One often hears the argument that only a single worldwide civilization, with a total mixture of all races, would resolve the tensions and conflicts between groups. That does not appear to me necessary or desirable. If one could teach man to be tolerant, i.e., to be ready to understand and accept other lifestyles both within civilizations and between various peoples, then ethnocentrism will find itself defused without it being necessary for groups to surrender their cultural uniqueness nor pride in their own civilization. Establishing peace among peoples need not be accomplished over the dead bodies of civilizations and races. (Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt)
Many modern rulers of Western Europe praise individualism, globalism, multiculturalism, and mass immigration. Consequently, most Western European schools, universities, journalists, and public figures unanimously preach global equality like a religious dogma. Probably because universal human equality is a religious dogma:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
Universalist ideologues enthusiastically evoke the mellifluous ideal of ‘world peace’ and drown out those who speak of biological facts in search for an objective ethical foundation of political ideas.
Utilitarianism can help us build such a foundation. According to this impartial moral theory, good is what promotes human flourishing and maximizes the general well-being of sentient creatures.
Yet the common gut reaction “So we need a world state that unites all human beings in joy and peace and harmony!” merely blurts out the innards of our modern polito-theological indoctrination.
Have we ever had a world state? Who would rule it? And does this ideological vision factor in the reality of human nature? I will argue that it doesn’t. Why? Because ethnicity matters.
Ethnicity is not an obsolete concept or a dwindling reality that needs to be overcome. Rather, it is still an essential quality of what it means to be human. To be clear, two key definitions:
- Ethnicity denotes a people’s common ancestry, culture, language, society, homeland, and history.
- Ethnic nationalism, as I define it, is a sociopolitical system that promotes the interests of a particular ethnic group (not of a race, for that would neglect the cultural factor and overstate the biological factor).1
The following article explains how ethnic nationalism is rooted in biological facts that have distinct psychosocial consequences and thus objective ethical implications.
1. Biological Foundation
Ethnic genetic interests constitute the biological foundation of ethnic nationalism. In this section, I introduce the underlying evolutionary principles and address a few popular objections. All main ideas and quotes in this section are taken from Frank Salter’s book On Genetic Interests.
1.1. Ethnic Genetic Interests
1.1.1. Inclusive Fitness
‘Survival of the fittest’ is the basic principle of evolution. Those who are best adapted to their environment will pass on their genes to the next generation, whereas the genes of those who are not fit enough to reproduce will die out.
Nonetheless, if we observe natural life, we will find, in insects for example, a stable caste of sterile worker bees that never reproduces and yet never dies out. They devote their entire lives to the hive while the queen undertakes all the procreation. In other words, some genes seem to be able to consistently produce infertile organisms without being weeded out of the gene pool. How is this possible? W. D. Hamilton’s answer: Although worker bees have zero individual fitness because they do not create offspring, their inclusive fitness is high.
Inclusive fitness is “the idea that within a species an individual’s reproductive success—his or her fitness—depends partly on the reproductive success of other individuals who share some of the individual’s distinctive genes” (Salter, p. 37). Hence, a sterile worker bee’s genes are fit to survive because the queen, who does all the reproducing, shares a large fraction of its genes.
A special case of inclusive fitness theory is kin selection, the evolutionary strategy that favors the reproductive success of an individual’s relatives. Mathematically, the strength of kin selection depends on the degree of genetic relatedness (r): it is strongest between identical twins (r = 100%), still strong between parent and child and between full siblings (r = 50%, resp.), less strong between grandparent and grandchild (r = 25%), still weaker between first cousins (r = 12.5%), and so forth.
Kin selection explains the phenomenon of altruism, solving the problem of how it can be adaptive for a man to sacrifice his life for more than two brothers, more than four grandchildren, or more than eight cousins. This flies because >2*0.5 equals >1, >4*0.25 equals >1, and >8*0.125 equals >1. As soon as a kinship calculation equals more than 1, self-sacrifice can be genetically beneficial.
In other words, every man has a genetic interest in the preservation of his relatives’ genes. If his family is in serious danger, that interest can even outweigh his interest to live. His genetic will to protect can, in special cases, trump his egoistic will to survive because, ultimately, all that matters is the survival of genes. Every organism is just a “means by which genes replicate themselves” (p. 27), not an end in itself.
1.1.2. Ethnic Kinship
Naturally, the evolutionary mechanism of kin selection does not arbitrarily stop at the family level. According to inclusive fitness theory, it also extends to a man’s clan, tribe, ethny, and species, though with declining practical impact. This is called extended kinship—belonging to a kind of superfamily. Although the degree of genetic relatedness gets smaller as kinship extends and genetic distance increases, it never drops to zero.
“An individual’s genetic interest in a particular group is the number of copies of the individual’s distinctive genes carried within the group by reproducing individuals” (p. 38). Every individual shares a number of distinctive genes with his tribe. Therefore, a human being living in a tribe has a tribal genetic interest. Similarly, every individual shares a number of distinctive genes with his ethny, defined as “a population sharing common descent” (p. 30). Therefore, a human being living in an ethny has an ethnic genetic interest.
Most tribal behaviors like “food sharing, cooperative child care, and mutual exploitation and defence of territory” (p. 30) can be explained by reciprocity, the social principle of ‘you help me, I help you’. But when reciprocity is delayed into the distant future or when a conflict between tribes calls for self-sacrificial behavior, tribal altruism comes into play. Importantly, altruistic solidarity is always relative to a specific form of competition. In the absence of tribal conflict, tribal altruism would be maladaptive.
Now, even though tribal altruism is stronger than ethnic altruism because tribes have a higher concentration of distinctive genes and thus a greater mutual genetic interest, ethnic altruism is still an adaptive evolutionary strategy, at least under the right competitive circumstances. For example, the patriotic altruism that motivates soldiers to die for their country has, despite obvious psychocultural and ideological factors, a solid biological basis, at least if the country is ethnically homogenous and under a serve attack that endangers a large amount of his coethnics.
This biological basis—inclusive fitness and extended kin selection—explains why ethnic nationalism is an adaptive evolutionary strategy, particularly in times of mass migration: because nationalism serves ethnic genetic interests. “For all past human experience and still today, control of a territory is a precious resource for maintaining ethnic genetic interests in the long run” (p. 61). From a biological perspective, “ethnic monopoly of a territory is ‘a fundamental ethnic collective good’ because it facilitates efficient mass investment in ethnic interests” (p. 185) that supports an ethnic group’s genetic survival. Therefore, ethnic nationalism is “an adaptive ethnic group strategy” (p. 221).
1.2. Common Objections
1.2.1. Out of Africa
How can ethnicity matter from an evolutionary perspective if all modern humans originally came out of Africa? Is mankind not genetically unified? And even if some populations have left Africa and developed their own genetic lineages, have those populations not mixed so much that a pure lineage no longer exists? Does the human species not form one large population?
Even if the ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis is true and its competing hypothesis, the multiregional hypothesis, is false and even if populations have mixed, this “presents no difficulty for the concept of genetic ethnic interests, since we know from direct measurement that significant genetic variation exists between populations” (p. 48). To cite one example:
Sykes’s mitochondrial analysis of European origins was confirmed by an assay of Y-chromosomes of 1007 European males conducted by an international team that included Cavalli-Sforza. This chromosome, which determines male sex, is passed down the paternal line. This study confirmed the 20 percent admixture of Near Eastern genes in European populations and found evidence of ten founding tribes in the Palaeolithic. Thus clusters of Europeans, while showing some relatively recent admixture from outside Europe, are a largely autochthonous people who can trace their origins back for several tens of thousands of years to a small number of founding tribes. […] Ethnic genetic interests exist within a region even as criss-crossed with migration routes as Europe. (p. 53)
Ok, granted that there exists some genetic variation between populations: is it really significant?
1.2.2. Human Genetic Variation
Humans share 99.5% of their DNA with other humans. With the human genome containing 19,000 genes, the genetic difference between two human beings can be no more than 95 genes. Does this not prove that ‘we are all just humans’ and that ethnic differences and interests are negligible?
Evolutionarily speaking, no. “A universal altruist, one who distributed resources randomly, would be outbred by a kin altruist, one who restricted generosity to kin. So within a few generations the gene that caused universal altruism would have fallen in frequency in the population and be slipping towards complete replacement by genes that directed altruism towards relatives” (p. 91).
Besides, who says that those 95 genes are unimportant? For all we know, a single genetic mutation can have huge effects: it can be the difference between health and disease, between life and death. There is also no denying the fact that racial differences can be striking: in appearance, in ontogenesis, in athletic performance, in general intelligence, in temperament, and in sexual behavior (see J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution and Behavior).
Lastly, the genetic difference between humans and chimps is less than 2%. This does not seem to prevent humanists from valuing human life over that of other primates. “They shouldn’t!” exclaims the animal rights activist. But any moral line of genetic demarcation is arbitrary. Grass has genes, too, and you step on it?
We cannot directly derive ethical principles from biological facts, and all I have shown so far is that ethnic genetic interests matter biologically. Now, why do they also matter ethically?
2. Psychosocial Consequences
In this section, I will first present the psychosocial consequences of ethnic nationalism and then discuss some problems stemming from the reality of multiculturalism already being a part of our modern Western civilization.
2.1. Ethnic Nationalism Increases Human Well-Being
2.1.1. Main Argument
Humans are social beings. People who feel disconnected from society are unhappy and have poor mental health (depression, anxiety, etc.). By improving social cohesion, ethnic nationalism promotes human flourishing and increases overall well-being, which is the ultimate ethical objective. But what is social cohesion and how does ethnic nationalism improve it?
2.1.2. Social Cohesion
Social cohesion or solidarity implies a host of positive behaviors, attitudes, and emotions:
- People feel that they belong to a community and that they can trust their neighbors. They also have more close friends, spend less time alone at home watching television, and are happier overall.
- They are more willing to cooperate to solve collective problems and work on community projects. They are also more generous (give more to charity) and altruistic (volunteer more frequently).
- They experience a strong sense of democracy and political efficacy. They vote more, feel better about politics, and have more confidence in the government.
- They have freedom, which is ensured only in a stable society.
Sociological studies have repeatedly shown that ethnic diversity in communities disrupts social cohesion, impairs social trust, and reduces solidarity. Examples include an Australian study on trust by Leigh (2006), Putnam’s E Pluribus Unum (2007), a replication of Putnam’s study in the Netherlands by Lancee & Dronkers (2008), and a study investigating the underlying causality with a British sample by Laurence & Bentley (2016). Moreover, an agent-based model by Neal & Neal (2014) demonstrated that diversity and community are incompatible goals. Finally, reduced solidarity in multicultural societies is also reflected in social policies:
World surveys of ethnic diversity and welfare find a robust inverse relationship between the generosity of redistributive welfare and ethnic diversity. Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism. For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government’s share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens. Case studies of the United States, Africa, and South-East Asia find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure. Moscow beggars receive more gifts from fellow ethnics than from other ethnies. A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller proportion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogeneous cities. Those public services included education, roads, sewers, libraries, rubbish removal, and welfare. A major cause of parsimonious welfare in the United States is the racial gap between predominantly white taxpayers and disproportionately black welfare recipients, contributing to taxpayer motivation to vote against generous welfare. (Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests, pp. 145-46)
The problem with citing studies, however, is that intelligent people will always find interpretative loopholes or other studies that allow different ethical interpretations of the phenomenon. For example, van Staveren & Pervaiz (2017) found that “once controlled for horizontal inequality [i.e., social exclusion], ethnic diversity has no statistically significant negative impact on social cohesion”; but this raises more questions than it answers. Therefore, I will not discuss any studies in depth here and rather ground my argument in a sociobiological principle.
2.1.3. Ethnic Nepotism
Ethnic nationalism improves social cohesion through ethnic nepotism, the human tendency to favor people who are ethnically more similar to oneself, which facilitates ethnic altruism. This is why ethnic genetic interests matter! When a man volunteers for his community, selflessly helps his ethnic brothers, or fights for his country, he is ‘investing’, evolutionarily speaking, in his inclusive fitness, which includes his coethnics’ ability to pass on their genes to the next generation. Their propagation is also in his genetic interest because he shares most of his genes with them.
In a multiethnic society, however, solidary fitness investments benefit not only one’s coethnics, but also inter-ethnic free riders, for example, non-European immigrants who exploit European welfare states. Social altruism is then no investment in one’s inclusive fitness, for it also benefits people of other ethnicities; worse, it decreases relative fitness due to genetic competition.
Morally, this is not a problem per se, but biologically it is because, over generations, it causes altruistic motivations to be selected out of the gene pool. We humans have an evolutionary pressure not to waste our altruism on free riders, not to misdirect our solidarity to genetic competitors. In modern terms, being a ‘cuck’ who invests in someone else’s reproduction at the expense of his own is a biological disaster; the same holds for ‘cuckservatives’ who condone multiculturalism.
It is therefore more biologically adaptive for people living in ethnically diverse communities to hunker down at home, to mistrust all neighbors, no matter their ethnicity, and to care only about themselves and their close family. And as sociological studies have shown (see 2.1.2.), that is precisely what people tend to do in the real world. If we want more trust and solidarity to increase human well-being, we can either pray for moral progress to the leftist God of equality, or implement ethno-nationalistic policies based on the reality of human nature.
The modern political strategy of the West is to force ‘moral progress’ by mixing ethnic groups with the naive hope that at some point all people will ‘look beyond their differences’ and start to love each other equally strongly. This can certainly work on an individual level. After all, modern humans identify with multiple non-ethnic social groups anyway. But the great folly of leftists is their extrapolation from individual capacities to society at large: “If I can be non-judgmental or judge people solely by their individual merits and character, then everybody can; if my parents could teach me to see all people as equal, then everybody’s parents can; and if the Dalai Lama can love all human beings the same, then everybody has the potential to do so.” True on an individual level, false on a societal level. Why? Because people have genetic interests, and we cannot completely override and substitute our biology with ideology.
History is full of such failures: Jesus failed in overriding adultery, Marx failed in overriding greed, Gandhi failed in overriding violence, and the West is failing in overriding racism. Adultery, greed, violence, and racism are morally bad, at least to the extent that they cause more suffering than joy. However, a political system aimed at maximizing human well-being must manage the dark side of human nature, not ignore or suppress it.
In a sense, the multicultural strategy does work: it dilutes ethnic genetic interests and magnifies the problem of free riders to such an extent that ethnic nepotism becomes maladaptive. But is this a moral victory? It does not make people more altruistic towards their fellow humans; it merely makes them less altruistic towards their ethnic brothers. Rather than spreading love all over the world, it replaces heartfelt love with cold, intellectual respect. Inter-ethnic egalitarianism (“all humans are equal”) does not extend the scope of altruism to include all humans, but narrows it to include nobody. Maybe that’s fairer? It’s certainly sadder. Multiculturalism is a victory only for elite free riders: politicians, bankers, and big industrialists who benefit tremendously from mass immigration and the social alienation of obsessively self-interested
2.1.4. Global Ethnopluralism
For ethnic nepotism to maximize the general well-being of all humans, every ethnic group must be allowed to favor, care for, and protect their own ethnicity. Ethnic nationalism is morally right only if it follows the international Golden Rule that people respect racial and cultural diversity on a global level. By contrast, ethnocentric imperialism is morally wrong.
One might still think that Nazism, as aggressive and expansive as its pathological ethnocentrism was, could make sense from a non-ethical, raw biological point of view, but it doesn’t. “Fascism is an over-investment in national interests” (Salter, p. 176). No man is reducible to his ethnic and national identity. He must also invest to varying degrees in himself, in his family and friends, in his social roles, in his race and broader cultural area, and in mankind at large. National Socialism created a speculative “fitness investment bubble” (ibid.) that gravely exaggerated one aspect of a man’s identity. The bubble was bound to pop eventually, as it did, killing millions of even those who were intended to benefit from it.
According to the normative idea of ethnopluralism, every ethnic group has a right to be different. This right forestalls ethnic invasions such as imperialistic war as well as undemocratic mass immigration policies. Similarly, Salter speaks of “a universal nationalism that might optimize global genetic interest” (p. 248). Such nationalism does not exalt one nation above all others. On the contrary, it cherishes global diversity and the international right of self-determination.
2.2. Some Problems
Does promoting ethnic nationalism not motivate xenophobia and racial hatred, both of which decrease social cohesion and human well-being in a multicultural society? — We must distinguish between individual human beings on the one hand and sociocultural principles on the other. Miserable people will always find a way to hate others, but negative emotions are no prerequisite for positive political change. Furthermore, we should logically expect more homogeneity to decrease racial hatred simply because in a less ethnically mixed society there are less people to hate based on race and less occurrences to trigger such hate. (What about institutional racism? See here.)
In a society where multiculturalism is already a reality, do new nationalistic policies not pose the danger of devolving into an inhumane ethnic cleansing? — It is extremely important never to lose sight of objective morality. We must do our very best to find creative political solutions (promoting remigration, manipulating economic push/pull factors, etc.) and to evaluate their effects on overall well-being while balancing short-term and long-term outcomes. This is our great challenge: not to overestimate immediate consequences, as hyperempathetic leftists do, nor to be blinded by an ideological vision of a distant future as we march over untold suffering into some idiotic utopia, be it aracially globalist or white supremacist. If peaceful political solutions are no viable option, the problem of ethnic cleansing is a knockdown argument against the practical applicability of ethnic nationalism.
Since ethnic purity is unrealistic, will an ethnostate not impair the well-being of ethnic minorities (discrimination, social exclusion, etc.)? — As a mathematical fact, maximizing overall well-being implies that a positive for a majority justifies an equally large negative for a minority. If that negative threatens to go out of hand, we must test and weigh concrete moral hypotheses, and we must trust in our moral nobility, conscience, and compassion, not hastily delegate our personal moral responsibility to the state, which only makes matters worse (see, e.g., Thomas Sowell, Affirmative Action Around the World).
Should an ethno-nationalist state prohibit interracial families? — If the biological foundation of ethnic nationalism is true, there should be no need for such a prohibition in a relatively homogenous nation. He who thinks that the protection of an ethnic lineage must be legally enforced has moved from reality to ideology. Human desires and motivations are complex, so there will always be outliers who practice miscegenation. Is this good or bad? On the one hand, interbreeding can cause “a significant loss of fitness for its parent populations due to dilution of distinctive genes and hence lowered efficiency of parental and ethnic investment” (Salter, p. 258). On the other hand, exogamy can promote peace by healing ethnic conflict. In any case, Salter also writes, “A steady trickle of migration between tribes does not very much affect the ceiling of within-tribe relatedness” (p. 42). Individuals who choose to go against the norm by mixing races are as little a danger to a people’s ethnic identity as a minor influx of immigrants who assimilate to the host culture.
3. An Analogy
In our modern, settled society, children’s well-being is heuristically maximized when all families care mostly about their own kin. An exception to this simple organizing principle are orphans, but a strong community can support a measured amount of them. Similarly, people’s well-being is heuristically maximized when all peoples care mostly about their own extended kin. An exception to this simple organizing principle are immigrants (ethnical orphans), but a strong community can assimilate a measured amount of them.
Now, replacing familial love, trust, and belonging with a social contract that delegates all child rearing to public institutions would negatively affect children’s well-being (as it generally does in foster care). Similarly, replacing ethnic love, trust, and belonging with a social contract that cuts ethnicity out of nationality would negatively affect a people’s well-being. This is why civic nationalism is suboptimal.
If we want to maximize universal well-being, we should generally care in degrees of genetic distance. We should care first for ourselves (to build the strength to support others), then for our family (kin), then for our ethnicity (extended kin), then for our species (all human beings), then for all sentient beings, and then for all living things.
If everybody cared like that without causing unnecessary suffering for any other group, we would maximize both our inclusive fitness and our universal well-being, that is to say, we would live in an ethically ideal world. If you think that I am wrong, I encourage you to tell me why in the comments below.
Tribalism and Human Nature
Are Ethnopluralists Racist?
On the Ethics of Ethnopluralism
Values We Fight, Bleed, and Die For
Why Freedom Isn’t What You Think It Is (Modernity Vs. Tradition)
Not Islam, but the Nazis Killed Europe