John G. West
Darwin Day In America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science
Wilmington, Del.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2007
The concept of white nationalism didn’t exist one hundred years ago. There was no need. In 1910 it was unimaginable that an exploding non-white population could threaten white existence. Lothrop Stoddard’s early warning of such a danger didn’t come for another 12 years.
By 1910 whites had created unquestioned standards of art, science, and technology and dominated most of the world. Expanding from Europe, they settled thinly-populated North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Siberia as well as vast open grasslands in southern South America and South Africa. In most of Latin America, then as now, they were at the apex of a racial caste hierarchy. In most of Africa and South and Southeast Asia they ruled directly as a thin cadre of administrators. China was then under their strong influence, and even the Middle East’s Ottoman rulers, despite Asian origins, were significantly Europeanized during a long sojourn in and near the Balkans. The only significant non-white power at the time was Japan, which Westerners often still viewed as a quaint and child-like slavish imitator of their ways despite its recent victory over Russia.
In this rapidly accelerating encounter with human biodiversity whites were intellectually handicapped by entrenched universalist religious and philosophical doctrines that for centuries Eurocentrically assumed human sameness, except for distinctions between rulers and ruled. Lay observers noted obvious differences between major races, and by the American Civil War of the 1860s tentative efforts to explain them had been made. These little influenced educated decision makers, however. Both sides in a war begun because of diverse approaches to human difference ultimately relied primarily on universalist documents like the Bible and Constitution to justify their policies.
The Darwinian Revolution
Soon after the war, however, Charles Darwin’s work in England finally provided a full scientifically acceptable explanation for biological differences, including those among humans. He acknowledged different levels of human societies, wrote frequently of savages and lower races intermediate between animals and civilized people, implicitly accepted a hierarchy of humans, and wove acceptance of that into his conception of races.
Darwin nevertheless did not fully dismiss the possibility that Lamarckian evolution, the belief environment can immediately improve heredity without natural selection, might work for humans. Only Darwinian biologist August Weissmann’s 1889 definitive demonstration of distinction between genotype and phenotype and thus heredity and environment finally disproved Lamarckianism.
The complementary impact of Darwin and Weissmann’s work on human biology was so great that by 1905 Paul Reinsch wrote in the American Journal of Sociology:
The last few years have witnessed a great change of mind in matters of humanitarianism. . . . The absolute unity of human life in all parts of the globe, as well as the idea of the practical equality of human individuals wherever they may be found, has been quite generally abandoned. . . . [To treat all peoples] as if they were all alike, to subject them to the same methods of government, to force them into the same institutions, was a mistake of the nineteenth century which has not been carried over into our own.
Unfortunately Reinsch’s conclusion was premature.
By 1909 acceptance of such views in human biology was general but thin. At their peak between 1910 and 1915 they comprised no more than 5 percent of articles in professional social science journals. They were also already under attack.
The Boasian Counter-Revolution
In the 1880s Franz Boas, a secular Jew, immigrated from the western edge of Germany to a United States where people were inordinately impressed by his accented English. Through gamesmanship and self-promotion more than scientific discovery, he had a stellar academic career, beginning as editor of Science, then and now the premier scientific journal in America, and eventually teaching at Columbia, its Manhattan publishing center’s leading university. There he acquired great power by developing a largely Jewish cult-like following. Parroting his theories brought reward and promotion, the slightest disagreement ruthless criticism and exclusion. Throughout his career he showed an obsession with racial and ethnic sameness apparently developed while still in Germany. There he identified with the Enlightenment’s radical universalism, which Napoleon had used to justify both emancipating Jews and the French conquest and subjection of Germans and other Europeans. The resultant culture war, marked by rising German patriotism that defined itself in opposition to all aspects of French hegemony, intellectual as well as political, generated a bitterness in Boas that probably influenced his American career.
Boas and his followers steadily undermined the fragile edifice of Darwinian racial research by relentless nit picking and vast exaggeration of black accomplishment. His proposed program of eliminating races by encouraging their biological and cultural assimilation ultimately triumphed and remains American policy to this day, but its genocidal nature was recognized and effectively resisted by some non-whites. Boas’ recommendations, for example, supported removing Indian children from parents and tribes to boarding schools that punished them for speaking their languages and practicing their cultures. Similar Australian policies created what are now called “stolen generations” of Aborigine children. The strong group identities of affected tribes enabled them to eventually end such destructive policies, but since whites lack such identity, they must individually protect their children from public schools, where Boas’ policies are now universally established.
By the middle of the twentieth century, Boas and his followers had achieved complete victory over Darwinian social science. This victory is attributable to social factors rather than better science or new information. Mulatto elites moving from the South to northern cities allied themselves with Jews, whose rapidly increasing political and financial power opposed British-descended traditional elites that had begun accepting Darwinism. The Great Depression simultaneously weakened confidence in the existing social order and popularized economic rather than biological explanations for inequalities. Finally, Germans began using Darwinism like the French had once used the Enlightenment, namely to justify an empire which treated even the fairest Europeans speaking non-Germanic languages as badly as, or even worse than, non-whites had been treated by European empire builders. Unsurprisingly, Darwinian social science failed to survive this perfect storm.
Darwinism didn’t die in this period, however. It survived and flourished as never before, shielded by the “two cultures” barrier in academia separating humanities from hard science. The social sciences are not in the strict sense humanities, but their subject is humanity. In America and later elsewhere they developed a culture distinct from science in general and biology in particular because of the Boas cult. Just when Darwinism was being driven from social science, a “Modern Synthesis” resolving previously perceived incompatibilities between Darwinism and Mendelian genetics provided a new paradigm that created modern biology but also subjected it to the unwritten rule that all living things except people were to be explained genetically.
These consequences of Boas’ influence were ultimately unsustainable, since Darwin’s great achievement was to demonstrate that people are part of nature, not separate from it. It still created an academic furor, however, when E. O. Wilson, one of the world’s greatest biologists, wrote the book Sociobiology and broke the unwritten rule by simply stating we’re part of nature and subject to its laws. Path-breaking work on race and ethnic history eventually followed, and even the human genetic code itself was finally unraveled.
West’s Religious Anti-Darwinism
Those seeking details of this intellectual history will find them in Carl Degler’s In Search of Human Nature and other books noted here, but not in John West’s Darwin Day in America, even though it purports to be about the same subject. Franz Boas isn’t mentioned once in 495 pages. West’s interest is elsewhere.
Most Christian denominations, including Roman Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism, have more or less come to accept that Darwinian natural selection is God’s means of creating the world’s living things. Exceptions are those more attached to ancient Hebrew mythology than Creation itself. West’s organizational affiliations are with the latter, but he lacks the intellectual honesty to admit it in Darwin Day. Instead he recapitulates Boas’ nit-picking methods by trying to link Darwin with as many causes unpopular with Left or Right as possible. He also tries to unlink him to a cause dear to his organizational sponsors.
In Darwin Day, West first introduces the concept of “scientific materialism.” In his first chapter, he tries to give it an intellectual history. In his second, he tries to demonstrate that Darwinism is scientific materialism. It’s soon evident, however, that West’s scientific materialism conflates three very different concepts.
The first, philosophical realism, is the view that a mind-independent reality exists, and that a statement is true if it corresponds to said reality. Its opposite, philosophical idealism, claims that reality and truth are individual or social constructions. Unfortunately the view that race is socially constructed is very much alive and well in academia. West is right. Darwin was a philosophical realist.
The second part of West’s scientific materialism is the view that man is not separate from nature. Its opposite is dualism, the view that man and nature are metaphysically different and even opposed to one another. Religious dualists like Augustine recommend that we escape from nature.  Secular dualists like Descartes recommend that we conquer and exploit it. The Enlightenment’s inordinate elevation of human reason brought a Romantic reaction and renewed appreciation of nature to Western Europe in the nineteenth century, but Augustine’s pervasive influence was still evident in the American habit of naming its beautiful natural places for the Devil and Hell. John Muir and others introduced the positive Romantic view of nature across the Atlantic only later in the century. West is correct. Among Darwin’s achievements was giving the unity of man and nature a firm scientific foundation.
The third aspect of West’s scientific materialism is reductionism, the view that wholes are merely sums of their parts and that living are things consequently just chemical machines. This view, associated with Hobbes and Descartes, is unfortunately also not unknown among scientists. Increasingly, however, they appreciate the importance of emergent properties unpredictable simply by summing up inputs. The opposite of reductionism is holism, and here West has it backwards. Darwin is among the first great holists.
West’s concept of scientific materialism is so vast and diffuse that it can be used to attack anything he dislikes, which includes science in general and biology in particular. That set up takes 42 pages out of 495. The rest of his book is a vast factoid dump loosely organized by theme.
Crime and Punishment
Crime is the theme of chapters 3 through 5, with the first focusing on scientific efforts to explain it. He clearly hopes hereditarian explanations from the pre-Boas era will annoy the left and subsequent psychological and socioeconomic explanations will annoy the right. Even West can’t link the latter to Darwin, but he can call them scientific materialists. His prescription for crime is having criminals make better choices.
West’s next chapter departs completely from Darwin and even scientific materialism by delving into the legal history of diminished responsibility defenses like insanity. His concern again with the responsibility of criminals is out of touch with public desires for protection from them regardless of their state of mind.
The last chapter of West’s crime series is about punishment and from its beginning exemplifies his worldview’s distance from reality. Mary Letourneau, a white former teacher, internalized her school’s multiculturalist dogma and consequently had consensual sex with a large but legally underage Pacific Islander boy in her class, the kind of negative outcome occurring when races maturing at very different rates are placed together. You learn none of this from West, however, who portrays Letourneau as a violent child-raping sexual predator deserving much more punitive sentencing than she got. Of course Letourneau’s culpability in race treason is no concern of either West or the criminal justice system. Later in the chapter West literally, not metaphorically, equates lobotomies with rehabilitation, which to the rest of the world means education and counseling for decreasing recidivism. In West’s “through the looking glass” world, however, it’s all scientific materialism.
Wealth and Poverty
The theme of West’s next four chapters is “wealth and poverty,” but their subjects are diverse. Most of his book tries to link what he dislikes to Darwin, but chapter 6 is different. It attempts to separate him from laissez-faire capitalism, which West clearly likes, even though Darwin is often associated with Herbert Spencer, a contemporaneous defender of market economics whose ideas regarding survival of the fittest somewhat anticipated Darwinism. The tradition of likening evolution to capitalism may embarrass West, since a laissez-faire think tank, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, publishes his book and his employer, the Discovery Institute, is in the same conservative institutional galaxy. ISI does publish a few books critical of markets, but most reflect its Jewish founder Frank Chodorov’s reductionist view of humans as automatons motivated solely by greed and fear. West’s effort to distance evolution from capitalism is simplistic and unconvincing, but Darwin’s holistic view of nature and humanity may ultimately be the best antidote to the reductionist tendencies pervading economic theory from Marx to Chodorov.
In chapter 7, West’s grand overture to the left, he rightly links Darwinism’s popularity in the early twentieth century with its contemporary dramatic rise in white racial consciousness and belief in the potential for eugenic improvement. One hundred years later, however, eugenics seems a quaintly utopian vision, as self-improvement is an unaffordable luxury for a race facing imminent extinction.
West moves to psychology and its uses for engineering human behavior in chapter 8, but its main villain, despite his thesis, is the notoriously anti-Darwinian John Watson. American psychology’s founder William James was a strong Darwinist who emphasized the important influence of heredity on human behavior, but in Boas’ wake, psychological paradigms shifted to Watson’s reductionist behaviorism, which considered people to be blank slates with no innate character and susceptible to infinite manipulation. West understandably doesn’t mention that behaviorist hegemony only ended, despite bitter resistance, when experimentalists like Harlow as well as Darwinian sociobiologists rediscovered the innate.
Agreeing with West’s critique of modern architecture in chapter 9 is easy, but his animus is again misplaced. As in psychology, the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ascendancy of Darwinism brought renewed appreciation of nature and the desire to include it in architecture, resulting in works of lasting value by innovators like Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. Widespread hyper-Enlightenment leftist ideology, however, inspired an International Style whose sterile buildings were intentionally cut off from place, race, and nature. It’s a sad story with still no happy ending, as new iterations of International Style horrors continue to blight the landscape.
Religion and Science
The first two in the next group of four chapters are among West’s longest and the crux of his argument. Chapter 10 claims science is anti-religious, but its evidence is just a long series of out of context quotes. Since science is a vast enterprise and does not require any religious beliefs, it understandably includes some militant atheists like Richard Dawkins. But many other scientists, including some of the greatest, are strongly religious and view science as a way of understanding God through his creations. Close reading of the chapter’s quotes indicates that many are attempts to defend science from the very sort of ad hominem attacks West makes in Darwin Day.
In chapter 11, West’s long defense of Intelligent Design, it is evident he would rather be defending the Hebraic creation story but for some reason can’t. That reason, which he never reveals, is Edwards v. Aguillard, the 1987 Supreme Court decision that teaching Hebraic creation in public schools violates the separation of church and state. Intelligent Design attempts to circumvent the decision by remaining coy about its ultimate religious commitments.
Imagine that an indigenous religion like Asatru was established in Europe at the end of the Roman Empire rather than one from the Middle East. Modern civilization still developed, and most Asatru priests eventually accepted electrons as better explanations for electricity than blows of Thor’s hammer. Still, a few fundamentalist holdouts claimed wires actually carry little Thor’s hammers, until courts ruled this violated church/state separation. Their solution was to claim that there are still little hammers in the wires, they just aren’t necessarily Thor’s hammers.
This is essentially the position of Intelligent Design believers like West. There is no Intelligent Design science. It is only a vehicle for attacking real science, exemplified by West’s proposal for basing scientific decisions on lay public votes. Science is not democratic. Like its medical branches, it’s a craft with a long apprenticeship. Democracy has its place, but it’s not the operating room or laboratory. Since Intelligent Design can only nit-pick the work of Darwin, a scientific genius of the rank of Newton and Galileo, it is treated accordingly. Ironically, contrary to West, Darwinian natural selection is not just random but an amazingly efficient way of creating diverse organisms perfectly adapted to a diverse world, which Intelligent Design claims to explain but doesn’t.
Sex and Reproduction
West’s hostility to science may make his claim in chapter 12 that Alfred Kinsey practiced “junk science” questionable, but this time he’s on firmer ground. Failure to replicate Kinsey’s findings might result from social change, but the destructive effects on society of his policy recommendations are plain. His messages that sex is more for pleasure than reproduction and that traditional morality is outmoded ultimately contributed to a sexual revolution coinciding with a drastic fall in births among his predominantly white readers and their children, an outcome desired by the Rockefeller Foundation funding his work. West’s alternative preference for traditional morality is unintentionally quite Darwinian, since moral standards that survived were those helping their practitioners adequately reproduce. It’s ironic that many evangelical Christians attacking Darwin live more Darwinian lifestyles than their supposedly more enlightened academic cousins.
A program attacking the pesky screwworm (Cochliomyia hominovorax) illustrates the sexual pleasure principle’s potentially baleful effect. Just when ex-entomologist Kinsey was harming humans by mainstreaming his sexual theories, entomologist E. F. Knipling successfully used a Darwinian technique to eradicate screwworms because they were harming humans. He released enough sexually active but sterile males to monopolize fertile females so they had lots of sex but not enough baby screwworms for the species to survive.
West finishes the section with a chapter about how American sex education mainstreamed Kinsey’s theories but fails to mention Boas’ student Margaret Mead’s contribution to the sexual revolution through her erroneous claim that cultures are sexually promiscuous in their natural state.
He then detours into a brief two-chapter section on abortion, stem cells, and euthanasia before concluding. His claim here that life begins with zygotes is biologically accurate, but if they are aborted it makes a huge difference to white survival whether they result from sexually precocious blacks forcing themselves on white teen girls or white couples too busy with careers to bother reproducing. Those circumstances don’t matter to West, of course. Anything on the human side of the line, whether rape-produced zygotes, stem cells, or babies born without brains, must be saved at all costs.
He is furious at Peter Singer, though, for valuing apes with small brains more than humans with none and consequently wanting to push civil rights protections for individuals across the human-animal divide. From the perspective of conservation biology and racial survival, however, group welfare counts more than that of individuals, so West and Singer are both wrong. Unsurprisingly, West, who would save every human cell at all costs (but avoids discussion of the death penalty), would only save species if the bottom line pencils out (p. 361).
West concludes by describing how Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy’s 1887 utopian fantasy of a better future, has failed to come true. He blames this on science in general and Darwin in particular. But Bellamy wrote during the first flush of Darwin’s acceptance, when white civilization was unchallenged, and it was easy to believe things would keep getting better. Franz Boas was among those working to end Bellamy’s dream, but he had lots of help, as explained by Carl Degler and then by Kevin MacDonald in far more detail. If West told that story, however, he’d have an enemy that, unlike science and Darwin, would put his institutional job at risk.
West and Boas have much in common in their nit-picking attacks on Darwinism and their claim that all people are the same (p. 365). Neither is good for white survival. Darwin once provided an alternative. He can do so again.
 Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (New York: Scribner’s, 1922).
 George Frederickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).
 Carl Degler, In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
 Degler, 25.
 Degler, 17.
 Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1998); George Mosse, The Culture of Western Europe: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, an Introduction (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1961).
 Degler, 77–78; James Wilson, The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America (New York: Atlantic Monthly, 1999).
 Graeme Davison, John Hurst, and Stuart MacIntyre, The Oxford Companion to Australian History, revised ed. (South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998).
 Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education, the Epochal Supreme Court Decision that Outlawed Segregation, and of Black America’s Century-Long Struggle for Equality under the Law (New York: Vintage, 1977); Raymond Wolters, The Burden of Brown: Thirty Years of School Desegregation (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984).
 Degler, ch. 8; Murray Friedman, What Went Wrong?: The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance (New York: Free Press, 1994); William Tucker, The Science and Politics of Racial Research (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
 Peter Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); Degler, ch. 9; Ernst Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982); C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1962).
 E. O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975).
 J. Phillipe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1995).
 Kevin MacDonald, A People that Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994).
 Kevin Davies, Cracking the Code: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA (New York: Free Press, 2001).
 David Livingstone, “Evolution and Religion,” in Michael Ruse and Joseph Travis, eds., Evolution: The First Four Billion Years (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).
 Eugenie Scott, “American Antievolutionism: Retrospect and Prospect,” in Ruse and Travis, 370–99.
 Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1995), 386–88, 746–48.
 Ruse and Travis, 821–24.
 Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason (New York: Vintage, 2005); Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History (New York: Viking, 2003). Eastern Christianity is friendlier to nature since it is free of Augustine’s influence.
 Honderich, 778.
 George Stewart, Names on the Land (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967).
 Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
 Degler, 7–11.
 John Holland, Emergence: From Chaos to Order (Reading, Mass.: Helix, 1998).
 Honderich, 371–72, 750–51.
 Bowler, 321; Mayr, 66–67.
 Rushton, ch. 7.
 Franklin Zimring, The Great American Crime Decline (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
 Ruse and Travis, 866–69.
 Michael Rothschild, Bionomics: Economy as Ecosystem (New York: Henry Holt, 1990).
 Bruce Frohnen, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey Nelson, eds., American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2006).
 F. Roger Devlin, “The Family Way” (review of Third Ways by Allan Carlson), The Occidental Quarterly 8, no. 3 (2008): 99–108.
 Frohnen et al., 145–46, 436–39.
 Frank Chodorov, “Old and Right” (excerpted from The Rise and Fall of Society), The American Conservative vol. 8, no. 6 (2009), 22.
 Geoffrey Hodgson, Economics and Evolution: Bringing Life Back into Economics (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).
 Degler, ch. 2.
 George McDaniel, ed., A Race Against Time: Racial Heresies for the 21st Century (Oakton, Va.: New Century Foundation, 2003).
 Rebecca Lemov, World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes, and Men (New York: Hill & Wang, 2005).
 Deborah Blum, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Publishing, 2002).
 Paul Johnson, Art: A New History (New York: HarperCollins, 2003); Tom Wolfe, From Bauhaus to Our House (New York: Washington Square Press, 1981).
 James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993).
 Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Free Press, 2006); E. O. Wilson, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006).
 Scott, “American Antievolutionism,” 374–76.
 Scott, “American Antievolutionism,” 375–85.
 Mayr, 519–20.
 James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997).
 David Allyn, Make Love, not War. The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History (Boston: Little, Brown, 2000).
 John Harr and Peter Johnson, The Rockefeller Conscience: An American Family in Public and in Private (New York: Charles Scribner’s, 1991).
 Jorge Hendrichs and Alan Robinson, “Sterile Insect Technique,” in Vincent Resh and Ring Carde, eds., Encyclopedia of Insects (Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2003), 1074–79.
 Derek Freeman, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1984) and Judith Reisman and Edward Eichel, Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People (Lafayette, La: Lochinvar-Huntington House, 1990).
 Bryan Norton, Why Preserve Natural Variety? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987); Sam G. Dickson, “‘Salus populi, lex suprema,’” The Occidental Quarterly 8, no. 3 (2008): 3–10.
 Degler, 200–202.
 MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, ch. 2.
Source: The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1 (Spring 2010)
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