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Saturday, December 12, 2015

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Bill,

As pithily as possible: tribal diversity lowers social cohesion and promotes factionalism.

That's right, Malcolm.

So what we need are a set of overarching principles that most of us can agree upon, a set of principles that will regulate our public life but are tolerant of differences among us. That includes freedom of religion and the freedom to be an atheist. But for this to work we must be intolerant towards those who would upend our system of latitudinarian principles, e.g., sharia-supporting Muslims, and indeed any group whose aim is to subvert the government. So, obviously, there has to be a limit on which religions we will tolerate.

This has implications for immigration policy. All illegal immigration must be stopped. And there cannot be any legal immigration of individuals who refuse to accept our broadly liberal values and who refuse to assimilate.

Diversity is healthy but only if controlled by the competing value of unity.

No comity without commonality.

Hi, Bill. Well, I certainly didn’t mean to be “long and rambling” and didn’t think Jacques’ comments were so either. I found them insightful and exciting. Nobody is discussing these issues with philosophical care anywhere else, so I do hope it’s OK for us to sometimes get into detail. And you raise questions about our views that are difficult to adequately address in a short paragraph. But I will at least break up my comments into short pieces instead of putting them all in one post.

One quick thought: the comic you post there doesn’t capture our current social situation. The white guy in the second panel should be saying something like “I judge people on their merits, not their skin color”, and, even so, the third panel should be the same. That’s what is really happening now. Nobody in mainstream western culture is identifying as white. But even claiming to not see race is now “racism”.

More to come.

The simplest case to make for tribalism at the moment (which is not saying much), is one that is at least close to things that Jacques has already said: it is obvious that it morally permissible to prioritize one’s family, one’s country, one’s species, etc. in various ways. So, it’s already obvious that “tribalism” is morally permissible. Why arbitrarily think that racial tribalism is illegitimate given that tribalism in generally is clearly morally permissible?

Bill, I'm not sure what is meant by 'tribalism' here. Humans have always organized themselves into tribes of different kinds, and most of our basic loyalties and affections are tribal to some extent. Patriotism and loyalty to a family are on the same continuum as tribalism, it seems. Your complaints about black tribalism have two dimensions: on the one hand, their tribal affiliation is often so strong or stupid that they won't even admit that murderers are murderers, and on the other hand, you think they should identify as 'Americans first' and blacks second. (This is also very often true of Jews as well, and lots of others; blacks aren't unique in that way.) The first complaint is fair but it doesn't indicate any problem with tribalism per se. The second complaint seems to depend on an appeal to tribalism, or something much like it. Americans are not Canadians or Mexicans, not simply humans or rational beings. Why don't they count as a tribe? (That's the least rambling I seem to be capable of.)

What I meant to write a minute ago is below (so feel free to delete the comment I just tried to post and post the one below instead):

The simplest case that I can think to make for tribalism at the moment (which is not saying much), is one that is at least close to things that Jacques has already said: it is obvious that it morally permissible to prioritize one’s family, one’s country, one’s species, etc. in various ways. So, it’s already obvious that “tribalism” is morally permissible. Why arbitrarily think that racial tribalism is illegitimate given that tribalism in generally is clearly morally permissible?

Anon,

My point was that many short comments are better than one long one.

One problem here is that I tossed out a word, 'tribalism,' but did not define it. What's worse is that I used it very loosely. Mea culpa. It is a stretch to think of women as a 'tribe.'

Perhaps we have a 'family' of tribalisms: racial, sexual, etc.

Now I'll take a stab at a definition:

A person P is a racial tribalist =df P defines himself and values himself first and foremost in terms of his being a member of the race of which he happens to be a member.

I'm Caucasian as you may have guessed. But when I get up in the morning I don't look into the mirror and affirm: I am a white man! This is who I am most fundamentally. This is what makes me be ME. This fact is what constitutes my innermost identity and is that attribute upon which my value as a person primarily supervenes.

I am therefore not a racial tribalist by my definition. This is not to say that I am not white or that being white is not a part of WHAT I am, namely an animal, a bit of the world's fauna. Indeed, insofar as I am an animal, it is arguable that I am essentially (as opposed to accidentally) white if we grant Kripke's point about the essentiality of origin: if I could not have had parents other than the parents I in fact have, then, given that both are white, I could not have failed to be white. So I am essentially white.

But is it essential to WHO I am that I be white? (Related question: Are persons reducible to objects in the natural world?)

Now in my definition above there is the phrase "member of the race of which he happens to be a member" which suggests that it is a contingent fact about me that I am white. There is the animal that bears my name, an animal that is essentially white. But there is a sense, brought out by T Nagel in various writing, in which I am contingently the animal I am. I am contingently an animal that is essentially white.

But now we are drifting towards some very deep waters.

I’m not sure we need to even address the question of whether our race is essential to our personal identity or not. Isn’t it enough that it is a feature of us that is deeply important to our functioning in the world and part of the natural categories into which we separate ourselves?

As you define it, I doubt anyone here is a racial tribalist, because saying that you are “first and foremost” part of a race makes it sound as though the interests of that group or yourself as a member of that group trump everything else. I take it that the position that Jacques and I are defending is just that racial groups are morally legitimate and one’s racial affiliation provides genuine moral grounds for certain prioritizations of members of that race.

Anon. writes,

>>it is obvious that it morally permissible to prioritize one’s family, one’s country, one’s species, etc. in various ways. So, it’s already obvious that “tribalism” is morally permissible. Why arbitrarily think that racial tribalism is illegitimate given that tribalism in generally is clearly morally permissible?<<

I take it that what you mean by tribalism in general is favoring or "prioritizing" one's X over another person's X, if they are different. So racial tribalism is favoring or "prioritizing" one's race over another's assuming they are different.

Whether or not this is morally permissible in a given case will depend on the nature of the favoring. In the Simpson case, the black jurors voted to acquit despite a mountain of evidence showing that he had murdered two white people. They favored Simpson because he is black over the victims. I would say that their favoring is morally impermissible.

We have to agree upon a definition of 'tribalism,' however, if we are to move forward.

Suppose I have an utterly worthless son, a murderer, who is about to be sent to death row. You, my neighbor, have a good son having all the virtues. Both of our boys have a terminal disease (AML let us say) and need a extremely costly set of medical procedures. You have no money. I have money to pay for my son but not yours.

Is it morally permissible for me to pay for my son's procedure as opposed to yours? Perhaps, but it is not so clear. Or do you think it is clear?

On what ground? The sole ground he is my son?

Suppose my country is wholly in the wrong vis-a-vis another country. Is it morally permissible for me to love my country solely on the ground that it is mine? If so, then it looks as if there is no difference between patriotism and the jingoistic 'my country right or wrong.'

My dog and your son go swimming. Both begin to drown. I alone have life-saving skills and I can save only one of these animals. Is it morally permissible for me to save my dog but not your son on the ground that my dog is mine?

I have been following this interesting discussion for a while. I hope you do not mind me throwing in some comments. I would agree that identifying as first and foremost with your race is problematic. However, I think a general preference for ones own race, family or country is good. However, these preferences must be subservient to some higher principle. Thus I identify as Catholic first, American second and white third.

The main problem today is that the Left will not tolerate any form of white identity while simultaneously defending black tribalism.

Hello Bill,

Long time reader, first time commenter. I found you via Ed Feser, just so you know, and I share a lot of his general Catholic moral philosophy; although I very much doubt he shares my racial views.

I'm sympathetic to the neo-reactionary views on race/ethnicity (white is too broad -- an Italian is not a Frenchman, is not a German, is not a Persian.)

I think your definition of a "racial tribalist" is too broad:

"A person P is a racial tribalist =if P defines himself and values himself first and foremost in terms of his being a member of the race of which he happens to be a member."

I would propose a different definition.

"A person P is a racial tribalist =if P recognizes that races/ethnicities are not all equal and have varying characteristics that will impact how a society flourishes and functions; therefore it is right and proper for P to favor policies that defend and promote the well-being of his race/ethnicty, although never at the expense of basic Christian morality."

So for example, we aren't that far apart on immigration -- I would simply add that it makes sense for the mostly Anglo/Germanic U.S. to favor European immigrants and look unfavorably on third-world peasants as immigrants, whether they are legal or illegal. In other words, our pre-1965 quote system for immigration made sense.

There are other implications of my racial tribal definition, although they probably aren't as intense as some of your other commenters. But I thought I'd contribute my 2 cents.

Keep up the good work -- I learn a lot from reading your blog.

Hi Bill,

You wrote:

So what we need are a set of overarching principles that most of us can agree upon, a set of principles that will regulate our public life but are tolerant of differences among us.

I think this exaggerates the importance of rationally derived principles in human affairs, and understates the importance and variety of organic and ethnically endogenous culture. (Most people, after all, are not philosophers.)

Cultures do not fall from the sky and land at random upon the peoples below; as I argued recently in this brief post, they are best understood as the "extended phenotypes" of different, and long-separated, human subpopulations. The cultures that ethnic groups create, then, both express and reinforce the kin relations and natural affinities that they share in virtue of being greatly extended families.

This means that cultures are naturally best suited to the populations that create them. Indeed, even the ability to imagine a society based on the acceptance of "overarching principles" that are not themselves organic, traditional formations may itself be a cognitive peculiarity of a particular population.

Also, as I've argued here, if each population brings to the mix its own distinct folkways, particularities, and affinities and aversions, then what can be held as "common" in public life -- the necessary basis of social cohesion -- becomes a smaller and smaller intersection at the center of an ever-more-complicated Venn diagram.

In short, I think tribalism is a far more important part of human life, and of human happiness, than you appear to believe.

My dog and your son go swimming. Both begin to drown. I alone have life-saving skills and I can save only one of these animals. Is it morally permissible for me to save my dog but not your son on the ground that my dog is mine?

I think the moral and the tribal imperatives coincide without difficulty here: in taxonomic or kin-relation terms, your son is more closely related to me than my dog.

I'm thinking of the old joke about Tonto and the Lone Ranger, where the punchline is "What you mean "we", Kemosabe?"

The first case seems more difficult than the second two, Bill. But there are certainly many difficult cases where different group memberships pull us in different directions and it’s hard to know what should take precedence. This includes racial groups as well. But I take it that cases like supporting Black Lives Matter are actually not hard; you shouldn’t support them even if you are black. When it is OK to favor your own race? Immigration policies seem to be a plausible case. It seems morally acceptable to me to largely restrict immigration to America to white people for numerous reasons, one such reason being to preserve and nourish the white race and white culture, which is obviously the predominant and historical race and culture of America. I think that the only reason that people don’t accept that as obvious and common sense is a set of ideas that, although presumably promoted and endorsed with good intentions, are ultimately pernicious and dehumanizing, and have destroyed moral discourse in our country and much of the west.


Briefly. Bill, I thought we were in general agreement in the patriotism discussion that "obligations of solidarity," as Michael Sandel calls them, have some place in moral reasoning. It would seem morally obtuse to, say, flip a coin to decide whether to save your son or another's in a burning building where, as far as you know, both sons are not too disparate in virtue (or even where yours stacks up just a little less worthy). I think "tribalism" describes giving inordinate weight to familial, ethnic, racial solidarities; so it is by definition, as you say a moral error, as is racism.

Hi Tony,

We agree! I like your formulation: >>I think "tribalism" describes giving inordinate weight to familial, ethnic, racial solidarities; so it is by definition, as you say a moral error, as is racism.<<

Perhaps we could put it like this. There is a defeasible presumption in favor of family members over non-family members. In the case of the Unabomber's brother, the presumption was easily defeated, and the brother was justified in 'ratting out' the Unabomber.

Similarly with Claus von Stauffenberg vs. Hitler.

Tony proposes defining 'tribalism' as the practicing of giving 'inordinate' weight to certain solidarities, e.g., racial ones, so that tribalism would be morally or rationally faulty by definition. Bill agrees with this definition. Okay, so Bill's question about the moral status of tribalism has been answered, by stipulative definition. But now we should ask whether people may sometimes give an 'ordinate', moral or rational weight to those same solidarities, e.g., racial ones. Let's call that practice 'schmibalism' rather than 'tribalism'. Anonymous, Malcolm P. and I believe that there is indeed such a thing as schmibalism. And our arguments are best interpreted as arguments for schmibalism, not 'tribalism' as it has now been (kind of arbitrarily) defined. Is there anything wrong with those arguments?

Malcolm writes, >>This means that cultures are naturally best suited to the populations that create them. Indeed, even the ability to imagine a society based on the acceptance of "overarching principles" that are not themselves organic, traditional formations may itself be a cognitive peculiarity of a particular population.<<

But I didn't say that the overarching principles are not "organic, traditional formations."

The second para. of the Decl of Indep begins, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness . . ."

This is "organic" and "traditional" in the sense that it grows out of the Judeo-Christian tradition. And surely it is an overarching principle that satisfies what you quoted me as saying:

So what we need are a set of overarching principles that most of us can agree upon, a set of principles that will regulate our public life but are tolerant of differences among us.

And the Declaration quotation is by no means vacuous. After all, it implies that human beings are creatures, a proposition which the Founders may have taken to be self-evident, but which is (objectively) not self-evident. After all, you are an atheist and a naturalist. Rejecting God and his creative activity you must also reject all creatures in the strict sense of the term. So if you hold to the equality of all human beings, then you will have to find a different support for it in the teeth of the obvious empirical inequality of individuals and groups.

The foregoing may allow us to focus the problem. You, Malcolm, will presumably reject the Declaration quotation. So it cannot be one of your "overarching principles" (to use my phrase). It is too particularistic in that it grows out of a particular tradition that atheists and naturalists reject.

So will you ascend to a more general principle that allows toleration of atheists and naturalists? And how could that principle claim to be "organic" and "traditional"? What tradition does it come from? And isn't the Judeo-Xian tradition more traditional and organic than any 'free-thinking' tradition? And do atheists have a traditional at all, strictly speaking? Arent'you just reacting against a real, full-bodied, organic traditional tradition?

I don't mean this polemically. Or rhetorically. I am just asking. There is no place for polemic in philosophy. In politics, yes; in philosophy, no. We shoot at our enemies not at our friends.

And there is this problem: if you and I agree that sharia-supporting Muslims should be excluded from our nation and not allowed to become citizens lest they subvert our wonderful and successful system of government, then why should not atheists and naturalists be in some way suppressed, and suppressed in the measure of their radicality? There is obviously a big difference between you and a Dawkins-gang fanatic. I don't reckon you think of religious education as child abuse.

So you see how liberal I am. I want to tolerate your type of atheist while excluding the anti-religion fanatics.

So why balk at my call for overarching principles that allow for order while tolerating a lot of differences?

Call it the political problem of the One and the Many. We agree that 'celebrating diversity' is crazy leftist nonsense unless the diversity is controlled by the competing value of unity. On the other hand, we cannot 'celebrate unity' if that means suppressing those forms of diversity and dissent that are enriching and fruitful and helpful unto the search for truth.

Bill,

The principles you mention may be organic and traditional for some populations, but not so for others.

The Declaration is curious document. Besides its list of grievances being largely "trumped up" (see this contemporary response, which for some reason nearly all Americans have never read), it begins by declaring as "self-evident" a proposition that is, if it is self-evidently anything, self evidently false, namely that all men are created equal. Was Billy Ray Cyrus created equal to Mozart? Harry Reid to Winston Churchill?

>> After all, you are an atheist and a naturalist.

A naturalist, yes, but my atheism has softened over the years. (This, is due, by the way, in no small part to your own excellent work defending theism. I thank you for that.) Now I would simply say that I am "not a theist".

You ask:

>> Arent'you just reacting against a real, full-bodied, organic traditional tradition?

Actually, I'm not, not at all. I do completely agree that Western Christianity is a "real, full-bodied, organic traditional tradition", but I'm not reacting against it at all. Indeed, I've come to believe that religion is a very important asset for any society, for a number of compelling reasons, and six years ago I even wrote an essay at my place arguing that secularism is, in a Darwinian sense, maladaptive.

>> Rejecting God and his creative activity you must also reject all creatures in the strict sense of the term.

Well, we've argued before about how to use words like "create", and "design"; as you know, I think that there are natural processes that can do that work, and so it really become a squabble about definitions.

>> So if you hold to the equality of all human beings, then you will have to find a different support for it in the teeth of the obvious empirical inequality of individuals and groups.

That's easy: I cut that knot by not believing in the equality of all human beings. That doesn't mean we can't build a society on the principle that all human beings have a right, which we can declare "inalienable", to be equal before the law. But I don't personally feel the need for a transcendent footing for that; I can simply adopt it by choice. On the other hand, though, if I wish this principle to be one of the foundations of the kind of society I want to live in, then if most of my countrymen believe it also to have a transcendent grounding, then so much the better, say I.

>> So will you ascend to a more general principle that allows toleration of atheists and naturalists?

Actually, I can easily see why it might be advantageous and justifiable for a homogeneous, cohesive, and generally religious society not to tolerate such people when they begin to impose their own viewpoint too aggressively in the public square, as is happening now.

>> And how could that principle claim to be "organic" and "traditional"? What tradition does it come from?

If you mean the principle of radical skepsis that has by now eaten away most of Western religion and nearly all of Western tradition, I'd say it comes, ironically, from Athens, by way of the Enlightenment. I've often likened the whole thing to one of those little boxes where you switch it on, and a little hand pops out and turns the switch off.

But the problem you describe -- of the friction and faction between the "Dawkins gang" and Christians, for example, or liberals and traditionalsists, shows how bad even intra-tribal squabbles can get. (One of Mencius Moldbug's best pieces, by the way, makes the case that Dawkins is actually very much a child of his tradition: that he is not only very much a Christian atheist, but even more specifically, a Calvinist atheist.)

You and I have, I think, far more points of agreement here than disagreement. (And I know, of course, that you are no defender of "multiculturalist" idiocy.) But tribalism is real, it is nearly universal among humans (which means it is probably adaptive), and it shows no signs of going away. I think I can say with some confidence that most neoreactionaries believe that we ignore that reality, and dream our universalist dreams, at our peril. There's a saying on the dissident Right, attributed I believe to the blogger "Heartiste", that Diversity + Proximity = War. Just ask the people of Sweden, or Rotherham, or Rwanda, how humanist universalism has worked out for them, and how the future looks.

Given the choice, people of all sorts naturally aggregate more or less homogeneously, and generally live more peacefully and happily that way. How can that be morally wrong?

Jeffrey S.,

Thanks for the comment, and good to make your acquaintance.

>>I think your definition of a "racial tribalist" is too broad:

"A person P is a racial tribalist =df P defines himself and values himself first and foremost in terms of his being a member of the race of which he happens to be a member."

I would propose a different definition.

"A person P is a racial tribalist =df P recognizes that races/ethnicities are not all equal and have varying characteristics that will impact how a society flourishes and functions; therefore it is right and proper for P to favor policies that defend and promote the well-being of his race/ethnicty, although never at the expense of basic Christian morality."

So for example, we aren't that far apart on immigration -- I would simply add that it makes sense for the mostly Anglo/Germanic U.S. to favor European immigrants and look unfavorably on third-world peasants as immigrants, whether they are legal or illegal. In other words, our pre-1965 quote system for immigration made sense.<<


I think we are at cross purposes. I think of tribalism as bad whereas you think of it as good, or at least as morally acceptable. This affects how we define the term.

Thus I think it is bad if one's primary self-identification is in terms of membership in a race that one just happens to be a member of. I suspect we could easily come to agreement. For you mention Christian morality, and I saw from your bio that you are a 'revert' to Catholicism. So I presume you believe we are all sons and daughters of the same Father and that this fact grounds our worth, dignity, uniqueness, and equality as persons regardless of elements of what Sartre calls 'facticity': race, sex, height, weight, mother tongue, penis size . . .

Well, if you accept that then your primary self-identification is as a spiritual being possessing free will, a unique individual with a divine origin and a divine destiny, etc. and presumably not as a Frenchman, European, white dude, male white dude, etc. And I would guess that you would find it somewhat morally dubious to gloat over, or be proud of, being a white male when one had nothing to do with those aspects of one's facticity. And the same goes for a mulatto like Obama. He oughtn't be proud to be half-black or half-white: he had to be born of some parents and he had no say in that or where he was born.

As for our immigration policy, I agree that it should favor European immigrants. As I like to say, no comity without commonality. We do have a right to defend our culture and demand assimilation on the part of immigrants. After all, our culture is superior -- which is why we need walls to keep people out.

Bill, in your latest comments you are (implicitly?) defining 'tribalism' so that the tribalist's 'primary self-identification is in terms of membership in a race'. Now maybe this is an example of giving 'inordinate' priority to racial identity, as per Tony's definition of 'tribalism'. But what if I don't take my racial identity to be my 'primary' identity -- something that I am 'first and foremost -- and merely view that aspect of my identity as one among others which may legitimately be taken into account sometimes? So that my membership in a racial 'tribe' is like my membership in a cultural or political or philosophical 'tribe'. Would that still be 'inordinate'? If so, why is that this one kind of group membership can never be properly treated as a reason in moral-political reasoning? And if not, why not allow that something like 'tribalism' is fundamentally the same as patriotism or other such reasonable attitudes?

Jacques,

I was suggesting that there are different tribalisms and that racial tribalism is primary self-identification in terms of one's race.

Your question is whether group membership can ever be properly treated as a reason in moral-political reasoning. I would answer in the affirmative. So I would argue that people from the UK -- I don't mean people who currently live in or are citizens of the UK but the English, the Scotch, the Irish, and the Welsh -- should be favored when it comes to immigration into the U. S. over Muslims who grew up in Muslim countries and are either Arabs or Turks or Persians or . . . .

My reason? Because the former more or less share our values, our language, our religion (or the vestiges of our religion), our conception of government and of law. They are more likely to assimilate.

I think you and I will agree on this.

Maybe our disagreement is mainly semantic. For me 'tribalism' is a pejorative term, like 'racism.' Let me put it to you bluntly: will you call yourself a racist because you think, as I do, that racial considerations play some legitimate role in moral and political and prudential reasoning? If not, why call yourself a tribalist?

Hi Bill,

You wrote:

>> Your question is whether group membership can ever be properly treated as a reason in moral-political reasoning. I would answer in the affirmative. So I would argue that people from the UK -- I don't mean people who currently live in or are citizens of the UK but the English, the Scotch, the Irish, and the Welsh -- should be favored when it comes to immigration into the U. S. over Muslims who grew up in Muslim countries and are either Arabs or Turks or Persians or . . . .

My reason? Because the former more or less share our values, our language, our religion (or the vestiges of our religion), our conception of government and of law. They are more likely to assimilate.

I think you and I will agree on this.

I'd agree too. But I'd also want to make clear that the reason that the indigenous people of the UK will assimilate well here is not only because they have already blotted up a culture that happened to exist in the UK (and which overwhelmingly formed the basis of American culture), but because it is the cognitive and behavioral particularities of that population, as distinct from other human groups, that gave rise to that culture in the first place.

Well, I know that anyone who is white/European and who thinks that race or ethnicity (etc) can ever be legitimate reasons in moral-political reasoning will be called a 'racist' and/or a 'tribalist'. And I know that these terms will then be pejorative. I guess that, if we cede these words to those who take them to be (legitimately) pejorative, I have to deny that either applies to me. But then I'll claim that any (legitimate) pejoratives like these ones apply to certain special cases of practices or values that are not wrong or bad. Given how the people who like to throw these terms around (implicitly) define them, it seems plain that they should not be treated as pejoratives -- that there are many instances of what is called 'racism' or 'tribalism' that are not bad. Calling myself a 'tribalist' is a way to draw attention to this point, and to force our enemies to defend their mindless condemnation of a wide range of things that are not all deserving of condemnation.

One non-semantic difference between us seems to be that you would endorse some kind of moral priority for Scots or English in immigration (for example) on the basis of properties that are only contingently connected with race. Your position seems compatible, at least, with the belief that Turkish or Arab immigration would be just as good as Scottish immigration provided that there were no difference between these groups with respect to values, language, religion. Whereas I'd still be somewhat inclined to favor European immigration on racial-ethnic grounds alone. When I see a European child surrounded by Turks or Arabs, I feel a special kinship with her which is not based solely in shared values; I feel that she is one of mine, that she is (literally) a part of an extended family. More part of it, anyway, than many other people. And I have an instinctive concern for her that is stronger than what I feel for an otherwise identical Turkish or Arab child. So I take this moral priority to be grounded in both culture, values, etc. but also sheer racial-ethnic closeness. It's not clear to me whether you think that's morally acceptable. Of course the issue is complex, since it may well be (as Malcolm P. has been urging) that the shared culture and values are themselves rooted to some extent in the shared race. I doubt that the distinctive cultures of northwestern Europe could have evolved in Arabia or Nigeria or Korea; they are unique expressions (in part) of a specific racial character. Ironically, one of the distinctive features of these cultures is relatively low tribalism, relatively high individualism and universalism, and so on. Being a product of that kind of culture, I am naturally wary of excessive tribalism (as I'd call it). But since I love that kind of culture and want it preserved for my descendants, I think we need a lot more tribalism (or whatever we want to call it) than we now have.

Jacques,

So I guess you disagree with the following and will also disagree with it if 'tribalist' is substituted for 'tribalist.'

'Racism' and 'racist' are words used by liberals as all-purpose semantic bludgeons. Proof of this is that the terms are never defined, and so can be used in wider or narrower senses depending on the polemical and ideological purposes at hand. In common parlance 'racism' and 'racist' are pejoratives, indeed, terms of abuse. This is why it is foolish for conservatives such as John Derbyshire to describe themselves as racists while attempting to attach some non-pejorative connotation to the term. It can't be done. It would be a bit like describing oneself as as an asshole, 'but in the very best sense of the term.' 'Yeah, I'm an asshole and proud of it; we need more assholes; it's a good thing to be.' The word has no good senses, at least when applied to an entire human as opposed to an orifice thereof. For words like 'asshole,' 'child molester,' and 'racist' semantic rehabilitation is simply not in the cards. A conservative must never call himself a racist. (And I don't see how calling himself a racialist is any better.) What he must do is attack ridiculous definitions of the term, defend reasonable ones, and show how he is not a racist when the term is reasonably defined.

I mean if 'tribalist' is substituted for 'racist.'

Meaning is closely tied to use as we learned from Onkel Ludwig. So is it not quixotic of you to attempt a semantic rehab job on 'racist' and 'tribalist'?

Also, if you use 'tribalist' in some positive sense, then what will you call the black juror in the O. J. trial who voted to acquit because O. J. is black, one of his tribe, and then gave the black power salute on leaving the courtroom? I want to call that piece of crap a tribalist because his primary self-identification is in terms of his race when he ought to be self-identifying in that context as a U. S. citizen and as a rational being who carefully considers the evidence and leaves the race of the accused and his own race out of consideration as extraneous.

Do you agree that it is not legitimate in the kind of moral-political reasoning in a trial for the juror to consider the race of the accused and his own race in coming to a conclusion as to whether the accused is guilty as charged?

I agree that the black juror is scum. And I'd never advocate acquitting a murderer because he is white. That's excessive tribalism, in my jargon, an inordinate immoral degree of racial/tribal solidarity.

I don't disagree with your comments above, re Derb. What I meant to suggest was that whether I'd call myself a 'tribalist' (or whatever) would depend on what the rules of the language game are. If we are explicitly stipulating that 'tribalism' = what I just called 'excessive tribalism' then my approach is to point out that 'tribalism' lies on a continuum with other things that are not wrong; then I argue that something like 'tribalism' is on that continuum and is not wrong. If instead it's not clear what 'tribalism' (or 'racism') mean, I will borrow the enemy's vague usage and point out that some forms of 'tribalism' seem morally indistinguishable from things like love for one's family; then I will press the enemy to explain why all tribalism is supposed to be wrong. So in short, I agree that it's a mistake to _simply_ call oneself a 'racist' or 'tribalist' when the enemy sets the rules and isn't being pressed to define these terms except as Bad Things.

To see why it may be worth trying to save a non-pejorative use of the term, or remind people that there could be one, consider the use of 'patriotism'. I can easily imagine that in 20 years all forms of loyalty to one's country will be called 'patriotist' in some pejorative sense. After all, all forms lie on a continuum of some kind with 'racism', 'tribalism', etc. Same for people who want kids to be raised by their parents rather than the state or a lesbian commune; maybe they'll be called 'kinists' or something, as if there were something obviously wrong with family. Instead of always retreating -- tacitly accepting the enemy's semantic bludgeoning -- we have to draw a line. But if we draw any line anywhere here, the logic of our own position requires a similar treatment of all the earlier forms of partiality that have been mindlessly condemned wholesale. We can't get people to reconsider any one of these Leftist moves except by reconsidering all of them. So if we're always saying 'Of course I'm not an X-ist, I'm just a Y-ist', the semantic bludgeoning will continue until we're saying 'Of course I'm not a Y-ist, I'm just a Z-ist'. Your advice to Derb is correct, but only in a context where we make it clear we are working with a stipulative definition that we have no reason to accept.

As I use the term, 'tribalist' is pejorative; as you use it, it is non-pejorative, although inordinate degrees of tribalism are bad. My use of the term is in keeping with its lexical meaning, which is a point in its favor: "loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group." (Merriam-Webster)

Why not find some other word to describe your position?

How about 'partialism'? Your point, I take it, is that some forms of partiality are morally justifiable, though you admit that others are not.

Is it always wrong to have 'strong negative feelings for people outside the group'? That seems to depend on who they are, what they're doing, what your group is... Anyway, it seems plain from the way that terms like 'tribalism' and 'racism' are used by leftists (and mainstream conservatives) that they often take it to have a broader meaning than the one you cite, such that any feelings of racial-ethnic solidarity are 'tribalist' or 'racist' in their sense, and bad, if and only if it's whites who have those feelings.

But suppose I call myself a 'partialist'. Okay, but now I claim that it's legitimate to be partial on grounds of race or ethnicity in addition to other grounds such as shared culture or values or religion. And of course that's a key difference between partialisms; few people nowadays (unless they are not white westerners) would defend that kind of partiality. Many would say that some abstract 'partialism' is okay, but not this ('racist', 'tribalist', etc.) version. Would you agree that racial-ethnic 'partialism' is sometimes legitimate along with other kinds?

Bill, Jacques and Malcolm,

It is rare that such a smart, interesting discussion occurs in the comments section of a blog!!! I tried to provoke discussion on a couple of atheist blogs recently (I guess you could call me a 'troll') and it only took me two tries on the second blog I visited to be banned entirely!!!

Anyway, I'm fascinated with the idea that Jacques raises that perhaps we as conservatives do need to push back against liberals attempting to re-define the terms of all our political debates. For example, I do believe in racism and think it is evil -- the idea that one could hate someone of another race solely because they belong to that race is morally wrong in my book. However, if I were to say to a leftist, I think Africans and people of African descent have lower IQs than Europeans and people of European descent, they would call me a racist -- simply because I pointed out there are racial differences between human populations.

So I think Jacques raises an important issue -- definitions can become expansive and if we don't push back against leftist/liberal interpretations those interpretations will come to be the ones accepted by society. Hence, the attempt to rehabilitate the word 'tribalist' or as Bill suggests, perhaps come up with a new word to describe our position on the matter?

Great discussion all around -- this is why I keep coming back to this blog!

Jacques, you wrote:

>> I doubt that the distinctive cultures of northwestern Europe could have evolved in Arabia or Nigeria or Korea; they are unique expressions (in part) of a specific racial character. Ironically, one of the distinctive features of these cultures is relatively low tribalism, relatively high individualism and universalism, and so on. Being a product of that kind of culture, I am naturally wary of excessive tribalism (as I'd call it).

Yes, exactly. And that's why the comparison to one of these seemed, in Darwinian terms, apt. (Of course a high civilization is very much more than a "useless machine", and the process is long, slow, and complex -- but the point is that Western civilization now contains a mechanism, of its own construction, that turns itself off.)

>> Being a product of that kind of culture, I am naturally wary of excessive tribalism (as I'd call it). But since I love that kind of culture and want it preserved for my descendants, I think we need a lot more tribalism (or whatever we want to call it) than we now have.

Yes. As one who came of age in the 1960s, it took a very long time for me to understand this, because it ran counter to so much of my moral instruction.

I think that Bill is right on the issue of terminology. Presumably, we all agree that we shouldn’t cede to the left when they try to _change_ terminology or the meanings of words in current popular use (e.g., changing ‘illegal alien’ to something mendacious such as ‘undocumented resident’, and claiming that the former is improper or offensive). But attempting to use ‘racist’ or ‘racism’ in a non-pejorative sense is not to fight against change. It seems to be an attempt to make your own radical change in the sense of those terms. Any of these changes in meaning can only happen if huge numbers of people go along with these new uses. I suppose that is possible in theory when it comes to ‘racist’ and ‘racism’, but it’s obviously incredibly unlikely. And it does seem more prudent to me to push opponents to clarify the pejorative sense of those terms as they use them rather than try to sell them on the idea of employing them differently.

Anon,

Thanks. That is exactly what I mean.

Anon you write:

"Presumably, we all agree that we shouldn’t cede to the left when they try to _change_ terminology or the meanings of words in current popular use (e.g., changing ‘illegal alien’ to something mendacious such as ‘undocumented resident’, and claiming that the former is improper or offensive). But attempting to use ‘racist’ or ‘racism’ in a non-pejorative sense is not to fight against change. It seems to be an attempt to make your own radical change in the sense of those terms."

Maybe. But everything we believe now appears to be "radical" and evil. The words we are using were crafted by people who hate us, for the purpose of mentally disarming us and destroying us. The word "racism" has no place in Western Civilization. As far as I know, it didn't even exist until some Jewish Communists invented it in the early 20th century. Can you oppose Leftism if you yourself are always talking about "class struggle" and "the bourgeoisie" and "class enemies", and so on? I say it's the same with "racism".

We are not normal anymore. There's almost nothing left for us to "conserve". Anything we might want to do is "radical". Do you think that a man can't become a woman, or can't have been one all along, in virtue of saying that he is one? Then you are "transphobic", a hater and oppressor, etc. Your radical opinion is contrary to what all the experts and political leaders now tell us; it's contrary to what kids are being taught in grade 3, along with the times tables. Do you wonder how our "leaders" could possibly know how to control the earth's climate to within one-half a degree celsius just by passing some stupid new laws? Then you show that you only care about money and want the planet to die.

I just read a news article about a father of seven who's left his family to go and live "as a six year old girl" with his "adoptive parents". Of course the message was celebratory: he has finally discovered his true self, free from the oppressive attitudes of his wife and children, etc.

Now that's not quite normal yet, but imagine that in ten years there's some crazy new pejorative label for people who think that a grown man cannot be a little girl: they're called "X-ists", and "X-ists" are taken to be just as bad as "racists". Should conservatives then just accept this new piece of language and try to convince people that something that seems awfully like X-ism is not so bad?

This is a losing strategy. People think that X-ism is the worst thing in the world. The term 'X-ism' has no precise content, and that's deliberate: the vagueness serves to sustain the general sense that anything kind-of-like paradigms of X-ism is evil. Ordinary people just will not think about this rationally; if they are moved by the conservatives arguments they will _feel_ that they are entering into CrimeThink and shut down in shame and fear. We have to address the conditioning that produces these responses.

When we grant the Left's terminology the implicit message is that the Left has been right about almost everything up til now, and we just want to quibble over the details of their latest "radical change". But if they were largely right all along, the few vestiges of "common sense" or "normality" that we now want to preserve are deeply suspect.

If we are going to successfully challenge any one of these pejorative terms we will have to challenge all of them, going all the way back. Because that's just what people immediately wonder about when they hear the first challenge: If you're saying there's some kind of 'transphobia' that's not so bad, isn't that like saying that 'racism' might not be so bad either? If you think maybe women tend to be not so good at astrophysics compared to men, wouldn't that same kind of thinking suggest that blacks might not be so good at it compared to whites? This has to be addressed head-on, by saying that yes, we are willing to challenge this whole way of thinking. We are the radicals now, and we might as well just admit it!

If you'd told my grandfather he was a "racist", he probably wouldn't have known what you were talking about. If you'd explained to him what the word applies to nowadays, he'd have no idea why it is supposed to be so bad to be a "racist". Large numbers of people have radically changed the way they think and talk in the past, and very quickly. It's not impossible that they could change again. Unlikely maybe, but that's the only hope :)

Malcolm,
I love the comparison. Seems exactly right. Great blog, by the way -- and thanks to Bill for introducing us to Malcolm's blog.

Jacques, thanks for your kind words.

Re your comment of 7:51: it is a splendid reactionary manifesto in miniature.

There are scores of millions out there for whom all of this is already deeply resonant. It is time for us to stop letting the hegemonic media/political/academic complex (AKA, in NRx terms, the "Cathedral") set the terms of the discussion.

The difficult task is the more detailed one: to balance the best of the modern West against its own internal liabilities. At this point in the West's history a vigorous reaction is clearly necessary if it is to survive -- but a swinging pendulum always overshoots its point of equilibrium. When that happens here, it will not be pleasant.

Jacques, I agree that we are in a desperate position and that our general approach should be to reject almost every piece of the left’s conceptual framework. What to do about the terminology seems to be a tricky issue, though, and it’s not clear that there are any simple answers. I don’t think a general strategy of co-opting or repurposing their terminology is sensible. For example, I don’t think that we should claim that we want classrooms to be “unsafe spaces” in response to the left’s mendacious “safe space” terminology. Wouldn’t it be better to simply mock and chastise the left for daring to call classrooms in the US “unsafe” because students hear some ideas that might make them psychological uncomfortable?

‘Racism’ is an especially tricky term to deal with. I can see the rationale for thinking that co-opting it is the only way to defang it, albeit unlikely. I can also see the rationale for thinking that we should reject the attribution on the grounds that the term is almost entirely vacuous except for the negative moral connotation that comes along with it. It’s akin to calling someone a “dick”. The move there would be to force an opponent to explain what he means by ‘racist’, the result being something that is either much less morally scary than ‘racist’ or something that clearly doesn’t apply to you.

Bill,

If usage is meaning, and I've noted this countless times, then the dictionary definition is no longer correct. I'm going to guess that well over 90 percent of the usage I see amounts to something like "preferring the more similar to the less similar".

As for the term "racism" the only effective response I've seen is to directly call the speaker a liar. I live in Seattle and have nearly caused riots in two different bars for aggressively calling people liars for using the term 'racism". The lesson is that when confronting the left defense is both useless and impossible, attack is the only option.

The usage to which I was referring in my previous comment was to the term "tribal".

Anonymous, you wrote " Wouldn’t it be better to simply mock and chastise the left for daring to call classrooms in the US “unsafe” because students hear some ideas that might make them psychological uncomfortable?" That is the easiest avenue into the mind of these young Maoists. Ridicule. As a result, the crybullies will act even more outlandishly, making their case even less appealing to the campus wide population...not to mention some "professors" who can't locate their "stones" in the onslaught of their young spawn. Go Alinsky on these Maoists.

Right, we shouldn't simply accept every supposedly pejorative label. The right approach to language depends on many things. In the case of "safe space" the word "safe" is a normal, non-political word. There's no reason to reject "safe" or claim that "unsafe" is better than "safe", etc. At least, for now the left have not managed to make "safe" mean "leftist opinions only". So we presently have the ability to appeal to the real, normal meaning of "safe" and make rational arguments (or ridicule their use of "safe").

But "racist" is different. From the perspective of the ordinary westerner nowadays, it sounds utterly crazy to suppose that the following things are not "racist": (a) racial segregation or race-based criteria for immigration, (b) white people feeling racial price or solidarity, (c) believing that races naturally differ (or differ at all) in terms of intelligence or personality or dispositions to criminality. Those seem to be paradigms of "racism", as the term is nowadays applied by ordinary people. More to the point, ordinary people feel deeply that all of (a)-(c) really are deeply morally wrong. More wrong than almost anything, except maybe raping children. (And even then...) But we think these kinds of things are, at the very least, deserving of serious consideration; we think some of these things are perfectly okay, at least given certain constraints. So if we are trying to convince them that we aren't "racists" while being honest about our values and beliefs, our arguments will have no traction. They'll think that, at best, we're just playing with words. ("You *know* what I mean by 'racist', and you *know* what you're saying is racist!") Or we can hide what we really think, and maybe then convince them we're not "racists". But what's the point of that?

In the last 50 years, people have "reclaimed" words like 'faggot' and 'queer'. I'm pretty sure that in living memory these words were far more pejorative than 'dick'. (More like 'child molester'.) Same for "communist" and "socialist". It's not impossible that we can 'claim' words like "racist" in roughly the same way. Not by trying to make the case that it's good to be "racist", but first by showing people that the sky doesn't fall if you get called "racist". Inculcating over time a sticks-and-stones response rather than a CrimeThink response. Think of how quickly the whole discourse changed just because Trump said a few un-PC things about Mexican immigrants and black criminality and Muslim immigration. He set an example by not apologizing and shrugging off the name-calling and shaming. Maybe it would be much easier than we think for things to begin to change.

Jeffrey S. writes, >>It is rare that such a smart, interesting discussion occurs in the comments section of a blog!!! I tried to provoke discussion on a couple of atheist blogs recently (I guess you could call me a 'troll') and it only took me two tries on the second blog I visited to be banned entirely!!!

. . . For example, I do believe in racism and think it is evil -- the idea that one could hate someone of another race solely because they belong to that race is morally wrong in my book. However, if I were to say to a leftist, I think Africans and people of African descent have lower IQs than Europeans and people of European descent, they would call me a racist -- simply because I pointed out there are racial differences between human populations.<<

Thanks for the kind words, Jeff. In my experience, New Atheists and Randians are two groups with whom conversation is waste of time. Part of the explanation is that both groups attract cyberpunks. So my advice to you is: don't bother with the atheists you encounter on the Internet. That Victor Reppert tolerates them on his blog is a wonder to me.

You shouldn't say that you "believe in racism" but that you believe that there is racism. I agree with you that it is evil. This is why 'racist' is pejorative.

As I have said a hundred times in these pages, there is a difference between a statement that has racial content and a racist statement. You provide an example of the former. And the statement is true. So I reason as follows: since it is true, it can't be racist or in any way offensive. Of course I am assuming that one makes the statement with serious intent in the context of a serious, truth-seeking discussion.

Suppose a man is crippled. I say, 'You sir, are crippled!' What I say is true but still offensive because there is no justification for my pointing out what is painfully obvious and obviously painful to the crippled man.

Jacques asked me, >>Would you agree that racial-ethnic 'partialism' is sometimes legitimate along with other kinds?<<

Sure. Why do you keep asking me questions like this?

But you seem to think that tribalism -- the term for which is a pejorative as a matter of linguistic fact -- is to be met with opposite tribalism. So black pride is to be met with white pride, and so on.

I say we should try to get beyond tribalism and divisiveness and find some common ground. Being white is not something to be proud of, or ashamed of, and the same for being black.

Asherjj & Anon,

I have found the following dialectical strategy somewhat useful when the term "racist" or "racism" comes up in discussion. If anyone has others I'm all ears (though this might be too far afield for Bill to wish to moderate).
I start first by asking if they think that racism is morally bad or not. "Bad." How bad? Pretty bad or quite bad? "Quite bad." Then I ask for a definition. This way we're now in a position to get to the correct definition more quickly if we get there at all. Since we've agreed that racism is really bad I can then ask "well, what's wrong with that?" for every expansive definition about something not morally bad.

Jacques,

Time was when 'queer' was a pejorative slang term for homosexuals. What the latter then did was to render the term innocuous by using it themselves in a non-pejorative way In so doing they also pretty much destroyed the word in its old meaning which meant, and still does mean in some contexts, 'odd.' No doubt you have head of J L Mackie's "argument from queerness" which has nothing to do with homosexuality.

Now 'racist' is not a slang term, so the analogy falters a bit. Be that as it may. Your point is that we should do with 'racist' what homos did with 'queer.'

I think that it is a losing strategy given that we are a minority. (You could say that homos are too, but the overall leftward cultural drift supports them.) If you call yourself a racist, then you enemies will say, "See! He admits he's a racist! The bastard shamelessly admits his own guilt!"

Two points.

1. It is quixotic and foolish to tilt against the windmills of ordinary language. Meaning is closely tied to use. Take the phrase 'hook up.' For me and my generation it does not imply sexual intercourse. But it behooves me to know the current use/meaning when talking to certain people. (For obvious reasons.) Paradoxically, and 'thanks' to the Left, things get cruder and cruder while people become more and more sensitive.

2. Contrary to what you say, there is a legitimate use for 'racist' and cognates. As Jeffrey said, there is racism and it's evil. It is good that we have a label for it. That lefties engage in semantic inflation is not a good argument against the label.


Bill, you write:

"Jacques asked me, 'Would you agree that racial-ethnic 'partialism' is sometimes legitimate along with other kinds?' Sure. Why do you keep asking me questions like this?"

I was asking about partiality based on sheer racial kinship, as opposed to partiality based on race in virtue of its correlation with other things (such as shared culture or values). One reason I asked was that I think most people would certainly consider that first kind of 'partialism' to be a form of 'racism' or 'tribalism' (in a pejorative sense). It's true that such a position need not involve 'strongly negative feelings' towards people outside one's tribe, but I think your dictionary definition just doesn't reflect how these words are normally used nowadays.

So this relates to your point 1 above. It may be foolish to go against ordinary language, but aren't we going to be doing just that if, for example, we tell people that it's not 'racist' or 'tribalist' to restrict immigration on the basis of race or ethnicity? In ordinary usage, in our extreme Leftist society, that is a paradigm of 'racism' just as the belief that lesbian communes shouldn't be allowed to raise other people's children is a paradigm of 'homophobia'. I suspect we're at odds with ordinary language no matter what we do.

I grant that there is racial injustice and oppression (even of non-whites by whites) but I don't see why I should call this "racism". If I don't believe in witchcraft I'm not going to call epileptics "witches", and I don't believe in the Leftist theory attached to the (ordinary) meaning of "racism".

We live in a world of racial tribes. No group on earth apart from non-Jewish white westerners has any tendency to try to deal with other races as moral equals. (Of course I'm speaking of groups not all individuals within them.) Jews don't care about Poles or Scots; their whole mainstream discourse is openly about what is good-for-Jews. Multiculturalism for Europe and the US, ethnic pride and particularity for Israel. And these are some of the most cultured and philosophical people in the world. When everyone else is a tribalist -- whether that's pejorative or not -- the rejection of tribalism in favor of universalism and individualism is really just unilateral disarmament. It means getting rolled. Not that we should match the most obnoxious Jewish or black tribalism with an equal and opposite form. No, but still _some_ racial feeling and solidarity roughly like theirs is necessary. Otherwise we're doomed. Because no one else is going to stop being tribal. Ironically, tribalism might be a piece of the "common ground" we can seek with others. I think blacks might start to respect whites more if they admitted openly to their suppressed racial feelings. Then we'd have a real "conversation about race".

Tully, yes, I like that approach. That is a version of the second kind of strategy for dealing with ‘racism’ that described earlier.


Jacques, you say:

“But "racist" is different. From the perspective of the ordinary westerner nowadays, it sounds utterly crazy to suppose that the following things are not "racist": (a) racial segregation or race-based criteria for immigration, (b) white people feeling racial price or solidarity, (c) believing that races naturally differ (or differ at all) in terms of intelligence or personality or dispositions to criminality. Those seem to be paradigms of "racism", as the term is nowadays applied by ordinary people. More to the point, ordinary people feel deeply that all of (a)-(c) really are deeply morally wrong. [. . . ] So if we are trying to convince them that we aren't "racists" while being honest about our values and beliefs, our arguments will have no traction. They'll think that, at best, we're just playing with words.”

You are certainly right that people are inclined to slap to the label ‘racism’ on those positions and think they have shown what’s wrong with them. But instead of accepting a label that connotes that we hold deeply immoral views, it still seems to me that it would be better to just push them to explain what is wrong with those things, and tell them that the term ‘racist’ is almost completely vacuous in content, and that unless they have some further explanation for what is wrong with those things, their position amounts to nothing but a feeble-minded association of ideas and name calling.

Bill, you say:

“I say we should try to get beyond tribalism and divisiveness and find some common ground. Being white is not something to be proud of, or ashamed of, and the same for being black.”

Well, given that we are stuck living with each other, yes, we should presumably try to find some common ground and work with each other. But I agree with Jacques that the current mindset of whites amounts to what he aptly calls “unilateral disarmament”. Perhaps pride isn’t the right attitude to describe the affinity that is permissible (and perhaps morally required) to have towards one’s race, but, again, it’s something like the same kind of attitude that is permissible or required to have towards one’s family or country.

Anonymous,
It's obvious to any thinking person that the whole of Leftism operates by "feeble-minded association of ideas and name calling". But it's effective nonetheless. (And of course that might be true of all effective politics in a mass 'democracy' such as ours.) We're in trouble with ordinary language either way. Ordinary usage implies both that (a) our beliefs are paradigmatically and essentially "racist", and that (b) anything "racist" is totally evil. We can concede either one of (a) or (b) and then try to convince people that the other one is false. But I don't see that ordinary language or ordinary ways of thought are going to line up better with either tactic than the other. I don't object to the tactic of conceding (b) and then challenging (a). Whatever works! But I think it may also often be useful to go the other way. In fact it makes sense to use both tactics (though maybe not for one person to use both at a single time). The one that you, Bill and Tully prefer may help to raise some doubts about the content of "racist" or the rationality of the belief that all "racism" is totally evil; the one that I prefer might get some traction, in time, because of the first.

Bill,
You say that being white is not something to be proud of. I disagree. First of all, since race is similar to things like family, nation or country or species, pride in one's race seems to be legitimate in roughly the same way that it can be legitimate for a person to be proud of being an American or a MacGregor or a human being. Haven't you ever felt proud of humanity, of being human? I have. And sometimes I've felt ashamed of it too. I think both attitudes can be rational and moral. I sometimes feel proud to be a philosopher, in some sense: part of the tradition that includes Socrates and Plato and Spinoza, though of course their achievements aren't mine.

Second, and more important, while it's not clear that any strong kind of racial pride would always be legitimate no matter what the circumstances, it is definitely important right now. White children are being taught to _hate_ and _despise_ their ancestors and the civilization that they created, while also being taught to worship and idealize everyone else's ancestors and culture, no matter how backwards or barbaric. Whites are being dispossessed, oppressed, abused and killed as a result of the perverted anti-white value system that has been drilled into them. So in this situation it is vital that whites recover _pride_ in whiteness, understood as one of the necessary conditions for the creation of European civilization.

>> It may be foolish to go against ordinary language, but aren't we going to be doing just that if, for example, we tell people that it's not 'racist' or 'tribalist' to restrict immigration on the basis of race or ethnicity? <<

My point was that you cannot give 'racist' a non-pejorative meaning any more than you can give 'asshole' a non-pejorative meaning. Therefore, it is foolish to call yourself a racist. What you have to to do is force the opponent to define 'racism' while avoiding the term yourself. Don't say it is not racist to limit immigration, give positive reasons for limiting it.

Yes, sure we should try that. But then, if we are not disputing the sense of 'racist', we invite an inference: "x is racist only if x is wrong; limiting immigration on racial grounds is not wrong; therefore it's not racist." This conclusion seems incompatible with ordinary usage

Jacques,

Thanks for all the comments. I will try, as time permits, to respond to the others.

Here is what I said in a post from last year:

>>'Racism' and 'racist' are words used by liberals as all-purpose semantic bludgeons. Proof of this is that the terms are never defined, and so can be used in wider or narrower senses depending on the polemical and ideological purposes at hand. In common parlance 'racism' and 'racist' are pejoratives, indeed, terms of abuse.<<

Now if these words are terms of abuse, as I think you'll agree, then it is not really a question of "disputing their sense." There is no call for learned inquiries into the sense of 'dickhead.' So I think my point stands: you will not succeed in rehabilitating 'racist' and cognates.

But I see *your* point.

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