The Argument Of Last Resort


It’s one pretty much certain way to determine that you have won a debate. Your opponent, having despaired of countering your arguments one by one, having consulted Shopenhauer’s 38 Stratagems, and found nothing to aid him there, finally, in desperation, is reduced to calling you either a Nazi (an abject admission of utter defeat anyway), or…

A racist!!!

So what actually is racism? If you are going to throw about accusations of this sort, you had better have a concrete definition. The word in the English language is generally defined like this:

Racism is the hypothesis, or belief, that one race of human beings is inherently superior to another race in some way.

It’s a theory that’s so easy to pick apart it hardly seems worth the time. But let’s do so, just out of interest. For a start, there’s the definition of race. Advances in the field of genetics in recent decades have almost invariably tended to de-emphasize race, and highlight the similarities among all humans. We all share, I believe, something like 99.8% of our genetic code. I remember social science textbooks from my childhood asserting there were just four races of humans: caucasians, mongoloids, negroids and australoids (I guess it was just my good fortune not to be an -oid). But then, I guess, these are the same social science textbooks that once told me that when Europeans first settled on the Australian continent in 1788, the native inhabitants simply ran away, or died of the common cold. The current state of scientific knowledge is that, depending on how you want to define it, there are anything from three to three hundred races of humans. Race, as a descriptor of people, becomes less and less useful with every passing year.

There are actually, however, some occasions when racial descriptors are useful, even unavoidable. It has been demonstrated, for example, that people of West African descent have a significantly higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibre than other people. Which kind of explains the make-up of the Olympic Games 100 metres sprint final. Or when you look at various diseases, to which certain races are especially susceptible, such as cystic fibrosis (most common among Northern Europeans), haemochromatosis (Celts), Tay-Sachs disease (Azkhenazi Jews) or sickle-cell anemia (Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans). But sporting predispositions and public health aside, the practical uses for the concept of race seem pretty thin on the ground.

Do you know any racists? I’ve met a few in my travels, but not many. People who genuinely believe that black people, yellow people, Arabs, Indians, whatever, are somehow inherently inferior to themselves. It was a dominant cultural belief in the West as recently as a century ago, and persists in many (actually, Virginia, most) cultures around the world today. It stems from tribalism, of course; the natural human tendency of people to divide themselves into sub-groups, or tribes, and then reinforce that distinction with visible markers, of which physical appearance is the most obvious.

Who’s the biggest monkey? Negroes versus Irish, according to Harper’s Weekly, 1876 (H/T Gatekeeper96740 at Breitbart)

Unfortunately, then you get the army of snivellers, who appear determined to hold on to the race argument at all costs. They do this (as they have done with so many other English words) by altering its definition: broadening it, diluting it and, invariably, weakening it. No, no, Ozboy, begins one, racism is all around you. There’s subtle racism, coded racism, implied racism and—

At which point, I fight the urge to hurl a dictionary in his face. But I suppose that even that may not help any more. I’m reminded here of Julia Gillard’s 2012 “Misogyny speech” in the House of Representatives, aimed at Tony Abbott. After it had been pointed out that a) the Macquarie Dictionary (the official reference of Australian English) defined misogyny as a hatred of women, and b) there was not a scintilla of evidence that Abbott, with a wife of 25 years, three independent adult daughters, a devoted sister (who came out as a lesbian and is now seeking preselection as a Liberal candidate), a highly-regarded female parliamentary Deputy Leader, and a fiery female Chief of Staff, has any hatred of women whatsoever—quite the opposite, in fact—the Macquarie Dictionary’s editor Sue Butler came rushing to Gillard’s aid, actually changing her dictionary’s definition of misogyny ex post facto, to fit Gillard’s argument! Misogyny is now defined to mean whatever a totalitarian wants it to mean, and reserves the right to change the definition as the need fits. A terrifying precedent.

Talk about Orwellian.

You may remember two years ago, I posted a thread on the controversial Enoch Powell, on the date of his 100th anniversary. When asked his own view by interviewer David Frost (using the then-common variant racialist), he was unequivocal:

It depends on how you define the word “racialist”. If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another, then the answer is emphatically “No.”

The key to the paradox lies right there in that quote. It isn’t race that most people use as a criterion for discrimination, it’s culture, which is what Powell refers to by men and nations. Most people in the West today regard it as backward, if not embarrassingly scatological, to judge any human races as superior or inferior. But we can (and should) form such judgements about cultures, primarily using the yardstick of Liberty. I am quite happy to denounce cultures (or at any rate, many of their dominant aspects), on the basis that they imprison women, treat children as chattels, permit slavery and human trafficking, and so on.

But that’s the loophole the race-mongers love to slip through. It’s a fact that, as you look around the globe, the cultures that most deserve condemnation are largely peopled by humans of a small number of races. Historical happenstance, no more, yet a loophole still. Whereas the cultures we regard as more enlightened are peopled by nice, clean, God-fearin’ white folks. In their eyes, to judge a culture which practices infanticide based on gender, or captures schoolgirls at gunpoint and sells them off as sex slaves or concubines, or slices out their external genitalia, ensuring a lifetime of pain and no pleasure; to condemn these cultures at all, they assure us, is closet racism!

We need to counter decisively the accusations of those who, wilfully blind, appear determined to conflate race and culture, and not merely for the purposes of sophistry. By accusing anyone who condemns the practices of another culture as barbaric of being a closet racist, not only are they implying that culture is in fact racially pre-determined but, by extension, that non-white people can never independently succeed in the culture of the West. This is the real reason they agitate for things like affirmative action: because, at the end of the day, they really do suspect that non-whites are inferior. Which suffuses them with guilt, and anger. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the real racism.

The fact is, Western civilization was once just as barbarous as many of today’s other dominant cultures. The fact of the Enlightenment of its culture, the Reformation of its often bloodthirsty religion, and the institutions of Constitution, parliamentary government and Common Law have set Western civilization on an upward trajectory for half a millennium. We have a bloody long way to go yet. And we welcome all those from around the world who wish to buy into our philosophy, irrespective of genetics. We have even attempted (often naïvely) to transplant Western civilization into cultures which are neither prepared for it, nor even desire it. Maybe these cultures will one day experience their own Enlightenment. And eventually, perhaps, rise even higher than our own. But there is very little we can do to advance that process; like our own transformation, it must start from within.

All of which leaves any confected accusations of racism, all the more hollow.

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15 Responses to The Argument Of Last Resort

  1. izen says:

    Even a pictorial comment on the stupidity of racists attitudes can fall foul of PC excess.

    Or perhaps the complainant found it just a little to close to the truth of UKIP attitudes in this town where a by-election is in progress because a Tory has defected to the party.

    Racists attitudes are often really cultural, and judgements about culture are valid, but it is the power relationship between those denigrated and those discriminating that matters most.
    Racism is an element of that least attractive aspect of human group behaviour, the enthusiasm for attacking those weaker than yourself to increase your own status or perceived value.

    Yep, saw the Banksy story this morning.

    Agree with the “power” aspect in your last paragraph, but only up to a point. If you start talking too long about race as being a function of power structures, you are ripe to fall into the clutches of the race-mongers, who profess an inability to view the issue in any way other than through that lens – Oz

  2. I see the racist card as one to close down a discussion or prevent one from happening -accuse someone of being a racist and make it stick and you have no voice!

  3. Kitler says:

    Okay Ozboy then consider this humans are only 2% genetically different from Chimpanzees, now we have just found out Eurasians (everyone outside of sub Saharan Africa) have 2 to 5% genetic difference from Sub Saharan Africans due to crossbreeding with Homo Neanderthalensis and Homo Denisova two distinct homin species making Eurasians a hybrid species distinct from Sub Saharan Africans.
    So if we are distinct from Chimps by 2% and we have the same amount of genetic difference from Sub Saharan Africans that would mean we are a distinct species from both, the argument that we can interbreed does not hold water as different horse species can interbreed and produce viable offspring (even mules can be fertile) they are regarded as distinct species.
    So should we be talking about race or species now?

    I really don’t know enough about genetics to debate the issue.

    I have, however, met enough sophisticated and cosmopolitan Africans in my travels to suspect that culture and upbringing will trump genetics 99.7% of the time – Oz

  4. Kitler says:

    Ozboy pity i was rather expecting you to destroy my argument in less than 5 minutes even the idea of a species can be quite fuzzy these days. Anyhow arguing the whole nature versus nuture can keep you going for decades thanks to biology throwing in epigenetics (Lamarkism) alongside genetics (Darwinism). The only way to resolve the issue would be to experiment on people for about 10 to 20 generations and for some reason that is seen as somewhat unethical these days. Anyhow even if we are different we shouldn’t really care just make allowances for everyones strengths and weaknesses, it’s cultural differences that bother me contrary to socialist belief not all cultures are created equal.

    OK, well anyone want to weigh in on Kitler’s suggestion that Caucasians are a different species from Africans (and, I presume, Indians, Chinese, Eskimos and Australian Aborigines) because of interbreeding with Neanderthals?

    Your can of worms mate, not mine – Oz

  5. Ozboy says:

    Now, how exactly is this racist?

    According to this story, Woolworths (Australia’s leading retail chain) pulled this singlet from its shelves after accusations of “racism”:


    I don’t see any reference to race whatsoever. Patriotism, yes. But racism? Is it racist to be patriotic?????

  6. Kitler says:

    Actually just got the figures for Chimps/Bonobo genetic difference to humanity is 1.6%, difference between Sub Saharan Africans and everyone else is 2 to 5%, 2% is Neanderthal hybridization only, 5% is Neanderthal and Denisovan hybridization. What those differences mean no one has much of an idea as yet it might be the genes for blond, brown or ginger hair for example an extra layer of body fat, no one knows as yet, it might possibly affect how the mind is structured and how people react and see the world (there is some evidence of this between the races in how they perceive a picture of say a landscape and the things in it). Anyhow Caucasians have a 2% difference from Sub Saharan Africans whereas the most difference was in people in Papua New Guinea with 5%. So if we are different from Chimps by so little and we are different species does that mean another 2% is enough to classify us as a different species from Sub Saharan Africans?

    Hopefully Izen will see this and have an apoplectic breakdown, to help him there are at least two major flaws possibly a lot more in my argument but he will have to point them out to me himself. However if I’m right it does rather make the whole race issue irrelevant as it doesn’t exist anymore.

    No takers yet, I see. New thread is still a few days off, but I’ll keep this one open if it looks interesting – Oz

  7. Kitler says:

    As for the flag issue the answer from the left is yes you are a racist if you are patriotic about your country but this only applies to countries with a majority white population. Also to be literal if the Republicans in Australia remove the Union Jack from the flag will they be leaving Australia as well?

    Their clear implication is that if you don’t love your country, if you are a malcontent, treasonous or Quisling, then you cannot be Anglo-Saxon; you must by definition be of some other race. So telling those who don’t love their country that they should p!$$ off, is ipso facto a racial attack. Only white folks are patriotic, they assure us.

    Who’re the real racists here? Oz

    UPDATE 15 Oct 0715: Well well well… it appears most Australians agree.

  8. Kitler says:

    Well must be that time of year again where people are making the most of what good weather remains in the Northern hemisphere, anyhow off to Pumkin Chunkin this weekend weather permitting and the lack of Obola. I need to take a few pictures it should be awesome seeing pumpkins sailing through the air via catapult.
    As for race you can never prove if it is a good thing bad thing nature or nuture all you can is judge a person by the quality of their character, culture on the other hand is a different matter there are good cultures and there are bad ones.

  9. izen says:

    @- Kitler
    ” Hopefully Izen will see this and have an apoplectic breakdown, ”

    No, I spent many happy hours in the past demolishing the genetic stupidity of various arguments, but rather like the climate debate there is not really enough real uncertainty or doubt in the science for it to be interesting from the scientific POV, it just degenerates into tribal dog-whistles.

    But to deal with some of it, the differences you are referring too are measured in rather arbitrary ways. The actual code in the DNA between bonobos and humans is very little different, but it’s arrangement on chromosomes is different.
    Secondly the differences you quote between African and other populations have very little to do with hybridisation with other hominid groups. It refers to differences mainly in the versions of common genes. Africans generally show MUCH greater genetic variation between each other than they do with other regional groups. The ‘difference’ seen with some out of Africa groups is with the very reduced variation seen. Icelandic people for instance are almost clones of each other compared to the African populations, they are distinguished by all the genetic variation they have lost.

    As for the whole nature and nurture dichotomy, it’s a question based on a false reification of causal factors.
    A comparison, if you are sold a ten speed geared bicycle why does it have only seven cogs and which is it, the crank 2 cogs or the wheel 5 cogs that make it a ten speed model?
    Or is the question meaningless?!

    As I said above, I’m out of my depth on the genetic issue. But I am instinctually sceptical of K’s assertion, and I suspect you are quite correct – Oz

  10. izen says:

    Flag patriotism has a tendency to shade into jingoistic tribalism.
    Communal cohesion and social conformity seem to be the aim in those societies that expect the individual value the flag. Flags as symbols of the dominance of the state seem to be a feature of both political wing-tips.

    If you can freely chose to declare your allegiance to a Nation, society or sports team by showing respect and pride in symbol of that Nation (etc) then individual autonomy is preserved.
    It must also be possible to freely chose to repudiate that allegiance.

    The problems arise when it is “My nation/team right or wrong.
    When membership of the group is about excluding individuals who fail to match a set or rules.
    Opposing the excluded defines the group more than expanding the included.

    And leaving is heresy.
    (you could get your head chopped off!)

    Declare your allegiance? I guess so – I’ve declared mine.

    But leaving isn’t heresy; for those who hate our culture, it’s cause for celebration. For us, too.

    Cheers – Oz

  11. izen says:

    @-“As I said above, I’m out of my depth on the genetic issue.”

    I have noticed how the auto-correct and spell-check functions can turn by badly typed spelled ramblings into something a little more comprehensible. But without carefull proofreading errors slip thru, especially oif they do not change the structure or have obvious spelling erros in the content.
    Of course the appalling gramatical construction and non-sequitorial multiply subclasual sentance are not something that can be blamed on the software.

    This relates to the genetics.

    Skin colour is determined and many genes working in a complex web of interactions.
    One of the more annoying assertions I have encountered is that because nearly all Europeans have a specific version of one of these genes that control pigment production and nobody else has, it shows Europeans got this ‘special’gene from Hybridisation with the big, strong, and larger brained Neanderthals.
    Or something.

    What the genetics shows is that All very dark skinned sub-safarans have the ancestral version of this gene. The most efficient version present in all melenin producing cells back to the plants.
    However the surrounding DNA to this gene shows a lot of typical auto-correct errors that accumulate as nuetrral mutations over time.

    Therefore selection constrains those with dark skin to only have the fully functioning version of this pigment control gene, but they show wide variation in associated but non-coding regions of the genome.
    Many of those with paler skin outside Europe have different versions of other pigment control genes while still having the ancestral version of this specific EUropean marker gene.

    Europeans have almost entierly replaced this ancestral gene with a couple of small ‘spelling errors’ in its code that reduce the effectiveness of the gene product.
    Almost all Europeans carry the same version of this small copy-paste type error. The associated non-coding regions also show very little variation unlike the African sources.

    The lack of selection pressure on this pigment allowed it to mutate along with the surrounding DNA and that mutation to spread. It was no longer necessary to have the fully functioning gene, a mutated version would suffice, it even had the advantage of increased vitiamin D production and less energy expended making pigment.

    The mutation sequence changes seen are not compatible with aquiring the mutated (WASP!?) gene from an outside source. Or even that it represent some big genetiv variation/advance. It is a consequence of changing selective pressures and the natural errors that creep in even with correction methods that are FAR more effective than spelling checkers.

    Best guess would seem to be that European white skin arose around the Holocene maximum when agricultural methods could expand into central and northern Europe. A single source DNA analysis of a very early pre-agricultural sample shows no evidence of the European white genetic marker. It looks like European white is a post 8000BC change.

    posted without corection,checking or proofreading!!!

    If you really want to go down the rabbit hole on the science try this link.-

    “Two missense polymorphisms (E272K and L374F) of the AIM1 locus, encoding a melanocyte differentiation antigen, were shown to have a clear association with human ethnicities….”

  12. Kitler says:

    Congratulations Izen you spotted the apples compared with oranges percentage measurements chimps versus hybridization it’s what you get when people do not tell you what those percentages actually mean in science news reporting sections on science blogs or in newspaper articles. This is the same as the now totally discredited 97% of scientists prefer Pedigree Chum sorry believe in AGW, the percentage itself is spot on but how this was arrived at was really bad statistics and the people who declared it failed to show how that figure was arrived at. So the hybridization may account for a lot less than a 0.1% difference in actuality.
    “Best guess would seem to be that European white skin arose around the Holocene maximum when agricultural methods could expand into central and northern Europe. A single source DNA analysis of a very early pre-agricultural sample shows no evidence of the European white genetic marker. It looks like European white is a post 8000BC change.” if you want evidence of a pre agricultural population see the Welsh, dark skinned and curly black hair and a strange fondness for sheep.
    One thing you did miss is that we assume that Denisovans and Neanderthals were a completely different species from ourselves which is probably wrong and were more likely just different subspecies or race of Homo Sapiens. The difference between them and ourselves is an estimated 0.12% not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

  13. izen says:

    @- Kitler
    “This is the same as the now totally discredited 97% of scientists prefer Pedigree Chum sorry believe in AGW, the percentage itself is spot on but how this was arrived at was really bad statistics and the people who declared it failed to show how that figure was arrived at. ”

    It is not the same, it’s worse than comparing apples and oranges which are genetically similar to some extent…
    The methodology from the various surveys of the scientists and the published literature are all described. The Cook study from which the 97% is derived actually provides the list of abstracts they used so that you can duplicate their procedure.

    @-“One thing you did miss is that we assume that Denisovans and Neanderthals were a completely different species from ourselves which is probably wrong and were more likely just different subspecies or race of Homo Sapiens. The difference between them and ourselves is an estimated 0.12% not a lot in the grand scheme of things.”

    The difference depends how you measure it and the mitochondrial RNA sequencing shows Neands were significantly different from Homsaps. Somewhere between chimps and us. There is no trace of that mitochondrial pattern in modern or ancient human samples.

    As the mitochondrial RNA is only passed down in the female line this could mean that any hybridisation was only ever of male Neands impregnating female Homsaps. While that cannot be excluded given the data, the lack of any other evidence for hybridisation makes it highly unlikely.
    The mitochondrial differences and the lack of any genetic markers of interbreeding make it reasonable to label Neands and Homsaps as separate species.

  14. Amanda says:

    Do I really need to state this for the umpteeth time? Apparently I do. Tell ’em, Owen:

  15. Amanda says:

    By the way, I’m with Izen on the above. We are non-Neanderthals, as far as we know. There is a lot of sentiment working against this, but it’s the same sort of we-are-the-world sentiment that makes it impossible for ‘progressives’ to distinguish the decent from the non-decent, whoever they may be.

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