By: Emmi Bevensee
This is the first part in a series criticizing the ideas of white supremacy.
The classic alt-right, neo-nazi, and national anarchist line is that social trust is higher in countries with higher degrees of ethnic homogeneity. They go on to claim that where there is higher trust, there is less crime and corruption, which leads to a higher standard of living. In order to defend this argument, they often cite studies from their favorite pet nations: Japan and Russia.
These are bold faced lies. Japan and Russia have relatively low trust indices compared to many multiethnic countries such as New Zealand. In the case of Russia, levels of social trust are even lower than they are in the United States! Furthermore, there are (what a westerner might consider to be) ethnically homogeneous countries in South America and Africa with low trust indices. The white supremacist notion that this is somehow related to the melanin content of their skin is rendered even more ludicrous when you consider that several European countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia have trust indices well under 25%. The unstable, diverse, and fractious United States populace comes in at around 39%. These white supremacist opportunists are simply looking for anything that could be bent to conform to their beliefs. This shows a host of biases, such as cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, instrumental ‘rationality,’ and unscientific inquiry. The upper-crust academic sheen that they seek to give their ideas is a calculated deception. The historical record clearly shows that ethno-nationalism is economically unsustainable.
Trust indices affect a wide range of phenomena but they are also multi-determined. To think that trust could be as simple as “we’re both white” is a fairy-tale that ignores thousands of years of white people slaughtering each other in Europe. “But it’s not just race,” they say, “It’s also that we’re all Christian!” Nope. Religion has been shown to not be a statistically significant determinant of trust when controlling for variables such as trauma. This is obvious; Christians are quick to balk at sectarian divides within Islam, but conveniently forget a history of endless inter-Christian warfare and fragmented Christian sects.
Ethnic homogeneity may weakly correlate with trust, but correlation does not demonstrate causality. For example, the strong correlation between trust and economic development does not show whether the chicken or the egg came first. Rather than high levels of trust causing an improvement in economic development, high economic indices may result in fewer people committing crimes that deteriorate trust.
African countries with low levels of trust and high degrees of racial homogeneity (i.e. they’re all simply black in the white supremacist mind because clearly culture could follow no other indicators than skin tone) should be contextualized. They disprove the race-trust connection and also unpack the notion of white genetic civility. It’s been shown that declining levels of trust in many African nations can be directly traced back to the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific slave trades. Whites and colonizers built the economic stability and trust indices that they rely upon at the direct expense of African slaves, damning many African nations to centuries of racial inequality and low trust levels. It’s clear that coercion and the destruction of liberty are key reasons for the loss of trust in a nation.
The only effective way of creating ethnic homogeneity is by engaging in witch hunts and genocide: both of which inevitably lead to reductions in trust. This poses a problem for white supremacists. If you investigate white supremacist forums such as Stormfront, you will inevitably find people engaged in furious debate on the question of who gets to be considered “white.” Because “white” is a contested concept, there is no consensus on who to kill or deport. Whiteness is a historically fragile container and always has been.
In her book Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power, Ann Laura Stoler analyzes archival records of court cases in Javanese colonies where imperial judges attempted to determine whether certain persons should be classed as white or native. They created an arbitrary set of tests and indicators: how the person spoke, who their friends were, the shape of their bone structure, and their table manners to name a few. However, they repeatedly struggled to adequately categorize (and thus colonize and control) certain colonial subjects. Even given the full resources of a colonial empire, they couldn’t figure out a working definition of whiteness through the hybridity of reality. Roberto D. Hernández aptly notes:
“…[the fact that] Jews, Italians, Irish and other South and Eastern European immigrants were not initially considered white is itself testament to the fiction of whiteness, for “whites” are the historical result of a political process and not an immutable fact of a biologically distinguishable genus/people.”
It is ludicrous to believe that a few basement-dwelling members of the alt-right have stumbled upon a set of empirical truths when their entire framework is built on the unstable and mobile notion of whiteness. In their attempts to determine who should be classed as white, the white supremacist becomes a witch-hunting McCarthyite: sowing the seeds of betrayal and corroding the foundations of trust in every interaction they have.
The foundational economic argument for high-trust societies is that “virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust, certainly any transaction conducted over a period of time.” However, if one is forced to determine the degree to which every potential firm or customer is sufficiently white (in lieu of a more tenable measure of trustworthiness), economic development is drastically impeded. In the eyes of the white supremacist, one should only be supporting and buying from other pure whites. A real white supremacist can’t give money to a non-white in good faith. They’re supposed to only support white-owned businesses and boycott anything owned by non-whites.
Imagine being a Nazi consumer during the Weimar period and struggling to read the face of every shopkeeper to determine the degree to which they are Aryan or not. This means more time spent travelling to find ‘acceptable’ firms with which to do business. Placing such limits on competition and diversity of market choices would spell doom for economic prosperity. In the witch-hunt of non-whiteness, white supremacists spend more money for less choice, systematically excluding themselves from the economic opportunities awarded to non-bigots. When this insight is applied to an entire society, it becomes clear that racism is extremely expensive and completely untenable as a means of guaranteeing trust in society. White-supremacists directly contribute to poverty and loss of trust among whites, destroying their cohesion. This realization is devastating to the white supremacist myth of high trust being created by racial homogeneity. Modern neo-nazis have found a way around this by encouraging the sale of addictive drugs in poor communities of color. Even this backfires; their sellers become addicted themselves to the drugs with which they seek to poison black and brown people. Again, they’ve managed to white-supremacist themselves right into a white-genocidal corner.
This idea of voluntary market exchange being at odds with prejudice, both personal and structural, is by no means a new one. Voltaire described the profit motive in the London Stock Exchange as a source for overcoming racial and religious biases. This logic, however vulgar, still applies to the contemporary employer and the contemporary consumer. Some of the most vocal opponents of South African apartheid were white South African business owners who did not want to lose reliable labor pools (admittedly for work that was often dangerous). In contrast, the white labor unions in apartheid South Africa promoted discrimination whilst being less willing to work in the mines themselves. The issue of race in relation to employment impacted the fight for the minimum wage in the U.S. as well. People of color were often willing to work for less than their white counterparts and were systematically denied entry to Anglo-unions. These people of color were supposedly driving down wages for white people and raising wages for themselves. They would have preferred poor black laborers to be unemployed rather than impact their wages. It’s no wonder that white union members were once again on the forefront of the minimum wage fight. Obviously, people being paid fair wages is a good thing. But in these circumstances, questionable economic incentives drove anti-racism more reliably than ethical incentives. Revealed preferences were juxtaposed with the stated morals of many in the labor struggle.
Note: The Wobblies were one of the few unions of the early 1900’s to work with Chinese people, Mexicans, Italians, French people, and African-Americans. Most unions were strictly English and Anglo only. Italians and even the French were deemed “Latin” in a vague slur against Mediterraneans of all stripes, which led them to organize with Mexicans in California and Northern Mexico. An interesting perspective on this phenomenon can be found in the excellent book, “Immigrants Against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America.”
“But in a white nation,” they are quick to respond, “all competition would be amongst whites — so all of this consumer and employer business would be bunk!” Unfortunately for them, so would the structural privileges awarded to whiteness over time in a state-mandated monopoly market. All of the sudden, they would have no one to repress in order to keep their wages high and avoid undesirable work. White people would have to do all of the terrible work they’ve historically been outsourcing to undocumented persons, slaves, poor whites, and indentured servants. Their neighborhood cartels of accrued privileges and closed networks of support — their gated communities — would all be interrupted. Who would work in the mines and in the dumps? Who would labor for 12 hours a day with carcinogenic computer pieces? In a white ethno-state, white people would. The master race would be forced to develop its own class system without the aid of its racist doublespeak notion of ‘natural hierarchies’.
How would this society determine which whites were suitable for the worst work? How would they keep wages low and profits high? They’d have to create an internal ‘Other’ and recreate something resembling the race system they sought to destroy. This would naturally create resentment and distrust amongst the classes. The only other option would be to again turn to negotiating with external nations who, by nature of their willingness to diversify, are in a far better position to bargain. These external nations can simply take their business elsewhere for economic or ethical reasons.
How would a white ethno-state be able to fight against a trade alliance of countries in the Global South? It wouldn’t. Instead, it would simply get the short straw of every deal: just like colonial empires (both Eastern and Western) have done to their (neo-)colonial subjects for hundreds of years. Even if this white ethno-state had some measure of high internal trust (which as shown above, is unlikely), if it cannot produce all of its goods in an equitable way, it will end up in a position of economic servitude to more economically sustainable and diverse nations or anti-statist trade alliances.
This may well lead to revolt; people will realize that they have better opportunities outside of the bubble. Suddenly, strong borders are no longer needed to keep people out, but to keep whites in. Human Capital Flight will ramp up the entropy as the smartest and most skilled citizens struggle to leave. As whites begin to smuggle and violently resist the white regime, they will likely find allies in the decentralized and diverse majority. In time, the white nation would fulfill its one true duty: to perish in a pile of ashes and be swept into the dustbin of history.
Cultural Complexity, Ideological Complexity, and Survival
Another problem with the idea of a “high-trust” homogeneous society is that it lacks the sufficient complexity necessary to facilitate memetic and ideological evolution. If everyone is very similar, there is not enough space to test, explore, and fail. Cultural homogeneity lacks the diversity needed to create a complex marketplace of ideas. If high trust comes from sameness, so too does the death knell of intellectual development. Ideological complexity can only come from an expansive and intricate stigmergy of ideas competing to survive in the gauntlet of repeated testability and debate. If everyone is culturally similar, entropy is minimized and development is thwarted. White Status Quo Warriors (SQWs) are quick to emphasize the importance of free speech. It’s a shame that they’ve hijacked such a powerful premise. When they say free speech, they don’t mean memetic complexity. They just want to use a public platform to instigate paramilitary violence against minorities. Anyone who cannot see through this doublespeak is blinded. Free speech is essential to a flourishing society, but its full benefits can only be realized when that society is culturally diverse. Diversity engenders development.
A powerful illustration of this argument for complexity can be found in Córdoba: a city located in southern Spain. This area was conquered and colonized by several empires, notably the (Christian) Byzantines and (Muslim) Moors. These empires made the mistake of treating the colonized as second-class citizens in some respects, but Andalusia (Al-Andalus) nonetheless became one of the most important European centers for intellectual exchange during this period of the Umayyad Caliphate. It boasted extensive libraries and research centers, music (Flamenco is a combination of North African, Spanish, and Romani influences), food, literature, philosophy, and the creation of aqueducts and culturally hybridized architectural wonders. Córdoba was the largest city in Europe in the 10th century. Muslims, Christians, and Jews (largely) peacefully coexisted in Moorish Al-Andalus, despite some restrictions placed on non-Muslims such as paying the jizya (a non-Muslim tax). However, zakkat, or the “charitable” tax of Muslims, provided a welfare state of sorts that Muslims and non-Muslims alike were able to enjoy.
While the rest of Medieval Europe remained in the Dark Ages, the diverse exchanges in Al-Andalus led to some of the greatest mathematical discoveries in history. As a result of the Islamic emphasis on learning, people translated works from Greek, Persian, and Indian sources, putting them at the forefront of mathematical knowledge in that period. This diversity created an environment that contributed to one of the most important foundations of mathematics to date: the invention and notation the number zero, in addition to the foundations of algebra. These mathematical advances facilitated an explosion of scientific development in fields such as astronomy, cartography, and geography that ultimately led to critical inventions such as the astrolabe. One of the pivotal moments of reckoning for Don Black’s (founder of Stormfront, former Klan Grand Wizard) son Derek was when — in seeking to understand the glorified Medieval European society his community cherished — he instead found out how backwards it was in many respects, relative to its contemporaries in the Islamic world. The sheer complexity of networked diversity led to the advances in Andalusia and ethno-religious supremacy (albeit non-Western) led to the downfall of this Mecca of ideological evolution and exchange. Homogeneity is fine for white milk, but not for a species whose goal is evolution.
Far-right Status-Quo Warriors and white supremacist movements have never been shy about embracing questionable science to support their predetermined conclusions. This is especially true in the modern era. White supremacists are attempting to disassociate their views from their movement’s ugly history by presenting themselves as modern, peaceful, rational, and scientific. In public, Richard Spencer is quick to emphasize that his idealized ethnic cleansing would be peaceful. In private, he admits that it could never be voluntary. People like Jared Taylor, who was born in Japan, have helped to popularize the dubious notion of ‘trust through homogeneity’ among such caricatures of human beings as David Duke. The problem is the cherry picked nature of the studies that white supremacists highlight when attempting to justify their abhorrent views. Utilizing dishonest techniques such as p-hacking, it is not difficult for them to find a correlation somewhere that conforms to their prior beliefs. In many cases, valid scientific insights are decontextualized and lose their basic meaning.
A key sign that someone is probably doing dishonest science is if they devote their entire career to proving one specific thing that has been widely discredited, or at least problematized by the broader independent scientific community. People like Jared Taylor have historically been funded by major eugenicist donors such as The Pioneer Fund, who have been conclusively linked to the Nazi party’s eugenics divisions. These types of pre-motivated biases are a disgrace to science and economics. By all means, we should have honest conversations about race. By all means, we should challenge ourselves through difficult conversations in the quest for truth. But a fascist pet-project is not the path forward. It is a mockery of rigorous discourse. Don’t be a dweeb. Unfollow Radix, Mankind Quarterly, Amren, the Occidental Quarterly, and The Social Contract. Or if you insist on following them, read beyond their sophistry, shape-shifting, and delicate weaving of fascist creep. But, if you want real science, then read real science. If you want real trust and societal evolution, try complexity.
Stay tuned for the next instalment!
You can find Emmi’s blog here.