Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wishing you a merry ... something

Yale was founded by English Congregationalist ministers. Today, only 22% of its student body has a Christian European background of any sort.


Last year, around this time, friends and acquaintances offered me all sorts of religiously neutral salutations: Seasons Greetings! Happy Holidays! Joyeuses fêtes! Meilleurs vœux! Only two people wished me Merry Christmas.

One was Muslim, the other was Jewish.

They meant well. After all, isn't that the culturally correct greeting? In theory, yes. In practice, most Christians feel uncomfortable affirming their identity. And this self-abnegation gets worse the closer you are to the cultural core of Anglo-America. Immigrants of Christian background enjoy being wished Merry Christmas. Black people likewise. Catholics seem to split half and half, depending on how traditional or nominal they are.

But the WASPs. Oh, the WASPs! With them, those two words are a faux pas. The response is usually polite but firm: "And a very happy holiday season to you!"

Things weren’t always that way. The situation calls to mind a Star Trek episode where Capt. Kirk persuades an alien robot to destroy itself. "That which excludes is evil. If you affirm your identity, you are excluding those who don't share your identity. You are therefore evil."

I could question this logic. What about other cultural groups? Why single out just one? But I’ve heard the answer already. WASPs and their culture dominate North America. The path to power, or simply a better life, runs through their institutions. Minorities can affirm their own identities without restricting the life choices of others, but the same does not hold true for WASPs. Their identity affects everyone and must belong to everyone.

I’m still not convinced. Yes, WASPs did create the institutions of Anglo-America, but their influence in them is now nominal at best. The U.S. Supreme Court used to be a very WASPy place. Now, there's not a single White Protestant on it. That's a huge underrepresentation for a group that is still close to 40% of the population. We see the same thing at the Ivy League universities, which originally trained Protestant clergy for the English colonists. Today, how many of their students have any kind of Christian European background? The proportions are estimated to be 20% at Harvard, 22% at Yale, and 15% at Columbia (Unz, 2012).

Sometimes reality is not what is commonly believed.  WASPs are not at all privileged. In fact, they have been largely pushed aside in a country that was once theirs.

Whenever this ethnic displacement comes up for discussion (it usually doesn't), it gets put down to meritocracy. In the past, WASPs were the best people for the job of running the country. Now it's a mix of Jews, Asians, and other high-performing groups. A cynic might ask whether merit is the only factor ... and whether the U.S. is better run today than it was a half-century ago. Indeed, the latest Supreme Court appointee had little experience as a solicitor general and a scanty record of academic scholarship.

Merit isn't the whole story. There is also networking. In most parts of the world, an individual gets ahead in life by forming bonds of reciprocal assistance with family and kinfolk. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." That's how most of the world works.

But not all of the world. Northwest Europeans have diverged the most from this pattern, at least since the 12th century (Macfarlane, 1978a - 2012). Their kinship ties have been weaker and their sense of individualism correspondingly stronger. As a result, their cultural evolution has to a large degree been emancipated from the restraints of kinship, and this emancipation has facilitated other ways of organizing social relations: the nation-state, ideology, the market economy ... not to mention the strange idea of personal advancement through personal merit alone. This model of society has succeeded economically, militarily, and geopolitically, but it's vulnerable to people who don't play by the rules, since the threat of kin retaliation is insufficient to keep them in line. Societal survival is possible only to the extent that rule-breakers are ostracized and immigration restricted from cultures that play by other rules. 

This brings us to the dark side of traditional WASP culture: the busybodiness, the judgmentalism, the distrust of foreigners no matter how nice or refined they may seem. That mentality still exists, but it has been turned against itself. The people to be excluded are now those who exclude. The cultural programming for survival has been turned into a self-destruct mechanism ... as in that Star Trek episode.

Even if we could somehow abort this self-destruct sequence, it's hard to see how WASPs can survive on the current playing field. WASPs believe in getting ahead through rugged individualism. Most of the other groups believe in using family and ethnic connections. Guess who wins.

Anyway, I wish all of you a merry end of 2014! Far be it for me to exclude anyone from the merriment.


Unz, R. (2012). The myth of American meritocracy, The American Conservative, November 28 

Macfarlane, A. (2012). The invention of the modern world. Chapter 8: Family, friendship and population, The Fortnightly Review, Spring-Summer serial 

Macfarlane, A. (1992). On individualism, Proceedings of the British Academy, 82, 171-199. 

Macfarlane, A. (1978a). The origins of English individualism: Some surprises, Theory and society: renewal and critique in social theory, 6, 255-277.

Macfarlane, A. (1978b). The Origins of English Individualism: The Family, Property and Social Transition, Oxford: Blackwell.


Beyond Anon said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Santoculto said...

Merry something to you too.

Santoculto said...

''immigration restricted from cultures that play by other rules''

Huuumm, thoughts..

JayMan said...

Merry Christmas to you too! :)

I'll have more over at Unz.

Anonymous said...

WASPs believe in getting ahead through rugged individualism. Most of the other groups believe in using family and ethnic connections.

In other words, WASPs are the least racist people on earth. They are noteworthy for NOT navigating life via family and ethnic connections -- the very opposite of the endlessly repeated "white privilege" slander.

Interestingly, a couple of nonwhite foreigners have told me that the USA is the least racist country on earth. Hmmmm....

Dr. Jeremy said...

An argument could be made that such non-kin altruism has served as an indicator of fitness and a display of status. Much like other forms of philanthropy, being "inclusive" could be seen as a way of demonstrating superior power, status, and resources to others. The fact that "other groups" are not inclusive serves to further distinguish those who are and heighten the status display.

Unfortunately, such displays are costly...and only work when they confer a mating advantage. Given that WASPs are not breeding more than other groups at the moment with this "inclusive" display (just the opposite), it does not appear to be effective now. Thus, it makes me wonder whether we are seeing a display that has simply become too costly - much like an over-long peacock tail. It may have been selected for in the past and conferred a mating benefit, but now it is simply dead weight and hard to shed.

It just remains to be seen whether the group has enough variability in the personality traits to adapt and survive - selecting for new traits that are beneficial for survival in the current culture. Perhaps that is why WASP women now appear more eager to mate with "bad boys" than "nice guys"? Maybe less inclusive personality characteristics are beginning to be selected for already...

Oh...and Merry Christmas!

J said...

When the country was like an island with 100% WASP population, Yale's student body selected by merit was 100% WASP. When foreigners appeared, the student body selected by merit became 80% foreign and 20% WASP. Prof. Greg Cochran recently blogged about island species vs. continental species.

Grey said...

Merry Christmas :)

Hugh Lygon said...

Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

the UK has the most rigid class structure in Europe.

thanks for getting it exactly backwards.

nut at least you haven't fallen for the "America is a meritocracy" bullshit, like most Americans and especially conservatards fall for.

Peter Fros_ said...

Merry Christmas to all my readers!! [Note: I am wishing merriment to everyone, regardless of race, creed, or political belief]


Non-kin altruism is necessary for the creation of larger, more open, and higher trust social environments, which in turn have led to the market economy, among other things. Non-kin altruism becomes self-destructive only when there is no mechanism to expel non-altruists or block their entry from outside one's society.

It's not just a matter of merit. Admission to Ivy League universities is also based on subjective measures that discriminate against certain groups:

But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call “career-oriented activities” was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student’s chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. … Excelling in these activities “is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.”


Historically, the UK's class structure had more meritocratic upward mobility and downward mobility than did other European societies. See:

Clark, G. (2009) The indicted and the wealthy: surnames, reproductive success, genetic selection and social class in pre-industrial England,

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Merry Christmas to you and all.

America is dead and gone. It is being replaced by something. It is a failed state and nothing is going to change that. I only look forward to the continuing destruction of WASP America.

The end started with "All in the Family" where they openly lampooned the WASP. The WASP won't stand up to their destruction anyway. England and America are goint the way of the Dodo bird.

Hugh Lygon said...

from that i know you're not a serious person.

Clark should've cleared up his acne when he had the chance. he's just an Establishment buttboy. or rather a buttboy for the Establishment he imagines, not the real Establishment.

don't blame us for such low social mobility. it's 'cause we 'ad such 'igh mobility in the past gov'nor.

the Anglosphere is a joke.

and i say that as one who speaks only English, whose ancestors are mostly English, and as a

BGI volunteer.

for reals mofo.

Continental European said...

"Non-kin altruism becomes self-destructive only when there is no mechanism to expel non-altruists or block their entry from outside one's society"

That IS a self-evident truth. The one written in the United States Declaration of Independence IS NOT.

Do you remember this dialogue from The Godfather, part II?

Needless to say, Sicilians are not to be blamed for your downfall.

(BTW, I'm not Sicilian)

Continental European said...

I almost forgot to say...

Merry Christmas!

Hugh Lygon said...

..and then in sudden frost came the age of...


stat crux dum volvitur orbis.

Anonymous said...

Hugh Lygon

"the UK has the most rigid class structure in Europe"

Not true.

England had the most rigid *outer form* of class structure but that form could be learned by the children of anyone who managed to earn enough to pay the fees to the private boarding schools.

The rigid outer form of social class was how continuity and meritocracy could be maintained at the same time. You had to speak a certain way; you had to dress a certain way; you had to have certain manners but you could come from any background - as long as your parents could afford the schools that taught the proper form.

I'm not sure it was a good system or not - I don't think it was entirely -but it was a compromise required by not having a revolution against the aristocracy. Instead the rising middle class merged with the aristocracy via the expensive fee paying schools.

Anonymous said...

Anon above - I think you encapsulate the English class system very well. What you write is a summary and there are many facets to the complexity of it but you have identified the bit that most people don't get, or at least the lefties don't get or don't want to get. The Russian oligarchs, jews and Indians get it though as you can see from the attendance at private schools.

What I would add is that the aristocracy also moved down into the upper middle class - Middle-March is an interesting book about an aristocrat becoming a doctor - god forbid that an aristocrat should work! And right into the twentieth century people studying medicine were self-funded. And I think that that is why even today doctors are reverred in England more so I think than elsewhere.

Plus, the importance of the grammar school was fundamental to what you describe. There was a time when in some areas people erected brick walls between bourgeois suburbia and council estates; so mobility wasn't easy but the grammar school made it possible.

But fundamentally the English class system was about just that - having a system. And I think the strangest example of that is what happened in India - there was a system for having extra-marital sex in a hotel and at 2 in the morning a man went round ringing a bell so everyone could go home. It worked as system to maintain order.

Class in England was never about showing off the gold-leaf taps in the bathroom. It was a sophisticated form of organisation. Similar to having a constitutional monarchy, the subtlety of which escapes most people nowadays.

Anyway Happy Crimbo to all who have tickled my brain cells this year especially Peter of course (and his lovely wife Irina), Grey and Sean, and not forgetting Santo - wherever you are I hope you've got someone to talk to!

Kate xx

Anonymous said...


"What I would add is that the aristocracy also moved down into the upper middle class"

Yes, good point.

"Happy Crimbo"

and to you :)

Hugh Lygon said...

that's nice.

even this prof, Canadian prof...does that count?,

merely confirms the stereotype.

hereditists, HBDers, evo and prouders, whatever...

are DUMB! and EVIL!

they have no interest in the truth not any ability to understand it.

Steve Shoe and Cockring, are they the peak?


this Frost guy is a joke.

Anonymous said...

"hereditists, HBDers, evo and prouders, whatever...are DUMB! and EVIL!"

I like objectivity; no topic should be above discussion.

Is it the idea of *any* thing being heritable that you disagree with or is it the extent to which things are considered inherited by Peter and others, that irks; or is it something else?

Beyond Anon said...

From here: The Confessions of a Public Defender

'He told me what I suspected—what too many blacks say about the suffering of others: “What do I care? She ain’t me. She ain’t kin. Don’t even know her.”'

Certainly seems to have an underdeveloped sense of empathy.

Jake Michael said...

This is off topic, but I have just posted some blogs at in which I translated text written in Latin by Johann Blumenbach, who more or less came up with the term "Caucasian." Long story short, his writing was mistranslated by a racist in 1865, to make it look like Blumenbach was a racist. In reality, he was just the opposite. I thought this might be of interest. FYI, I was the guy who measure the Morton skulls in 1988. Other than that, Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake, I missed the link to your site back in 2013 and so very glad you've posted again; how interesting. I also sit somehwere between the is/isn't debate,

[I sometimes think the story of Europe is that same struggle between two peoples since the ANE met the EEF].

The problem I have with the isn't side is that, sure there are 'flows' but, flows flow from somewhere and end up somewhere. So my latest analogy is of sandcastles - the sea washes them away but until they are completely gone, something discernible remains and why should we not study that which is still discernible?

Jake Michael said...

Interesting analogy. The analogy I used is the oceans. There is really only one ocean, through which water flows, but a boat in the Atlantic will be in a different place than in the Pacific.

Oceans and sandcastles! At least were both at the beach, eh?

Santoculto said...

Gyorgi Nutella everywhere,

hi brother, amen!!!

God stay with you!!

Anonymous said...

Jake, While everyone has been out carousing, I have been pondering these analogies. Nautical or no, I don't think they're the same. I think my analogy is to how mendelian genetics works - an isolated population will develop a characteristic gene pool; the ocean is migration. Your analogy is to migration itself; the ocean is still the ocean. I'm not sure that's true, I can't quite get my head round it and it's probably semantic nonsense. But what I would say is that your analogy might have painful imagery for the people currently attempting the trip to Europe across the Med.

(btw. no criticism intended of your work, all strength to you and I love your blog header.)

Santo - of course I haven't read e-v-e-r-y word you've writ, but I just knew you'd get to the bottom of it one day!!!


Santoculto said...

''and not forgetting Santo - wherever you are I hope you've got someone to talk to!''

Thanks Kate xxx,
to you too,
Happy 6,567,835 new year!!!
I have, some mad people who are not in sanatorium, hihihihi.

Santoculto said...

''Santo - of course I haven't read e-v-e-r-y word you've writ, but I just knew you'd get to the bottom of it one day!!!''

Any comment directed to me make sense (for me).

Own poison.

Julian said...

Merry Christmas Peter and a Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes things aren't like they are believed"?

Things are never like they are believed by the masses (and the intelligentsia is a kind of mass too, make no mistake on this point).
Or is the human brain hardwired for truth seeking? :))..

So, the times when the weapon words of "inequality" "privilege" are brandished, and are made to be brandished by the crowd, are the times of transition from a status of equilibrium (with its own inequalities and privileges) to the next status of equilibrium, with its own new inequalities and privileges.

The side which groues and screams over "discrimination" and "oppression" is the side that was once discriminated against and oppressed — and very silent, when that was true, naturally — and to whom history finally gives the chance to oppress and discriminate against.
That's their victory chant, the loud whining.

All humans want to do some things — driven by will-to-power —, tell themselves and the others they are doing absolutely diverse things, for absolutely diverse purposes and reasons.
You can see when some-one is powerful, since they get official language accepting their own distortion (which replaces the previous one. Widespread parlance is always distorted, and pays hommage to the current powers).

Needless to say: when the screaming crowd is a low-intelligence one, high chances are there someone, in the ranks of the most intelligent, is manoeuvring them; usually against their own interest and for the sake of the elite's interests.
Which accords with nature well.
After all the low-intelligence mass is energy; a wealth of potential energy, lying there, in wait of they who will know how to avail themselves of it.

White Christians have lost their own inward energy; it is most natural an outcome that they can not use outer energy to their ends any longer; as it is that other tribes will use that energy against them.