Can racial discrimination be harmless?
The Left clearly think so. Affirmative action is nothing if not racially discriminatory. And even racial pride is fine, as long as it is black pride.
The Left are in fact obsessed by race. It is on their agenda all the time. The destruction aimed at is more subtle but they are just as obsessed with race as Hitler was. New socialists and old socialists are not much different.
But are there other forms of racism that should get a pass? He is all but forgotten now but the leading racial theorist of C20 was Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who was admired not only by Hitler but also by Kaiser Bill, the nominal German leader of WWI. Chamberlain was a liberal, a passionate Greenie and a virulent antisemite. So let me make clear at this point that I am not defending him or his doctrines. The only thing we have in common is an admiration for the people of India.
And that is my first point. Chamberlain was in his way positive in what he said about race. His antisemitism, although relentless, was incidental to his main racial theme: That Aryans were a superior people. And he enthusiastically included Hindu Indians among the Aryan race. He even learned Sanskrit to study their early writings. It was probably the writings of Chamberlain that influenced the admiration of Democrat U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for Aryans.
So Chamberlain was primarily concerned not to attack "inferior" races but to build up respect and esteem for Aryans, among whom Germans were the leading lights. He in fact saw the Prussians, the skilled warriors of Northeastern Germany as approaching an ideal type of human being. But he also believed that others could aspire to reach the Prussian ideal. You did not have to be born a Prussian to be an exemplary Aryan.
So the leading theorist from the days of racial theory had primarily positive aims. He was there to praise much more that he was there to condemn.
But in Chamberlain's case, praise for one group went with denigration for another group: Jews. So is that generally so? Can one think well of one's own group without denigrating other groups? There is much evidence that you can.
It was a topic I looked at several times when I was doing survey research among the general population. And I repeatedly found that a person's patriotism and national pride gave no prediction of one's attitude to ethnic outgroups. You could for instance be a proud American and at the same time have no animus against Jews. All combinations were roughly equally probable: Some patriots tended to be favourably disposed to Jews while others tended to be critical of Jews, with neither type of attitude being strongly felt. And there were roughly equal numbers in both "camps".
Examples of my research findings on the matter can be found here, here, here and here. And simliar conclusions have been arrived at by others -- e.g. Cashdan
So I think it is clear that it is not only on the Left that racial sentiment can pass muster. There can be favourable views of other groups with no vicious implications.
I for instance am firmly of the view that the Han Chinese are in many ways a superior group. I think that in most ways they will in time surpass my own Anglo-Saxon group. In some ways they already have. They appreciate Western classical music much more than Westerners do. Classical music has a following in the USA of only about 2% of the population, whereas in China and Japan the figure is about 6%. And the best interpreter of much of Western piano music is in my view Yuja Wang, from Beijing.
And the rise of China has already been greatly beneficial to us all. Almost all our electrical goods are now made there very cheaply. And the ubiquitous presence of Chinese names in the author lists of most academic journal articles in all scientific disciplines has to be seen to be believed.
But will the Chinese rise always be benevolent? One might think not if one knows Chinese attitudes. Most Han Chinese see the Han as a superior race. So will that lead to aggression against other races? The whole point of this essay is to argue that it will not. Thinking highly of your own group does NOT automatically imply hostility to other groups.
And there are practical reasons why we do not have to fear war with China. For a start, why would they want to start a war with their biggest customers?
More importantly, however, the People's Liberation Army is now so large, so well-equipped and trained that any war against it would be unthinkable. Any war between China and anyone else would have to go nuclear almost immediately. And the Chinese know as well as anybody that there would be no winners from such a war. Life on earth could in fact be entirely wiped out, something only Greenies would celebrate. So there will be no war with China. Nuclear deterrence kept the Soviets at bay and it will keep China at bay.
But what about current tensions in the East China sea? With its very large population, China has a great need for resources and it is common for nations to seek such resources from under their nearby seas. The USA does it; The UK does it and Israel does it. The difference on this occasion, of course, is that there are other claimants on control of the areas at issue.
But China now has firm control of the places concerned and because of that, I also think that China has now established a clearly superior legal claim on the areas concerned. By building up the various shoals and islets into substantial bases with extensive facilities and a population, China has simply acquired those places by right of conquest. They took over empty territory and thus have an arguably better claim on the territories concerned than the USA has on its territory. The USA acquired already occupied territory by right of conquest. China acquired empty territory by right of conquest.
So for a variety of reasons, I don't think the rise of China is to be feared or denigrated -- JR.
Conservatism in crisis
The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning.
But let us back up. One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad. On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic. Illegitimacy. Crime. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Politically correct McCarthyism. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes. A disastrously awful educational system that churns out kids who don’t know anything and, at the primary and secondary levels, can’t (or won’t) discipline disruptive punks, and at the higher levels saddles students with six figure debts for the privilege. And so on and drearily on. Like that portion of the mass where the priest asks for your private intentions, fill in any dismal fact about American decline that you want and I’ll stipulate it.
Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything. And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo. Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental? Do they get to the heart of our problems?
If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.
But it’s quite obvious that conservatives don’t believe any such thing, that they feel no such sense of urgency, of an immediate necessity to change course and avoid the cliff. A recent article by Matthew Continetti may be taken as representative—indeed, almost written for the purpose of illustrating the point. Continetti inquires into the “condition of America” and finds it wanting. What does Continetti propose to do about it? The usual litany of “conservative” “solutions,” with the obligatory references to decentralization, federalization, “civic renewal,” and—of course!—Burke. Which is to say, conservatism’s typical combination of the useless and inapt with the utopian and unrealizable. Decentralization and federalism are all well and good, and as a conservative, I endorse them both without reservation. But how are they going to save, or even meaningfully improve, the America that Continetti describes? What can they do against a tidal wave of dysfunction, immorality, and corruption? “Civic renewal” would do a lot of course, but that’s like saying health will save a cancer patient. A step has been skipped in there somewhere. How are we going to achieve “civic renewal”? Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy.
Continetti trips over a more promising approach when he writes of “stress[ing] the ‘national interest abroad and national solidarity at home’ through foreign-policy retrenchment, ‘support to workers buffeted by globalization,’ and setting ‘tax rates and immigration levels’ to foster social cohesion." That sounds a lot like Trumpism. But the phrases that Continetti quotes are taken from Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both of whom, like Continetti, are vociferously—one might even say fanatically—anti-Trump. At least they, unlike Kesler, give Trump credit for having identified the right stance on today’s most salient issues. Yet, paradoxically, they won’t vote for Trump whereas Kesler hints that he will. It’s reasonable, then, to read into Kesler’s esoteric endorsement of Trump an implicit acknowledgment that the crisis is, indeed, pretty dire. I expect a Claremont scholar to be wiser than most other conservative intellectuals, and I am relieved not to be disappointed in this instance.
Yet we may also reasonably ask: What explains the Pollyanna-ish declinism of so many others? That is, the stance that Things-Are-Really-Bad—But-Not-So-Bad-that-We-Have-to-Consider-Anything-Really-Different! The obvious answer is that they don’t really believe the first half of that formulation. If so, like Chicken Little, they should stick a sock in it. Pecuniary reasons also suggest themselves, but let us foreswear recourse to this explanation until we have disproved all the others.
Whatever the reason for the contradiction, there can be no doubt that there is a contradiction. To simultaneously hold conservative cultural, economic, and political beliefs—to insist that our liberal-left present reality and future direction is incompatible with human nature and must undermine society—and yet also believe that things can go on more or less the way they are going, ideally but not necessarily with some conservative tinkering here and there, is logically impossible.
Let’s be very blunt here: if you genuinely think things can go on with no fundamental change needed, then you have implicitly admitted that conservatism is wrong. Wrong philosophically, wrong on human nature, wrong on the nature of politics, and wrong in its policy prescriptions. Because, first, few of those prescriptions are in force today. Second, of the ones that are, the left is busy undoing them, often with conservative assistance. And, third, the whole trend of the West is ever-leftward, ever further away from what we all understand as conservatism.
If your answer—Continetti’s, Douthat’s, Salam’s, and so many others’—is for conservatism to keep doing what it’s been doing—another policy journal, another article about welfare reform, another half-day seminar on limited government, another tax credit proposal—even though we’ve been losing ground for at least a century, then you’ve implicitly accepted that your supposed political philosophy doesn’t matter and that civilization will carry on just fine under leftist tenets. Indeed, that leftism is truer than conservatism and superior to it.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.
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