for your consideration, a review by andrew sabisky of tatu vanhanen‘s Ethnic Conflicts: Their Biological Roots in Ethnic Nepotism (links added by me). thanks, andrew! (^_^)

Ethnic Conflicts: Their Biological Roots in Ethnic Nepotism – some thoughts

Nationalism, once thought to be a monster whose thirst for blood had been thoroughly slaked by mass warfare, is making a resurgent comeback throughout Europe. Ostensibly fired by opposition to both Islam and the European Union, Marine le Pen & Geert Wilders – amongst others – have made major polling gains: future electoral victories promise or threaten, depending on your point of view. Golden Dawn have already achieved ballot box success in Greece. Robert Putnam’s work shows that interindividual trust in America has undergone a spectacular decline since the 1960s, accompanying the rise of ethnic diversity. In fact, recent modeling by unwilling sociologists shows that not even in 20 million possible worlds can ethnic diversity increase without a consequent decrease in community harmony. But why?

Tatu Vanhanen, perhaps best known in the Anglosphere for his co-authorship (with Richard Lynn) of such blockbusters as IQ and Global Inequality and IQ and the Wealth of Nations, has some answers. Vanhanen, inspired by the work of renowned scholars such as Pierre van den Berghe and J. Philippe Rushton, traces the roots of ethnic conflict to the sociobiological theories of inclusive fitness and genetic similarity. Despite vast variation within ethnic groups, members of ethnic groups will, on average, be more closely related to each other than random members of other ethnic groups, making ethnic nepotism an evolutionarily adaptive strategy. Ethnic nepotism is family nepotism writ large; the same process is driven by selfish genes aiding the replication of identical genes resident in related others. Ethnic groups are super-families, though the degree of difference between families varies. Races separated by geography for millennia differ more greatly than more recent cleavages within the Indo-European language-family (for example).

So far, so mainstream – at least in sociobiological terms anyway. The most intriguing aspect of Vanhanen’s introduction was his definition of ethnic conflict. I had been expecting ethnic conflict to be operationalized purely in terms of violence, an expectation aided by the macabre pile of skulls on the front cover. But Vanhanen includes peaceful conflict as well: his model incorporates all forms of intra-nation ethnic division, whether they take the form of political parties politely debating in parliaments, or destructive mobs engaged in ethnic cleansing. His scale has 5 levels: at level 2, for example, political parties or major interest groups are routinely organized along ethnic lines, and some level of discrimination is present. At level 4 discrimination and repression are high and systematic, and there is some serious level of civil warfare or terrorism.

Anyway, after compiling and computing data for 176 nations, Vanhanen reveals that the level of ethnic heterogeneity explains 66% of the variance in the level of ethnic conflicts, the remainder to be explained by other factors and measurement error. The expected relationships between democratization and national income levels and ethnic conflicts exist, but are weak. Intriguingly, he notes that while democratization does not reduce ethnic conflict much, it does tend to reduce violence somewhat; the countries with high levels of ethnic heterogeneity but lower-than-expected levels of strife tend to be either democracies of decent quality or strong autocracies. The two successful recipes for restricting ethnic violence seem to be either democratic institutions specifically adapted to the demands of blood, or the brutality of a hegemonic dictatorship, though obviously the sample sizes for countries with large residuals are not particularly great. Vanhanen also notes that high levels of interracial marriage seem to lead to more stable situations than one might expect, though such a strategy perhaps comes with other costs.

This is just a very brief sketch of Vanhanen’s work, which is well worth exploring in more depth. His nation-by-nation account of the factors that perhaps account for each country’s position on the regression line is fascinating and not something I can do justice to here (so please do buy your copies from Richard Lynn’s Ulster Institute).

As mass immigration irrevocably changes the face of the West, when will it also change our political cultures? Can they adapt to the new and unexpected requirements of sociobiological logic? The implications are intriguing to trace. In the face of declining trust and divergent genetic impulses, can the British constitution – which has until now defied codification – survive? Perhaps the rules of the game will need to be written down in one place in the future – until now we have rather muddled by on trust and precedent. Will institutionalized power-sharing (as in Northern Ireland) become the norm in the West – not between Catholic and Protestant, but between Muslim and non-Muslim (by around 2050 Britain is forecast to be a majority Islamic nation on current birthrate trends)? How much internal resistance will there be to the adaptation of current institutions? How much of the resistance, and counter-resistance, will be violent?

These questions are currently not a significant part of political debate, but Vanhanen’s incisive and clearly written work suggests that perhaps they should. I confidently recommend it in the expectation that many potential readers will derive their own interesting and worthwhile hypotheses from his data and analyses.

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