Saturday, December 19, 2015

A look back over 2015

Marion-Maréchal Le Pen (Wikicommons - Remi JDN). This year, she received 45% of the popular vote in one of France's regions, as a Front National candidate.


We must act now to bring anti-globalist parties to power: the UKIP in Britain, the Front national in France, the Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands, the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, and the Sverigedemokraterna in Sweden. How, you may ask? It's not too complicated. Just go into the voting booth and vote. You don't even have to talk about your dirty deed afterwards.

I wrote the above last January, fearing that Europe would see an acceleration of the massive demographic change already under away—the Great Replacement, to use a term coined by Renaud Camus:

Oh, the Great Replacement needs no definition. It isn't a concept. It's a phenomenon, as obvious as the nose on your face. To observe it, you need only go out into the street or just look out the window. A people used to be there, stable, occupying the same territory for fifteen or twenty centuries. And all of a sudden, very quickly, in one or two generations, one or more other peoples have substituted themselves for it. It's been replaced. It's no longer itself.  We should note that the tendency to consider individuals, things, objects, and peoples replaceable or interchangeable is fairly widespread and in line with a threefold movement whereby people have become industrialized, deprived of their spirituality, and dumbed down. Call it a later and more generalized stage of Taylorism. At first, we replace only the parts of manufactured goods. Then, we replace workers. Finally, we replace entire peoples. (Camus, 2012)

Two breaches have been made in the dike that used to hold back this process of replacement: one in Libya and the other in Syria. Through them is pouring the demographic overflow that has been building up in Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile, there has been an incredible loss of will among Europe's leaders to do anything, other than hectoring recalcitrant nations like Hungary for not taking their "fair share."

I'm not using the word "incredible" lightly. This wave of immigrants won't be a one-time-only thing. It won't come to an end when conditions improve in their home countries. Indeed, once it gets under way it can only increase in magnitude, and spreading it over a wider area will do nothing to stop the increase. Instead of being confined to Western and Southern Europe, the Great Replacement will be extended to Eastern Europe. Swell. You call that a solution?

Instead of replacing native Europeans, why not replace their leaders? Why not vote them out of office? That was the solution I advocated back in January and still do. Political change is more certain when done by peaceful means at the ballot box, as opposed to being imposed by coercion and illegal acts. Unfortunately, this option faces a number of obstacles.

The obstacles are threefold:

Unwillingness to play by the rules

In this, the problem lies not so much with Europe's nationalist parties as with their opponents. It's the latter who are not willing to play by the rules.

This was the case in Belgium, where in 2004 a court ruling shut down the Vlaams Blok, a party that had won 24% of the popular vote for the Flemish parliament the same year.

In October 2000, the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, together with the Dutch-speaking Human Rights League in Belgium registered a complaint at the Correctional Court, in which they claimed that three non-profit organisations connected to the Vlaams Blok (its education and research office and the "National Broadcasting Corporation") had violated the 1981 anti-racism law. The publications which were referred to included its 1999 election agenda and 1997 party platform. The challenged passages included those where the party called for a separate education system for foreign children, a special tax for employers employing non-European foreigners, and a restriction of unemployment benefits and child allowances for non-European foreigners. (Wikipedia - Vlaams Blok, 2015)

Elsewhere, nationalist parties have faced a combination of judicial and extrajudicial harassment. Indeed, when antifas commit brazen acts of violence that go unpunished, one cannot help but wonder whether the correct term is "quasi-judicial." The antifas are functioning as a kind of secret police that is allowed to do what the regular police cannot do.

Even without the antifas, the level of harassment is considerable. In 2013, for example, the European Parliament stripped Marine Le Pen of her parliamentary immunity for having denounced the illegal blocking of French streets for Muslim prayers:

For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it's about occupation, then we could also talk about it (Muslim prayers in the streets), because that is occupation of territory. ...It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. ... There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents (Wikipedia - Marine Le Pen, 2015)

For that comment, she was dragged before the courts, being finally acquitted this year. Compare that with the indulgence reserved for the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur when it featured a tweet on its twitter page that called for the mass rape of women who vote FN. The tweet was removed but there was no apology, and there certainly won't be any prosecution by the Minister of Justice—as was the case with Marine's comment.

This is the reality of political debate in Western Europe. One side can speak with impunity, whereas the other has to watch what it says.

Extremist image of nationalism

In 2015, the progress of nationalist parties was not uniform. In Greece, Chrysí Avgí (Golden Dawn) seems to have stalled at 7% of the popular vote. In Norway, Fremskrittspartiet (Progress Party) lost support in local elections, this being part of a decline that began in 2011 … with Breivik's terrorist attacks.

In Norway, it is now difficult to be a nationalist without being associated with Anders Breivik or church burnings by black metallists. In Greece, nationalism is tarred with Nazi-like rhetoric and imagery—this, in a country that Nazi Germany had occupied during the last war. It is a sign of just how bad things are that so many Greeks are still willing to vote for a party that revels in an extremist image.

This problem is inevitable with any movement that begins on the fringes among people who feel alienated. As nonconformists they tend to be lone wolves, and as lone wolves they tend to act without restraint, sometimes mindlessly. Such people are both a help and a hindrance for any new political movement.

Assimilation into the dominant political culture

There is also the reverse problem. In the Venice state election, the Liga Veneta received 41% of the popular vote. This might seem to be good news, since the Liga Veneta is part of the Lega Nord, which in turn is allied with the Front National in France.

Unfortunately, things are not as they might seem. When a new party comes closer to power, it tends to assimilate mainstream values because its leaders now have to navigate within that culture—daily encounters with the media, meetings with campaign donors, invitations to wine and cheese parties ... The result may be seen in the Liga Veneta’s political platform for 2010-2015:

The challenges that Veneto should face in the next decades, said the party, were to enhance "internationalization" in the era of globalization, to overcome the traditional Venetian policentrism and interpret Veneto as a united and cohesive region: a "European region in Italian land". The program stressed also concepts such as "Europe of the regions", "Europe of citizens", "global Veneto", "openness toward the world", "green economy", "urban planning" in respect of the environment, "respect for diversity" and "integration" of immigrants, along with the more traditional "think globally, act locally". (Wikipedia - Liga Veneta)

It is not enough for nationalist parties to gain power. They must also have confidence in their ideas and change the way other people think. Otherwise, they'll end up assimilating into the dominant political culture.

But there was progress in 2015

Despite these problems—harassment, lack of discipline, ideological assimilation—most nationalist parties are moving forward. In the first round of France's recent regional elections, the Front National took first place in six of the thirteen regions in Europe (four others are overseas). Yes, it was shut out in the second round, when left-wing parties threw their support behind the main right-wing party, but this defeat was only a partial one. While not securing the office of president in any region, the FN is now represented on all regional councils of European France, ranging from a high of 34% of council seats in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to a low of 8% in Corsica. Imagine a similar situation in the United States: a nationalist party with at least 8% of the seats in every state legislature.

This year saw gains for nationalist parties elsewhere. In Poland, Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (Law and Justice) took power with 38% of the vote, in large part because of its opposition to immigration. In Switzerland, Schweizerische Volkspartei (Swiss People's Party) became the leading party, receiving 29% of the popular vote, up from 27%. In Denmark, Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People's Party) earned 21% of the popular vote, up from 12%.

Outside Europe, in other European-descended societies, the picture is more mixed. In the United States, Donald Trump has shattered the phoney consensus on massive demographic change, but even if elected he will face a long uphill battle against opposition from the bureaucracy and from entrenched factions in society at large, particularly the business community—which has long been a source of funding for the Republican Party.

In Canada, the Conservative Party lost power in Ottawa and the Parti Québécois lost power in Quebec City. To be honest, I feel little regret for either loss. In their earlier incarnation, as the Reform Party, the Conservatives were committed to a sharp reduction in immigration. But that promise fell by the wayside once they took power, and they instead chose a neo-con policy of "Invade the world! Invite the world!" They followed that recipe to the letter and—Surprise! Surprise!—it wasn’t what their own voters wanted, let alone the rest of the electorate. Well, good riddance.

As for the Parti Québécois, it began in the 1960s as an alliance of the traditional left and the traditional right. Over time, both factions withered away, being replaced by the new synthesis of globalism and post-nationalism. The PQ became an anti-nationalist nationalist party. They lost power largely because they could no longer energize their natural constituency while failing to make inroads into others. Well, good riddance.


This will be my last column for 2015, and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! Although I no longer go to church, I still consider Christmas to be a very important time of year when we can spend more time with our loved ones and enjoy the traditions of this mid-winter celebration.

I don't know whether I will resume my column in the new year. The legal environment in Canada has changed over the past few months, especially with the adoption of Bill 59. If need be, I will concentrate on writing papers for academic journals.


Camus, R. (2012). " Renaud Camus à L'AF : " J'ai une conception lazaréenne de la patrie " ", L'Action française, no 2832, 

Wikipedia - Liga Veneta. (2015) 

Wikipedia - Marine Le Pen (2005). 

Wikipedia - Vlaams Blok. (2015). 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A modern myth

Your blood group cannot reliably identify your ethnicity, your race ... or even your species (Wikicommons, Etan Tal).


What sort of ideas will guide our elites twenty years from now? You can find out by observing university students, especially those in the humanities and social sciences. One popular idea is that race doesn't exist, except as a social construct. Its proponents include Eula Biss, a contributor to the New York Times Magazine:

Whiteness is not a kinship or a culture. White people are no more closely related to one another, genetically, than we are to black people. [...] Which is why it is entirely possible to despise whiteness without disliking yourself. (Biss, 2015, h/t to Steve Sailer)

The last sentence needs little explanation. It's possible to like yourself a lot while despising your own people. Such individuals have existed since time immemorial. But what about the second sentence? One often hears it among the educated, even those who dislike genetics and biology. Where does it come from?

From a study by geneticist Richard Lewontin, in 1972. He looked at human genes with more than one variant, mostly blood groups but also serum proteins and red blood cell enzymes. His conclusion:

The results are quite remarkable. The mean proportion of the total species diversity that is contained within populations is 85.4%, with a maximum of 99.7% for the Xm gene, and a minimum of 63.6% for Duffy. Less than 15% of all human genetic diversity is accounted for by differences between human groups! Moreover, the difference between populations within a race accounts for an additional 8.3%, so that only 6.3% is accounted for by racial classification.

[...] It is clear that our perception of relatively large differences between human races and subgroups, as compared to the variation within these groups, is indeed a biased perception and that, based on randomly chosen genetic differences, human races and populations are remarkably similar to each other, with the largest part by far of human variation being accounted for by the differences between individuals. (Lewontin, 1972)

The problem here is the assumption that genetic variation within a human group is comparable to genetic variation between human groups. In fact, the two are qualitatively different. When a gene varies between two groups the cause is more likely a difference in natural selection, since the group boundary also tends to separate different natural environments (vegetation, climate, topography) or, more often, different cultural environments (diet, means of subsistence, sedentism vs. nomadism, gender roles, state monopoly of violence, etc.). Conversely, when a gene varies within a population, the cause is more likely a random factor without adaptive significance. That kind of variation is less easily flattened out by the steamroller of similar selection pressures.

This point isn't merely theoretical. In other animals, as Lewontin himself noted, we often see the same genetic overlap between races of one species. But we also see it between many species that are nonetheless anatomically and behaviorally distinct. Some two decades after Lewontin’s study, this apparent paradox became known when geneticists looked at how genes vary within and between dog breeds:

[...] genetic and biochemical methods ... have shown domestic dogs to be virtually identical in many respects to other members of the genus. [...] Greater mtDNA differences appeared within the single breeds of Doberman pinscher or poodle than between dogs and wolves. Eighteen breeds, which included dachshunds, dingoes, and Great Danes, shared a common haplotype and were no closer to wolves than poodles and bulldogs.

[...] there is less mtDNA difference between dogs, wolves, and coyotes than there is between the various ethnic groups of human beings, which are recognized as a single species. (Coppinger and Schneider, 1995)

Initially, this paradox was put down to the effects of artificial selection. Kennel clubs insist that each breed should conform to a limited set of criteria. All other criteria, particularly those not readily visible, end up being ignored. So artificial selection targets a relatively small number of genes and leaves the rest of the genome alone.

But is natural selection any different? When a group buds off from a population and moves into a new environment, its members too have to conform to a new set of selection pressures that act on a relatively small number of genes. So the new group will diverge anatomically and behaviorally from its parent population, and yet remain similar to it over most of the genome. This is either because most of the genes respond similarly to the new environment—as with those that do the same housekeeping tasks in a wide range of species—or because they respond weakly to natural selection in general. Many genes are little more than "junk DNA"—they change slowly over time, not through the effects of natural selection but through gradual accumulation of random mutations.

With the extension of population studies to nonhuman species, geneticists have often encountered this paradox: a gene will vary much less between two species than within each of them. This is notably the case with sibling species that have emerged since the last ice age, when many new and different environments came into being.

Thus, the genetic overlap between dog breeds also appears between many natural species. In the deer family, genetic variability is greater within some species than between some genera (Cronin, 1991). Some masked shrew populations are genetically closer to prairie shrews than they are to other masked shrews (Stewart et al., 1993). Only a minority of mallards cluster together on an mtDNA tree, the rest being scattered among black ducks (Avise et al., 1990). All six species of Darwin's ground finches form a genetically homogeneous genus with very little concordance between mtDNA, nuclear DNA, and morphology (Freeland and Boag, 1999). In terms of genetic distance, redpoll finches from the same species are not significantly closer to each other than they are to redpolls from different species (Seutin et al., 1995). The haplochromine cichlids of Lake Victoria are extremely difficult to identify as species when one looks at their nuclear or mitochondrial genes, despite being well differentiated anatomically and behaviorally (Klein et al., 1998). Neither mtDNA nor allozyme alleles can distinguish the various species of Lycaedis butterflies, despite clear differences in morphology (Nice and Shapiro, 1999). An extreme example is a dog tumor that has developed the ability to spread to other dogs through sexual contact. It looks and acts like an infectious microbe, yet its genes would show it to be a canid and, conceivably, some beagles may be genetically more similar to it than they are to Great Danes (Cochran, 2001; Yang, 1996).

We see this genetic overlap not only between sibling species, but even between some species that have long been separated, like humans and other primates. This is the case with ABO blood groups:

Remarkably, the A, B, and H antigens exist not only in humans but in many other primates [...], and the same two amino acids are responsible for A and B enzymatic specificity in all sequenced species. Thus, primates not only share their ABO blood group, but also the same genetic basis for the A/B polymorphism. O alleles, in contrast, result from loss-of-function alleles such as frame-shift mutations and appear to be species specific. (Segurel et al., 2012)

Just think. Lewontin used the same blood group polymorphisms for his study. While the O alleles are specific to each primate species, the A and B alleles show considerable overlap between primates that have been separated for millions of years. So it's not surprising that this polymorphism should vary much more within human races than between them, as Lewontin found. Little did he know that the same pattern can continue above the species level.

Some have argued that this genetic overlap between humans and apes is only apparent. In other words, the same antigens have evolved independently in each species. Well, no. It seems that this polymorphism has survived one speciation event after another for millions of years:

That different species share the same two A/B alleles could be the result of convergent evolution in many lineages or of an ancestral polymorphism stably maintained for millions of years and inherited across (at least a subset of) species. The two possibilities have been debated for decades, with a consensus emerging that A is ancestral and the B allele has evolved independently at least six times in primates (in human, gorilla, orangutan, gibbon/siamang, macaque, and baboon), in particular, that the human A/B polymorphism arose more recently than the split with chimpanzee. We show instead that the remarkable distribution of ABO alleles across species reflects the persistence of an old ancestral polymorphism that originated at least 20 million years (My) ago and is shared identical by descent by humans and gibbons as well as among distantly related Old World monkeys. (Segurel et al., 2012)

Are blood groups a special case? Perhaps. But there seem to be quite a few trans-species polymorphisms, at least between humans and chimpanzees:

Instances in which natural selection maintains genetic variation in a population over millions of years are thought to be extremely rare. We conducted a genome-wide scan for long-lived balancing selection by looking for combinations of SNPs shared between humans and chimpanzees. In addition to the major histocompatibility complex, we identified 125 regions in which the same haplotypes are segregating in the two species, all but two of which are noncoding. In six cases, there is evidence for an ancestral polymorphism that persisted to the present in humans and chimpanzees. (Leffler et al., 2013)

Many of these appear to be "disease polymorphisms." If an epidemic sweeps through a community, it pays to have surface antigens that differ somewhat from your neighbor’s. The result is selection that inflates within-group variability, especially for the sort of structural proteins that are easy to collect and examine for studies on population genetics.

If such polymorphisms can remain intact despite millions of years of separation, how many more persist among human populations that have been separated for only tens of thousands of years?

In sum, if we are to believe blood groups and other genetic markers, it seems that Eula Biss may have more in common with certain apes than with the white folks she despises. Let’s hope she feels gratified.

When I discuss Richard Lewontin's study with antiracists, preferably those with some background in biology, they often agree that he misunderstood his findings. They nonetheless go on to say that their position has many other justifications, particularly moral ones. Fine. But it is above all Lewontin who gave antiracism a veneer of scientific objectivity. He still impresses people who are less impressed by academics who attack racism by attacking objectivity, like Stephen Jay Gould. "I criticize the myth that science itself is an objective enterprise, done properly only when scientists can shuck the constraints of their culture and view the world as it really is" (Gould, 1996, p. 53). It was in this spirit that he impugned the integrity of long-dead scholars who could not defend themselves—or point out that Gould himself was manipulating the data to suit his preconceived views (Frost, 2013).

When one takes Lewontin and Gould out of the picture, who is left? A lot of people, to be sure. Followers for the most part—those like Eula Biss who believe because everyone else in their milieu seems to believe, at least anyone with moral authority.


Avise, J.C., C.D. Ankney, and W.S. Nelson. (1990). Mitochondrial gene trees and the evolutionary relationship of mallard and black ducks, Evolution, 44, 1109-1119. 

Biss, E. (2015). White Debt, The New York Times Magazine, December 2

Cochran, G. (2001). Personal communication. 

Coppinger, R. and R. Schneider (1995). Evolution of working dogs. In J. Serpell (ed.), The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 21-47. 

Cronin, M. (1991). Mitochondrial-DNA phylogeny of deer (Cervidae), Journal of Mammalogy, 72, 533-566. 

Freeland, J.R. and P.T. Boag. (1999).The mitochondrial and nuclear genetic homogeneity of the phenotypically diverse Darwin's ground finches, Evolution, 53, 1553-1563. 

Frost, P. (2013). Not getting the point, Evo and Proud, June 22  

Gould, S.J. (1996). The Mismeasure of Man, New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 

Klein, J., A. Sato, S. Nagl, and C. O’hUigin. (1998). Molecular trans-species polymorphism, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 29, 1-21.

Leffler, E.M., Z. Gao, S. Pfeifer, L. Ségurel, A. Auton, O. Venn, R. Bowden, R. Bontrop, J.D. Wall, G. Sella, P. Donnelly, G. McVean, and M. Przeworski. (2013). Multiple instances of ancient balancing selection shared between humans and chimpanzees, Science, 339 (6127), 1578-1582.  

Lewontin, R. (1972). The apportionment of human diversity, Evolutionary Biology, 6, 381-398.  

Nice, C.C. and A.M. Shapiro. (1999). Molecular and morphological divergence in the butterfly genus Lycaeides (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in North America: evidence of recent speciation, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 12, 936-950. 

Sailer, S. (2015). White Debt, The Unz Review, December 5  

Ségurel, L.,  E.E. Thompson, T. Flutre, J. Lovstad, A. Venkat, S.W. Margulis, J. Moyse, S. Ross, K. Gamble, G. Sella, C. Ober, and M. Przeworski. (2012). The ABO blood group is a trans-species polymorphism in primates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 109, 18493-18498  

Seutin, G., L.M. Ratcliffe, and P.T. Boag. (1995). Mitochondrial DNA homogeneity in the phenotypically diverse redpoll finch complex (Aves: Carduelinae: Carduelis flammea-hornemanni), Evolution, 49, 962-973. 

Stewart, D.T., A.J. Baker, and S.P. Hindocha. (1993). Genetic differentiation and population structure in Sorex Haydeni and S. Cinereus, Journal of Mammalogy, 74, 21-32. 

Yang, T.J. (1996). Parasitic protist of metazoan origin, Evolutionary Theory, 11, 99-103.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Is "sick" the right word?

Ted Bundy, 1978, State Archives of Florida (Wikicommons). Outwardly charming but zero concern for others.


Is sociopathy an illness? We often think so ... to the point that the word "sick" has taken on a strange secondary meaning. If we call a ruthless, self-seeking person "sick," we mean he should be shunned at all costs. We don't mean he should take an aspirin and get some rest.

Sociopathy doesn't look like a mental illness, being much less incapacitating than schizophrenia and most mental disorders. A sociopath can deal with other people well enough, perhaps too well. As Harpending and Sobus (2015) point out:

It is a psychopathology because of what sociopaths do to us, and it has significant legal, political, and moral consequences for all of us. Most criminals are probably sociopaths according to some definition (the figure of 80% is often quoted).

Sociopaths regularly present the following characteristics:

- onset before age 15, childhood hyperactivity, truancy, delinquency, disruption in school
- early and often aggressive sexual activity, marital histories of desertion, non-support, abandonment
- persistent lying, cheating, irresponsibility without visible shame
- sudden changes of plan, impulsiveness, unpredictability
- charm and a façade of sensitivity
- high mobility, vagrancy, use of aliases

Sociopaths follow a life strategy that is adaptive for themselves but ruinous for society. Harpending and Sobus (2015) argue that they succeed so well because they know how to manipulate social relationships to their advantage.  

Sociopathy is at least moderately heritable (Hicks et al., 2004). Interestingly, it seems to cluster with hysteria in first-degree relatives, with sociopathy being expressed in the males and hysteria in the females. Harpending and Sobus (2015) argue that "hysteria is the expression in females of the same genetic material that leads to sociopathy in males." In short, "sociopathy in females is the result of a greater dose of the genetic material that leads, in smaller doses, to hysteria, namely, hysteria is mild sociopathy." 

If sociopathy is adaptive, why does it affect only a minority of us? It seems that the rest of us have developed counter-strategies of looking for signs of sociopathy and expelling suspects from society ... and the gene pool. This is probably why sociopaths tend to be always on the move—if they stay too long with the same people, they risk being detected and dealt with.

Gene-culture coevolution

We adapt to our cultural environment as we do to our natural environment. More so in fact. The last 10,000 years have seen far more genetic change in our ancestors than the previous 100,000, this speeding up of evolution being driven by the entry of humans into an increasingly diverse range of cultural environments.

Sociopathy may thus propagate itself more easily in some cultures than in others, with the result that its incidence may likewise differ from one to another. In a small band of hunter-gatherers, a sociopath will not last long because he is always interacting with the same small group of people:

In a 1976 study anthropologist Jane M. Murphy, then at Harvard University found that an isolated group of Yupik-speaking Inuits near the Bering Strait had a term (kunlangeta) they used to describe "a man who ... repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and ... takes sexual advantage of many women—someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment." When Murphy asked an Inuit what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, he replied, "Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking." (Lilienfeld and Arkowitz, 2007)

In a larger community, a sociopath may evade detection long enough to reproduce successfully and pass on his mental traits. Finally, in some cultures he can use his manipulative skills to dominate the community, becoming a "big man" and enjoying very good opportunities for reproduction.

This Pandora's Box was opened when humans gave up hunting and gathering and became farmers. First, farming supported a much larger population, so it became easier for sociopaths to move about from one group of unsuspecting people to another. Second, farming created a food surplus that powerful individuals could use to support underlings of various sorts: servants, soldiers, scribes, etc. There was thus a growing class of people who did not directly support themselves and whose existence depended on their ability to manipulate others.

Finally, in the tropical zone, farming greatly increased female reproductive autonomy. Through year-round farming, women could provide for themselves and their children with less male assistance. Men accordingly shifted their reproductive strategy from monogamy to polygyny, i.e., from providing for a wife and children to inseminating as many women as possible. This kind of cultural environment selected for male seducers and manipulators rather than male providers. Conversely, it selected for women who feel only an intermittent need for male companionship and who from time to time are able to coax assistance from people who are not so inclined:

Ethnographic descriptions of women who live in social contexts of low male parental investment portray women who are very demanding. Young women demand help from kin on behalf of children. When the help is not forthcoming the mothers often summarily dump or deposit the child or children at the door of a relative who (in their judgment) will not turn the children away. Women demand gifts from boyfriends for themselves. (Harpending and Draper, 1988)

In women, this selection pressure favors a condition known medically as Briquet's syndrome and more commonly as "hysteria":

When males are not good risks for parental investment, females will adjust their behavior accordingly. A common clinical characterization of Briquet's syndrome is a woman who exaggerates need, who demands high levels of attention and investment, who deceives herself and others as to her requirements. The strategy (learned or inherited) makes sense for a woman with high exposure to low investment males. These males, however, are so fickle and so mobile that they can be dunned only in the short run. (Harpending and Draper, 1988)

Sociopathic behavior, be it hysteria or full-blown sociopathy, is not favored in hunter-gatherers, since both sexes invest heavily in their offspring and in each other. The selection is for men and women who can bond strongly with one partner:

[...] abandonment of the pair bond by either partner is likely to be deadly for the offspring. Draper (manuscript) finds that men with more children spend more time hunting than men with fewer dependents; that is to say that more offspring are directly translated into more parental work for the male. Pennington and Harpending (manuscript) found that infant mortality among women who had more than one mate during their reproductive careers was nearly twice as great as infant mortality of women who had only one husband. [...] In societies of this type the contexts for the anti-social trait are unfavorable. There will be no pay-offs for anti-social behavior and the bearer of the trait will be readily detected and ostracized. (Harpending and Draper, 1988)

Strategy and counter-strategy

Sociopathy is therefore not an illness but a strategy. It has been least successful in small societies where both sexes invest heavily in care for their partners and offspring. It has been more successful in larger societies, particularly those where men invest less in partners and offspring. Indeed, because sociopathy does so well in such contexts, it may have hindered the development of larger and more complex societies.

In most large societies, people seek out and expel sociopaths from their local kin group and treat everyone else with suspicion. The result is the "amoral familialism" we see throughout much of the world. People prefer to deal with relatives, hire only relatives for their businesses and, as a rule, act morally only towards relatives. Thus, the high-trust environment of the family cannot extend to society in general. Among other things, this is why the market economy has failed to develop spontaneously over most of the world and over most of history. Without strong-armed government intervention (military pacification, police, courts, etc.), markets remain marketplaces—places of exchange that are highly localized in space and time. The market principle cannot spread to most economic transactions.

Some humans have resolved this problem by freeing themselves from the straitjacket of kinship, by adhering to social rules that apply to everyone, and by ruthlessly expelling rule breakers wherever they may be. This is the adaptation that Europeans have developed to the north and west of the Hajnal line. The relative weakness of kinship ties and, correspondingly, the relative strength of individualism favored a complex of psychological traits that may be summarized as follows:

- capacity to internalize punishment for disobedience of social rules (guilt proneness).

- capacity to simulate and then transfer to oneself the emotional states of other people, especially when such people are affected by rule-breaking either by oneself or by others (affective empathy).

- tendency to frame moral rules in universal, absolute terms, i.e., moral universalism and moral absolutism, as opposed to situational morality based on kinship. Rule-breakers are likewise condemned in absolute terms and may be expelled from the entire community, as opposed to being ostracized by close kin.

The above mental package brought Northwest Europeans closer than other humans to the threshold where one could escape the limitations of kinship and organize society along other lines, notably the market economy, the modern State, and political ideology. It thus became possible to meet the challenge of creating larger societies while ensuring compliance with social rules and a high degree of personal autonomy.


Cooke, D.J. (2003). Cross-Cultural Aspects of Psychopathy, in T. Millon, E. Simonsen, M. Birket-Smith, and R.D. Davis (eds). Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior, pp. 260-276, Guilford Press. 

Harpending, H. and P. Draper. (1988). Antisocial behavior and the other side of cultural evolution, in T. E. Moffitt and S.A. Mednick (eds). Biological contributions to crime causation, pp. 110-125, Boston: Nijhoff. 

Harpending, H. and J. Sobus. (2015). Sociopathy as an adaptation, Ethology and Sociobiology, 8, 63-72 

Hicks, B.M., R.F. Krueger, W.G. Iacono, M. McGue, C.J. Patrick. (2004). Family transmission and heritability of externalizing disorders. A twin-family study, Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 922-928. 

Lilienfeld, S.O. and H. Arkowitz. (2007). What "Psychopath" Means, Scientific American, 18, 90-91.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A pauper's death

The Pauper, 1894-1895, Theodor Kittelsen. This and other works by Kittelsen have appeared on Norwegian black metal albums


Black metal is a musical subgenre that grew out of death metal and, more broadly, heavy metal. In general, it pushes certain aspects of this genre to even farther extremes: fast tempos, shrieking vocals, and violent stage acts. Black metal bands can be found almost anywhere—Europe, North America, East Asia, even Indonesia and Israel.

In one country, however, it has developed differently, taking violence off-stage and into the political arena. That country is Norway. In the early to mid-1990s, black metallists launched a wave of arson attacks on churches, including one dating from the 12th century. By 1996 there had been 50 church burnings, with similar attacks spreading to Sweden.

Those convicted showed no remorse, and lack of remorse still prevails among many in the black metal scene:

Many, such as Infernus and Gaahl of Gorgoroth, continue to praise the church burnings, with the latter saying "there should have been more of them, and there will be more of them". Others, such as Necrobutcher and Kjetil Manheim of Mayhem and Abbath of Immortal, see the church burnings as having been futile. Manheim claimed that many arsons were "just people trying to gain acceptance" within the black metal scene. Watain vocalist Erik Danielsson respected the attacks, but said of those responsible: "the only Christianity they defeated was the last piece of Christianity within themselves. Which is a very good beginning, of course". (Wikipedia, 2015b)

Why this hostility to Christianity? And why is it more extreme in Norway? These questions are raised in a review of black metal around the world:

Individualistic and anti-Christian rhetoric is common across the American death metal scene, and metal bands worldwide look to native traditions as a means to combat cultural hegemony [...], yet nothing on the scale of the crimes in Norway has occurred elsewhere. (Wallach et al., 2011, p. 198)

One reason is the role of organized religion in Norwegian life. Although there are other denominations, the Church of Norway is the leading one and receives State support. Despite recent legislation in 2012 to weaken this relationship with the State, all clergy remain civil servants, the central and regional church administrations remain part of the state administration, all municipalities must support the Church of Norway's activities, and municipal authorities are still represented in its local bodies (Wikipedia, 2015a)

As either a partner or a rival of the government, the Church of Norway has helped to make public policy: first, the postwar expansion of the welfare state and, later, the boycotts against South Africa. Now, it is leading the push for large-scale non-European/non-Christian immigration, which began in the early 1990s through the "sanctuary movement." By 1993, as many as 140 congregations were housing 650 Albanians from Kosovo. By reframing immigration in moral terms, the Church made it that much harder to place limits on it, since morality is normally perceived in absolute terms, e.g., murder is always wrong, and not wrong within limits (Lippert and Rehaag, 2013, pp. 126-129).

After a lull, this movement is once more on the upswing:

As the group of unreturnable refugees in Norway has risen over recent years, churches have again become places for public appeals for these groups, through hunger strikes, tents camped as protest at the walls of central churches, and asylum marches following old pilgrimage paths. (Lippert and Rehaag, 2013, p.129).

The Church of Norway is now working with Lutherans elsewhere in Northern Europe to facilitate immigration from Africa and the Middle East. At a meeting this year in Trondheim, the Lutheran World Federation pushed for three measures: expansion of Italy's Mare Nostrum initiative to the entire Mediterranean; creation of "safe passage" corridors for migrants; and "just distribution" of migrants within Europe (Anon, 2015).

Norway is not the only country where churches have been promoting African and Muslim immigration, but church involvement is especially pivotal there and in Scandinavia as a whole. Because immigration was very limited until recent decades, it is legitimized much more by Christian universalism than by a pre-existing tradition of immigration, as in the United States, Canada, and France. A second reason is the relative dominance of one State-supported church and the unthinking adherence of most Scandinavians, even atheists, to the Lutheran tradition. Thus, in comparison to other predominantly Christian societies, they can more quickly reach a policy consensus, or have one imposed on them.

When a stage act leaves the stage

This was the social context that radicalized Norway's black metal scene, causing it to go beyond the fake violence of stage performances. Wallach et al. (2011, p. 196) argue that the acts of arson had their roots in "disaffection and alienation from the dominant society," which many musicians tried to channel into "an extended campaign to return Norway to an idealized pagan past through acts of destruction."

That campaign failed. It foundered on the movement's nihilism and contempt for ordinary men and women. "Extreme metal in general does not lend itself well to inciting social change beyond its own scene, since the lyrics are frequently indecipherable and the musical characteristics are often confounding to the uninitiated listener" (Wallach et al., 2011, p. 196). Moreover, as a haven for disaffected people, the metal scene tended to attract loners, exhibitionists, and other misfits. Though perhaps better at seeing through the lies of mainstream society, they lacked the social skills to win the mainstream over to their point of view.

There were of course other reasons why they failed to win over the mainstream. The burning of historic churches antagonized Norwegians in general, including traditionalists and even many black metallists, thus making it easier for the police to crack down and sentence key individuals to lengthy prison terms. Commercial success caused others to become apolitical: "many black metal musicians are now attempting to focus on their actual music and do not want that to be overshadowed by social and political activism" (Wallach et al.,2011, p. 196).

Today, the black metal scene exists mostly as a weird subgenre:

Isolated acts of vandalism still occur, and some in the scene, like Gaahl of Gorgoroth, still engage in violence. Yet the incendiary rhetoric frequently leveled at Western urban society, multiculturalism, and Christianity has not produced the uprising and pagan resurgence that some in the scene claim to desire. (Wallach et al., p. 196)

And Breivik?

It would be tempting to see the church burnings as a prelude to Anders Breivik and the 2011 Norway attacks. Yet, by his own account, Breivik was never into black metal, preferring hip-hop instead. In his manifesto, he disparaged the Oslo metal scene as quiet and law-abiding, an indication that the church burnings had limited support even within that subculture.

[...] As for the right wing community at that time, it was simple. They loved metal and we loved hip-hop. Being into the very small right wing community or the larger mainstream rock community meant Goth girls and hard rock. I disliked both. The big irony was that they; Edward and his friends, were a lot more "normal" than us during this period. They were peaceful while we were violent. They followed the law and rules while we broke the law and ignored the rules again and again. At the same time, the hip-hop community was cheered by the media, praised as the pinnacle of tolerance among the new generation, while THEY were condemned for their political views, systematically harassed and beaten by non-white gangs, extremist Marxist gangs (Blitz etc) and the police. (Berwick, 2011)

During this time of his life, he saw young Muslim men as role models and looked down on "ethnic Norwegians" as sissies:

If I ever got in to trouble I expected my friends to back me up 100% without submitting or running away, as I would for them. Very few ethnic Norwegians shared these principles. They would either "sissy out", allow themselves to be subdued or run away when facing a threat. [...] The majority of people who shared these principles of pride was the Muslim youths and the occasional skinhead.

In time, Breivik became disenchanted, eventually leaving the hip-hop milieu after a personal incident. The more he associated with Muslims and antifas, the more his respect for them became a simple matter of "necessity":

In Oslo, as an ethnic Norwegian youth aged 14-18 you were restricted if you didn't have affiliations to the Muslim gangs. Your travel was restricted to your own neighbourhoods in Oslo West and certain central points in the city. Unless you had Muslim contacts you could easily be subject to harassment, beatings and robbery. Our alliances with the Muslim gangs were strictly seen as a necessity for us, at least for me. We, however, due to our alliances had the freedom of movement.

In short, there is no reason to believe that the black metal scene helped to push Breivik toward his terror attacks. The only elements common to both are Norway itself, its policy of demographic change, and the weak hold of mainstream culture on marginal individuals.


Aside from a few frozen islands and a brief claim to part of Greenland, Norway never had a colonial empire. Nor was it ever involved in the slave trade. Yet, today, the average Norwegian feels more guilt over having white skin and more deference toward dark-skinned people than do citizens of most European countries, including former colonial powers. This is a relatively recent development, being postwar and mostly post-1960—a time when Norway and other Scandinavian countries were striving to assimilate modern Western values, including antiracism.

Scandinavians have been very good at internalizing and acting out those values. They are like model students who have learned to outdo their teachers. This partly reflects—ironically—their cultural homogeneity and their ability to reach consensus and act collectively with little foot-dragging.

This also reflects certain profound psychological traits that characterize Northwest Europeans in general, with Scandinavians forming the epicenter. To the north and west of the Hajnal line, Europeans have long had weaker kinship ties and correspondingly stronger individualism. This social environment has in turn favored a greater emphasis on absolute, universally applicable rules, combined with a stronger desire to expel rule breakers. This system of morality differs from the relativistic, kin-based morality that prevails elsewhere in the world, where right and wrong are more a matter of whose side you are on ... and who does what to whom.

Moral universalism and moral absolutism have brought many benefits. They have enabled Northwest Europeans to free themselves from the limitations of kinship and build large high-trust societies that leave greater room for the individual. But such societies have an Achilles heel. They are vulnerable to people who play by a different rule book, be they native deviants who practice "selfishness for me and selflessness for thee" or immigrants from low-trust, kin-based societies ... in short, the majority of humans on this planet.

In the past, this was no problem because Norway received few immigrants and because rule breakers of any origin were ruthlessly ostracized. Over the past half-century, however, Norwegians have been persuaded that the supreme rule is Thou shalt not be racist. It follows, therefore, that racists are supreme offenders who must be expelled from society, like witches and heretics of another age. A psychological mechanism that once enabled Norwegian society to perpetuate itself has been reprogrammed to ensure its self-liquidation.

That outcome is not far off. In a country of five million or so, it doesn't take long to elect a new people. Even remote Arctic communities like Narvik are starting to look like a cross between Mogadishu and Karachi. Will Norwegians stop before it’s too late?

Stopping means dismantling the moral consensus that has legitimized this massive demographic change. But how? Violence simply confirms the judgment that racism is evil. This is what happened after the church burnings and the attacks of 2011. A moral consensus can be dismantled only by moral means denouncing it openly and nonviolently.

That won't be easy. No one wants to be a "bad" person, and in a conformist society like Norway a rule-breaker is “bad” no matter how stupid the rule may seem. As long as the rule is affirmed and never challenged, people will obey and make others obey. Only when enough people challenge it—openly and defiantly—will the moral consensus weaken and collapse. To get from here to there will be difficult but it can be done. Rules of sexual morality were deconstructed. Why not antiracism?

Finally, Norwegians should remember the cost of being "good." A "good" member of a death cult will die just as surely as a "bad" member. And that is exactly what antiracism has become for Norway. A death cult.


Anon. (2015). Europe's Lutherans pledge increased efforts to welcome refugees, The Lutheran World Federation, May 19 

Berwick [Breivik], A. (2011). A European Declaration of Independence. 

Lippert, R.K., and S. Rehaag. (2013). Sanctuary Practices in International Perspectives: Migration, Citizenship, and Social Movements, Routledge 

Wallach, J., H.M. Berger, P.D. Greene. (2011). Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World, Duke University Press. 

Wikipedia (2015a). Church of Norway 

Wikipedia (2015b). Early Norwegian black metal scene