Two Paths

Peter Frost, Unz Review, January 24, 2015


Cultural evolution has gone farther in two parts of the world: Northwest Europe and East Asia. The outcomes are rather similar–peaceful, orderly societies encompassing large numbers of people–but they have come about differently. Northwest Europeans could pursue this trajectory because they already had relatively weak kinship when they began to develop larger and more complex societies in the 12th century. There was a pre-existing tendency to live outside kinship structures, as seen in the Western European Marriage Pattern: Men and women married relatively late and many never married; children usually left the family household to form new households; and many individuals circulated among non-related households, typically young people sent out as servants (Hajnal, 1965;Hallam, 1985; Hartman, 2004; Seccombe, 1992). This weak kinship environment was made possible by three mental adaptations: greater capacity for involuntary guilt and empathy; greater receptiveness to absolute moral norms, as opposed to relativistic ones based on kinship; and stronger desire to punish, exclude, and even kill violators of these norms (Frost, 2014a; Frost, 2014b).


East Asians have followed a different trajectory to a similar end, relying less on internal means of behavior control (guilt, empathy) and more on external means (shaming, family discipline, community surveillance, notions of moral duty). The main difference is in the relationship between self and society. Whereas a greater sense of self has helped Northwest Europeans to transcend the limitations of kinship and, thus, build larger societies, East Asians have relied on a lesser sense of self to create a web of interdependence that extends beyond close kin. There is a stronger tendency toward holistic attention, emphasis on social (versus personal) happiness, and suspension of self-interest. Conversely, there is a weaker tendency toward self-expression, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (Kitayama et al., 2014).

This trajectory may have been particularly favored by rice farming, which requires community planning of water use and community construction of irrigation networks. {snip}

Gene-culture co-evolution

Our biological selves have evolved to meet not only the demands of our natural environment but also those of our cultural environment. There has thus been selection for certain aptitudes, predispositions, and personality types.

For instance, if a culture favors individuals who respond more readily to the problems of others, this response will become more common with each passing generation, since affective empathy has a heritability of 68% (Chakrabarti et al., 2013). There is no need to create this mental trait from scratch. Affective empathy exists to varying extents in all humans, although it is stronger in women, perhaps because it originally served to strengthen the caring relationship between a mother and her children (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright, 2004; Frost, 2014a). In Northwest Europeans, it has become more generalized, being felt by all normal individuals toward all people, except for those who are judged to be morally worthless. The result is a higher level of interpersonal trust and the development of social relations that would otherwise be impossible (Medrano, 2010).

Are there biological markers of this gene-culture co-evolution in Northwest Europeans? Enlargement of the amygdala is known to be associated with high altruism toward strangers, and two studies, one in southern California and the other in London, have found a larger amygdala in “conservatives” than in “liberals” (Kanai et al., 2011; Marsh et al., 2014; Schreiber et al., 2013). The difference may actually be an ethnic one, given the voting patterns in both areas.

In East Asians, pro-social behavior is supported not so much by empathy as by notions of duty toward the community (Frost, 2014b). This trajectory of gene-culture co-evolution seems to have its own biological markers, notably certain changes to the dopamine signaling system. In a recent study, a sample of Euro-Americans was compared with a sample of East Asians born in China, Korea, or Japan. The participants were genotyped for the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) and then administered a test on their social orientation. The test showed that the East Asians were less individualistic than the Euro-Americans, but this psychological difference was limited to carriers of DRD4 variants that increase dopamine signalling, i.e., 7- or 2-repeat alleles. Non-carrier East Asians were just as individualistic as non-carrier Euro-Americans (Kitayama et al., 2014). It seems that the East Asian cultural environment can reduce individualism only among individuals who carry these variants.

This finding is puzzling in one sense. Previous work has shown that the same DRD4 variants are associated with risk seeking and heavy drinking. The authors suggest that these variants make people more willing to imitate their peers, be they drinking buddies or ma and pa:

It might be the case that the 7R and 2R alleles are associated with greater acquisition of culturally sanctioned social orientations under generally favorable conditions of socialization, such as careful guidance and scaffolding of norm-congruous behaviors by socialization agents (e.g., parents, relatives, neighbors), but with markedly different, deviant behaviors (e.g., delinquency and risk proneness) under unfavorable social conditions or adversity, which might “reward” externalization or risk taking. (Kitayama et al., 2014)

Although one gene may largely explain why East Asians differ from Euro-Americans in social orientation, other genes may be involved in this and other differences between the two groups:

The current work has some bearing on the coevolution of cultural systems and genetic polymorphisms. Chiao and Blizinsky (2010) suggested that certain alleles of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene might have coevolved with cultural collectivism and individualism. They argued that although a short allele of 5-HTTLPR is linked to anxiety and depression, especially under traumatic life conditions (Caspi et al., 2003), this genetic risk might be mitigated by cultural collectivism, which involves more caring social relations and support networks. Cultural collectivism might therefore “buffer genetically susceptible populations from increased prevalence of affective disorders” (p. 529), which in turn might lead to a relatively high prevalence of the short allele of 5-HTTLPR. (Kitayama et al., 2014)

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  • Korean guy

    There is a city named Markham beside Toronto Ontario. Markham is a very lively city where several locations of very popular high-tech multinationals are established.

    A young Markham woman of Chinese ancestry had hired hitmen to murder her own biological parents, for $10000, because her parents had refused to let her be in a relationship with her lover.

    She, her lover and the two hitmen have received life sentences.

    That being said it did not influence at all how much I respect Chinese folks and how much I love my Chinese friends.

    tinyurl DOT com/l8zd244

    Quite a few people are saying, “She should simply have moved out”

    • Bossman

      Koreans, Chinese and Japanese are really all the same people with only minimal differences among them.

      • BulgAryan

        and probably Mongolians and Manchu, too

      • Reynardine

        El Salvadorians, Hondurans, and Mexicans are really all the same people with only minimal differences between them.

        • Zimriel

          Mexico has been an internally-unassimilated empire since the Triple Alliance. You always have to distinguish between provinces and tribes when you’re talking about them.

        • Bossman

          We’re discussing East Asians. Why can’t you learn to stay on topic. Nothing specific can be said about the countries of the Americas because they are the product of colonialism and have been subjected to immigration from other countries..

          • John Smith

            Where do you think those peoples migrated from?

          • Reynardine

            Stay on topic? Why? You never do.

      • Zimriel

        I’d agree on Koreans and Japanese, but would part ways on the Chinese.

        The Chinese seem to be more conservative; the Koreans and Japanese have been more warlike. There’s talk that the Korean, Japanese and Turkish languages are akin.

        Jared Taylor would know best.

        • El Baga Doucha Libtard

          I love the Japanese and they’re my favorite non-whites. That said, the Koreans are up there too.

          The Chinese just seem to be a little too robotic.

        • Scott Rosen

          From what I was told in my time in Korea, Korean is based on Chinese. When the Chinese changed how Mandarin should be interpreted as English, Peking became Beijing. In Korea, Pusan became Busan, and Taegu became Daegu. As I understand it, the Chinese and Koreans are more similar culturally, genetically, and linguistically to each other, than they are to the Japanese. But they’re all closer to each other than anyone else. So say the Chinese and Korean people I counted as friends.

          • John Smith

            Funny, but many studies point to a Korean origin to the Japanese (along with another, more northern Asian origin from the Jomon) from a group now known as the Yayoi.

          • Flytrap

            I have heard that Japanese, (except the Ainu) are an ancient and at one time successful Korean tribe that was annihilated on the mainland after they colonized Japan.

    • IstvanIN

      There are exceptions in every group.

    • evilsandmich

      “She should simply have moved out”

      Easier said than done. A lot of those places run kinship so tight that she’d basically be excommunicated from the community that she knows if she pulled something like that.

      • Magician

        In my opinion, hiring hitmen for such a large amount of money was still the most disatrous choice!

        • Oil Can Harry

          $10 grand is not very much for a contract killer.

          Hard to imagine anyone other than a crackhead doing it for such a small sum.

          • Wing-nut.

            potheads, hash fiends, tweakers or angry drunks.

        • Wing-nut.

          $10 grand is the low side of the scale. Then again, one gets what they pay for, in such things.

          • Magician

            I am sorry, I didn’t know. I never asked for a price quote from a hitman in my life. I thought it would cost $5000~7000 per one person removed

          • Wing-nut.

            Your good. No need for sorrow and wish I didn’t know either.

  • The “weak kinship” of NW Europeans is a double edged sword. It was what allowed them/us to create the best civilization in human history and the envy of the world, and it, as HBD Chick would note, is what made us develop an internal moral aversion to tight endogamy. However, here in the era where anyone can be on the other side of the world in a matter of hours, our weak kinship is far more a bug than a feature, for it’s how Malmo, Sweden fills up with Somalians, as one of many examples.

    • SentryattheGate

      Yes, our sense of empathy can be our undoing, whereas other groups take advantage of it and see us as naive fools for it! And yes, women too often vote liberal (and become victims of crime) due to their naive empathy!

  • JohnEngelman

    Cultural evolution has gone farther in two parts of the world: Northwest Europe and East Asia. The outcomes are rather similar–peaceful, orderly societies encompassing large numbers of people–but they have come about differently.

    – Peter Frost, Unz Review, January 24, 2015

    Where Northwest Europe and East Asia have been similar is in maintaining a draconian criminal justice system that removed those with criminal inclinations from the breeding population.

    Orientals continue to see the need for a fairly harsh criminal justice system. Unfortunately, Northwest Europeans, and their descendants in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have become so genetically tamed that they think the lenient criminal justice system that works for them works for third world peoples.

    • Bossman

      Still, I much prefer to live in the Western world. All of Asia, with the exception of Israel, looks to be totalitarian and conformist which means less personal freedom.

      • adplatt126

        The most essential and impressive freedoms of Western civilization, which distinguish it from the rest of the world, have at this point, been completely lost.

        • Sick of it

          Yeah, freedom of association, belief, etc. have pretty well gone out the window. You say the wrong thing, you get fired. You refuse to sell wedding cakes to gay people, you get sued. Refuse service to a black and you might wind up in prison.

      • Reynardine

        Still, I much prefer to live in the Western world. All of South and Central America looks to be totalitarian and conformist which means less personal freedom.

        • Bossman

          South and Central America are part of the Western World. You need to go back to geography 101.

          • Reynardine

            South and Central America have contributed next to nothing to Western civilization, and can consequently be relegated to the bin of barbaric illiterates that make up the hordes of stupid gimme voters that will ruin yet another Western nation.

        • PouponMarx

          You probably prefer the West because there is more easy access to porn in media. Also, filth in general is more readily available, as is sociopathalogical behavior.


          • Reynardine

            I think you’ll find that the advent of the Internet makes pornography universally accessible, just ask the Middle East.

            I just really, really like not having to bribe the police to stop harassing me.

      • benvad

        It ain’t that bad. You’re always an outsider but then again you don’t have to adhere to the group expectations. You can get a pass on lots of things.

        Just don’t come here to become a white kimono wearing culture vulture. They feel better if you don’t master their customs and language (it’s like an invasion of privacy).

        • Bossman

          I do hope that they keep their culture if they like it and it is working for them.

      • Tom_in_Miami

        How free are we when we have zones we cannot travel through because of the “underprivileged” people who live in them? I can show readers of Amren many square miles right here in Miami where they cannot go without being in serious danger.

        • WR_the_realist

          We also can’t get on a plane without going through a scanner where a government goon can see you naked or else have another government goon stick his hands in your pants. Your internet traffic is now watched by the NSA. This country is now only a little more free than the old Soviet Union.

    • El Baga Doucha Libtard

      I would argue that blacks don’t need harsher sentences as much as they need more immediate sentences. They tend to be hyperbolic discounters and they see their punishment as something that’s going to happen a long time from now, whereas robbing someone of $14 … that’s two meals at Wendy’s and the payoff is right now.

      • GeneticsareDestiny

        This is true, it is more important for justice to be immediate when blacks commit crimes as opposed to when whites commit crimes. Blacks are much more prone to present-time orientation and it is difficult (often impossible) for them to see an event that will happen in the future as being “real” in the same sense as robbing a guy right now for his wallet is.

        If the trial and the beginning of the sentence took place the same week a black person committed a crime, they’d be more able to link cause and effect in their minds. This is especially important for serious crimes like rape and murder, but it would also be good practice for more minor crimes like robbery. It would give the criminal justice system more power to deter crimes before they happen via blacks (and whites, for that matter) realizing that if they rob someone now, they’ll be on trial two or three days from now and in prison right after that.

        Unfortunately, we have so many criminals (of all races, but disproportionately black) in America that our courts are far too backlogged to bring people to trial the same week they committed the crime.

      • John Smith

        Less intelligent animals, like dogs, need immediate reinforcement as well.

  • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

    “In Northwest Europeans, it [affective empathy] has become more generalized, being felt by all normal individuals toward all people, except for those who are judged to be morally worthless. The result is . . . the development of social relations that would otherwise be impossible.”
    “In East Asians, pro-social behavior is supported not so much by empathy as by notions of duty toward the community…”

    COMMENTS: These two observation — whatever their genetic underpinnings — fits my considerable experience with East Asians and Northwest Europeans.

  • Chip Carver

    It would be more interesting to read something honest about the comparative lack of order and justice in African and Amerind societies when placed against European or E. Asian societies. That would bring up lots of fun points that the left would rather leave unexplored or blamed on hideous white interlopers who ruined the idyllic existences of the happy go lucky sun peoples.

    • Albert

      The left can’t stand Asians. Almost every black excuse given for failure can be disproven by Asian example. Claim: IQ tests are culturally biased- yet 2nd generation Asians do well on them. Claim: Poverty causes crime- yet poor Asians are law-abiding. Claim: non-whites cannot hope to thrive in racist Amerkkka- but Asians are clearly thriving here. You could go on and on with this.

      • LHathaway

        Someone suggested, on some level, blacks see Asians as prey.

  • pcmustgo

    “relying less on internal means of behavior control (guilt, empathy) and more on external means (shaming, family discipline, community surveillance, notions of moral duty). ” Ok, so sounds like Black African morality, right?

    • IstvanIN

      No. The only thing that keeps them in line is out-side discipline. They have neither guilt nor shame.

      • I’m not certain about that. The former commander of the Japanese submarine who sank the USS Indianapolis in 1945 was brought to the US to testify at Indianapolis’s commander’s court martial. Hashimoto was questioned at length over whether he would lie, about what, and under which circumstances. His explanations on those scores were apparently fine with the US navy, so he was called as a witness. At the court martial, he testified that the ranges and positions of the two ships, and the lighting conditions were quite good, with the moon behind him, and it “would not have mattered” whether Indianapolis was zig-zagging or not. Hashimoto was later part of an effort to clear Captain McVay.

        • IstvanIN

          I was referring to blacks, not Japanese. I fixed my post to make it clearer.

  • Guest

    As for me, I like all three East Asian countries equally. They are equally respectable, and at the same time, they are greatly different from one another, just like countries in Europe.

    If I may make a comparison,

    Japan reminds me of Germany because of how quickly they became industrialized,
    China reminds me of England
    and Korea reminds me of France.

    • IstvanIN

      China is like England and Korea is France? Elaborate please.

      • corvinus

        Yeah, I’d say more like the other way around. Especially language- and culture-wise. And Japan would be a better fit than Korea for England anyway, in which case Korea would be Ireland.

        • IstvanIN

          I can see the England-Ireland and Japan-Korea comparison.

    • Ultimate187

      I’ve thought of those comparisons too. It’s actually uncanny how they mirror each other. England’s role in Europe (and the greater western world) is much like that of China in East Asia (and the greater eastern world). The parallels between Japan and Germany, especially technologically and industrially, have been extensively documented. France’s influences have been primarily cultural, much like how South Korea influences East Asia today.

    • Viking_61

      In China they breed dogs and cats on farms to be eaten. Dogs and cats. Dogs and cats. Dogs and cats… To hell with those barbarians, may a plague wipe them out.

      • WR_the_realist

        Well, in France they eat little song birds. And pigs have about the same intelligence as dogs, so if we commonly kept them as pets we’d be outraged about eating them too.

        • Magician

          And I am sure that overwhelming majority of AmRen posters are bacon lovers.

      • Magician

        It will be much faster to list the things that they do not eat in China.

      • I’d gladly have them eat my neighbor’s dogs.

    • benvad

      How so?

    • corvinus

      Japan is like the Germanic countries (except for being restrictive on immigration, of course).

      China is like the Latin countries (huge, largely poor, like Latin America, but their language, religion, and writing system heavily influenced the others).

      Korea… I suppose like the Slavic and Celtic nations dominated by the Germanics (a bit of an inferiority complex, prone to drinking, but are fully capable workers).

    • Magician

      Well both Japan and Germany were defeated in WW2. But many economists and scholars agree that their involvement in WW2 greatly contributed to their advancement in engineering and industrialization.

  • IKUredux

    Yeah. White men are risk takers, and innovative. What else is new?

  • LHathaway

    I suspect that altruism gene was created when Western man first came in contact with the third-world victim gene.

  • David Ashton

    Genes are responsible for some things, cultural experience for others, and there are interactions between genes and culture. Sorting them out is complex, and should not lend itself to superficial generalizations.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    This was a thought provoking piece that I would not have come across if not for AmRen.
    I may be at the point where I think culture is genetic, but I still found the contrast drawn considerable. Thanks!