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Tuesday, October 23, 2018


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Must a classical liberal be for universal suffrage? You implicitly make an additional assumption that the nation is built on individuals citizens. But this ignores families as a building bloc of the nation or society.
Contrary to this view, another might be presented: People are organized into three irreducible levels. The nation, the families and the individuals. This is perhaps a pre-liberal view.
So, in this view, a family must vote as one. At least, a man's wife should vote with the man.
It can be argued that extending the franchise to women has been destructive of the family order.

Your argument about black behavior seems weak to me. Maybe if we had only the evidence of black behavior in the US or other places where they were once enslaved, or where they are a minority, it would be reasonable to expect that under different contingent circumstances blacks would be less tribal--and no more tribal than modern American whites, you expect!

But there is a lot of other evidence to consider. For all known history blacks have lived in tribes and behaved tribally. In Africa, even in places where they are a super-majority and were not enslaved (by non-blacks), they are just as tribalistic. Typically some big man gets elected and immediately starts doing favors for his tribe and screwing over the other tribes. (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, etc.) What are the examples from history or some other country where we find blacks acting roughly like whites in this respect? All this makes your prediction less probable.

And there's all the evidence of human behavior throughout history. Jews are pretty tribal. Is that really only because they're oppressed, or because they're a minority? Arabs are tribal too, even where they are a majority and they were the slave traders not the slaves. Japanese are tribalist enough to have sensible immigration policies, and they don't like Koreans. And so on. It looks like the non-tribalism of American whites today is _extremely_ unusual. Could it be that tribalism is the default and Anglo-Saxon individualism is an aberration? I'd say when we look at all the evidence, this hypothesis is quite plausible. As you say, whites are still somewhat tribal--though not on racial grounds. This suggests tribalism is natural and powerful and so probably not something easily overcome. In which case there is no particular reason to expect that blacks will think and vote like whites someday.

>>It can be argued that extending the franchise to women has been destructive of the family order.<<

On the other hand, not extending it to women is unjust to many and perhaps most women.

>>As you say, whites are still somewhat tribal--though not on racial grounds.<<

Well, surely some are.

As usual, you make good empirical points. You may be entirely right. But let's be practical. There are blacks here in N. America, they are not going away, many of them are fine people, and many of them are responsible voters. Are you proposing that their right to vote be denied? Presumably not. So a practical course of action is to work to make them less tribal.

Or do you think that tribalism is so hard-wired into their biology that such a quest is quixotic?

Similarly for women and Hispanics.

Or take a mulatto like Shelby Steele. He is not tribal as far as I can see. More intermarriage may help. And then there's the mulatto Obama. To what extent are his destructive ideas rooted in a race-based tribalism and to what extent due to his being served, and having quaffed, the leftist Kool-Aid early on?

I think it's so extremely unlikely that large numbers of blacks will be made less tribal that the more practical course of action is to encourage whites to be far more tribal. If whites rejected the false guilt that's been imposed on them, if they were willing to stand up for their own (white) norms and history and civilization--and doing that as whites rather than pretending to be race-less equal citizens--that would be entirely legitimate and healthy. And it would serve to counter-balance the non-white tribalism which is destroying western societies. That may be unlikely but I think it's more likely than blacks becoming less tribal. Or rather, if there's anything that would make blacks less tribal, a resurgent white tribalism is probably the only thing. If whites were even 20% more tribal, blacks would not want to provoke a self-aware majority. And since whites mostly just want to be left alone and not victimized by black criminals, the result would probably be a much more peaceful harmonious society.

We probably differ in our underlying theory of the State. I view a State as a contrivance that seeks to ensure survival and flourishing of a people over generations. This view is probably not compatible with liberalism that has State as merely a guaranteer of individual rights.
Thus,you see an injustice, a violation of a right to vote. However, the said injustice was not felt by the leading philosophers of liberalism itself.
I rather view voting as not a right but a privilege.

Dr. Vallicella,

You said:

In an ideal democracy only some people would be allowed to vote. But there is no practical way to determine all and only those who should be allowed to vote beyond the minimal requirements of citizenship, adulthood, etc.

I think this is false. For example, we clearly have driving tests that a person has to pass to show that he has the minimum level of knowledge necessary to drive safely. And most people are able to pass such a test when they put their mind to it. The same could be done for politics, where basic civic knowledge, as well as basic knowledge of current affairs and party platforms needs to be demonstrated on a yearly basis before voting is allowed. Such tests could be written at a high-school level, and thus would not, in principle, be out of reach of anyone giving that education up to high-school is free. Consequently, you could have the universal 'opportunity' to vote, but not a universal vote.

Or, alternatively, you could have a system where in addition to the basic criteria for voting, you had to meet at least one of the following additional points:

- Served honorably in the military for a minimum of 3 years;
- Had at least 2 children who have no criminal history) during their time in your household (or at least up to the age of 13 or something similar);
- Own land;
- Have paid taxes for a minimum of 5 years (without using any government subsidies);
- Have volunteered in the community on a regular basis for a minimum of 5 years.

And so on. All these activities show 'skin in the game' towards one's own society, and thus could legitimately serve as markers that make one eligible to vote. They are also practical and could be determined with relative ease.


I fail to see how it's unjust to deny females the vote. Generally, it's just to stop one from harming oneself or harming others. Thus, it's just to prevent females from voting.
Why? The female vote has been responsible for the nanny state, mass genocide in the form of abortion, lower standards in education thanks to the new "empathy" virtue, most of the social "science" and "studies" programs which receive government funding and support, the further erosion of the family as women become "strong" and independent, ergo a replacement rate which is too low to pay for all of the free stuff the female vote has given us....Need I go on? Women are good at raising children. They have the same IQ as men on average. But IQ alone doesn't translate well into good military or political leadership. For evidence see the last 50+ years.

For Christians, patriarchy is normative (thank God), and a wife voting for political power contrary to her husband is in tension if not direct conflict with patriarchy. It's no wonder, though, that divorce is off the charts. Egalitarian marriages make not a damn bit of sense on the whole. (Of COURSE, #notallfemales not #notallegalitarianmarriages).

You say there is no going back. In the short term, that's true. But who knows what the long term future holds. If we're lucky (if it's providential), we'll see a return to benevolent patriarchy and the ill-advised Millian experiment of women's suffrage will be no more. It had a good run...No, actually it had a terrible run from start to finish. We can blame men, however, for the 19th Amendment. They don't get off Scot-free.

Jacques, I asked >>Are you proposing that their [blacks']right to vote be denied?<<

You didn't answer this question.

Jacques writes:

>>I think it's so extremely unlikely that large numbers of blacks will be made less tribal that the more practical course of action is to encourage whites to be far more tribal. If whites rejected the false guilt that's been imposed on them, if they were willing to stand up for their own (white) norms and history and civilization--and doing that as whites rather than pretending to be race-less equal citizens. . .<<

Some years back I complained about the tribalism of blacks and Hispanics and the response of alt-righties surprised me: a call for white tribalism, when, as it seems to me, we should try to get beyond ALL tribalism. I was protesting tribalism and you all in effect said we need our own tribalism. And you didn't mean this as a temporary tactic, but as a principled position for the long haul.

But now I understand more clearly what you are up to: you want to ground the norms we share racially. You want to claim that they are inherently white norms that cannot be shared and realized by non-whites (including Jews and Asians presumably). Whites own them. Whereas the view I have been defending over many posts is that the norms we share are universal and that blacks and others can appropriate, appreciate, and apply them to some extent, though not to the extent that we white boys can, leastways not at the present time. And not only that: blacks ought to appropriate, etc. these norms. They ought to for their own good, and for the common good, engage in 'cultural appropriation.' So if one of our values is self-control, then they too can and should appropriate that value for their own good, and for our good as well.

Would you say that blacks who appropriate those bourgeois values that Amy Wax wisely promoted, and for whose promotion she suffered rebuke from leftist shitheads, have STOLEN from our culture?

Your view may be fraught with some paradoxes. From what you say above it seems that you value being anti-tribal and individualistic and principled and concerned for justice and rational (with all that that entails). Take logic. There is no white logic or black logic or female logic unless we are playing fast and loose with 'logic.' Logic rests on universal principles such as LNC. Logic is anti-tribal *in excelsis.* How can it be tribally grounded in the white race? I smell a paradox; whether it gets the length of contradiction is a further question.

Hi Bill,
In answer to your question, no I'm not proposing that blacks should be denied the right to vote in western societies as they now exist. My original claim was just that there were some seemingly good reasons for denying the vote to women and blacks, at least in the past.

On the other hand, if I could set up an ideal society next week the voting requirements would be so strict that very few blacks would have voting rights. Voters should have a minimum IQ of 115, they must not be dependent on welfare or other government handouts, they must have no criminal convictions... Something like what Original Apologetics says above.

So my ideal voting system would have 'disparate impact' racially, much like western civilization itself, though it wouldn't be designed specifically in order to stop blacks from voting. Also, my ideal society would contain only a tiny minority of blacks (or none) since I think blacks in any significant numbers present terrible unsolvable problems for white societies. I'd probably build into the constitution of this ideal society that whites must remain a super-majority--at least 90% let's say--and also that anyone trying to change the natural racial make-up of society will be executed for treason.

But this is all just daydreaming. In terms of realistic measures here and now, I just think whites have to be far more tribal both for their own good and the good of society.

"You want to claim that they are inherently white norms that cannot be shared and realized by non-whites (including Jews and Asians presumably). Whites own them."

I don't think anyone can own a norm (except God maybe, but even then...). What I mean is that whites are more capable on the whole of satisfying or realizing or acting in accordance with certain norms than many other groups--most definitely the vast majority of sub-Saharan African groups. For example, whites are far more capable of realizing Wax's 'bourgeois values' or even understanding why these values are good and important. Whether anyone 'owns' these values seems like a different and weird question to me. Setting aside race, it's clear that Spinoza realizes certain intellectual norms far better than Al Sharpton, but I don't think Spinoza 'owns' those norms--and if I said Spinoza is more capable or better as a thinker than Sharpton I wouldn't be implying any claims about ownership. Rather, whites tend to appreciate and conform to certain norms that are important for high civilizations that whites produce; they might be conforming to universal or transcendental standards rather than creating or owning anything but the fact remains that blacks on the whole have always been far less inclined to care about these things or act in ways that conform to these standards.

That goes for logic too. LNC is not a 'white' principle, of course, but a deep understanding and concern for logic might well be a white trait more than a black trait. Again, the evidence of history and behavior today strongly suggests that blacks as a group have very little serious interest in logic. (And I really don't think that's because of slavery or colonialism or whatever.) Or here's another analogy: Danes don't own the metric system or the relation of transitivity or the property of height; still, Danes are a lot taller on the whole than Pygmies, and if you want to win in basketball you'd probably prefer Danes to Pygmies.

You seem to be projecting on to me an implausible view--basically the right-wing equivalent of some goofy leftist theory of cultural appropriation. That's not my view. Still, I do think the white race gets credit world-historically for all kinds of stupendous achievements mostly unequaled by other races. This is not a matter of owning the high standards relative to which we measure these achievements, but rather owning the achievements themselves. The works of Bach or Newton or Plato or Da Vinci (etc, etc, etc, etc) are evidence of the white race's genius because in all these cases whites did things that everyone understands to be great--in relation to objective universal standards, or at least standards that hold for human beings generally. These works belong to the white race, for the most part, because it was mainly whites and no one else who did all the work. Again, this is not to suggest that standards or values themselves are inventions of white people. That just seems incoherent to me.


Do you have any reason for thinking that IQ tracks true (or, if not true, prudential on your view) political beliefs? We know that female IQ is the same as male on average. But we also have good inductive evidence from numerous decades that females on average are naturally bent leftists if given political power and the right to vote independently of their husbands/families. Is there any reason to think that IQ predicts for good political beliefs/actions? I'm deeply skeptical given anecdotal evidence.

The idea that it is unjust to disenfranchise people implies that governing is an intrinsic good and not merely an instrumental good as in the liberal political theory.

The liberal theory, deriving from Hobbes and Locke, is uncomfortable with the notion of man as a political animal. The political nature means that mankind is organized into particular self-ruling morally authoritative units we may call tribe, polis or nation.
The political nature leads to a separation into neighbors (belonging to a polis) and strangers (those not belonging to that polis). The term "stranger" is politically illustrated in the Kipling's poem "The Stranger".

But liberalism dislikes this separation and tries to erase it. The right-liberalism as presented in its logical conclusion, the libertarianism does not accept moral authority of the polis and thus regards all men as strangers to each other.

The left-liberalism hates particularity aspect of the political nature. It wants the world-state and forces all men to be neighbors of each other.


You are repeating many of my own points back to me, but not coming quite clean on the issue of whether the norms and values you and I accept -- one example is the presumption of innocence both as a legal principle and as a pre-legal moral principle -- are racially based, grounded in the biology of whites. For example, you say at 7:22:

>>If whites rejected the false guilt that's been imposed on them, if they were willing to stand up for their own (white) norms and history and civilization--and doing that as whites rather than pretending to be race-less equal citizens--that would be entirely legitimate and healthy.<<

You refer to the norms as WHITE norms, and then you say we should stand up for these norms AS WHITES and NOT AS RACELESS EQUAL CITIZENS. This doesn't comport well with your seeming admission elsewhere that the norms and values and principles are universal in their validity. If they are universal, then they hold equally for all persons regardless of race. But if they are specific to whites, then they do not hold equally for all regardless of race.

For example, the equal rights to life, liberty, and property. Do all human persons have these rights or only whites?

Note that if whites first discovered/articulated these rights, it does not follow that they hold only for whites.

Note also that if whites are better at appreciating and respecting these rights, it does not follow that they hold only for whites.

Now if you admit that the norms, values, etc are universal and hold for all regardless of race, but that whites are better at their discovery and implementation, then we will have little to disagree about.

But you say things that suggest that this is not your view.

Now let's go back to the original question: Is there a defensible basis for discrimination against blacks qua blacks when it comes to voting? Should all blacks be prevented from voting because most blacks are tribal, can't think abstractly, can't think in terms of the common good, etc?

Suppose a black female passes your IQ test and satisfies your other requirements that you list above. Should this person be prevented from voting nonetheless just because of race and sex?

If you say No, then you are agreeing with me that there is no defensible basis for preventing blacks qua blacks from voting.

Scholastic Scot,
I don't assume any correlation between IQ and true or defensible political beliefs. Partly for the reasons you mention. But I'd also be surprised if there was anything intrinsic to IQs over 115 (for example) that produces insane leftist beliefs. But I'm not married to an IQ cut-off. If there was a good case for some other set of restrictions on voting without an IQ cut-off that would also be fine. If it turns out that people with IQs over 130 tend toward insane leftism I would happily disenfranchise that population too. The main idea is just that voting should be severely restricted; maybe you have a more fully worked out plan as to what the specific restrictions should be.

Sorry for a pair of long posts. I don't know how else to answer... Let me first try to clarify this issue as I understand it. Take any norm N you like. Then I'd say we can talk about any of these distinct topics:

i. The nature and scope of N itself
ii. The ability to appreciate N
iii. The ability to conform to N
iv. The ability to conform to N on the basis of an appreciation of N

So what I'm saying is merely that for some politically important norms, whites (and others) are significantly more able to appreciate these norms and conform to them and conform to them on the basis of their appreciation. But I don't think it makes any sense to say that the norms themselves are "grounded in the biology of whites".

For example, if we're talking about norms such as impartial deliberation, it looks like whites are much more concerned with this norm and motivated to try to deliberate impartially. They often seem to genuinely care whether a person is innocent, whether the evidence objectively supports the accusation, etc. (Though the behavior of so many white people during the Kavanaugh thing really does make me wonder about this.) At the same time, it's obvious that _many_ non-whites care about this and try to deliberate impartially and really do deliberate impartially. So I wouldn't even say that these abilities or dispositions are grounded in "the biology of whites" in the sense that they occur only in people with those genes (or whatever). I guess I _would_ say that certain notable tendencies in that direction are probably biologically based. For example I think it's very probable that the black tendency to ignore objective evidence and simply acquit blacks because they are black has some biological basis--some fact about the genetic or evolutionary features of blacks that isn't present to anywhere near the same degree in whites.

So when I say that some of these norms are "white norms" I mean that they are the kinds of norms that are natural and likely to prevail in majority-white societies, because of the traits that whites tend to have, and will not tend to prevail in non-white or white-minority societies. But, again, this is not to say that the norms themselves are properties of a racial group or reducible to such properties or that their normative force is due to such properties--or whatever exactly it would mean to say that the _norms_ are "grounded" in the "biology" of white people. And it's not to say that these norms don't apply to other groups just because, on the whole, they naturally tend to be less capable of appreciating or upholding the norms. (I guess I'd be tempted to say that if there were some groups who seemed constitutionally incapable of appreciating or conforming to the norms, just because "ought" implies "can", but it's clear that's not true for many non-white groups.)

Okay, the second issue. Almost all the restrictions on voting rights that we think are reasonable depend on some broad generalization with lots of exceptions. We don't let 12 year old kids vote because, on the whole, they aren't sufficiently rational or well-informed or invested in the state. We also know that there are some children who are at least as well suited to voting as some of the adults who get to vote. So the fact that a certain black person satisfies all the requirements for voting rights (apart from being black) would not necessarily be enough to show that "there is no defensible basis for preventing blacks qua blacks from voting". Not unless the existence of exceptions to other similar generalizations also shows that (for example) there is no defensible basis for preventing children or criminals or welfare recipients or people with sub-normal IQs from voting.

If in addition we have good reasons for thinking that on the whole blacks are not sufficiently intelligent, impartial, well-informed (and so on) then it seems to me there would be "defensible reasons" for denying them the right to vote.

But that's not to say that these reasons are decisive, that all things considered blacks qua blacks should be prevented from voting. You seem to think I'm being evasive or unclear, but to me it seems I'm just being cautious and reasonable: I wouldn't support some kind of blanket ban on voting rights for black people, regardless of the situation or the many empirical facts that might be relevant; at the same time, I can understand why in some situations a ban would be "defensible" at least.

For example, in 1920s South Africa I'd probably have been in favor of severely limited political power for blacks. These were tribal backwards peoples very poorly suited for all kinds of reasons to the political system created by far more advanced whites in that country. It would have been a _disaster_ and it's turned out to be one even now. But is this because of traits that the black South Africans have "qua blacks"? Is it largely because of such traits? I'm just not entirely sure but, again, I am open to the hypothesis so I allow that maybe in such a situation it could be reasonable to deny blacks qua blacks the right to vote--even though, no doubt, many individual blacks would satisfy any reasonable requirements on voting rights.

Or suppose I'm a citizen of a newly independent Slovenia. We're drafting our constitution and George Soros has just dumped 1 million Bantu "refugees" into the country last week. Surely in this case it would make sense to deny blacks "qua blacks" voting rights, because their blackness is a sufficient condition for them to be total aliens to the unique ethno-culture of Slovenia. They are not Slovenes and--typically, on the whole--they couldn't be more different from Slovenes and less capable of healthy participation in a democratic Slovenia. Of course, a similar ban would be natural against 1 million Irish or Albanian "refugees", and in that case it would not be because they are black or non-white. But in the case I'm imagining the blackness of the "refugees" makes them even more alien and incompatible.

If you're asking whether right now, in the US, blacks should be denied voting rights then I'd say absolutely not. For one thing, it just would be seriously unjust to many black people who are decent citizens whose ancestors were unjustly brought to the country long before many of white people who now have voting rights. We don't disagree about that. If I had the power to disenfranchise current residents of the US, I would focus on recent immigrants with no loyalty or cultural basis or investment in American society. Especially those who can easily go back where they came from if they don't like it. Especially those who are openly hostile to Americans. Especially those whose very presence is a terrible burden on the poorest Americans (including many black Americans). And of course illegal immigrants shouldn't be voting and should be deported immediately, along with anyone who acquired voting "rights" as a result of their parents coming illegally.

If the question is whether right now in the US there are "defensible reasons" for denying blacks qua blacks the right to vote, my answer is no; what should happen instead is that whites become more tribal.

With respect to the empirical arguments against women's suffrage (i.e., the argument that women vote more leftwing than men), I think there is less here than meets the eye. People tend here to take too parochial a view centered on the American experience.

For example, in Britain it used to be said that the UK would have had permanent Labour Party rule since 1945 if women hadn’t been given the vote. In Weimar Germany, women voted more right-wing than men:


Going back further in time, women were more likely to support the ancien régime in France against the Jacobins than men were.

There is also an anecdote about the time someone asked the French socialist prime minister Leon Blum why he did not favor enfranchising women. His reply: “Because they’d vote us out of office.” (There is evidently a similar story about the Spanish feminist Margarita Nelken).

So the American experience does not appear to be generalizable across time and space. Therefore, I don't think it can be said with certainty that women are naturally more politically liberal than men.

That said, I think a stronger argument against women’s suffrage can be made along the lines of Jacques's argument re: patriarchal authority and Bedarz Iliachi's reasoning that the family is the fundamental unit of society.

As far as the argument against women's suffrage on the grounds that they have less 'skin in the game', I think here too there may also be less than meets the eye, at least with respect to war: women have husbands and sons and brothers whom they love, and whom they will be loathe to see go off to war. In fact, I would guess that your average woman would be less likely to want see her husband or son go off to war than the husband or son himself.

I do, however, acknowledge the argument that men tend to be more publicly-oriented than women, and that women tend to be more domestically-oriented, and that this is something that is natural to the male and female sexes. It therefore could be argued that it is proper for society to acknowledge and uphold this truth about human nature by placing limits on the sorts of public political roles that women are permitted to play or on the extent of their formalized political participation.

Hi Mr. Vallicella,

You write that it would be unjust to deny women (or blacks) the vote. What, specifically, is unjust about it? What debt is owed to a man on account of justice that being given the right to vote discharges?

Would you regard a monarchy as unjust because men are not given the right to vote? Or is it something specifically about democracy that generates such an obligation?


Very good points @5:12.

If adult men have the right to vote, then adult women should also have the right to vote. Why? Because there is no morally relevant difference between the two groups that could justify excluding all women from voting. And this despite the fact, if it is a fact, that the political judgment of women as a group is not as good as that of men as a group.

Take some Englishman who drives a lorry and after work drinks beer in a pub all night. Are you going to tell me that he has a right to vote but not Maggie Thatcher simply on the ground that he is male and she female?

Mutatis mutandis for white and blacks.

The only monarchy I would accept would be a literal theocracy in which God himself is the monarch. Absent that, no ne person or small group of person should be trusted with all the power. Power corrupts, etc.


The nuanced statement @6:55 doesn't give me much, or really anything, to disagree with. Well done.

At 7:19 we seem to be converging on agreement as well in your penultimate and ultimate paragraphs.

>>If the question is whether right now in the US there are "defensible reasons" for denying blacks qua blacks the right to vote, my answer is no; what should happen instead is that whites become more tribal.<<

I agree with the first independent clause, but question the second. What exactly does it mean? If the values that enlightened whites champion are universal values, then they are not tied to the 'tribe' of whites.

You criticize blacks for being tribal. Fine. For example, all the blacks who took the side of O. J. Simpson who was clearly guilty though found not guilty (sorry to use only U. S. examples) did so because he is 'one of them.' But if you grant that the values we accept are universal, then they are not the values of our racial tribe.

Are you perhaps equivocating on 'tribal'? How do rational beings form a tribe except by equivocation?

And so I come back to the point I made some years ago: we should not oppose black tribalism with white tribalism, but with non-tribal values. We should try to get beyond tribalism.

Hi Bill,
I think we still disagree to some extent. You say that if certain values are universal "then they are not the values of our racial tribe". That's true if "values of our racial tribe" are values that only members of that tribe are able to appreciate, or values that have normative force only for members of that tribe. On the other hand, if "values of our racial tribe" are values that our tribe is better at appreciating and implementing in comparison with many others, it doesn't seem true.

How do rational beings form a tribe? I don't understand the force of this question. To me it seems like asking how rational beings could form a soccer team or a book club or a religious sect or... There are situations where rational beings have interests in common, which they don't share with all other rational beings (or all other beings anyway). And so these rational beings, noticing their common interests, come together and form a community of some kind so they can co-operate to achieve their goals. Of course that's not the only way they might form a tribe. They might also have pre-rational bonds and obligations and loyalties that make it natural and right for them to be especially concerned for the well being of certain other people more than humanity as a whole or the community of all rational beings in the universe. For example, in an extended family we usually find rational beings bonded in a special way to other family members, who'll tend to close ranks in the face of threats to a member of the family.

Similarly, whites in the west right now have a lot of basic interests in common--including a wish to preserve the political expression of certain universal values. The most basic shared interest is existence, and beyond that existence as a respected majority with rights rather than a hated minority subject to vicious propaganda, discrimination and violence. I hope you'll agree with me that the latter is pretty clearly what the other team has in mind for us. Why would a rational being in this situation _not_ try to form a tribe together with others who face the same terrible problems?

Being more tribal does not have to mean sinking to the level of the most evil and stupid tribal behavior, e.g., acquitting obviously guilty white people just because they are white, or attacking obviously harmless non-white people just because they are non-white. But it does at least mean doing whatever you can--within the limits of morality--to protect yourself and others in your tribe.

Maybe for you a "tribe" is by definition some kind of sub-rational amoral group. If so let's just use a different word. Whites are in a terrible situation now, targeted racially for dispossession and exploitation, so they need to practice reasonable and moderate "group-ism". They need to understand that they are a group, that they have crucial shared interests, that other groups will never doing anything to help them, etc.

As a strategic matter it seems clear. If you live among hostile groups with strong in-group identities, who have never shown any sense of even wanting to "get beyond tribalism" except in cases where they had no other choice, you had better form a strong in-group of your own if you want to survive. Individuals with noble ideals are not going to win in a war between large groups with nasty motivations.

You've said yourself that the other side are no longer fellow citizens with whom we can rationally deliberate. It's much more like a civil war than a normal democratic disagreement. And, for them, we are enemies and scum mainly _because_ we are white. There really doesn't seem to be much more to it than that. Even the NYT has pretty much dropped the pretense that white people could in theory do something to make themselves less guilty and evil. (Putting that disgusting asian on their editorial board _despite_ the scandal is very significant.) So what should white people do in your opinion? Keep on appealing to noble universal principles that we know don't matter to the other side? Stand on principle against "tribalism" and even "group-ism" in the hope that someday the others will follow our example? If that's what you have in mind I don't think these are realistic strategies.


Women voting for the NSDAP is more support for my claim that women as a group aren't good political voters. They are easily duped by charismatic charlatans (Jim Jones, Manson, Hitler, et al.) when there aren't strong male leaders already leading them. They either vote with their husbands, in which case their vote would be superfluous if only the married voted (not a bad idea!), or they are single and vote with their emotions and for people to take care of them. Hence it is written: "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." That Paul guy was a shrewd observer of human nature!

But when they aren't already "liberated," they will support what is right and good and won't support the Jacobins. It's the "liberated" ones you have to worry about (for the most part).

But let's just restrict women to U.S. women. Then U.S. women have proven to be terrible voters on the whole. See Lott/Kenny on women's suffrage. And their poor judgment as a group IS a morally relevant fact about that group.

So what should white people do in your opinion? Keep on appealing to noble universal principles that we know don't matter to the other side? Stand on principle against "tribalism" and even "group-ism" in the hope that someday the others will follow our example?


I have been following your interesting discussion with Bill Vallicella. I don't have much to add, but I wanted to get some clarification, specifically with an analogy. In the above quote you say should we "stand on principle against 'tribalism'...in the hope that someday the others will follow our example". This hope seems analogous to the pacifist hoping that the other side will come to understand that "war is not the answer". Unfortunately, if the pacifist continues to double down on "war is not the answer" and refuse to fight back, they will be conquered and killed. This seems to me similar to our current situation. Many non-white tribes are at war with whites (currently nonviolent political/cultural warfare) and they see us as a tribe whether we do our not. Doubling down on "tribalism is not the answer" is political and culture suicide. Group-ism, as you put it, is simply a way of defending ourselves, our families, our culture and our nation against foreign enemies. Is this similar to how you see it?

Hi Kurt,
That's exactly what I should have said. Thanks for putting it more simply and clearly.

Hi Scholastic Scot,

Even restricting the discussion of voting patterns of women to the U.S., things are not so cut and dry: the voting sex gap (I refuse to say 'gender gap') did not start skewing left among women until 1964, and first became noticeable in 1980. From Wikipedia Wikipedia:

Through 1960, these preferences [among women] skewed Republican, with women more likely to support Thomas Dewey in 1948, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, and Richard M. Nixon in 1960. However, men were more likely to support Barry Goldwater's 1964 Republican candidacy, as well as Nixon's 1968 and 1972 campaigns. There was little evidence of a difference in male and female vote choice in the post-Watergate 1976 election between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

This changed with the 1980 presidential election between Carter and Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. For the first time, pollsters noted gender differences in candidate preference even before Election Day. ...

However, I would say this supports your point that "when they aren't already 'liberated,' they will support what is right and good and won't support the Jacobins. It's the 'liberated' ones you have to worry about (for the most part)."

Women tend to be more conformist than men. So when we had a generic conservative Protestant society, women tended to conform to generic conservative Protestantism and consequently vote more conservatively. Now that our reigning ideology is advanced liberalism, women conform to advanced liberalism and vote more liberally. Men are more likely to adopt extremes with less concern for conforming to the reigning consensus - more male libertarians, more male alt-righters, more male Communists. (The one obvious exception would probably be feminists).

Jacques writes, >>How do rational beings form a tribe? I don't understand the force of this question.<<

Being philosophers, we should have begun the whole discussion with a careful definition of 'tribalism' and a taxonomy of tribalisms. For example the Cherokees are a tribe but women do not form a tribe -- a tribe can propagate itself by sexual relations between males and females in the tribe, but women cannot do the same. So if we say that women are tribal we are extending the meaning of the term -- and this needs explaining.

My point is that rational beings do not form a tribe, and that support of universal norms and values is not tribal. But you appear to be using 'tribal' in some very broad sense.

I don't understand how you can (rightly) criticize blacks for being tribal, but then propose that whites should be more tribal given that universal values and norms are precisely not tribal.

I'm not sure we need a very precise definition, but if you want I can attempt one. Mainly I was thinking of paradigm cases which have certain features we'd all call "tribal". The typical behavior of Jews and Jewish organizations is a good example. They have a strong in-group identity, so they tend to be far more concerned about the well-being of other Jews and the maintenance of Jewish culture and ties than they are about the similar interests of non-Jews. They have many disagreements but they close ranks in the face of a perceived threat to the Jewish community. Isn't that a kind of "tribalism"? I'm saying whites should be more like that.

Now clearly this is a matter of degree. Groups can be more or less tribal, and Jews (and blacks, and many other groups) are far too tribal. It creates big problems, especially for groups like Anglo-Saxons who are very low in tribalism. For instance, in response to the Pittsburgh shooting, we see many many Jews and Jewish organizations essentially saying "We Jews are 100% blameless, and anyone who objects to anything any Jewish person does is a Nazi who must be removed from society". And some even go out of their way provoke the majority--boasting of how they're going to work even harder to replace the historic American people with Muslims and Aztecs and so on. That is obnoxious and insane, and will probably lead to increased anti-Semitism.

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with a more moderate form of tribalism--or, if you prefer, loyalty and solidarity. So for instance, if there were a real Nazi movement in America aimed at disenfranchising Jews I would understand why Jews would want to focus on that issue and work together to protect themselves (and being far more concerned about that problem than, say, the well-being of Syrian refugees).

What is the appropriate degree of tribalism depends partly on the situation. If some other tribe is trying to murder you, it's okay to band together with your own tribe to kill the enemy. But you shouldn't do that if the other tribe is basically minding its own business.

So I criticize blacks and Jews for being _overly_ tribal relative to their objective situation. I criticize whites for not being tribal enough, because I want us whites to survive and flourish and not be reduced to a hated minority with no rights. This is compatible with universal morality. Everyone has the right to a reasonable tribalism, and some forms of tribalism are extreme regardless of which tribe is acting that way.

When you say "support of universal norms and values is not tribal" what do you mean? Are you saying that one cannot have any tribal identity or interests and at the same time believe in universal values? Because that seems strange to me. A Jewish philosopher might appreciate universal rational or political values insofar as he thinks of himself as a thinker or a citizen, while also have a strong Jewish identity that generates non-universal loyalties and interests shared with other Jews. Are you saying that this kind of person is being irrational in some way? If so I don't understand the nature of his irrationality. People can have many levels of identity and concerns. There are larger and smaller circles of moral relationship: I have some general moral duties to any sentient being, for example, but I also have some special moral duties to fellow human beings that aren't duties toward snails, and then there are even more special duties to friends and family that aren't duties toward strangers...

Does this make sense? To me it seems very reasonable :)

I think your very interesting response shows precisely why definition is important. You moved from talk of tribalism to talk of loyalty. The connotation of 'tribalism' is pejorative in the main, and that of 'loyalty' positive in the main. The differences and similarities between the two need to be investigated.

I also note that you detach tribalism from the biological or anthropological notion of a tribe. The legitimacy of that needs to be discussed.

Also whether tribalism comes in degrees.

And whether the members of Kant's kingdom of ends form a tribe.

>>When you say "support of universal norms and values is not tribal" what do you mean? Are you saying that one cannot have any tribal identity or interests and at the same time believe in universal values?<<

I suppose what I am saying is that to the extent that one supports those norms and values one is not tribal. That is consistent with being a member of a real tribe such as Cherokees. I suppose I am also saying that the ideal is to be as non-tribal as possible.

I think much of our disagreement stems froma failure on both of our parts to engage in a preliminary clarification of the sense and reference of 'tribal.'

It's become a buzz word and hence useless except as a semantic bludgeon and way for journalists to make money.

We'll come back to this again.

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