Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom
Paul H. Rubin
Rutgers University Press, 2002
Reviewed by Frank K. Salter
Paul Rubin’s book is a rare, perhaps the first serious, defense of globalism from the modern evolutionary perspective. In particular, we have at last a Darwinian argument for the globalist ethnic policy that has been transforming many Western societies for decades. That policy comprises generous, non-discriminatory immigration, and multiculturalism, the demographic and political empowerment of ethnic minorities and the commensurate de-emphasis of majority interests. This review will focus on the ethnic dimension, after describing Rubin’s broad approach to policy analysis.
Liberal and libertarian thinkers have long deployed materialist evolutionary theory as an alternative to the religious viewpoint of their of conservative opponents. Since the early decades of the 20th century, however, they have been on the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate, ignoring and often opposing Darwinism in its substantive scientific forms of human ethology, evolutionary psychology, and biological anthropology (Degler, 1991). Since the 1970s the academic Left’s barricade against biology has been breached by a torrent of findings on biological sex differences, selected flotsam being sanctified in 1998 by philosopher Peter Singer’s belated proposal of a ‘Darwin for the Left’. But America’s academic establishment persists in denying biological findings about ethnic and race relations. The politically correct position remains that of denying the very existence of ethnicity, and even race, as genetic categories (Boyd & Silk, 1997), let alone entertaining the possibility that defense of one’s tribe or nation is, could be, or ever has been adaptive.
Now comes Darwinian Politics, written from a libertarian free market perspective, that acknowledges Singer’s proposal but rejects his socialist economics (pp. x, 175–176). Rubin agrees with Singer’s views on ethnic policy, although his analysis goes much further in scope and learning. The scientific and popular triumph of ethology and sociobiology over the previous quarter century justifies Rubin’s wonderful opening sentence: ‘The notion that humans are born as blank slates ... is no longer intellectually respectable among serious people’ (p. ix). Thus Rubin takes as his starting point the realization that behavioral biology is essential to any serious treatment of politics, including ethnic affairs.
Darwinian Politics is a set of recommendations about public policy informed by a clear, non-technical exposition of selected developments in evolutionary psychology and economics. The author, professor of economics and law at Emory University, tackles some major debating points of political theory, including group conflict, altruism, cooperation and sharing, envy, power, religious constraints on behavior, and decision making. The book is worth reading or dipping into at random, and is full of brief but telling literature reviews and insights, often with artful twists. One example is his treatment of free riding, where theories of social evolution are drawn on to explain the motivation and difficulties attending monopolies, welfare and welfare shirking, and charity (pp. 63–72). Another example is a novel, economics-based approach to hierarchy (pp. 105–108).
The book is also a work of advocacy, a brief in support of American globalism, advanced by both Republicans and Democrats from the 1960s. Globalism is an ideology distinct from the globalization of markets and communications that has been acceler-ating since the colonial era and the industrial revolution. Like the Marxist championing of a particular vision of industrialization, globalism claims to know where globalization is headed, approves that destination, and seeks to hasten the millennium. In terms of policy, this means the doctrinal embrace of free markets and—the issue at hand—what might be called ‘ethnic globalism’. In principle the latter derives from an Olympian overview of national and ethnic rivalries as, at best, petty and irrational squabbling. The globalist maintains that no nation, including his own, is more important than any other. In practice this ideology is often far from disinterested, extending special protections for ethnic minorities with such policies as multiculturalism while simultaneously boosting minority numbers with large-scale immigration. In addition, majority ethnic interests are relegated in many formal and informal ways. Multiculturalism goes well beyond the original civil rights agenda of equal opportunity, exemplified by such landmarks as the Supreme Court’s outlawing of segregated schooling in Brown vs. Board of Education. It is a general presumption, both in law and elite sentiment, that systematically adopts the minority perspective in setting ethnic policy.
The politics of grievance is promoted, urging ethnic pride in minorities but shame in majorities, sentiments that are reinforced by popular culture and education. Rubin opposes one aspect of this agenda, affirmative action, in part because it risks provoking majority persecution of minorities (pp. 54–56). While this exception proves the rule of the minority orientation of Rubin’s advocacy, he also contends that ethnic conflict impoverishes all participants. Darwinian Politics’ central message and justification for ethnic globalism is that ethnic conflict, typically for territory, reduces overall wealth, and that wealth (minus land) is the most vital of interests.
These elements combine to make this book an important document in the scientific study of ethnic policy. Agree or disagree, Rubin highlights for his readers the specifically evolutionary assumptions one must make to support mainstream globalism, with its pluralist agenda (minus affirmative action for racial minorities). Rubin’s advocacy has domestic and international significance. Domestically, such a book is overdue, considering U.S. ethnic policy since 1965. The rapid ethnic diversification of the country must be considered a bold experiment following a century of bloody national conflicts around the world. Americans should be grateful that finally a supporter of the transformation, with the imprimatur of a prestigious university press, is willing to justify it on naturalistic grounds.
The book’s international significance derives from America’s leadership of modern globalism, based on its large financial, military, and cultural influence. Rubin emulates elements of the American political elite in his evangelical zeal for what, since the proposals of John F. Kennedy, later enacted under his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, has become the American way. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was undertaken ostensibly as part of a larger project to export democracy to the Islamic world, to remake other countries in the image of America, on the assumption that what is good for Americans must also be good for other peoples. As President George W. Bush declared in his January 2003 State of the Union Address: ‘‘The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.’’ Political theory can indeed have real consequences.
Rubin’s unabashed support for a neoconservative, Fukuyama-type freemarket globalism is refreshing in its openness. The book is a timely stimulus to research and debate over the political implications of behavioral biology. It should serve as a kick in the pants to those who are shy about debating the policy implications of their research for social problems. As Rubin writes: ‘Even if the particular details of my argument prove incorrect, the overall perspective should prove useful’ (p. xiii).
Rubin’s method for linking political analysis to Darwinism is to identify core features of human behavior forming part of a universal human phenotype, the ontogeny of which is largely coded in the genes. He declares that there is indeed such a thing as human nature, shaped by natural selection. These are old ethological ideas, though here mostly attributed to American evolutionary psychologists (Lorenz, Tinbergen, and Eibl-Eibesfeldt are not even indexed). The novel element is the application of
econometrics to our understanding of how evolved preferences or tastes (‘utility functions’, p. 15), variously constrained, have resulted in contemporary demand for certain political processes and outcomes.
Consider the emergence of liberal democracy, a central theme of the book. Humans have an evolved taste for equal status (as the next best thing to dominance), because in the evolutionary past this yielded more resources and mating opportunities, and thus greater reproductive fitness. Genes that did not predispose individuals to prefer this form of equality would have been weeded out of the gene pool. The result is a general preference for democracy, Rubin claims, driven by this aspect of human nature. He is aware of the long history of autocracy and tyranny, and concludes from this that the preference for equality is insufficient to guarantee democracy.
Economics offers an elegant explanation for the acceptance of subordinate status in pre-liberal polities. Expression of preferences can be highly constrained by costs. If coerced, individuals will even tolerate despotism, because expressing some preferences, such as freedom of movement or of speech, is punished by the regime. Polities have generally failed to maximize individuals’ freedom to choose. Indeed, only liberal democracies, few in number, have thrown off the stifling oppression that characterized political systems since the Neolithic, when the combination of growing numbers and stratification began to marginalize the egalitarian huntergatherers. This leads to the unexceptional view that the freedom to express preferences is due to enlightened policy: democracy; the rule of law; protection of individual rather than group rights; the right to private property, etc. One problem for this thesis is the nearly total European monopoly of democracy, from the ancient Greeks onwards, which goes unremarked in Rubin’s account. How could this result from species universals? Perhaps the argument from human nature should be expanded to incorporate regional variants.
Rubin argues that, viewed from the Darwinian perspective, people do better in liberal democracies than in any preceding political system. He praises this historically novel system because it optimizes peoples’ choices; more individuals are able to satisfy wants than under any other system. Economic freedom, including the right to private property, releases productive potential to increase average wealth. In liberal democracies minority rights are protected from majority ethnocentrism, which has become maladaptive in the modern world. This is achieved by administering the population as a set of individuals, rather than as a set of solidary groups.
The alleged maladaptiveness of majority ethnocentrism forms the basis of Rubin’s promotion of U.S. liberal democracy as superior to the European variety. America’s advantage, he argues, derives from it no longer having a dominant ethnic group, which reduces the risk of the majority falling into mass deviancy and competing with minorities using predatory or persecutory policies (pp. xi; 54; 185; ‘deviancy’ on rear cover). Rubin continues that immigration to the U.S., with all its economic benefits, has become relatively safe against nativist efforts at restriction, which have declined in step with the fall in size and power of the white population (p. 190). Further, he believes that xenophobia is also behind much of the popular opposition to free trade and globalization (ibid.). Apparently Rubin judges that the limiting of majority political power in America is such an advantage compared to the European type, that there is no need to explain the multiple European advantages in greater access to welfare, more social capital, lower crime rates, and the limiting of ethnic and class inequality.
American superiority might not be immediately obvious to those who accept the modern Darwinian definition of adaptiveness as reproductive fitness. Due to high levels of immigration and falling fertility, United States citizens of European descent (whites) are declining in relative numbers. The white population fell from about 88.6% of the population in 1960 to 69.4% in 2000,1 representing a large fall in relative fitness for white Americans. While the white population kept growing, the higher birth rate of minorities and the large immigration influx caused its proportion of the population to decline by over 20% in just two generations. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050 the white proportion of the population will be 50.1%.2
The United States’ founding population, the original British settlers augmented by European immigration since the 19th century, is heading towards minority status within just two generations. On the evolutionary time scale that is a precipitous decline. The United States’ claim to greatness, Rubin thinks, is that it yields winwin outcomes for its citizens, especially by avoiding ethnic competition. In terms of fitness, that must mean that even if Americans of European descent are falling as a proportion of the overall U.S. population, they are rising as a proportion of the world population. But in fact the inhabitants of north America have fallen as a proportion of the world population since 1980 (from 8.4 to 7.9%) and is projected to remain stable until 2050.3
This means that America’s founding population is declining in ethnic fitness relative to both U.S. and world populations. So how is it possible to claim, from an evolutionary perspective, that the United States is better for its citizens than are European states? Rubin makes his answer explicit: America is superior precisely because it has greatly reduced the relative numbers and power of its white population. The implied advice to Europe and other relatively homogeneous societies is clear: large-scale non-European immigration is needed because Britain, France, Germany, and Russia are still nation states, and thus serve the interests of their founding British, French, German, and Russian peoples, even if residually and inadvertently. According to Rubin, all nation states should be ended. Democratic nations that made large sacrifices to resist fascism in the 1930s and 1940s are as untrustworthy as the ex-fascist states, because they all have large ethnic majorities, and that leaves open the possibility, however remote, of harm being inflicted on minorities. ‘This appears to be an advantage of the United States over even Western Europe, which also includes modern liberal democracies. After all, the Nazis were in power in Germany only sixty years ago’ (p. 185).
Rubin’s view resembles that of liberal and ethnic activists (e.g. Goldberg, 2002; Raab, 1993) who perceive a risk posed to minorities even by those ethnies that have developed liberal-democratic societies, outlawed slavery, welcomed immigrants, and granted equal rights and preferential benefits to minorities. The interests of majorities are deemed so unimportant that governments are advised to act against not only present real dangers but against the most marginal potential threats. Further, they are advised that this threat can only be terminated by reducing majorities below the size where they can have significant political influence. The safe size for majorities is left unspecified, but the logic of the argument implies the openended criterion, ‘the smaller the better!’.
The foregoing might lead one to suspect that Rubin is a minority chauvinist or a utopian globalist. But presumably his criticism of ethnic combativeness disallows minority as well as majority solidarity. And he is not a utopian but a scientific realist, one who accepts the reality of an evolved human nature. Indeed, as already noted, he takes as his starting point the reality of reproductive interests and even the genetic component of ethnicity. So it is remarkable that his policy recommendations concur with the mainstream in finding no legitimate role, indeed only illegitimate ones, for ethnic nepotism on the part of America’s or Europe’s ethnic majorities.
Darwinian Politics’ clear exposition allows us to identify the premises from which Rubin arrived at his remarkable defense of American ethnic policy from an evolutionary position. If these premises bear scrutiny, then post-1965 U.S. globalism can reasonably be accepted as adaptive for its citizens, and we shall have to take seriously the idea that the territorial nation state has outlived its usefulness. Let us now consider the premises concerning ethnic policy.
(1) Preferences lead us to fitness. Rubin contends that preferences (or tastes) are reliable guides to what was adaptive in the environment in which humans evolved—the so called ‘environment of evolutionary adaptedness’ or EEA—though changed conditions now make some political preferences maladaptive (pp. x, xiii–xiv, 5–29, 147). An important case of an evolved preference that is maladaptive in modern societies is resource envy (pp. 87–112); another is group solidarity, once directed at the tribe but now expressed as xenophobia, nationalism, and racism. This premise, with its escape clause, is necessary for Rubin’s championing of American policies, and is invoked repeatedly to interpret apparently adaptive behavior as maladaptive, and vice versa. (Note: Based on the above reasoning, in summarizing the remaining premises I take preferences to be proxies for adaptiveness, unless stated otherwise).
(2) Despite the reality of ethnic kinship, ethnic altruism is now generally maladaptive. Rubin explains Hamilton’s Rule, that even liferisking altruism can be adaptive if it rescues enough kin, since kin carry copies of the altruist’s distinctive genes (pp. 23–24). He extends this logic to ethnic kin and suggests that this kinship can be substantial when aggregated across a whole tribe or ethny (p. 46). However, unlike altruism shown to family members, he maintains that ethnic altruism no longer pays off as it did in the primordial past. Changed circumstances have rendered maladaptive all sacrifice for the ethny, including nationalism and ethnic solidarity in general (pp. 45–48). Now the only adaptive strategy vis a´ vis ethnicity is inter-ethnic trade, not competition. Indeed, the positive-sum game of making money is the main fitness strategy available in the modern world. The changed circumstances to which Rubin refers are set out below in premises 3–6. The remaining premises are factors he believes contribute to the superior adaptiveness of the United States for its citizens.
(3) Territory is not a special ethnic resource. Replacement migration is not threatening because territory is no longer very important for sustaining population (pp. 48–49). ‘[L]and is no different than any other resource ...’ (p. 48). Rubin rejects as outmoded the age-old reliance of tribal continuity on and identification with land, adopting the American geographer Isaiah Bowman’s view that a state’s power is no longer measured by territorial extent but by economic might, and that the latter depends on access to foreign markets.
(4) Ethnic competition is punished. Ethnic competition is now maladaptive, because persecution of minorities is punished by the international community (pp. 49–50).
(5) Immigrants benefit the economy. Immigration greatly enriches the American economy, and the ethnicity of immigrants does not influence the benefits they bring (pp. 50–51).
(6) Immigration incurs no substantial social costs in a mostly tolerant society such as the U.S. ‘‘One benefit of reduced ethnic conflict is the ability to profit from increased immigration of ethnically diverse individuals’’ (p. 51).
(7) It is wrong to prioritize American interests. Even if mass immigration does impose economic or social costs on the host society, these costs should be borne because they are outweighed by the resulting benefits for immigrants and poorer countries (pp. 22, 52). Besides, caring more for one’s own people is ethnocentric (p. 110), which is maladaptive from (1) and (2) above.
(8) Unperceived interests do not count. Even if reproductive fitness, familial or ethnic, is a proper matter of concern, policy analysts may ignore it because the public does not in fact care about reproduction, as demonstrated by low birth rates (p. 49).
(9) Only majority ethnocentrism is worthy of criticism. Rubin only considers ethnic majorities in making his case against the adaptiveness of ethnic solidarity. His argument is that political monopoly by the majority ethny is a maladaptive form of ethnocentrism because sooner or later it leads to predation on minorities (pp. xi; 54; 185).
(10) Resource envy is now maladaptive. Absolute wealth will rise if the lower orders tolerate their positions, so long as this is due to fair competition (chapter 4). Policies based on jealousy, such as redistribution and affirmative action for uncompetitive minorities, falsely assume that wealth and status are zero-sum games, while dangerously reinforcing ethnic categories that could lead to ethnic conflict (pp. 54–56).
(11) Abortion harms no-one. Rubin remarks the widespread preference against abortion, but maintains that it should be legally available on demand to women as a unilateral choice (p. 188) because it helps keep populations in check, increases women’s freedom, and reduces crime (p. 147), while harming no-one (p. 151). Any resulting need for more population can be met by immigration.
(12) Utilitarian ethics. Rubin applies an evolutionary interpretation of Bentham’s famous maxim, that the right act is that which maximizes the happiness of the greater number. In this interpretation, ‘utilitarianism is essentially the result of fitness maximizing preferences’ (p. 73). The argument is that since preferences evolved to maximize individuals’ inclusive fitness, the most ethical polity, from an adaptationist perspective, is that which satisfies most preferences for the greatest number. And since satisfying preferences produces happiness, maximizing happiness amounts to maximizing satisfaction of preferences amounts to maximizing adaptiveness.
Now I assess the preceding premises, first by noting how they fit into the thesis that since 1965 the United States has been adaptive for its citizens.
(1a) Preferences lead us to fitness. This premise is necessary to make the argument that democracy and free markets advance fitness, since in those forums preferences determine policies and patterns of consumption, which in turn affect fitness.
Rubin offers no consistent formula for distinguishing which modernday preferences are adaptive. He accepts consumerism but rejects nationalism, especially when expressed by majority ethnic groups. Among the deadly sins, he pardons greed, even when it leads to pronounced economic inequality that in the past has fuelled class warfare, but condemns envy, even when this would motivate political activism for redistribution. Public tastes are often fleeting and shaped by the omnipresent advertising industry and by other organs of mass culture. From an evolutionary perspective, the only consistent criterion on which to fall back is adaptiveness, a recourse recommended by Rubin himself at several places even if he does not always follow his own advice. But if preferences are so unreliable, why not dispense with this set of utilities altogether and evaluate policies and political systems according to their prospect for, or record of, optimizing fitness? Preferences should remain the guide when it is uncertain which option is the most adaptive, as will be the case much of the time. But when uncertainty is reasonably low, should not Darwinian-minded analysts of good will recommend policies they judge to be the most adaptive for the greatest number?
(2a) Despite the reality of ethnic kinship, ethnic altruism is now generally maladaptive.
This premise alone, if true, reverses the age-old assumption that ethnic solidarity is obligatory. The view that ethnic groups often have a large genetic dimension is supported by quantitative sociobiological theory advanced by Hamilton (1971, 1975) and Harpending (1979, 2002), when conjoined with global genetic data (e.g. Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994). It fits qualitative theory advanced by Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1979/1975, 1982) and van den Berghe (1978, 1981; for reviews see Salter, 2001, 2002, 2003).
Ethnic kinship can be remarkably high when distantly-related populations are brought into contact through long-distance migration. It is typically as great as that between grandparent and grandchild. Thus Rubin’s view is credible compared with what has become semi-official multicultural doctrine, which is simply to deny or overlook the fact that ethnic groups are large genetic families, i.e. that the genetic kinship of two randomly chosen members of an ethnic group is usually significantly greater than the kinship of two randomly chosen members of the global population (Lewontin, 1972; Olson, 2002).
The second part of this premise is not so well founded. Rubin does not attempt to apply Hamilton’s Rule for adaptive altruism to ethnic groups, though one of his central theses is that ethnic altruism is maladaptive (see Salter, 2003, chapter. 5). No argument is presented as to why the positivesum character of modern economies applies to fitness trade-offs. After all, the former refers to absolute gains, the latter to relative gains. Rubin’s devaluing of majority ethnocentrism undermines his thesis that anti-Semitism has generally been maladaptive for non-Jews (pp. 51–53). He rejects MacDonald’s (1998) contention that anti-Semitism has often been adaptive as a means of resource competition by those who lose out against Jewish economic competition. Rubin replies that competition from Jews ‘will generally provide economic benefits to gentile society overall, even if it does harm some segments ...’ (p. 51).
But unless the harmed segments were ethnic altruists, why should they have cared about benefits to the larger society? Unless ethnic kinship is worthy of investment, the only adaptive strategy is individual reproduction and investment in the family. For most of history individual reproduction has been limited mainly by personal resources, especially wealth and rank relative to others. The result is that we detect rank, compete, and are happy when successful (see Frank, 1993, pp. 160–162 for a discussion). A merchant or artisan facing ruin from Jewish competition had much to gain materially and hence reproductively by suppressing that competition. The only adaptive reason not to suppress Jewish trade would be that doing so slowed the overall economy, thus exposing the country, and hence ethnic kin, to outside competition. Instead of lashing out against their competitors, such non-Jewish businessmen might have abstained from anti-Semitism and accepted their individual loss as acts of ethnic altruism. However, Rubin denies that ethnic altruism was adaptive, implying that anti-Semitism probably was.
The same denial also supports the other half of MacDonald’s thesis, that in forming coalitions with Jews, Gentile elites were motivated by individual gain rather than humanitarian sentiment. Rubin’s contribution is to imply that this defection from the aristocratic duty to defend the people was adaptive for the defectors. However, if ethnic altruism was adaptive, it is possible that anti-Semitism was not, and that elite philo-Semitism served both personal profit (intentionally) and ethnic interests (unintentionally). This leaves unanswered the question whether resisting replacement migration, the main adaptive function of ethnocentrism in the EEA, is no longer adaptive after millions of years of its being so. Rubin answers that question in the affirmative in his remaining premises.
(3a) Territory is unimportant.
This premise alone, if true, falsifies the age-old assumption that a particular area of land is the homeland of one’s people, and that one should defend that homeland against foreign occupation. Rubin treats territory solely as an economic asset, ignoring its traditional role as a demarcated refuge against immigration. But even his economic argument is weak. Citing Japan as an example of wealth in the absence of natural resources is hardly justification for overlooking the multiple resources offered by land. It is true that Singapore is wealthy despite importing fresh water, but is that reason not to wish for territory carrying this precious resource? The book fails to discuss crowding or ecological sustainability. The ethnic monopoly of territory is important from a Darwinian perspective because it helps perpetuate the gene pool by facilitating defense against mass immigration, whether violent or peaceful.
Defense of a territory is a basic ethnic group strategy. A decimated, defeated, or impoverished population can quickly recover if it retains control of its territory, but a large-scale influx of genetically distant immigrants permanently reduces the inclusive fitness of the original population. Perhaps that is why territory plays such a central role in ethnic identity. All the most persistent ethnies include a territory as part of their identity, either presently or once occupied by the group (Spicer, 1971, p. 798). (Rubin states that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is religious, not ethnic [p. 135], but also states that Jews are an ethny [p. 51]. He does not discuss the role of nationalism in the Arab-Israeli conflict or the centrality of disputed territory [p. 135]).
(4a) Ethnic competition is punished.
This premise offers a reason for majority ethnies avoiding collective strategies. The claim that ethnic persecution does not pay is partly true, though largely irrelevant to the case Rubin seeks to make. Aggressive ethnic nationalism has been punished, as have other forms of international aggression, by other states. Sometimes coalitions, such as the Allies in the Second World War, wage war to defend themselves and bring a rogue state back into harmony with the international system. Recently states have been punished for persecuting minorities, as when South Africa was belatedly subjected to sanctions during the 1980s or Serbia was attacked by NATO to prevent further atrocities against Albanian Kosovars. But much ethnic aggression goes unpunished. To pick well-reported contemporary examples, there is China’s systematic drowning of the Tibetan people under a flood of Hans, Israel’s massacre and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 and, after 1967, its state-sponsored colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Turkey’s suppression of the Kurds. Rubin’s own country has not punished any of these aggressions; in the latter two cases it has remained staunchly allied with the aggressors. Rubin himself implies that aggression is unreliably punished, when he approves of the demographic and political reduction of European majorities as a means of protecting minorities (p. 185).
More importantly, it is erroneous and rather ethnocentric to claim that ethnic competition consists of large ethnies persecuting small ones (pp. 49, 55). From the Mongols to European colonists, conquerors and autocratic elites have often been less numerous than the mass ethnics they rule. Neither is ethnic rivalry necessarily or even usually violent, as Rubin himself implies (pp. 49, 184–185). Rubin wants to show that ‘[I]n the United States, ... ignoring the ethnicity of people is almost always beneficial ...’ (p. 47). But the examples he brings to bear—of persecution and violence—ignore the preponderance of non-coercive strategies, such as economic collusion, competitive breeding, and migration. The focus on persecution distracts from such economic processes as ethnic networking, a strategy most pronounced among minorities (e.g. Landa, 2002; Light & Karageorgis, 1994). Since Rubin does not distinguish ethnic competition and conflict, his recommendations imply that even restrictive immigration policies are maladaptive, since these entail cognizance of ethnicity. From an evolutionary perspective, ethnic competition should be suspected whenever sustained change is observed in relative group fitness or status. For groups in demographic retreat, such change is maladaptive whether caused peacefully or violently.
(5a) Immigrants benefit the economy. This premise is necessary to justify open borders based on Premise 2, that resource acquisition is the only route to fitness.
It is debatable whether immigration in recent decades has improved American economic growth. While immigration benefits certain industries and the immigrants themselves, it depresses wages and deprives Americans of their jobs (Borjas, 2001). Rubin states that, putting aside special skills, immigrants of all ethnic backgrounds are equally beneficial economically because they enlarge the market (p. 50). This might be true for already wealthy economies such as the United States if social costs are disregarded, but it is not true in 90% of the world’s economies, for whom rising ethnic diversity depresses growth (Easterly & Levine, 1997; Masters & McMillan, 2004).
(6a) Immigration incurs no substantial social costs in a mostly tolerant society such as the U.S.
This premise is an additional reason to open borders based on Premise 2, since ethnic conflict reduces economic growth. In fact the social costs of immigration are large. Millions of native-born Americans have fled the border states of California and New Mexico to escape the impact of Third World immigration on jobs, schools, neighborhoods, and medical services. In the USA as a whole, growing diversity correlates with the seemingly inexorable loss of social capital, the public altruism manifested in volunteering, voting, and other forms of communal participation. American welfare for the elderly, infirm, single mothers, and the unemployed is low compared to levels in Europe’s nation states. Growing ethnic diversity is implicated in this decline, since welfare and other public goods are greater in more homogeneous cities and states (see literature review in Salter, 2004a).
Rubin praises democracy for reducing the incidence of genocide and civil war (p. 128), citing the research of R.J. Rummel. But he does not record Rummel’s finding that ethnic diversity is, after lack of democracy, the strongest predictor of these calamities. To be able to explain one-fifth of the variation among all states in such intense violence as guerrilla and civil wars from 1932 to 1982 is an accomplishment, and to do this with one variable—the number of ethnic groups—is even more important. And the factor analyses show clearly that this is a direct relationship, after the effects of the correlation of other plural indicators, and political, social-economic, and cultural indicators have been removed (Rummel, 1997). Interstate warfare is considered the horror of the 20th century, yet according to a recent United Nations report, far more people were killed by their own governments (170 million, UNDP 2002, p. 6). Since 1990, about 220,000 deaths were caused by interstate wars, while almost 3.6 million resulted from conflicts within states (ibid., p. 16). These effects are predictable from Hamiltonian theory as much as from observation.
Ethologists should hardly be surprised by the costs of diversity (e.g. van der Dennen, 1999; Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 2001/1998). Yet Rubin maintains that mass replacement migration is an unalloyed benefit, and even that new citizens will vote and pay for a social security system that cares for senior citizens predominantly of another ethnic group (p. 51). He also believes that ethnic conflict has declined in America since the civil rights reforms of the 1950s and 1960s (p. 46). What has undoubtedly declined is white dominance, both its offensive mode of denying civil liberties to African Americans, and its defensive mode of controlling minority crime. To make claims about rates of conflict would require comparison of the statistics on racial violence—lynching, murder, assault, rape—before and after the civil rights era, which Rubin does not do. However, even a casual reading of the press, or a personal excursion into many big U.S. cities, indicates that racial violence is still a major problem in America.
For example, in the early 21st century, 12% of African-American males aged 20–34 were in prison, the highest level ever recorded, vs. 1.6% of white males (Bruner, 2003, p. 44). In 1999, about 30% of non-college black men had been in prison by their mid-thirties, vs. 6% of non-college white men. In the same period, 60% of black school dropouts were sent to prison by their mid-thirties (Pettit & Western, 2004, p. 164). In 2000, the number of black jail inmates almost equaled that of white inmates (2.56 vs. 2.6 million; U.S. Census Bureau, 2001, Table 330). This means that blacks are more than five times as likely to be in prison as whites, since in the country as a whole, blacks number about 18.6% of the white population. The rate of execution of blacks compared to that of whites is still remarkably high. That proportion has fallen by about 40% since the period 1930–1949, but during the period 1977–2000 averaged 60% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001, Table 338). This is more than three times the black representation in the total U.S. population. The situation is unlikely to improve soon if youth crime rates are any guide. In 1998 there were twice as many black underage offenders than white, eleven times the black proportion of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001, Table 327).
The problem is not limited to drugs, since in crimes against persons the black delinquency rate was three times the white rate in absolute figures, or about 15 times their proportion of the total U.S. population. The civil rights era was followed by a rise, not a fall, in black imprisonment, since imprisonment became a common life event for blacks only from the 1970s onwards. Nevertheless, in 1980 black imprisonment rates were one third present levels. The cause appears to be rising social inequality combined with lower educational achievement by blacks (Pettit & Western, 2004). This is bad news for Rubin’s thesis that control of white racism and growing average wealth has reduced racial conflict in America.
Social costs translate into economic costs, and the nation state that Rubin derides offers multiple economic advantages. As he notes, strong institutions reduce uncertainty of exchange in any society, thus lowering the cost of enforcing contracts, or ‘transaction costs’ in economic jargon. But building collective goods, including public institutions, is easier in ethnically homogeneous societies, because the latter begin with higher levels of public altruism and cooperation, less risk of civil war, greater democracy (itself the most powerful counter to civil war), less corruption, higher productivity, and accelerated social and economic capital formation as well as economic growth. Furthermore, ethnically homogeneous societies suffer less economic damage from external shocks (see Salter, 2003, p. 197 for sources; also Salter, 2004b).
More needs to be said about democracy, which Rubin hails as a core value promoted by post-1965 America. Democracy might be linked to national, rather than multicultural, society. In a cross-cultural study Easterly and Levine (1997) found that ethnic homogeneity correlates with greater democracy. Alesina and Spolaore (1997) argue that rising democracy is typically seen as an opportunity by ethnies in multi-ethnic states to secede to form their own nation states. They find that relatively homogeneous countries are generally better run and more prosperous. It seems that most people want to live in a society where they belong to the majority ethny. These findings fly in the face of Rubin’s thesis, and indicate that America’s ethnic policies are moving it rapidly away from the optimal conditions for democracy to flourish.
(7a) It is wrong to prioritize American interests.
This premise serves as an escape clause in case premises 5 and 6 prove false. Americans are enjoined to persist with replacement migration even if it harms them economically or socially, as an act of altruism directed toward all mankind. This is a clear expression of doctrinal globalism as opposed to the pragmatic recognition of and adjustment to globalization.
Can any doctrine be called Darwinian that disallows ethnic nepotism? Rubin assumes, after minimal argument, that it is wrong for a society to show preferential concern for its own members. We should not care about who wins and who loses, he claims; all that matters is overall global economic growth. Rubin is, in effect, urging leaders to show no partiality for their citizens’ welfare. Even adroit switching between preferences and adaptiveness cannot yield this policy, because both criteria urge self protection. Ethnic majorities should pay close attention to this premise, which even disallows constitutional patriotism, the most flexible of loyalties. The premise is a universal version of Rubin’s argument that anti-Semitism has generally been maladaptive for anti-Semitism (see 2a). Recall that Rubin argues that it would have been adaptive for non-Jewish merchants to accept ruin from Jewish competition since inter-ethnic trade benefited the economy overall. I noted in 2a that this logic only makes sense if the beneficiaries of the merchant’s altruism are fellow ethnics, and concluded that Rubin’s argument presupposes the adaptiveness of ethnic altruism. The same logic applies to the global market, though with the reverse conclusion. It would only be adaptive for Americans to sacrifice themselves to aid foreigners if those foreigners were kin. Since this is not a premise of Rubin’s argument, he is not proposing adaptive altruism but unilateral self-impoverishment in a competitive world.
(8a) Unperceived interests do not count.
This premise is addressed to elite decision makers. It would free policy makers of responsibility to protect citizens’ reproductive interests when the latter do not demand such protection. It thus serves to legitimize U.S. laws on abortion and replacement migration. Rubin suggests, plausibly I think, that humans are not genetically programmed compulsorily to desire children or to preserve the species (p. 9). This is one human preference that Rubin trusts, though it leads him to interpret below-replacement birth rates as adaptive (p. 49). Richard Alexander’s (1995/1985, pp. 182–183) view is relevant here: ‘‘We need not be concerned with the possible argument that interests are only definable in terms of what people consciously believe are their interests or intentions. Biologists continually investigate the life interests of nonhuman organisms while lacking knowledge on this point ...’’
Rubin again trips over the distinction between preferences and adaptiveness. If preferences but not interests are to be respected, how can he consistently oppose some tastes, such as ethnocentrism, on the ground that they reduce fitness? Indeed, why is this premise needed at all? After all, Rubin has already ruled out one taste, that of (majority) ethnocentrism, as unacceptably maladaptive, whether it takes the form of immigration control or preserving American jobs from foreign competition (premises 2 and 7). Why not simply rule out large families as costly compared to importing population from the Third World, as he does in premise 11? Ethical question arise here. Is it responsible for policy analysts to discount the fitness of indifferent constituents? If one thinks so, then would it also be right for governments to save money by not building sewers in neighborhoods where people did not understand the biology of contagious disease?
(9a) Only majority ethnocentrism is worthy of criticism.
This premise serves to preserve the picture of America as relatively free of ethnic competition. Minorities in the United States have benefited greatly from ethnic solidarity over the last half century. Individuals have sacrificed time, money, and even personal security to advance the interests of their ethnies. Clearly ethnic altruism has paid off for minorities, which have gained politically and economically. Minority activism is common and legitimate in the United States, as indicated by populist minority politicians, congressional ethnic caucuses, political parties courting ethnic votes, ethnic economic monopolies, and ethnic organizations. Yet Rubin opposes ethnic competition and even ethnic consciousness on the part of the majority. It is reasonable to conclude that he sees minority solidarity as normal and beneficial (except when it supports affirmative action).
Rubin criticizes majority ‘predation’ on minorities, but not the reverse, and also overlooks peaceful minority displacement of majorities. Moreover, in at least one case, minority economic monopoly is classified not as predation but as a beneficial service to the overall society (pp. 51–53). In 4a above I noted that minorities have often ruled over and exploited mass ethnics. To use Rubin’s language, minorities often predate on majorities. The phenomenon is not limited to conquest or colonialism, and has occurred in recent times. Often ethnic minorities are overrepresented among economic elites, as are the overseas Chinese in South East Asia, Indians in Africa, and whites in Southern Africa. Considering that economic elites often exercise disproportionate political influence, majority efforts to constrain market-dominant minorities can be seen as legitimate. Yet Rubin fails to discuss minority ethnic solidarity. Even a cursory treatment could not overlook its successes, and that would undermine blanket praise for nondiscriminatory behavior.
(10a) Resource envy is now maladaptive.
This premise is necessary to justify the increased inequality caused by ethnic diversity. Rubin believes that resource jealousy has outlived its adaptiveness. His rationale is the traditional free-market argument, true enough in its own terms, that inequality is necessary to provide incentives for hard work and innovation, which enrich everyone in a positive-sum economy. He continues that inequality in multi-ethnic societies can lead to ethnic class differences, and thence to envy and conflict, which reduce overall wealth. Thus it is best to bypass the archaic taste for envy. This requires dropping affirmative action, which unnecessarily heightens ethnic distinctions by rewarding group identification and thus risks ethnic conflict, which is maladaptive for all.
Why should subordinate ethnies tolerate a system that seems loaded against them? Rubin answers that they will benefit in absolute terms—more food, medicine and entertainment. But is not relative status a major attractor of mates, at least for males? Rubin argues that this was only important in the EEA, when high ranking males could gain access to more than one mate, thus leaving other males without mates and thus with fewer or no offspring. polygyny is outlawed in modern societies, so that males of all ranks can find a mate (pp. 107, 109). No doubt socially imposed monogamy has improved the reproductive chances of low-status males. But Rubin’s argument says nothing about individual differences, in this case differences in mate quality, whether in parasite resistance, resource holding potential, or fertility. If members of relatively poor ethnies, especially males, are disadvantaged in the competition for quality mates, it will be adaptive for them to defect from the libertarianism that reduces their fitness and give reign to envy.
A related problem is ethnic conflict, the avoidance of which predicates much of Rubin’s policy analysis. As noted in 6a above, Rummel (1997) finds that ethnic diversity is a strong cause of communal conflict. Rubin is aware of the risks but argues that building diversity is worth the risk of persecution, civil war, and genocide because it increases wealth. There is something disturbing about this set of priorities. In any case, as we have seen, diversity does not increase economic growth; it usually depresses it (5a). And trade between nations substitutes for a large home market. So would it not be adaptive to limit intra-state diversity? Why are diversity and liberal immigration sacrosanct in Rubin’s analysis?
In her recent book, World on Fire, Amy Chua identifies group differences in market competitiveness as a major cause of ethnic conflict by producing painful inequalities. She argues that market economies exacerbate those inequalities, while democracy allows the low ranked majority ethnies to express their envy and anger towards the market dominant minorities. This points to a another deficiency in Rubin’s analysis and by extension, United States ethnic policy—the failure to consider individual and group differences, even though this would aid his case.
Darwinian theory is predicated on differential survival of individuals and groups. Rubin discusses this process, but nowhere does he consider how it might operate in modern society. The starting point is that individuals often differ dramatically in their talents, as can ethnic groups, hence the ethnic stratification discussed by Chua. In meritocratic societies such as the United States, these differences lead to class and ethnic inequalities. I would be interested to know how this fits into Rubin’s analysis of envy. Does he support the thesis of Herrnstein and Murray in The Bell Curve (1994; and see Murray, 1997) that IQ, a largely inherited characteristic, plays a strong role in determining individuals’ socio-economic success in modern technological societies? If so, would that not be a powerful argument for eschewing group envy, since ethnic stratification would be fair?
Rubin’s criticism of envy is difficult to understand unless he acknowledges innate group differences, surely no obstacle to a Darwinian. But doing so in order to salvage premise 10, necessary for his thesis, would introduce a new element into his analysis that would undermine premises 2, 3, 5, and 6, also necessary for his thesis.
(11a) Abortion harms no-one.
This premise helps deemphasize reproductive concerns in general, blurring the fitness costs of policies that result in below- replacement fertility or replacement migration. Rubin believes that the widespread repugnance against abortion, although an evolved preference, is now irrational since it has outlived its adaptive purpose of increasing population. He proposes replacement migration as a solution to any population loss due to abortion and other causes (p. 147). This is the clearest example of the analysis wandering independently of neo-Darwinian theory and reproductive interests. The book pays lip service to the calculus of fitness costs and benefits. In the realm of interests, it fails to progress beyond the standard social science model, the assumption that all significant social phenomena originate in the environment, not in the genes. The book repeatedly ignores adaptiveness as a criterion in favor of a selective subset of psychological satisfactions.
Among the latter he gives precedence to wealth above other values such as social bonds, identity, social capital, and even fertility and genetic continuity. If ethnies are extended kin groups, as Rubin implies (p. 46), then replacing lost numbers with racially diverse immigrants is the genetic equivalent of replacing one’s biological children. The loss of inclusive fitness can be large in the case of immigration from genetically distant populations, especially from different races, since ethnic kinship is typically equal to that of half sibs (Harpending, 2002; Salter, 2002, Table 3.3; 2003, chapter 3). Even one thousandth of this ethnic kinship, aggregated across millions of individuals, dwarfs the genetic interest contained by the largest family.
A benefit of legalizing abortion, Rubin maintains, is that it increases women’s rights, but he does not discuss the rights of the unborn, perhaps because they do not perceive their interest in survival (see his premise 8 above). Indeed, he baldly states that abortion harms no-one (p. 151). This position can only be maintained by making no distinction between aborting thimble-sized embryos versus 2 kg late-term fetuses that suck their thumbs. Neither does Rubin discuss the fitness consequences to parents, despite their large and equal genetic interest in offspring. Neither does he consider the loss of fathers’ rights caused by granting unilateral abortion rights to the mother. He believes that opposition to abortion is a form of patriarchal control of female fertility (p. 147), but says nothing about unilateral maternal rights over male fertility (but see Tiger, 1999). Another reason to legalize abortion, Rubin states, is that it reduces the crime rate (p. 147). This appears to be an exercise in case making, because he does not canvassed ethnic diversity’s contribution to crime rates as a reason to limit immigration.
Rubin does not explore the ethics or fitness calculus of euthanasia. For example, he fails to explain why the unborn’s interest in survival is less important than the born’s. Darwin’s ethic of ‘adaptive utilitarianism’ (Salter, 2003, chapter 9) does not support such a casual approach to abortion if one takes seriously the interests of the unborn or parents’ equal stake in them.
This or some other goal-directed ethic is necessary to bridge (never to close) the naturalistic gap between the ‘is’ of adaptive behavior and the ‘ought’ of policy. I agree with this general approach (Salter, 2003, chapter. 9). As for choosing the utility to be maximized, perhaps a Darwinian political theory should heed Darwin’s opinion. Darwin approved of utilitarianism’s democratic component, but explicitly rejected reliance on happiness, and thus preferences, as the thing to be maximized. Instead, he argued for a survivalist ethic, in which a good act is defined as one that increases the reproductive fitness of the greater number. In The Descent of Man, Darwin states that morality consists of advancing the ‘general good’, the ‘rearing of the greatest number of individuals in full vigor and health, with all their faculties perfect, under the conditions to which they are subjected’ (Darwin, 1871, quoted by Degler, 1991, p. 9). As a Malthusian, Darwin would certainly have agreed with limiting population to sustainable levels. In a crowded world, Darwin’s ethic is to ‘Go forth and perpetuate’.
Rubin goes some way in this direction by suggesting that the utility to be maximized should be preferences ‘consistent with fitness maximization in the EEA’ (p. 73). But then he repeatedly breaks this formula by discounting the reproductive interests of majority ethnies (not to mention the unborn; are they not also a vulnerable minority?). How can any version of utilitarianism fail to prioritize the interests of the great majority of a population, even if these conflict with minority interests? Rubin’s answer is to
focus on issues of fairness (pp. 75–80) to the exclusion of solidarity, the exception being that ‘[o]f course, we now extend our altruistic preferences beyond the level of the group’ (p. 73). The one example offered is that ‘massacre of males of neighboring tribes’ is ‘no longer considered consistent with utilitarianism’. Apart from this being hearsay instead of principled argument, it reduces ethnic altruism to atrocity. Yet, as Rubin himself implies in his treatment of Jewish middlemen, minority ethnic altruism can be adaptive. An observationally based analysis would not make such elementary errors, and would go something like the following. Morality is built not only on the sense of fairness but of duty, which is particular.
Feelings of duty are most intense with kith and kin, followed by countrymen, kindred ethnies, and then humanity. This roughly corresponds to the concentrations of genetic interests. If it is desirable to optimize everyone’s fitness, this will entail deploying the behavioral reality of personalized duties, which entails protecting the social units that roughly correspond to those concentrations, namely the family and the ethny. A biologically informed humanism must not abolish particularisms, but deploy them optimally. Utilitarianism of any variety cannot coherently justify maximizing minority interests by pathologizing or ignoring majority interests and preferences.
Is Globalism adaptive for Americans?
Rubin advocates contemporary American globalism, including liberal ethnic policies on immigration and pluralism, as the most adaptive in history, though still capable of improvement. Cui bono?
The above discussion of Rubin’s premises allow us to answer the question that titles this review. Americans belonging to minority ethnies have been empowered by the country’s change from a nation state to an ethnically plural one. Some minorities have also had their genetic fitness greatly increased by higher birth rates and large-scale immigration of fellow ethnics. Immigrants themselves have enjoyed a large rise in material wellbeing. Despite these gains, Rubin’s praise for America is not unstinting, since he argues that it will not be perfectly formed until affirmative action for less competitive minorities is revoked. Also, he implies that the reduction of the founding white population should continue, as a means of further protecting minorities against ethnic predation. Rubin’s analysis seems designed to fine-tune policy to serve the interests of minorities, especially economically competitive ones.
As for America’s majority white population, Rubin’s book fails to show that the dramatic fall in their relative fitness since 1965 has been mitigated by fitness gains elsewhere. Indeed, the issue of fitness is not systematically treated beyond the opening pages. The fitness of the majority of Americans is accorded the same treatment as unborn babies, mute interests to be written off for the benefit of others. Rubin actually celebrates the loss of white numbers and power as contributions to the security of minorities. While admitting the possibility that Americans as a whole will suffer from increased competition due to globalization, he judges that to be acceptable collateral damage in the interests of non-Americans. Despite the Darwinian label, Rubin’s premises indicate that globalism is unsupportable from a modern evolutionary position, since that ideology is only attractive if one discounts the fitness of most citizens.
Despite this criticism, I think that Rubin is onto a big idea, a Darwinian version of the Hegelian thesis, revived by Francis Fukuyama in 1992. Fukuyama argued that the victory of liberal democracy over communism and fascism heralds the ‘end of history’, meaning an end to wars of ideology, because reasonable people everywhere agree, or will soon agree, that there is no better system on offer. Rubin does not reference Fukuyama, but his book can be taken as an evolutionary reading of that theory, such that:
(1) some political systems are more adaptive than others because they are better at satisfying preferences, and preferences evolved because they advance fitness; (2) optimizing preferences entails increasing individual freedom, because this opens the way for individual strategizers to fulfill their preferences in a largely self-organizing process too complex for a command economy to manage; and (3) liberal democracy offers the most freedom, hence the most widespread satisfaction of preferences, and as a result maximizes the fitness of the majority. This core argument looks sound, at least until fairly recently. Majority ethnic preferences held sway as one would expect them to in a democracy. However, as argued above, since the mid 1960s the fitness of the American majority has been plummeting.
However counterintuitive it might be, the development of liberal democracy via growing circles of emancipation has ended in the present breakdown of the process described by Rubin, where majority ethnic preference—highly adaptive ones—are frustrated and suppressed by the very political system that promises both freedom and fitness. This is partly due to the error already noted, the assumption that preferences are autonomous, insensitive to influence by other, self-interested parties or impersonal processes. If the latter, then the failure of Western peoples to defend their most vital interest might lie in something like the managerial state proposed by James Burnham (1941; see Francis, 1999/1984). If the former, then the cause will reside more in the identity and strategies of elites. Testing either hypothesis would require investigation of changes to America’s elite, both in its socioeconomic makeup and relation to economy and politics, and in its ethnic composition and activism.
When a well crafted argument generates a false conclusion, it is usually due to one faulty premise, or some subtle error of reasoning. However, the argument for the adaptiveness of globalism, and especially of its present form in the United States, exhibits a spectacular number of false assumptions and multiple non-sequiturs. Has Rubin made the best of an impossible brief, or has he bungled an open and closed case? I suspect the former.
Arguing that the contemporary United States is adaptive for its founding ethny is like trying to convince a healthy young person that her best career move is suicide. Why take on such a difficult task? Why not admit that the United States has weaknesses, as well as many strengths? One evident cause is that Rubin genuinely sees America as adaptive because, in line with America’s dominant ethnic ideology, he adopts the perspective of ethnic minorities and discounts the interests of the majority (see Sections 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a, 6a, 7a, 8a, 9a, 10a, 12a above). To this ethnocentric bias is added a hypothetico-deductive analytic approach that lends itself to flights of speculation. Little if any attention is paid to the ethological and anthropological analyses of ethnicity reviewed in 2a above.
In balance and method Rubin’s analysis suffers from comparison with other recent studies of ethnic diversity. For example, in their book on the genetics of racial differences, Sarich and Miele (2004) concur with many of Rubin’s views about the benefits of a global economic meritocracy and dissolution of the nation state. Like Rubin, they do not consider lost fitness to be a cost that weighs in the balance with wealth maximization and other proximate values. However, they differ with Rubin in putting group differences front and center as a factor in ethnic affairs, an element critical to any Darwinian account. Also, in making their case, Sarich and Miele attempt to compare the costs and benefits of alternate policies. They acknowledge some of the social costs of giving up nation states, namely loss of community feeling, loss of organic cohesion and the social support that goes with it (pp. 259–260).
Another comparison is Chua’s (2003) analysis, discussed earlier. While theoretically naive compared to Darwinian Politics, Chua’s book has the strengths of plain observation and evenhandedness. She argues that the export of American style globalism is causing ethnic conflict around the world, as rises in inequality and democracy combine to produce an explosive mix. Chua observes that the economic losers, the mass ethnics out-competed by astute minorities, prefer not to be relegated in their own countries, and vote for populist nationalists. She intuits that this preference is natural and observes that it is endemic. And she calls for a different model of politico-economic development, even though her wealthy Chinese relatives in the Philippines are beneficiaries of the present system. This is an analysis relatively untrammeled by ethnic loyalties. Chua is willing to countenance that non-Chinese have legitimate interests that conflict with those of her own people.
Rubin’s premises for asserting what is so right about America instead provide insights about what ails it. If Darwinian Politics is any guide, post1965 America can only be judged adaptive from the viewpoint of modern Darwinian theory if one adopts an ethnocentric minority perspective so extreme that the fitness of most Americans counts as nothing. The wholesale demographic reduction of the majority ethny constitutes a profound failure for any political system that aspires to democratic ideals, let alone to a biologically informed utilitarian ethic.
The by now chronic failure of the American republic and many other liberal democratic Western states to protect their founding peoples presents a challenge for biopolitical scientists. In an age of mass transportation, a prime responsibility of political theorists in shaping any polity is to devise state systems and policies that allow citizens to enjoy wealth and freedom without those benefits attracting waves of immigrants from poor countries. The technical means for restricting immigration and defending borders are well known. The challenge is to muster the legislative will to keep those means in place. Jefferson’s proposed remedy for political atrophy was the occasional rebellion that reasserted citizens’ interests, in the tradition of the American colonists’ revolt against the British. A less destructive means would involve rehabilitating and institutionally perpetuating the majority’s ethnocentric preferences, especially among its elites (Salter, 2003, chapter. 7).
Whichever means are adopted, they must surely be based on ethological principles if they are to protect genetic interests for time periods commensurate with the potential life spans of ethnies. America’s republic remained adaptive for those who instituted it for less than 200 years, but a brief moment in the human evolutionary pageant. Policy analysis inspired by evolutionary science should begin by identifying our most precious interest of reproductive continuity, and devise ways of protecting that interest that work by satisfying our proximate appetites, passions, and longings. Darwinian Politics does neither, instead relying on a censored, deracinated set of tastes as proxies for the ultimate interest of genetic continuity. Unsurprisingly, it yields the sort of policies that are, in the words of the Bard, ‘Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age’s tooth’.
1. For 1970 see Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001, Table 10. This is approximate, since the small Hispanic population was not counted as a distinct ethnic group. For 2000, see U.S. Census Bureau 2004, Table 1a.
2. U.S. Census Bureau (2004, Table 1a).
3. U.S. Census Bureau (2001, Table 1324).
REFERENCES (see *)