|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol 7, No. 8||August 1996|
Toward Renewal and Renaissance
The American racial dilemma is only part of the larger spiritual sickness of the West.
by Fr. James Thornton
I am greatly honored to have been invited to address this assembly of men and women who seek some deliverance from the contemporary dilemma surrounding the question of race. This question has bedeviled our poor country for the better part of two centuries, and has brought about in our history expenditures in human lives and treasure of tragic proportions. Of late, it threatens thoroughly to overwhelm us and transform this nation, totally and permanently, into a national and social entity radically dissimilar from that represented by the past four hundred years of our history.
We have come to think it curious that a committed Christian would have an opinion on the subject of race not consonant with the prevailing and rather rigorously invoked view, and would express that personal opinion in a public forum. For in these closing years of the twentieth century, Christianity has come to be looked upon by some as a religion for the fainthearted and the perfidious, as a kind of fifth column within our European culture, and as one of the seeds of European man’s own destruction. Needless to say, I do not agree with that view.
Yet, I would be the first to admit that among those who call themselves “Christians,” and especially within the leadership councils of certain official, mainstream, ostensibly Christian groups, there are multitudes of spiritual charlatans and cultural Bolsheviks. Just as the early Church was disturbed by heretical offshoots that amalgamated elements of Christianity with some of the more bizarre forms of paganism, so in our day do we witness the proliferation of heretical, sectarian modes of thought. These are perfectly described by the Russian Orthodox philosopher and sociologist Pitirim Sorokin in these words:
. . . a wild concoction of a dozen various ‘Social Gospels,’ diversified by several beliefs of Christianity diluted by those of Marxism, Democracy, and Theosophy, enriched by a dozen vulgarized philosophical ideas, corrected by several scientific theories, peacefully squatting side by side with the most atrocious magical superstitions.
What he refers to, of course, is the World Council of Churches kind of Christianity — that artificial, ideological, politically correct substitute for the original product. It is, indeed, the very antithesis of traditional Christianity.
I contend that our magnificent European culture, stretching across the North American continent eastward through Europe to the Urals (and incorporating some outlying areas such as Australia and New Zealand), is one of the matchless and wonderful gifts of Christianity, of Christian teaching, of Christian civilization. We need only think for a moment of buildings such as Notre Dame, Chartres, Justinian’s Hagia Sophia, San Marco in Venice, San Vitale and Sant’ Apollinare in Ravenna, and Dormition and Annunciation Cathedrals in Moscow; works of architecture of matchless beauty; buildings, all of them, that still, even in this age of skyscrapers, produce gasps of awe from those blessed to visit them.
We need only think, too, of the literature of the Christian European peoples — Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes, Schiller, Goethe, Dostoyevsky — of the music — Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Bruckner, Rachmaninoff — and of the great works of art — Fra Angelico, Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Dürer, Rembrandt, Rublev. I mention only a few names from each field. The point is that virtually all of the works of creative genius of the past 2,000 years, all that we admire as monuments of European high culture, all of those things that nurture the spirits of refined men and women, come from Christian civilization.
Pre-Christian, ancient Mediterranean civilization, with its own great accomplishments in philosophy, law, sculpture, architecture, and so forth, had by the second century of the Christian Era reached an impasse. The tremendous edifice erected by the ancients was rapidly crumbling by then, and was in danger of being lost forever. But this did not happen. Christianity took dying Græco-Roman civilization, perfected and transformed it to a remarkable degree, and imparted new life to it. In the West this was done under the auspices of barbarian tribes who very slowly absorbed aspects of the dying pagan civilization they found, and who, though they possessed no real understanding of this civilization for a long time, after some centuries of comparative darkness gave birth to Western European civilization.
In the East the process was different. The Empire, and Græco-Roman civilization, lived on under New Rome, under Constantinople. What took place there was, in the words of the renowned scholar Father Georges Florovsky, “a conversion of the Hellenic mind and heart” or, to put it another way, the “Christianization of Hellenism.” And the achievements of the resulting Eastern European Christian civilization — first in Byzantium and then in Old Russia — are incomparable. So Christianity, far from the “culture destroyer” or “culture distorter” of Nietzsche, et al., was a premier culture preserver and profound culture creator. Both in the Eastern and Western halves of Europe, civilization and culture sprang forth from Christianity; they are Christian.
What interests us here today is the culture sickness that seems to have infected European mankind over the whole of the globe, a sickness that seems slowly to be pulling us downward towards some terrible void. It is only by understanding this larger sickness that we can begin to grasp the dimensions of the peculiarly racial sickness that is the subject of this gathering.
I suggest that we have come to this melancholy state precisely because the old traditions of European Christian civilization have been lost. Were Christianity as vital today as, say, 1,000 years ago, or 500 years ago, or even 150 years ago, the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves would be impossible. What brought us to this unhappy condition? Why is the way of life of our American and European forebears dissolving around us?
Many men have analyzed this question; to name only a few, Juan Donoso Cortés, Friedrich Nietzsche, Konstantine Pobiedonostev, Jacob Burckhardt, Oswald Spengler, José Ortega y Gasset, and the twentieth-century American Richard Weaver. All grasped that our way of life was at grave risk, that those concepts and ideals which we value so highly were in danger.
Insofar as precise diagnosis is concerned, many would disagree with the others. Some were Christians and some were not. Nietzsche contended that Christianity had exhausted itself and that a new system of morality should replace it, for the sake of the survival of civilization. Spengler believed that the fate of Europe was inevitable, that European man had lived out his natural, allotted span of time and now must face his doom. Others, like Sorokin, held out the hope that civilization might regenerate itself through a spiritual awakening and live on for many hundreds of years to come. I will not argue the precise merits of each of these points of view, though I will now briefly discuss a few of them.
In re-reading the nineteenth-century Swiss historian, Jacob Burckhardt’s Reflections on History, I was struck by his extraordinary insights into the pathologies that were then beginning to attack European civilization. Those pathologies are no different today, though they have advanced to a critical stage. Those familiar with Burckhardt know that he speaks of the interaction within societies between three primary institutions: Church, State, and Culture. The terms Church and State require no definition, but Burckhardt’s use of the word Culture requires some elucidation.
Culture, in Burckhardt’s scheme, is very broad and encompasses just about everything not included in the first two. In Burckhardt’s words, “[culture’s] total external form . . . . as distinguished from the State and religion, is society in its broadest sense.” Now, history after the rise of Christianity is the record of a long rivalry between Church and State. Both tend, however, to be very conservative forces and, though they compete for power, both inhibit Culture, which tends to be revolutionary. The most revolutionary of the forces within Culture is money-making, that is, the economy.
From the time of Constantine until the French Revolution, Church and State acted successfully to keep Culture circumscribed, particularly its money-making component. Since the time of the French Revolution, the prestige of both Church and State have suffered and Culture has broken free, so to speak. The State has now become the instrument of Culture, and to some extent the Church too. Economic Man, in both his capitalistic and Marxian incarnations, sits triumphant, bestriding the whole globe.
Burckhardt writes, “We need not wish ourselves back into the Middle Ages, but we should try to understand them. Our life is a business, theirs was living. The people as a totality hardly existed, but that which was of the people flourished.” He goes on to warn of “the vast increase in the power of the State over the individual, which may even lead to the complete abdication of the individual, more especially where money-making predominates to the exclusion of everything else, ultimately absorbing all initiative.” And, ponder these prophetic words from Burckhardt: “Money-making, the main force of present-day culture, postulates the universal State, if only for the sake of communications . . .” To Burckhardt, unrestrained money-making, the obsession with materialism, the “bourgeoisification” of the spirit of European man, are dangerous things.
So long as Church, State, and Culture interacted with one another in an organic fashion, curbing one another and thereby holding back certain darker human proclivities, then our European civilization remained essentially healthy. Once these institutions were uncoupled from one another, thanks to the forces loosed by the Enlightenment, the foundations of the structure of our civilization began to disintegrate.
Contemplate, for a moment, the reality of contemporary television, radio, films, entertainment, music, advertising, painting, sculpture, and so on — all powerful elements of a culture without restraints. Consider how our present culture sickness undermines the authority of the traditions of society, of family, of morality, of religion, of nation, of language. Rightly is it said that the great crisis of our age is a crisis of the breakdown of authority. Our modern commercial, hedonistic society denies the father authority over his family, the parent authority over his child, the law authority over miscreants, the priest authority over his flock, the Church authority over sinners, man authority over the living things of the Earth, and God authority over His creation.
More than likely, such propensities are intrinsic characteristics of the commercial way of thinking that makes money the king of all and the final arbiter of right and wrong, that atomizes the community, that transforms citizens into consumers and units of production. They are innate in an economic-rationalist mode of thought that teaches that materialistic self-interest is the engine of human history and human society, that holds that men do live by bread alone.
If money is king and money-making the ultimate criterion, if materialistic self-interest is the engine of history, if men do live by bread alone, then what utility is there in the preservation of the unique civilization of European man? Does not some sort of “global village” with a world culture make far more economic sense? The more uniform the habits, tastes, and mores of the peoples of the world, the easier to do business, the easier for some to make money.
It is expressive of our current predicament that such discourse as is now allowed in the matter of Third-World immigration to North America revolves exclusively around economic arguments — the economic advantages or disadvantages of immigration. A young American, supposedly a conservative, recently told me that he does not believe that Third-World immigration is a problem and that if we can simply stimulate the economy to grow more quickly, such growth will solve all concerns about immigration. Would that the things of this world were that easy!
‘The American Dream’
Today, terms such as “the American Way of Life” and “the American Dream” are almost exclusively associated with a successful business mentality; they are formulated in materialistic, even hedonistic, terms. That type of thinking dominates our nation, and much of today’s world. Ask even most modern “conservatives” in America and Europe what they stand for, and the glories of our economic system and our prosperity will form the dessicated heart and soul of their ideological analysis — the so-called conservative philosophy will be shot through with materialism, although there is nothing conservative in the commercial Weltanschauung. By its very nature, the unfettered money-making mentality tends always to wreak havoc on traditional relationships within society, the traditional hierarchy and patriarchy of European custom, the traditional family, traditional religion and morality, and the traditional ways of life.
- Is it any wonder, since successful money-making has become the ultimate criterion for our society, that education has become a kind of glorified job training and that to make education into job training, traditional curricula — from classical languages and history to philosophy and great literature — have been largely abandoned? One can become prosperous with an MBA, but probably not with an MA in classical Greek or Ancient History.
- Is it any wonder that entertainment, literature, films, and the like have become the domain of degenerates whose products flow straight to our youth from moral and intellectual cesspits? There are vast sums of dollars to be made from such cultural sewage, and men become rich thereby. Since becoming rich is considered the supremely admirable quality these days, such men are admired above all others.
- Is it any wonder that rock “music” has supplanted nearly all other musical forms? Rock “music” and its multiform appurtenances, are the very quintessence of decadence. Rock music celebrates primitiveness, is soddened in nihilism, and luxuriates in barren, loveless sexuality. It is a musical lowest common denominator and so possesses colossal appeal today. Such music generates huge revenues, so much so that it is one of America’s great export products. More importantly, perhaps, it represents the negation of genuine musical culture, which draws its inspiration from particular national cultures, and represents its replacement with the artificial, rootless, pseudo-culture of internationalism. It is the perfect music for the new world order, the perfect accompaniment for life in a “global village.”
- Is it any wonder that illegal drugs are a source of spreading chaos and tremendous pain in contemporary American and European societies? I believe that it may be declared with confidence that our current money-oriented society will never take decisive action against the drug barons at home and abroad who have done so much to corrupt our society in the past thirty-five years. The corruption already touches the upper echelons of both major political parties, and so apart from certain gestures and political posturing about the issue, nothing will be done.
- Finally, is it any wonder that enjoyment of the “good life” by most ordinary citizens necessitates such drastic limitations on family size that in virtually every nation of the European world, birthrates have fallen considerably below replacement level? Thanks to money-mindedness and hedonism, we are a dying breed.
If obsession with money and the commercial worldview have brought us near collapse, it can come as no surprise that, with regard to questions surrounding America’s racial dilemma, short-term economic considerations supersede all other considerations. When one contemplates the kind of well-ordered society we had 50, or 60, or 80 years ago, the conclusion is inescapable that for primarily the economic enrichment of certain groups and individuals, the country is being systematically strip-mined, culturally speaking.
Rightly did Solzhenitsyn speak of our heritage being trampled upon by the party mob in the East and the commercial mob in the West. This is sensed by many ordinary citizens who for good reason feel threatened by the societal revolution that has overtaken us in the past forty years. Whatever hope we have seems to reside with ordinary Americans, especially those of the lower middle-class who no longer enjoy so great a measure of material prosperity as heretofore. Though they are confused by a continual spate of propaganda from the mass media, nevertheless they know in their hearts — at the deeper levels of their consciousness — the source of their gathering troubles. To bring these people to a realization of their priceless Christian European heritage, and its source, is therefore essential for the resurrection of this country and of the West.
I wish here briefly to mention another diagnostician of our current time of troubles, the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin. Sixty years ago, Sorokin wrote that healthy cultures are integrated unities. Art, architecture, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, morals, government, and religion are all interrelated with one another. Useful elements may be drawn from foreign cultures, so long as they do not contradict the unity of the host culture, and so long as they are modified and digested, so as to become wholly a part of that unity.
Until relatively recently, our own European culture was just such a unity, consistent throughout the multiplicity of its elements. Drawing that which is valuable from other cultures (for instance, Hindu-Arabic numerals), it digested these things, so that they became completely part of its unity. The values of this healthy culture were still strong, its creativity still vigorous, its “soul” still undefiled. That which was intrinsically contradictory it rejected, since, as a healthy entity, it was highly selective and discriminatory.
Now, however, the picture has changed. Our society is no longer healthy, but is sick or perhaps dying. While still robust, still believing in itself, its genius created a grand civilization. This creativity, however, has now been lost. It can no longer discriminate between the useful and dangerous, and, consequently, everything pours in and takes root in our unhealthy culture, often to the exclusion of the healthy, formerly unified elements.
As the flood of undigested, foreign elements becomes greater and greater, the host culture becomes more distorted, more sickly, and less able to protect itself. Thus, the host culture undergoes disintegration, at times more slowly and at other times more rapidly. We may observe all of this in our contemporary culture which, in its variety of undigested elements, is utterly astonishing. Literally everything and anything can be found within it, each loudly competing for our attention and allegiance. All possess “rights” equal to those of every other, and all enjoy equal tolerance by society. Between that which is venerable and native, and that which is new and foreign, there are absolutely no distinctions. So it is with a society that has lost faith in the source of its greatness; so it is when a living ideal no longer exists to inspire it.
Interestingly, Richard Weaver writes similarly in his book, Visions of Order. He observes that the spirit of a culture “always operates positively by transfiguring and excluding. It is of the essence of culture to feel its own imperative and to believe in the uniqueness of its worth . . . Syncretistic cultures like syncretistic religions have always proved relatively powerless to create and influence . . . Culture derives its very desire to continue from its unitariness.”
I have given you some thoughts, borrowed from some great thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, touching on one or two aspects of our crisis. I have striven to show that the racial dilemma does not exist in isolation, but is part of a whole matrix in which we are bound, which is itself the consequence of evil choices made by our forebears long ago.
I wish now to say a few words specifically on the question of race. One of the most valuable sociological attributes of traditional Christianity since its founding two thousand years ago has been its recognition that human beings are not equal. Christianity, it is quite true, holds that all men are equal when standing before the throne of God at the Last Judgment. But, apart from that, the doctrine that human beings are, or should be, equal in a worldly sense appears nowhere in Christian teaching. That human beings are intellectually equal, or that such differences as do exist in individuals or groups are rooted, for example, in economic deprivation, would have been preposterous notions to most traditional Christian thinkers and teachers of past ages. That all cultures or peoples of the world are equally suitable as bearers of high Christian civilization would have been a laughable proposition to these men.
No, traditional Christianity believes that healthy societies are socially diverse and that a healthy society is organized hierarchically, with different orders and classes and with the differing material conditions and privileges appropriate to those orders and classes. We see this in the very organization of the Church itself, with its many distinct levels: clergy and laity; Archbishops, Bishops, Archpriests, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, and so forth. The levels of responsibility attained correspond to the special God-given gifts of each, in accordance with the needs of the Church. Certainly, that elaborate, consciously hierarchical organization, entwined by the symbols of sacred mystery and blessed by the Church, is evident in every Christian society, from that of Constantine and Justinian all the way down through the centuries to that of Nicholas II. It was true in Western Europe as well as Eastern Europe.
The Fathers of the Church taught that just as the spiritual world is organized hierarchically, so too should be the earthly world; any other kind of societal structure was regarded as something demonic, in that it promotes spiritual and societal disorder. The Fathers believed that God abhors chaos, that in a Christian society the earthly order should properly reflect the heavenly order, and that egalitarianism and rule by the mob — that is, rule according to the whims and lusts of the herd — are injurious to the morals of Christians and to the fabric of the Christian community. Clearly, if the Christian ideal is that human society is constituted in aristocratic, hierarchical fashion, and if this kind of constitution is regarded as something of divine origin, so it is implicit in such theories of organization that men are not created equal insofar as their innate abilities are concerned. Christianity is clearly not a religion of earthly egalitarianism.
Our own country is rooted in a somewhat different philosophical tradition, but even here no objective scholar would dispute that the Founders of this nation, most of whom were Christians, did not believe in the inherent equality of individual men or of races, apart from the idea that free men should be equal in the eyes of the law. In no other sense were men born equal. Certain it is that insofar as this country was traditional in its religious beliefs, it strongly believed in the superiority of its European-derived way of life. There could be no question of overthrowing that order.
John Baker, in his volume, Race, suggests that a marked sense of racial differences has existed in mankind for thousands of years, certainly during all of recorded history, and very likely in pre-historic times. Italian sociologist Corrado Gini writes similarly, showing how all ethnic or racial groups exhibit a strong consciousness of human ethnic differences with a preference for their own. Today, some, most notably Marxists and liberals, may decry this inclination which seems to be intrinsic to human nature, yet it is nonetheless an indisputable fact of man’s existence. Towards the Canaanites, the ancient Hebrews showed, as Baker puts it, a “marked disrespect.” Virtually all outsiders, according to the reckoning of the ancient Greeks, were barbarians. Even among certain primitive tribes of Africa, there is evidently a belief that some of the even more primitive tribes are inferior. Until fairly recently, especially the last fifty or sixty years, these facts did not appear to trouble Christians.
Everyone here probably has some familiarity (directly or indirectly) with the writings of Joseph Arthur, Comte de Gobineau. Gobineau, in his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races makes clear that he believes that different races of men have been blessed by God with different attributes and that certain races of men are exclusively responsible for the creation and maintenance of high culture and civilization. The important matter for me is that this author was a devout Christian, and accepted as a matter of course that, a) men, and ethnic groups of men, are not equal in their inherent abilities, and, b) that all men, from the most noble to the most primitive, have within themselves a divine spark, the Imago Dei, that entitles each to the special dignity reserved for children of God. Each is unique in his abilities, in the gifts that God has bestowed on him, — and this is true also of ethnic groups — but all are human and all possess a dignity appropriate to humankind.
In Gobineau’s own words, “I believe, of course, that human races are unequal; but I do not think that any of them are like the brute, or to be classed with it.” To the theory that some human races are simply bipedal beasts, Gobineau responds: “I absolutely reject such an insult to humanity . . .” Though some of his friends and some other writers disagreed with him, Comte de Gobineau was never chastised by his Church for his widely published belief in the inequality of the human races. So far as I can determine, he remained a faithful communicant of the Roman Catholic religion until his death in 1882.
Alexis Carrel, author of one of the most widely read works of nonfiction in the 1930s and 1940s, Man the Unknown, was also a devout Roman Catholic. Carrel was a surgeon and biologist, who won the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1912, and the Nordhoff-Jung Prize for Cancer Research in 1931. Reading Man the Unknown, it is clear that the author entertains no notion of the equality of the human races. He writes: “Man is the hardiest of all animals, and the white races, builders of our civilization, the hardiest of all races . . . The great white races owe their success to the perfection of their nervous system — a nervous system which, although very delicate and excitable, can, however, be disciplined. To the exceptional qualities of their tissues and consciousness is due the predominance over the rest of the world of the peoples of western Europe . . .”
This forthright statement caused not the slightest ripple of controversy when it was published in 1935, nor did it do so in subsequent editions of his book published even in the immediate postwar years. As recently as that, men seemed able to discuss and debate things, and to disagree with one another, without resorting to hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, hysteria, and defamatory labelling. Intelligent men were still able to focus their minds on facts and issues and to think and express themselves rationally. In the 1960s, Father Joseph T. Durkin, S.J., honored the memory of Carrel in his highly laudatory biography entitled Hope For Our Time, in which he discusses Carrel’s deep religious faith. Dr. Carrel, he writes, was a Christian believer through and through, though at times rather singular in his expressed opinions.
My third example is the Russian Orthodox sociologist and philosopher, Pitirim Sorokin, from whom I have already drawn several quotations. On the last page of Part One of John Baker’s book, Race, the author pays special tribute to Sorokin for a chapter on the racial question in Sorokin’s work, Contemporary Sociological Theories, which appeared in 1928. About this work, Baker writes that, “Sorokin’s chapter is well worth reading today, as a reminder of what was still possible before the curtain came down.”
In this work, as well as in an earlier work entitled Social and Cultural Mobility, Sorokin discourses at considerable length on differences in cognitive ability between Europeans and some non-Europeans. Considering about twenty-five separate studies of the subject of IQ and race that had been completed and published up to the middle of the 1920s, Sorokin concludes that, “the difference in the cultural contributions and in the historical role played by different races is excellently corroborated by, and is in perfect agreement with, the experimental studies of race mentality and psychology.” That heredity is a crucial factor in the development of complex forms of civilization, Sorokin asserts, “may scarcely be questioned by any serious investigator of facts.”
I have mentioned two prominent Roman Catholics and one Orthodox Christian. I shall also briefly mention a Protestant Christian, Thomas Carlyle. One of the great essayists and historians of the last century, Carlyle was a Calvinist. In his early years he served as a minister of the Scottish Kirk, and though he later gave up the ministry in disagreement with certain of the dogmatic pronouncements of his Calvinist ancestors, it is written that “he was and always remained in profound sympathy with the spirit of their teachings.” Anyone who knows the essays of Thomas Carlyle knows also that he was not a believer in the equality of the human races. In fact, he wrote somewhat harshly on the subject.
Inasmuch as he wrote on this subject at the end of the first half of the nineteenth century, perhaps his thinking is not so remarkable. Nearly all educated men, Christian or non-Christian, believed similarly at that time. But the point is that, insofar as I am aware, the published beliefs of Carlyle were not condemned at the time by the leaders of his Church. Nor, in this century, have the published beliefs of Drs. Carrel or Sorokin been condemned by the leaders of their respective Churches.
It may be argued that the evidence I have just presented is purely anecdotal and that Christian spokesmen representing the opposite viewpoint could also be assembled. Doubtless that is true. But my response to that must be that scientific findings with regard to the equality or inequality of human beings in cognitive ability in fact is not a subject on which there exists any Christian dogmatic teaching whatsoever. Those mainline sectarian groups that have attempted to create such dogma in recent years represent not authentic traditional Christianity, but a blend of decadent, rationalized Protestantism and Marxism.
With respect to what I have just said, I must also add a caveat that the formulation of secular, procrustean ideologies based on race, especially those that deny the innate dignity of all men, or promote the unjust or inhumane treatment of persons on account of their race, would indeed run contrary to Christian teachings and would rightly be opposed by traditional Christians.
Since the late-nineteenth century, science has grappled with the subject of racial differences and, apart from pockets of inveterate ideologues within the scientific community, it is now generally acknowledged by scientists in relevant fields that the accumulated evidence has become overwhelming that such differences do exist. (It is interesting that in 1928, Sorokin regarded the evidence as overwhelming even then.) Findings related to genetically determined differences in intelligence and temperament among the various races of mankind are slowly coming to be accepted within scientific circles, despite formal and informal barriers now frantically being reared by Marxists, crypto-Marxists, ignorant journalists, and cowardly politicians.
In many so-called free countries of the West (in Canada and England, for example), it is now illegal (at least to some extent) to discuss such scientific findings publicly or to publish them in most periodicals or in books. In the United States, though it is not yet illegal, those who do muster the courage to discuss such findings publicly, often find themselves subject to informal sanctions; commonplace now is character assassination in articles printed in the daily press, written by uncouth journalists — those masters of inferential falsehood. Also commonplace are threats of physical violence against the person, family, and property of the politically incorrect speaker or writer, various kinds of mob actions, and, of course, threats to the person’s livelihood.
Thought control thus comes in several forms: at one end of the spectrum we have the Gulag of the old USSR, at the other end the more informal processes of thought control favored in this country, and somewhere in between the harsh laws now in force in Europe and Canada. In any case, the Orwellian intent and thug mentality are identical, only the methods and degree differ slightly. And I would add it is questionable how much worse it is being confined to a concentration camp for a thought-crime (as in the old USSR), as opposed to being ruined financially and professionally, lied about in the press, unjustly held up to public ridicule, and subjected (along with one’s family) to mob violence and terror for the same variety of thought-crime.
One would hope that in the journalistic profession a man of conscience and courage, a man of elementary decency, would occasionally step forward to remind his colleagues of their duty in a free country. Alas, (though I can think of one or two exceptions) such men seem to be almost as scarce here as in Stalin or Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. Liberal journalists and their political allies justify the evil they do by pretending that they oppose what they call (in the cant of our age) “hate,” “prejudice,” “racism” and the like.
The plain truth is, however, that their madness has generated a sociological disaster and human misery of appalling dimensions, in the cities of the United States, primarily among racial minorities — from whom, despite their endlessly repeated slogans, the liberal journalists and politicians assiduously shield and segregate themselves and their families. Their experiments threaten in the next century to generate horrors which, by comparison, will make our current difficulties seem trifling. “Great humanitarians,” these men who think of human beings as laboratory specimens! May God protect us all from their further depredations!
Even to attempt to extricate ourselves from the morass in which we now sink will require a major miracle — the renewal of our courage and of our belief in the preëminence of our way of life. The civilization of the European peoples around the globe must return to its roots if it is to accomplish that miracle, if it is to save itself. Those roots are traditional Christianity. Father Joseph Koterski, in a recent article in Modern Age, states that all civilization arises out of religious belief, that culture comes from cult, and that a renewal of our commitment to traditional religion would be the “best strategy for the renewal of high culture amid the collapses of order now being experienced in a largely post-Christian era.” I could not agree more.
Father Koterski goes on to make another important point: “But this is not to say with the skeptics that that high culture is itself the goal and religion a more or less convenient means . . . Rather, culture itself has a further purpose: to enable human beings progressively to discover the deepest truth about themselves as human, that their real fulfillment resides in reverence for the Transcendent God in whose image they are made.” The aim of religion is not the creation of culture, but the culture it creates assists religion in achieving its ultimate goal.
Grotesque attempts have been made to obviate the need for a return to traditional Christianity by the substitution of secular ideologies. Such attempts have been catastrophic. In the last century Nietzsche postulated a coming new moral system that would replace Christianity — such systems were attempted in this century and brought about an even more dramatic erosion of the position of European man and his civilization, as well as the deaths of tens of millions of human beings in wars and revolutions. Apart from traditional Christianity, there is no alternative path, in my judgment, which will lead us to the successful revitalization of our civilization. For 2,000 years the soul of European man has been Christian. Remove that soul, and we now know that European civilization becomes sterile and soon dies. European civilization is Christian. If we recognize that, we begin the mighty endeavor that will lead us to renewal and renaissance.
This is an edited version of the talk given by Fr. Thornton of the True Orthodox Church, at the AR conference in Louisville, Kentucky earlier this year.
The American Crime Factory
A geneticist’s case for the environmental contribution to rising crime rates.
The Antisocial Personalities, David Lykken, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995, 259 pp., $24.50 (soft cover)
reviewed by Thomas Jackson
Why is there so much crime? To this simple question, liberalism has offered so many environmental explanations that are patently inadequate — poverty, racism, unemployment, etc. — that it is tempting to dismiss them all. Increasingly clear evidence for the heritability of criminality makes it easy to suspect that criminals are born more than they are made, and that little can be done about them.
David Lykken, author of The Antisocial Personalities, might have been inclined towards an overwhelmingly hereditarian view. He is a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota and has worked closely with Thomas Bouchard on the famous series of studies of identical twins who were separated at birth and reared apart. The similarities between these twins were so striking that not even the popular press could ignore them. Genes seemed to trump environment every time.
In this fascinating and sometimes technical book, Prof. Lykken does not dismiss the role of genetics, but he argues that there is one element in the environment that does have the power to turn potentially good citizens into criminals: bad parents. He does not, however, think that most bad parents can be reformed. The only way to improve a society that, in his view, has become a veritable factory for criminals, is to prevent bad parents from having or rearing children.
Prof. Lykken explains that there is a small number of people who are likely to become criminals no matter how carefully they are reared. They suffer from a congenital personality disorder, and Prof. Lykken calls them psychopaths. There is a much larger group of people who, depending on how they are brought up, could become either criminals or productive citizens. Prof. Lykken calls the ones who go bad sociopaths, and their behavior is hard to distinguish from that of psychopaths.
There is no known way to reform members of either group. All seem to have virtually no conscience, are little deterred by the prospect of punishment, are fluent liars, and have only a dim sense of the pain they may cause others. Many, but not all, become criminals. The cleverer kind sometimes become President of the United States.
The above diagram graphically represents the various types of personality with which people are born, and the effect upon them of different kinds of rearing. Both the competence of parents and the degree to which a person is successfully socialized are distributed in a normal, bell-curve fashion. People who are genetically predisposed to obey the law and submit to authority are likely to grow up law-abiding no matter how incompetently they are reared. Sociopaths can go either way depending on their parents, and psychopaths — with a few exceptions — turn out antisocial. Genes set the direction but environment influences the outcome.
Part of the book is devoted to the somewhat specialist question of categorization — how to tell psychopaths from sociopaths, and how to distinguish between various subcategories. The conclusion, however, is that a number of clear indicators of these conditions have come to light. Psychopaths appear to be born with a lower level of fear than other people, and this is an important precursor to crime: “[T]he best predictor of criminal conviction at age 14 to 16 [according to one study] was being rated as ‘daring’ at age 8 to 10 (and the best predictor of criminal conviction at age 21 to 24 was conviction at age 14 to 16).”
Since psychopaths are relatively unafraid of pain, the prospect of punishment does not worry them very much. This was confirmed in an experiment using criminals, some of whom were psychopaths, who were told that after a countdown they would get a painful electric shock. Anxiety, which increases as the countdown nears zero, can be measured by minute changes in the sweatiness of the palms, which can be measured by how well the skin conducts a weak electric current. Psychopaths were less worried by the impending shock than were non-psychopath criminals.
Likewise, psychopaths do not learn very quickly on tests in which wrong responses are punished with an electric shock or a loud blast of noise. However, if learning is rewarded with money — something psychopaths care about — they learn just as quickly as anyone else.
Although psychopaths often drink and use illegal drugs, they do not use them as other people sometimes do, to lower their inhibitions. They do not usually have the normal, built-in restraints against selfish, anti-social behavior, and can therefore commit horrendous crimes in a perfectly ordinary state of mind.
There are other indicators of psychopathy. Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are associated with violent behavior, and some but not all psychopaths have low serotonin. Likewise, damage to the frontal lobes of the brain is associated with psychopathic behavior (a few normal adults have become aggressively psychopathic after brain injury) and some psychopaths seem to have congenital frontal lobe damage. Finally, experiments have shown that psychopaths tend to process verbal information in both sides of the brain rather than concentrating it in one hemisphere as others do.
There is therefore a constellation of traits that point towards deep-seated, congenital psychopathy, but so far there is no single, fool-proof indicator. Although Prof. Lykken notes that “Blacks and Hispanics are greatly overrepresented among these unsocialized predators,” he does not report whether anyone has studied racial differences in average levels of fearlessness, serotonin levels, brain function, or indifference to pain.
Prof. Lykken emphasizes that psychopaths are rare, and are likely to grow up antisocial no matter how they are reared. The classic, most unnerving kind are from middle- or upper-class families and have normal brothers and sisters. It is the sociopaths, the people who could have grown up good or bad depending on their rearing, who are the growing menace.
In this connection, Prof. Lykken has illuminating things to say about child rearing. In his view, the psychology of human maturation became established during the Pliestocene era and is best suited to primitive, hunting societies. The entire tribe acts as an extended family, snuffing out deviance. Even today, crime is rare among primitives. Only a psychopath is likely to become a criminal, and an Eskimo from northwest Alaska once explained the traditional way to deal with such a person: “somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking.”
What is different about modern child-rearing? One problem is adolescence which, Prof. Lykken argues, may be a uniquely modern, Western problem. Because of improvements in nutrition, Americans and Europeans reach sexual maturity nearly three years earlier than they did in the early 1900s. At the same time, since the educational requirements for a career have increased, adolescence can last as long as ten years. In earlier times, the transition from child to adult took place quickly, without a troublesome intervening period.
Teenagers are by nature painfully conformist. When 13-year-olds joined the hunt or got behind a plow, they associated with and imitated mature adults. Today, they are thrown in with each other and the ignorant corrupt the less ignorant.
Troublesome though adolescence may be, in Prof. Lykken’s view the greatest single contributor to rising crime rates since the 1960s is illegitimacy and incompetent child-rearing. Many single mothers simply cannot discipline boys. Boys without fathers are seven times more likely to be adjudicated delinquents than are boys reared by a couple, and fully 70 percent of all delinquents were reared by mothers. Girls are never as likely to become criminals as boys, but they go wrong in other ways. Those reared without fathers are twice as likely to get pregnant while they are teenagers.
Illegitimacy is therefore the leading indicator of chaos. About 25 percent of today’s adolescents did not have fathers in the home; half of the next crop will have been without fathers. This harvest of sociopaths — people who, in the past, might have been reared correctly — will in turn plant the seeds for ever larger armies of the enemies of civilization. If Prof. Lykken is right, and incompetent, never-married, single motherhood is the one environmental factor that can reliably turn average children into criminals, the United States has launched a vicious cycle that cannot be reversed without very severe measures.
Prof. Lykken’s views are plausible and probably correct, but they are in at least theoretical contradiction with his own work on the influence of childhood environment on adult personality. One of the genuinely surprising conclusions reached by many twin researchers is that differences in family background may have no effect on how people turn out as adults. The strongest evidence for this is that identical twins reared in the same household are no more like each other than identical twins separated at birth and reared apart. As Prof. Lykken puts it, “being raised together in the same home by the same parents in the same general environment usually does not make children more alike.”
If genetic influences are so strong that family environment doesn’t matter, why worry about incompetent parents? Prof. Lykken argues that the kinds of studies that show little family effect all draw on a limited sample of possible families: “[I]f twins were separated as infants and placed, one with a middle-class Minnesota family and the other with an 18-year-old unmarried mother living on AFDC in the South Bronx, the twins will surely differ 30 years later.”
There are no twin studies to support this conclusion directly, but Prof. Lykken supplies inferential data. For example, only half of the co-twins of schizophrenic and psychopathic identical twins do, themselves, suffer from the same conditions; something in the environment accounts for the difference.
A Danish adoption study has likewise suggested interesting environmental effects. Children of criminal fathers, given up for adoption, were almost twice as likely to become criminals as adopted children whose biological fathers were not criminals. Of greater interest was the effect on a child of adoption by a father who was, himself, criminal. This appears to have made little difference to children whose biological fathers were not criminals, but for those whose biological fathers had been criminals, a child’s chances of becoming a criminal were once again doubled. An unfavorable environment seems to have had a multiplicative effect upon children with a genetic predisposition towards crime, even if it did not effect children without the predisposition.
Perhaps Prof. Lykken is therefore correct to conclude: “[U]nlike most psychological traits, criminality is [in addition to genes] also strongly influenced by characteristics of the rearing environment.” A criminal outcome may be an important exception to the twin-study conclusion that family background seems to have surprisingly little effect on adult personality.
In fact, there must be environmental causes of crime. Between 1962 and 1982, violent crime in the United States increased 300 percent; this is a spectacular rise that cannot be explained by even the most extreme, welfare-driven dysgenics. Heredity and environment are, of course, both working in the wrong direction. As Prof. Lykken explains, people in the underclass have been dealt a miserable hand on both counts; some would live unregenerate lives no matter how they were reared, but even many who could be salvaged are set on the road to depravity by depraved parents.
What role does race play in all this? One interesting but careful chapter in The Antisocial Personalities is about blacks. Prof. Lykken acknowledges the racial gap in IQ and takes it for granted that the races diverged in temperament as they diverged in morphology. He notes high black crime rates and the fearfully high rate of black illegitimacy — currently approaching 70 percent — but does not seem to think inherent characteristics are the cause.
He argues that black illegitimacy probably results from an increasingly unbalanced sex ratio. Since so many young black men are dead or in jail, those who are in circulation need not make emotional commitments. They can fornicate freely with black women, who no longer expect fathers to care for children. Surprisingly, Prof. Lykken says nothing about the role of welfare in promoting this reckless cycle of procreation.
As noted earlier, the book’s one policy recommendation is that the irresponsible be prevented from begetting and rearing children. Prof. Lykken would make all prospective parents meet the standards adopting parents must meet. The first-born of incompetents would be taken from them, and after the second violation parents would get forcible, long-term, chemical contraception. What to do with children removed from unqualified households? Prof. Lykken would offer a professional wage to qualified people willing to work as foster parents. A Lykken parental licensing program is not likely to start soon, but it is significant that the author should propose it. The rigor of the solution only testifies to the depth of the problem.
Aside from its specialist taxonomies of antisocial personalities, this is a fascinating volume. It is just the kind of book that should be at the center of debates on public policy — consistently scientific and free from preconceptions or wishful thinking. That, of course, is why it has been largely ignored.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Burning With Self-righteousness
The reaction to recent church fires is becoming a full-blown case of national hysteria. Even in a country that manages to work itself into a frenzy over virtually any rumor of white “racism,” the whooping and roaring of the past two months have been a fantastic fuss over what may turn out to have been nothing at all.
How many black churches have been burned, and who burned them? Is there an upsurge of “racism”? No one really seems to know. In a comprehensive survey reported on June 28, USA Today counted 64 Southern black churches put to the torch in the year and a half since January 1, 1995. Is that more than usual? Compared to the previous several years there seem to be more black church burnings in some Southern states — Tennessee and South Carolina — but fewer in others — Arkansas and Georgia.
Ordinarily, there are about 600 cases of church arson every year, but this is a sharp drop from a high of 1,420 in 1980. So far, the number of fires is part of the normal range of annual variation. Spokesmen for the insurance industry say they expect this year’s totals — both black and white — to be within anticipated figures.
Who has been burning black churches? Of the 64 counted by USA Today, eight appear to have been set by blacks, 12 by whites, and one by a mixed group of two whites and one black. In only three cases have there been detentions or convictions of whites who may have had racial reasons for burning a church.
That leaves 43 fires in which there are no suspects. Some may have been set by “racists,” but the evidence is circumstantial: one black church was burned on Martin Luther King’s birthday; another was burned while a nearby white church was not; in one town, two black churches went up on the same night.
John Robison, Fire Marshal for the state of Alabama, has investigated all 15 cases of black church arson in his state since 1990. He has found no evidence of “racism” in any of them and says “I don’t think this state is much different from others.” In the midst of all the hand-wringing about “racism,” Mr. Robison makes a point everyone seems to have forgotten: “Most times until you identify the perpetrator you can’t know the motive.”
Of course, when it comes to “fighting bigotry,” facts don’t matter. From the President on down, the country has had a marvelous time “sharing the pain” and mobilizing against “hate.”
At Bill Clinton’s urging, Congress has passed an utterly unnecessary new law to let the feds poke their noses into any attack on a church that might have racial overtones. The old law required that there be at least $10,000 in damage and some kind of interstate activity. Every state, of course, prosecutes arson, but now you can go to the federal pen for painting bad words on a church down the street.
In June, the President held an urgent session with the governors of southern states “to coordinate a strategy for battling the outbreak.” Likewise, in Washington, a group of black preachers was flown in to berate Attorney General Janet Reno for not catching enough racists.
The President then made a well-publicized trip to a burned black church, where he knelt in what we are told was prayer before handing the pastor a plaque that read: “We must come together as one America to rebuild our churches, restore hope and show the forces of hatred they cannot win.”
In his zeal to fight hatred, the President has slipped a few cogs. In one of his weekly radio addresses he said, “I have vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child.” There is no record of any black churches being burned by “racists” in Arkansas when Bill Clinton was a child.
Well, never mind. In July, the President announced he was going to squeeze $6 million out of Congress to toughen up the “struggle against racism and religious bigotry.” The money would pay for security patrols, extra lighting, and whatever else it takes to scare off night riders.
Christian denominations across the country have declared “sabbaths of support” and “solidarity Sundays,” in which white congregants stand symbolic vigil in front of black churches, offer to pay for building materials, and generally apologize for being white. Some denominations were urged to festoon their sanctuaries with charred boards to help whites understand how awful arson is.
As for the churches themselves, liberal Christendom’s central committee, the National Council of Churches, promptly whistled up $4 million for a rebuilding fund. As the council explained:
The primary purpose of the Burned Churches Fund is to restore the burned and desecrated African-American church buildings and other places of worship that have been victimized in the current wave of racism and bigotry. Many have no insurance coverage and many more are finding their coverage woefully inadequate. Of the fund’s $4 million initial budget, $3,725,000 will support reconstruction. The remaining $275,000 will focus on the underlying racism that drives the burnings . . .
Foundations such as Annenberg, Ford, Kellogg, MacArthur, C.S. Mott, Rockefeller, and the Pew Charitable Trusts have all promised money. Did they wait to find out if there have been more church fires than usual? Or that there has been a surge in “racist” arsons? No. When it comes to fighting “racism,” even imaginary enemies are worth a $4 million campaign.
The Christian Coalition likewise pledged $1 million to help rebuild churches, and $25,000 in bounty for people who turn in arsonists. Ralph Reed, the coalition’s executive director has the usual dust on his knees; he has confessed that evangelical Christians have been wrong about race in the past, but now claims they are prepared “with broken hearts, a repentant spirit and ready hands to fight this senseless violence.”
Some blacks have blown Mr. Reed a raspberry. Jesse Jackson says “they contributed to the race baiting that goes on in this country,” and that their money is tainted. Al Sharpton says, “we must be aware of those who set the climate for racial storm and we must not let them hand out umbrellas.” Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference also says Mr. Reed’s group helped foment the atmosphere of “hate” that prompted the burnings.
Many blacks seem to think anyone who is opposed to affirmative action or welfare is, at heart, an arsonist and cannot offer sincere condolences when a black church burns. An elder at the church where President Clinton presented the plaque took a typical shot at Republicans: “Ain’t no way we’re going to let nobody — no KKK, no skinheads, no Nazis, no nasties, no Republicans, no Pharisees — nobody turn us around.” Pharisees carrying torches have reportedly been sighted in the area.
Members of something called the New Black Panther Party drove from Dallas to Greenville, Texas, where there had been two church burnings. They marched around with rifles and shotguns, vowing swift justice. Khalid Abdul Mohammad, who used to declaim for the Nation of Islam, set the tone: “You catch a cracker lighting a torch to any black church, or any property of black people — we are to send him to the cemetery.”
In addition to 200 federal agents looking for racists, there are an estimated 800 state and local officers involved in the largest arson investigation in the history of the world. The extra effort may have flushed out a few extra criminals. A black ex-deacon, who set fire to the Tucker Chapel Baptist Church near Columbia, South Carolina in 1992, was recently caught in the dragnet. Media attention has been so great that it became national news when a 15-year-old Vietnamese boy living in Queens used weed killer to burn the letters KKK into the lawn of a Seventh-Day Adventist church.
Except for those troublesome 1,000 investigators, these are tempting times for unbalanced blacks. If a church burns, the media will flock ‘round, everyone will get to bellow about racism, the National Council of Churches will pay for a brand new building, and the President may come for a visit. Indeed, at least 18 church fires obligingly occurred in the weeks following President Clinton’s first big harangue.
Like all chest-thumping campaigns against “racism,” this one will fade away. There will be no final accounting of how many millions of dollars it cost to catch each arsonist, or how much foundation money was spent on churches that turned out to have been burned by blacks. There will be a steady trickle of small, embarrassed news stories about how this massive manhunt collared a few pyromaniac nuts and drunk teenagers.
The police will probably pick up at least one half-wit white with a Klan pamphlet in his pocket. This man will be made to wish he had never been born and will go to jail for longer than most murderers do. And America will get ready for the next round of national race hysteria.
AR on C-SPAN
C-SPAN taped two of the speakers at the May AR conference, Samuel Francis and Jared Taylor. On July 2nd and 7th it finally broadcast the speeches three times on C-SPAN 2. There has been a gratifying number of inquiries from pleasantly surprised viewers. We would like to have announced the broadcast times to readers in advance, but C-SPAN’s schedules change daily.
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — I was disturbed to read in the July issue about the suppression of Christopher Brand’s The g Factor. The Bell Curve was met with an avalanche of “refutations” to restore the cant to its dominant position by sheer volume. Apparently that’s no longer enough; liberals won’t rest while the hereditarian view exists in coherent published form anywhere.
For all the ink that has been spilled combating the hereditarian threat, there have been few challenges to the actual science. One book that does mount an attack on the science — particularly Arthur Jensen’s work — is William H. Tucker’s The Science and Politics of Racial Research. This is the best book of its kind I have seen. It is well researched and doesn’t resort to too much emotionalism and cheap sarcasm. Still, the most Mr. Tucker manages to do is point out some spots where Prof. Jensen’s verbal formulations might be improved. He comes nowhere near disproving the existence of g or racial differences in ability or temperament.
The most effective tactic of the book is to emphasize the interest of Nazis and neoNazis in genetic, intelligence, and racial research. Liberals spare no effort to convince people that race consciousness inevitably leads to mass murder and that moral racialism is impossible. If we are persistent in getting our message out, people will lose their old fearful associations. It happened to me and I’ve seen it happening to others. Making “converts” is very often simply a matter of convincing people that their private thoughts are legitimate.
Paul Neff, Cambridge, Mass.
Sir — Your readers may be interested in knowing that although Wiley has withdrawn the The g Factor, early copies found their way into several university libraries (about 10) and should therefore be available to those who have access to interlibrary loan.
As one who got an early copy, I have found the book useful and valid. It never should have been withdrawn. I have written a review of The g Factor for the next issue of the Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies.
Prof. Edward Miller, University of New Orleans
Sir — I have approached John Wiley & Sons repeatedly, both in England and in New York about releasing a few dozen “unjacketed” copies of The g Factor so as to make them available to libraries. My requests have been firmly and repeatedly rejected. I invite AR readers, particularly in the U.K., who may have a copy of the book and are willing to donate it to a library, to contact me (by way of AR).
William Summers, Manhattan, Kan.
Sir — It was with great interest that I read the editor’s note about the July letter from the founder of the Citizens Councils of America, Robert Patterson (no relation, except in spirit). Recently, when I was listening to a so-called “conservative” talk show from Dallas (KLIF — The David Gold Show), a listener called and said that back in the 1950s and 1960s the Citizens Councils made predictions about what would happen if the public schools were integrated. The man was about to list some of the predictions that have come true when he got the bums’ rush. Obviously, this sort of truth had no place among the usual obfuscations of “conservative” talk radio.
I urge you to write an article about how these people — who were scoffed at at the time — have been proven right!
Ed Patterson, Decatur, Tex.