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 The War Against Human Nature

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Har Har Harr

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Join date : 2012-03-01
Location : The Cockpit

PostSubject: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:48 pm


The War Against Human Nature in the Social Sciences
Frank Salter

Quote :
While lecturing in ex-Soviet countries from the 1990s it was difficult not to contrast the crumbling facades and rotten plumbing with the neatness of Australian universities. There were two striking similarities—the vivid personalities who worked in both environments and the taboo against human nature afflicting the social sciences. Colleagues in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Prague, Budapest and Bucharest, recalled that during the communist era their attempts to adopt biosocial science—behavioural biology applied to the study of human society—were blocked by Marxists.[1] The discoveries of Charles Darwin, Konrad Lorenz, Nikko Tinbergen, William Young, Irenaeus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, William Hamilton and Edward Wilson and others were mainstream in the study of all species except us.  

It felt just like home. An odd fact that: intolerant leftists held sway in universities on both sides of the Cold War. Ideas can be in poor repair in the best-funded universities.

The intellectual insularity of the social sciences was not a new theme. I had written about sociology’s rejection of biology in a 1996 review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Sociology.[2] The Dictionary was embarrassingly true to the Standard Social Science Model that has been dominant since the 1930s, according to which the mind and behaviour are shaped only by culture. The Dictionary defined childhood, not as a critical stage of development that is genetically programmed and common to Homo sapiens everywhere, but as “constructed on the inabilities of children as political, intellectual, sexual, or economic beings, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. [This] serves the needs of capitalist states”. The “Marriage” entry did not mention reproduction or child rearing. The entry under “Sex” denied the existence of instinctive sexuality. The “Race” entry denied that visible racial differences are the product of genes. There was no discussion of reproductive interests except for the usual mantra concerning social Darwinism, Herbert Spencer and eugenics. Many of these entries openly criticised conservative values, defining the latter so broadly as to include middle of the road values. There was no entry for “Patriotism”. Just one biologically literate editor could have saved the book by informing contributors of the relevant biosocial facts.

The review’s concluding words bear on the contemporary Australian scene: “Since evolutionary biology is a crucial artery linking the social and the natural sciences, closing off the free flow of biological ideas has resulted in the theoretical and empirical isolation evident in contemporary sociology as summarized in the Dictionary, and calls into question sociology’s status as a science”. I also noted that the part of biosocial science most relevant to understanding society consists of disciplines that study the naturalistic causes of social behaviour: ethology, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, biological anthropology, biopolitics, bioeconomics, behavioural endocrinology, and brain science. Evolutionary theory is part of the tool kit of behavioural biology, useful for generating hypotheses about ultimate causes. All these approaches illuminate facets of human nature, especially those universal to the species.

The Dictionary was published almost two decades ago. The question I seek to answer here is whether behavioural biology is now a respectable part of Australia’s elite culture. The question is important because many policy and management issues involve assessments of behaviour. Decision makers are unlikely to adopt prudent policies unless their reasoning is based on realistic assumptions about human nature. That applies whether one is trying to improve educational outcomes, increase the representation of women in non-domestic work roles, smooth race relations, or reduce bullying in schools and at work. To answer the question I shall consider three important domains of intellectual culture: the media, business, and academic social science.

Human nature in the media

On the positive side behavioural biology comes up frequently in the media, probably due to consumer demand. We are living at an exciting time of discovery in the field. The human genome was decoded in 2003 resulting in a steady trickle of news about gene expression. At the same time other species’ genomes are being decoded, most recently that of the gorilla, allowing insights into human adaptations.

Many articles are syndicated from Europe or the United States, but Australian researchers are represented. Rob Brooks, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of NSW, recently published Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution Has Shaped the Modern World, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “sublime piece of popular science”. Brooks applies modern evolutionary theory to understand sex and sexuality. On Valentine’s Day he discussed how even romantic relationships must overcome the competitiveness and aggression that is normal, especially between unrelated individuals. The heavy lifting is performed by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.[3]

Melbourne University sociologist Ruth Quibell’s review of The Conflict: Woman and Mother by French feminist Elisabeth Badinter raises doubts about the latter’s opposition to naturalistic mothering.[4] Badinter argues that sociobiological theory is being used by “reactionaries” to shame mums into putting their careers on hold in order to prioritise baby care. Quibell agrees with Badinter that breast feeding, co-sleeping and intervention-free birthing do make parenting more difficult. But Quibell thinks that women are capable of choosing between full-time careers and children. “[Badinter’s] nostalgia for carefree smoking and drinking while pregnant seems less a lament for lost feminine freedoms and more a defence of retrograde hedonism.”

There is a stream of related articles, as indicated by these snapshots. Ross Gittins, a leading business journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald, favourably reviewed a U.S. book that argues for economic regulation based on Darwinian theory.[5] Articles on self improvement are becoming better informed and realistic in their claims: “Genetics matter but there’s still much you can do to obtain the body you want . . .”.[6] Numerous stories about performance-enhancing drugs in sport mention the biochemistry of growth and sex differences. That testosterone produces masculine appearance and behaviour is perhaps the best reported fact about behavioural biology. A recent discussion of the emotion of disgust—its brain centres, expression and functions—was reprinted in The Sun Herald[7] from The New York Times. Medical genetics is well represented. An article on the disadvantages of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder reported its genetic basis and its concentration in boys and men.

Contemporary criticisms of biosocial science are less radical than the absolute denials of 1970s and 1980s. An example is a full-page feature article critical of evolutionary psychology in the Weekend Australian[8] by a Californian psychologist. In its discussion of adolescence the article conceded: “One of the most distinctive evolutionary features of human beings is our unusually long, protected childhood. Human children depend on adults for much longer than those of any other primate.” Both sides of this debate have adopted some of the same evolutionary premises.

There has long been strong demand for natural history television programmes, such as David Attenborough’s BBC productions. The latest exotic skull from the human past can be front page news, with information about the lost species’ diet, range and competitive challenges. For example, Sydney Morning Herald readers were recently informed about a previously unknown extinct population of hominids found to have lived in China.[9] The report noted that an Australian researcher helped make the find, that it had primitive features such as a thick skull but also the imprint of modern frontal lobes, that the population had survived until 11,500 years ago, and that it did not interbreed with modern humans. Such reports inject evolutionary perspectives into popular culture. An American television documentary[10] shown on SBS TV discussed Homo erectus. The program explained that the species was the most successful of human ancestors, not as measured by lifestyle or health but because it survived for two million years, an acknowledgement of long-term perspectives and group survival in an era of instant gratification and hyper-individualism.

Another British documentary aired on ABC TV examined the subject of human intelligence.[11] There has been much controversy and vituperation on this aspect of human behaviour, both when it involves comparison of races or comparison of classes within the one ethnic group. The program informed viewers that the IQ test is still the most common measure of intelligence but that IQ tells only “half the story”. Other intelligence tests were discussed and it was noted that psychologists could not agree on how to improve on IQ. Biological factors were downplayed, such as IQ’s strong heritability. Also not mentioned was that IQ, despite limitations, is a powerful predictor of educational achievement and social mobility.[12]

A more forthright discussion of intelligence and society is economics Professor Judith Sloan’s review of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, the new book by political scientist Charles Murray.[13] Murray’s book is an empirical confirmation of the thesis advanced in his The Bell Curve, the bestselling tome of 1994 co-authored with psychologist Richard Herrnstein. That earlier book was strongly criticised on ideological grounds, though its premises concerning IQ and educational performance are widely accepted among cognitive psychologists. It argued that a self-perpetuating cognitive elite is developing in the United States due to the ongoing segregation and intermarriage of professionals in top universities and exclusive neighbourhoods. Sloan manages to avoid the terms “IQ”, “intelligence” and “bell curve” but gets the message across with terms such as “exceptional intellectual ability” and “highest cognitive abilities”. It has long been known that higher education is stratified. Murray shows how far this has gone. The pinnacle of the system comprises a score of elite universities such as Harvard and Princeton, which are gatekeepers to the high income professions. And because spouses tend to meet one another at university or work (“educational homogamy” in Murray’s terminology), the IQ advantage is passed onto children more reliably than it was in the past. The cognitive-economic elite has arrived, at least in the U.S. Hopefully Sloan is correct in her assessment that Australia’s elite is lagging behind America’s in that regard. A newspaper review cannot be exhaustive and Sloan does not mention that a necessary part of Murray’s overall analysis is that when gross inequalities in nutrition are reduced, differences in intelligence result largely from genetic variation. Nor is research noted showing that IQ predicts much social mobility. In his new book Murray himself does not report cross-disciplinary research by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen showing that average national IQ correlates strongly with GDP. The finding indicates that China, freed of the most debilitating constraints of communism, has a long way to go before its economic growth levels off.[14] The review is a refreshing reminder of how biosocial science can help unpick complex social phenomena, such as patterns of social mobility within and between populations.

Geneticists studying intelligence are beginning to identify the many genes contributing to brain function. On 16 April an understated news item on the ABC website reported a major breakthrough, partly led by two Australian geneticists, Nick Martin and Margaret Wright at the Queensland Institute for Medical Research. This was the largest brain study ever undertaken, involving over 20,000 subjects and 200 scientists. The research involved brain scans, genetic epidemiology, and IQ testing, found a gene that codes for a small fraction of brain size and IQ.[15]

The educated public has become aware of biosocial themes thanks to media reports such as those described above. That awareness is assumed by commentators and humorists, allowing hyperbole and levity to be predicated upon it. For example, Richard Glover of the Sydney Morning Herald writes: “[Men] see a woman, a woman of appropriate age, and in our ears a heavenly choir begins to sing. The whole weight of evolution bears down on us; the history of the planet itself; our DNA thrums with one question: ‘Could this be the opportunity I have long sought to fulfil my genetic destiny and to go forth and multiply, albeit in the nicest, consensual, mutually pleasurable way.’”[16]

Any discussion of evolutionary themes in the media must include the omnipresent atheist Richard Dawkins. His latest appearance was on the ABC’s Q&A on 9th April, debating Cardinal George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, on whether the universe had a creator. Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of Oxford University. For much of his career he has been an influential public educator on how the myriad adaptations found in the natural world are produced by natural selection. His first great publishing success, The Selfish Gene (1976), sold over a million copies in 25 languages. The ideas and prose were captivating, though I agree with the author that a more appropriate title would have been The Altruistic Gene.

Dawkins has a genius for slicing and dicing the indigestible mathematics of Darwinian theory into metaphorical titbits. He has attained celebrity status, appearing with other luminaries where gravitas and clear diction are needed. But Dawkins’ contribution to injecting biosocial science into public debates is limited and not always positive. Certainly his views concerning natural selection help clear away obfuscation[17] but they introduce others.[18] Dawkins made it clear decades ago that he does not challenge biological illiteracy in the social sciences. In some respects he resembles the Marxist critics of sociobiology who praise evolution for its atheistic implications while opposing any use of biology to analyse society. Biosocial science has been advanced by scholars of all political persuasions. But its most powerful enemies have not been theists but left ideologues, including grandiloquent Darwinians such as Richard Lewontin and the late Stephen Jay Gould. Given this background, Dawkins’ proselytising atheism could well be retarding the spread of evolutionary ideas by reinforcing the false impression that Darwinism is necessarily hostile to religion and the middle ground of political values. It is disappointing that he has focused his energies on attacking a target that is soft by virtue of lying outside science. The mismatch, which at times resembles blood sport, would be less jarring if he had taken on the hardened irrationalism of the social sciences.

A truer champion of biology in the social sciences is Harvard linguist Steven Pinker, whose books such as How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature have helped popularise evolutionary psychology. Unlike Dawkins, Pinker has taken on biological denialism in the social sciences. He has criticised the intolerance usually directed at biosocial scientists when they breach socialist taboos. His new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes was reviewed twice in the Sydney Morning Herald. One review, by Macquarie University law professor Frank Carrigan, had a highlighted sentence: “Humans were wired for violence from the outset.” The review included trenchant criticism but judged the book to be “brilliantly conceived”.[19] In the other review, international editor Peter Hartcher related Pinker’s thesis to contemporary warfare and the rise of China.[20]

Inevitably the science of human nature is entering the political culture, even if it must often bypass social scientists and disengaged biologists to do so. Popularisation is no substitute for academic analysis. But it can whet curiosity. As biosocial science opens beachheads in the United States and Europe, Australian gatekeepers will find it more difficult to police the culture. Meanwhile, biobehavioural information is largely absent from political editorials and analyses by leading political correspondents. When it does appear in the media it concerns relatively uncontroversial subjects. Biosocial science is limited to gossip and mostly kept away from the serious business of debating policy.

Human nature in business culture

Although MBA courses in Australia’s management schools do not yet include findings from behavioural biology, executive coaching programs sometimes allow that input. Management culture and the consultancy industry have been more open to ideas coming from ethology and evolutionary psychology than the social sciences.

Andrew O’Keeffe, a well-respected senior human resources consultant based in Sydney, deploys findings from primatology and evolutionary psychology to coach business leaders and help businesses cope with organisational change. He is the author of Hardwired Humans: Successful Leadership Using Human Instincts (Roundtable, 2011). O’Keeffe adapts research by biosocial scientists such as Nigel Nicholson, a professor of organisational behaviour at the London Business School. This research is integrated with findings from evolutionary biology, for example the primatology of Jane Goodall and the anthropology of Robin Dunbar.

Human nature has long figured in popular ideas about management. In 1971 Antony Jay wrote a popular book applying ethology to modern management before using its insights to co-author the Yes Minister series for the BBC. One can almost smell cabinet intrigues in the book title: Corporation Man; Who He Is, What He Does, Why His Ancient Tribal Impulses Dominate the Life of the Modern Corporation. Jay—now Sir Antony Jay—is still applying those insights to current events. Recently he analysed the BBC’s persistent leftist bias in terms that could be applied to our ABC or the social science establishment.

Anyone familiar with large organisations knows that over the years they develop and perpetuate their own ethos, their own value system, their own corporate beliefs and standards. . . . Those at the top of the tree are the custodians of corporate orthodoxy; they recruit applicants in their own image, and the applicants are steadily indoctrinated with the organisation’s principles and practices. Heretics tend to leave fairly early in their careers (London Telegraph, 10 Dec. 2011).[21]

Ethology’s emphasis on non-verbal behaviour (“body language”) makes it a good fit for analysing and coaching managers. Some graduates of ethology courses have been doing business as management consultants since the 1980s, initially in the United States and more recently in Germany. Bio-behavioural research into business behaviour is most advanced in the United States and Britain. Relevant fields are human resources and marketing. A recent example is a study into race relations and discrimination. The research employed functional magnetic resonance imaging to view brain activity while subjects made decisions about inter-ethnic behaviour. The study was led by Michael Norton, Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School, previously at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.[22]  

The likely cause of business being more open to human nature is the unforgiving nature of economic competition. The churning of businesses and the spilling of red ink bear a resemblance to nature in tooth and claw. The constant winnowing of careers and firms keeps existential realities before business leaders’ eyes, a tonic for the ideology-afflicted. Another likely factor is the connection with economics. Economic theories must sooner or later work in the real world, which arguably keeps them on a shorter empirical leash than sociological and anthropological theories.

Human nature in the social sciences

Biosocial theories considered highly problematic and even repugnant in Australian social science are accepted in a growing number of universities overseas, especially in the United States.

Around 1980 Australian social science fitted a general pattern of excluding human nature from teaching and research. Marx and Weber were in. Darwin was out. That situation had its origins near the start of the 20th century, when radical ideology began to come into fashion among American intellectuals. A politically inspired movement developed in the United States that worked to marginalise the concept of human nature in the social sciences. The task was considerable because the founders of anthropology and sociology, such as William Sumner and Edward Ross, knew that human nature was important. How that movement grew and maintained its hermeneutic intolerance is properly the subject for another essay, though there is already a considerable literature on the subject.[23] By the 1940s behavioural biology was indeed marginalised in the social sciences in the United States. Its lowly status was spread afar when the university system expanded after the Second World War and the United States became the powerhouse of social science research by mid century. Human nature began its return slowly in the 1970s, a trend that continues.

In the early 21st century, biosocial science is a growing and influential trend in American anthropology and psychology, with a smaller though well-established presence in political science. Even in sociology the bio-behavioural approach has a presence, though the ideological headwinds are strongest in that discipline.

A comparable history of the Australian academic scene has not been attempted. However, some evidence is available. First an anecdote. During my experience as a student of political science from the late 1970s through to 1990 at the University of Sydney and Griffith University in Brisbane, I came across only one scholar who systematically applied behavioural biology to social science analysis. Hiram Caton (1936-2010) supervised my masters and doctoral research at Griffith, both in the interdisciplinary field of biosocial science. In 1988 we published a bibliography of the field[24] and updated it in 1993.[25] During those years behavioural biology was marginal in Australian social science.

At the end of the century Caton took stock of Australian biopolitics in an article appropriately titled “‘Biopolitics? Never heard of it’: A report from Australia”.[26] Despite the title, the article dealt with “all research involving synthesis between social and biological sciences”. Caton circulated a survey to 31 persons, receiving 18 responses. He also searched nine university websites for biosocial content of curricula and government websites concerned with higher education policy. This was a formal update of a previous assessment he made in a 1982 paper.[27] In neither paper could he report significant uptake of behavioural biology in Australian social sciences. He himself abandoned attempts to teach the subject in the 1990s due to pressure from colleagues.

All except two of Caton’s respondents agreed with his questionnaire’s assumption that “there was something odd or dysfunctional about the failure of biobehavioral research to develop in Australia” (p. 250). One unnamed critic disagreed with biosocial science on the mistaken assumption that it consisted of sociobiological theory. The latter was in fact only one strand of the biosocial conceptual tool kit, which also includes ethology, endocrinology, and social technology theory. The other, zoologist S. A. (Tony) Barnett (1915-2003), also opposed sociobiology but in addition opposed the notion of a fixed human nature.

Barnett’s views warrant discussion because of his influential stance against biosocial science in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. His influence was partly due to his prestige as a professor of zoology at the Australian National University. In addition he was frequently provided a platform by ABC Radio, a gate keeper of high culture in Australia.[28]

Caton had known Barnett personally since the 1970s and agreed with his criticism of Darwinians’ overconfidence. Caton rejected as presumptious the notion that anthropology, sociology and political science could be branches of biology, that sociobiology could somehow preempt social science.[29] He saw biobehavioural analysis as a necessary but far from sufficient foundation. At the same time he thought it unreasonable to exclude behavioural biology from social science curricula. It was from this perspective that Caton wrote with authority in 2001 that “[f]or nearly four decades he [Barnett] has, as science publicist and author, discouraged the birth of the dreaded hybrid [biosocial science].” Barnett spoke with passion against any attempts to apply Darwinian theory to the study of human society partly on scientific grounds but also because it would, he thought, restrict freedom, dignity and autonomy. He opposed biology-based ideas about human nature because they reinforced pessimistic stereotypes of humans as selfish, violent, mendacious, sexually opportunistic, competitive and exploitative. Barnett thought that future society could be free of such behaviours and opposed any ideas—such as that of an innate human nature—likely to weaken society’s resolve to abolish them. Caton raised the obvious objection that all of these traits are “empirically quite pronounced” and, moreover, consistent with Darwinian theory. Acknowledging them as part of human nature is not pessimistic but realistic, so why not accept the observations and abandon utopia?

Caton implied that Barnett’s absolute rejection of biosocial science did not follow from scientific arguments. It was politically motivated, especially regarding issues of race. His publications on the subject show that his historical arguments were derived from the left establishment in the United States, including discredited founders such as Franz Boas and his school.[30] Another resemblance was Barnett’s hostility to the Western tradition when it inevitably contradicted his utopianism. He characterised neo-Darwinian images of humanity as “emphasising human depravity”. “In their misanthropy they reflect the outlook of conservative pessimists who have influenced European thought for two and a half millennia. . .”.[31]

Like the Marxist critics Stephen J. Gould and Richard Lewontin, Barnett did not fully acknowledge that the extreme selectionist models at the heart of the project were not ends in themselves but hypotheses to be tested and modified in light of data.[32] A theory is valuable if, despite oversimplification, it inspires cycles of hypothesising, testing, and theoretical revision. Barnett’s position was more subtle than that of Gould and Lewontin. His discussion of mathematical biology showed an appreciation of how simplified models contribute to knowledge. However, he did not credit the advances made by selectionist models as heuristics in studying human social behaviour.

The case of Richard Dawkins’ offensive against the Church discussed earlier suggests that Barnett was too worried about neo-Darwinism violating leftist taboos. For generations Darwinism has been used selectively to attack religion—mainly Christianity—while leaving anti-biological irrationalism in academe alone.

At the turn of the 21st century Caton’s survey found political pressure from that direction to be a major retardant of biosocial science. He cited an example of graduate students in anthropology stating that their supervisors “warned them not to get involved with evolutionary perspectives because of the political dangers to their careers”. More about political bias presently.

In March 2011, to survey the place of biosocial science in Australia, I wrote to 31 deans and professors in university departments of politics, anthropology, and sociology. I asked them for information about “the status of and prospects for biosocial courses or research” in their departments. [33] The letter defined biosocial science broadly as “the study of political and social phenomena using knowledge, methods and theory drawn from behavioural biology”, and concluded: “Is biosocial science taught in [the department] or are there plans to do so?  If not, what do you think are the prospects of introducing it?”

There were eighteen responses from fifteen departments situated in nine universities. Several respondents found my description of biosocial science interesting and regretted that their department did not teach it or plan to. However, all except one response were variations on this succinct reply: “The short answer to your question is: no, and no.” The one partial exception was the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University. A professor wrote that the answer to my question depended on how “biosocial science” was defined. If it meant “aspects of human life in which social and biological processes play interacting roles” then “quite a few of our courses have a biosocial theme running through them”. The topics were treated by the Journal of Biosocial Science.[34] However he thought that I meant specific theories. In that sense, the most relevant course in the School examined controversies surrounding theories that treated human societies as animal societies. Those theories included ethology, sociobiology, behavioural ecology, and evolutionary psychology. Thus even this one exception did not deploy behavioural biology to study society or train students how to do so. Instead it examined controversies that arose from such deployment.

The stance against biosocial science has not been absolute. Caton recalled ANU anthropologist Derek Freeman’s drawing on ethology in his 1983 criticism of Margaret Mead’s book on Samoa. While head of his department, Freeman recruited a researcher on nonverbal behaviour. Biologists outside the social sciences continue to do research relevant to behaviour and every now and then comment on social implications. A high-profile example was Nobel Prize laureate Macfarlane Burnet (1899-1985) who, though an immunologist, ventured into the subject of social power. In The Endurance of Life: The Implications of Genetics for Human Life (1978), Burnet dealt mainly with ageing. But he also discussed behaviour and power, demonstrating familiarity with the ethology and sociobiology of the time. Burnet was publicly criticised for giving a “dismal, unappealing view of humanity”.

Away from such controversies Australian scientists have been building expertise in such fields as behaviour genetics, neuroscience, behavioural economics, and animal behavioural ecology. The last is the lineal descendant of Edward O. Wilson’s sociobiology. These disciplines study biological aspects of behaviour, emphasising individual and group differences and reproductive strategies. Rob Brooks, the behavioural ecologist from UNSW discussed earlier, began studying life history strategies in fish, insects and mice in Johannesburg and found that the same biological principles applied to human Sex & Rock ‘n’ Roll. Other prominent Australian biosocial scientists, mentioned earlier, are Nick Martin and Margaret Wright at the Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory in Brisbane. Martin is a leading twin researcher who helped establish the Australian twin register in 1978. Housed at the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, the registry has grown to be one of the world’s largest repositories of twin data. Martin and Wright helped initiate the Enigma Consortium, a cooperative venture by over 200 scientists that recently achieved a breakthrough in identifying the first “intelligence gene”. The gene accounts for 1% of differences in IQ. One of Martin and Wright’s contributions was to show that brain size correlates with IQ. The study has relevance to understanding ageing and dementia as well as the structure and development of intelligence.

It is the rise of evolutionary psychology that poses the greatest threat to the disciplinary isolation of the social sciences. The new field emerged from sociobiology in the 1980s in journals such as Ethology and Sociobiology (now Evolution and Human Behavior) and Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Since then graduate students have fed back into psychology departments and others have found utility in theories such as domain-specific cognition, slow and fast life history strategies, genetic similarity, parental investment, and models of selection. Psychology is a bridging discipline that helps introduce behavioural science into studies of society, for example via the interdisciplinary field of political psychology. It will be interesting to watch whether this new trend, together with other branches of behavioural biology, increases the pressure on the social science perimeter.

The emergence of evolutionary psychology returns the discipline to its biological roots, with a revival of interest in physiology and adaptive behaviour in natural settings. It also represents the revenge of sociobiology. Evolutionary psychology developed from the ferment of ideas and research ignited by one of the greatest scientific controversies of the last century. It began in 1975 when Harvard University professor Edward O. Wilson included a chapter on humans in his magisterial opus Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, which brought together current theory and data on animal social behaviour. The central theoretical problem was altruism, which is held by utopians to be something owed by all to all, but which in fact is channelled disproportionately towards kin in all animals species. Wilson came under furious assault from Marxist vigilantes who perceived a challenge to their academic hegemony.[35] Leading lights such as Richard Lewontin and Steven Rose led the charge. They rejected the validity of behavioural genetics as a whole, which underlay Martin and Wright’s discovery of a gene for brain size described above. Wilson fought back with books such as On Human Nature (1978) and Genes, Mind, and Culture (1981), which pioneered the theory of gene-culture evolution. In Consilience (1998) Wilson advocated unifying knowledge from biology, the humanities and the social sciences.

Wilson lost the battle in the sense that the social sciences did not embrace sociobiology. In the social sciences and humanities the term came to represent dangerous reactionism (i.e. middle of the road conservatism). The term “sociobiology” was successfully stigmatised and was dropped even by many practitioners. However, it seems that Wilson is winning the war because many psychologists (and in the U.S. anthropologists) are working again on human nature and explicitly drawing on biobehavioural data and methods. In Australia, several respondents reported taking up this type of research on its merits, not due to overseas connections. This corroborates the impression of the artificiality and growing fragility of the social sciences’ taboo against biology.

Recently the American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt described how the social sciences reproduce their intolerant political agenda. Like Antony Jay and the BBC, Haidt knows his subject from the inside. Indeed, he presented his criticisms at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, in January 2011.[36] Haidt argued that the discipline of social psychology is a “tribal-moral society” that shuts out research and researchers likely to produce results that conflict with liberal (i.e. socialist) beliefs.

Haidt based this thesis on three observations. First, social psychologists have sacred values that are neither empirical nor methodological dogmas. These values take the form of taboos that constrain thinking. Secondly, they have created a homogeneous society. There is almost no moral or political diversity within the discipline. While conservatives outnumber liberals 2-to-1 in the general U.S. population, they are outnumbered 200 or 300-to-1 within social psychology. Haidt managed to locate only one declared conservative social psychology academic. Finally, social psychologists have created a hostile environment that suppresses and discourages non-liberals, such as libertarians and conservatives. He gave examples of how conservative students are intimidated into not pursuing social psychology for fear of the social environment in the discipline and the taboo-breaking results they might find. The situation described by Haidt is a microcosm of the soft totalitarianism that a radicalised intellectual elite has imposed on Western societies since the Second World War.

The taboos identified by Haidt concern race and sex differences, blaming the victim, stereotype accuracy, and nativism. The lack of political diversity hurts the discipline because different points of view lead to the discovery of novel phenomena. What Haidt found in social psychology also exists in the liberal social sciences. Haidt’s report agrees with Hiram Caton’s article discussed earlier about the importance of political correctness in selecting personnel in the social sciences and how it shapes research agendas and chills creativity from student times onwards.

Despite promising signs, until now Australian social sciences have managed to keep human nature at bay. While not monolithic, the exclusion of biosocial science has been effective enough to retain the Standard Social Science Model as the accepted dogma in many departments. The situation is a harsher version of that overseas. Disciplines whose subject is human social behaviour generally do not include biological information in their curricula or research. It is like economists considering money to be unmentionable or physicists writing off certain particles for lack of charm.

Behavioural biology is making headway in psychology while the sociological disciplines—sociology, anthropology and political science together with specialist areas such as gender studies—have maintained the rage against any science that dispels utopian dreams. The result has been the unfolding, largely unwitting, of the Gramscian vision of training a new intellectual elite, year after year, generation after generation. That is how the social sciences long ago became a vital area of strength for leftist hegemony in Western intellectual culture and a breeding ground for radical movements.


The social sciences’ stand against behavioural biology is leaving them increasingly isolated and irrelevant. News about human nature attracts audiences and as a result is opening up popular culture to information more advanced than that made available university courses. Business often sees the relevance of hardwired social behaviour to management practice. Behavioural biology’s influence in adjacent disciplines such as psychology and economics is growing. The social science role of providing analysis and social technologies for governments and corporations is being poached by disciplines that are less ideologically and theoretically constrained.

My personal experience illustrates the contrast between the popular, business and academic taste for the science of human nature. During postgraduate research in biosocial science at Griffith University, from 1984 to 1990, non-academics would often express interest in the subject. I remember conversations about human universals, body language, evolutionary history, biological sex differences, sexual identity, power, ethnicity, child behaviour, and so on. The same interest frequently came from academics not immersed in the social sciences. In 1990 the local ABC radio station sensed that interest and invited me to present a few talkback sessions on body language. Managers also expressed interest. Two federal bureaucracies engaged me to detect and prevent occupational stress. But the academic response in the social sciences was weak or antagonistic. Over the next twenty years I experienced a slow warming of attitudes by social scientists in Europe and the United States, and frequent enthusiasm among students. The survey described above indicates a growing latent interest in biosocial science but it has not yet found practical expression in teaching and research.

A caveat is in order concerning the foregoing review, which has not been exhaustive. It is possible that sociology students somewhere are being introduced to behavioural endocrinology or that political science students are learning about primate social models and field observational methods. At the same time it should be emphasised that my criticisms of social science concern lack of pluralism, and is not directed at whole fields of knowledge. Biosocial science can aspire only to being an aspect of these disciplines.

At the start of this article I suggested that just one biologically informed editor could have saved The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. The same applies to departments of sociology, anthropology and political science in Australian universities. A light seasoning of colleagues whose research draws on the biological sciences would give departmental cultures a taste of the natural world. That would be interdisciplinarity with teeth. Who knows? It might hasten the end of the Gramscian assault on human nature.

What to do about our universities? At this juncture, after such a negative review, readers might expect me to suggest remedies. Apart from a policy of waiting for the inevitable, I do not pretend to know them. More important at this stage is to assess the damage done to our political culture by over half a century of tribal-moral social science.
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Dr Frank Salter is an urban anthropologist and political ethologist. His text, Emotions in Command, is used to teach observational methods and ethological theory of organisations. Frank consults on the management of interpersonal behaviour and is a visiting scholar in the Department of Government, University of Sydney. Website:

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PostSubject: Re: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:49 pm


The War against Human Nature II: Gender Studies (Part 1)

Quote :
In my last Quadrant article (June 2012) I described the isolation of Australian social sciences from behavioural biology and suggested that this weakness had given free rein to utopian ideologies. Human nature is slow to change. It is a conservative force. As such it is an obstacle for ideologues who desire transformational social change. The last thing a utopian wants to discuss is how society reflects human instincts. Better to avoid the subject altogether to create a parallel universe where imagination, passion and interests might collude. In this article I extend this thesis to gender studies, with emphasis on women and work. 

Gender is an obvious choice of subject for testing the acceptance of biology in the social sciences because the differences between men and women are known to have a strong biological component (more of which presently). And gender relations are increasingly important within work organisations. The trickle of women into extra-household work roles has become a flood. Women outnumber men in some work categories, including as university graduates entering the workforce. Work relations between unrelated men and women have become a normal part of life, intensifying issues of equal opportunity, discrimination, sexuality and rank, and female leadership. This has resulted from women having unprecedented freedom of lifestyles, though choices still inflict trade-offs, most notably between career and children. Does the advice given to citizens, government and business take human nature into account? At the end of this article I discuss some biological aspects of gender and work, concerning dominance relations between men and women. Before doing so it is necessary to size up the amount of behavioural biology in the media’s coverage of gender, in university gender studies programs, and in Simone de Beauvoir’s classic formulation of women as eternal victims. 

Gender in the media

The media are a useful starting point for assessing the understanding of gender in public culture. The media influence public perceptions by filtering information and helping to set the limits on legitimate discussion. Unopposed criticism of ideas or social categories (sex, age, ethnicity) sends powerful messages to the public about the relative standing of ideologies and interest groups. Media content also reveals the information being received from various experts—the universities, government and political activists. 

Media reports and commentaries concerning gender and work address several themes. 

Reports of behavioural research findings. There is a trickle of these reports, a recent example being an American study that found a preference among voters, male and female, for politicians with lower-pitched voices. The authors speculated that this could explain some of the under-representation of women in elected office.[i]

Bettina Arndt is an Australian analyst who has included biological factors in her discussions of sexuality since the 1970s. Her most recent book, What Men Want (2010, chapters 3 and 4), is based on interviews and refers to research in evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and sexual physiology. In a recent article Arndt discussed women’s tactics in attracting men, such as dressing to show breasts.[ii] Her story, appropriate titled “Busted: The Politics of Cleavage and a Glance”, combined anecdote, interviews and behavioural science. She drew on research on male–female differences in sex drive to argue that women who dress sexily in public are flaunting their sexual power and running risks, sometimes with unpleasant results. Another article was titled “Why Successful Women Lose the Dating Game”.[iii] Arndt reports that in 2006 many Australian women lacked partners: almost a third aged in their early thirties and a quarter in their late thirties. This was almost double the 1986 figures. A contributing factor was women’s preference for similarly qualified men, combined with demographics. In 2006 there were 88,000 single graduate women in their thirties but only 68,000 single graduate men in the same age group. “The thirties are worrying years for high-achieving women who long for marriage and children—of course, not all do—as they face their rapidly closing reproductive window surrounded by men who see no rush to settle down.”

Arndt’s articles attracted criticism for allegedly exonerating sexism and misogyny. She has come under fire from the gender studies movement for the same reason. One columnist, Josephine Tovey,[iv] disagreed with Arndt’s blaming the sexual signals emitted by women and not men’s failure to control their behaviour. Only men are to blame for their bad behaviour towards women because men should “grasp the concept that looking sexy doesn’t necessarily make you sexually available”. The two parties talked somewhat past one another, Arndt focusing on cause and effect, Tovey on morality. Both sides of the exchange made good points, but confirmed Arndt’s premise that many young women hold to the expectation that their sexual behaviour, including sexual displays, will not have evil consequences because they should not. 

Female disability. This is a common type of gender story, usually alleging the unfair under-representation of women in an occupation or role, such as blue-collar jobs and executive and board positions in business. A related focus is causes of female under-representation, such as male discrimination, stereotypes, and inadequate child care. This category also includes reports of sexual harassment suffered at work, such as the spate of trials of male naval officers charged with harassing female shipmates.[v]

Reports of female disability often assume that anything less than 50 per cent representation of women demonstrates inequity. The 50-50 rule drives or excuses much of the passion of women’s advocacy. It is the semi-official reason to “wear the ‘F’ label with pride”.[vi] The rule is often the only analytical aspect of a disability claim. An example is a recent article titled “Gender Imbalance in Need of Repair”, which describes attempts to get women into male-dominated trades.[vii] The article assumes that women avoid the construction, automotive and electro-technology workforce only because of stereotypes and opposition by a tribal culture, rejection and ridicule. Why else would women not want to be panel beaters? (A biological answer is reported below.) The effort is being made to benefit women by opening up work opportunities, though justification is sought in the universal good of economic efficiency. Pru Goward, the New South Wales Minister for Women, explained, “We need to work with industry to secure a competitive labour force in our state ... industry can’t afford to pick the best from only 50 per cent of the population.” Strangely, the initiative did not come from employers or from government departments concerned with economics but from women’s advocates.

The 50-50 rule also provided the rationale for a report critical of female under-representation in Australian theatrical companies. The press coverage of the report was limited to two data points: 21 per cent of big productions had a female writer and 25 per cent had a female director. The article did not quote any behavioural description of discrimination. The report stated that concerted efforts to “level the playing field” began thirty years earlier. But then it implied that not much levelling had been achieved, based only on the number of female writers and directors. On the same basis the sex ratio was described as inequitable and male directors were likened to arrogant monarchs. “It’s embarrassing and protectionist and reeks of elitism”, one interviewee was quoted as saying. The report suggested that one cause of female disability in this case was lack of superlatives for female achievement. Up-and-coming male directors and writers were described as “wunderkind”, “hot” and “sexy” but there were no such terms for female talent.[viii] The claim of disability was given some more solid backing by a subsequent letter to the editor from a management consultant involved in mentoring arts executives. Her practical (though uncosted) advice on how to boost female numbers was to “offer childcare, flexible work options, maternity leave and ongoing professional opportunities” as well as mentoring and leadership training.[ix]

The arbitrariness and selective application of the 50-50 rule is apparent in some media reports. For example, the Sydney Morning Herald reported an improvement in the gender gap in starting salaries for university graduates.[x] Overall, women still earn about 3 per cent less than men in their first appointments, though there is considerable variation. Women do worst in earth sciences, earning 14.3 per cent less. But in biological science they earn only 1.7 per cent less than men. Curiously, the article does not report graduates’ average grades. The claim of female disability would have been much stronger if the sexes had had the same quality of degrees across all disciplines. Compared to women, do men achieve better in earth sciences than they do in biology? If so, the market mechanism would be matching salary to qualification, at least to some degree. Further investigation might reveal more market influences. But these considerations are not part of the key statistics provided by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWWA).[xi] Neither are there relevant data on the government website responsible for documenting graduate careers.[xii] The EOWWA does report that Australia has more women than men with degrees, both bachelor and postgraduate. But it is quality within discipline cohorts, not quantity overall, that is relevant to the equity question. The data provided are insufficient to conclude that there is any female disadvantage in starting salaries.

The rule looks shakier still considering that women’s starting salaries often surpass those of men. This is the case in the physical sciences, the social sciences, veterinary science, agricultural science, social work and pharmacy. Do women’s grades surpass men’s in these disciplines? Moreover, women outnumber men in many disciplines—in veterinary science the ratio is 80 to 20. This is a stunning violation of the 50-50 rule. Yet there were no letters to the editor protesting discrimination against men, no speculation about negative stereotypes of male vets, no calls for affirmative action scholarships to attract young men to university. In practice the criterion means the “at-least-50-per-cent-women-rule”. The one exception was Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan’s[xiii] call for post-feminist thinking. Sheehan noted that girls were outperforming boys at high school and that women were 60 per cent of university undergraduates and almost the same percentage of postgraduates. He concluded that “society needs to address this growing imbalance”. Sheehan was noting a trend already detected by the biosocial scientist Lionel Tiger in his 1999 book, The Decline of Males.

Despite its irrationality the 50-50 rule has been in service for many years. In 1994 the then chairman of the Australian Research Council stated that women were still under-represented at postgraduate level in some areas. “The fundamental difficulty is that there is a general lack of gender balance,” he said.[xiv] The priority was not overcoming discrimination or lack of opportunity but building up the numbers of women. It would not have been much of an improvement in logic to argue that equalising the proportion of males and females would remove female disability; but it would have been principled.

The cavalier disregard of male disability is a remarkable feature of the women’s movement. An example is the promotion of female representation with no sunset provisions. Consider the University of Western Australia’s equity and diversity policy, typical of the genre. It interprets the legislation as an open-ended mandate to employ women: 

The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 requires that the University formally adopts a policy and a programme for its implementation. One objective of this legislation is to improve the participation of women in all areas of employment.[xv] 

The goal of improving the participation of women “in all areas of employment” is revealing. There is no limiting clause, such as “until unfairness is eliminated”, despite the Act specifying its goals as the promotion of equal opportunity by removing barriers to women.[xvi] It seems inappropriate to increase women’s participation where there is no evidence of disability. Genuine equal opportunity policy would advocate elimination of unfair discrimination without specifying any numerical targets. But if the 50-50 standard is to be adopted, consistency demands that men’s participation should be encouraged when it falls below that level. The demand should become urgent when the disparity, either way, applies over a broad range, such as the 60-40 ratio of female-to-male graduates from Australian universities.

This lack of interest in men’s disability conflicts with feminism’s enabling ideology. The movement has sought legitimacy through its appeal to individualism and equality. Policies of equal opportunity and affirmative action are justified by appeals to fairness. No mandate has been secured from taxpayers to discriminate against men or to perpetually favour women once equality of opportunity has been achieved.

The 50-50 rule is too useful to abandon. In the case of the Herald article on graduate pay, it was salvaged in two ways. First, there was no talk about male disability but much about the good news that some women were overcoming the gender pay gap. Second, the EOWWA stated that males had the advantage in fourteen disciplines and women in only six, and that the maximum male advantage in pay was greater than the maximum female advantage. The EOWWA’s director concluded that the gender pay gap was still a problem. The same evidence allows us to conclude that males also suffer lower starting salaries in some disciplines or that perhaps there is not enough of a gap to worry about. Is it the season to prune the grievance bureaucracy? On the contrary, the Labor federal government is pressing ahead with anti-discrimination legislation that requires businesses to prove innocence when accused of bias.[xvii] 

Female chauvinism. Categorical claims of women’s superiority and disparagement of men are common in the media, despite the rejection of any hint that males might have their uses. An article that celebrated the rise of female executives of arts companies, stated: “Women are more collegiate as a rule, more focused on the objective, men have some other issues. They have been in roles longer and there is a great sense of entitlement.”[xviii] Michelle Ryan, a British psychologist, suggested in an opinion article that women are better equipped to lead in times of crisis.[xix] Such generalisations escape criticism or censorship. Even high-profile examples pass under the otherwise stern watchfulness of the PC police, such as this choice defamation from Germaine Greer: “Australian men generally avoid women; Englishmen actively torment and belittle them.”[xx] An example that combines chauvinism and a claim of female disability comes from a speech by Barack Obama in May. The speech was reported in the New York Times and was republished in the Sydney Morning Herald[xxi] without editorial comment.

Speaking to a graduating class at a women’s college in New York City, Obama mixed reasonable values of equal opportunity with claims of female superiority. He regretted that only men signed the constitution in 1787 and criticised that document’s failure to guarantee equality of sex and race: “we can assume that there were founding mothers whispering smarter things in the ears of the founding fathers. [Applause.] I mean, that’s almost certain.” Obama decried the fact that women are 3 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs and occupy about 20 per cent of Congressional seats. He stated that the lack of women CEOs—in other words CEOs’ maleness—was one cause of outdated workplace policies. Urging women to run for office, he concluded that “Congress would get a lot more done if you did.”[xxii] The remark received laughter and applause, and neither the New York Times reporter nor the Herald noted Obama’s sexism. Such rhetoric would have been condemned as bigoted if Obama had touted male superiority. Its acceptance by the leftist gatekeepers of public discourse raises doubts as to whether high principle is the only engine of feminism.

Invidious statements about men are sometimes combined with racial slurs, white males combining two favoured targets of cultural warriors of the Left. The report on women’s role in Australian theatre discussed earlier carried the quote: “[Artistic directors] say ‘I only choose what’s best’. So why is there a predominance of white, middle-class men?”[xxiii] In a Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece that made some interesting points, a female management consultant stated: “Most directors in boardrooms come from the same pool: pale, male and stale.” The article made clear that staleness was due to paleness as well as maleness.[xxiv] 

Female success. These stories report the success of women in previously male-dominated occupations, and discuss how to further increase female representation. An example is a report on the fast food vendor McDonald’s, 50 per cent of whose senior executives are women, far above the 8 per cent norm.[xxv] High-ranking female police officers are given favourable mention[xxvi] as are female executives and company board officers.[xxvii]

Natural women. These are expressions of traditional female perspectives and values undisciplined by radical feminism, although they are sometimes written by women with feminist credentials. Such articles occasionally break through with a refreshing heterodoxy. Bettina Arndt quotes men and women bidding in the marriage market and writes about women’s biological clock, being attractive and high-powered, and the fierce demand for quality men. In the Sydney Morning Herald Adele Horin reviewed research on the happiness brought by children, concluding that while there are ups and downs, “children are a gift that keeps giving”.[xxviii] Then there are women struck by the pangs of child hunger: 

I will never be pregnant, never be protected by the father of my child, never be loved as the mother of his child, never love like you love, and never be loved as you’re loved. I will never mean as much to anyone as you do. Imagine that, mums. 

This was written by Bibi Lynch, a woman in her forties, after realising she could not conceive.[xxix] 

In the foregoing review I found little use of biological information. Science reporting on sex differences was thin and discussion of sex differences was rare. Apart from Bettina Arndt, most of the exceptions praised female superiority or criticised male shortcomings, such as Barack Obama’s condescending speech. Neither did the themes reflect an even-handed concern for both sexes. I found only one report (by Sheehan) of male disability. The emphasis on female disability is reflected in the name of such government agencies as the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. Cannot fairness cut both ways? Instead, as described above, the media frequently reflect hostility towards men. This hostility enjoys a privileged status, somehow evading censure.

Hostility is also directed at women who deviate from core radical feminist ideology, such as Bettina Arndt. In addition to critical reviews, gender studies students organised a demonstration against Arndt when she gave a talk at the Australian National University in 2011.[xxx] Arndt admits that her writing does not draw on that body of knowledge.[xxxi] Academic lawyer Cathy Sherry described the intolerance shown towards feminists who oppose abortion. Although that is not her position, she had been subjected to vitriolic attack by left-feminists for expressing different views on women’s issues.[xxxii] 

Gender studies in the universities

The near absence of behavioural biological content in media discussions of women and work raises questions about the content of gender studies courses at the nation’s universities. Questions also arise from the double standard applied to male disability. What are they teaching our children, who go on to become journalists and commentators and teachers themselves? How true and wise are the theories and perspectives they provide? Could the situation be as bad as the 1980s and 1990s when the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology’s entry for gender stated that socialisation, not biology, produces male and female behaviour?

To assess the place of biology in university gender studies programs I searched university websites. The Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA) lists related studies programs at Australian universities.[xxxiii] Among the thirty-nine universities listed, links were provided to twenty-three departments and institutes at twenty-one universities. These twenty-three provided the focus of research. My search for biological content in these centres began with examination of the linked sites. This was a shallow sweep of all the links. Mentions of biology were to be followed up. There was no need. Of the twenty-one linked pages that contained information about course content, none mentioned hormones (endocrinology), animal models, genetics, ethology, sociobiology, behavioural ecology, evolution or evolutionary psychology. Such themes might have been named in further linked pages but they were not present on the initial pages or in the course lists examined. Ideological orientation varied from indeterminate to positions on the Lleft. Sixteen of the centres expressed radical ideological leanings in course content, either through teaching about feminist theory, criticism of traditional society, or (only) female disadvantage. No courses expressed a conservative orientation, including anti-feminist criticism or pro-male advocacy. At least eight centres taught gender in concert with other forms of “inequality” or “oppression”, such as racism, colonialism and “heteronormativity”.

Interestingly, gender studies is largely a female activity. Of the twelve institutions where faculty were listed, women are always the majority of academics. The larger institutions to which they belong have smaller proportions. The closest match was at the Australian National University, where the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies has six female faculty from a total of eleven, while its host, the School of Culture, History & Language has thirty-seven out of 107. That’s 55 per cent women in gender studies versus 35 per cent in the enclosing faculty. At La Trobe University the corresponding figures are 78 per cent and 53 per cent; and at the University of Melbourne 75 per cent and 50 per cent. Lack of information about staff did not allow comparisons to be made at several universities. However, it is difficult not to read the sex ratios in gender studies as remarkable when there is a near absence of men. All the remaining schools for which data could be found—the gender studies programs at Flinders, Macquarie, Monash, Adelaide, UNSW, and one at South Australia—taken together, have 102 female but only seven male faculty. The disparity does not appear so extreme from a biological perspective. Naturally women are more interested in women’s affairs than are men. The problems are analytical and ideological. Deviation from 50-50 is often taken as proof of discrimination or invidious stereotyping, used to justify and enforce reverse discrimination, the expenditure of public funds, and the re-education of males. And it is done without reference to sex differences in interests or talents. If a skewed gender ratio among engineers or panel beaters is unacceptable, why not also among gender studies faculty? Why not among veterinary students or university students as a whole?

The absence of self-critical perspectives in gender studies centres indicates a robust level of solidarity or policing, also evident in the media. There appear to be few alternative theories or ideologies on the curriculum, certainly none that take biology seriously. It is what one would expect from a “tribal-moral” community as described by Jonathan Haidt[xxxiv] in the case of American social psychology.

I conclude that biology is generally overlooked in women’s and gender studies in Australia. A probable contributing cause is that much of the field is monopolised by a radical ideological orientation which rejects inconvenient facts. To double-check this finding I wrote to twenty heads of gender studies centres, those who could be identified. The seven who replied confirmed that there is no behavioural biological content in their courses or research.

In defence of these gender studies centres it should be noted that many are not based in the social sciences. In those cases the absence of biology is a general characteristic of the humanities and not unique to gender studies. Neither does that situation reflect on the social sciences, except insofar as it has a duty to maintain standards of truth in other disciplines. However, ten of the centres were either part of a faculty of social science or had an interdisciplinary make-up that included social science. Thus the foregoing survey of gender studies courses provides further evidence that biology is omitted from Australian social science. The omission is doubly significant because no social phenomenon is more subject to biological analysis than gender.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:50 pm


The War against Human Nature II: Gender Studies (Part 2)

Quote :
Simone de Beauvoir’s separation of sex and gender
Quote :

Reading gender studies websites frequently turns up a famous aphorism coined by the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908–86): “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.”[1] These words have become a core dogma of radical feminism, that culturally-based gender and biologically-based sex are distinct. De Beauvoir was especially interested in the question of self-realisation, of the origin of womanly identity. She concluded that it was this gender identity that biology could not explain. Gender, the conscious experience of being a woman or a man and the cultural apparel and socially-imposed norms of femaleness and maleness, is independent of one’s biological sex. In her view biology provides the body but not the mind of gender. A brief discussion of how de Beauvoir arrived at this view, and why it is false, offers clues as to how biosocial science might be reconnected to gender studies.

De Beauvoir’s maxim is false because XX babies usually grow up to become self-consciously women not due to coincidence or arbitrary social imposition but because biological sex causes them to acquire female consciousness and culture.

De Beauvoir’s aphorism was formulated in her book The Second Sex,[2] published in 1949, which examined the oppression of women. The book begins with an interesting and generally well-informed survey of the biological basis of sex. She knew about chromosomal determination. The book must be judged by the knowledge then available. For example, de Beauvoir claimed that the alleged passivity of the female is disproven by the equality of importance of the male and female gametes (p. 11). Although this is an improbable view judged by present knowledge, de Beauvoir was opposing the equally improbable claim that the passivity of the female egg and the activity of the male sperm are inevitably reflected by the behaviour of women and men (pp. 13-14). Her discussion of how the endocrine system shapes the foetus into male and female was scientifically up to date, and is still in line with mainstream theory. Also up to date was de Beauvoir’s discussion of the higher investment women make in reproduction, in line with sociobiological theory: “The production of sperms is not exhausting, nor is the actual production of eggs; it is the development of the fertilized egg inside an adult animal that constitutes for the female an engrossing task” (p. 24). This statement anticipated an important element of Robert Trivers’s classic 1972 sociobiological paper[3] on parental investment. Like de Beauvoir, Trivers sees maternal investment as including care of the neonate. De Beauvoir implies the same in her view that women are irrevocably tied to the care of their children. Her formulation fell short of sociobiological theory mainly by omitting the connection between parental investment and reproductive fitness. The latter is not hinted at by de Beauvoir, for whom reproduction had vague psychological payoffs and many costs located in the conscious mind.

The lack of a usable theory of evolution is a signal weakness of de Beauvoir’s biology. She had no concept of genetic interests or of how selection might have operated differently on the sexes to shape a different nature. Darwin had pointed the way to that with his concept of sexual selection, competition within a sex for sexual access to the other sex. In primates competition occurs mainly among males, resulting in larger size, aggression, and appetite for risk. De Beauvoir might have taken satisfaction in knowing that in this regard the power balance is firmly with females because it is generally they who choose mates. Her evolutionary theory was limited to the notion that instincts are evolved to perpetuate the species (e.g. p. 36), a view out of favour among contemporary theorists. To be fair, the same error was made by most zoologists of the time.

However, by the 1970s it was accepted that natural selection usually operates on individuals and small groups, rarely if ever on species as a whole. Had she known that, de Beauvoir might have changed her view that reproduction is a curse, a nuisance and an enslavement imposed by the species on women. Maintaining the myth of female victimhood would have required reconceptualising the slave masters to be overbearing men. Unfortunately for such a view, humans evolved in egalitarian societies where women usually had as much choice as men, more so in choosing mates. The realisation that women in their traditional roles, including tens of millennia of prehistory, have not been inferior to men and that their behaviour and intellectual prowess were equally adapted for survival and reproduction, shifts attention from the god of victimhood to the complexities of physiological and psychological adaptation. What de Beauvoir viewed as subordination, essentially from a chauvinistic male perspective, is in fact female behaviour playing a different game, where the winning condition is reproductive fitness in the form of thriving children and grandchildren. It was de Beauvoir’s brand of feminism, her insistence on judging traditional women from the perspective of French intellectuals circa 1949, that was a greater slavery, which her writings have helped impose on future generations of feminists. Her dehumanisation of traditional women forms part of the Western intellectual elite’s alienation from ordinary people, their history and continuity.

De Beauvoir’s review of sex differences is not bad. It’s what she failed to do with it that set her off on the path of gender unconnected with biology. For at the end of the chapter her matter-of-fact scientific exposition descended into metaphorical imprecision. For example, she declared that “society is not a species” as its customs cannot be deduced from biology. Individual members of society “are never abandoned to the dictates of their nature” because custom always takes over (page 36). This separation of biology from gender is consistent with the near absence of social instinct in de Beauvoir’s account of human nature. In her account there is male sexual aggression and female mothering and little else; nature produces mainly physiology, not sex-typical patterns of behaviour, preference and motivation. Culture alone supposedly governs gender, illustrated by examples of situations in which custom prevents masculine and feminine behaviours from asserting themselves. In situations where women get to choose their spouses, male initiative is powerless. And when society does not value the maternal bond it is not given recognition: “this very bond ... will be recognized or not according to the presumptions of the society concerned” (p. 36). This overlooks the general rule of female choice of mates and the universal importance of the mother–child bond. Some males devalue what mothers do for their babies, but why adopt male values? Androcentrism hardly alters the social fact that in all societies it is normal for neonates to be cared for by their mothers. Female social power is demonstrated by the fact that no sustainable culture imposes separation of mother and baby. De Beauvoir’s emphasis of the male perspective and thus political-level power relations distracted her from the biological basis of social behaviour in general. How else could reproduction and child care for most of human existence, executed by an exquisite set of adaptations, be interpreted as nothing more than “enslavement of the female to the species” and the “limitations of her various powers” (pp. 36-7)?

No wonder de Beauvoir is popular among the utopian-minded. Her doctrine that gender is wholly artificial and that it develops independently of biology allows speculative analysis and wishful thinking to soar unimpeded by stubborn biological facts. She was correct to conclude that biology is insufficient to fully explain gender relations. She was correct to include culture, economics and psychology as causes. Her error was to assume that biology affects the body but not consciousness or culture. The promise of her first chapter on biology is left unrealised, perhaps due to the rudimentary knowledge available in the 1940s or her over-reliance on Hegel, Marx and Sartre. We now know that gender identity is usually sex identity and is fixed by age three, when girls and boys begin rehearsing adult behaviour patterns that were adaptive for most of human existence. The cascade of events leading to gender identity involves environmental inputs but also innate biological processes and propensities at every stage.

Hormones and gender

The mainstream theory of mammalian sexual differentiation of behaviour received its first experimental confirmation just a decade after The Second Sex was published. Already in the 1930s it had been shown that the sexual behaviour of guinea pigs was affected by changing hormone balance. Then in 1959 a team of researchers led by William C. Young at the University of Kansas conducted another guinea pig experiment to test his hypothesis that prenatal hormones permanently organise the nervous system during critical periods in development.[4] The experiment showed that genetic female foetuses exposed to testosterone develop male sexual behaviour as adults. The resulting theory—that hormones shape the development of male and female nervous systems—has survived all tests in animals and humans and has become a cornerstone of behavioural endocrinology. The two effects are combined in the “organisational-activational theory”, which has needed little amendment in the fifty years since Young and his students conducted their experiment. The theory allows for other factors, such as further hormonal organising effects during the critical period of adolescence and the direct action of X and Y genes.[5]

The pioneering breakthroughs in behavioural endocrinology were not informed by modern evolutionary theory. Instead, they used animal comparisons to guide the study of human physiology and brain structure. The approach resembled the classical ethologists who focused on the elucidation of a species’ nature without bothering much about how that nature arose.

By the 1970s the theory was being tested on humans. John Money and Anke Ehrhardt’s 1972 book, Man and Woman, Boy and Girl: The Differentiation and Dimorphism of Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity, reviewed evidence for the developmental effects of hormones. They reported that masculine and feminine physiology and behaviour were sensitive to pre-natal exposure to hormones. However, the data were incomplete at that stage, and Money and Ehrhardt concluded incorrectly that gender could be assigned to an individual of either genetic sex by hormonal intervention, even after the child was born. In particular, Money’s animal experiments indicated that castration of neonate males and augmentation with female hormones reliably produced female gender, though lacking the physiology needed to conceive. He believed that humans acquired gender identity through social learning. With body shapes to match, anyone could learn to adopt either gender identity.

The first application of this hypothesis to humans failed. David Reimer, a normal boy whose penis had been removed by a botched circumcision, was on Money’s advice surgically and hormonally “reassigned” to female gender at the age of eighteen months. Initially the reassignment seemed to work, though castration prevented the patient from conceiving children. The case was held up as an example of the fluidity of gender identity. However, Reimer behaved like a boy, even while having a female gender identity, and was teased by schoolmates. From his ninth year Reimer developed a male identity and in puberty began living as a male. He had reconstructive sex-change surgery and married. The case is evidence that gender identity is sensitive to prenatal and early childhood organisation of the nervous system and contributed to the decline in gender reassignment of normal XY males.[6] Evidence continues to mount in this direction. Gender identity is usually fixed by age three, consistent with innate influences. A 2004 study of fourteen male (XY) babies reassigned as girls along the lines recommended by Money found that between ages of five and twelve the procedure had proven unreliable in eight children.[7] All fourteen children showed moderate to marked masculine attitudes and interests. The authors of this study suggest that the high rate of reversion to genetic gender identity is due in part to direct action of X and Y genes on the nervous system.

By the 1990s the organisational-activational model of human sexual differentiation had accumulated strong empirical support. Many sex differences in brain organisation and associated behaviour had been identified.[8] It was known that women who were administered various hormones to treat at-risk pregnancies produced children who were feminised or masculinised relative to others of their own sex.[9] And the psychology of sex differences had matured, revealing similarity in general intelligence but major differences in some cognitive functions, such as average female advantage at verbal tasks, male advantage at spatial tasks.[10]

The Left academic establishment continued to resist biological explanations of gender, despite converging evidence to the contrary. An instructive example is an exchange between Sandra Witelson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience at McMaster University, Canada, and Richard Lewontin, Professor of Biology at Harvard University.[11] Lewontin, an influential Marxist critic of all attempts to introduce biology to the social sciences, denied all biological causes of psychological sex differences. Despite advocating Darwinism against creationists, he repudiated all of Witelson’s examples of hormonal effects on animal sex-typical behaviour and evidence of sex differences in humans. He found it relevant to claim that Jews were under-represented in large corporations, and ended by suggesting that Witelson had not earned her professorship but was “simply a lucky fish who has wriggled through a hole in the net meant to contain her”. There is no room for doubt on this exchange. Lewontin represented ideology, Witelson the spirit of science. I recommend Witelson’s 2011 talk at Moses Znaimer’s Ideacity Conference on how sex differences in the brain and behaviour are hardwired.[12]

Australia had its own controversy over gender about the same time as Witelson confronted Lewontin. In 1985 Hiram Caton, Professor of History and Politics at Griffith University, wrote a devastating criticism of a proposed course on women’s studies at that institution. His objection was that the course contradicted and would keep students ignorant of many scientifically established biological influences on gender roles. He objected to a university teaching as true what was known to be false.[13] His argument was broad and rich with data. It was not based on sociobiological models but on behavioural endocrinology, physiology, psychology and anthropology. The critique failed to prevent the proposal from being accepted. A colleague at the time and an advocate of the new course acknowledged that Caton’s “sustained opposition” was the main obstacle encountered.[14]

The biological facts of sex differentiation falsify the notion that gender is independent of sex. They do not falsify all gender theory but constrain it. Biology determines whether an individual has male or female reproductive organs, and usually matches sexuality, brain structure and preferences. No change of customs, laws, beliefs, indoctrination, or practices have these effects. Sex identity involves learning, as de Beauvoir and Money supposed, but it can be difficult to persuade most individuals that they belong to one gender when they feel or look or behave like the other. That is the experience of David Reimer and of many transgender individuals. The dichotomous identity of male or female is a biological given, although upbringing and culture dress that dichotomy in local colours. Like clothes, gender fits the preformed human body and mind, even though on occasion it is a bit of a squeeze. 

Sex and work preferences

Beliefs about sex differences affect how we interpret data on proportions in the workplace. Female under-representation is usually interpreted as a problem to be rectified based on assumptions about stereotypes and male discrimination. Incorporating biology into the study of gender qualifies this assessment when the sex proportions are in line with known sex differences in preferences or abilities.

The entry of women in large numbers into the extra-household economy is a recent historical event. Their rise in the professions is even more recent. Clearly traditional gender roles have constricted female choice of careers. But what shapes those choices now that customary obstacles have receded? One would expect there to be much greater correspondence between individual preferences and gender proportions.

Support for this is provided by Kingsley Browne, a biosocial scientist at Wayne State University in Detroit, who uses behavioural biology to interpret work patterns.[15] He finds that in the United States the representation of the sexes corresponds largely to average sex differences in work preferences and abilities, which can be traced back to variation in hormones and ultimately to evolutionary history. Men show higher competitiveness, dominance-seeking, and risk-taking, while women show more nurturance. Men are oriented more towards objects, women towards persons. Differences in abilities can also play a role, for example men’s greater upper body strength and some advantages in mathematics, and women’s advantage at some spatial, computational and verbal tasks. Browne notes than men are more willing to subordinate other activities, including family life, to achieve career success. They also run greater risks to gain advancement. Men also work longer hours and take on riskier and less pleasant work. To this can be added behavioural factors that advantage girls in education. Girls show lower rates of disciplinary problems and attention deficit disorder, both of which disadvantage boys educationally.

Browne makes the important point that a theory of broad female disadvantage cannot explain the highly variable sex ratios among work categories. As in Australia, women make up the great majority of graduates in veterinary science but a minority in engineering. Even within disciplines there are differences. In US biology, women are 28 per cent of graduates in entomology but 81 per cent of those in nutritional science. In psychology, they are 55 per cent of graduates in psychometrics and quantitative methods but 81 per cent in child psychology. These variations are in line with sex-specific preferences. With respect to women’s low representation in blue-collar occupations, Browne agrees that “gendering” plays a part, in which some types of work are considered appropriate for only one sex. However, this explanation is “grossly incomplete”, he argues, because it ignores coincidences of male preferences and abilities for these occupations. The analysis is completed with a review of the organising and activating effects of hormones and Darwin’s theory of sexual selection.

I have given some space to Browne’s thesis because it is a fine specimen of biosocial analysis, unifying the psychological, biomechanical and evolutionary levels of analysis. His theory might not be correct in every detail but has the huge edge in plausibility that it admits both social and biological causes, while competing theories, such as those found in gender studies, admit only social forces and insist on broad disadvantage, and only for women. In addition, biological theory explains much of the complex variability in sex ratios across work categories. 

Gender relations and social technologies

Gender studies would not be made redundant if it were proven that female disability had largely been overcome, that from now on the battle of the sexes was a just war requiring no state intervention. The growing numbers of women, including in management roles, creates challenges for interpersonal relations and institutional design. In particular, women are rising in formal organisations through technical expertise and find themselves in positions that require managerial skills, where the job description includes exerting authority. Even with an all-male workforce there were endemic problems related to the rise of specialist managers competing with generalists that parallel some of the issues faced by women and the glass ceiling. There is no need for women or men to accept being relegated just because the process that works against them is deemed fair. In sport as well as business someone headed towards defeat can legitimately deploy tactics that neutralise a competitor’s winning tactics, so long as the methods used are ethical and legal.

An example is dominance. Browne correctly notes that men have greater ability to dominate than women, though there is overlap in the various components of the dominance repertoire. There is no avoiding the cut and thrust of dominance because the great majority of moves are part of everyday interactions. Dominance is usually legal and ethical, if not always polite. Most bullying is dominance behaviour but dominance is rarely bullying. An example is subtle stressors, for example ambiguous signalling of intent that causes a target to withdraw or concede. More subtle still, it is normal for actors to size up another individual, compute the likely outcome of a dominance contest with him or her, and avoid a losing strategy by withdrawing or pre-emptively submitting with appeasements. Consequently, dominance does not usually involve conflict. Alphas are generally relaxed and even friendly in established dominance relationships, but heated and unpleasant when their status is threatened.[16] This is not a matter of advanced science; much of it is intuitively understood and performed by implicit, subconscious cognition.

If it is fair for men to use their behavioural advantage in dominance to edge out women (and sub-dominant men), it is also fair to neutralise that advantage. Three types of countermeasures have been attempted. Women have formed coalitions to overcome individual male dominance. This makes sense because men are also adept at forming empowering coalitions, perhaps more so than women. A second tactic has been for women to beef up their dominance repertoire. This can be successful to a point. Human cognition has some ability to override implicit motivation. On the receiving end, knowing that a certain stimulus is likely to induce subordinate motivation can allow the conscious mind to block otherwise automatic responses. Appropriate responses can be rehearsed. The power of the conscious mind to override instinctive responses makes many sociobiological mechanisms negotiable. Sandra Witelson recommends that women make themselves aware of hard-wired tendencies that can reinforce the glass ceiling. She picks out aversion to risk as one female characteristic that helps reduce the number of women high-flyers. One obstacle to simulating dominance behaviours is that some, such as low voice pitch, are generated physiologically. The tactic they embody is the result of evolution, not human cognition.

With regard to signal quality, Margaret Thatcher famously sought to sound more impressive by training her speaking voice to a lower timbre. In effect, she saw politics as a drama in which she was a performer. The late urban anthropologist Erving Goffman would have seen Thatcher’s public persona as well-crafted self-presentation. Thatcher showed that instinct is negotiable to a point. Managerial dramaturgy can be carried off if the poses become automatic and sustainable, which requires consistency with the actor’s personality. However, it can be difficult to emulate the subtleties of spontaneous dominance tactics. For example, men who judge themselves dominant to another male subconsciously lower their voice pitch when addressing him, but raise their pitch when they consider themselves less dominant.[17]

The third tactic is to deploy social technologies. These are devices, including rules, routines, architecture and ideologies, that regulate behaviour. The theory of social technology was developed by ethologists and political theorists and overlaps the sociological concept of “social control”. But unlike sociological approaches, social technology theory does not deny the existence of hard-wired behaviour. Social technologies manipulate instincts as well as learned behaviours. Among the earliest of these technologies were architectural structures that directed attention to a central point, obviating the attention-getting component of dominance. Examples include throne rooms, amphitheatres and temples. In these settings anyone, no matter how unprepossessing, who occupies the focal point, can attract attention more readily than others. The routine, low-key attraction of attention is a necessary component of established dominance hierarchies. It is a feature of the formal organisation. The latter favours women because it allows anyone of technical competence to acquire the powerful means of dominance that go with line office.

Formal organisation is an assemblage of social technologies that negates the most powerful dominance behaviours. It has been argued that women are disadvantaged in bureaucracies because feminine attributes are subordinate ones.[18] On the contrary, femininity is most disadvantageous where men are unrestrained. Bureaucracy offers special advantages to women. Feminine interpersonal behaviour is most advantaged in environments disciplined by a degree of separation between office and person. Codes of courtesy are another social structure that inhibit dominance, because they target aggressive tactics.

Managers and aspiring managers should know how dominance interacts with organisational structure and how to mobilise the soft power of courtesy to regulate feral tactics. They should know the difference between the aggressive behaviours used to win dominance, which can disrupt work groups, and the more benign types shown by dominants once in power, which promote team effort. They should know the tell-tale signs of dominance when it is deployed dramaturgically or as felt emotion. They should know how emotions are distributed down a hierarchy in times of peace and conflict. They need to know the difference between legitimate and illegitimate tactics and how to move the dividing line. And they should understand how the organisational environment systematically changes the rules of dominance, turning otherwise competitive displays into faux pas that undermine authority.

Courtesy applied to social tactics has teeth. It tends to neutralise overt dominance tactics by incurring heavy social costs. In courteous social environments, ambitious young males who use a booming voice and interruption to suppress others’ input can be legitimately brought to heel, in their tactics, by ostracism and intervention by management. The courtesy code should also be imposed on high-ranking line managers, male or female, who exploit their power to establish heavy-handed dominance. This corruption of office harms not only the manager’s social standing but the cohesion and morale of work groups. It is the antithesis of effective leadership.

As with other markets, the intersection of gender and work will always produce pockets of rigidity, monopoly, and enthusiastic buying and selling. Regulatory intervention in the form of equity measures should remain an option. But when the playing field is reasonably level, which it has become, women should join men in fending for themselves. Why should not everyone benefit from his natural endowments?


What can be done to prevent departments of gender studies from teaching as true what is known to be false, such as that there are no hard-wired behavioural sex differences? The situation is unacceptable, though perhaps not as grim as the late David Stove suggested in his Quadrant article of May 1986 (“A Farewell to Arts”), in which he argued that feminism of the Marxist variety had contributed to turning faculties of arts at Western universities into disaster areas akin to badly-leaking nuclear reactors.[19] While this is surely an exaggeration, nothing violates universities’ ancient values more than teaching what is known to be false. As a result real damage is being done to the knowledge of generations of students and to the nation’s political culture.

Departmental or institutional self-correction of anti-biological bias would be the best remedy. That would be most likely to occur in an interdisciplinary milieu rich in collaboration between gender analysts and behavioural biologists. But that would entail a breach of disciplinary boundaries, and the social sciences have protected their turf against the harder disciplines for at least two generations and are unlikely to change overnight. By themselves, universities are probably unable to correct the situation because gender studies’ parent tribal-moral community is hegemonic in the universities. At present gender studies, partly sheltered within the social sciences, is anything but compromised by its anti-biological dogma. It will continue to be fed by taxpayer funds and supported by elements of the mainstream media, some government bureaucracies, and the intellectual Left.

Some types of political intervention would be legitimate, for example legislation that paralleled laws mandating equity programs or that established procedures to deal with corruption. Intervention aimed at restoring truth in teaching could not reasonably be construed as violating the university’s mission or its intellectual autonomy if the standard of truth came from within. New laws that equalise the status of men and women would be ethical and would help sever any unseemly feedback that might exist between ideological solidarity and appointments. For example, the 50-50 rule should apply when either sex is in the minority, or be formally rescinded as an element of equity programs. There is also the question of effectiveness. Which measures would correct the situation with least collateral damage? Sunset clauses might limit harm but do not guide content. Is there, in principle, a legislative magic bullet? To give a negative example, the problem is not of a kind to be solved by sacking university boards, as Hiram Caton recommended in 1985. Nor would it be wise to excise (or reassign) gender studies programs as a structural category. Even if such a measure were politically feasible, gender is too important a subject to sacrifice, as is the expertise accumulated by scholars in the field. The goal should be one of augmentation, not amputation. But how? How to drag gender studies and the social sciences in general into the larger world of science?

One model is the requirement that all technical students, such as scientists and engineers, undertake courses in the humanities and social sciences. The principle could be applied to gender studies and the social sciences. One broad measure could be to require departments of social science, including centres of gender studies, to interact with behavioural biologists. For example, courses dealing with a phenomenon could be required to include instruction in relevant biological knowledge, taught by experts from the relevant discipline, and overseen by a board of interdisciplinary studies. Another measure would be to direct funding agencies under government control to favour cross-disciplinary research proposals that integrate the social and life sciences.

The pragmatic question is whether the conservative political parties will take the lead in pushing reform through. That depends on whether they see university departments of gender studies or social science as a political nuisance. Such a perception is more probable the longer those disciplines remain wedded to the Left.

Government intervention would be regrettable. State meddling in universities is inherently clumsy and dangerous to academic freedom. However, the same can be said of entrenched ideological monopolies in the social sciences.

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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Har Har Harr

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PostSubject: Re: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:54 pm


The War Against Human Nature III: Race and the Nation in the Media

Quote :
For the intellectual Left that came to power in the 1960s and 1970s, no front of the culture wars is more important than the national question—what constitutes a nation, the benefits and costs of nationhood, the connections between national identity and interests, ethnic and racial differences, and the proper relations between nation, state, immigration, domestic ethnic groups and other countries. Four of the five taboos in the social sciences are related directly or indirectly to these issues: race differences; blaming the victim; stereotype accuracy; and nativism.[1]

Leftist values are not automatically anti-national. In the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, Western elites often combined affection for their peoples with liberalism, including support for expanded civil rights. The Christian drive to end slavery in the late eighteenth century was not associated with unpatriotic sentiment. Labour movements have often supported protectionism and restrictive immigration in alliance with conservatives. However, as Eric Kaufmann has documented, the internationalist strand in socialist thought rose to prominence during the course of the twentieth century.[2] From before the Bolshevik coup of 1917, cosmopolitans have fought against beliefs that would bolster Western identity and confidence.

One such activist was Columbia University anthropology professor Franz Boas, who helped supplant the nascent biosocial sciences in the United States with the cosmopolitan New Social Sciences. Boas’s opposition to biosocial science is valorised as “scientific anti-racism”, which he pioneered in a famous publication of 1912[3]. The research purported to demonstrate that races rapidly converge on a common type when living in the same country. His goal was to assuage Anglo-American concerns that mass immigration would alter national identity. Boas was so strongly motivated in this direction that he opposed all biological theories of human nature. To that end he abandoned liberal and academic standards. Despite evincing the values of the 1848 liberal revolutionaries, he remained a stalwart of the Soviet Union through the Ukrainian genocide of 1931–32. On the scientific side, he doggedly supported official Soviet Lamarckianism, the theory that characteristics acquired by individuals during their lifetimes are passed on genetically to children. Boas remained a Lamarckian long after the theory was discredited in scientific circles. He approved Margaret Mead’s deeply flawed doctoral thesis on Samoan teenage sexuality that attributed white puberty blues to pathologies of Western civilisation. His 1912 research, a keystone document in the effort to radicalise American social science, was recently shown to be fallacious, not in the data collected by junior colleagues but in the statistical analysis conducted by Boas, a master statistician.[4] Subsequent attacks on biosocial conceptions of ethnicity and nationhood have frequently been tempted to trade truth for ideology.

I am not suggesting that the pioneer leftist social scientists were Soviet agents. But they were sympathetic. For example John Dewey, held by Kaufmann to have co-founded the New Social Sciences with Boas, was not a Stalinist. Neither was he a revolutionary. But he did move in far-Leftist circles and in 1937 chaired the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, organised by a Trotskyist front organisation that included Boas. The Commission concluded that Trotsky had been loyal to the revolution.

A century after Boas the flaws in Marxist economics are understood but communist doctrine regarding the national question is triumphant. This is manifested intellectually in a near absence of biology in media and academic discussions. Politically it is evident in the intolerant utopianism of multiculturalism, revolutionary levels of immigration, and censorship of free speech on the subject.

The loss of this front of the culture wars unhinged the West’s political leadership’s capacity to comprehend ethnic affairs in a growingly diverse and mobile world. The same political elite that was surprised when the Soviet Union broke up into its constituent nations—because they did not regard it as an empire consisting of captive nations praying for release—is also managing the progressive swamping of Western nations by mass immigration. The policy is fascinating from the evolutionary perspective because it is drastically reducing the collective fitness of Western populations. Not everything about the process is new. Displacement of populations through colonisation has been happening since time immemorial, usually on a much smaller scale. What distinguishes the present situation throughout much of the West is that it was not initiated by armed invasion. Instead, colonisation is occurring at the invitation of Western elites, often contrary to public opinion. The process is epochal whether viewed through zoological, national or democratic eyes.

Media coverage

The national question figures large in the Australian media. From September 2011 until August 2012 I collected 215 articles and programs on national themes, mainly from the Sydney Morning Herald (henceforth the Herald) but also from the Australian and selected television and radio programs. The Herald is part of the Fairfax media group, which occupies a position analogous to the New York Times in America, from which it often reprints articles. The Australian is the flagship of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Australia, which owns most of the country’s print media. The newspaper reflects the Murdoch formula of a campaigning approach to journalism with a neoconservative flavour.

The collected media reports discussed Aborigines, refugees, white racism, the benefits of multiculturalism and diversity, criticism of white Australia, national identity (including Anzac Day), foreign investment, international relations, and overseas ethnic conflict.

As expected, there were almost no references to biological factors. A rare exception was a Herald report of a scientific study concerning the evolution of racial differences (August 16, 2012, p. 18). Though it was not mentioned in the article, this area of research is relevant to studies of ethnic conflict and diversity because it bears on the significant genetic differences between ethnic groups and races.[5] Genetic differences between groups entail genetic similarity within them, which typically resembles that found among cousins and can be as high as that found among half-siblings or grandparent and grandchild. This makes ethnic groups vast pools of kinship for their members, and helps explain the passions that frequently characterise ethnic affairs.[6]

Another exception to the dearth of biology concerned medical differences between Australians of Aboriginal and European descent. In a radio interview conducted by Alan Jones in July 2012, Dr Alan Barclay of the Australian Diabetes Council stated that Caucasians have a lower prevalence of diabetes than indigenous Australians.[7] He explained that the risk of Type II diabetes rises after aged forty-five for Whites but after age thirty-five for Aborigines, due to different evolutionary backgrounds. Caucasians have had agriculture for many thousands of years and become genetically adapted to more sugar in their diet. Neither man remarked that this information contradicts a mantra of multicultural ideology, that racial differences are biologically insignificant, that they are skin deep because populations have not been separated long enough for evolution to occur. Perhaps medical professionals should explain to social scientists that race differences go down at least to the pancreas and that substantial divergent evolutionary change has occurred in the last 10,000 years.[8]

The most impressive discussion of biosocial themes was on the SBS television program Insight on April 20. SBS provides content in languages other than English and on themes of interest to non-Anglo audiences. Dr Fiona Barlow, a social psychologist in the School of Psychology, University of Queensland, explained that racism has an innate basis. Some individuals are more predisposed to develop racist attitudes than others. Humans have a cognitive bias to remember harmful but not pleasant behaviour from members of other ethnic groups, and to attribute it to that group. That is a “normal, natural” thing to do.[9] The same program showed a video clip of an evolutionary psychologist, Professor Doug Kendrick of Arizona State University, explaining how ethnocentrism evolved. Humans are quick to suspect the motives of strangers from other ethnic groups but are also adept at calculating the risks and rewards to be gained from interaction. The evolutionary analysis of ethnic affairs does not indicate automatic racism. These contributions were valuable but did not fully develop the theme of the normality of ethnocentrism. Not only racism but pro-social values of ethnic and national community have an innate basis. And if minority ethnic consciousness is normal, so is the majority equivalent.

The general absence of biosocial perspectives was evident in the media’s lack of interest in signs of ethnic hierarchy. Pecking orders interest zoologists. They are ubiquitous in vertebrate species. Ethnic hierarchy is relevant to the national question because a fundamental legitimation for government is that it protects the people from conquest. In the Western tradition that is the first duty of sovereigns. A king might have exploited his subjects, but in defence of the realm ruler and ruled shared an interest in resisting external domination. In anthropological theories of the state, hunter-gatherers gave up their egalitarian social structure in the interests of group defence. Still today, in liberal doctrine, liberty from external subjugation takes precedence over citizens’ individual civil liberties within the state.[10] (Libertarians are right to see war as a threat to their values.) This made good evolutionary sense because conquered populations lose resources including territory and, ultimately, reproductive fitness.

Yet the Australian elite media show little interest in ethnic hierarchy, beyond alleging white racism. If provoked into commenting on the subject, many would reply that multiculturalism has done away with the only ethnic hierarchy Australia has known, which saw Anglo-Celtic Australia firmly on top and Aborigines and non-English-speaking immigrants firmly underneath. This thesis makes sense for most of Australian history since 1788 but not in recent decades. Anglo-Celtic Australians are being rapidly displaced by mass Third World immigration that they were never asked to approve, are excluded from multicultural forums, and are the prime targets of political correctness, including a growingly coercive legal apparatus.

Anglo-Celtic Australia’s subordinate status is also indicated by the pattern of media reporting and commentary on ethnic affairs. An element of that pattern is the emphasis on white racism. Journalists are alert for discrimination when practised by Anglo Australians but are somnolent in the case of minorities. This is odd from the biosocial perspective because ethnocentrism is a species characteristic, a universal potentiality. Ethnic networking and other forms of solidarity are usually most intense in minorities.[11]

Following in chronological order are examples of criticisms of Anglo and white Australians.

Sports journalist Patrick Smith criticised Tiger Woods’s former caddie for calling Woods a “black arsehole” despite the caddie apologising. Smith was so outraged that he rounded on the sport itself: “As for men’s golf, well, it is seen for what it always has been. A white sport played and administered protectively by white men” (Australian, November 9[12]).

Herald columnist Ruth Ritchie (November 26–27) reviewed a television show featuring a pair of Muslim comedians who “share, with rapier wit, how it feels to be hated by white people ... And their observations about idiotic WASP male conversation is [sic] as keenly observed as any woman’s.”[13]

After describing an English commentator as “a fraud and a mountebank”, columnist Angela Shanahan wrote: “It is an English thing, the Oxbridge talent for shock, fury and fulmination all delivered in the closed-mouthed plummy accent” (Herald, December 24–25[14]).

Peter Gebhardt, a retired County Court Judge, wrote: “Australia Day is, of course, an artificial fabrication designed by governments ... and smug Anglo-Saxons to ensure that we forget real history. That Anglo-Saxon smugness is a resilient child of hypocrisy and racism ... It is only the resilience and the strength, the honesty and the earth-strength of the Aboriginal people that has enabled them to survive ... every conceivable peril placed in their paths by the whites who rely on a specious superiority” (Herald, January 26, online[15]).

Former SBS newsreader Mary Kostakidis wrote: “Commercial television is still the province of middle-aged white male fantasy—non-white faces and older women are sent to Coventry” (Herald, March 3–4[16]).

Germaine Greer’s combination of sexism and anti-Anglo chauvinism is published without editorial protest: “Australian men generally avoid women; Englishmen actively torment and belittle them” (Herald, March 3–4).[17]

On SBS television Toby Ralph, a marketing strategist, criticised the negative stereotyping of an Indian actor in a banned television advertisement, calling it racist. He then characterised an actress in the same advertisement as “this pert little Caucasian blonde who is like a sexualised Hitler youth” (Insight, March 20[18]). 

In May, Helen Szoke, Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, stated that Anglo Australians have a special problem with racism not found in other ethnic groups. “People who are part of the majority grouping, the white Anglo-Saxon grouping” deny that their discrimination is racist (Law Society Journal, May[19]). Szoke painted a picture of an insensitive Anglo Australia which is not giving enough opportunities to Aborigines or immigrants of non-English-speaking background: “the white Australia policy is still part of the ‘muscle memory’ of the more homogenised white Australia”. The evidence for this strong claim was weak.[20] Typical for anti-discrimination advocacy from its earliest days, these disparaging remarks were not balanced by a discussion of non-Anglo networking or anti-social behaviour or, on the other side of the ledger, success and overrepresentation in important areas such as higher education, selective schools, the professions, and areas of business.[21] No mention was made of group interests, for example the cost to the Anglo community of affirmative action for minorities or infrastructure for immigrants. Racism is seen only in Anglos and whites. It gets worse. Szoke described how her own family has been adversely affected by Australian discrimination. “Here [Australia], our psyche has been scarred ... We’ll have to wait and see what happens”. The components of this story sit uncomfortably together—the categorical criticisms of Anglo Australians, the failure to consider ethnic interests, and the Commissioner’s personal ambivalence towards the same ethnic group that she officially condemns. The combination looks dangerous when she calls for the criminalisation of racial vilification (Herald, August 30[22]). This is not an aberration. The problem is systemic and fits the Left-minority coalition’s broader effort to discourage white dissent and only white dissent.

On Anzac Day, which commemorates soldiers’ sacrifice for the nation, Eva Cox of the University of Technology, Sydney, doubted that Anzac Day was for all Australians because it is “very Anzac Anglo” (Sun-Herald, April 29, p. 86). In his Anzac comment, historian Craig Stockings sought to soften the clash between national identity and the multicultural population by exploding misconceptions about Australian soldiers. True, the Anzac legendary hero is “always, always white”, but thankfully Australia’s behaviour on the battlefield has had nothing to do with its soldiers being Australian, with their national character or “ethnic inheritance” (Australian, April 25). As Peter Coleman succinctly puts it, “Leftist writers, who do not like Australia or Australians, have assembled a portfolio of charges to debunk ‘the Anzac myth’.”[23]

There is also the minority ethnocentric motive, usually expressed in leftist tropes. Aboriginal activist Noel Pearson feels distant from Anzac Day because it is “too white”, despite him also maintaining that race is an irrelevant category. The ritual is nauseating, he says, because it distracts whites from the more worthy memory of his own people’s suffering.[24] Australia’s wars have been fought overwhelmingly by Anglo and other white Australians. So recent was the start of mass non-European immigration—since the 1970s—that the minority segment of the population does not yet figure in the core national identity as accumulated in images and memories of war heroes, veterans, war diaries and correspondence, casualty lists, war memorials and war leaders. The same can be said of our explorers, pioneers, leaders, writers, scientists, and of the imprint of culture, law and political institutions.

The change has been so rapid that veterans can notice. An example was publicised during Anzac Day in 2011 when Jim Wallace, head of the Australian Christian Lobby, commented in an online message that Australians should “remember the Australia [veterans] fought for—it wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic” (Australian, April 26, 2011[25]). He sent the message—which is true—after watching the Anzac Day march on television with his ninety-six-year-old father, a veteran of Tobruk and Milne Bay. The message provoked a storm of protest. Predictably he was called racist, despite the religious and homosexual themes. The message is also true when applied to ethnicity and race. Australian did not fight for diversity or to see their descendants become an ethnic minority. Among the reasons soldiers fight, the most common ideal was probably the aspiration for national freedom. That reality, combined with the Anglo make-up of the Anzacs, makes Australia’s past a foreign country for those alienated from the historical nation.

A Herald opinion piece complained that Australian boardrooms were too white and too male and that both deficiencies contributed to their staleness (May 9).[26]

Herald education editor Andrew Stevenson claimed in a front-page article that private schools are insufficiently diverse. The headline contained a racial slur which indicated that “insufficiently diverse” meant too white: “The white bread playground: top private schools shun ethnic diversity” (June 12).

The ABC2 television program Dumb, Drunk and Racist, June to July 2012, presented harsh images of Anglo Australians.[27] Mainly white Australians were shown displaying ethnic hostility and abusing alcohol. The anchor, Joe Hildebrand, a journalist for the Murdoch-owned Daily Telegraph, invited four Indians to fly to Australia and pass judgment on Australian race relations. Indians were chosen because that country has an especially negative view of Australian racism. The show focused on displays of racial abusiveness in interactions claimed by Hildebrand to be purely spontaneous: “The truth is virtually every confrontation, every bit of violence or abuse, was caused by people we just happened to accidentally stumble across—or rather who just came across us.”[28] This seems a hazardous way of organising a costly documentary. But we need go no further than Hildebrand’s own views to detect bias. In the second episode of the series, his response to the view that immigrants should adopt Australian customs was: “not sure what Australian customs there are, maybe drinking, gambling, wearing stubbies”.

Sports reporter Simon Barnes’s London Times article on Wimbledon was reprinted in the Weekend Australian: “I can never watch Serena Williams without being overwhelmed by a race-guilt for all the terrible things that white people have done to non-white people over the centuries” (July 7–8[29]).

A candidate for council elections was reported in the Herald as opposing sharia law and praising Australian in contrast to Muslim culture. The reporter, Nicole Hasham, implied that the candidate was a “racial supremacist” (August 21[30]).

In the context of criticising the federal parliament for insufficient ethnic diversity, columnist George Megalogenis implied that the institution is too white and that whiteness reduces openness: “It has become more monochrome at the very moment we need to pursue more openness—in markets and in immigration” (Weekend Australian, July 21–22[31]).

The Foreign Minister Bob Carr criticised a statement by the Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, that Australia belongs to the Anglosphere. He linked the statement to the anti-Asian views of One Nation founder Pauline Hanson in the 1990s. “With our heritage of White Australia and membership of the British Empire ... it’s too risky for us even to glance in the direction of talk of an Anglosphere. It revives all those unfortunate recollections and associations” (Weekend Australian, July 28–29[32]).

In the context of criticising Christian missionaries, Phillip Adams’s accusations became racial: “The spiritual destruction of aboriginal religions throughout the world by white invaders was finally far worse ...” (Weekend Australian, August 4–5[33]).

It seems that the elite Australian media do not always report events as objective observers but as participants, and that when they participate in ethnic issues they sometimes adopt a hostile attitude towards Anglo and white Australia but not towards minorities.

The gentle reception of anti-Anglo defamation

Sometimes what is not stated in the media points to bias. The media routinely pass over chauvinism and racism directed at Anglo Australians. An example is Herald journalist Jane Cadzow’s criticism of Aboriginal activist Noel Pearson’s verbal abuse of government officials and reporters as “f**king white c***s”. She did not dwell on the remark’s racist content (Herald, August 25[34]). The same was true of journalist Tony Koch’s original exposé in the Weekend Australian (April 28–29[35]). The emphasis was more on the fact that Pearson had abused a female journalist and done so with language “so foul it couldn’t be repeated here”. However, Koch was able to report Pearson’s lesser abuse of calling government officials and another female journalist “f**king racist white c***s”.

Despite this behaviour Pearson claims to be philosophically opposed to the concept of race, especially in governmental policy. In this view the British content of Australia’s national identity is all cultural. Likewise, Aboriginal identity and disability have nothing to do with race.[36] The National Trust of Australia has named Pearson a living national treasure, something of a contrast to the treatment afforded whites who deploy vulgar racial abuse. Professor Marcia Langton, foundation chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University, defended Pearson’s harsh language by describing it as a feature of Aboriginal English, in which profanities are used as emphatics, “like exclamation marks”. Langton did not insert a sunset clause in her argument, such as a proviso that the cultural excuse expires in the case of a speaker who has a law degree or exerts political and administrative leadership. The twilight of Langton’s argument was when she herself lapsed into vilification by referring to the “Anglo preference for supercilious politeness”. The comment was published without apology by the Weekend Australian (May 5–6[37]).

Also excused were negative views about whites expressed by Gracelyn Smallwood, an Aboriginal activist and an associate professor at James Cook University, made in the context of criticising Pearson. Smallwood made invidious generalisations about Anglos and whites in the Weekend Australian of July 7–8.[38] She wrote that white Australians prefer Noel Pearson’s approach to indigenous affairs, referred to the “racist realities of mainstream Australia”, and opined that Aborigines “have long ago given up hoping that white right-wingers might be capable of understanding such things”. She continued that “Anglo-Saxon pride has been promoted for over 200 years in Australian schools. Just because it talks of being fair dinkum doesn’t disguise its origins or trajectory.”

The treatment of racist language used by Aborigines and their supporters fits the “moral apartheid” described by Herald commentator Paul Sheehan, in which Aborigines are judged by different, lighter, standards,[39] though in the broader picture it is the Anglo community that is pilloried in its Bantustan of blame.

A higher-profile example of anti-Anglo sentiment being excused concerns the late art critic Robert Hughes. Hughes was a prominent expatriate Australian who supported the republican cause in the 1999 referendum from New York, where he was art critic for Time magazine. His anti-monarchical views extended to criticism of the British core of Australia’s national identity. He had unpleasant ethnically-charged memories of Catholic education, expressed in his book The Culture of Complaint (1993, p. 89): 

Our education would prepare us to be little Englishmen and Englishwomen, though with nasal accents. We would not be accepted as such by the English themselves: we were not up to that ... In those days we had a small, 95 per cent white, Anglo-Irish society ... We were taught little Australian history.  

The sentiment resembles that of the journalist John Pilger, who ridiculed Anglo Australia as a “second-hand England” in his 1992 book A Secret Country. In his book, Hughes defended the memory of the dead white males who built up most of the Western artistic and philosophical canon. But nowhere did he defend the right of live white people to witness for an identity that still nurtures that civilisation.

Anti-Anglo sentiment is also omitted from recent press coverage of the 1977 murder of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay (Herald, July 13; July 14–15[40]). The reports failed to mention the ethnic dimension of the crime. A royal commission concluded that a Calabrian Mafia organisation had targeted Mackay, an Anglo Australian. Al Grassby, a pioneering figure in Australian multiculturalism, had been a close associate of the Mafia leader who ordered Mackay’s murder, and had received generous political donations from this individual for many years. Acting on behalf of the Mafia, Grassby subsequently spread the accusation that Mackay’s own family had arranged the murder, for which he was successfully sued by Mackay’s widow.[41] None of this was mentioned in recent press reports. An elite newspaper can be expected to inform readers of such background, indicating that Mackay’s death was an ethnically-entailed conspiracy and cover-up. Despite Grassby’s criminal activities having been revealed, the ACT’s Labor government erected a life-sized statue of him, which still stands, a cold display of contempt for the Mackay family, the Anglo community and law-abiding citizens.[42]

Of the foregoing media reports, two of the largest categories are contradictory. Whites are commonly depicted abusing and stereotyping non-whites but also common is actual abuse and stereotyping of Anglos. No examples were sighted of journalists or commentators defaming minorities. Such behaviour exists but it is rare in the mainstream media, where abuse of Anglo Australia is common. The asymmetry in pecks and the identity and institutional affiliations of the peckers indicates that Australia has an ethnic hierarchy in which Anglos are firmly underneath and an alliance of leftist intellectuals and minorities are firmly on top. The examples also indicate that the hierarchy is not the natural order of things but is maintained through soft totalitarianism, known euphemistically as “political correctness”, consisting of intolerance on the part of the elite media, lack of political alternatives, and intimidation both informal and formal delivered by a growingly authoritarian and openly anti-Anglo immigration industry.

The low status of Anglo advocacy

The media review also revealed a pronounced status difference in Australian ethnic relations. Ethnic minorities are routinely represented by university-educated elites with access to the mass media and government while the ethnic majority is usually not. Rare exceptions, such as Professor Geoffrey Blainey was perceived to be in the 1980s, prove the rule, as does the fury they provoke from the mainstream media and Left activists. The class difference corresponds with institutional support, such that minority advocates are privileged by the establishment while majority advocates are excluded. Minority ethnic activists are treated with respect by government, the media, universities and corporations. They receive positive media coverage, jobs and other perks from the multicultural and immigration industry. They are invited to participate in government forums. Political parties sometimes favour them for preselection as a means of attracting the “ethnic vote”. Activist lawyers volunteer strategy and legal services. Peccadilloes and indiscretions are overlooked. By contrast, majority activists are derided by the media, university experts, minority activists and government officials. There are no jobs for advocates of Anglo-Australian interests in the multicultural industry or in government agencies. They are not invited to government forums. Lawyers demand full payment. Majority advocacy can stunt careers. Peccadilloes and indiscretions become the whole story. Throughout the West, efforts continue to legislate ever harsher penalties for expressions of loyalty to shrinking white majorities.

Vilification of Anglo ethnic consciousness helps perpetuate this difference. The resulting stigma helps silence the professional class that could marshal a powerful electoral and cultural defence of the historical nation.

The class difference between minority and majority ethnic advocates may have been instrumental in the top-down demographic revolution now under way across the English-speaking world. This can happen in a democracy when elites become alienated from the founding nation. According to the best academic study of the phenomenon in the USA, by Canadian sociologist Eric Kaufmann, by 1950 Anglo elites were stepping away from their traditional role of national leadership.[43] Kaufmann argues that this change of heart occurred initially in the upper echelons of the intellectual elite, largely due to leftist ideologues such as Boas driving Anglo loyalists out of the social sciences and literary circles. (The remainder of this synopsis drops the positive spin Kaufmann puts on cosmopolitanism.)

One of the first casualties was consideration of human nature, the scientific study of which offered a prestigious counterweight to millenarian socialism. This changing of the intellectual guard occurred in the United States by the 1940s and was already apparent in the 1920s and 1930s with the rise of anti-Anglo ideology dressed up as anti-racism. That was the tipping point. The Gramscian process came full circle as graduates of elite universities conveyed the cosmopolitan agenda to the federal government, including the executive, the Supreme Court, and senior levels of the bureaucracy. The alienation of the state from the nation left the nation without effective leadership and thus ill-equipped institutionally or financially to contest control of centralised government, education and media.

The remainder of the twentieth century saw the mopping-up of uncoordinated pockets of Anglo dissent. One rearguard action was flight from the mainstream churches to evangelical denominations whose preachers were not the products of Ivy League colleges or adherents of progressive ecumenicalism. Despite such resistance, the top-down march of cosmopolitan ideas had a general indoctrination effect. The ability of Anglo Americans to resist electorally was steadily eroded by the mass immigration of those whose ethnic and economic interests usually lay with the Democrats, the party of relatively generous welfare, diversity enthusiasm and porous borders. Coercive measures were also deployed, formal and informal, that characterise multiculturalism everywhere (though in America the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech has been a stumbling block to criminalising racial vilification). This was a repeat of the intolerance originally shown by the left in the elite universities. Kaufmann is critical of the anti-Anglo stance of multiculturalism, suggesting that this endangers the cosmopolitan enterprise.[44]

The process is similar in Australia, though a greater proportion of the intellectual influence has come from overseas. The Anglo elite was becoming alienated from ethnic defence by the 1960s. The Immigration Reform Group, founded in 1960 at Melbourne University, was influential in advocating ethnic moralism that soared unburdened by a concept of ethnic interests. Loyalists have still not found a response to their people’s loss of control over the state. From the 1960s the universities became a stronghold for anti-Anglo activists, eventually leading to school curricula having their civics courses stripped of patriotic history. The present Labor government is intent on introducing a national civics curriculum for schools that teaches children nothing of the country’s Anglo-Celtic and European history. Instead it intends to emphasise Aboriginal culture, Asian geography, environmental sustainability and leftist values.[45] As Chris Berg of the Institute of Public Affairs notes, Australia’s own English and European political traditions are not mentioned in the draft curriculum; neither is individual liberty. And as the Australian Christian Lobby argues, there is no justification for ignoring Western biblical traditions.[46]

The potential for shifting demographics to prevent an Anglo recovery was demonstrated during the 2007 federal election, when the serving prime minister, John Howard, lost his seat to a campaign that pulled Asian votes from him on the basis of ethnic affiliation. One comment that he made twenty years earlier, to the effect that Asian immigration should be slowed a little during times of economic recession, a view he later withdrew, was sufficient to convince conservative middle-class voters of Asian origin to support the party of the left.[47] Race trumped class. More significantly, the commentariat did not hurl accusations of racism at the Labor Party or ethnically-motivated voters. Instead they commended the tactics used. It seems that anti-racism sometimes means anti-white. The foregoing examples of media defamation send the same message. A similar double standard prevents the Greens from opposing mass immigration, which overnight transforms low-polluting Third Worlders into the highest polluters on the planet. In a way, race trumps the environment.

The subordination and steady replacement of Anglo Australia is not due to high principle but an unholy Left-minority alliance. The cosmopolitan Left has abandoned the shrinking white blue-collar working class for new constituencies, including minority ethnics who can be relied upon to vote for parties that keep the immigration door open to ethnic kin. Australia’s cosmopolitan elites are, in effect, electing a new people to replace reactionary Anglo Australia. The fact that the new people are more ethnically motivated than Anglo Australians has not bothered ideologues who are on hair-trigger alert for any hint of Anglo ethnic sentiment.

The concluding part of this article, in the next issue of Quadrant, describes how the national question is treated in Australia’s universities. Are the confusion, double standards and outright anti-white hostility evident in the media occurring despite or because of what is being taught in the social sciences? 

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:55 pm


The War Against Human Nature III
Race and the Nation in the Universities

Quote :
In the October issue I reviewed elements of the quality media, mainly the Sydney Morning Herald and intermittently the ABC and SBS, for one year, from mid-September 2011 to August 2012. These media outlets represent the apogee of respectable, mainstream Left-liberal ideology in Australia, ostensibly the heart of sophisticated cosmopolitanism, what the elite read and watch. I found confused understandings of ethnic behaviour, numerous incidents of baiting and defamation of Anglo and white Australians, but no chauvinism directed at minority ethnic groups. The search was not exhaustive but the trend is unlikely to be altered by a few missed cases running in the opposite direction. Neither is the trend altered by articles that report unpleasant facts about minorities in a dispassionate manner. An example is a 2010 article by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald-Sun, a Murdoch-owned newspaper.[1] Bolt criticised the Victoria Police for suppressing information on the ethnicity of criminals and presented some statistics showing high rates of imprisonment for some immigrant groups. He did not use terms of abuse such as those directed at Anglos and whites in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Spread over twelve months, the hostility shown towards Anglo Australians occurred at a moderate frequency. Viewed in isolation it was not out of place. Some ethnic and ideological sniping is normal. Remarkable was the near total lack of similar abuse directed at minorities in the quality media and an absence of warmth towards Anglo Australians identified as such. Clearly the latter do not enjoy the immunity from defamation bestowed on migrant and indigenous communities. The review revealed a hierarchy of regard with Anglos and whites in the subordinate position.

In this instalment I examine the contribution of Australia’s universities to public culture regarding the national question. There was little evidence in the media I reviewed of academics stepping in to correct the anti-white bias and theoretical confusion. Could it be that the relevant knowledge is scarce in Australian universities, at least in the social sciences?

Indirect evidence that the ghost of Franz Boas still haunts the antipodean ivory tower comes from leading scholars of ethnicity and nationalism who I contacted. They could not name one Australian scholar who professes biosocial theory. This is in line with the survey reported in the first essay in this series in the June issue.[2] No political science or sociology department reported a scholar basing his or her research or teaching on behavioural biology. The skew towards Marxist and other environmental theories means that scholars of nationality do not know what to do with the wealth of findings drawn from evolutionary psychology, ethology, and sociobiology—except ignore them.

Further evidence comes from a recent student in a leading university studying nationalism, who reports that the approach was heavily Marxist. In the first year his course consisted of one week covering supposedly primordial theory and thirteen weeks of the usual fare. The core texts were Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Eric Hobsbawm’s Nations and Nationalism since 1780. I have also drawn on these texts as teaching material. But they need to be treated critically because both are radically constructionist. Both argue that ethnicities and nations are socially constructed, not based on realities of genetic and cultural similarity. The late Eric Hobsbawm was a Marxist at the London School of Economics who emphasised the recency of ethnic traditions and whose formulaic dismissal of behavioural biology allowed him to downplay primordial origins.

The interesting development among LSE ethnic theorists has come from the circle around Anthony D. Smith and Australian John Hutchinson and other scholars such as Walker Connor in the USA. Their comparative approach and theory of ethnosymbolism allows for behavioural and genetic factors to be introduced to the analysis. Unlike radical theorists they do not criticise Western societies as notably egregious. Smith’s seminal contribution has been to show that nation-states develop around ancient ethnic cores.[3] When clarified in biosocial perspective by theorists such as Walker Connor and J. Philippe Rushton[4] this finding contradicts the view that nations represent ideals or are secondary effects of class processes.

A Sydney Morning Herald editorial made this error in implying that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service’s mission is to stop the enemies of the open society. That would be a congenial outcome but is not its prime mission, which is to defend the Australian nation, whatever its present economic or social system. The great Enoch Powell made this point in discussion with Margaret Thatcher shortly before the Falklands War. The prime minister said that a strong defence force was needed to protect Western values.

Powell: No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.

Thatcher: Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.

Powell: No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.

Mrs Thatcher looked utterly baffled. She had just been presented with the difference between Toryism and American Republicanism.[5]

Consistent with Powell’s distinction is the hierarchy of bonds. People are more likely to sacrifice for their nations than for abstract principles.[6] The nation is the largest secular entity able to elicit robust solidarity.

Implicit anti-white bias also contributes to the unbalanced analysis of the national question. A frequent approach is to treat Anglo ethnicity mainly as a risk factor for racism, but immigrant ethnicity as a legitimate and rich human value. Consider the immigration expert consulted by the Herald journalist who criticised the anti-Islamic activist cited in the first part of this article.[7] Professor Kevin Dunn is Head of School of Human Geography and Urban Studies at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). His reported comments were critical of anti-diversity and anti-Muslim views. Did the Herald journalist omit reporting comments sympathetic to Anglo concerns as normal in the circumstances? Professor Dunn’s publication list indicates not, and is a window into the world of academic multiculturalism.[8] His research is funded by the academic and multicultural establishments.[9]

Professor Dunn’s website lists forty-six publications and research projects, twenty dealing directly with racism and ethnic discrimination. Going by article titles and available abstracts, none study these phenomena among non-whites or Muslims. None study Anglo or white interests or victimhood. None indicate reliance on human universals or behavioural biology, while several claim a constructivist approach. Several do study Muslims’ and other immigrant groups’ experience of hostility, which is categorised as the product of a phobia among Anglos, implying groundless or excessive fear.[10] Several investigate Anglos’ denial of their own racism and privilege. Anglo racism and privilege, and immigrant victimhood, are treated as axiomatic. For example, the “new racism” is held to be a distinctively Anglo view of the nation as assimilationist, ethnocultural, or egalitarian, a narrow conception at odds with the civic nationalism on which multiculturalism is based.[11] Egalitarian images of Australia are a form of Anglo racism, it is argued, because they deny the supposed reality of Anglo privilege.[12] One paper published in 2011[13] reports survey data indicating that Australians of non-Anglo background were “significantly more likely than those from Anglo backgrounds and Australian-born respondents to deny that racial prejudice exists in Australia”. The paper interprets this as evidence of a pathology in Australian society in which subordinate ethnicities are discouraged from admitting that they suffer from racism. An alternative interpretation, that immigrants simply encounter low levels of discrimination, is apparently not considered.

Racial Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke’s hostile attitude towards Anglo Australia, discussed in the first part of this article, begins to look normal when compared with mainstream academic analysis. It is easy to find prominent academics whose writing on ethnicity promotes the transformation of Australia through immigration, shows a cold indifference to the Australian nation, and affords no place for human nature.

An example is a 2011 paper on Australia-Chinese relations and its implications for Australian politics, by Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology at the University of Technology Sydney. Jakubowicz was foundation director of the Centre for Multicultural Studies at Wollongong University and collaborated with the Office of the Board of Studies of New South Wales to produce the award-winning website Making Multicultural Australia in the 21st Century aimed at school pupils. The paper[14] assembles important information about Chinese ethnic activism in Australia, beginning with the unseating of John Howard in the 2007 federal election, and the way their influence is based on strong representation in some professions and business sectors, on large targeted donations to political parties, and on international linkages mobilised by pan-Chinese nationalism. The Chinese community does not present a united front in advancing its interest, but Jakubowicz expects a front to develop because “a multicultural policy depends on well-organised ethnically-focused organisations able to both articulate interests of their groups, and engage in coalitions with similar groups to deliver broader policy outcomes that provide individual benefits to the groups, and to their constituencies” (p. 78).

The analysis then takes an ethnocentric turn. Instead of canvassing strategies Australia might adopt to protect its interests against a diaspora with ethnic ties to a nearby rising power, Jakubowicz constructs a brief for ethnic Chinese grievance against alleged white Australian racism. Citing Kevin Dunn among others, he states that the “Australian political system is still influenced by racist histories, while Asian immigrants still experience some forms of racism” (p. 79). He states that racism has been a defining characteristic of the Australian nation and has not dissipated. He mocks past concerns about Chinese invasion and declares the need to finally break down white racism in order to allow Chinese ethnics, in unspecified numbers, full participation in national identity and governance. Australia’s challenge, Jakubowicz argues, is finally to expunge its racialised state structure. The supposedly bitter legacy of Blainey and Howard must be buried and Chinese-Australian history made an integral part of the emerging Australian ethno-nationalist narrative (p. 81).

Jakubowicz commits some fallacies and emits some hostilities that resemble those found in the elite media. He simultaneously calls for minorities to organise ethnically to advance their corporate interests and condemns white Australians for any hint of doing the same. Evidence of white discrimination against Asians is not compared with data on Asian discrimination, for example the renowned success of cohesive Chinese middleman trading networks in dominating markets throughout South-East Asia.[15] In this view whites have no legitimate ethnic interests. Their only ethical option is complete acquiescence to minority demands, which represent bountiful legitimate group interests. Another consequence is that the call for Chinese-Australian participation in a reconstructed Australian nation is unrestrained by numbers. This is typical of multicultural ideology, that it allows for displacement of Western populations. The failure to discuss numbers also reflects a cavalier attitude towards Australian security in the light of Jakubowicz’s acknowledgment of the growth of pan-Han nationalism and its linkage to Chinese economic and military power. These potential threats will hinge on ethnic Chinese representation in Australian politics and business. A final fallacy is acceptance of Foucaultian constructionist theory unrestrained by human nature, which allows the fantasy that manipulation of Australia’s national historical narrative can produce something that has never existed, a diverse ethno-nation possessing the same benefits of social cohesion, social capital and allegiance that accrue to real nations. It is doubtful that Chinese-Australian interests would be served by allowing themselves to become allied with the grievance industry,[16] though this might advance Chinese regional hegemony.

Radical anti-Western analysis of race and nation is not new. Mistaken Identity: Multiculturalism and the Demise of Nationalism in Australia (1988),[17] by Stephen Castles and colleagues, assumes that Western societies have been inherently racist, including Australia, Western Europe and of course the United States. The racism concept is used promiscuously. Formally the book defines it as including affective links, and even criticises the “racism” of ethnic minorities who stick together. But “racism” is mainly used to convey the colloquial meaning of ethnic prejudice and hatred and is thus a term of opprobrium. This mixed meaning has helped make “racism” useful to social critics but next to worthless for serious analysis. On the one hand it is used reasonably to describe categorical hostility towards a racial group, but the same word is applied to liberal-democratic polities such as France and Germany in the 1970s. Australia is especially condemnable, the authors contend, because for much of the country’s history racism has been used in an attempt to increase social cohesion. Geoffrey Blainey’s 1984 criticism of high levels of Asian immigration on the ground that it threatened social stability is described as “an attempt to develop an embracing racist ideology”. One meaning not given to racism is defence of ethnic group interests or other adaptive functions. The concept is not floated. Overly liberal application of the racism concept obscures the distinction between ethnicity and race. Thus the authors claim that in 1992 Australia could not adopt the “racist” strategy of reaffirming its historical British identity because, in that year, only 75 per cent of the population were of British descent. But Britishness is an ethnic category, not a racial one. The white racial category in 1992 was much greater than 75 per cent of the Australian population.

In arguing for a socialist form of multiculturalism that eliminates group inequality, Mistaken Identity does not countenance ethnic differences in economic behaviour. In that countenance inequality can only be due to oppression or bad luck, which makes radical social engineering seem more appropriate. This leftist myth is still mainstream in the social sciences. For example, well into this century university courses in politics and sociology still do not cover group differences in IQ, a strong predictor of educational success and social mobility.[18] Greater weight is given to the mythical agency of white racism in producing inequality, setting the stage for Castles and his co-authors’ conclusion: “Above all, the history of white racism and genocide against the Aborigines must become a central theme of education and public debate, and an accommodation with the Aborigines must be achieved through payment of reparations and Land Rights legislation.” They add that Australia’s social organisation must be redefined to de-emphasise the nation-state because the national idea conflicts with the projects of abolishing white racism and maximising diversity.

Mistaken Identity suffers from the attempt to combine agitprop stirring and empirical analysis. Factors and analytically useful concepts that conflict with the policy agenda are simply omitted. Nevertheless, or perhaps consequently, the book has been remarkably influential. It has been issued in three editions (1988, 1990 and 1992), and many of its recommendations have been accomplished or are proposed, such as the present Labor government’s attempt to remove the last vestiges of Western history and Anglo identity from the national civics curriculum. The book has not hurt its authors’ careers. Consider the lead author. Stephen Castles has impeccable globalist credentials. He is a sociologist and political economist specialising in international migration and its transformatory effects. He has advised the British and Australian governments and has worked for the International Labour Organisation, the International Organisation for Migration, the European Union and other international organisations. He is presently Research Chair in Sociology at Sydney University. Earlier in his career, at Wollongong University, he was Director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies and, like Andrew Jakubowicz, Director of the Centre for Multicultural Studies (1986–1996).[19] The second author, Bill Cope, was also at the Centre (1984–1991) and was the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1995–96), when he was also Director of the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research in the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, and is presently Professor of Education Policy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The third author, Mary Kalantzis, has also had a successful academic career and served as Commissioner of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and as Chair of the Queensland Ethnic Affairs Ministerial Advisory Committee. The radicals advocating the deconstruction of Western societies are not shouting in the streets at the establishment. By the 1990s they were in the establishment.

An extreme example of the politicisation of the field of ethnic studies is the school of “whiteness studies”. This began with a Marxist thesis developed in The Wages of Whiteness (1999) by American historian David Roediger. The thesis is that belonging to the white race brings unearned social and economic advantages. This is perhaps the theoretical basis for the claim that Anglo Australians are privileged. Australia has its own academic whiteness studies association, the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association (ACRAWSA),[20] whose goal is to “[c]ritically investigate and challenge racial privilege and the construction and maintenance of race and whiteness”. A political agenda is evident in the failure to generalise the thesis. Do not members of other ethnicities and races benefit from group membership? Are there not wages of blackness or of Chineseness? Why are there only benefits for whites and disadvantages for non-whites? The school does not attempt to assess the costs of whiteness, such as affirmative action, at a time when the white man’s burden weighs heavily upon him. White societies around the world are in steep demographic and economic decline, a fact not easy to reconcile with the unchanging white hegemony alleged in whiteness studies. The sole emphasis on white privilege, in a diverse world in which that race is in headlong retreat, is difficult to distinguish from racial animus.

Another analytical flaw is the school’s dogma that race is a social construct, that it has no objective existence. The notion is found throughout the social sciences and humanities. Also absent from whiteness studies is the concept of ethnic interests, a recurring deficiency of contemporary ethnic studies.

Left radicalism does not monopolise academic ethnic studies in Australia. An example of moderate liberal analysis, though still lacking a biosocial dimension, is that of David Brown at Murdoch University. In Contemporary Nationalism (2000) Brown analyses multiculturalism as a form of corporatism that privileges minority communities. The effect, he argues, has been to withdraw state support from the majority and instead re-educate it in the “virtues and advantages of ethnic pluralism”.[21] Another invidious consequence has been that the majority are “portrayed as the ethnic community whose previous dominance must now be compensated for by their new subordination”.[22] Thus Australian multiculturalism has turned the state against the Anglo-Celtic majority, in contrast to the type of multiculturalism adopted in Singapore in which all ethnic groups, including the Chinese majority, receive corporate protection from the state.[23] Brown implies that what is being done to Anglo-Celtic Australians is unjust and also dangerous because states that exclude the majority from consideration are more likely “to face the ... electorally destabilising wrath of the ethnic majority”.[24] He advocates individual-pluralist amelioration of ethnic diversity in which the state does not favour any side. The shortcoming of pluralism is that it pretends that all ethnicities are equal, putting the historical Anglo-Celtic nation on an equal footing with numerous immigrant groups. By not acknowledging and analysing ethnic group interests, pluralism would perpetuate the alienation of the state from the culture that established it.

The subjects of ethnicity and race are recurring weaknesses of social science stripped of behavioural biology. Academics and media commentators are frequently unsure of what these concepts mean and how they interact. This became evident in the controversy and court case concerning commentator Andrew Bolt.

Bolt expressed scepticism about the genuineness of Aboriginal identity on the part of individuals who lack visible racial characteristics.[25] He was sued by nine individuals who objected that although they were light-skinned they identified with those ancestors who were indigenous and were hurt, humiliated and offended by Bolt’s remarks. In September 2011 the suit was upheld and Bolt was found to have contravened section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, though he had not been antagonistic to any race. His crime was not so much assuming that subjective identification necessary follows the weight of ancestry, but his application to self-declared Aborigines of a type of mockery that is usually reserved for white advocates: that their emphasis of ethnicity is extreme and divisive.

The guilty verdict was criticised by conservative commentators on the grounds that it impinged on freedom of speech. Bolt can also be defended on empirical grounds, though the evidence does not all go his way. It is true that indigenous identity can be felt by individuals who lack distinctive Aboriginal racial characteristics. But race can be a salient ethnic marker. Religion, language, dress and other cultural characteristics can mark ethnicity. But racial difference is important to external judgments of ethnicity because it is genetically caused and therefore persistent as an identity marker even after full cultural assimilation. And racial differences are visible at a distance. In mass anonymous societies appearance is the only information available about most people we encounter in public places. The language, religion, diet, personality and political views of those comprising a crowd might be invisible but their racial makeup is obvious.

Race is also a marker of descent, though it does not distinguish between populations of the same race. Difference of race signals at least some difference of ancestry, and at the heart of ethnic group feeling is the belief that the group shares ancestors. Surely it is significant that an individual of indigenous racial appearance is more likely to be perceived to be Aboriginal than one who looks white? A recurring theme in ethnic studies is someone “passing” for one ethnicity despite being descended from another, and the effect this has on status and social options.

Racial appearance can also complicate subjective identification. For a number of reasons individuals of mixed ancestry can identify with one set of ancestors more than another. As a result, hybridity does not remove race as a variable. A prominent example is Barack Obama, who has a black African father and a white mother. Despite being raised by his mother’s family and half his genetic inheritance being European, his ethnic identity tracked his African racial appearance. He devoted his post-Harvard career to advocating the interests of African Americans.

Another factor that connects race and ethnicity is genetic similarity, which at the population level is highest within racially marked ethnic groups. Similarity of ethnicity draws people together in marriages, friendships and networks, producing pockets of relative ethnic and racial homogeneity.[26] A result of this universal tendency to implicit ethnicity is that the overwhelming majority of ethnically and racially discriminatory acts are normal and morally neutral. The analytical challenge is to define the small subset that deserves condemnation, for example as “racism”. Criteria include contractual obligations and compassion but a useful definition cannot encompass universal adaptive choices. Ethnic solidarity can be adaptive because ethnic groups typically have different genetic interests, in the same way that families do but at a scale several orders of magnitude greater. A racial component to ethnic difference magnifies this effect. It seems that few if any in Australian social science departments understand that ethnic genetic kinship is real, has been measured and is substantial. I could find only one biosocial treatment of ethnicity or nationality in an Australian journal, and that was by me in 2008.[27]

The Left-multicultural approach to ethnic conflict dates to the early twentieth century in the United States and was a mature thread of the cosmopolitan critique of the West by the 1960s, for example in E. Digby Baltzell’s classic denunciation of Wasp ethnicity, The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America (1964). Baltzell treated Anglos as possessing no legitimate interests that might be threatened by other ethnic groups and thus by mass immigration. He clinically examined Anglo-Americans, and only Anglo-Americans, for any sign of ethnic solidarity, inevitably finding symptoms which he promptly diagnosed as immoral. He treated immigrant communities very differently, as possessing legitimate interests that are often threatened by Anglo racism but which would be wholly benign if realised. In this perspective minorities harbour no competitive ethnic sentiments, a most improbable exception from human nature.

Biosocial analysis of the national question is less likely to get bogged down by ethnic or ideological loyalties because from the biological perspective all populations share the same interest in survival, status and resources. Science is not judgmental. There is much left to discover but the needed research orientation appears to be rare in Australian social science departments, the result of the West losing the cold war over human nature. Promising research topics include: the distinction between the strong force of group identification and the weak but ubiquitous force of similarity-attraction; how this distinction maps onto conscious and subconscious ethnicity; the development of ethnic consciousness from birth and how it sheds light on cultural, genetic and psychological influences; how the method of live brain scanning is contributing to this knowledge; sex differences in ethnic behaviour; the causes of socioeconomic stratification by ethnicity, including group differences in cognitive and personality traits; the evolution of behaviour bearing on ethnicity; group selection and aggregate kinship; slow versus fast life history strategies and ethnic differences; the nature of ethnic interests, proximate and ultimate; social technologies for stabilising ethnically stratified societies; and how all of this can affect political theory, in particular the design of adaptive political systems.

Scientific approaches are also valuable because they break taboos. In the case of ethnicity, one taboo is disloyalty on the part of minorities. This is considered unmentionable but is predictable from biosocial theory. The study of diasporas indicates that Australia’s diversity is likely to reduce its degree of consensus in foreign policy and cohesion in times and war. One subject of potential import is the potential risks posed by Australia’s growing population of immigrants whose ethnic homelands are in conflict with Australia. It is predictable that some will feel more moved by ethnic solidarity than attachment to Australia. At present this is true of the Islamic community, as expressed by the Sydney riot of September 15. An academic Muslim commented in the Herald (September 19[28]):

many Muslims in Australia do not simply give up their identity as belonging to a global community merely because they happen to live in Australia ... when a Muslim woman is killed ... in Afghanistan, these youth are angered at the fact that their sister was murdered. When a Muslim man is crushed to death in Palestine, they lament the loss of their brother.

A much greater potential threat comes from diasporas of regional powers. The risk is not sporadic violence but the diplomatic isolation of Australia. The United States is declining economically and its ethnic bond to Australia will weaken as the two countries’ populations become more diverse. At the same time Australia’s Asian population is entering the professions in large numbers, making their loyalty a relevant issue. Some fifth-column activity would be primed by the rise of nationalism in one or more diaspora homelands. Such activity could be initiated domestically or in regional homelands. Australia’s diversity is often praised for its vibrancy. It is also a potential asset to regional powers in attempts to separate Australia from its traditional ally.

Who else might the Herald journalist have contacted to provide a comment fair to Anglo Australians? Which social scientist would have explained that cultural pride does not somehow become “racial supremacism” when it is felt by white people, or that concern about sharia law’s potential threat to Western secular institutions is not incompatible with the values of modern society? Surely many have that knowledge but are not approached by the media.

The academic study of ethnicity is in line with the double standards, Anglophobia and irrationalism of the mainstream media’s reporting of ethnic affairs. This represents the victory of radical and anti-Western ideology first expressed by Franz Boas and his school. The deleterious effect on students can be seen in leaders ill-prepared to formulate adaptive policies on immigration and domestic race relations. The Left’s dogged advocacy of high immigration and multiculturalism, despite the overwhelming evidence of the anti-social and anti-equality effects of diversity,[29] raises questions about their collective state of mind. Have they taken leave of their senses?

At the minimum they have taken leave of their values by advocating the immigration of cultures that oppose gay rights and equality of women and are far more ethnocentric than Anglos or other Europeans. Bangladeshi-Australian psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed observed in the Herald (July 26[30]) that Chinese and Indian immigrants are conservative and reject most of the social values of those who agitate for open borders. They are eager to vote for conservative parties—with the one caveat, Ahmed implies, that those parties pursue the unconservative policy of Asianisation. Ahmed makes clear that that caveat is not motivated by cosmopolitan sentiment. In Australia and America conservative parties that welcome Asian immigration gain the votes of ethnic Indians and Chinese. The priority given to Asian ethnic interests could not be clearer. From this perspective even John Howard was a positive influence, not because he defended religious schools and other conservative causes but because he favoured the ethnic interests of Asians, which includes Dr Ahmed’s own ethnicity. “[I]n spite of John Howard’s association with anti-Asian rhetoric, his Liberal government settled more immigrants than any before. It also did more to Asianise our country.”

Ahmed observes but does not explain the paradox of an Asianisation policy coming from a party that he thought “believe[d] in white Australia and a subservient immigrant class”. Nor does he explain the paradox of leftist leaders such as Hawke and Keating abandoning white Australia, with its weak ethnocentrism, and embracing the immigration of relatively intense ethnocentric cultures. A partial explanation comes from sociologist Katharine Betts, who observes that the greatest ideological distance between political leaders and followers is in the Labor, Greens and Democrats parties. She surmises that voters retain some national loyalty while elites have adopted international cosmopolitanism.[31] In effect the anti-Anglo Left, by having elements of its agenda embraced by the mainstream parties and the self-serving immigration industry, is succeeding in electing a new population which is far more tribal than the old. Something does not add up. Whatever it is that induces both sides of politics to suspend core values in situations where those values would benefit Anglo interests, it is not consistent with white hegemony or even white equality in multicultural Australia. Disinterested anti-racism would assume that the cause is hatred of Anglo Australia, which is consistent with the fealty to minority interests. A biosocial analysis—or a behaviourally-based sociological one—would search for more fundamental causes, such as competitive motives derived from conflicts of ethnic interests.[32]

The origins of Anglo and European intellectual self-hatred are obscure. George Orwell noted that sentiment in English leftist intellectuals in the 1930s. In an essay, “The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius”, published in 1941, he criticised most Left intellectuals for lack of patriotism. Orwell was critical of cosmopolitanism because it discounted the bonds of nation. He was a radical socialist but also loved his country and saw that it was threatened by Soviet and Nazi tyranny. He wrote the essay at a time shortly after Dunkirk when Britain was exposed to German bombing and invasion. The most moving section is titled “England Your England”. In it Orwell describes what the English identity meant to him and why national freedom was worth defending. He did not attempt to trace anti-English sentiment to its roots. Anti-Anglo cosmopolitanism was introduced to England as early as 1911, when Franz Boas presented his fresh “findings” about the plasticity of race at the Universal Races Congress held at the University of London.[33] The meeting was organised by the local branch of the Ethical Culture Society founded by Felix Adler, regarded by Eric Kaufmann as the first public intellectual to completely sever the ties of ethnicity to achieve a truly cosmopolitan consciousness.[34]

Another source of anti-Western sentiment was revolutionary Marxism, which conceptualised nationalism and ethnic sentiment as types of “false consciousness”. Anti-racism was at the heart of communism and was enacted by the Bolsheviks during their cosmopolitan phase up to the Second World War. Like Western multiculturalism, Soviet anti-racism was focused on protecting minorities. The regime directed the widespread killing of the Slavic majority, including the Ukrainian genocide of 1931–32 in which many millions were starved to death. In the 1920s the regime also considered the family to be a by-product of capitalism.[35] This was consistent with utopian socialist suspicion of parents discriminating in favour of their own children. Soviet meddling with the Russian family was as disastrous as any totalitarian utopian experiment and was withdrawn in the late 1920s. Its experiment with cosmopolitanism ended in 1941 when Stalin, desperate to put spine into the Red Army, called on Russians to fight the “Great Patriotic War”.

Though impractical, there is a certain logic to the rejection of nation and family, based on an analogy between national solidarity and nepotism. Both involve allegiance based on biological descent or tribe-like affiliation. And both take precedence over class solidarity. The analogy has proven scientifically fruitful in the form of a sociobiological theory that conceptualises ethnic solidarity as “ethnic nepotism”.[36] The utopian fallacy is to map an ethical argument onto the behavioural analogy, thus: If it is wrong to care more for a fellow ethnic than a randomly-chosen human, it must also be wrong to care for one’s own child more than a randomly chosen one. The argument is oddly premised and sequenced. A more realistic rendering goes something like this, setting caveats aside: If it’s acceptable or commendable to care especially for one’s child it must also be acceptable or commendable to care especially for members of one’s ethnic group or indeed any category for which one feels an attachment.

The weight of radical anti-national ideology in Australia is indicated by the pressure put on academics who contradict leftist ethnic policy. In 1984 Geoffrey Blainey was demonised when he identified the double standards of what he called the “immigration industry” in stereotyping Anglo Australia as racist while being routinely discriminatory against the white community and for immigrant communities:

Rarely in the history of the modern world has a nation given such preference to a tiny ethnic minority of its population as the Australian Government has done in the past few years, making that minority the favoured majority in its immigration policy.[37]

A more recent criticism of the Left-minority political establishment comes from Bob Birrell, reader in sociology at Monash University. Birrell has been subjected to name-calling from senior colleagues[38] because he is a rare social scientist whose analysis includes the costs of diversity and immigration to national cohesion. He argues that multiculturalism serves the interests of minorities, especially in keeping the immigration doors open to a continual flow of co-ethnics. He implies that minority solidarity has been marshalled by leftist politicians to bolster their electoral prospects. For one analysis he drew on the work of Patrick Buchanan in his book The Death of the West.[39] The end result, Buchanan argued, will be the subordination of white populations in their homelands. In February 2012 Buchanan was fired as a senior news analyst by CNBC for expressing similar views.

The most Stalinist example of academic intolerance was reserved for actual advocacy of Anglo ethnic interests. In 2005 Andrew Fraser, associate professor of public law at Macquarie University, criticised the immigration of black Africans on the ground that they commit crime at higher rates than do whites. Fraser was suspended from teaching duties and an article in which he documented his assertion was censored from the Deakin University law journal by the university’s vice-chancellor after it had passed peer review and been accepted by the editor.[40]


Anglo Australians are a subaltern ethnicity. They are second-class citizens, the only ethnic group subjected to gratuitous defamation and hostile interrogation in the quality media, academia and race-relations bureaucracy. The national question is obscured in political culture by fallout from a continuing culture war against the historical Australian nation. Many of the premises on which ethnic policy have been based since the 1970s are simply false, from the beneficence of diversity to the white monopoly of racism and the irrelevance of race. The elite media and strong elements of the professoriate assert that racial hatred in Australia is the product of Anglo-Celtic society. But in the same media and even in the Commission for Race Discrimination most ethnic disparagement is aimed at “homogenised white” people.

What would correct the situation? At the minimum, analysis based on human nature needs to be injected into the study of the national question. Behavioural biology is necessary but not sufficient for that project. The conservative intellectual heritage also needs to be revived and updated for modern times to breathe compassion and affection for Anglo Australia into ethnic studies. The philosophy of Edmund Burke regarding homeland and national cohesion—that a healthy society resembles a family with obligations to generations past, present and future—is supported and signified by the discovery of ethnic kinship, the benefits of relative homogeneity and the issues raised by the political arena’s expansion to the global stage.

Such reveries appear hopelessly academic when confronted with the intolerance of Left intellectuals and an immigration industry that exercises undue influence on the Australian state. Initiatives by isolated academics will be inadequate to counter entrenched politicisation. Dissent exists but not many have the tenure or the stomach to suffer isolation and contumely. Lone heroics are simply not a viable strategy for young scholars seeking to build careers studying the national question without teaching lies. It will be necessary to organise.

One or more Anglo councils are needed, non-governmental organisations along the lines of other ethnic councils but oriented more towards promoting the scientific study of ethnicity and nationalism. The council should also advocate for Anglo Australians, broadly defined. An Anglo council, and ultimately a federation of Anglo councils, would defend its constituents’ ethnic interests—against defamation, exploitation and demographic swamping. It would demand full representation in multicultural bodies and seek consultative access to government. It would lobby for schoolchildren to be taught the true history of the nation. It would affirm its attachment to the land of Australia. And it would insist that if any people is to be recognised in the Constitution, pride of place should be given to that which founded the nation and provided its infrastructure, political and legal systems, culture and language. Representing the core national identity and the majority of Australians, such a council should adopt a conciliatory role to smooth ethnic relations but in a manner compatible with defending its constituents’ rights and legitimate interests. The effect would be to democratise multiculturalism and the immigration industry by giving the majority of Australians representation in those spheres for the first time.

The handful of existing Anglo-Australian associations mostly promote culture and the English language, including the Britain-Australia Society and the English Speaking Union. The body that most closely approximates an ethnic agency is the British Australian Community, a small service organisation originally established to provide assistance to British immigrants.[41]

The rise of a powerful Anglo-Australian lobby would acknowledge the partial separation of nation and state. The latter would be treated as it is conceived in classical liberal theory—a Leviathan of incomparable power that can be hijacked by hostile forces. In a diverse world of self-serving elites, the state inevitably develops agendas that sometimes conflict with the national interest. That has happened in Australia since the 1960s. The case can be made that the nation needs its own institutions, a national lobby that represents its constituents’ ethnic interests. Such a national whip would defend Anglo-Australia’s interests against a political class that has been squandering those interests for decades. That is one, perhaps the only, way, to retain the benefits of the nation-state in an era of mass migration and self-serving elites.

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PostSubject: Re: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:03 pm

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

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PostSubject: Re: The War Against Human Nature Fri Jun 10, 2016 6:15 am

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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