Kevin MacDonald writes in 2009:
Eric P. Kaufmann’s The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America presents the case that Anglo-America committed what one might call “suicide by idea”: White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants were motivated to give up ethnic hegemony by their attachment to Enlightenment ideals of individualism and liberty. Anglo-Americans simply followed these ideals of the Enlightenment to their logical conclusion. The result: immigration was opened up to all peoples of the world, multiculturalism became the cultural ideal, and WASPS willingly allowed themselves to be displaced from their preeminent position among the elites of business, media, politics, and the academic world.
Kaufmann who is Reader in Politics and Sociology at London University’s Birkbeck College, explicitly rejects the proposal that the decline of Anglo-America occurred as a result of an attack by some external force. His concept is therefore a direct contrast to my view, argued at length in my book The Culture of Critique, that the rise of Jews to elite status in the United States and the influence of particular Jewish intellectual and political movements, especially the push for mass and indiscriminate immigration, were key contributions–necessary conditions–to the demise of WASP America.
My view is that the outcome was the result of ethnic conflict over the construction of culture (PDF), that is, the rules and norms by which a society functions. Indeed, the fall of Anglo-Saxon America is a textbook case of how deadly the conflict over the construction of culture can be.
In this review —an adapted version of a longer paper posted on my Occidental Observer website–I will show where Kaufmann goes wrong, mainly because he ignores the Jewish role in the decline of Anglo-America. But it must be said that he provides a fascinating historical overview. In this respect, his book resembles a similar conceptually faulty but factually rich work: Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century.
As Kaufman notes, it was not very long ago that America strongly asserted that it was a nation of Northwestern Europeans — and intended to stay that way. The 1924 Johnson-Reed Act was carefully designed to preserve the ethnic status quo as of 1890, thereby ensuring the dominance of Anglo-Americans. In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act reiterated the preference for Northwestern Europe and was passed over President Truman’s veto.
But only a decade later, in the 1960s, White America began the process of ethnic and cultural suicide:
“By the 1960s, as if by magic, the centuries-old machinery of WASP America began to stall like the spacecraft of Martian invaders in the contemporary hit film, War of the Worlds. In 1960, the first non-Protestant president was elected. In 1965, the national origins quota regime for immigration was replaced by a ‘color-blind’ system. Meanwhile, Anglo-Protestants faded from the class photos of the economic, political, and cultural elite — their numbers declining rapidly, year upon year, in the universities, boardrooms, cabinets, courts, and legislatures. At the mass level, the cords holding Anglo-Protestant Americans together began to unwind as secular associations and mainline churches lost millions of members while the first truly national, non-WASP cultural icons appeared.” (pp. 2–3)
Of course, other ethnic groups have gone into historical decline or have been replaced by force. But the decline of Anglo-America seems mysterious. There are no visible conquering armies that would easily explain their impending exit from the stage of history.
Despite its obvious importance as an historical phenomenon, however, as Kaufmann notes there has been almost no academic attention to the causes of this very precipitous decline. Perhaps some things are better left unsaid–at least until the losers of this revolution are safely relegated to a powerless position.
That the victors do indeed deliberately intend to make their revolution permanent is to my mind proven by the move, both here and abroad, towards “Hate” laws, which would make a discussion such as this very hazardous. In my view, America’s successor order is likely to be far more like traditional Jewish society, with high levels of social control over behavior and thought–and quite different from America of the Founding Fathers. Coercion rather than Liberty will be the hallmark.
Freedom, Representative Government, and Individualism as Anglo-Saxon Ethnic Traits
Confident assertions of White ethnic identity are virtually non-existent these days. However, Kaufmann shows that in the 18th and 19th centuries, Anglo-Americans had a strong sense that they were the biological descendants of freedom loving Anglo-Saxon tribes: “The New England town meeting was likened to the Anglo-Saxon tribal council, and the statements of Tacitus regarding the free, egalitarian qualities of the Anglo-Saxons were given an American interpretation” (p. 18). The “Yeoman Farmer” was considered the ethnic prototype. In 1776 after drafting the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson stated that Americans are
“the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and on the other side, Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs from whom we claim the honor of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed”. (pp. 17–18; emphasis in text).
As a cultural historian, Kaufmann views ethnic self-conceptions as fallacies. But in fact it is entirely reasonable to look for the particular traits and tendencies of Europeans as adaptations to prolonged life in a situation characterized by harsh climates and the relative absence of between-group competition. I have argued that evolution in the North has predisposed Europeans to the following two critical traits that are entirely unique among the traditional cultures of the world:
A de-emphasis on extended kinship relationships and a relative lack of ethnocentrism.
A tendency toward individualism and all of its implications: individual rights against the state, representative government, moral universalism, and science.
In other words, Jefferson was quite probably correct to view the Anglo-Saxon tendencies toward individualism and representative government as ethnic traits.
A critical feature of individualism is that group boundaries are relatively permeable and assimilation is the norm. As Kaufmann notes, even in the 19th century, individualism resulted in assimilation rather than maintaining impermeable boundaries with other Whites: “Interethnic relations followed a pattern of Anglo-conformity. … Immigrants were to be made into American WASPs by absorbing American English, American Liberty, and American Protestantism and, ultimately, by intermarrying with Americans”. (p. 19).
There was an assumption, even among many liberals, that these ethnic Others would look and act like Anglo-Americans. In the 19th century, liberals typically had “an optimistic, expansionist Anglo-conformism that accepted the immigrants, provided they looked like Anglo-Protestants and assimilated to the WASP mytho-symbolic corpus”. (p. 37).
Intellectually, the ideal of assimilation was often grounded in Lamarckian rather than Darwinian thinking. Lamarckians believed that people could pass on to their descendants traits which they had acquired during their lifetimes. With Lamarck rather than Darwin as inspiration, race and culture were conflated. Liberal intellectuals thought that blacks would become White with more education, like “the running of a dirty stream into a pellucid lake which eventually clears leaving no trace of mud”. (p. 56). Immigrants of all strains could become good Anglo-Saxons.
Lamarck’s theory has always been a darling of the left because it holds the promise that inherited traits can easily be changed simply by changing the environment. It is no accident that Lamarckism became official ideology in the Soviet Union, and among many Jewish leftists, precisely because it implied that it would be quite easy to mold the new Soviet man — just as Lysenko thought it would be easy to develop crops that could flourish in cold climates.
In the hands of the Anglo-Saxon assimilationists, Lamarckism was part of the optimistic spirit of elite 19th-century liberal intellectuals who envisioned a future America to be people just like themselves, no matter what their origins.
The Period of Ethnic Defense: 1880–1965
The view that America was the product of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity coincided with optimistic ideas among elite liberal intellectuals about an Anglo-Saxon future. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, as America was coming to grips with large-scale immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, such optimistic views of an Anglo-Saxon future began to fade. A large number of the immigrants were (correctly) seen as politically radical and socially inassimilable.
The decades leading up to the passage of the 1924 immigration law were a period of ethnic defense. Optimistic, liberal views on immigration persisted among a small group of intellectuals, but they were displaced politically. Among many intellectuals, Darwinism rather than Lamarckism won the day.
The result was an effective alliance between the Boston, Puritan-descended intellectual elite and rural Whites in an effort to prevent being overwhelmed by this threat. “Whenever the northeastern ‘WASP’ elite make common cause with their less prestigious but more numerous provincial kin, Anglo-Protestant ethnic nationalism revives”. (p. 26).
Kaufmann notes that business interests remained opposed to immigration restriction. But he fails to mention the very strong role that Jewish organizations played in delaying immigration restriction until the 1920s—long after popular opinion demanded restriction. For example, writing in 1914, sociologist Edward A. Ross believed that liberal immigration policy was exclusively a Jewish issue:
“Although theirs is but a seventh of our net immigration, they led the fight on the Immigration Commission’s bill. The power of the million Jews in the Metropolis lined up the Congressional delegation from New York in solid opposition to the literacy test. The systematic campaign in newspapers and magazines to break down all arguments for restriction and to calm nativist fears is waged by and for one race. Hebrew money is behind the National Liberal Immigration League and its numerous publications. From the paper before the commercial body or the scientific association to the heavy treatise produced with the aid of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, the literature that proves the blessings of immigration to all classes in America emanates from subtle Hebrew brains.” (E. A. Ross, The Old World and the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration to the American People. 1914, 144–145)
Kaufmann attributes the desire to end immigration to the realization that the new immigrants would not convert to Protestantism and to the rise of race theories–although he does not really discuss the latter.
This is a major failing. One of the most important trends beginning around 1900 was the rise of Darwinism. As I have noted elsewhere, the early part of the 20th century was the high water mark of Darwinism in the social sciences. It was common at that time to think that there were important differences between the races ‑- that races differed in intelligence and in moral qualities. Not only did races differ, but they were in competition with each other for supremacy. Schooled in the theories of Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, Henry Pratt Fairchild, William Ripley, Gustav Le Bon, Charles Davenport, and William McDougall, many among the American elite viewed themselves as members of a particular race and believed that racial homogeneity was the sine qua non of every stable nation state. They regarded their racial group as uniquely talented and possessed of a high moral sense.
But, more importantly, whatever the talents and vulnerabilities of their race, they held it in the highest importance to retain control over the lands they had inherited as a result of the exploits of their ancestors who had conquered the continent and tamed the wilderness. And despite the power that their race held at the present, there was dark foreboding about the future, reflected in the titles of some of the classic works of the period: Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race and Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy and The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under‑Man.
Kaufmann’s lack of discussion of the eclipse of racial Darwinism is a significant omission. It was a major objectiveof Jewish intellectual and political movements, particularly Boasian anthropology. By 1915 the Boasians controlled the American Anthropological Association and held a two-thirds majority on its Executive Board. By 1926 every major department of anthropology was headed by Boas’s students, the majority of whom were Jewish.
Kauffman quotes historian John Higham, who noted that, by the time of the immigration enthusiasts’ final victory in 1965, the Boasian perspective had become standard academic wisdom. The result was that “it became intellectually fashionable to discount the very existence of persistent ethnic differences. The whole reaction deprived popular race feelings of a powerful ideological weapon.”
Thus the demise of Darwinism had major consequences. It removed the only intellectually viable source of opposition to cosmopolitan ideology and a cultural pluralist model of America. In the absence of an intellectually respectable defense, ethnic defense was left to conservative religion and the popular folk attitudes of the less educated. These were no match for the cosmopolitan intellectuals who quickly became ensconced in all the elite institutions of the US—especially the media and the academic world.
The Rise of Jewish Influence
The late 1930s saw the rise of the New York Intellectuals, a movement that I consider among several influential Jewish intellectual and political movements in my book The Culture of Critique.
Kaufmann claims that the Anglo-Saxon and Jewish influences in the New York Intellectuals were equal and influenced each other in dialectical fashion. But I provide several reasons for preferring my view in the longer version of this essay: the opinion of other scholars of the role of the Jewish presence among the New York Intellectuals; evidence that the Jewish New York Intellectuals had a strong Jewish identity; the anti-nationalist tendencies of Jewish intellectuals in other countries, and the fact that the organized Jewish community not only funded the activities of the New York Intellectuals, Boasian anthropology, and the Frankfurt School, but also spent lavishly to promote these ideas in schools and the mass media.
Kaufmann also fails to recognize that many of the basic ideas of the New York Intellectuals derived from other Jewish intellectual movements, particularly psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School. For example, the elitist, anti-populist attitudes of the Frankfurt School paralleled the attitudes of the New York Intellectuals and likely influenced them, and indeed some of the New York Intellectuals are also associated with the Frankfurt School (see Ch. 5 of C of C).
Common themes in this body of writing are hostility to American populism, the need for leadership by an elite cadre of intellectuals, and the belief that concerns about ethnic displacement and the rise of the power of ethnic minorities are irrational and indicative of psychiatric disorder.
This point should be emphasized. The New York Intellectuals and the Frankfurt School developed a widely disseminated theory, based on psychoanalysis (itself a Jewish intellectual movement, see Ch. 4 of Cof C), in which concerns by Anglo-Saxons about their ethnic displacement and the rise of power of ethnic minorities were indications of psychopathology. Although this theory lacked empirical support, and would have been viewed as ridiculous had Darwinism survived in the social sciences, the displacement of Whites had developed an intellectually respectable and therefore powerful rationale.
The ideology of White suicide was therefore not just a self-destructive heritage of the ideals of the Enlightenment, but included a large injection of psychoanalysis and Marxism as formulated by the Frankfurt School and disseminated by the New York Intellectuals.
As Kaufmann notes (p. 165), a critical source of the success of the New York Intellectuals was that they were welcomed by elite universities and the media. The New York Intellectuals achieved “cultural hegemony” (p. 166); they had captured America from the top-down, leaving American dominant ethnicity “rudderless. It was now only a question of time before cosmopolitanism would achieve the institutional inertia necessary for it to triumph as a mass phenomenon” (p. 166). The American dominant ethnicity was left defenseless because of the triumph of Boasian anthropology and the demise of Darwinism in the social sciences.
Kaufmann also stresses the rise of national media with liberal values, resulting in broad exposure to “the New York/Washington/Hollywood elite” (p. 189), with the result that “increased exposure to social idealism brought on by higher education and, vicariously, by a higher-educated media, socialized a larger proportion of Americans into a liberal worldview”. (p. 190).
Although he emphasizes the role of the media in the decline of Anglo-Saxon America and mentions the very large Jewish overrepresentation in the media, Kaufmann fails to consider how this might affect the attitudes championed by the media. My review of this topic is here under the heading “Jews and the Media: Ways of Seeing,” I note that ethnic Jews have a very large influence on the media — far larger than any other identifiable group. And I show that the attitudes promoted by Jews in the media are influenced by their Jewish identity. The fact that the media championed values that facilitated the demise of Anglo-Saxon America therefore may be seen as a consequence of Jewish influence.
Conclusion: The Fall of the Anglo-Saxons
Kaufmann charts the decline of Anglo-Saxons and the rise of the Jews in all areas of the American elite, from university departments of political science to the federal civil service. “For twenty years, the de-WASP-ing of the ruling elite in America has proceeded at a breathtaking pace.” Kaufmann cites the important study of Lerner et al. (American Elites, 1996) showing that by the 1990s there were “roughly the same proportion of WASPs and Jews at the elite levels of the federal civil service, and a greater proportion of Jewish elites among corporate lawyers.” Jews outnumbered Anglo-Saxons 58–21 among elites in television, 48 to 25 among “public interest” elites, and 40 to 21 among legal elites. The same study found that, “in stark contrast to the Jews, WASPs were not overrepresented within the ranks of the national elite.”
Given that Jews constituted less than 3% of the population, these are very high overrepresentations indeed. In contrast, White Protestants became underrepresented in corporate elites by the 1980s, and there was a steady decline in their political power in Congress.
Even people of mixed European heritage now tend to identify with the non-Anglo-Saxon side of the family. For example, people of Italian-Scottish descent chose to identify themselves as Italian by a 3-1 ratio. There was also a heavy decline in White associational patterns and social capital, as described by Robert Putnam: Elks, Shriners, Jaycees, Masons all suffered major declines.
Kaufmann is also correct in noting the gap between elite and non-elite White opinion. Kaufmann emphasizes the class difference among Whites: “We may even surmise a long-run scenario in which lower-status whites retreat to a rural, interior ethnic ‘homeland,’ while upper-status whites pursue their modern lifestyle orientation in the nation’s more dynamic, increasingly hybridized, white-minority cities” (pp. 262–263).
Kaufmann quotes Michael Lind: “during the years that the political class has been almost unanimously in favor of present or higher levels of legal immigration, an overwhelming majority of Americans of all races have favored restriction, a fact that speaks volumes about the alienation of the American ascendancy from the majority’s interests and concerns … like free-market globalism, immigration is an issue that pits the affluent top 20 percent against the wage-earning majority below.” (p. 273).
Congruent with the argument in The Culture of Critique, Kaufmann proposes that once the new value set was institutionalized, it became the focus of status competition within the boundaries set by these movements (p. 247). Kaufmann rejects the logical possibility that Anglo-Saxon decline was caused by the rise of long-subordinate social groups, for example blacks. But, as I have noted, he does not even consider Jewish influence or ambitions as a factor.
A final lapse in Kaufmann’s argument: he never mentions coercion and the penalties that are imposed on people who dissent from the elite cosmopolitan consensus. The fact is, Whites who violate these strictures are severely censured — a phenomenon with which I have considerable personal experience.
Kaufmann presents the views of elite Whites who are cooperating in the demise of their own people as nothing more than the enlightened opinions of an intellectual and moral elite. But it is far more than that. Since the 1960s, Whites who depart from the consensus of cosmopolitanism have been penalized in a wide variety of ways — from lack of access to the mainstream media, to firing from their jobs, to social opprobrium. Conversely, those who collaborate are rewarded. This revolution is neither peaceful nor bloodless.
Moreover, the same forces which have legitimated and institutionalized the cosmopolitan zeitgeist for Whites are endeavoring to make this revolution permanent by enacting “hate” laws prohibiting the expression of ideas that conflict with their version of reality. For example, the organized Jewish community is deeply involved in advocating restrictions on free speech in America and throughout the West. The result is that conservatives are forced to couch their ideas in the Universalist language of cosmopolitanism. Kaufmann points out those even measures of White ethnic defense such as Official English measures and immigration restriction have had to be couched in the language of civic universalism.
Shamefully, Kaufmann himself is entirely on board with the idea that cosmopolitanism will have to resort to social controls to make its victory permanent: “Institutional pressure must be brought to bear on ethnic revival [of Whites], prompting the communitarian impulse to discharge itself along liberal lines” (p. 301).
This shows that although the cosmopolitan revolution took advantage of pre-existing Anglo-Saxon tendencies toward individualism, in the end the institutional structure that is being pursued after attaining power is profoundly anti-individualist. America remains somewhat of a laggard in these trends because of the First Amendment, but other Western societies, lacking such formal declarations of individual rights, have succumbed to a stifling political correctness that essentially legislates the triumph of cosmopolitanism – and Western suicide.
If a robust Darwinian intellectual elite had remained in place despite the assaults of the Boasians, the Frankfurt School, the Marxists, and the New York Intellectuals, the cosmopolitan revolution never would have occurred. The Anglo-Saxon movement of ethnic defense culminating in the immigration law of 1924 would have become institutionalized. A robust, sophisticated Darwinian culture would have provided a powerful argument for ethnic defense. Critically, such a
defense would have emphasized creating a culture in which individualism was seen as a valuable Anglo-Saxon ethnic trait — as was the case during the 18th and 19th centuries. Immigration policy would have been carefully formulated to ensure that immigrants were similar to the founding stock and to ensure the continued dominance of peoples prone to individualism — just as American immigration policy was in fact crafted until 1965. This ethnic defense would have been energized by the sociobiological revolution of the 1970s and the firm mathematical grounding for the understanding that all peoples have ethnic genetic interests.
Instead, in cosmopolitan post-America, even the sociobiological revolution has been stripped of its most dangerous and powerful ideas. As Frank Salter has shown, the revolution in population genetics of the1970s demonstrated very clearly that people controlling a piece of land have a huge genetic interest in preserving their control–but this finding has been suppressed and misinterpreted by people at the top of the academic hierarchy.
This suppression must continue–because cosmopolitanism has a hopelessly shaky intellectual basis. Built on theories that were motivated far more by ethnic interests of the rising elite of Jewish intellectuals than by a respect for scientific truth, cosmopolitanism has no choice but to secure its future by coercion.
And for the Anglo-Saxon Americans — indeed all Christian-stock Americans — this substitution of cultures
is a disaster of cataclysmic proportions.
Kevin MacDonald [email him] is professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach and a frequent contributor to The Occidental Observer. For his website, click here.