ron unz is at it again — arguing that, given a little time, hispanic immigrants will assimilate into american society just like non-anglo europeans did a hundred years ago. from his latest article in The American Conservative [sic] entitled “Immigration, the Republicans, and the End of White America” (the front page description of the article says: “Ron Unz asks whether mass immigration will destroy the GOP—and our middle-class society):

“Similarly, there is overwhelming evidence that today’s immigrants want to learn English, gain productive employment, assimilate into our society, and generally become ‘good Americans’ at least as much as did their European counterparts of a century ago.”

well, perhaps they want to become good, middle-class americans, although i’m not convinced of that; but another critical question is are they able to? as steve sailer has repeatedly pointed out, there’s actually a real-life experiment on hispanic assimilation into middle-class american society that’s been running for 150+ years called new mexico and, so far, mexican-americans there have failed to become like your average minnesotan suburbanite — but mr. unz is obviously not bothered by mundane facts like that.

what really irritates me about the thinking of someone like mr. unz, tho, is that he seems to be under the impression that assimilation means that whatever immigrants we happen to be talking about will miraculously drop all of their traditions and (innate) ways of behaving and just become like the population in whatever country they’re migrating to — and that the culture of a receiving country will somehow be left unscathed by the addition of a new, unrelated people with a dissimilar culture.

i mean, does mr. unz really believe that america before and after all of the late nineteenth century immigration from non-anglo european countries is the same? did the italians and the irish and the swedes and the norwegians and the jews start behaving exactly like the founding anglo-americans — even after a few generations? to be blunt, only an idiot would think so.

no. the late nineteenth century immigrants might’ve changed their ways, some of them even becoming quite american-like in their behaviors and culture after a few generations (altho the process was arguably a struggle) — but the newcomers also altered america. many people today might like the changes — but many of the anglo-americans at the time prolly did not. and many of us today might not like some of the changes they brought: the mafia by the italians, for instance, and tammany hall-style politics thanks to the irish.

the italians (very much southern italians) have mafioso tendencies in large part because of their history of and particular pattern of inbreeding; same with the irish and their liking for machine-politics. these two groups are more given to corruption and nepotism than, say, the english simply because they have a longer history of inbreeding (which, due to inclusive fitness-related drives, leads to nepotism); the southern italians also have a very recent history of inbreeding. anglos, on the other hand, have a long history of outbreeding which has lead to an individualistic society based on middle-class values and trust between non-related individuals, a preference for democracy and little nepotism.

so, what are tens of millions of mexicans and other hispanics going to bring to the table? a lot more than tacos, i can assure you. in addition to whatever innate behavioral differences mexicans have compared to europeans (iq, temperament, etc.), there’s also all the stuff related to mating patterns and genetic relatedness that i’ve been exploring on this blog to be considered.

first of all, just looking at mexico alone, if we factor out the more recently arrived spanish and african mexicans for a sec, the base population of native mexicans is not one entity. there were (and still are) mayan mexicans, aztec mexicans, mixtec mexicans, and a myriad of other peoples in mexican that i’ve never even heard of. so, right there from the start, you’ve got relatedness differences that are bound to lead to discordance between so-called “mexicans” (and i’m not even dealing here with all the other hispanics from central america — guatemalans, salvadorans, costa ricans…).

on top of these ethnic differences — and this will not come as a surprise to regular readers — most of these groups also practiced endogamous mating. yes, even cousin marriage. most or all of it seems to have been cross-cousin marriage, the most common form found in the world — like amongst the chinese. the result? societies based on extended-families and clans — not nuclear families espousing middle-class values. here’s a little bit about aztec society, for example:

“Family and lineage

Family and lineage were the basic units of Aztec society. Ones lineage determined ones social standing, and noble lineages were traced back to the mythical past, as the nobles were said to be descended from the god Quetzalcoatl. Prestigious lineages also traced their kin back through ruling dynasties, preferably ones with a Toltec heritage. The extended family group was also the basic social unit and living patterns were largely determined by family ties, because networks of family groups settled together to form calpollis. Lineage was traced through both the maternal and paternal lines, although with a preference for paternal lineage.


The calpolli (from Nahuatl calpōlli meaning ‘big house’) was a political unit composed of several interrelated family groups. The exact nature of the calpolli is not completely understood and it has been variously described as a kind of clan, a town, a ward, a parish or an agriculture based cooperative. In Nahuatl another word for calpolli was tlaxilacalli – ‘a partition of houses’.

“The calpolli was centered around the local chief (calpōleh), to whom its members were normally related and he provided the calpolli members with lands for cultivation (calpōllālli) or with access to non-agricultural occupations in exchange for tribute and loyalty….


“The altepetl (from Nahuatl āltepētl ‘water-mountain’) was a citystate composed of several calpollis and ruled by a tlatoani. The altepetl was the unit that held sway over a given territory and defended and possibly expanded it by military might. The tlatoani was the head of the most influential calpolli, often because of having the most prestigious lineage. The word altepetl, however, did not only refer to the area but also to its population, and altepetl affiliation is thought to have been the primary criteria for ethnic divisions in Mesoamerica – rather than linguistic affinities.”

well, h*ck — change the wording a bit and that could be a description of almost any clan-based or tribalistic society from the clans of scotland to the pre-christian germanic tribes (whatever happened to them anyway?). the important thing to note about the mexicans, tho, is that they were marrying endogamously and living in these clan-based societies right up to first contact with the spaniards and, presumably, their conversion to christianity. so, native-mexicans, like the swedes, don’t have the depth of out-breeding that north-western europeans have, only much more so — mexicans inbred right up until at least the 1500s.

fast-forward to the 1950s and the mexicans appear to be very good catholics, hardly marrying their first-cousins at all. the rate of first-cousin marriage in mexico in 1956-57 (1.3% giving an inbreeding coefficient of 0.0003) is exactly the same as that for quebec in the 1960s-70s. and neither of these are really that far off the rate for catholics in the united states in 1959-60 (0.2%) [pg. 92] (click on chart for LARGER version):

while this might sound pretty good, it really isn’t all that hopeful because, while the mexicans dutifully refrain from marrying their first-cousins, they do have a tendancy to marry very locally — like the greeks — and we all know how well greek society works. greeks marry within their villages (i.e. likely to distant cousins of some sort, so still to family) — mexicans marry within their barrios, formerly known as calpollis (see the bit about the aztecs above — how’s THAT for continuity?!).

here is a quote from “The Barrios of San Andrés Cholula” in “Essays on Mexican Kinship” about the marriage patterns in the barrios of san andrés cholula in the 1960s. while mating patterns might’ve changed in mexico in the last generation or two, mexicans in their 30s and 40s today are the children of those who married in the 1960s, so the effects of endogamous mating in mexico in the 1960s are, no doubt, still very much in effect today [pgs. 78 & 80]:

“Today there is no rigid rule of mate selection in San Andres. Of the 385 married pairs for whom we have information on place of birth for both husband and wife, 35 (9.1 percent) have both partners originating from outside the community. In addition, 43 women have married into the community, primarily in San Juan, Santiago, San Adres, and San Miguel. Thirty men have married into the community, and they reside for the most part in Santiago, Santo Nino, and San Juan. Altogether, 18.96 percent of the married couple have one spouse from outside the community. These couples reside mostly in the natal barrio of the community spouse. The remaining 71.76 percent originated in the community.

“At the barrio level, however, of the 277 couples originating from San Andres, only 172 (62.09 percent) came from the same barrio, with 105 (37.91 percent) marriages uniting people of different barrios. Barrios with the greatest amount of land, cohesion, and traditional customes (San Juan, Santiago, and La Satisima) also exhibit a clear preference for endogamy. In contrast, the barrios of San Pedro Colomochoco, Santa Maria Cuaco, and Santo Nino share a strong tendency toward spouse exchange (see table 4)….

“The present-day pattern of regulating marriage, inheritance, and barrio membership may have existed during the pre-Hispanic and colonial periods. Perhaps theres was a greater tendency toward barrio endogamy when there was a communal system of land tenure. Today, marriage and inheritance practices support the solidarity of barrios.”

72% of marriages in this mexican municipality consisted of couples from the municipality, and 62% of marriages were between couples from the same barrio (really extended family)? that’s huge! that’s some serious endogamy — and, if the rest of mexico is at all similar (and it’s my understanding that it is/was), it’s not surprising that the mexican corruption levels look like those in greece (and italy).

to sum up: you can’t take a clan- (or tribal-)based population with a long history of inbreeding and turn it into a population of individuals with a yearning for individualistic rights and middle-class american (anglo) values overnight. you prolly can’t even do it in a couple of generations of strong out-breeding. the (biological) process that turned a few germanic tribes (the anglos and the saxons and the jutes) into a hard-working, non-violent, frugal, literate population took aaaaaaages — and it started in the early medieval period with the church’s demands for out-breeding. from “The Tribal Imagination” [pgs. 69-70]:

In the West we had to move from tribalism, through city-states and small nations, through empire, feudalism, mercantile capitalism, and the industrial revolution to reach our present state of fragile open universalistic democracy (shrugging off communism and fascism along the way). Athens and Rome had a period of republicanism and democracy — at least voting and elections for free males — but this did not last and succumbed to autocracy and dictatorship with the growth of empire. The English were helped in the shedding of dominant kinship groups by the relative individualism of the Angles and Saxons, with their emphasis on the independent nuclear family. (See Alan Macfarlane’s ‘The Origins of English Individualism.’) Christian monogamy and the banning of cousin marriages by the Catholic Church helped to break down extended kinship groups and encouraged even more individualism.

This breaking up of tight kin groups by expanding ‘prohibited degrees’ (as far as third cousins) is perhaps not sufficiently appreciated. Think what it would have done to the Arab cousin-marriage system. In England the institution of primogeniture — inheritance by the eldest son — also helped prevent the dissipation of family fortunes produced by partible inheritance: division of the patrimony among all sons, common on the continent (and in China, but not Japan). It reduced the power of aristocratic clans by forcing the younger sons into the professions: the army, the law, and the church.

This move away from kinship and into the world of voluntary and non-kin organizations was in turn infused with the Protestant work and reinvestment ethic, and the Miracle happened. It did not happen all at once, but over several centuries of cumulative effort that fed on the new humanism and the growth of science and industry. As labor became ever more specialized and more mobile, family groups became ever less self-sufficient, and individuals became more and more dependent on strangers and on the institutions that made dependence on strangers possible: in particular, the rule of law and the enforcement of contracts.

“And we had to do it by our own efforts, pull ourselves up by the social bootstraps, to make it stick. We have seen in Germany, in Italy, and in Spain how fragile this really is. Russia never did make it. France is always problematic. Latin America and the Balkans continue to be a mess. But in making this move we had to change the entire particularistic, communalistic, ritualistic, kin-dominated society that is natural to us, and we have to keep at it all the time….”

“It did not happen all at once, but over several centuries….”


p.s. – btw, endogamy in new mexico? h*ll, yeah.

previously: recap and “hard-won democracy”

(note: comments do not require an email. they do, however, require a little more thought into the matter of mass immigration than mr. unz has obviously given it.)