Go Not Gently

Perhaps the most spectacular self-delusion of the modern liberal mind — a mind that prides itself in being “reality-based”, and on “restoring science to its rightful place” — is the cognitive dissonance required to tune out the realities of human biodiversity. On the one hand, the science proceeds apace; on the other, the terrifying power of taboo and social opprobrium effectively prevents any reference to it in polite society. (Just ask Jason Richwine, for example, who was sacked and disgraced without a single person, as far as I am aware, even bothering to criticize his work on its scientific merits.)

The immigration debate, for example, is framed always either in purely economic terms, or in terms of “fairness” — which, depending on which side you choose, might mean “fairness” to those who came here legally, or to those who didn’t but ought to be allowed in anyway.

What goes mostly unquestioned by either side, however, is the patently hallucinatory idea — among the most audacious assaults on simple common sense that have ever found their way into a mainstream social ideology — that diversity itself is always a great social blessing, and so the more of it the better.

Well, it certainly isn’t better in terms of the evolutionary fitness of related populations that historically inhabit a stable geographic homeland. For such ethnic groups it is, in fact, the numerical equivalent of a drastic curtailment of the birth-rate, and can lead to extinction.

This is the subject of a paper by Frank Salter, of the Max Planck Institute, that would, but for the cognitive dissonance lately mentioned, be at the center of the ongoing debate about immigration. It isn’t.

The paper, which was published in 2002, is called

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Estimating Ethnic Genetic Interests: Is It Adaptive to Resist Replacement Migration?

Here’s the abstract:

Analyses of the costs and benefits of immigration have not considered the dependence of an ethny’s reproductive fitness on its monopoly of a demarcated territory.
Global assays of human genetic variation allow estimation of the genetic losses incurred by a member of a population when random fellow ethnics are replaced by immigrants from different ethnies. This potential loss defines an individual’s ethnic genetic interest as a quantity that varies with the genetic distance of potential immigrants. W. D. Hamilton showed that self-sacrificial altruism is adaptive when it preserves the genetic interests of a population of genetically similar individuals. Ethnic genetic interest can be so large that altruism on behalf of one’s ethny—‘ethnic nepotism’—can be adaptive when it prevents replacement. It follows that ethnies usually have an interest in securing and maintaining a monopoly over a demarcated territory, an idea consonant with the universal nationalism of Bismarck and Woodrow Wilson.

It will already be clear why you haven’t seen much of this on MSNBC, or even Fox News. The paper begins (for this excerpt I have added emphasis and removed some references, which you can read in the original):

Does ethnic competition over territory pay off in terms of reproductive fitness? The question is barely raised in contemporary analyses of population, even when discussing the costs and benefits of immigration on such a scale that it is appropriately called ‘replacement migration.’ Perhaps the idea that humans have reproductive interests does not occur to most social scientists after almost a century of that tradition separating itself from the biological sciences. Whatever the cause, analysts behave as if the only interests humans have are ‘proximate,’ such as economic and physical security, rather than ‘ultimate,’ in the form of genetic continuity. Thus it is implied that immigration on any scale is acceptable so long as it raises aggregate income or makes life more interesting.

A little further on:

Which modern events affect ethnic genetic interests? This interest is ultimately a matter of population size, which can be directly reduced through warfare, genocide, and the loss of limiting resources such as territory. The fact that a 30 percent loss of population is a 30 percent loss of ethnic genetic interest is obvious. But competition can have powerful effects without any behavior that is aggressive in the usual sense of the word. The prime example in the contemporary world is peaceful migration between states and high rates of reproduction by one ethnic group within multi-ethnic states. Like the bands and tribes in which humans evolved, states are territorially based and act to police their borders. The special quality of a defended territory is that it insulates a population from the vicissitudes of demographic disturbances in the metapopulation, namely the connected phenomena of uneven population growth and migration. When an ethny controls the borders of a territory that is large enough to support the population, loss of fitness relative to other ethnies is not necessarily fatal; it need not lead to replacement. A decimated, defeated, or impoverished population can quickly recover if it retains control of its territory, but a large-scale influx of genetically distant immigrants has the potential permanently to reduce the genetic interests of the original population. Territory adequately defended guarantees continuity and the chance to ride out a temporary downturn in numbers relative to other populations. The territorial component of the tribal strategy was so fundamental in Homo sapiens’ evolutionary past that it has become deeply imbedded as a psychological need.

Salter continues:

Loss of fitness within one’s own territory robs the native ethny of the time needed to recover numbers, mobilization, or organization, all contributing to a loosening of the ties between political leadership and ethny. Since in modern societies the state has come to replace traditional tribal institutions, loss of state sponsorship is likely further to undermine mobilization and organization. In a competitive world an ethny’s loss of ability to mobilize and organize as a self-interested group is tantamount to loss of fitness.

Mass migration between diverse populations combined with the existence of collective goods in wealthy societies such as low cost medical support and other forms of welfare have produced effective ethnic competition within many Western states. For example the founding European-derived ethnies of the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain and some other Western societies are declining as proportions of the overall population due to periods of liberal immigration policy from the 1960s. These challenges are real enough for majorities, but minorities have usually fared worse, as diaspora peoples have discovered through the centuries. Not to control a territory creates risks of repeated group subjugation, displacement, and marginalization. For all of past human experience and still today, territory is a resource for maintaining ethnic genetic interests in the long run.

This is all consonant with what was, until very recently indeed, obvious to all — for the simple reason that this is how nature works, and so has manifested itself with indefatigable regularity throughout history, always and everywhere. Fish gotta swim, and birds gotta fly — and population groups must look after their genetic interests, or go extinct.

Nevertheless, in this brave new world, it is heresy of downright Albigensian quality, and so you won’t hear this being brought up on the Senate floor anytime soon. But is it true?

The foregoing qualitative argument might be plausible, but only a quantitative analysis will allow us to assess whether, and under which circumstances, immigration harms native populations’ genetic interests to a significant degree. Such an analysis requires clarification of territorial carrying capacity and the quantification of ethnic kinship.

Ah, the data. If we are genuinely interested in “restoring science to its rightful place”, readers, then this is where the rubber meets the road. Read the rest of Salter’s paper here. It will require you to concentrate your attention, but will be well worth your time, I think.


  1. Ryan says

    Frank Salter is excellent. He has a good, positive review of Kevin MacDonald and his work here:


    Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  2. Shameless self promotion:

    A propos “fairness”, I posted an essay several years ago on this elusive concept:

    Not fair? Define “fair”!

    Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  3. JasonR says

    Care to provide a link to this paper, or, at least, tell us where it was published?

    Posted August 7, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink
  4. @JasonR:


    Posted August 7, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    I did. There’s a link in the final paragraph.

    Here it is again.

    Posted August 7, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

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