdoors. (Having a family can seem more affordable when people expect to vacation in tents as well as hotels.)

– Figure out faster ways for young people to get educated so they can marry and start families sooner. Most jobs don’t take endless academic dithering. My wife, for example, became a computer programmer after a seven month course.

– Find out how to make the ultra-Republican Great Basin and Great Plains more habitable. They may need water piped in, at vast public expense, from the Canadian Rockies. Or how about a 120 mph speed limit so their residents can conveniently speed off to a sinful big blue city for a fun weekend now and then?

– Finally, because Democrats win when Americans don’t marry and don’t have children, publicly label them as what they are: the party that thrives on loneliness.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Despite the endless verbiage expended trying to explain America’s remarkably stable division into Republican and Democratic regions, almost no one has mentioned the obscure demographic factor that correlated uncannily with states’ partisan splits in both 2000 and 2004.

Clearly, the issues that so excite political journalists had but a meager impact on most voters. For example, the press spent the last week of the 2004 campaign in a tizzy over the looting of explosives at Iraq’s al-Qaqaa munitions dump, but, if voters even noticed al-Qaqaa, their reactions were predetermined by their party loyalty.

The 2000 presidential election, held during peace and prosperity, became instantly famous for illuminating a land culturally divided into a sprawling but thinly populated “red” expanse of Republicans broken up by small but densely peopled “blue” archipelagos of Democrats.

Four years of staggering events ensued, during which President Bush discarded his old “humble” foreign policy for a new one of nearly Alexandrine ambitions. Yet the geographic and demographic profiles of Bush voters in 2004 turned out almost identical to 2000, with the country as a whole simply nudged three points to the right.

Only a few groups appeared to have moved more than the average. The counties within commuting distance of New York’s World Trade Center became noticeably less anti-Bush. Yet even the one purported sizable demographic change—the claim by the troubled exit poll that Bush picked up nine points among Hispanics—appears to be an exaggeration caused by small sample sizes and poor survey techniques. In the real world, Hispanic counties swung toward Bush only about as much as everybody else did.

That the president launched a war under false pretenses no doubt caused a few highly-informed constituencies, such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the subscribers to this magazine, to shift many of their votes, but almost every group large enough to be measurable by exit polling was relatively stable. If they supported Bush’s foreign policy in 2000, they supported his contrary stance in 2004 and vice versa.

Still, this doesn’t mean voters are choosing red or blue frivolously. Indeed, voters are picking their parties based on differing approaches to the most fundamentally important human activity: having babies. The white people in Republican-voting regions consistently have more children than the white people in Democratic-voting regions. The more kids whites have, the more pro-Bush they get.

I’ll focus primarily on Caucasians, who overall voted for Bush 58-41, in part because they are doing most of the arguing over the meaning of the red-blue division. The reasons blacks vote Democratic are obvious, and other racial blocs are smaller. Whites remain the 800-pound gorilla of ethnic electoral groups, accounting for over three out of every four votes.

The single most useful and understandable birthrate measure is the “total fertility rate.” This estimates, based on recent births, how many children the average woman currently in her childbearing years will have. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 2002 the average white woman was giving birth at a pace consistent with having 1.83 babies during her lifetime, or 13 percent below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. This below-replacement level has not changed dramatically in three decades.

States, however, differ significantly in white fertility. The most fecund whites are in heavily Mormon Utah, which, not coincidentally, was the only state where Bush received over 70 percent. White women average 2.45 babies in Utah compared to merely 1.11 babies in Washington, D.C., where Bush earned but 9 percent. The three New England states where Bush won less than 40 percent—Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island—are three of the four states with the lowest white birthrates, with little Rhode Island dipping below 1.5 babies per woman.

Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule. (The least prolific red states are West Virginia, North Dakota, and Florida.)

In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats’ anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.

Among the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., white total fertility correlates at a remarkably strong 0.86 level with Bush’s percentage of the 2004 vote. (In 2000, the correlation was 0.85.) In the social sciences, a correlation of 0.2 is considered “low,” 0.4 “medium,” and 0.6 “high.”

You could predict 74 percent of the variation in Bush’s shares just from knowing each state’s white fertility rate. When the average fertility goes up by a tenth of a child, Bush’s share normally goes up by 4.5 points.

In a year of predictably partisan books, one lively surprise has been What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank, a left-wing journalist from Kansas who, after a sojourn in Chicago, now lives with his wife and single child in the Democratic stronghold of Washington, D.C. Frank is puzzled by why conservative Republicans in his home state are obsessed with cultural issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and teaching evolution in the schools instead of the leftist economic populism that Frank admires in Kansas’s past.

While the Christian Right in Kansas doesn’t much hold with Darwin, they are doing well at the basic Darwinian task of reproducing themselves: pro-life Kansas has the fourth-highest white fertility in the country at 2.06 babies per woman, and the birthrate of the conservative Republicans that Frank finds so baffling is likely to be even higher. On the crucial question of whether a group can be bothered not to die out, “What’s the Matter with Massachusetts?” would be a more pertinent question. Massachusetts’s whites are failing to replace themselves, averaging only 1.6 babies per woman, and the state’s liberal Democrats are probably reproducing even less than that.

So white birthrates and Republican voting are closely correlated, but what causes what? The arrow of causality seems to flow in both directions.

To understand what’s driving this huge political phenomenon, you have to think like a real-estate shopper, not like an intellectual. Everybody loves to talk real estate, but the sharp insights into how the world works that you hear while shooting the breeze about houses and neighborhoods seldom work their way into prestigious discourse about public affairs.

As you’ve seen on all those red-blue maps, most of America’s land is red, even though Kerry won 48 percent of the vote. Even excluding vast Alaska, Bush’s counties are only one-fourth as densely populated on average as Kerry’s counties. Lower density helps explain why red regions both attract the baby-oriented and encourage larger families among those already there.

A dozen years ago, University of Chicago sociologist Edward O. Laumann and others wrote a tome with the soporific postmodern title The Social Organization of Sexuality. I wrote to them and suggested a follow-up called The Sexual Organization of Society because, in my experience with Chicago, where people lived coincided with their sexual status. In 1982, when I moved to Chicago as a young single man, I sought out detailed advice on where the greatest density of pretty girls lived and there rented a 21st-floor apartment with a stunning view of Lake Michigan. I became engaged three years later, and so, mission accomplished, I moved to a less chic neighborhood with more affordable rents. Two years later, when my bride became pregnant, we relocated to an even more unfashionable spot where we could buy ample square footage. (To my satisfaction, Laumann’s team just this year published a categorization of Chicago’s neighborhoods entitled The Sexual Organization of the City.)

My experience is hardly unusual. Singles often move to cities because the density of other singles makes them good places to become unsingle. But singles, especially women, generally vote Democratic. For example, in the 2002 midterm elections, only 39 percent of unmarried women and 44 percent of unmarried men voted for a GOP candidate for the House of Representatives. In contrast, 56 percent of married women voted for the GOP, similar to their husbands’ 58 percent. The celebrated gender gap is, in truth, largely a marriage gap among women.

When city couples marry, they face major decisions: do they enjoy the adult-oriented cultural amenities of the city so much that they will stick it out, or do they head for the suburbs, exurbs, or even the country to afford more space for a growing family?

Couples attempting to raise children in a big blue city quickly learn the truth of what bond trader Sherman McCoy’s father told him in Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities: “If you want to live in New York, you’ve got to insulate, insulate, insulate.” Manhattan liberals all believe in celebrating diversity in theory but typically draw the line at subjecting their own offspring to it in the public schools. With Manhattan private K-12 school tuitions now approaching $25,000, insulating multiple children rapidly becomes too expensive for all but the filthy rich.

In tempting contrast, the cost-of-living calculator provided by Realtor.com says that a $100,000 salary in liberal Manhattan buys only as much as a $38,000 salary in conservative Pinehurst, North Carolina. Likewise, a San Francisco couple earning $100,000 between them can afford just as much in Cedar City, Utah if the husband can find a $44,000-a-year job—and then the wife can stay home with their children. Moreover, the culture of Cedar City is more conducive to child rearing than San Francisco. Having insulated themselves through distance rather than money, they can now send their kids to public schools. (Among red states, the South has lower white fertility than the northern Great Plains and Great Basin, perhaps because many Southern conservatives, like many Manhattan liberals, prefer private schools, which makes children more expensive than out in Lewis & Clark Country, where the public schools are popular because they aren’t terribly diverse.) In Cedar City, the wife won’t feel as unprestigious for being a stay-at-home mom as she would in San Francisco. And mom won’t have to chauffeur the kids everywhere because traffic and crime are light enough that they can ride their bikes.

With more children, the couple will have less money per child to buy insulation from America’s corrosive media culture, so they are likely to look to the government for help. Typically, red-region parents don’t ask for much, often just for quasi-symbolic endorsements of family values, the non-economic gestures that drive Thomas Frank crazy. But there’s nothing irrational about trying to protect and guide your children. As the socially conservative black comedian Chris Rock advises fathers, “Your main job is to keep your daughter off The Pole” (i.e., to keep her from becoming a stripper).

That red-region parents want their politicians to endorse morality does not necessarily mean that red staters always behave more morally than blue staters. While there are well-behaved red states such as Utah and Colorado, hell-raising white Texans are 3.4 times more likely than white New Yorkers to be behind bars. Similarly, whites in conservative Mississippi and South Carolina are one-sixth as likely as blacks in those states to be imprisoned, compared to the national average of one-ninth. By contrast, in ultra-liberal Washington D.C., whites are only one-fifty-sixth as likely to be in the slammer as blacks.

The late socialist historian Jim Chapin pointed out that it was perfectly rational for parents with more children than money to ask their political and cultural leaders to help them insulate their kids from bad examples, even, or perhaps especially, if the parents themselves are not perfect role models.

Focusing on children, insulation, and population density reveals that blue-region white Democrats’ positions on vouchers, gun control, and environmentalism are motivated partly by fear of urban minorities.

In 2001, the Wall Street Journal’s favorite mayor, Brett Schundler, ran for governor of New Jersey on a platform of vouchers to help inner-city children attend better schools in the suburbs. The now notorious Democrat Jim McGreevey beat him badly because white suburban moderates shunned this Republican who put the welfare of urban minority children ahead of their own. These homeowners were scraping together big mortgage payments precisely to get their kids into exclusive suburban school districts insulated from what they saw as the ghetto hellions that Schundler hoped to unleash on their children. They had much of their net worths tied up in their homes, and their property values depended on the local public schools’ high test scores, which they feared wouldn’t survive an onslaught of slum children. So they voted Democratic to keep minorities in their place.

The endless gun-control brouhaha, which on the surface appears to be a bitter battle between liberal and conservative whites, also features a cryptic racial angle. What blue-region white liberals actually want is for the government to disarm the dangerous urban minorities that threaten their children’s safety. Red-region white conservatives, insulated by distance from the Crips and the Bloods, don’t care that white liberals’ kids are in peril. Besides, in sparsely populated Republican areas, where police response times are slow and the chances of drilling an innocent bystander are slim, guns make more sense for self-defense than in the cities and suburbs.

White liberals, angered by white conservatives’ lack of racial solidarity with them, yet bereft of any vocabulary for expressing such a verboten concept, pretend that they need gun control to protect them from gun-crazy rural rednecks, such as the ones Michael Moore demonized in “Bowling for Columbine,” thus further enraging red-region Republicans.

Likewise, liberals in blue areas such as Northern California pioneer environmental restrictions on development in part to keep out illegal immigrants and other poor minorities. Thinly populated Republican areas are pro-development because increasing density raises property values as once remote regions obtain roads, sewer hookups, cable television, local shopping, and nice restaurants. If poorly planned, however, overcrowding causes property values to lag, allowing poor people to move in.

Conservative Southern California, home to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, was traditionally more laissez faire than liberal Northern California, ultimately allowing itself to be inundated by poorly educated illegal aliens, wrecking the public schools. In contrast, environmentalist—and thus expensive—Northern California attracted a variety of skilled immigrants. Eventually, many Los Angeles Republicans either fled inland or decided that those San Francisco Democrats had the right idea all along.

Now illegal immigrants are flocking to other pro-growth red states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, and may eventually turn those states Democratic due both to the Democratic-voting immigrants’ very high birthrates and to a California-style drift toward environmentalism among its white voters as laissez faire proves inadequate to keep out illegal aliens.

Nobody noticed that the famous blue-red gap was a white baby gap because the subject of white fertility is considered disreputable. But I believe the truth is better for us than ignorance, lies, or wishful thinking. At least, it’s certainly more interesting.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
The ancient practice discourages democratic nation-building
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Many prominent neoconservatives are calling on America not only to conquer Iraq (and perhaps more Muslim nations after that), but also to rebuild Iraqi society in order to jumpstart the democratization of the Middle East. Yet, Americans know so little about the Middle East that few of us are even aware of one of one of the building blocks of Arab Muslim cultures — cousin marriage. Not surprisingly, we are almost utterly innocent of any understanding of how much the high degree of inbreeding in Iraq could interfere with our nation building ambitions.

In Iraq, as in much of the region, nearly half of all married couples are first or second cousins to each other. A 1986 study of 4,500 married hospital patients and staff in Baghdad found that 46% were wed to a first or second cousin, while a smaller 1989 survey found 53% were “consanguineously” married. The most prominent example of an Iraqi first cousin marriage is that of Saddam Hussein and his first wife Sajida.

By fostering intense family loyalties and strong nepotistic urges, inbreeding makes the development of civil society more difficult. Many Americans have heard by now that Iraq is composed of three ethnic groups — the Kurds of the north, the Sunnis of the center, and the Shi’ites of the south. Clearly, these ethnic rivalries would complicate the task of ruling reforming Iraq. But that’s just a top-down summary of Iraq’s ethnic make-up. Each of those three ethnic groups is divisible into smaller and smaller tribes, clans, and inbred extended families — each with their own alliances, rivals, and feuds. And the engine at the bottom of these bedeviling social divisions is the oft-ignored institution of cousin marriage.

The fractiousness and tribalism of Middle Eastern countries have frequently been remarked. In 1931, King Feisal of Iraq described his subjects as “devoid of any patriotic idea, ? connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil; prone to anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatever.” The clannishness, corruption, and coups frequently observed in countries such as Iraq appears to be in tied to the high rates of inbreeding.

Muslim countries are usually known for warm, devoted extended family relationships, but also for weak patriotism. In the U.S., where individualism is so strong, many assume that “family values” and civic virtues such as sacrificing for the good of society always go together. But, in Islamic countries, loyalty to extended (as opposed to nuclear) families is often at war with loyalty to nation. Civic virtues, military effectiveness, and economic performance all suffer.

Commentator Randall Parker wrote, “Consanguinity [cousin marriage] is the biggest underappreciated factor in Western analyses of Middle Eastern politics. Most Western political theorists seem blind to the importance of pre-ideological kinship-based political bonds in large part because those bonds are not derived from abstract Western ideological models of how societies and political systems should be organized. ? Extended families that are incredibly tightly bound are really the enemy of civil society because the alliances of family override any consideration of fairness to people in the larger society. Yet, this obvious fact is missing from 99% of the discussions about what is wrong with the Middle East. How can we transform Iraq into a modern liberal democracy if every government worker sees a government job as a route to helping out his clan at the expense of other clans?”

Retired U.S. Army colonel Norvell De Atkine spent years trying to train America’s Arab allies in modern combat techniques. In an article in American Diplomacy entitled, “Why Arabs Lose Wars,” a frustrated De Atkine explained, “First, the well-known lack of trust among Arabs for anyone outside their own family adversely affects offensive operations? In a culture in which almost every sphere of human endeavor, including business and social relationships, is based on a family structure, this orientation is also present in the military, particularly in the stress of battle. “Offensive action, basically, consists of fire and maneuver,” De Atkine continued. “The maneuver element must be confident that supporting units or arms are providing covering fire. If there is a lack of trust in that support, getting troops moving forward against dug-in defenders is possible only by officers getting out front and leading, something that has not been a characteristic of Arab leadership.”

Similarly, as Francis Fukuyama described in his 1995 book “Trust: The Social Virtues & the Creation of Prosperity,” countries such as Italy with highly loyal extended families can generate dynamic family firms. Yet, their larger corporations tend to be rife with goldbricking, corruption, and nepotism, all because their employees don’t trust each other to show their highest loyalty to the firm rather than their own extended families. Arab cultures are more family-focused than even Sicily, and thus their larger economic enterprises suffer even more.

American society is so biased against inbreeding that many Americans have a hard time even conceiving of marrying a cousin. Yet, arranged matches between first cousins (especially between the children of brothers) are considered the ideal throughout much of a broad expanse from North Africa through West Asia and into Pakistan and India.

In contrast, Americans probably disapprove of what scientists call “consanguineous” mating more than any other nationality. Three huge studies in the U.S. between 1941 and 1981 found that no more than 0.2% of all American marriages were between first cousins or second cousins.

Americans have long dismissed cousin marriage as something practiced only among hillbillies. That old stereotype of inbred mountaineers waging decades long blood feuds had some truth to it. One study of 107 marriages in Beech Creek, Kentucky in 1942 found 19% were consanguineous, although the Kentuckians were more inclined toward second cousin marriages, while first cousin couples are more common than second cousins pairings in the Islamic lands.

Cousin marriage averages not much more than one percent in most European countries, and under 10% in the rest of the world outside that Morocco to Southern India corridor.

Muslim immigration, however, has been boosting Europe’s low level of consanguinity. According to the leading authority on inbreeding, geneticist Alan H. Bittles of Edith Cowan U. in Perth, Australia, “In the resident Pakistani community of some 0.5 million [in Britain] an estimated 50% to 60+% of marriages are consanguineous, with evidence that their prevalence is increasing.” (Bittles’ Web-site www.Consang.net presents the results of several hundred studies of the prevalence of inbreeding around the world.)

European nations have recently become increasingly hostile toward the common practice among their Muslim immigrants of arranging marriages between their children and citizens of their home country, frequently their relatives. One study of Turkish guest-workers in the Danish city of Ish?und that 98% — 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation — married a spouse from Turkey who then came and lived in Denmark. (Turks, however, are quite a bit less enthusiastic about cousin marriage than are Arabs or Pakistanis, which correlates with the much stronger degree of patriotism found in Turkey.)

European “family reunification” laws present an immigrant with the opportunity to bring in his nephew by marrying his daughter to him. Not surprisingly, “family reunification” almost always works just in one direction — with the new husband moving from the poor Muslim country to the rich European country.

If a European-born daughter refused to marry her cousin from the old country just because she doesn’t love him, that would deprive her extended family of the boon of an immigration visa. So, intense family pressure can fall on the daughter to do as she is told.

The new Danish right wing government has introduced legislation to crack down on these kind of marriages arranged to generate visas. British Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for immigrants to arrange more marriages within Britain.

Unlike the Middle East, Europe underwent what Samuel P. Huntington calls the “Romeo and Juliet revolution.” Europeans became increasingly sympathetic toward the right of a young woman to marry the man she loves. Setting the stage for this was the Catholic Church’s long war against cousin marriage, even out to fourth cousins or higher. This weakened the extended family in Europe, thus lessening the advantages of arranged marriages. It also strengthened broader institutions like the Church and the nation-state.

Islam itself may not be responsible for the high rates of inbreeding in Muslim countries. (Similarly high levels of consanguinity are found among Hindus in Southern India, although there, uncle-niece marriages are socially preferred, even though their degree of genetic similarity is twice that of cousin marriages, with worse health consequences for offspring.)

Rafat Hussain, a Pakistani-born Senior Lecturer at the U. of New England in Australia, told me, “Islam does not specifically encourage cousin marriages and, in fact, in the early days of the spread of Islam, marriages outside the clan were highly desirable to increase cultural and religious influence.” She adds, “The practice has little do with Islam (or in fact any religion) and has been a prevalent cultural norm before Islam.” Inbreeding (or “endogamy”) is also common among Christians in the Middle East, although less so than among Muslims.

The Muslim practice is similar to older Middle Eastern norms, such as those outlined in Leviticus in the Old Testament. The lineage of the Hebrew Patriarchs who founded the Jewish people was highly inbred. Abraham said his wife Sarah was also his half-sister. His son Isaac married Rebekah, a cousin once removed. And Isaac’s son Jacob wed his two first cousins, Leah and Rachel.

Jacob’s dozen sons were the famous progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Due to inbreeding, Jacob’s eight legitimate sons had only six unique great-grandparents instead of the usual eight. That’s because the inbred are related to their relatives through multiple paths.

Why do so many people around the world prefer to keep marriage in the family? Hussain noted, “In patriarchal societies where parents exert considerable influence and gender segregation is followed more strictly, marriage choice is limited to whom you know. While there is some pride in staying within the inner bounds of family for social or economic reasons, the more important issue is: Where will parents find a good match? Often, it boils down to whom you know and can trust.”

Another important motivation — one that is particularly important in many herding cultures, such as the ancients ones from which the Jews and Muslims emerged — is to prevent inheritable wealth from being split among too many descendents. This can be especially important when there are economies of scale in the family business.

Just as the inbred have fewer unique ancestors than the outbred, they also have fewer unique heirs, helping keep both the inheritance and the brothers together. When a herd-owning patriarch marries his son off to his younger brother’s daughter, he insures that his grandson and his grandnephew will be the same person. Likewise, the younger brother benefits from knowing that his grandson will also be the patriarch’s grandson and heir. Thus, by making sibling rivalry over inheritance less relevant, cousin marriage emotionally unites families.

The anthropologist Carleton Coon also pointed out that by minimizing the number of relatives a Bedouin Arab nomad has, this system of inbreeding “does not overextend the number of persons whose deaths an honorable man must avenge.”

Of course, there are also disadvantages to inbreeding. The best known is medical. Being inbred increases the chance of inheriting genetic syndromes caused by malign recessive genes. Bittles found that, after controlling for socio-economic factors, the babies of first cousins had about a 30% higher chance of dying before their first birthdays.

The biggest disadvantage, however, may be political.

Are Muslims, especially Arabs, so much more loyal to their families than to their nations because, due to countless generations of cousin marriages, they are so much more genealogically related to their families than Westerners are related to theirs? Frank Salter, a political scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany whose new book “Risky Transactions: Trust, Kinship, and Ethnicity” takes a sociobiological look at the reason why Mafia families are indeed families, told me, “That’s my hunch; at least it’s bound to be a factor.”

One of the basic laws of modern evolutionary science, quantified by the great Oxford biologist William D. Hamilton in 1964 under the name “kin selection,” is that the more close the genetic relationship between two people, the more likely they are to feel loyalty and altruism toward each other. Natural selection has molded us not just to try to propagate our own genes, but to help our relatives, who possess copies of some of our specific genes, to propagate their own.

Nepotism is thus biologically inspired. Hamilton explained that the level of nepotistic feeling generally depends upon degree of genetic similarity. You share half your personally variable genes with your children and siblings, but one quarter with your nephews/nieces and grandchildren, so your nepotistic urges will tend to be somewhat less toward them. You share one eighth of your genes with your first cousins, and one thirty-second with your second cousin, so your feelings of family loyalty tend to fall off quickly.

But not as quickly if you and your relatives are inbred. Then, you’ll be genealogically and related to your kin via multiple pathways. You will all be genetically more similar, so your normal family feelings will be multiplied. For example, your son-in-law might be also be the nephew you’ve cherished since his childhood, so you can lavish all the nepotistic altruism on him that in an outbred family would be split between your son-in-law and your nephew.

Unfortunately, nepotism is usually a zero sum game, so the flip side of being materially nicer toward your relatives would be that you’d have less resources left with which to be civil, or even just fair, toward non-kin. So, nepotistic corruption is rampant in countries such as Iraq, where Saddam has appointed members of his extended family from his hometown of Tikrit to many key positions in the national government.

Similarly, a tendency toward inbreeding can turn an extended family into a miniature racial group with its own partially isolated gene pool. (Dog breeders use extreme forms of inbreeding to quickly create new breeds in a handful of generations.) The ancient Hebrews provide a vivid example of a partly inbred extended family (that of Abraham and his brothers) that evolved into its own ethnic group. This process has been going on for thousands of years in the Middle East, which is why not just the Jews, but also why tiny, ancient inbreeding groups such as the Samaritans, the John the Baptist-worshipping Sabeans, and the Lucifer-worshipping Yezidis still survive.

In summary, although neoconservatives constantly point to America’s success at reforming Germany and Japan after World War II has evidence that it would be easy to do the same in the Middle East, the deep social structure of Iraq is the complete opposite of those two true nation-states, with their highly patriotic, cooperative, and (not surprisingly) outbred peoples. The Iraqis, in contrast, more closely resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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