Category Archives: America

A review of The White Book

I read The White Book, by the pseudonymous Robert S. Oculus III, about a year ago, when Laura Wood was promoting it on her blog (qv). Since then I’ve been working on and off on these comments and wondering whether or not to publish them. Well, here they are.

*

Oculus makes a distinction between white and White. The peoples of Europe are of course white in a racial or biological sense — that is, they belong to a shared ancestry group originating on that continent and characterized by orthognathism, relatively pale skin, etc. — but they are not to be considered ethnically White. Rather, they have more specific ethnic identities; they are Englishmen, Russians, Spaniards, Belgians, Latvians, and so on. Most white Americans, on the other hand, and just plain White — descended from one or more of the white European peoples, but no longer really a member of any of those ancestral groups. My ancestors came from England, Germany, and the Ukraine, but I am not an Englishman, a German, or a Ukrainian — just as a modern Englishman is not really an Angle, a Saxon, a Jute, a Celt, a Norman, or a Dane. He may be primarily descended from one of those peoples, of course, and may even be aware of and proud of that heritage — but in practice, he’s just English; and white Americans are just White. (The same is true to varying degrees in the other countries of the European diaspora, but in practice Oculus focuses on America, and so shall I.)

Although Oculus does not develop the point, something very similar is true of American blacks. Their ancestors belonged to specific African ethnic groups, but they themselves are no longer ethnically Hausa or Fula or Igbo or Yoruba or whatever; they’re just Black. These two ethnic groups — Black and White, African-American and European-American — are the main peoples that can be called simply “American.” (Of course various indigenous tribes also qualify, but these groups are much smaller. The White:Black:Navajo ratio is 672:129:1.) The others — Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans, etc. — still have clear ethnic ties to non-American groups, and their hyphenated names are appropriate; but Blacks and Whites are Americans in the same simple sense that an ethnic Frenchman (as opposed to, say, a French citizen of Maghrebi origin) is French.

*

Blacks in America generally self-identify as Black, participate in a Black culture which is openly and explicitly Black, may support the idea of “Black pride,” refer to other Blacks as their brothers and sisters, etc. — but White Americans do none of these things — generally can do none of these things without feeling like horrible people. The following passage from Oculus’s book drives home just how deeply rooted this aversion to White racial identity is:

Say it out loud: “I am a human being, but I am not just any human being. I am a white person. I am a member of the white race.”

Can’t do it, can you?

Do these words scare you? Do you feel like a bad person just for reading them? Do you think I am evil for writing them down, or even thinking them?

It’s okay if you do. You have been trained to feel that way. You have been trained not only to hate what you are, but to deny that you even exist.

This is absolutely true — and absolutely astonishing, when you think about it. Even I, who am generally quite open-minded about such things and pride myself on not being a slave to goodthink, feel somewhat uncomfortable quoting these words or even reading them — but why? What is there in them to be ashamed of? Do they say “white people are better than other people” or “I hate members of other races”? They are a simple assertion that there is such a thing as the white race and that I am a member of it. They ought by all rights to be received as an obvious and completely value-neutral statement of fact. Notice also how completely inoffensive they become if you replace every instance of “white” with “black.”

What is the explanation for this? Is it because we feel that the white race is uniquely evil, and that to acknowledge one’s membership in it is shameful? Or, conversely, perhaps it is because it is so good to be white — because the white peoples are among the most accomplished and “privileged” on the planet, and so to make a point of one’s whiteness is bad form, in the nature of gloating? Or perhaps the problem is simply that whites are a majority in America, so that when I say “I am White” rather than “I am American,” the people I am excluding from my in-group are more salient than those I am including; it sounds less like a statement of camaraderie (“Tom and Bob are my good buddies”) than like a mean-spirited rejection of others (“I’m friends with everyone here except Pete”). Of course, whites in white-minority areas like Los Angeles presumably aren’t supposed to identify as white either, so that can’t be the whole explanation.

At any rate, whatever the reason for the current state of affairs, Oculus wants to change it. The purpose of his book is to encourage capitalized-Whites (that is, all non-Europeans of European ancestry) to self-identify as such and to promote their interests as a people, just as most other peoples in the world do. He even proposes a “flag of the White race” (azure, a snowflake argent; certainly better than the current de facto White flag, which is — well, a white flag). This idea of a pan-White identity, including all the peoples of the European diaspora but excluding Europeans proper, seems forced and unrealistic to me. Non-European Whites as such are not a coherent ethnicity; a White American typically has far more in common with an Englishman or a Black American than with an Argentinian or an Afrikaner. White Americans represent an actual ethnicity (or perhaps a closely related cluster of ethnicities), and Oculus would have done better to focus on this more limited group. (As I’ve said, in practice he does focus on Americans; the pan-White stuff is superfluous and could easily be cut out.)

*

Perhaps in part because of his overly broad definition of “White,” Oculus struggles when it comes to describing what White culture is all about. He rejects the idea of America as a “proposition nation” defined solely by the abstract ideas laid out in the Constitution, insisting instead that any real nation must be firmly rooted in race and culture. But he then proceeds to define White culture in terms even more abstract than those he is criticizing. Whites care about order. They work hard. They respect rules. They don’t cut in line. They have a moral code. In other words, basically, “White” means “civilized.” I understand that Oculus is trying to instill a sense of White pride by focusing on objectively good things — but still, defining a culture in this way is outrageous. First of all, the idea that a culture can be defined at all, especially in terms of abstract principles, brings us right back to the “proposition nation” idea that Oculus is supposedly against. Culture is not simply an ideology; it has to be organic and particularistic. It can be, so to speak, motherhood and apple pie, (i.e. abstract principles plus historically contingent features), but just motherhood isn’t enough. A more serious problem is that the things Oculus identifies as “White” — order and fair play and so on — are universal goods to which every race and culture ought to aspire (though of course not every group will be equally successful in so doing). When Oculus identifies White culture simply with being civilized, his implied message to non-Whites is that not being civilized is an essential part of their culture — which they should presumably cherish and protect as much as Whites should theirs.

Oculus states repeatedly that he bears no hatred or hostility toward any other race, but he nevertheless does show contempt for blacks, sometimes in very crude and dehumanizing terms (using phrases like “dat ape-like thing dey does”). Now not everyone likes everyone else, and he certainly has a right to dislike black people if he wants, but it does undercut the main thrust of The White Book, which is to promote White identity and White pride as positive things and to distance them from the bigotry and racial hostility with which the popular mind associates them. I suppose Oculus’s failing in this regard is unsurprising. In the current political climate, with its extreme demonization of anything deemed “racist,” you need a very strong motive to write something as radioactive as The White Book — and negative feelings of anger and hostility tend to motivate more strongly than love and loyalty alone. It is nevertheless unfortunate, though, and one wishes that Oculus could have risen above whatever personal antipathies he may feel toward other races. (That such a thing is possible is demonstrated by the example of Steve Sailer, a “racialist” writer who obviously likes black people a great deal, and even more so by the late Lawrence Auster. Martin Luther King — as opposed to, say, Malcolm X — is a good example from the other side.)

Despite occasional slip-ups, Oculus does make an effort to show respect for all races and to distance himself from so-called white supremacism. It is perhaps this effort which motivates him to write, with the best of intentions, that there is no one “master race” because “each race is the master race in its ancestral environment” — which is, unfortunately, baloney. If the phrase “master race” has any meaning at all, we can hardly be expected to accept it as an accurate description of the current status of, say, the Native Americans in North America or the Aborigines in Australia. Remember, too, that Oculus has defined the White race to include only people who do not live in their ancestral environment — but he of course makes no appeal to White Americans to submit to their rightful “masters,” the Indians. All in all, Oculus’s whole treatment of the “master race” idea is awkward and unsatisfactory, and he would have been better off just leaving it alone. Racial loyalty does not require such a concept, not even a “nuanced” one, any more than family loyalty requires the idea of one “master family.” (As Oculus himself points out several times, a race just is a family, and love of race is love of family.)

*

Oculus’s treatment of the issue of racial segregation versus integration is also, I think, naïve. His basic position is that if freedom of association is restored — that is, if people are given the freedom to hire, do business with, and associate with whomever they choose — then the resegregation of America will happen naturally because that’s what most people of all races really want. Whites like to associate with other Whites, Blacks with other Blacks, Chinese with other Chinese, and so on; simply allow them to do so, and our problems will be solved.

But that’s obviously not true. Under the current system, no one is forcing Blacks to move into White neighborhoods (or Mexicans to move into America, Chinese to go to WASP schools, etc.), but they do it anyway — probably because White neighborhoods and countries and schools are so often the “good” neighborhoods and countries and schools.

The “freedom” Oculus is advocating is essentially the freedom of Whites to keep out Blacks (and others) who want to move in — so by definition it does not result in “what everyone wants.” In fact, freedom of association is not such a clear-cut concept. If A want to join B’s club (company, school, neighborhood, country, etc.) but B doesn’t want him to join, whose “freedom of association” should the law protect? I’d say B’s, because it’s his club, and I’m sure Oculus would agree — but we shouldn’t pretend that such a policy is giving A what he wants.

It’s a hard fact to face, but the truth is that segregation is good for Whites and integration is good for Blacks — and the law must support the one or the other. Either it supports segregation by saying I have a right to keep you out of my club even if you want to join, or it supports integration by saying you have a right to join even if I want to keep you out. No neutral policy is possible — and therefore, since Blacks who want to join White-run “clubs” vastly outnumber Whites who want to join Black-run clubs, no racially neutral policy is possible. Any policy adopted will be, de facto, either pro-White or pro-Black. Disparate impact of one kind or another is unavoidable. Now no one on either side wants to hear that. Having been indoctrinated into the idea that “racism” is the worst possible evil, no one wants to admit that their preferred policy amounts to favoring the interests of Race X over those of Race Y — but that is nevertheless the way it is, and honest people have to come to grips with it.

*

Closely related to the idea of segregation is that of the “ethnostate,” which Oculus supports. His main interest is naturally in pushing for the creation of a White ethnostate in America, but he welcomes other races to do the same.

I should make it clear that Oculus’s idea of an ethnostate is not that of a monoracial state where other races are not welcome. Rather, his model ethnostate is Israel — including several different racial and religious groups, but existing for the purpose of serving the interests of one of them. Non-Whites and non-Christians would be welcome in his imagined White ethnostate, but they would have to accept that the state’s policies would be calculated to favor White Christian interests over those of other races and religions — as opposed to the current policies of the United States, which, under the guise of an impossible “neutrality,” serve the interests of racial minorities and the irreligious at the expense of those of White Christians.

(By the way, the suggestion that other racial groups in America could form their own ethnostates only serves to underscore the fact that segregation is not “what everyone wants.” White Americans may well dream of an ethnostate that recreates Europe — or what Europe used to be — in the New World, but no American Black in his right mind would want to recreate Africa! Oculus even suggests that “a Latino ethnostate might arise” in North America — but we already have one, Mexico, and a full third of its citizens state that they would move to the U.S. if they could.)

Anyway, being sensitive to the needs of other American races to have countries of their own, Oculus does not propose converting the entire United States into a White ethnostate. Rather, he suggests that states or blocs of states might secede from the Union to form ethnostates of various characters; and his suggested White ethnostate is, incredibly — Dixie! — i.e., the most heavily Black part of the entire country. (And where’s the Black ethnostate supposed to be? New Hampshire?) If these ethnostates are meant to be patterned after Israel, this one will come already stocked with a generous population of angry “Palestinians.”

*

It’s easy to criticize Oculus’s various proposals, but more important than any of the solutions he proposes is the problem he recognizes. To repeat, “Say it out loud: ‘I am a human being, but I am not just any human being. I am a white person. I am a member of the white race.’ Can’t do it, can you?” So long as we can’t do that — so long as we feel vaguely “evil” for even reading those words — we have a serious problem. Your race is your extended family; loving your race is loving your family; disowning it, ditto. Determining what actions and policies should follow from those principles is a difficult business, but the principles themselves are irreproachable.

1 Comment

Filed under America, Politics, Race

Is universal suffrage effective?

Since the enfranchisement of women in 1920, have the decisions of the American electorate tended to be better or worse than those it used to make before women had the vote?

Of course it’s impossible to give a definitive or objective answer to that question, but in an attempt to get something at least marginally more objective than my own personal impressions, I looked at the results of the popular vote in presidential elections both before and after the passage of the 19th amendment. Wikipedia’s Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States article lists the results of 16 different surveys in which historians were asked to rank the presidents from best to worst, and I used those results to decide whether the decision made by a given popular vote should be considered a good one or a bad one. A “good” president is one who made the first or second quartile in every single survey in which he was considered; a “bad” president is one who never made first or second quartile; “average/disputed” covers the rest.

The numbers represent elections, not presidents, and the popular vote is what counts. For example, Andrew Jackson only served two terms but is counted three times because he won the popular vote in three different elections; George W. Bush, who also served two terms but only won one popular vote, is only counted once. Candidates who won the popular vote but never served as president (Samuel J. Tilden and Al Gore) are ignored, since we have no way of knowing how good or bad they would have been at the job.

Here’s what the resulting numbers look like:

Prior to 1920, the voters made “good” choices 59% of the time. After the enfranchisement of women, that figure dropped dramatically to 33%. There are numerous reasons to take those numbers with large quantities of salt — the pre-/post-1920 division is too simplistic (women in a few states were enfranchised much earlier), there are innumerable confounding variables which can’t be controlled for, and the underlying data about presidential “goodness” are inherently subjective — but it still gives one pause for thought.

But even if the data were indisputable — if, hypothetically, it could be conclusively proven that universal suffrage tends to produce poorer decisions than male-only democracy — I doubt it would matter to most people. The case for universal suffrage (and for democracy generally) is rarely put in utilitarian terms. (There are presumably few who honestly believe the absurdity that holding a popularity contest in which everyone’s opinion is given equal weight is the most effective way — or even an effective way — of ensuring that good leaders are chosen.) Most Americans take it for granted that women’s suffrage is a good thing, not because they think women are better at making decisions, and that we will be better governed if women are involved in choosing our leaders, but because they have come to think of the franchise as a basic human right, to be granted indiscriminately as a matter of principle regardless of the consequences.

*

Details, for those who care:

The good presidents represented in the above charts are: Washington (2), John Adams (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Jackson (3), Polk (1), Lincoln (2), Cleveland (3), Theodore Roosevelt (1), Wilson (2); and, after female suffrage, Franklin D. Roosevelt (4), Truman (1), Kennedy (1), and Lyndon B. Johnson (1). The average/disputed presidents are: Monroe (2), Van Buren (1), Grant(2), McKinley (2), Taft (1); and, after female suffrage, Eisenhower (2), Reagan (2), George H. W. Bush (1), Clinton (2), and George W. Bush (1). The bad presidents are: William Henry Harrison (1), Taylor (1), Pierce (1), Buchanan (1), Garfield (1); and, after female suffrage, Harding (1), Coolidge (1), Hoover (1), Nixon (2), and Carter (1). The following presidents (mostly bad) never won the popular vote and so are not counted: John Quincy Adams, Tyler, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Hayes, Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and Ford. Obama is also excluded because his overall performance can’t be judged until he has finished his term.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Politics