- White Racialism in America, Then and Now
- The Sociology of E.A. Ross
- Lothrop Stoddard and The Rising Tide of Color
- The Anthropology of Madison Grant Dethroned by the Boasian Revolution
- Carleton Putnam and the Battle Over School Desegration
- Wickliffe Draper, the Pioneer Fund, and Mankind Quarterly
- Nathaniel Weyl as a Proto-Neoconservative
- Academic Anthropologists and the Reality of Race
- IQ Researchers and Racial Differences
- The Bell Curve Wars and Other IQ Controversies
- Richard Lynn and IQ and the Wealth of Nations
- Philippe Rushton, r/K Theory, and Accelerated Evolution
- Jewish Issues and Revilo P. Oliver
- Wilmot Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority, and Instauration
- Jared Taylor, Peter Brimelow, and Kevin MacDonald
- George Lincoln Rockwell, William Pierce, and David Duke
- Erectus Walks Amongst Us
One morning a couple of years ago I received an urgent email from a moderately prominent libertarian figure strongly focused on antiwar issues. He warned me that our publication had been branded a “White Supremacist website” by the Washington Post, and urged me to immediately respond, perhaps by demanding a formal retraction or even taking legal action lest we be destroyed by that totally unfair accusation.
When I looked into the matter, my own perspective was rather different. Apparently Max Boot, one of the more agitated Jewish Neocons, had written a column fiercely denouncing some recent criticism of pro-Israel policies that Philip Giraldi had published in our webzine, and the “White Supremacist” slur was merely his crude means of demonizing the author’s views for those of his readers who might be less than wholeheartedly enthusiastic about Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies.
After pointing this out to my correspondent, I also noted that a good 10% or more of our writers were probably “White Nationalists,” and perhaps a few of them might even arguably be labeled “White Supremacists.” So although Boot’s description of our website was certainly wrong, it was probably less wrong than the vast majority of his other writing, which was typically focused on American military policy and the Middle East.
Our webzine is quite unusual in its willingness to feature a smattering of writers who provide a White Nationalist perspective. Such individuals are almost totally excluded from other online publications, except for those marginalized websites devoted to their ideas, which often tend to focus on such topics and related issues to the near exclusion of anything else. However, I believe that maintaining this sort of ideological quarantine or “ghettoization” greatly diminishes the ability to understand many important aspects of our world.
Substituting ideological slurs and demonization for rational evaluation and rebuttal has long become a commonplace in heated American policy debates, recently growing more severe in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the associated “cancel-culture” driven by inflamed social media. Locating a couple of controversial sentences and then using these to dismiss an enormous body of detailed analysis may sometimes serve as an effective debating technique among timorous journalists, but its intellectual legitimacy seems rather doubtful. And this is especially true with regard to the charged subject of white racialism, which seems to provoke a near-religious antipathy among so many of the politically correct elites of our society, despite their avowedly secular protestations.
Even the choice of preferred accusatory phrases suggests a certain amount of bad faith. My impression is that a couple of years ago members of the pro-white ideological camp were usually denounced as “White Nationalists” but more recently that term has been superseded by “White Supremacists.” I suspect that part of the reason for this verbal shift was the obvious hypocrisy of their disparate treatment. As I noted a few years ago:
A strident Black Nationalist such as Malcolm X was widely condemned during his own lifetime as an extremist advocate of violence, yet he has now been honored with a U.S. postage stamp, while today a lifelong racial activist such as Al Sharpton has his own MSNBC cable television show and received 80-odd invitations to the White House over the last few years. Such treatment seems very different from what their white-activist counterparts, either past or present, might expect to receive.
Following the unexpected victory of Donald Trump and the resulting sudden media prominence of the racialist Alt-Right, a national journalist who had become a leading chronicler of that movement visited me for lunch in Palo Alto, and we spent a couple of hours discussing what I considered some of the tremendous ironies of America’s existing ideological landscape. Among other things, I pointed out that the overwhelming majority of the world’s leading academics and intellectuals from one hundred years ago—whether left, right, or center—held many views that would surely have gotten them branded as “White Nationalists” in today’s severely constricted ideological climate.
But whereas today’s WNs are an extremely vilified and marginalized group, with their ranks therefore necessarily skewed towards eccentrics and misfits, the situation was entirely different back then. Their counterparts of the past included many of the foremost academic scholars and public intellectuals of that era, who openly discussed their views in leading opinion journals rather than by pseudonymous postings in dark corners of the Internet. Partly for this reason, such individuals tended to approach the same issues with far greater sophistication.
Until the early 2000s, nearly all these names would have been almost unknown to me, either rating a sentence or two in my introductory history textbooks, or else being entirely omitted. But I spent most of that decade building a content-archiving system that provided convenient access to over a million articles from more than 200 of our leading periodicals since the mid-nineteenth century, and was stunned by the severe distortions and enormous lacunae in my knowledge which this revealed. As I wrote a couple of years ago on related matters:
I sometimes imagined myself a little like an earnest young Soviet researcher of the 1970s who began digging into the musty files of long-forgotten Kremlin archives and made some stunning discoveries. Trotsky was apparently not the notorious Nazi spy and traitor portrayed in all the textbooks, but instead had been the right-hand man of the sainted Lenin himself during the glorious days of the great Bolshevik Revolution, and for some years afterward had remained in the topmost ranks of the Party elite. And who were these other figures—Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov—who also spent those early years at the very top of the Communist hierarchy? In history courses, they had barely rated a few mentions, as minor Capitalist agents who were quickly unmasked and paid for their treachery with their lives. How could the great Lenin, father of the Revolution, have been such an idiot to have surrounded himself almost exclusively with traitors and spies?
As I gradually discovered, large portions of America’s entire intellectual past had been hidden or altered beyond recognition, and racial beliefs constituted a major portion of this transformation.
The ongoing “cancel-culture” of today’s elite-backed Black Lives Matter movement represents merely the latest iteration of this long process. The names of many of our most famous presidents and honored national leaders have recently been stripped from buildings and public monuments, and a committee organized by the Mayor of DC recently called for the possible removal of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. If this current social revolution continues, we are only a step or two away from a society in which any favorable public mention for Thomas Jefferson or George Washington might be regarded as an immediate firing-offense by many major corporations, and grounds for banning by social media. Although such a development seems unlikely, it would merely represent an extreme version of the ideological purge that has already reshaped our academic and journalistic world over the last century.
In my conversation with that national journalist, one of the major examples I cited was that of E.A. Ross, a leading intellectual figure of the early decades of the twentieth century but now largely forgotten except when portrayed as a racist cartoon villain by ignorant present-day academics. Last year, I noted such crude treatment by Holocaust historian Joseph W. Bendersky in his book documenting and condemning the views of America’s Anglo-Saxon elites from a century ago:
Although I would not question the accuracy of Bendersky’s exhaustive archival research, he seems considerably less sure-footed regarding American intellectual history and sometimes allows his personal sentiments to lead him into severe error. For example, his first chapter devotes a couple of pages to E.A. Ross, citing some of his unflattering descriptions of Jews and Jewish behavior, and suggesting he was a fanatic anti-Semite, who dreaded “the coming catastrophe of an America overrun by racially inferior people.”
But Ross was actually one of our greatest early sociologists, and his 26 page discussion of Jewish immigrants published in 1913 was scrupulously fair-minded and even-handed, describing both positive and negative characteristics, following similar chapters on Irish, German, Scandinavian, Italian, and Slavic newcomers. And although Bendersky routinely denounces his own ideological villains as “Social Darwinists,” the source he actually cites regarding Ross correctly identified the scholar as one of America’s leading critics of Social Darwinism. Indeed, Ross’s stature in left-wing circles was so great that he was selected as a member of the Dewey Commission, organized to independently adjudicate the angry conflicting accusations of Stalinists and Trotskyites. And in 1936, a Jewish leftist fulsomely praised Ross’s long and distinguished scholarly career in the pages of The New Masses, the weekly periodical of the American Communist Party, only regretting that Ross had never been willing to embrace Marxism.
Ross was quite plain-spoken in his views, and his long career was bracketed by his leading national role in major free speech issues. As a young academic, he had been fired by Stanford University for his political beliefs, a celebrated incident that led to the creation of the American Association of University Professors, while he ended his life serving for a decade as national chairman of the ACLU.
In 1915 Ross published South of Panama, describing the backwardness and misery he had encountered in so many of the societies of Latin America during his half year of travels and investigation across that region. Although the bulk of the text was descriptive and empirical, at one point he pondered the underlying nature of those problems, wondering whether the causes were primarily cultural, due to the widespread poverty and lack of education, or instead a result of the innate inferiority of the local population, emphasizing that the answer to this crucial question would have an enormous impact upon the continent’s future developmental trajectory.
After even-handedly mentioning some of the limited evidence supporting each of these two conflicting theories, he ultimately leaned towards the environmental side, criticizing heredity as “a cheap offhand explanation” of human characteristics that actually often change over time. Today such a discussion would be utterly unimaginable within the confines of our respectable academic or media worlds, and for opposite reasons would also be extremely rare among committed racialists.
Although Ross was uncertain about the natural abilities of South America’s mostly Mestizo population, a six month research trip to China a few years earlier had left him no doubt abut the potential of the Chinese, despite their immense existing poverty. As he recounted in his book:
To forty-three men who, as educators, missionaries and diplomats, have had good opportunity to learn the “feel” of the Chinese mind, I put the question, “Do you find the intellectual capacity of the yellow race equal to that of the white race?” All but five answered “Yes,” and one sinologue of varied experience as missionary, university president and legation adviser left me gasping with the statement, “Most of us who have spent twenty-five years or more out here come to feel that the yellow race is the normal human type, while the white race is a ‘sport.’”
Given these conclusions, he felt quite confident of China’s future success as I explained a few years ago:
[China’s global rise] would have seemed far less unexpected to our leading thinkers of 100 years ago, many of whom prophesied that the Middle Kingdom would eventually regain its ranking among the foremost nations of the world. This was certainly the expectation of E.A. Ross, one of America’s greatest early sociologists, whose book The Changing Chinese looked past the destitution, misery, and corruption of the China of his day to a future modernized China perhaps on a technological par with America and the leading European nations. Ross’s views were widely echoed by public intellectuals such as Lothrop Stoddard, who foresaw China’s probable awakening from centuries of inward-looking slumber as a looming challenge to the worldwide hegemony long enjoyed by the various European-descended nations.
Ross published more than two dozen books and numerous articles, and I have no doubt that these could easily be mined for a multitude of sentences or paragraphs that would today ignite a firestorm of controversy on Twitter or among the talking-heads of Cable TV, with a lynch-mob branding him a “White Supremacist” fit for deplatforming. But that merely demonstrates the severe flaws in our current climate of harsh ideological censorship.
A much stronger case could be made against his close contemporary Lothrop Stoddard, also mentioned above. Indeed, I doubt that Stoddard himself would have disputed any attempt to label him as a “White Supremacist.” After all, his most famous and influential work bore the full title “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy,” and that 1921 bestseller focused upon the emerging challenges that peoples of white European origin faced in maintaining their global control in the aftermath of the terribly destructive First World War.
But although that term would probably apply to Stoddard, the marginalizing implications it carries in today’s society would be extremely misleading since his beliefs were so widely shared by much of America’s political and intellectual elite. He himself came from a prestigious New England family, and after earning his doctorate in history at Harvard, his series of very successful books quickly established him as one of our country’s most influential writers and public intellectuals, winning him regular invitations to lecture at our nation’s military academy and with his articles regularly gracing the pages of our most prestigious national publications.
The serious concerns he raised about the economic challenge America and Europe might soon face from a rising China were grounded in solid realism. For example, he approvingly quoted the late Victorian predictions of Prof. Charles E. Pearson:
Does any one doubt that the day is at hand when China will have cheap fuel from her coal-mines, cheap transport by railways and steamers, and will have founded technical schools to develop her industries? Whenever that day comes, she may wrest the control of the world’s markets, especially throughout Asia, from England and Germany.
Many of Stoddard’s books focused upon sharp racialist issues, and these might seem extremely jarring to a modern readership. But other works fell outside that area, and they effectively demonstrated the remarkable quality and objectivity of one of America’s leading geopolitical thinkers of that era.
For example, just prior to our own 1917 entry into the First World War, he had published Present-Day Europe, providing a detailed description of the political and social situation in all of the contending European states, including their historical roots. I happened to read the book about a decade ago, and found it the best summary treatment of that subject I had ever encountered.
World War I and its immediate aftermath saw the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate by Ataturk’s secular regime, and the widespread rise of left-wing militant atheism inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution. As a natural consequence, nearly all Western thinkers dismissed the power of Islam as a spent force and a fading relic of the past, while Stoddard was almost alone in presciently suggesting its possible worldwide revival in The New World of Islam, published in 1922.
But Stoddard’s best-known work certainly remains The Rising Tide of Color, published 100 years ago, which launched his influential career. About a decade ago, I finally got around to reading it, and was greatly surprised that a book so heavily demonized in every description I had encountered actually came across as so level-headed and innocuous. Although most of the leading political figures of that time proclaimed permanent white rule of the world, Stoddard strongly argued that this situation was temporary, soon to evaporate under the pressure of rising non-white nationalism, economic development, and population growth. These rising tides of the peoples of Asia and the Middle East made their eventual independence almost inevitable, and the European powers should therefore voluntarily relinquish their vast colonial empires rather than earn future bitterness by stubbornly seeking to retain them. A “White Supremacist” might certainly advance such arguments, but only one of far greater sophistication than is today implied by that popular media slur.
I recently reread Stoddard’s volume and was even more impressed the second time through. In many respects, his sweeping panorama of the future geopolitical landscape brings to mind The Clash of Civilizations, published in 1997 by renowned Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, which then became a huge national bestseller and cultural-touchstone in the wake of the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Yet although Huntington’s text is just two decades old and Stoddard’s has reached its first century, I think it is the former that actually now seems much more dated and less applicable to the current alignment of the world and the challenges faced by white European populations.
By the mid-1930s, Stoddard’s star was fading, with his racialist framework under growing pressure both in the sciences and by the influential leftist and anti-racist elements brought into power during the New Deal Era. His last book appeared the year before our entrance into the Second World War and probably sealed his intellectual fate. As I wrote last year:
During late 1939, a leading American news syndicate sent Stoddard to spend a few months in wartime Germany and provide his perspective, with his numerous dispatches appearing in The New York Times and other top newspapers. Upon his return, he published a 1940 book summarizing all his information, seemingly just as even-handed as his earlier 1917 volume. His coverage probably constitutes one of the most objective and comprehensive American accounts of the mundane domestic nature of National Socialist Germany, and thus may seem rather shocking to modern readers steeped in eighty years of increasingly unrealistic Hollywood propaganda.
As I’ve previously discussed, during World War II and in its immediate aftermath, America experienced its own Great Purge of our academic and journalistic elites—left, right, and center—with many of our most prominent figures permanently disappearing from public visibility, and Stoddard was among those who fell. For two decades he had been among America’s leading public intellectuals, but when he died in 1950, no obituary appeared in the pages of the New York Times.
Stoddard’s own writings had focused primarily upon history and politics, but his world-view had been shaped by the ideas of his mentor Madison Grant, a hugely influential figure in racial theories, eugenics, and natural conservation efforts.
Although a lawyer by training, Grant never practiced in the field, and instead gained fame with the 1916 publication of his book The Passing of the Great Race, which argued for the division of European populations into three primary races of Nordics, Alpines, and Mediterraneans, with the first of these playing the overarching role in world history and the creation of dynamic civilizations. Late twentieth century critics such as Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould denounced the book as America’s most influential work of “scientific racism,” and noted that Adolf Hitler had written Grant a fan-letter in which he described it as his “Bible.”
Early American anthropology was heavily dominated by Anglo-Saxon racialists, and Grant’s views were widespread within that field. Drawing upon a Darwinian world-view, these scientists heavily focused upon physical and psychological racial differences, certainly including those within the white population, and they were often aligned with political movements aimed at sharply curtailing continued large-scale immigration, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe. They also tended to be either right-wing or apolitical in their views.
The opposing ideological camp in the early field of anthropology was overwhelmingly the creation of a German-Jewish immigrant named Franz Boas, who held strongly left-leaning political views. Becoming a professor of anthropology at Columbia University in 1899, he began strongly challenging existing notions of race and racial differences, and focused much more on cultural rather than biological explanations for the behavior of different human societies.
In those pre-DNA days, the classification of different racial groups relied heavily upon physical measurements, with the shape of the skull being a key means of separating European populations into the purported Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean races. Boas’s greatest early claim to fame was his landmark 1911 study demonstrating that European groups who immigrated to America rapidly changed the shapes of their skulls, apparently due to shifts in diet or other environmental factors, thereby seeming to transform themselves into a different racial group, an astonishing discovery that shocked most of his scientific colleagues.
When I first read that account, I found myself extremely skeptical of such a result, since we know that skull-shape is overwhelmingly determined by genetic factors rather than by diet or sunshine. And indeed, it does appears that Boas’s conclusions were entirely false, and apparently even fraudulent, though perhaps unintentionally so, being a product of his ideological zeal in debunking existing racial dogma. Over the years, quite a number of ultra-high-profile frauds in the field of anthropology have come to light, almost all of them falling upon a particular side of the ideological aisle. Perhaps the most famous recent example was that of Boas disciple Margaret Mead and her bestseller on the sexual customs of Samoa.
From his Columbia University base, Boas began minting large numbers of anthropology Ph.D.’s, and his former students soon began founding new departments throughout the country, gradually shifting the entire field towards their much less hereditarian perspective on human behavior. By the late 1920s they had gained the upper hand over their academic rivals in this hidden institutional conflict, and a Darwinian framework for understanding human behavior had largely been expelled from the academic social sciences. Even the basic notion of biological race—once almost universally accepted—had become much less of a subject of discussion, with fewer and fewer academics focusing upon the differences between human groups, let alone among European whites.
The victory of Boasian anthropology became overwhelming around the time of the Second World War, and for decades thereafter any notion of applying Darwinism to the understanding of human activity was confined to the margins of academia. This situation only began to change in the mid-1970s with the rise of sociobiology, and the large-scale mappings of the human genome around the end of the century finally began restoring race to its proper place near the center of anthropology. Many of Boas’s intellectual heirs ferociously resisted this revival of a Darwinist and hereditarian framework, sometimes with improper means. The serious scientific fraud at the center of Stephen Jay Gould’s influential book The Mismeasure of Man is a notorious example of this.
The fascinating story of this hidden decades-long struggle over the control of anthropology and its relationship to Darwinism is very effectively told in Carl Degler’s 1991 book In Search of Human Nature, which carries the descriptive subtitle “The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought.”
As a Pulitzer Prize-winning former president of the American Historical Association, Degler certainly had stellar academic credentials for the task. For decades, he had been a strong champion of feminist and anti-racialist causes, firmly embracing the “culturalist” model of human history, and as he explained both in his Preface and in a subsequent interview, he had begun his investigation assuming that the Boasian victory had come about primarily on the basis of objective scientific facts. But his years of archival research had eventually led him to conclude that the motives had mostly been ideological, and that the bulk of the evidence had always actually remained to the contrary.
The Times gave his important book the lead position in its Sunday Book Review, with the very favorable discussion running nearly 3,000 words, including an appended interview in which the scholar recognized that his longtime colleagues would issue “a sigh of regret that Carl Degler, who has been working all this time writing against racism and sexism, has been converted to the other side.” Notwithstanding his shift into the sociobiological camp, when he died a quarter-century later, the Times obituary honored him with the headline “Carl N. Degler, Scholarly Champion of the Oppressed in America, Dies at 93.”
A few years after Stoddard’s unnoticed 1950 death, racial issues moved to the forefront of American society. The 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education unanimously overturned more than a half-century of legal precedent by striking down state laws for public school segregation. Reaction to Brown was fierce throughout the South, but although President Eisenhower seems to have had misgivings about the decision, he dispatched the troops of the 101st Airborne to forcibly integrate Little Rock high school.
The massive resistance of the South to these new racial policies continued, and periodically reached the national media. According to his later account, Carleton Putnam happened to read a 1958 column in Life Magazine by a Southern journalist defending segregation, and he was soon drawn into the ongoing political battle.
Like Stoddard, Putnam had deep New England Puritan ancestry, but after graduating from Princeton and earning his law degree at Columbia, he had chosen to pursue a business career. In the mid-1930s he had become a pioneer in commercial aviation and started his own small airline, which following various expansions and mergers eventually became Delta, the nation’s largest carrier, with Putnam serving as chairman for 15 years. While still in his early 50s, he had retired from active business involvement and begun work on an intended four volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt, a distant relative, with the first volume appearing in 1958 to widespread critical praise. But that project was soon abandoned as he gradually began devoting all his efforts to the campaign to maintain racial segregation, first by writing a series of public letters and newspaper columns, and later by launching a public speaking tour, writing books and organizing legal efforts to overturn Brown.
Putnam had paid little attention to political or scientific developments during the two decades he had been absorbed in the business world, but was stunned when he discovered the ideological changes that had swept through the academy during that period, which eventually laid the intellectual basis for the legal and political decisions that overturned legal segregation. From his perspective, the major biological differences between blacks and whites had long been recognized, with the substantial African inferiority in mind and temperament fully acknowledged by most scientists. But in less than a single generation, the theories of Franz Boas and his coterie of academic disciples had captured anthropology and related sciences, proclaiming the doctrine of racial equality and marginalizing those who maintained the old beliefs. Eventually, this new scientific consensus was given the strength of law by the Supreme Court.
In Putnam’s opinion, the great danger of desegregation was that it might eventually lead to racial miscegenation, and the admixture of African ancestry into America’s white population would severely degrade the citizenry, leading to a large and permanent decline in mental ability and social behavior. To a considerable extent, he believed that biology was destiny, and the mixture of black with white would destroy our nation’s future.
During the 1950s, the battles over racial integration were almost entirely confined to the South, which contained the overwhelming majority of our black population, and as a New England Yankee and prominent business executive Putnam’s energetic involvement in the cause drew considerable attention. In 1961 he collected together his writings on the subject, much of which were based upon his extensive correspondence with various critics, and published Race and Reason, a short book setting forth his views which became a major bestseller, having 150,000 copies in print. Several of the world’s leading scientific experts who supported his position contributed a Foreword to his book, which also received the strong endorsement of several high-ranking Southern senators, who distributed copies to their followers and local newspaper editors.
As a prominent voice in the national campaign to maintain segregation, Putnam argued that the leading figures in his political movement were pursuing an ineffectual strategy, staking their claim on the constitutional doctrine of “states’ rights” while they avoided raising the scientific reality of the large biological differences between blacks and whites, which he believed should have been their main issue. He claimed that these individuals all privately acknowledged those racial facts, but as members of the Southern elite they had been closely associated for generations with the families of their black household domestics and other retainers, and considered it impossible to publicly discuss the biological differences that they so readily acknowledged in private. Thus, for cultural reasons they were foregoing their strongest political weapon, and Putnam believed his own work was necessary to remedy that lack. He also claimed that numerous prominent scientists privately endorsed his scientific views about race but were too fearful of academic or financial retaliation to acknowledge those facts in public.
According to Putnam, the unchallenged sociological and psychological evidence that had helped sway the Supreme Court to overturn segregation was largely fraudulent, and his project culminated in an important 1963 challenge to Brown, in which he and his legal team successfully introduced the contrary testimony of several scientific experts. But although they won at trial, that verdict was subsequently overturned at the appellate level, and the high court refused to hear an appeal.
In 1967 he published his sequel Race and Reality, which received a glowing endorsement from physics Nobel Laureate William Shockley who had recently become notorious for voicing similar views. Around the same time or a few years later, leading psychometric scholars such as Arthur Jensen of Berkeley, Hans Eysenck of University College London, and Richard J. Herrnstein of Harvard had focused upon the large and seemingly innate racial gaps in IQ, with intellectually-elite publications such as the Harvard Educational Review and The Atlantic presenting their long articles on the subject. But the political tide in American society was never reversed, and Putnam eventually abandoned his efforts.
Despite his controversial and strongly racialist public writings, when Putnam died in 1998 at the age of 96, he received a rather long and favorable obituary in the Times, certainly emphasizing his segregationist efforts and even mentioning that his books had inspired a young David Duke to become a leader of the Ku Klux Klan, but written in a surprisingly detached and even friendly tone, suggesting that Putnam had managed to retain lifelong credibility among our East Coast elites.
Much of the hidden backstory of Putnam’s pro-segregation effort was later revealed in a 2002 book by William H. Tucker of Rutgers. The Funding of Scientific Racism recounted the origins and activities of the Pioneer Fund, for many decades the leading financial backer of numerous American racialist projects. Prof. Tucker had his origins in the academic New Left of the late 1960s and was intensely hostile to the ideological positions of his subjects, but his three years of archival research and numerous personal interviews provide a wealth of information that otherwise would have remained hidden.
Although the Pioneer Fund only became an occasional subject of media scrutiny during the 1990s, its origins actually stretched back to the early decades of the 20th century and a millionaire named Wickliffe Draper, who funded and established the organization. Like Stoddard, Grant, and Putnam, Draper himself was of New England Puritan stock, the group that had provided a hugely disproportionate share of America’s intellectual elites from the founding of our nation up through the beginning of the twentieth century. He had graduated Harvard in 1913, been wounded in combat during the First World War, and eventually gained the rank of colonel in the post-war reserves. Inheriting a substantial textile industry fortune, he never pursued a career, but instead devoted most of his life to such gentleman pursuits as big game hunting and travel.
Although obviously distasteful to Tucker, Draper’s strong racialist views seemed quite reflective of the leading American figures of his youth such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and in his early adulthood, the books of Grant and Stoddard were on everyone’s lips. Indeed, Roosevelt had praised Grant’s theories, and Draper was one of Grant’s social acquaintances, regarding him as a personal role-model according to Tucker.
By modern standards, America’s ruling elites of that era embraced extremely racist notions, and Draper’s views fit very comfortably within that milieu. One of his earliest projects had been to promote the repatriation of America’s blacks back to Africa, but such ideas were hardly uncommon at the time, and indeed during the 1920s one of America’s most prominent black public figures was the nationalistic leader Marcus Garvey, who proposed to do exactly that.
Draper was hardly any sort of intellectual, but his importance lay in his willingness to heavily finance those racialists who were, and his choice of like-minded successors who continued to support such causes for decades after his death in 1972, which allowed his influence to span nearly a century, from the era of Warren Harding to that of Barack Obama. The non-profit Pioneer Fund, which he established in 1937, was the primary vehicle for his donations, but Tucker’s research indicates that substantial additional sums were also disbursed directly from Draper’s personal assets. In particular, it appears that much or even most of the funding for Putnam’s press campaigns, book distributions, and legal efforts may have been quietly provided by Draper, who viewed Putnam as a trusted ally and advisor.
Among American foundations, the Pioneer Fund scarcely ranked as a minnow, being dwarfed a hundred times over by Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and other philanthropic endowments which were enthusiastically supportive of the rising anti-racist tide in American society and thought. But although massively outspent by its ideological opponents, Pioneer’s dollars played a crucial role in subsidizing and keeping alive the racialist doctrines that had once entirely dominated American society but which had begun receding from the late 1920s onward, before becoming completely marginalized among our national elites by the 1950s and 1960s.
For example, the science of eugenics had been launched in the late 19th century by polymath Francis Galton, a first cousin of Charles Darwin, and for decades was almost universally accepted by educated individuals of all ideological backgrounds, with the strongest support usually coming from progressives and only the fervently religious being the main holdouts. But under continuous pressure mostly by Jews and Marxists, the doctrine began a long and permanent retreat during the late 1920s and 1930s. Around the same time, Franz Boas and his energetic group of academic disciples, most of them Jewish, had gained control of American anthropology, largely displacing the Anglo-Saxon academics who had originally created the discipline, and overturning the racialist theories once promoted by Grant and Stoddard.
As regular academic periodicals grew unwelcoming to articles that continued to adhere to what eventually became known as “scientific racism,” the Pioneer Fund in 1960 financed the creation of Mankind Quarterly, a new peer-reviewed journal intended to fill that gap. When I digitized the archives of that publication around 2003, its name meant nothing to me, nor did those of its editorial board members and leading contributors. But I eventually discovered that many of these latter individuals were actually leading international scholars with distinguished academic records, whose refusal to join ideological trends had locked them out of mainstream periodicals and eventually purged their names from our media and intellectual history despite their prestigious academic credentials.
For example, Henry Garrett had been the longtime chairman of Columbia University’s Psychology Department, president of the American Psychological Association, a member of the AAAS and the National Research Council, and editor of leading academic texts. R. Ruggles Gates was a prominent British geneticist and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Robert Gayre, A. James Gregor, Robert Kuttner, R. Travis Osborne, and numerous other regular contributors also had strong scientific or scholarly credentials. Although Tucker is quite hostile to these individuals and their ideology, his book is helpful in providing this important background. The 1960-2004 archives of the publication are now conveniently available for reading on this website:
Nearly all of the prominent American racialists so far discussed came from an Old Stock Anglo-Saxon backgrounds, reflecting the elites that had totally dominated our society up until the 1930s, and their lifelong political tendencies were generally either mainstream or right-wing. But the most frequent outside contributor to Mankind Quarterly during the 1960s and 1970s was Nathaniel Weyl, who had different roots.
His father Walter was from a German-Jewish immigrant family and had been a leading progressive intellectual, co-founding The New Republic in 1914. After getting his degree from Columbia University in 1931 and doing graduate work at the London School of Economics, the younger Weyl soon veered far to the left, spending the 1930s as a committed Communist Party member while working in government and operating on the fringes of a Soviet spy network. He and his wife both broke with the Party in 1939, disgusted by the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and by the late 1940s he had become a strong conservative and a zealous anti-Communist, regularly denouncing Red espionage in various publications, eventually including National Review. So in some respects his ideological path anticipated that of the later neoconservatives who followed the same trajectory a generation or more later.
Racial and ethnic topics soon became one of Weyl’s main areas of interest, and in 1960 he published The Negro in American Civilization, an exhaustive and unflinching account of the role of blacks in our nation’s history. Running well over 150,000 words, the coverage stretched from their African roots down to his present day, focused primarily upon history and politics but also including extensive discussion of biological, anthropological, and sociological issues. Willmoore Kendall, a prominent Yale political scientist, was William F. Buckley Jr.’s mentor, and he gave the volume a glowing treatment in National Review, saying it filled the longstanding need for “a compendious and objective survey of the facts about the American Negro” but warned that “the evidence Weyl has assembled is vastly more discouraging…than most of us have permitted ourselves to fear in our most pessimistic moments.” While praising Weyl’s bravery and candor, Kendall predicted that “He will pay dearly for it.”
Indeed, Kendall’s warning seems to have been borne out and almost all of Weyl’s subsequent writings were confined to conservative or racialist publications, as were the reviews of his many later books. And Kendell’s ringing endorsement may even have had serious personal consequences, since the following year he was forced out of his tenured Yale professorship after 14 years of teaching at that academic institution. In 1971, Weyl and a co-author published American Statesmen on Slavery and the Negro, which seems largely a supplement and sequel to the previous book. Both of Weyl’s hefty volumes were parallel to Putnam’s short books, though providing far greater breadth and depth.
Although Weyl lacked a doctorate, he was a highly innovative thinker, so his apparent blacklisting by mainstream academics and publications had unfortunate intellectual consequences. For example, in 1966 he published The Creative Elite in America, introducing a powerful sampling technique for determining the relative performance of different ethnic groups based upon their subset of especially distinctive last names, a tool which I had christened “Weyl Analysis” and heavily used in my long article “The Myth of American Meritocracy” analyzing elite college admissions.
Among his various quantitative findings, Weyl demonstrated the long intellectual dominance of Americans of Puritan stock, and their noticeable decline by about 1900. A half-century after Weyl’s sociological breakthrough, economist Gregory Clark relied upon exactly the same methodology in widely-praised best-seller The Son Also Rises, but confined any mention of Weyl to a single brief footnote, which denounced him as a “racist” and expressed surprise that such a powerful sociological technique had been so little used.
Weyl’s passing at age 94 was noted in a brief 2005 Times obituary, which focused entirely on his anti-Communism and peripheral involvement in the Hiss case and was reasonably favorable. Since all of Weyl’s decades of research in “scientific racialism” had been blacklisted by the media, later generations of journalists may have remained totally unaware of it.
Although neither Putnam nor Weyl had held academic positions, these racialist writers and others drew quite heavily upon the works of those who did, most of whom were fully mainstream scholars. Very few of these individuals fell into the ideological camp of white racialism, and indeed the majority seem to have been either typical liberals or else entirely apolitical, merely being researchers who followed the scientific data wherever it happened to lead.
Objective scientific reality does exist, but unless we have the time and expertise to investigate the research studies ourselves, our perception of that reality relies upon the filter of the media, and that portrayal may be severely distorted. There is the notorious historical example of Stalin’s elevation of Trofim K. Lysenko and his anti-hereditarian theories to official dogma while condemning to the gulag those scientists who continued to believe in genetics, a policy that crippled Soviet biology for decades.
Back in 2017 I was interviewed for an hour or two over the phone by a New York Times journalist focused on the racially-related political topics that had suddenly begun dominating the national headlines. She seemed very skeptical that race was a scientifically valid concept, and quite surprised when I told her that saying “race does not exist” was roughly equivalent to asserting that “gravity does not exist.” I pointed out that her longtime colleague Nicholas Wade, an award-winning science journalist, had published an entire book a couple of years earlier on the science of race, and that just a few weeks before our conversation her own newspaper had devoted the entire front section of its prestigious Week in Review section to a lengthy exposition of the undeniable scientific reality of race by Professor of Genetics David Reich of Harvard University and the Broad Institute. But despite these points, she still seemed quite unconvinced, presumably reflecting the uniformly contrary opinions of her own journalistic peer-group. A few months ago, James Bennet, the highly-regarded Opinion Editor of the Times, was suddenly purged for insufficient “wokeness,” so I suspect that henceforth her beliefs will no longer be disturbed by any such discordant scientific information from her own newspaper.
Although our country has not yet reached the Soviet condition of imprisoning researchers whose scientific findings are misaligned with the reigning ideology, for decades harsh informal sanctions have been visited upon those academics who come to unwelcome conclusions, especially if they are perceived as lending aid and comfort to racialist forces and their political projects. In some cases, controversial findings have unleashed a torrent of media vilification, with the scholars being attacked as “fascists” or “neo-Nazis,” despite all evidence to the contrary, and even subjected to personal threats and demands that they be censored. Occasionally, such harsh and unfair denunciations have actually moved the victims into the racialist camp, thereby becoming self-fulfilling prophecies, but more typically the scholars have quietly continued their research activities until the media spotlight eventually shifted elsewhere. Meanwhile, rival academics presenting contrary positions have often been heavily promoted by the media as fully authoritative sources, despite sometimes possessing far weaker scholarly credentials.
An early post-war example of this process came in the case of Prof. Carleton Coon, one of the world’s foremost physical anthropologists, who spent two decades at Harvard and later served as president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Coon’s specialty was race, and he authored several of the standard academic texts in that subject. His research also attracted some controversy when he proposed the hypothesis that the different races of mankind actually predated the emergence of homo sapiens, having previously appeared in the geographically-separated populations of our homo erectus predecessors, which then independently crossed the line into full sapiency at different points in time.
Both Coon’s fully mainstream work and his more speculative theories were heavily cited by Putnam and others in their political writings on segregation, and according to Tucker’s research, Coon was quietly sympathetic to their efforts. During his presidential term, a rump session of his professional association voted to condemn Putnam’s book, and when Coon discovered that virtually none of those hostile members had actually read it, he threatened to resign in protest.
Throughout this era, Coon’s leading scientific opponent was a British social anthropologist and follower of Franz Boas, who had originally been born Israel Ehrenberg but then chose to conceal his Jewish origins by taking the remarkably pompous and aristocratic name of “Montague Francis Ashley-Montagu.” After relocating to America, he eventually shortened his new name to “Ashley Montagu” while also affecting an extremely upper-class British accent despite his very working-class roots.
Although Montagu seems to have had few scholarly achievements, had made fraudulent claims about his educational credentials, and was dismissed after a few years from his only serious academic position, he spent decades as an extremely successful scientific popularizer, gaining enormous public influence through the media and political support he received.
He was best known for his strong opposition to the concept of race, which he characterized as “Man’s most dangerous myth” in a massively best-selling book of that title after having authored UNESCO’s famous 1951 declaration on that subject, which he quite possibly plagiarized. Although the actual fine print of his biological claims was generally more nuanced, his headline writings successfully promoted the widespread notion that race was a dangerous pseudo-scientific illusion.
A very interesting history of the anthropological conflicts of that era may be found in Pat Shipman’s 1994 book The Evolution of Racism. Prior to her turn to anthropology, Shipman had begun her academic career in Religion, and she seems a very zealous anti-racist, but as a diligent and candid researcher, her accounts of Coon, Montagu, and several of the other important figures may have revealed a different image than what she had originally anticipated.
For example, Montagu’s early attempts to expunge the scientific notion of race came under withering criticism by leading scholars in the field, and he defended himself by denouncing his anthropological adversaries as “racists” who opposed him because of his Jewish heritage. In an on-the-record interview decades later, he explained those past conflicts by declaring that “all non-Jews are anti-Semitic,” a statement so remarkable that Shipman used it as the title of one of her chapters.
One of Montagu’s later books, The Natural Superiority of Women, also became hugely influential within the burgeoning feminist movement. Montagu remained a very prominent and mediagenic celebrity-scientist for decades, finally dying in 1999 at the age of 94.
While Montagu’s misleading claims received vast media promotion and he became a major television celebrity-intellectual, far more substantial scholarly works on the same subject received scarcely any public attention, or were even actively boycotted. For example, in 1974 John R. Baker, an eminent Oxford don, published Race, a magisterial 300,000 word volume presenting the entire intellectual history and scientific information on that subject, ranging from physical anthropology to psychometrics. In the opinion of Sir Peter Medawar, one of the Britain’s leading men of science, no other book “tries to encompass everything relevant to the idea of race with such thoroughness, seriousness, and honesty.” But according to later accounts, intense political pressure forced Oxford University Press to suppress the book by minimizing its distribution and visibility outside the narrow confines of academia. As a consequence, the public impact of this major work of scholarship was restricted to the white racialist community, where it was strongly endorsed by Mankind Quarterly.
I have only casually leafed through the very lengthy works of Coon and Baker, but these massively-documented tomes seem to contain exactly the sort of careful and dispassionate material that represents the epitome of serious science, so different from the ideologically-motivated verbiage of popular, media-promoted charlatans such as Montagu.
More recently, the current state of our scientific knowledge was helpfully summarized in Race: The Reality of Human Differences published in 2004 by eminent Berkeley anthropologist Vincent Sarich and journalist Frank Miele, which won glowing praise from Colombia anthropologist Ralph Holloway and several other mainstream academics. The book describes the intellectual history of the scientific issues, providing coverage of the various political controversies and Coon’s important work, and since it only runs a couple of hundred pages and is written in an easy style, would serve as an excellent introduction to this controversial topic.
Putnam’s second book had appeared in 1967, recounting the failure of his attempts to overturn the Brown decision, and thereby reestablish the legal basis for school segregation. By then, popular resistance in the South had largely crumbled, resulting in massive white flight from the local public schools. Meanwhile, Northern cities such as Boston were being roiled by similar controversies over integration, and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act had considerably broadened the political battlefield for racial issues. Although elite liberal opinion had predicted that such reform legislation would greatly reduce American racial conflict, the country had instead witnessed the worst wave of urban unrest since at least the Civil War, with deadly black riots in Detroit, Watts, and numerous other cities.
An important basis for the Brown decision had been the argument that desegregation would substantially reduce the wide educational achievement gap between black and white students, which was also a central goal of many of Lyndon Johnson’s new Great Society programs, such as Head Start. But in February 1969, the prestigious Harvard Educational Review gave over its entire issue to a massive 123 page article by Prof. Arthur Jensen of Berkeley, a leading psychometrician, bearing the provocative title “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” Jensen argued that there was overwhelming scientific evidence that IQ scores and other measures of scholastic ability were determined by nature rather than nurture and that the wide black-white performance gap was mostly biological in origin. Jensen’s scientific claims provoked a national firestorm of controversy, subjecting Jensen to massive vilification, including physical assaults and very serious threats against the lives of himself and his family.
Despite these ferocious attacks, Jensen never wavered in his scientific positions during the decades that followed, and in 1998 he published his magnum opus The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability, reiterating his findings. By 2005, he was widely regarded as the Grand Old Man of psychometrics, and he published an article summarizing the previous thirty years of research on racial differences in intelligence, with his co-author being Prof. J. Philippe Rushton, an evolutionary theorist who held explicitly White Nationalist beliefs.
Jensen seems to have been largely apolitical, and although his original article had ignited the controversy, he hardly desired the resulting media spotlight, which soon shifted away, allowing him to spend the next four decades in his scholarly research prior to his death in 2012 at age 89. Instead, a much more eager lightning-rod appeared in the person of physicist William Shockley, who years earlier had won a Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor. Shockley seemed to relish public attention, which he soon attracted by wholeheartedly endorsing Jensen’s views and then spending years promoting them in the media and various public forums, along with other racially-charged policy proposals such as government-paid sterilization for low-IQ individuals and similar eugenic measures. The physicist soon became a household name, attracting massive public vilification up until his death in 1989 and even long afterward.
Shockley was a Palo Alto native, and in 1956 after inventing the transistor he had founded Shockley Semiconductor in neighboring Mountain View to commercialize his invention, choosing to relocate back from the East Coast in order to be closer to his aged and ailing mother. His difficult personality and poor management skills eventually produced an exodus of his early employees, who went on to spawn many of the most important technology companies in the region, arguably making Shockley the father of the modern Silicon Valley, which otherwise might never have come into existence. But although he is probably the most important Palo Altan in history, his controversial racialist views have prevented any appropriate recognition. For years I have driven past his simple clapboard home on Waverley Ave., which is unmarked by any plaque or historic designation, and his name has never graced any building, monument, or award.
Lacking any such public honors and with his name now largely forgotten, Shockley presented no target for the recent Black Lives Matter protest movement to attack, and he was simply ignored. By contrast, a similar campaign a few years ago forced our local school district to rename Terman Middle School, which had honored famed Stanford Electrical Engineering Prof. Frederick Terman. In the 1930s, Terman had encouraged his students William Hewlett and David Packard to found their eponymous company, which also played a huge role in creating America’s powerful technology industry. Terman’s name was scraped from the school because he shared it with that of his father, Stanford Psychology Prof. Lewis Terman, who had pioneered American IQ testing a century ago, now considered a toxic figure despite almost no focus on race.
Jensen had done his own doctoral work at University College London under Hans Eysenck, a renowned professor of psychology and expert in psychometrics. A couple of years after the appearance of Jensen’s controversial article on the heredity basis of IQ, Eysenck published Race, Intelligence, and Education, a short book taking much the same position. Once again, a massive wave of controversy and media vilification erupted, with Eysenck being physically attacked and having his life threatened. Although he never retracted his views, henceforth he focused almost entirely on other topics, and by the time of his death in 1997 was a figure of enormous eminence in the field of psychology, ranking first in the world in the number of his peer-reviewed academic citations. Despite such scholarly achievements, he had never been made a member of the British Psychological Society, apparently because of the controversial nature of his writings on race and IQ three decades earlier.
The same year that Eysenck had released his controversial book, the parallel views of a much younger Harvard psychology professor named Richard Herrnstein attracted similar attention in our own country. Founded in 1857, The Atlantic had for more than a century been one of America’s most prestigious national magazines, and Herrnstein’s 20,000 word article on IQ was one of the longest ever to run in that publication, providing a comprehensive account of the origins and accuracy of IQ tests as a measure of human intelligence, along with the enormous implications for the future of our society. Herrnstein strongly endorsed the arguments of Jensen and others that IQ was overwhelmingly determined by innate factors, but tread rather carefully on the related evidence of a large difference in intelligence between racial groups.
Given its venue, Herrnstein’s massive article reached a large national audience, including many of America’s intellectual elites, and soon provoked the usual wave of attacks and hostile criticism, though his caution on racial issues probably insulated him from the level of vitriol that Jensen and Eysenck had encountered. Rather than being expelled from respectable media circles, Herrnstein went on to publish additional major articles on related IQ issues over the next couple of decades in The Public Interest, National Review, Commentary, and even socialistic Dissent.
In 1982, The Atlantic carried another one of his long articles describing the overwhelming consensus of academic researchers on IQ issues and the severe distortions of the scientific facts regularly promoted by leading mainstream media organs such as The New York Times and CBS News. So although the positions of Herrnstein and his allies were largely excluded from outlets with the largest national audiences, they continually reached smaller but more intellectually elite circles. In 1985 he co-authored Crime and Human Nature with eminent political scientist James Q. Wilson, an influential and well-received text arguing for a strong innate component to criminal behavior, including discussion of the very wide differences in crime rates between racial and ethnic groups.
Herrnstein died of lung cancer at the age of 64 in September 1994, having devoted the final years of his life to a project that directly addressed the large racial differences in intelligence which most of his previous writings had usually sidestepped. Teaming up with prominent social scientist Charles Murray, he produced The Bell Curve, a massive volume that weighed in at 845 pages and over 400,000 words.
The book was released just weeks after his death and immediately became a national sensation, probably attracting more controversy and media coverage than anything published in decades. Almost three generations had passed since a major American press had published a book heavily arguing for the mostly innate nature of human intelligence and the wide racial differences in such traits, and although the latter issue constituted only small portion of the text, those incendiary claims attracted nearly all the attention.
At that time, The New Republic was America’s most influential liberal opinion magazine, and both owner Martin Peretz and editor Andrew Sullivan together gave their strong support to the launch of The Bell Curve, allocating much of an issue to a 10,000 word cover-story entitled “Race, Genes, and IQ: An Apologia,” which largely consisted of extended extracts from the book. But that decision sparked a huge revolt by most of the magazine’s outraged staff and regular contributors, who demanded space for rebuttal, so that the same issue also carried some 19 separate attacks on the book and its theories, many of them extremely harsh, with epithets such as “neo-Nazi” tossed around. According to Sullivan, the incident marked a turning point in his relationships with his TNR colleagues, which never recovered, and he eventually left the magazine.
From the distance of a quarter century, I had mostly forgotten the overwhelming media coverage at the time, but spending a couple of days reading fifty or sixty of the contemporaneous reviews, many of them quite lengthy, refreshed my memory, and also underscored the tremendously disparate reactions by usual ideological soulmates.
For example, just within the pages of the New York Times, the Sunday Book Review allocated The Bell Curve and two other books on similar racial issues an almost unprecedented three pages of discussion, with Malcolm Browne, the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist taking 4,200 words to portray the works in a substantially favorable light, emphasizing the need to confront long-suppressed taboos. But a week later the same newspaper ran a very long editorial denouncing “The Bell Curve Agenda” in the harshest possible terms, and an 8,300 word cover-story in the Sunday Magazine had vilified Murray as “The Most Dangerous Conservative in America.”
National Review, the leading conservative magazine, had already run a long and favorable review, but soon devoted most of an entire issue to a remarkable symposium by 14 separate contributors, many of them prominent journalists or academics, who provided a very wide range of both positive and negative perspectives. Although TNR was then my favorite magazine and I didn’t hold NR in high regard, the flood of attacks in the former seemed absolutely hysterical, while I thought that the latter had provided the best and most balanced discussion.
The coincidental timing of larger political events probably helped explain this enormous media coverage. Just a couple of weeks after the book’s release, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans had unexpectedly swept to power in Congressional elections, ending nearly a half-century of unbroken Democratic control by seizing majorities in both the House and the Senate, an event just as traumatic to the liberals of that day as Donald Trump’s upset victory was to prove in 2016. Racial controversies had been a significant contributing factor to the Republican landslide, and appalled liberals now saw their familiar political and ideological world crumbling about them, with the frightening possibility that the “white racism” of the buried past would suddenly regain control of American society.
The result was an exceptionally bitter wave of liberal media attacks on the book, which was demonized to an unprecedented extent. As mentioned, much of the early media discussion of The Bell Curve and its ideas had been favorable or at least respectful, but an enormous public campaign of vilification was now unleashed, with many timorous Republicans and conservatives soon wilting under the attacks and abandoning any support. A couple of years earlier, I had been invited to a private meeting in DC at which Murray had confidentially circulated portions of his work-in-progress and the neoconservative organizers strategized with him about the best approach for successfully launching the book; but now I heard word that Bill Kristol was seeking conservatives to sign a public statement condemning the “racist” tract.
The book continued to sell very well, but the tide of elite public opinion soon turned sharply against it, and Herrnstein’s death just a month before publication was surely a contributing factor. Until just a few years earlier, Murray had been totally unaware of these scientific issues involving race and IQ, and indeed had regularly dismissed the possible role of racial differences as a factor in black social problems in his previous writings denouncing the welfare state. By contrast, Herrnstein had spent more than two decades researching the topic as a leading Harvard professor, and was also partially immunized against attacks because of his strong liberal credentials. Thus, the disappearance of the senior liberal co-author removed a crucial defender of the contents, leaving the conservative Murray much more vulnerable and exposed, and forcing him to publicly defend psychometric issues that were outside his primary area of expertise. I remember thinking at the time that when faced with sharp technical questioning by hostile journalists some of his media responses were not as effective as they might have been.
America’s leading psychometricians, whose professional expertise on race and IQ had long been ignored or mischaracterized in the public arena, quickly mobilized in support, using the media firestorm as an opportunity to get their longstanding opinions into print. In December, the Wall Street Journal gave over most of a full editorial page to a public declaration that The Bell Curve represented the scholarly consensus of the “mainstream science on intelligence,” a statement organized by Prof. Linda Gottfredson and signed by 52 academic experts, including such eminent scholars as Eysenck and Jensen.
Despite these counter-attacks, the intellectual tide continued to turn against the work, and within less than a year, the ideological status quo had reasserted itself, with the remaining defenders finding themselves severely beleaguered in the mainstream media. When the firestorm had originally erupted, famed paleolibertarian Murray Rothbard had been gleeful that the long-suppressed truths about racial matters had finally broken through, suggesting that powerful political elements had apparently decided to reverse their decades of scientific suppression. But at the ten year anniversary, longtime writers on race and IQ such as Steve Sailer and Chris Brand delivered lengthy and despairing verdicts, concluding that the ideas in the book had been successfully suppressed, and any favorable mention of it in respectable circles would render someone an immediate outcast. Sailer even suggested that the “Bell Curve Wars” represented a crucial turning point for both the neoconservative and neoliberal intellectual movements, which soon abandoned any lingering candor on racially-charged issues. Indeed, other frequent writers on racial matters such as John Derbyshire and Peter Brimelow have sometimes described the period 1995-2005 as a brief “interglacial” during which controversial racial topics could sometimes be discussed in the mainstream media, but that the subsequent clamp-down had been even more severe than anything before.
Many journalists and academics became extremely fearful of broaching the subject of race and IQ, with even the most eminent figures sometimes suffering severe consequences when they did so. For half a century, James Watson had reigned as one of the world’s greatest scientific figures, having shared a Nobel Prize for discovering DNA in 1953 and then spending decades leading Cold Spring Harbor laboratory, which he built up into a major center of scientific research. But in 2007 while on a book-tour at the age of 79, he raised questions about the average intelligence of black Africans and was immediately subjected to a firestorm of public criticism and media vituperation, soon being stripped of many of his honors, and later endured a second wave of vilification when similar remarks came to light in a 2018 documentary. This was a shocking fate for a scientist in his 90s who had spent his entire career at the peak of world renown and achievement.
At the time of the initial Watson firestorm, Slate was our leading online publication, generally neoliberal and well-respected, and William Saletan, one of its senior editors, began publishing a lengthy five-part series entitled “Liberal Creationism,” in which he explained the solid scientific basis of Watson’s casual remarks. But Saletan immediately encountered such a ferocious wave of denunciations that he soon apologized for having used “disreputable sources” amid widespread doubts that he would be able to keep his job.
Although Saletan managed to survive, other media figures naturally became very discreet on the subject of race and IQ, either mouthing platitudes or avoiding the topic entirely lest they be mobbed and their careers destroyed. Scientists themselves also recognized that if a figure of Watson’s towering stature could be so easily destroyed, they needed to watch their words very carefully if they wished to retain their positions. Meanwhile, IQ researchers and racialist elements followed the topic more eagerly than ever, but remained on the ideological margins, with few of their books or articles gaining any wider exposure. And this severe bifurcation between the two camps—one enormously large but silent and fearful and the other small and fiercely committed to IQ doctrine—had serious negative consequences.
In 2002, Richard Lynn and a co-author had published IQ and the Wealth of Nations, which was entirely ignored by mainstream media but became a sensation in IQ and racialist circles. Some of its striking findings began to circulate widely on the Internet, together with those presented in several follow-up volumes, such as The Global Bell Curve.
For decades, Lynn had been a leading figure in international IQ research, with many of his important results cited in the Herrnstein/Murray book, and his new work proposed a sweeping global hypothesis. Based upon his collection of hundreds of international IQ samples, he demonstrated a strong correlation between national IQs and per capita incomes, claiming this proved that a nation’s IQ was a central factor in determining its economic success, with obvious implications for government policies on foreign aid and immigration. In addition, the extremely low IQs in so many African countries, often running 30 points or more below the white American average, obviously explained Africa’s dismal economic failures.
Despite his lack of any mainstream coverage, Lynn soon became a near cult-figure within the racialist community and the statistics in his book an object of veneration. Moreover, such explosive information may have been widely discussed in private conversations, gradually leaking into establishment circles, and perhaps even ultimately playing a role in prompting Watson’s controversial public statements. I suspect that numerous mainstream academics or journalists even regarded the international IQ data as a sort of intellectual pornography, becoming the “forbidden knowledge” that often attracts keen interest.
At the time, I was totally immersed in my own software work, but about a decade later I finally looked into Lynn’s material, and came to radically different conclusions. Focusing primarily upon the dozens of white European IQ samples he had presented, I noticed an extremely striking variance in those results over fairly short periods of time and between genetically-indistinguishable groups, raising strong doubts about Lynn’s strict hereditarian explanation.
Just as Lynn claimed, national wealth was closely linked to IQ, but his own evidence actually suggested that the causal arrow pointed in the direction opposite to his hypothesis, with IQs seeming to rise very rapidly as national wealth increased. For example, Lynn showed that East Germans had IQs as much as 17 points lower than their West German neighbors, while in the early 1970s Ireland Irish were some 13 points below their Irish-American cousins, but both these huge gaps quickly closed as the poorer societies became less poor. A large number of such extreme anomalies seemed to refute the “Strong IQ Hypothesis” long embraced by Lynn, most of his fellow IQ researchers, and their numerous racialist admirers.
I presented this analysis in my major 2012 article “Race, IQ, and Wealth” which provoked widespread discussion, and in a series of follow-up columns I expanded on these ideas and replied to Lynn’s attempted rebuttal. I think my conclusions were eventually accepted by most of the less-dogmatic elements within both the IQ and racialist communities:
Since my own findings were rather humdrum and so obviously implied by Lynn’s own data, I suggested the larger surprise was that they had not been previously noticed during the years of bitter battles over IQ:
We are now faced with a mystery arguably greater than that of IQ itself. Given the powerful ammunition that Lynn and Vanhanen have provided to those opposing their own “Strong IQ Hypothesis,” we must wonder why this has never attracted the attention of either of the warring camps in the endless, bitter IQ dispute, despite their alleged familiarity with the work of these two prominent scholars. In effect, I would suggest that the heralded 300-page work by Lynn and Vanhanen constituted a game-ending own-goal against their IQ-determinist side, but that neither of the competing ideological teams ever noticed.
This seemed a perfect example of why efforts to suppress public discussion of a contentious topic may ultimately be self-defeating, preventing the warring camps from objectively analyzing the underlying evidence and coming to realistic conclusions.
I had always been interested in racial issues, and the enormous 1994 media frenzy surrounding The Bell Curve naturally led me to purchase a copy, but I found it rather uninteresting and ran out of steam less than a hundred pages into the massive 845 page volume. After all, Herrnstein had been writing pretty much the same thing for more than two decades, starting with his very famous 1971 Atlantic article, and although he’d now compiled a great deal of additional supporting evidence, his arguments had already convinced me over many years earlier.
By contrast, another book that coincidentally came out almost at the same time fell into a very different category. Although it received merely a sliver of the media coverage given to the Herrnstein/Murray book, I found Race, Evolution, and Behavior by Canadian academic J. Philippe Rushton absolutely fascinating and considered it a seminal advance in human evolutionary theory.
After summarizing the known scientific facts about the main races of mankind and their different characteristics, Rushton then analyzed this data within the context of r/K theory, a framework of biological adaptation originally developed by sociobiology pioneer E.O. Wilson, which analyzed organisms as being optimized for particular environmental conditions. Under circumstances of resource-abundance, r-selected species emphasize rapid reproduction, while if resources are scarce and competition the crucial factor, K-selected species focus on high parental-investment.
All humans are situated at the far K-end of the spectrum, but some races more so than others. Restricting his attention to the three classical continental-scale mega-races of Africans, Europeans, and East Asians, Rushton analyzed their characteristics under this theoretical framework. Across some sixty different physical and behavioral traits, Africans were invariably at one end of the continuum and Asians at the other, with Europeans in the middle but much closer to Asians. And in each case, these biological characteristics followed the same r/K pattern. A vast wealth of empirical data supported the conclusion that each race had evolved a distinct package of environmentally-influenced features.
I remember casually discussing the two contrasting books with a politically-moderate academic friend of mine at the time, and we both agreed that while the ideas in the much-hyped Bell Curve were neither particularly new nor provocative, Rushton’s research was absolutely fascinating and probably worth a Nobel Prize. I also joked that it might take at least thirty years for such controversial material to become sufficiently accepted for him to claim that honor. Since those prizes are not awarded posthumously, when Rushton died of cancer in 2012 at the relatively young age of 68, I mentioned to one of Harvard’s most prominent scholars that my prediction could no longer be tested.
Despite the shocking aspects of Rushton’s racial analysis, whose controversial conclusions vastly exceeded the rather bland and well-established claims advanced by Herrnstein and Murray, his book initially received fair and even rather favorable treatment, with the two works frequently paired together in reviews. The extremely long discussion in the New York Times Sunday Book Review covered both of them, and while it noted Rushton’s “incendiary thesis,” his ideas were still treated in a fully-respectful fashion.
Nonetheless, for most modern readers, Rushton’s rather straightforward discussion of racial differences in brain size, genital organs, and rates of physical maturation might trigger an almost allergic reaction, seeming to represent the most horrifying aspects of the endlessly-vilified “scientific racism” from in the early decades of the 20th century. I was hardly surprised to notice that Rushton’s Wikipedia entry tenuously attempted to link him to the Nazi Party in its second paragraph, and many journalists had pursued a very similar line of attack in 1994. Indeed, since his own book had made significant use of Rushton’s research, Murray felt compelled to add an Afterword that defended Rushton as a “serious scholar,” but many of the harshest attacks on The Bell Curve still greatly exploited that Rushton association.
Rushton’s landmark book is no longer in print and only available on Amazon at excessive prices, but fortunately PDF copies may be found on the Internet, as well as those of abridged edition, which condenses his 350 page volume into what amounts to a long article.
For years, Rushton’s research and writings had attracted furious hostility, with organized leftists unsuccessfully attempting to have his Canadian university fire him from his tenured professorship, and prominent politicians even suggesting that he should be investigated and prosecuted for violations of Canada’s expansive hate-crimes laws. Endlessly persecuted or ignored by the political mainstream while hailed for his brilliance by the racialist community, Rushton’s own ideological views may have gradually shifted as a consequence. Near the very beginning of his 1995 book, he had argued that use of his scientific research by ethnic nationalists was “problematic,” but by 2002 he had assumed the presidency of the Pioneer Fund and a few years later had become a featured speaker at right-wing racialist conferences, at which point I had come to consider him as an outright White Nationalist.
This last characterization actually had important consequences for my own activities. I had done quite a lot of writing on racial and ethnic issues during the 1990s, then became absorbed in my software work and published almost nothing during the first decade of the 2000s. However, I actively participated in a lively email discussion group organized by Steve Sailer which focused on racial issues. A very common topic of discussion was immigrants and immigration, with my own generally favorable views usually rendering me a tiny minority of one. A frequent sub-topic was crime, and my claims that Hispanics had approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age attracted endless attacks and ridicule from the overwhelming majority of the other list-members. The dispute went on for so many years that I eventually no longer bothered to argue the case, but every now and then just made some satirical jibe on the matter.
As it happens, Rushton was a very occasional participant in the group, and in late 2009 one of my jokes caught his eye. Being a bit on the humorless side, he failed to comprehend that my remarks were actually tongue-in-cheek, and after three or four explanatory exchanges, I was finally forced to state my position as explicitly as possible: “Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age.” He found my claim totally astonishing, saying that it contradicted absolutely everything he had ever learned about the subject and even threatened to overturn his entire ideological world-view, which he had so painstakingly built up over his previous thirty years of scientific investigation into human racial differences. Therefore, he said, I couldn’t possibly be correct.
I then regarded Rushton as probably being the world’s leading White Nationalist academic scholar, and he was basically saying that he would eat his own hat if my contradictory racial analysis proved correct. Such an intellectual challenge was just too tempting to resist, so I took a brief hiatus from my ongoing software project to work out the crime numbers, which naturally turned out to be exactly as I had expected, then published my work as “The Myth of Hispanic Crime” in January 2010, an article which provoked quite a lot of discussion on various websites. I believe my findings had a substantial impact in reshaping the public debate, and my article spent most of the next decade generally ranked #2 by Google among some 160 million search results for “Hispanic Crime” and “Latino Crime” until all the pages of our website were entirely deranked by the Internet giant a few months ago, though it still holds that impressive position both on DuckDuckGo and Bing.
My satisfaction with that article prompted me to return to research and writing, and over the next couple of years, I published more than I ever done had in the past.
Whether or not Rushton’s ill-treatment had pushed him into the white racialist camp, he gave little indication of deeply regretting that alignment, which only came after some twenty years of increasingly harsh vilification and harassment, both at his university and by the media. A much more unfortunate public demonization, though on a far lesser scale, occurred in the case of Henry Harpending, an eminent anthropologist with whom I’d become a little friendly during the early 2000s.
As his Wikipedia article indicates, he had spent nearly his entire career as an absolutely mainstream academic figure. After earning his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1972, he did important original work both in population genetics and anthropological fieldwork in Africa, and published over 120 articles in respected scientific journals. He eventually won election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and spent his last twenty years as a full professor at the University of Utah.
Around 2007 he began a series of collaborations with physicist Gregory Cochran and together they published a number of important, high-profile papers. These included a theory that the introgression of Neanderthal genes may have spurred the development of early Homo Sapiens, the presentation of genetic evidence for the evolution of increased Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence, and most importantly the hypothesis that human evolution had been rapidly accelerating during the last 10,000 years, being driven by the increased appearance of favorable mutations due to far larger populations. All these papers appeared in well-regarded academic journals, with a couple of them being sufficiently important that they received favorable coverage in the science pages of the New York Times. In 2007 he and Cochran co-authored The 10,000 Year Explosion, published by Basic Books, which presented these various evolutionary ideas, as well as the suggestion that the evolution of lactose-tolerance might have been an important factor behind the early Indo-European expansion. The numerous reviews in academic journals were generally quite favorable.
However, the suggestion that human evolution had rapidly accelerated during the last few thousand years carried possible racial implications that did not pass unnoticed among white racialists, and the work became quite popular in such circles. Moreover, the two authors launched West Hunter, a joint blogsite focused on racial and evolutionary issues, and although Harpending seemed only minimally involved, many of the numerous commenters expressed sharply racialist sentiments on a wide variety of matters. Despite seeming rather apolitical, he accepted speaking engagements in 2009 and 2011 at small right-wing gatherings on the East Coast, perhaps thereby coming to the attention of SPLC investigators.
In 2014 Nicholas Wade, a longtime science reporter and editor at the New York Times, published an important book on race and evolution that quickly drew an organized campaign of vilification, including a public letter signed by 134 prominent geneticists, whose absurd charges conclusively proved that not a single one had read the book they were attacking. One of Wade’s chapters covered the theory of the evolution of increased Ashkenazi intelligence that Harpending had co-authored, probably placing a large target on the latter’s back.
So the following year, the SPLC’s HateWatch newsletter outrageously denounced the mild-mannered academic as a “White Nationalist.” This accusation was based upon a ridiculous grab-basket of charges, several of which merely amounted to describing his scientific research findings or mere guilt by association. Other than that, they noted he had occasionally made public statements roughly along the lines of the theories promoted by Herrnstein and Murray and had once called for the mass-deportation of illegal immigrants. For his writings on controversial Jewish issues, Kevin MacDonald has long become an arch-fiend to SPLC researchers, and they demonstrated their total incompetence by claiming Harpending’s theories were based upon those of MacDonald although they have no connection whatsoever and the latter’s name never even appeared in the index nor the bibliography of his book.
Quiet academics who become the object of vicious accusations by influential national organizations have little recourse, and suddenly being labeled a “White Nationalist” and “racist” must have been a very painful experience, possibly contributing to his death from a couple of strokes early the following year at age 72. Despite his twenty years as an esteemed Utah professor, no obituary appeared in his local newspaper, while his university website currently contains a page disassociating itself from one of its former academic stars.
The motive behind such SPLC calumny may have been partly to provide a severe warning to other scientific researchers, much like the destruction of James Watson’s towering reputation. But think a larger factor was the desire to sufficiently anathemize the scholar that in the future no one would dare to cite his research in the public media, and that result seems to have been achieved. In 2019 a rather chauvinistic Jewish columnist at the New York Times casually referred to some of the findings that had been favorably discussed in his own newspaper a dozen years earlier, then desperately back-pedaled and removed the reference after someone discovered he had been relying upon a “racist” researcher.
This extreme sensitivity towards any scientific research touching upon Jews or Jewish characteristics may actually represent a major hidden subtext behind the heavy suppression of racial research over the last century, perhaps even being a more important factor than the obvious focus on black/white issues.
As discussed above, Prof. Tucker’s exhaustive investigation of the Pioneer Fund revealed that throughout most of the twentieth century the organization had been at the center of a network of racialist researchers, providing at least some funding support for many of the scholars discussed above, including Jensen, Eysenck, Rushton, and Lynn, whose focus on topics of race and IQ was heavily disfavored by the vastly larger flow of funding from governmental or mainstream philanthropic sources. But Tucker discovered widespread indications that many of the key Pioneer figures had also held strong views on Jewish issues, though they were careful not to publicly disclose them.
In his first chapter, he explained that Pioneer had its ideological roots in the 1920s, when now-controversial notions of white racialism and eugenics were ubiquitous in elite American circles, especially prevalent in our officer corps and Military Intelligence, who were members of Col. Draper’s own social milieu. Heavily drawing upon the ground-breaking research of Holocaust historian Joseph W. Bendersky, Tucker noted that these same groups were also deeply—if quietly—hostile to growing Jewish influence in American society, which they viewed as a direct threat to continued Anglo-Saxon dominance. For four decades one of the top figures at Pioneer was Secretary John B. Trevor, Jr., the son of the former high-ranking Military Intelligence officer who had played a central role in the passage of the 1924 Immigration Act, whose underlying motive had actually been to eliminate any future influx of Eastern European Jews.
I summarized some of Bendersky’s important findings in a previous article:
In these military circles, there was an overwhelming belief that powerful Jewish elements had financed and led Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, and were organizing similar Communist movements elsewhere aimed at destroying all existing Gentile elites and imposing Jewish supremacy throughout America and the rest of the Western world…Although intelligence officers gradually came to doubt that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was an authentic document, most believed that the notorious work provided a reasonably accurate description of the strategic plans of the Jewish leadership for subverting America and the rest of the world and establishing Jewish rule.
Although Bendersky’s claims are certainly extraordinary ones, he provides an enormous wealth of compelling evidence to support them, quoting or summarizing thousands of declassified Intelligence files, and further supporting his case by drawing from the personal correspondence of many of the officers involved. He conclusively demonstrates that during the very same years that Henry Ford was publishing his controversial series The International Jew, similar ideas, but with a much sharper edge, were ubiquitous within our own Intelligence community. Indeed, whereas Ford mostly focused upon Jewish dishonesty, malfeasance, and corruption, our Military Intelligence professionals viewed organized Jewry as a deadly threat to American society and Western civilization in general. Hence the title of Bendersky’s book.
By the late 1930s and especially after World War II, such sentiments were only rarely voiced in public, but archival research confirms that they still remained a powerful factor in private thoughts and correspondence, including within Pioneer’s inner circle.
Although unconnected with Pioneer, one influential post-war racialist who placed Jewish issues at the center of his concerns was University of Illinois Classics Prof. Revilo P. Oliver. Having held an important wartime role in military code-breaking, during the 1950s Oliver became a leading figure at both National Review and the John Birch Society, two of the leading right-wing organizations of that era, and according to his 1981 memoirs, both had originally been established with the primary goal of combating Jewish influence. As I wrote last year:
One of his friends, a right-wing Yale professor named Willmoore Kendall, argued that a crucial factor in the Jewish domination of American public life was their control over influential opinion journals such as The Nation and The New Republic, and that launching a competing publication might be the most effective remedy. For this purpose, he had recruited a prize student of his named William F. Buckley, Jr., who could draw upon the financial resources of his wealthy father, long known in certain circles for his discreet sponsorship of various anti-Jewish publications and “his drastic private opinion about the aliens’ perversion of our national life.”
By 1958 Oliver had established himself as one of National Review‘s leading contributors, and he was contacted by a wealthy Massachusetts businessman named Robert Welch, who had been an early investor in the magazine but was greatly disappointed by its political ineffectiveness, so the two men corresponded and gradually became quite friendly. Welch said he was concerned that the publication focused largely on frivolity and pseudo-literary endeavors, while it increasingly minimized or ignored the conspiratorial role of the Jewish aliens who had gained such a degree of control over the country…
Late that same year, Welch described his plans for regaining control of the country by the creation of a semi-secret national organization of patriotic individuals, primarily drawn from the upper middle classes and prosperous businessmen, which eventually became known as the John Birch Society. With its structure and strategy inspired by the Communist Party, it was to be tightly organized into individual local cells, whose members would then establish a network of front organizations for particular political projects, all seemingly unconnected but actually under their dominant influence. Secret directives would be passed along to each local chapter by the word of mouth via coordinators dispatched from Welch’s central headquarters, a system also modeled after the strict hierarchical discipline of Communist movements.
…Minimal emphasis was to be placed upon Jewish matters, partly to avoid drawing media fire and partly in hopes that a growing schism between Zionist and non-Zionist Jews might weaken their powerful adversary, or if the former gained the upper hand, perhaps help ensure the removal of all Jews to the Middle East.
Although Oliver had entered both anti-Jewish projects with high hopes, these soon dissipated, and within a few years he came to believe that each had been rendered ineffective, apparently subverted by the need for Jewish funding. He ultimately concluded that his huge investments of time and effort had been entirely wasted, and eventually broke with both organizations, mostly abandoning political activity although he continued to occasionally write for Far Right publications, and retained a great deal of prestige in those circles up until his 1994 death at the age of 86.
Oliver’s stridently anti-Jewish views rendered him unacceptable in regular conservative circles, let alone within the political mainstream, but Tucker’s archival research suggests that these same sentiments were far less uncommon among prominent racialists of the 1950s and 1960s than their public utterances might indicate.
As a longtime senior figure in the corporate world with an Ivy League education, Putnam was a member of America’s elite Establishment, and his national crusade to maintain racial segregation in the public schools and prevent intermarriage was wholeheartedly endorsed by many leading Southerners of the era, including governors and influential U.S. senators. But private correspondence reveals that Putnam’s true political views actually extended far beyond that particular issue, which was widely endorsed by so many leading conservatives of his day.
Around 1970, he brought to Draper’s attention a lengthy manuscript by a pseudonymous author calling himself “Wilmot Robertson,” strongly endorsing the work and urging financial support. Other leading figures in the Pioneer Fund circle were equally enthusiastic, and with their backing The Dispossessed Majority was published in 1972, not long after Draper’s death, while Putnam’s correspondence revealed that he then distributed copies to “very influential figures…near…to the controls of our society.”
Running some 200,000 words, Robertson’s opus soon became the ur-text of modern American White Nationalism, reestablishing the ideological basis for a movement once anchored in the writings of men such as Lothrop Stoddard but which had largely disappeared in the aftermath of World War II.
From its earliest days, America had been run by its Anglo-Saxon core along with the assimilated descendents of closely-related Northern European immigrant groups, who together constituted both the bulk of the population and a large majority of its ruling elites. But Robertson argued that during the previous generation or two, a quiet revolution had steadily shifted political and social control into the hands of America’s tiny Jewish minority, thereby transforming the country’s huge white Gentile population into “the dispossessed majority” of his title, even as the heavily Jewish media ensured that very few members of that group had recognized this ongoing transformation.
Putnam’s own books and other writings had been quite cagey on such touchy subjects, occasionally alluding to the elite “minority groups” that were his primary political opponents but almost never even mentioning the word “Jew.” However, his enthusiastic support for Robertson’s work suggests that he was actually in full agreement on those underlying issues, which came as a very pleasant surprise to his longtime allies in the Pioneer circle.
After encountering scattered references to the Robertson book here and there on the Internet, I finally purchased and read it about a decade ago, finding the work considerably better than I had expected. But having now learned of Putnam’s personal involvement in its origins, I decided to take another look, and also noticed the cover-blurbs from prominent scholars. Prof. Coon described it as “A work of vast scope and scholarship” while Prof. Oliver praised it as “Politically the most important book published in this country since 1939—perhaps since 1917.” Prompted by strong endorsements, I decided to reread it, and see how it held up the second time round.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the central fault line in American society had almost invariably been that separating black from white, with few scholars exploring any residual conflicts between different white ethnic groups. Large scale European immigration had been halted in 1924, and it was widely believed that decades of action by America’s powerful melting-pot had mostly eliminated the sharp differences between the various flavors of whites, a perception strongly encouraged by the media of that era. In fact, I suspect that one reason Beyond the Melting Pot by Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan had attracted so much attention and became such a sociological classic in 1963 was that it focused on a subject otherwise so little-discussed and one that went against the prevailing ideas of the period.
By contrast, The Dispossessed Majority marked an ideological return to the early decades of the twentieth century, when intra-white conflict along ethnic lines had been the central issue. Indeed, Robertson reverted to the old-fashioned separation of Europeans into the Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean sub-races, a usage long since fallen into disrepute and popular disuse. Although blacks, Asians, and other non-white groups were given some attention, his primary focus was on differences between American whites.
In particular, the author sharply distinguished between “assimiliable” and “non-assimiliable” white minorities. By his reckoning, America’s so-called “Majority” population—the Old Stock Anglo-Saxons and other fully assimilated Northern European ethnic groups—constituted just under 60% of our total population. An additional 12% fell into the category of “assimilable white minorities,” including the Irish, Poles, and French Canadians. But another 8% of the population consisted of white ethnicities he considered sufficiently alien as to be classified as “non-assimilable,” including Jews, Southern Italians, and Greeks, which was quite an intellectually scandalous position to take in the early 1970s.
And although Jews only represented a small fraction of those latter groups, Robertson put them at the absolute center of his analysis. Throughout his long work, he used the term “minority” on a multitude of occasions, almost once per page, and I would guess that 90% of those references were to Jews, so much so that the word almost served as a euphemism. Considering another metric, he devoted a long section of his book to describing and discussing the country’s major ethnic groups, ranging from the Irish and the Slavs to the blacks and other non-whites. But the chapter on Jews occupied nearly half the entire space: two pages on Mexicans and other Hispanics, two pages on Asians, but fifty pages on Jews. Although it might seem strange to current readers, his heavily racialist text generally paid very little attention to America’s Hispanics or Asians since both those groups were then such a small fraction of the national population.
Just as Putnam and others claimed, the book contained an enormous quantity of careful research material which Robertson had spent ten years compiling, all presented in a polished, lucid style, with professional editing. But as might be expected, a work focused on such extremely controversial material encountered severe difficulties with sales and distribution. The author later explained that nearly all conservative publications had rejected his ads and bookstores refused to stock any copies, while almost all writers who were sent review copies ignored its existence. Yet even so, within two years some 16,000 copies had been sold or otherwise distributed, a very solid achievement given the obstacles, and total sales eventually exceeded 150,000 copies, quite remarkable under the circumstances.
A book first published in 1972 is now nearly a half-century old, and must be evaluated in that light, so its numerous references to the threat of Communism and the Soviet Union are obviously quite dated. But taken as a whole, I think the text holds up very well, probably remaining more relevant to the domestic problems of our own present-day American society than all but a sliver of the works published around the same time. Indeed, although I had found it quite interesting a decade ago, the events of the last few years—and especially the last few months—seem to have enormously increased its contemporary relevance. Robertson—whose real name was Humphrey Ireland—died in 2005 at the age of 90, but I think he would have found our current domestic problems an almost straight-line extrapolation of those that he had first laid out several decades ago.
Most remarkably, I think an updated version of his central ethnographic framework might be a useful means of analyzing the fault-lines in today’s American society. Although Robertson might not necessarily have agreed, I believe that the last two generations have succeeded in fully merging virtually all of America’s white Gentile ethnic groups—whether “assimilable” or “non-assimilable”—into what he had defined as the Majority population, with few if any sharp distinctions remaining. So by that standard, today’s Majority is almost exactly the same fraction of our national population as the somewhat different Majority that he had defined fifty years ago.
And I would argue that an even more profound change has been that the bulk of America’s non-whites—most Hispanic and Asian groups—have now clearly shifted into Robertson’s category of “assimilable minorities,” or perhaps in many cases have already even become fully-assimilated members of our Majority population. Such major revisions obviously do violence to the ideological beliefs of an author who was born more than a century ago, but I think they much better reflect the realities of today’s American society than do his sharp distinctions between Europeans of Nordic and Alpine racial ancestry.
Perhaps to some extent my sociological analysis is a selfish one. Throughout world history differences of language have been among the sharpest barriers separating ethnic groups, so I believe that my own success two decades ago in dismantling the widespread system of Spanish-almost-only “bilingual education” in California and elsewhere throughout the country has probably played a large role in achieving this reclassification of America’s large and rapidly growing Hispanic population, now already 17% of the national total.
And oddly enough, under this revised ethnic framework a case can be made that the vast demographic changes of the last fifty years have ultimately resulted in an America whose Majority and assimilable minorities together now constitute a much larger fraction of our national population than they did when Robertson’s book first appeared. Whether or not others accept my modification of his ideas or regard them as grotesque mutilations, his masterwork is easily available online as a PDF, and also part of this website’s HTML Books section:
A few years after publishing his book, Robertson launched Instauration, a monthly racialist magazine that appeared without fail for the next quarter century from 1975-2000. Although widely read in racialist circles, perhaps the only time it ever gained a bit of public attention was when National Review Senior Editor Joseph Sobran favorably mentioned it in one of his 1986 columns, thereby provoking a firestorm of criticism, and laying the groundwork for his later purge from that publication and the destruction of his career.
I managed to obtain a complete set of Instauration around the same time I bought Robertson’s book, and then casually read through most of the issues. While the material was probably unique at the time it appeared, the growth of the Internet has spawned a multitude of websites now offering similar ideological fare, so I found the articles of only slight historical interest. With all the back issues now online as PDFs, people can judge for themselves.
One major element that did draw my attention was a long continuing series entitled “The Game and the Candle” that ran across more than two dozen issues, and which I found quite fascinating. It was described as “a dramatized rendering of the secret history of the United States (1912-1960)” and many of the historical allusions only became intelligible to me when I finally reread it again near the end of last year. Although most of the surprising conspiratorial claims presented are far from solidly established, I suspect that much of the “alternate reality” that they describe is at least as close to the truth as the very conventional historical narrative of the twentieth century found in all our standard history textbooks. For ease of reading, I have extracted all the 29 installments, which amount to perhaps 100,000 words, and merged them together into a single long PDF.
Around 1990, racial controversies began returning to the center-stage of American public life. Our nation’s leading economic, political, and media elements overwhelmingly reside in New York City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, and in all these urban centers very serious levels of black crime became a daily source of concern, with fears only growing worse after the LA Riots of 1992, the worst outbreak of racial violence in a generation. Meanwhile, a continuing flood of foreign immigration, the highest in three generations, was also rapidly altering the demographics and darkening the complexion of California and other large states, with whites gradually being reduced to a minority of the population and often a small minority of public school students.
Robertson’s tiny racialist publication seems to have mostly been a one-man operation, and as someone born in 1915, he was already in his mid-70s by the beginning of this period of heightened racial tension, probably in no position to take full advantage of the opportunity. The potential audience and reach of his writings had always been severely restricted by the media boycotts he endured, but the appearance of the Internet would soon begin reducing such distributional barriers, providing a tremendous opening for those willing and able to take full advantage of the new technology. Over the next quarter-century, there was a huge growth of racialist publications, websites, and forums, which followed a wide variety of different styles and areas of main interest.
The unexpected 2016 election victory of Donald Trump was later to place these ideas under an unprecedented national spotlight. Although the term “Alt-Right” had originally been coined a few years earlier by political activist Richard Spencer and his paleoconservative mentor Prof. Paul Gottfried, the fundamental ideas of that movement had been developed over the previous decades by these various racialist outlets, whose existence had been almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media.
Three of the most prominent figures in this Internet-based ideological movement were each roughly a generation younger than Robertson, and by taking full advantage of the Internet, they eventually created ongoing publications that have become among the most important outlets for racialist content. Although Jared Taylor, Peter Brimelow, and Kevin MacDonald share overlapping interests and have regularly collaborated together or spoken at the same events, each seems to primarily focus on a particular portion of the political landscape that Robertson’s publication had originally encompassed.
Jared Taylor launched his American Renaissance newsletter in late 1990, initially under a slightly different form of his name and in 1992 he published Paved with Good Intentions, a powerful compendium of the apparent failures of America’s efforts at racial integration, with a heavy focus upon black crime and other social dysfunction. At that time, his more controversial ideological views were not yet generally known, so the book was released by a fully mainstream press, then widely and favorably reviewed in regular conservative media outlets, even receiving respectful treatment by a leading liberal academic in the pages of the prestigious New York Review of Books. An anniversary edition of Taylor’s book is available in convenient HTML form on this website, allowing those so interested to read it and decide for themselves:
According to his Wikipedia entry, Taylor had been born in Japan to missionary parents in 1951 and spent his first 16 years living in that country, afterward graduating from Yale and earning a postgraduate degree in Paris, with some years spent traveling in West Africa. He later worked in the financial services and publishing industries, and wrote a well-received book on Japan in 1983, obviously possessing the sort of mainstream and elite credentials which many might find surprising in a controversial political movement long pushed into the fringes. His memories of spending his early years in a racially-homogenous, peaceful, and orderly East Asian society surely stood in sharp contrast with the increasingly fragmented and crime-ridden America he saw about him during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and this must have been an important factor in his political evolution.
Taylor’s three decades of public activity have probably established him as America’s most prominent White Nationalist, while the print version of his American Renaissance publication shifted to an entirely online presence about a decade ago. Although many of its items have dealt with transient day-to-day events, his archives provide a cornucopia of serious racialist content, including lengthy book reviews that would be found almost nowhere else, as has already been demonstrated in this article. The quality of the content is often quite high, and under a different ideological regime one could easily imagine many of these pieces appearing in America’s leading general interest magazines rather than being confined to the margins of the Internet. Although his publication covers racialist matters in general, over the years the primary focus has probably remained the subject of his original book, namely the problematic aspects of blacks in American society.
When Taylor’s 1990 book was very favorably discussed in the pages of National Review, the writer was journalist Peter Brimelow, a senior editor at Forbes. Brimelow was then regarded as a very mainstream if conservative-leaning financial journalist, who had spent part of the late 1970s serving as a Republican Senate staffer, and had long and close ties with prominent conservative intellectuals and authors, especially those grouped around the Manhattan Institute, with its intermingled neoconservative and libertarian elements. Born and educated in Britain, he had come to Stanford in the early 1970s for his MBA, then spent a number of years working as a journalist in Canada, before permanently settling in the New York City area.
Six months before writing that review, Brimelow had himself created quite a stir by publishing a National Review cover-story entitled “Time to Rethink Immigration?,” one of the longest and most influential articles ever to appear in that magazine. The right-wing nativism of the 1920s had dissipated soon after the heavy flow of foreigners from Europe had been legally reduced to a trickle, and in recent decades conservatives had generally been quite friendly towards immigrants and immigration, with the ringing phrases of Ronald Reagan providing a perfect example of that tendency.
The 1965 Immigration Act had reopened the possibility of large-scale immigration from Europe and Asia, while the very rapid population growth in Latin America had produced a similar effect from that region, and these gradually began having a large national impact. By the late 1980s major demographic changes were taking place across American society, but most conservative leaders still continued to ignore the issue. Indeed, when Pat Buchanan published Right from the Beginning in 1990, his resoundingly conservative call-to-arms actually included favorable mention of America’s large population of hard-working illegal immigrants. But much of the Republican Party’s white conservative base had meanwhile begun to seethe on the issue, producing the dry tinder for a potential political explosion, and Brimelow’s powerful 13,000 word article helped provide the spark.
Two years later, incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson of California turned an uphill reelection drive into a landslide victory by riding the coattails of Prop. 187, his state’s anti-illegal immigration ballot measure, which passed by an even wider margin. On that same Election Day, the Republicans led by Newt Gingrich won an unexpected national victory, gaining control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in sixty years. An unforeseen consequence of these Congressional victories was that longstanding critics of immigration suddenly held the chairmanships of both relevant committees, and they pledged to pass legislation sharply reducing the flow of incoming foreigners.
Brimelow had expanded his very long NR article into Alien Nation, a book published by Random House, and with exceptionally fortuitous timing, it was released in early 1995, selling very well as a consequence. While he kept his day job at Forbes, he had also been named a senior editor at NR, and over the next few years became an influential figure at America’s conservative media flagship organ. Although long out of print, his 1995 book is conveniently available in HTML format on this website:
Throughout the rest of the 1990s, racial issues remained at the forefront of the American political debate. California in particular became the epicenter of such controversies, with battles over the state’s Propositions 187, 209, and 227—dealing with illegal immigration, affirmative action, and bilingual education respectively—inspiring national debates over those same topics. I myself was very heavily involved in all these conflicts, and later recounted the history and broader analysis in a long 1999 Commentary cover-article and an even longer American Conservative sequel a dozen years later. I think both these articles have held up very well, and I would strongly recommend them to those interested in the topics:
Although Brimelow and his anti-immigration allies had gained the upper hand in the early battles within the conservative movement and the Republican Party, by the late 1990s their pro-immigration opponents backed by the powerful business lobby had won a complete victory and purged most of their erstwhile foes. Denied any significant media outlet for views still so widely held among ordinary grassroots conservatives, he and a small group of allies launched the VDare website near the end of 1999, and the publication soon emerged as the leading venue for hard-core anti-immigration views, often presented with a sharp racialist tinge. Although immigration has always remained its overwhelming focus, coverage soon extended to other controversial topics of a similar hue which were also generally excluded from the conservative mainstream, including black criminality, racial differences, Jewish influence, and IQ studies. Much of this material would have hardly seemed out of place in the National Review of the 1990s, but had now been exiled to the web.
Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow had become racialist partisans and publishers via the unsurprising route of journalism, but a third leading figure, Kevin MacDonald, instead had a purely academic background.
Born in 1944, MacDonald had earned his Ph.D. in biobehavioral sciences in 1981 and after a post-doctoral fellowship in psychology became a faculty member in the California State University system a few years later, soon beginning to focus on evolutionary psychology. The debate over group evolutionary strategies has traditionally been a highly contentious topic in the field, and according to his own account, MacDonald became interested in exploring the issue within the human context. Jews have been recognized as a distinct human group for thousands of years and there exist copious historical records of their activities and behavior, so they seemed an ideal subject for a case study.
After years of diligent research, MacDonald published A People That Shall Dwell Alone in 1994, having the subtitle “Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy.” Released by a standard academic press, the work received generally favorable reviews in academic journals and otherwise attracted no notice whatsoever. In 1998, he followed this with Separation and Its Discontents subtitled “Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism,” attracting fewer reviews and once again no other attention. His final volume The Culture of Critique appeared later that same year, and was far more political and contemporaneous in its focus, as indicated by the subtitle “An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements.”
According to MacDonald, he had been shocked when his research revealed the overwhelming role of organized Jewish groups in transforming America’s political and intellectual life during the course of the twentieth century, most notably with regard to our immigration policy, an important history that had remained concealed from him and nearly all other Americans. Although released by the same academic press, this last work was almost entirely ignored by the scholarly journals that had reviewed the previous two volumes of his trilogy.
Despite the highly controversial nature of MacDonald’s historical findings, I suspect that most of his subsequent notoriety and his entrance into political activism was due to his participation in David Irving’s high-profile libel lawsuit. Irving, one of Britain’s most successful historians, had been under heavy attack for many years by Jewish groups outraged over the contents of his best-selling World War II histories, and by the time of his London trial in 2000, he was a beleaguered figure, soon to be financially ruined by the heavy judgment against him. Irving’s looming fate naturally intimidated most of his potential scholarly supporters, and MacDonald was the only witness willing to testify on his behalf, providing an account of the past activities of organized Jewish groups. Such involvement naturally brought the California academic to the attention of the right-wing groups who had rallied on Irving’s behalf, but more importantly led MacDonald to be targeted by Irving’s numerous Jewish foes, who immediately began orchestrating harsh media attacks against him.
Campaigns of public vilification are sometimes counter-productive, and I suspect that the vast majority of individuals who first discovered MacDonald’s work did so from reading pieces like “Evolutionary Psychology’s Anti-Semite” by Judith Shulevitz in Slate, then America’s premier opinion webzine, with its close competitor Salon publishing a similar hit-piece. That was certainly true in my own case, and my curiosity at those denunciations led me to order the books of his trilogy, which I soon began to read, finding them very judicious in their approach and scholarly in their tone. But the religious and historical contents proved so tremendously dull that after reading the first volume and starting the second, I put the books aside and moved on to other things.
A few years ago, I finally returned to those works, finding the first two volumes much more interesting now than I had before, and the third volume even more so. All these works had originally been published by a highly-reputable academic press, but in 2018 the ADL finally succeeded in pressuring Amazon into taking the unprecedented step of purging them from its book store, which holds a near-total monopoly on online book sales in the Western world. However, all three books are conveniently available in HTML form on this website, so those so interested can read them and decide for themselves:
For the last couple of decades, immigration has been an especially hot-button issue among right-wing activists, with the 1965 Immigration Act regularly portrayed as a horrific political betrayal that doomed American society. MacDonald’s research demonstrated that organized Jewish groups had been a central force behind passage of that legislation, a goal they had tirelessly pursued for over 40 years. As a consequence, MacDonald was soon lionized as a political hero in those circles, and the very scholarly tone of his books greatly enhanced his credibility. Meanwhile, the harsh vilification campaign by his Jewish critics severely damaged his personal standing at his Long Beach campus, producing many painful moments and further driving him toward his new collection of right-wing admirers.
Within a few years, MacDonald had become a leading figure in the racialist camp, awarded the Jack London prize by The Occidental Quarterly in 2004, and soon afterward becoming editor of the associated Occidental Observer webzine. Over the last dozen or more years, that latter outlet has published a great deal of high-quality content, releasing articles that are often heavily footnoted and may run several thousand words in length, far more scholarly and academic in tone than what is found in nearly any other racialist publication. The webzine has also served to launch a number of promising new writers, several of whom hold Ph.D.s and have impressive research skills. Although the heaviest focus tends to be on Jewish-related issues, articles on other topics such as immigration, crime, and evolutionary biology also regularly appear.
Compared with other prominent right-wing racialists, MacDonald’s policy proposals have generally been rather vague and mild, I think mostly confined to criticism of affirmative action and calls for large reductions in immigration. His legion of fierce critics have surely mined every word he has ever written or spoken, and if anything more serious had been discovered, the material would certainly have been used to blacken his name. Yet despite the absence of any substantive proposals that fall to the right of FoxNews, his exceptionally hostile Wikipedia entry—as long as those of Taylor and Brimelow combined—contains 16 separate uses of “Nazi” or “neo-Nazi,” including the explicit statement that “He is active in the American neo-Nazi movement,” an entirely unsubstantiated accusation that I view with great skepticism. By contrast, Taylor’s Wikipedia article reports that he has been trying to “de-Nazify” the racialist right, while Brimelow’s entry contains no reference to Nazism. This further demonstrates that focusing upon Jewish misbehavior seems to escalate personal vilification to extraordinary levels, and brings to mind the famous quote frequently misattributed to Voltaire: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”
With the partial exception of Putnam, all the white racialists thus far discussed were academics, writers, and other intellectuals, or at least confined most of their activities to such pathways. But they sought major changes in American society, and effecting such changes must necessarily involve the organizing and activism aimed at achieving a measure of political power. Such activities require quite different talents and personalities, and therefore attract different individuals. Three of the leading white racialist political organizers had successive careers that stretched from the early post-war years down to the present day.
Although now largely forgotten, George Lincoln Rockwell became a somewhat prominent public figure in the 1960s, notorious as the founder of the American Nazi Party, and successfully operating as something of a political performance-artist, regularly employing a wide range of stunts and media events in order to attract considerable press coverage. Indeed, the name of his right-wing racialist organization along with its Hitler-era flags and uniforms had obviously been chosen for exactly that reason, serving as an irresistible lure for the media attention that serves as the life’s-blood of any small and under-funded political organization, which would usually prefer to be vilified rather than merely ignored.
Rockwell himself had been a reasonably successful commercial artist and entrepreneur, serving as a naval commander during World War II, and afterward being drawn toward right-wing politics. At first, his political views were fairly mainstream, and he supported the possible presidential candidacy of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and later worked for William F. Buckley, Jr. at National Review. But he gradually moved farther and farther to the right, eventually coming to regard organized Jewry as the especially nefarious source of America’s deepest problems. He founded his Nazi Party in 1959 and ran it with mixed success for the next eight years despite numerous bitter internal feuds and splits, eventually being assassinated by a disgruntled former member in 1967. He told his personal story and political evolution in two self-published books, his autobiographical This Time the World in 1961 and the posthumously-released White Power in 1966, which were unfortunately both purged by Amazon a couple of years ago, but can still be easily found online. In 1999, a comprehensive Rockwell biography by William H. Schmaltz was published by an academic specialty press, which helpfully fills in many of the gaps and omissions.
Although usually relegated to just a sentence or two in our history books and treated like a villainous clown, at times Rockwell had moved in important circles, and may have even helped influence some national events. In his autobiographical account, he describes his political education under a certain DeWest Hooker, a successful entertainment executive whom he regarded as a personal hero and mentor. Hooker was fiercely anti-Jewish and years later became a close friend of journalist Michael Collins Piper, who recounted a fascinating tale from the 1960 Presidential race in his book Final Judgment.
Jewish groups still had deep animosity for Joseph Kennedy over his strong opposition to American involvement in World War II, and the family patriarch feared that this lingering hostility would damage his son’s chances of reaching the White House. So he asked Hooker to have his friend Rockwell organize public Nazi Party demonstrations endorsing Nixon and attacking JFK, thereby solidifying Jewish support for the latter. These protests actually attracted quite a bit of media coverage, and probably helped the younger Kennedy win 80% of the Jewish vote, along with heavy campaign donations and friendly media support, perhaps tipping the balance in such a very close national election.
In an even stranger possible twist, Hooker years later reportedly explained that the original impetus for the creation of Rockwell’s American Nazi Party had actually come from the Jewish ADL, which believed that widespread media coverage of such an organization would greatly enhance their fund-raising efforts. So they allegedly approached Hooker and explained their proposal, offering to pay all the costs of publishing the Nazi literature and other materials, and he persuaded his protege to implement the idea. I think a story so bizarre is less likely to have been invented.
After Rockwell’s demise, his small organization disintegrated, but within a few years the pieces were reconstituted in a somewhat different fashion by Dr. William Pierce, a former physics professor at the University of Oregon who had abandoned academia in 1965 to devote himself to racial activism, soon joining Rockwell’s organization.
Over the next three decades, Pierce probably ranked as one of America’s leading figures on the Far Right fringe, with his National Alliance eventually including some 1,500 dues-paying members and 15 full-time staffers, and his weekly short-wave radio broadcasts potentially reached a much larger national audience. Along the way, he published The Turner Diaries, a fictionalized account of a right-wing revolution against an oppressive American government, which became a gigantic underground bestseller, having some 400,000 copies in print despite being boycotted by all regular bookstores and lacking any mainstream advertising. In 1994 there were widespread media reports that the Oklahoma City Bombing had been inspired by Pierce’s novel, which provided him a short burst of national media attention and as well as the benefits of a semi-mainstream publisher. Pierce died of cancer in 2002, after which his organization also soon disintegrated.
By far the most comprehensive discussion of Pierce and his efforts is The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds, published the year before his death by Prof. Robert S. Griffin of the University of Vermont. Pierce’s background and ideas are presented in an objective but somewhat sympathetic manner, and the book also contains a great deal of additional material on other individuals and issues from that segment of the ideological spectrum, including a long chapter on Rockwell and another on Revilo Oliver. The entire text of Griffin’s volume is conveniently readable here in HTML format:
While Rockwell’s numerous media stunts had gained him a certain measure of public attention during the first half of the 1960s, Pierce and his far larger and better disciplined organization remained almost entirely unknown throughout their three decades of activity. But during that same period, a much younger activist began following Rockwell’s play-book and gained media attention by his bold tactics, eventually becoming a nationally-recognized racialist-celebrity and political figure, first as the leader of a faction of the Ku Klux Klan and afterward as a surprisingly successful candidate for high public office. These days, the names of George Lincoln Rockwell or William Pierce would surely draw blank stares, but David Duke probably still rings a bell. As an objective measure of prominence, his Wikipedia article is much longer than those of Rockwell and Pierce combined, and carries an ADL endorsement ranking him as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.”
Duke’s high-water mark came almost three decades ago when for a couple of years he flashed like a meteor across the American political landscape. Drawing upon deep populist anger over welfare, crime, affirmative action, and other racially-charged issues, in 1990 he challenged the incumbent Democratic senator in his home state of Louisiana. Despite being massively outspent and facing an exceptionally hostile media, with both parties absolutely united against him, he stunned the country by getting over 43% of the total vote, including a landslide majority of his state’s whites. The following year, he launched a challenge to the incumbent Republican governor along similar lines, defeating him in the open primary and then once again winning a large majority of whites even while losing the run-off to a former Democratic governor, who was the recipient of a tidal wave of funding, media, and endorsements, including the active support of nearly every prominent national Republican.
Following my own successful “English” campaign in California, I had published a long 1999 cover story in Commentary discussing my state’s racially-charged political conflicts of the preceding decade, and it had attracted a good deal of favorable interest, leading me to consider writing a book that expanded my analysis to the national level. As part of my background preparation, I began reading thirty or forty books on racial issues, of which one of the longest was Duke’s My Awakening, which had been released the previous year.
I had expected it to be an ideological screed that I would casually skim and then abandon, but Duke’s book was actually something entirely different. Two decades have almost completely blurred the details, but I remember reading the entire text and being very impressed with the quality of both the style and content. Indeed, the book was so far superior to what I had expected from someone only known to me as a fringe political-activist with no serious academic credentials that I began to wonder, perhaps a bit unfairly, about the identity of the true author.
Not long afterward I shelved my potential writing plans in favor of my content-archiving project, which steadily grew in scope and ultimately absorbed most of my time and effect for the next decade. But just a few days ago, I decided to take another look at Duke’s book for the first time in twenty years. Although I merely intended to glance at a few pages, I found the material so interesting that I reread the entire text, which ran 700 pages with more than 1000 footnotes, being far longer than I had remembered.
My first surprise was the exceptionally favorable Foreword provided by Glayde Whitney, a seemingly respectable Florida professor of behavioral genetics, who described himself as a lifelong Hubert Humphrey Democrat. Whitney said that although he had never met Duke, he had independently come to most of the same conclusions over the years. Therefore, he fully endorsed the former Klansman’s controversial views on racial and genetic issues and hoped that Duke’s high public profile would finally succeed in bringing these important ideas to the attention of a much wider national audience. The former president of the Behavior Genetics Association even described Duke as “a Moses-like prophet,” and suggested that his book might play the same role that Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations had achieved with regard to the theory of capitalism.
As I read through the long text, Prof. Whitney’s characterization began to seem less and less outlandish. Although obviously pitched to a popular audience, the first major section described the important scientific facts about race, IQ, and evolutionary psychology drawn from the works of many of the academic scholars discussed above, and the material presented seemed almost entirely correct.
But what impressed me even more this time round were the other elements of the book concerning history and politics that I had probably originally disregarded. The next section ran over 250 pages and dealt with a variety of controversial Jewish issues. Back in 2000, these had probably raised some questions in my mind, but soon faded. However, over the last two decades, I had done a great deal of reading and investigation in the history of the twentieth century, and I now realized that many of my controversial findings had first been encountered—and then soon dismissed and forgotten—in the pages of Duke’s book. For example, he included a 40 page chapter strongly disputing the reality of the Jewish Holocaust, which he argued was merely a propaganda-hoax, very likely the first time I had ever encountered that shocking claim in any serious writing, and I must have reacted with extreme skepticism. But a few years ago I finally investigated the topic at length and came to very similar conclusions.
At the time, I had also never heard of the Nazi-Zionist partnership of the 1930s or the many strange aspects of Talmudic Judaism or the persecution of historian David Irving, and all of these accounts were so discordant with my mainstream understanding that they had never lodged in my memory when I read about them back in 2000. But over the last couple of years I discussed them at length in my American Pravda series, along with my reinterpretation of the Second World War. If prejudice means pre-judging ideas, then twenty years ago I was certainly quite prejudiced when I read and disregarded the historical claims of a former Klansman with only an undergraduate history degree from Louisiana State University, but in hindsight, he seems to have been entirely correct on so many of these important historical matters long before I had even become aware of them.
If we carefully separate Duke’s ideological beliefs from his factual claims, my considered opinion is that 80-90% of the latter are correct, and ironically enough his largest errors come in positions that he closely shares with most other American conservatives and right-wingers.
One of the more remarkable items in Duke’s account, impossible to verify but quite possibly true, was his long and friendly acquaintance with Prof. William Shockley, to whom he dedicated his book. Shockley’s own political notoriety had preceded Duke’s entrance onto the public stage, and given their strong agreement on issues of race and IQ and mutual demonization by the media, they supposedly had a number of phone conversations from the early 1970s until shortly before Shockley’s death in 1989. By then, Duke was already preparing his remarkable 1990 U.S. Senate run and according to his account, Shockley said that if he were thirty years younger and healthier, he would be campaigning on Duke’s behalf. Consider such a historical tableau: the physicist who had won a Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor and then created Silicon Valley campaigning in Louisiana on behalf of the former Grand Dragon of the KKK.
Along with many other important works, Duke’s book was purged from Amazon a couple of years ago, but can still be easily found online.
Most present-day Americans, whether young or old, have lived their entire lives undergoing a form of psychological conditioning that causes them to suffer a sort of allergic reaction at ideas that fall into certain particular categories. Some of the most notable triggers include topics involving race, ethnicity, and sex, and encountering such forbidden material may be a painful experience, with the discomfort only gradually subsiding after repeated exposures. One of the most terrifying subjects for a man is the nature of mankind.
Many of the dozens of books already discussed in this long article fall into those disturbing categories, and in some cases their contents caused me considerable unease when I first encountered them ten or fifteen or twenty years ago, whether or not I ultimately concluded that much of their analysis was mistaken. But whenever I turn my thoughts to the most controversial book I have ever read, a single obvious candidate comes to mind, a self-published work of anthropology.
I can’t recall the exact circumstances of how it first came to my attention, perhaps when I was browsing the comments of some fringe website or blogger in 2008. I went ahead and clicked a button on Amazon, receiving it a few days later while my credit card was debited $18.00. The work has long since gone out of print, and the cheapest hard copies now sell for $900.
The author was an individual entirely unknown to me, apparently a longtime libertarian activist and something of a polymath, holding undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, and law. He claimed to have spent four full years writing the book after several previous years of lengthy Internet discussions in which he and one or more collaborators had gradually worked out most of the basic ideas and done much of the research. Such claims seem plausible since the finalized text runs some 200,000 words and is supplemented with a vast multitude of illustrations, charts, and tables, along with more than 1200 detailed footnotes, most of them substantive and many quite long. The bibliography contains over 1,000 entries.
The writing itself was quite serviceable if hardly elegant, and the work seems to fit rather comfortably within the evolutionary framework provided by Coon’s racial theories from the 1960s and Rushton’s r/K analysis from the 1990s, though I hadn’t yet encountered the former at the time.
I have no serious expertise in anthropology, but the early chapters that covered genetics and evolution seemed quite correct in their detailed description of those scientific foundations, and the arguments advanced in the later ones were plausibly presented, if often revolutionary in their implications. But far more than Coon or Rushton, Richard D. Fuerle intended to turn the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens entirely on its head.
When faced with a sweeping theoretical framework of claims in a subject far beyond my personal expertise, I naturally turn to reviews and commentary, which will give me a useful starting point whether they are supportive or critical. But with the sole exception of a quite favorable and comprehensive review (PDF Version) by Jared Taylor that ran nearly 6,000 words, none existed. Not a single one of the many racialist bloggers saw fit to touch this material, thus depriving me of the extended comment-thread debates that would normally have assisted my understanding.
Faced with this dilemma, I decided to contact an eminent scholar I knew who had great expertise in exactly this subject, and gingerly asked whether he had heard of the work. As it happens, he had recently received a copy but had not bothered to look at it, and upon hearing from me decided to do so. A couple of days later, he dropped me a note saying he had already read more than half of the book, and was so extremely impressed at the vast quantity of very important information it contained that he planned to keep it close on his own shelf to use as a standard reference source. Then a day or two later, he told me that after finishing the book, he had been absolutely horrified by the theories advanced by the author. So I avoided raising that topic in the future.
I recently reread my old copy of Erectus Walks Amongst Us and the sheer volume of its material and sweep of its ideas impressed me just as much now as it had a dozen years ago. My expertise in anthropology has hardly much improved over the years, so my brief discussion of the contents should not be taken very seriously, and may merely demonstrate my own deep ignorance of the subject. Flying blind is always a risky endeavor.
The human evolutionary framework proposed by Fuerle seems to generally follow that of Coon, providing various arguments that contrary to modern orthodoxy, the different races of man actually predate the appearance of Homo sapiens itself, having evolved in the geographically-separated populations of our Homo erectus predecessors. As an example of the evidence presented, he notes that the early erectoids dwelling in Asia had shovel-shaped incisors, as do modern Asians, which seems unlikely to have been purely coincidental.
But Fuerle’s central thesis is that our reigning Out of Africa framework—the notion that Homo sapiens first evolved in Africa then spread throughout the world—should be replaced by an Out of Eurasia model, and some of his points do seem like reasonable ones.
He argues that the package of African physical traits seems to be heat-adapted, while those of Asians are cold-adapted with the Caucasian race remaining more generalized, then suggests on theoretical grounds that a heat-adapted human population would be less likely to easily evolve into cold-adapted and generalized varieties, let alone do so in as little as the 60,000 years now believed. Also, Africa’s relatively stable environment would be much less likely to provide the severe environmental challenges necessary for giving rise to a new species, especially one with far greater intelligence than its erectoid predecessors.
Under the current theory of African origins, Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa into Eurasia during the very time that the latter continent was gripped by a severe ice age that produced very difficult living conditions compared with their less impacted African homeland, which seems implausible. Moreover, Neanderthal man had already occupied Europe and parts of Asia for hundreds of thousands of years, surely being well adapted to local conditions and also having a larger brain than Homo sapiens, so it seems unlikely that small numbers of African-adapted human interlopers could have easily displaced them.
Meanwhile, Fuerle’s contrary model of human evolution argues that sapiency was first achieved somewhere in the Eurasian continent, far larger than Africa and also providing much more stressful selective pressure. And during the ice age that wrapped the globe 60,000 years ago, small bands of early Homo sapiens were driven into Africa’s more hospitable climate rather than away from it.
Not long after Fuerle’s book appeared, anthropology was rocked by the discovery that non-African DNA contained small Neanderthal elements, demonstrating that the two different species had interbred at least to some slight extent during the tens of thousands of years they overlapped in Europe and parts of Asia. Indeed, Cochran and Harpending had even suggested that such Neanderthal introgression might have involved genes crucial for the success of Homo sapiens, perhaps providing traits well-adapted to local environmental conditions, and therefore been subject to strongly positive selective pressure. Not long afterward, small traces of other pre-human hominoid DNA were found in some of the present-day populations of South-East Asia, the residue of a species called the Denisovans.
All of these discoveries of residual DNA have demonstrated that species are not nearly as rigidly separated from one another as our elementary biology textbooks had usually maintained. Indeed, numerous animal species can readily mate and produce fertile offspring although they do not usually do so under natural conditions. Fuerle repeatedly stressed exactly this point in his book, long before these waves of DNA research had firmly established the case with regard to human beings. For example, Homo neanderthalensis had always been classified as separate from our own species, but some might now argue that it was simply a different race of Homo sapiens and should instead be called Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.
When we consider the larger populations of the Sub-Saharan African continent, those living in the Horn of Africa seem to be partial outliers, both by genes and by physical attributes, being a partial mix of the peoples on either side, African Negroes and Middle-Eastern Caucasians, in some respects actually being closer to the latter except with regard to skin color. Similar hybridization is quite common in the world, notably in Central Asia, where Caucasians and Asians have intermingled for thousands of years. So our hybridization with Neanderthals is merely an extreme example of this.
Science inevitably advances, and over the last couple of decades the analysis of human DNA has substantially revised our family tree of world populations, providing quantitative results that are far more solid and exact than the crude analyses produced by past generations of physical anthropologists. If we exclude the small local populations of Australian Aborigines, African Pygmies, and a few other minor groups, humanity has traditionally been divided into three mega-races, the Caucasoids, Mongoloids, and Negroids, and that remains true today. But genetic analysis has now revealed that the first two groups cluster together much more closely, with the last is a considerable outlier. So to a good first approximation, mankind is genetically divided into Eurasians and Africans, and Fuerle makes the provocative argument that if Africans were not a living race and were instead only known from their bones and DNA, they probably would have been classified as a separate species from Eurasians.
And in a telling passage quoted in Taylor’s lengthy review, Fuerle emphasizes that the phenotypical differences between Eurasians and Africans seem follow a consistent pattern:
[V]irtually all of the racial differences between Africans and Eurasians are in traits that are primitive; there are few, if any, African traits that are more modern than Eurasian traits. The evidence comes from a large variety of very different traits: hard tissue, soft tissue, physiology, behavior, intelligence, accomplishments, and genes. And most importantly, all of the evidence is consistent. It is not the case that genes are saying blacks are modern and bones are saying they are primitive. All of the evidence is saying the same thing…
This noticeable pattern of African traits is readily explained by Fuerle’s model of human origins. If Homo sapiens first evolved in Eurasia and small bands of this new species then entered Africa perhaps 60,000 years ago, they might naturally have hybridized with the local hominids of that continent, just like other early members of their species had done with Neanderthals or Denisovans. But since the pre-existing local populations were so much larger, a much greater portion of today’s genetic ancestry might have come from those other sources.
Earlier this year, an analysis of the African genome revealed that up to 19% of the DNA appears to have its origins in “ghost populations” of the archaic pre-human hominids who had once flourished on that continent. Although these scientific results have not received the media attention they might warrant, they seem to represent a striking experimental confirmation of the remarkable predictions that Fuerle had advanced in a book published a dozen years earlier. Our standard history textbooks explain that a century ago the 1919 solar eclipse expedition by Eddington provided experimental confirmation for the predictions of General Relativity, elevating Einstein to international fame and indirectly leading to his 1921 Nobel Prize. I’ve sometimes wondered whether these recent DNA findings should be considered in a similar light.
Fuerle died in 2014 at the age of 73, thereby failing to see this apparent confirmation of his hypothesis, and I suspect he ended his life quite disappointed at the near-total lack of recognition his self-published 2008 book had achieved, especially given the many years of effort he had invested in producing it. Aside from that one long review in the American Renaissance newsletter, his work received no substantial discussion anywhere else, and seemingly fell into oblivion.
In his preface, he had described the book as the main contribution to future generations of his waning years, and he authorized anyone to freely publish or copy without royalties, also promising to shortly make it available in HTML form on a website, which he did a few months later. He later released a PDF version, with the all-important footnotes being linked back to that website. Over the years I was a very occasional visitor, but when I checked a few years ago, I discovered that the URL had lapsed some time after his death, and the website was no longer available. As a consequence, the PDF versions still in circulation lack access to the footnotes, severely crippling the value of the text.
Fortunately, the pages of the website were backed up on Archive.org, and I was able to copy them to a location on our own website, including all the associated images. I also produced a modified version of the PDF in which the footnotes are once again active, now point to this available copy.
Those so interested may now read the work and decide for themselves how severely my own ignorance of anthropology has impaired my evaluation of his book.
SECTION I • WHAT EVERY PALEOANTHROPOLOGIST SHOULD KNOW
Chapter 1 • A Story of the Origin of Humans
Chapter 2 • Early Humans
Chapter 3 • DNA
Chapter 4 • Evolution
Chapter 5 • Selectors
Chapter 6 • Neoteny
Chapter 7 • Genetic Distance
Chapter 8 • Evolutionary Psychology
SECTION II • TRAITS OF LIVING POPULATIONS
Chapter 9 • Hard Tissue
Chapter 10 • Soft Tissue
Chapter 11 • Reproductive Strategy
Chapter 12 • Behavior
Chapter 13 • Genes
Chapter 14 • Intelligence
Chapter 15 • Civilizations and Achievements
Chapter 16 • Primitive Traits
SECTION III • THE OUT-OF-AFRICA THEORY
Chapter 17 • Fossil Skulls
Chapter 18 • Modern Behavior
Chapter 19 • MtDNA
Chapter 20 • Population Differences in MtDNA
Chapter 21 • Nuclear DNA
Chapter 22 • Replacement
SECTION IV • THE OUT-OF-EURASIA THEORY
Chapter 23 • The Bipedal Apes
Chapter 24 • The Origin of the Eurasians
Chapter 25 • The Neanderthals
Chapter 26 • The Origin of Africans
Chapter 27 • The Origin of Asian Aborigines
SECTION V • POLICY
Chapter 28 • Homo Africanus
Chapter 29 • Miscegenation
Chapter 30 • Hybrid Vigor
Chapter 31 • Segregation
Chapter 32 • Eugenics
Chapter 33 • Re-Classifying the Left
Chapter 34 • Egalitarianism
Chapter 35 • Individualism
Chapter 36 • Morality
Chapter 37 • Which Way Western Man?