The following essay appeared in the April 2000 issue of Pinc, and has also in large part been published in Danish. It may be of some interest because general discussions of anti-racism as an outlook and phenomenon are so exceedingly rare, given the importance of the subject.

“Racism is the worst of sins, the gravest of public dangers, the most repellent of spiritual disorders. Any taint of racism soils and discredits in all respects.”

Some such view is fundamental to public life today. The emphatic opposition to racism that is now obligatory gives the “race card” extraordinary potency.[1] If you are not part of the solution then simply by living your life from day to day you are participating in “institutional racism.”

The nature of anti-racism is rarely discussed analytically, so it appears to be less a matter of doctrine than feeling and general orientation. Nonetheless, as a view that dominates public policy it has definite content. As such, it holds that there is a definite thing called “racism,” backed by power and constituted by contempt and hatred for those who differ, but for which race relations would be harmonious if indeed differences were noted at all.

Anti-racism is not at all middle-of-the-road, although resistance to it is thought extremist. Its principle is not live-and-let-live but eradication of the universal practice of ordering life by reference to feelings of extended kinship. On the colorblind reading of civil rights law that is the most conservative view now tolerated, it is illegal to treat ethnicity as relevant to social relations that matter. More advanced readings of the law, that recognize the continuing power of ethnic ties, call for government to equalize advantages by suppressing ethnicity in the case of whites and enhancing it for others. It is simply assumed that government can carry out such a program fairly and effectively and that men will accept it indefinitely.

All over the world, anti-racism is enforced by anti-discrimination laws and prohibitions on hate speech and hate crimes. Human rights treaties make anti-racism part of the law of nations,[2] and it has forced white South Africans to give up a position that once seemed impregnable. Respectable French intellectuals would rather abandon French particularity than seem to ally themselves with Le Pen.[3] British TV is now as multiracial as American, and there have been serious official proposals there to make private racial comments criminal.[4]

Although now considered fundamental, anti-racism is a recent growth. Many dictionaries did not include the word “racism” before the Second World War.[5] The 1968 convention was the first the Democratic Party held without whites-only delegations. One of the first Roman Catholics to identify racial segregation as a sin died just last year.[6] The dimension anti-racism adds to moral life is thus novel.

It is a dimension that gives race relations a very special position. The anti-racist sees racism as pure pathology, like smallpox. It would be all gain if it and everything that might lead to it were utterly destroyed. Racism is thought to transform everything it touches. It turns insults into crimes and makes even atrocities more ghastly. The crimes of leftist regimes are thought no more comparable to Nazi outrages than a botched surgical operation to a brutal murder. It is not thought odd when The New York Times finds glory in its connection to Walter Duranty[7] while attacking the Swiss for insufficient anti-Nazism.

Unparalleled evil though it is thought to be, racism is seen everywhere, whether there is evidence for it or not.[8] As long as some groups are collectively unequal to others, the world is racist, and the harder it is to find an explanation that can be publicly accepted, the more fundamental and pervasive racism must be. Accusations of racism always stick, at least a little, and no matter how reckless or even cynical never hurt the accuser. Even false accusations can be valuable, because they draw attention to important issues.[9]

In current practice, anti-racism is aimed at whites. In their case, racism includes not only hatred and abuse, but any distrust of others, any special concern or preference for whites, any recognition of whites as a people. Anti-racism also imposes on whites an obligation to sacrifice their interests to those of nonwhites. If a white does something at odds with black interests or desires, for example if he fails sufficiently to favor “affirmative action,” he is racist or at best insensitive.[10] In contrast, public statements by blacks can be revoltingly bigoted without consequence.[11]

Permitting to some what is forbidden others seems to relativize racism and thus deny that it is ultimate pathological evil. It also suggests that anti-racism draws support from anti-white bigotry. The suggestion is correct.

While many think “anti-white bigotry” a paradox, elite contempt for nonelite whites is simply the contempt of an ascendant group for a group it has superseded and intends to keep subordinate. Most members of our ruling elites are white, but they identify themselves by ideology and class rather than race, and their rejection of racial identification is fundamental to their claim to power. By attacking whites as a group they identify themselves with the principle of rule now ascendant. Whites are thus not immune to racial targeting. In the case of immigration and affirmative action governing elites routinely override lopsided popular majorities that would protect whites from adverse treatment as whites.[12]

Although bigotry is thus a factor, anti-racism is not at bottom an attack on whites. The differing treatment of whites and others has a deeper and more principled explanation. As a governing philosophy, anti-racism must be practical as well as idealistic; it values consistency, but its overriding goal is abolition of racial hierarchy. It therefore permits anything, including elite and minority bigotry, that weakens the position of dominant ethnicities. Fire must be fought with fire; the power of ethnicity is such that only the combined power of class, ethnicity and the state can neutralize it. The function of multiculturalism is to ease the tension between idealism and practicality by portraying differing treatment as an aspect of equality. Its incoherence is thought a moderate price to pay toward that end.[13]

In spite of apparent contradictions, anti-racism can be construed as a reasonably principled attack on the things that make ethnicity a material factor in social life. Multiculturalism and other aspects of anti-racist practice that seem to emphasize the importance of ethnicity do not refute that view. Such things weaken the strong and strengthen the weak, so that ethnic dominance becomes impossible and ethnicity useless as principle of social order. The advantage of such an understanding of anti-racism is that it is how its adherents understand it. They believe in the abolition of distinctions, and their views should be understood consistently unless some decisive objection appears.

One objection is that the point of anti-racism becomes mysterious if it is understood as primarily a good-faith attack on the practical significance of ethnicity. The special qualities that make racial discrimination so unconditionally evil are hard to discern. Ethnicity is a universal principle of social organization, and as such does not seem worse than principles such as wealth, family, class, formal credentials or bureaucratic position. Anti-racism is absolutely fundamental today, however, so explaining its position is crucial to understanding modern political life. The remainder of this essay will explore the sources of anti-racism on the assumption that the goal of its proponents is indeed abolition of ethnic inequality.

We should start by noting the great strength of the objections to anti-racism. The enormous effort it demands has no obvious concrete justification. The condition of blacks is thought the strongest argument in its favor, but anti-racism has contributed to serious problems regarding civic culture and public order[14] without obviously helping blacks. On the whole, their economic situation was improving faster before equal opportunity and affirmative action requirements were imposed than after,[15] and the period in which those requirements were first adopted was the beginning of a catastrophic decline in non-economic aspects of black well-being—family structure, community, law-abidingness and so on.[16] In any event, blacks are now better represented in high-prestige professions than their measurable abilities would justify, so the common practical justifications for anti-racist measures seem questionable.[17]

On their face, such measures work against their own purposes. Affirmative action and other race-based transfers are supposed to undermine ethnic distinctions, but what powers them is unending resentment.[18] After a third of a century of effort on their behalf blacks, especially the educated, are more likely than ever to hate whites and white society.[19] The tendency is a natural one. Continuing failures show either a problem with blacks or the profound evil of whites, and egalitarian programs demand the latter interpretation.

Indeed, anti-racism requires anti-majority racism. An anti-racist ruling class must treat the majority as presumptively wrong. “Ingrained social stereotypes”—the culture and habits of the majority—must be discredited because their dominance puts minorities at a disadvantage. Since habits and culture are what make a people what it is, the things that make the majority a people must be attacked; the majority must be defined as racist, and therefore evil and unfit to rule or even exist.[20] “Racist” has the same function today that “nigger” once did: it makes a man less than human and so unfit for self-government.

Attempts to abolish deeply rooted human tendencies are necessarily tyrannical; “rule by the people” is absurd when a government that loses confidence in the people can dissolve it and form a new one. Such attempts inevitably fail, and succeed only in destroying traditional restraints. Attempts in Russia to abolish the profit motive ended, after unparalleled brutality and massacre, in lawless greed and mafia rule. It is not clear why attempts to abolish ethnicity should be more successful.

Rather than attempt a utopian transformation of human nature, it seems better to accept the distinctions men find important, and let them deal with them in customary ways that make sense to those involved; abuses and extreme cases can be dealt with as such. Things classified as racism—ethnic loyalty and dominance—are necessary features of social life. Something as closely related as ethnicity is to men’s habits, attitudes and loyalties is plainly relevant to participation in a common effort like carrying on a business.[21] The fact that men universally take ethnicity into account in choosing associates is the best possible evidence that it makes sense for them to do so.

Life worth living depends on culture, and culture on ethnicity. Without the common habits and understandings that constitute culture society would be a battleground of brutish asocial individuals. The seedbed for culture is the complex of prerational connections a people develops through long common history—in other words, ethnicity. While ethnicity and race are not the same, they cannot be altogether separated because both are consequences of a people’s long life in common. Since all actual cultures are tied to ethnicity, and therefore at least somewhat to race, to give culture free play is to permit race to have significance.

Ethnic culture cannot survive without preference for one’s own people and their ways, or without settings in which a particular ethnic people sets the tone. French culture could not exist if there were no setting anywhere dominated by Frenchmen. The relation between culture and power, like that between culture and race, is not simple, but it cannot be abolished altogether. Culture exists by being authoritative; men share a common culture who can rely on common values and habits and hold one another to shared standards. When reduced to private taste it is not culture at all. It requires at least local, cultural, and therefore ethnic, dominance.

Things that knit society together are therefore difficult to disentangle from implicit racial distinctions. Ethnic habits, loyalties and ideals order social life whether we like it or not. To forbid discrimination with respect to such things is to demand that things that are crucial to social life be ignored, a demand that cannot be satisfied. It is impossible to prevent the habits and loyalties of the majority from deeply affecting social life, putting some minorities at a disadvantage, without opposing to them other loyalties of equal strength backed by the power of the state—in effect, without continuous revolution from above backed by troops drawn from subordinate parts of society, rather in the manner of the Cultural Revolution in China.

Anti-racism is thus at odds with basic principles of human life. In practice, eradication of racial differentials requires destroying all cultures and thus all possibility of a tolerable way of life. Anti-racism is therefore blatantly unrealistic. Its lack of realism explains a great deal: as in other cases, refusal to face obvious features of human life leads to hysterical irrationality and the tendency to see profound evil everywhere, especially in the faces of one’s opponents.

Why then has anti-racism—a principled campaign to abolish the significance of ethnicity at any cost—become so overwhelmingly dominant? The causes are complex. Intellectual support for anti-racism is presupposed by everything recognized as legitimate scholarship. Anti-racist laws impose comprehensive requirements that codify required attitudes. Accepted historical understandings have made the Holocaust trumps in any discussion of racial matters. All these things are more effects than causes, however. Laws and fundamental scholarly presumptions do not generate themselves, and in a different world the moral lesson drawn from the Second World War would be the horror of alliance with the Soviet Union, an anti-racist, anti-hereditarian and universalist state that murdered scores of millions.

Before any of these particular causes could take effect there had to be a disposition to embrace anti-racism. From the early ’40s to the early ’60s support for social integration of blacks and whites doubled, from a clearly minority to a comfortably majority position.[22] Support for compulsory integration—anti-discrimination laws and the like—lagged somewhat, but followed in line. The source of that changing disposition is therefore the question.

It was not logic or disinterested love of good things that led to the change. The considerations supporting anti-racism are far less compelling than those against, so its enormous social power must have other sources. Several are evident. To begin with crude considerations, anti-racism justifies the power of a new ruling class. Radical social reconstruction gives money, power and position to the politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, experts, educators, and media people who justify and enforce it. Those classes are the ones that most support anti-racism, and their control of public discussion has enabled them to impose on everyone the understanding of racial issues that serves their interests.

The new ruling class is aided by support from the direct beneficiaries of anti-racist measures, minority people who get entry to schools, jobs, and the like that would otherwise be out of their reach, and from non-minority people who feel at odds with settled traditional institutions. Other beneficiaries include adventurous and manipulative men who find their opportunities multiplying in an increasingly chaotic society attempting to order itself on abstract principles ordinary men find foreign.

Such crude explanations are helpful but not sufficient, because the failure of anti-racism would also be to the particular advantage of some men. Why is this ruling class and its clients the one that is winning? Beyond that, why is the moral authority of anti-racism so great? The pervasiveness of propaganda today, a result mostly of technological factors that favor centralization and make electronic media omnipresent, and the consequent power of the class that produces and distributes it is part of the answer, but not the whole.

Anti-racism began in America, and its origins are related to changes in the nature of American nationality. Americans began as overseas Englishmen, and thus as a traditional ethnic people defined by place and ancestry. Independence distinguished them from their one-time compatriots, and their national identity became inseparable from the political theory that justified separation. The ideological component of American identity has since grown, as immigration diluted common ancestry, the 1861-1865 War destroyed the principle of local particularism, technology and economic development separated men from their roots, and American institutions, for their own purposes, emphasized the universalistic aspects of American life.

The result today is that middle Americans have come to understand ethnicity as something other men have; they view themselves simply as free and independent individuals, who are Americans because they have individually accepted ideals and institutions they understand as universally valid. More and more, for an American to return to his roots as an American is to become radically individualist, universalist, and anti-ethnic. Anti-racism is a messianic version of the refusal to recognize ethnic distinctions. As such, it has become part of Americanism; remnants of more particularist understandings, which are necessary for what social cohesion we have, have become ideologically incomprehensible, and give rise to guilt feelings that redouble anti-racist zeal.

The evolving character of American nationality has foreshadowed broader changes in the world at large. America is no longer exceptional; Americanization is part of the triumph of modernity. What powers anti-racism is the worldwide attack on all that is at odds with a universal rational order based on global markets and transnational bureaucracies. This new order is made possible by technological changes that make every part of the world equally present to every other and permit the instantaneous collection, communication and processing of vast amounts of information. Such changes enormously facilitate the operation of formal public arrangements such as markets and bureaucracies. They have brought about a new order that is supported by certain efficiencies and by the opportunities it offers boldness, enterprise and intelligence.

Constructing a new order requires clearing away what already exists, and anti-racism attacks existing social arrangements. More particularly, the new order aspires to transform populations into easily manageable aggregations of human resources and purchasing power, without cohesion, complexity or non-economic interests that might complicate things for those in control. It therefore requires abolition of the social power of ethnicity. Big business, finance, academia and government, all strongly hierarchical, support anti-racism,[23] not because they love equality but because they want their own forms of inequality—financial, informational or bureaucratic—to prevail. Racial hierarchy must be abolished because function and hierarchy go together, and those now in power want to eliminate ethnicity as a competing power independent of bureaucracy and world markets.

However, the New World Order is not merely a matter of technology, self-interest, and lust for power. It is tied to general cultural changes that support anti-racism by weakening the traditions that allow ethnicity to ground community. Community is based on ties that precede the specific choices men make. Such ties are at odds with basic tendencies of modern life, with questioning things and demanding plain answers, and breaking things apart to make them easier to package and sell. Such tendencies promote impulse and expediency at the expense of enduring loyalties. As a result, standards of behavior not freely chosen by individuals have come to be thought oppressive, and the moral norm has become rejection of whatever transcends the concerns of particular men. Even a man’s own culture, the understandings and habits he was born to, now seems an imposition.

Under such circumstances bureaucracies and markets can be defended as ways of aggregating and coordinating individual preferences, but ethnic ties are incomprehensible. Ethnicity is a mix of history, habits, attitudes and loyalties that is more easily felt and acted on than defined. It is a social fact that applies to a man for reasons that have little to do with individual characteristics or conduct. There is nothing strange about that; social setting is part of what makes a man what he is, so his connections can not simply be a matter of personal qualities or choice. However, the modern outlook is too narrowly analytical to deal with such issues. It finds ethnic feeling lacking in any clear content and ultimately comprehensible only as fear of freedom and hatred for those who differ. To make matters worse, moderns interpret ethnicity in the most extreme sense. “Common sense” is the sense of traditional communities, so to be fully modern is to be incapable of moderation. Doubts about one thing become identified with insistence on its opposite, and rejection of simple comprehensive equality with unlimited oppression. Hence the stereotype of “the racist”: in the attribution of any significance at all to ethnicity, moderns see that modern invention, Nazism.

These cultural changes imply a shift in fundamental philosophical understandings. Major changes in outlook have a philosophical dimension without which they cannot be fully grasped. That dimension profoundly affects our actions because it determines the setting in which we believe we are acting, the goals we think make sense, and our attitude toward others. However abstract this aspect of the matter may be, understanding it is an essential part of understanding modern political life.

The philosophical basis of anti-racism, as of liberalism and modernity generally, might be described as value relativism [24] or as an overly technological understanding of rationality.[25] It can also be described usefully as the denial of whatever transcends men’s particular purposes. As we shall see, such a denial implies that we create distinctions rather than find them, and that they matter only to the extent we make them matter. It brings about a setting in which stable character means paralysis, difference means enmity, and classification is an act of aggression. In such a setting anti-racism is inevitable.

A world without transcendence lacks universal qualities that transcend particulars. Universals like redness or goodness refer as much to things that might exist as those that do exist. Since universals are not wholly contained in our experience in the way particular red or good things are, to deny whatever exceeds our experience is to deny them. It is nonetheless difficult to dispense with universals. Although not contained within experience, they order it and make it possible for us to comprehend and deal with it. We understand the world by calling things by names such as “red” and “good” that could also apply to other things, past, present and future. Without them, we are left with an inexplicable world of unbridgeable differences.

Moderns are nonetheless uncomfortable with universals. Denying transcendence and thus universals, as moderns do, makes classification arbitrary. If things do not have stable natures that precede our purposes, if the difference (for example) between the sexes is just a social construction that can as well be deconstructed, then classifying is simply an exercise of the will of the classifier, and to be defined is to be subjected to that will. Those who reject transcendence therefore insist on escaping definition as the necessary ground of their dignity, and part of escaping definition is throwing off ethnicity.

The contrast with previous understandings is striking. Universals were once understood to allow participation in the rational order of the world. To be a man, a peasant or a king was to live in accordance with the innate order of things, to take part in the world God made, and thus to have dignity. To be English or Thai carried with it a web of loyalties and standards that made possible a rewarding life in common. Even to be a cripple gave a man a recognized place. Such definite qualities gave reality and weight to things, and enabled men to escape the degradation of continual change and the nothingness of abstract characterless individuality. Stability meant life, change decay and death.

All that has changed. On a view that denies universals to fix someone by a definition is to enslave or kill him. To be a king is to be imprisoned by the social expectations surrounding kingship and so to be a slave. To have a particular IQ is to be defined as suitable for certain roles in the social machine, and so to be reduced to an implement to be used for others for their own purposes. Life and meaning lie in the escape from determinate being, in transition to something other than what one already is, the less definable the better. Like sex, drugs and ambition, change and diversity are this-worldly substitutes for transcendence. Anything, even change for the worse, is better than here-and-now reality and the requirements imposed by a specific culture.

Modernity also leaves open other lines of escape from the prison of finite being: the totalitarian insistence on absolute unity in which things lose their specific qualities, and the postmodern denial of logic and language. In Western societies the love of change and diversity is most striking, but the others are also present and support anti-racism. The demand for unity takes the form of ideologies of equality and inclusiveness, while the denial of logic and language facilitates acceptance of the contradictions of multiculturalism and rejection of evidence for racial and ethnic differences.

In such a setting recognition of ethnic distinctions seems an act of aggression. If there are no universals—no stable and knowable differences among things as they are in themselves—then ethnic distinctions, like all attempts to define what another person is, are external impositions, most easily understood as attempts to advantage oneself by limiting others. If distinctions have no objective basis, the obvious motivation for making them is construction of identity by arbitrarily exclusion. To construct oneself as superior one need only treat others as inferior, and to make the distinction serious one enforces it violently. Classifying others ethnically is thus, from the modern anti—transcendental point of view, a kind of conceptual apartheid that leads directly to Nazism.

Anti-racism is thus an aspect of a pervasive social, cultural, and even conceptual transformation. It has come far and fast because of the rapid growth of the conditions upon which it depends. The most dramatic changes were in the ’60s, when the civil rights movement was felt to discredit existing society, but they had been long in preparation and have continued since. Public recognition of the transcendent has collapsed; in the United States courts even make it illegal. The churches themselves have abandoned transcendence in favor of this-worldly concerns, first and foremost anti-racism. Cheap transportation and electronic communications have powerfully enhanced globalization. The enormous growth of government social expenditures since the Second World War shows the centralization and bureaucratization of social life. Family forms and the relation between the sexes have become too indefinite for reliance, and children are now raised by a combination of electronic entertainment and government functionaries.

Each of us today is constantly confronted electronically and in print with a heterogeneous assortment of persons and things chosen by media functionaries. We look at things not from the standpoint of our own concrete experience or the historical experience of our people but from an artificial universal standpoint constructed by television. From that standpoint the articulated distinctions that constitute social order become a pointless jumble; in particular, the social functions of ethnicity vanish from sight, and it appears a source of conflict and chaos within a system functioning on wholly different principles.

The appearance is illusory, since all societies depend on common understandings and moral habits that need the support of ethnicity. It is nonetheless fundamental to the view of things presented by those recognized as experts, whose concern is with rational central control, and by the mass media, whose flattening of all distinctions and variations would make any suggestion of ethnic hierarchy insupportably categorical. In a world that seems at once featureless and fragmented it appears necessary to impose a simple and uniform order by force. Anti-racism is one consequence.

While anti-racism has triumphed with the support of social forces that seem irresistible, it will not last. It is flawed in principle, and to perfect it is to sharpen its contradictions to the point of incoherence. Some contradictions are obvious on the surface. Should a black person be treated as a black person or not? Both possibilities are thought racist. Other contradictions go deeper. The social rationalization of which anti-racism is a part destroys the prerational ties upon which social coherence and function depend. To weaken ethnicity degrades life by weakening the concrete obligations and common standards that order it. An anti-racist society, like any other, requires “racism”—coherent ethnicity—to function at all; its highest goal is therefore to destroy a principle necessary to its own existence.

Anti-racism is part of a whole order (or disorder) with which it stands or falls. It is native to a world created by the attempt to abolish universals and essences. The attempt undermines substantive personal identity—the things other than present will and sensation that make a man what he is—and the ties and obligations that flow from it. To the extent it succeeds it destroys not only ethnicity but the family, which becomes a sentimental or contractual arrangement too unstable for serious reliance, and society as a whole, which becomes an abstract order of world markets and transnational bureaucracies incapable of inspiring loyalty. In such a world a tolerable way of life becomes all but impossible, and a principle of disorder is set loose that no combination of force, bribery and therapy can restrain. It will not last, and when it goes anti-racism will go as well.

To the extent anti-racism rests on rejection of the transcendent and therefore of stable classification it is part of a denial of the way things are, a denial that cannot attain even its own purposes and leads to personal and social catastrophe.[26] The modern frame of mind makes fruitful diversity impossible. Diversity that makes the world larger and more satisfying is diversity of things that truly differ from each other. It requires distinctiveness and stability, not constant change and blurring of lines. Those who reject the transcendent are not satisfied with the featureless everyday simply as such, and demand something else—intoxication, violence, insanity—anything to escape the here and now. Such substitutes lead only to stupor or despair.

Because it is based on denial of truth anti-racism very quickly became the refuge of scoundrels, a stronghold of licensed abuse, bigotry and lies. The temptation to bad conduct seems irresistible. Martin Luther King’s plagarisms and infidelities are notorious. John Hope Franklin, a prominent black historian who was appointed by President Clinton to head his race initiative, invents racial grievances out of whole cloth, apparently habitually.[27] Examples could be multiplied indefinitely.[28] anti-racism also fosters stupidity and brutality in social conditions. The disruption of community and tradition it necessitates destroys refined distinctions and complex modes of cooperation. In the absence of a coherent people free and responsible government becomes impossible and politics a matter of force, fraud, fanaticism and chaos.

What should be done? Since anti-racism is integral to a world of social practices and understandings it seems that to change it everything connected to it must be changed, a huge and seemingly impossible task. However, the variety of the forces that support it provoke an equally various opposition. In the end the struggle against anti-racism is the struggle for all things not reducible to money, power and technology—honor and civility, family, country and religion, the good, beautiful and true. The vastness of the battle may make the task seem too great or suggest that one’s own concerns will be taken care of by other men fighting for other things, but it may also inspire greater devotion.

A single act of will cannot transform the world. Action should be guided by broad conceptions, but battles must be fought one by one. At present the most important goal for those who oppose anti-racism is to raise consciousness. anti-racist opinion-makers dominate public discussion and suppress views at variance with their own to the degree that opposing views are difficult even to articulate.[29] Their power is greatly increased by the pervasiveness of the mass media, the role of experts in a technocracy, and the dependence of every man, in a society based on contract and bureaucracy, on public attitudes and understandings.

Anti-racism is nonetheless vulnerable because it depends on opinion, and it is weak on the merits. It will be vulnerable if confronted frequently and forcefully with argument. The relation of ethnicity to social order must be explained and awkward facts publicized. Views that lead to radical egalitarianism must be opposed, cultural traditionalism and acceptance of transcendence—the principle that we can never fully grasp the things we must rely on—promoted. Race must be put in perspective so that where it matters it can be treated as other things that matter are treated. The modern must be turned against the modern: since anti-racists dominate established media, their opponents must make use of new technologies that are less susceptible to central control, and since anti-racism is the status quo they must reach out to the young and disaffected.

Something cannot be beaten with nothing. The battle against anti-racism must be guided by a vision of what a society that accepts ethnic loyalty would be like. The absence of such a vision has enabled anti-racists to win victory after unopposed victory. The vision need not be rigid, since previous societies, in all their variety, have all accepted ethnicity. Nor need it attribute primacy to race; the problem with anti-racism is that it seeks not to moderate but to annihilate. The attempt to abolish the significance of ethnicity is not tolerant but utopian and extremist, and a non-anti-racist society need only reject extremes.

It would nonetheless have certain qualities that set it apart from our present one, which is extremist by nature, and so would take on definite form by contrast. Anti-racism is an aspect of the abolition of all social authorities other than rationalized universal structures. Its essence is central management in accordance with comprehensive abstract demands. Opposition therefore implies a small state and governance by informal and local arrangements. A society that accepts ethnicity would accept self-government and regional variations. It would be non-centralized by current standards, with overall order maintained through tradition, orientation toward the transcendent, and a government of limited powers.

While a non-anti-racist society need not strive for racial purity, it would recognize the difficulty of combining freedom, diversity and equality. Those things may all be good, but they do not sit together easily. A non-anti-racist society would therefore accept at least informal, limited and local ethnic hierarchy, and restrict immigration, especially of those whose ethnic background is radically different from that of dominant groups. Devolution of power within a federal structure could maintain freedom while accommodating some diversity by allowing groups to have settings in which each is locally dominant.[30] The greater the diversity, however, the more difficulties are likely to arise. Free government requires mutual loyalty and common goods and standards. Such things can grow up among a mixed population, but they require time and favorable circumstances. They are unlikely to exist where an ideal of equal citizenship is combined with extreme ethnic mixture.

How could a non-anti-racist society arise from what we have now? Agitation against anti-racism, while necessary, will not be enough. Local and marginal improvements are always possible, but for major changes certain preconditions are obvious. Bureaucratic centralization will have to decline radically and the importance of ties based on various forms of kinship grow. The radical centralization of political life through the mass media will have to come to an end and the importance of the transcendent—most concretely, common moral principles not reducible to self-interest—become once again generally accepted. All these are difficult to achieve. Current trends are to the contrary, and things like acceptance of the authority of the transcendent cannot be achieved by fiat.

A good society cannot be an intentional construction. However, bad societies can ruin themselves, especially as their principles approach logical perfection, and it is possible to cooperate with the growth of something better. The failure of liberalism will reverse current trends in its favor. As the public culture becomes too empty to support trust and cooperation, bureaucracy will become useless, world markets unreliable, and ties of kinship and religion once more at a premium. As the denial of all sources of knowledge other than sensation and formal logic makes reason and even language impossible, men will turn to the transcendent, in their own lives and as a basis for cooperation with others. In the end they will find ways to live a tolerable life, even under the circumstances modern technology has created, and, since man is an embodied, social and historical animal, the pattern will necessarily include traditional local community and therefore ethnicity.


[1] One example among many: a claim almost immediately shown to be erroneous that Texaco executives had used the word “nigger” in a private discussion, together with the phrase “black jelly bean” (picked up, it turned out, from a leading black diversity consultant), quickly forced the corporation into a $176 million settlement of a discrimination lawsuit brought by six black employees. Texaco also promised to institute universal diversity training, agreed to affirmative action requirements that included a 29 percent goal for minority employment and 10 percent pay raise for all black employees, committed to buy $1,000,000,000 worth of goods and services from minority and female owned suppliers, and sent senior executives to deliver apologies to every major Texaco workplace in America. Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White (New York, 1997), 503-4. Other examples can be found in Peter Collier and David Horowitz, eds., The Race Card: White Guilt, Black Resentment, and the Assault on Truth and Justice (Rocklin, California, 1997).

[2] See the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ( and the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice (

[3] David Pryce-Jones, “Magnifying old mistakes: the situation in France,” The New Criterion, September 1998, 17-23.

[4] See the BBC collection of  news items and links regarding the Lawrence murder and MacPherson Report (here).

[5] Dinesh D’Souza, The End of Racism (New York, 1995), 117, n.6.

[6] Eric Pace, “George Dunne, 92, Priest and Ecumenist, Dies", The New York Times, July 14, 1998, Sec. B, 10.

[7] See the full-page notice in The New York Times, April 18, 1999, Sec. A, 28, headed “The New York Times Wins Two 1999 Pulizer Prizes,” that consisted mainly of a list of the Times recipients of the prize, including “Walter Duranty, for coverage of the news from Russia.”

[8] See, for example, the examples collected in Jared Taylor, Paved with Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America (New York, 1992), ch. 1 and 2 elsewhere.

[9] See, e.g., America in Black and White, 498-499; End of Racism, 490.

[10] See End of Racism, 14.

[11] See, e.g., End of Racism, 400 ff.; Paved with Good Intentions, ch. 6.

[12] See Frederick R. Lynch, Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action (New York 1989); Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation: Common Sense about America’s Immigration Disaster (New York, 1995). Immigration does not, of course, hurt only whites. See Roy Beck, The Case Against Immigration: The Moral, Economic, Social, and Environmental Reasons for Reducing U.S. Immigration Back to Traditional Levels (New York, 1996).

[13] The demands of multiculturalism are insatiable. Allowing white dominance in any setting would show that it is acceptable, so the world must be transformed so that whites nowhere dominate. Practical measures include legal rules that impose sanctions when a minority’s proportional presence falls below 4/5 that of whites,(Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, 29 C.F.R. Sec. 1607.) and the requirement that depictions of the world emphasize nonwhites. Failure to violate traditional stereotypes is now thought shocking; Irish heritage festivals must feature black bagpipers. And since true multiculturalism cannot be achieved if representation of minorities only reaches their proportionate share of the population, abolition of the white majority in America through immigration has become settled government policy, permanently beyond popular revision. See Jonathan Tilove, "Are whites ready to be a minority?" Newhouse News Service, July 3, 1999 (

[14] See Jim Kalb, “Freedom, Discrimination and Culture” (

[15] America in Black and White, 81 ff.; also see Richard Epstein, Forbidden Grounds: The Case against Employment Discrimination Laws (Cambridge, Mass, 1992), ch. 12.

[16] America in Black and White, 232 ff.

[17] Linda Gottfredson, “Societal Consequences of the g Factor in Employment,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 29 (1986), 379-410.

[18] See Thomas Sowell, Preferential Policies: An International Perspective (New York, 1990).

[19] See America in Black and White, 506 ff.; End of Racism, ch. 12; The Race Card.

[20] Consider the movement to “abolish the white race” promoted by Harvard professor Noel Ignatiev and others who, according to the New Abolitionist Society website (, “reject in advance no means of attaining their goal". 

[21] For a wide-ranging discussion of the social and economic consequences of ethnic differences, see Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture: A World View (New York, 1994); also see Forbidden Grounds, ch. 3.

[22] America in Black and White, 141.

[23] On big business support see Invisible Victims and America in Black and White, 452. Glossy magazines such as Vogue and The New Yorker are informative on attitudes of the moneyed elite generally.

[24] See Jim Kalb, “PC and the Crisis of Liberalism” (

[25] See Jim Kalb, “Vindicating Stereotypes and Discrimination” (here).

[26] See Books viii and ix of Plato’s Republic, which contain an account of how loss of touch with the transcendent leads, among other things, to radical egalitarianism—anti-racism, anti-sexism, "anti-agism", even "anti-specism" (562e-563d)—and then to political disaster.

[27] See “A Black Student `Destroyed’ by Racism—Or Was He?” by Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, Sept. 28, 1998 (here); America in Black and White, 9.

[28] For black comments on whites, see America in Black and White, 494 ff.; for black abuse of blacks who do not toe the line on racial opinion, see End of Racism, 478.

[29] “No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.” Leonard Schapiro, The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 2nd ed. (London, 1970), 477.

[30] Switzerland is the classic example.

1 thought on “Anti-racism”

  1. Centralization and Affirmative Action
    Dear Mr. Kalb and Fellow Readers,

    “The radical centralization of political life through the mass media will have to come to an end,” according to Mr. Kalb. Here is a sketch of how it might come to an end.

    The mass media comprise many methods of expression. Examples are television with its advantages of pictures, sound, words, and immediacy; daily newspapers with the erroneous but popularly revered quality of the printed word; movies with their carefully crafted imagery, sound, and wording; and radio with qualities capable of emotion similar to motion pictures. Listen to a book read by a talented narrator; one will emerge into the light of day with the feeling of exiting an afternoon movie matinee.

    Acquisition or creation of a nationwide television broadcast network is the essential element of decentralization. People are addicted to television. Working people—a large population—are mentally exhausted after a day at the office; their willpower is low. Many imprudently resort to alcohol, to overeating, to drugs, to inappropriate sex, or, as the great majority do, to television. They flop down, turn on, and tune out to paraphrase the famous LSD advocate Dr. Timothy Leary.

    People hear from left-liberals of all networks but Fox News, a right-liberal expression that is host to a relatively small—maybe 10%—of the public. A left-liberal believes equality and freedom are ideals, and a right-liberal believes the ideals but backs off and makes exceptions more often than the left-liberal. Fox’s entertainment, though, is as nontraditional and decadent as the rest of TV, so it does not qualify as non-liberal. I cannot name the trash because I do not watch it except in snippets, as I am channel surfing while flopped down.

    This can be done, at a lesser pace, with a Website; but it cannot be a Website of mere debate, but a Website of affirmative action, of organizing. Indeed, such a Website is probably the only way of obtaining a broadcast network outlet.

    The key thing to remember is activists must shed their silly concern over getting in people’s faces. Express yourself when you are wronged. The most recent personal example is my behavior in the aftermath of Katrina; I did not let people break in the half-day lines for gas or prescriptions. I got right in their faces, literally, not that I would have resorted to violence. I did not always win, but I surely got cheers from the backs of the lines. One silly woman I confronted, who broke in a huge line in front of my mother at one of the rare open drugstores, attempted to excuse her behavior by saying she was pregnant.

    For crying out loud, my mother needed thyroid medicine or she could have died. I backed off when she broke down into tears, not because her dishonest supporters tried to make excuses, but because I am a soft touch. I had even earlier given her advice about how to gain access sooner. Stand up for yourselves traditionalists, or we are lost.

    Paul Henri

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