Regarded as toxic, unnecessary and destined to cause more harm by its investigation than benefit, no scientific subject is more reliably controversial than race.
I am not a racist and have no racial agenda to advance. Nevertheless, I find the denial of racial difference extremely injurious to human understanding. It is surely worthwhile to learn about and understand our collective past and also the deviations we took as a species to arrive at our current variety.
Such a grand treasure of facts should not be abandoned to the politicised black-market of the underworld. We are more than capable of discussing these things in a civilised manner, and so let’s do that here.
How real is race? A simple question with a complicated answer.
The Left-wing line on racial difference hasn’t changed in more than 50 years. Liberals maintain that what we call ‘race’ is merely a ‘social construct’ – that is, an invented system no more meaningful than class, language or nationality. By this reckoning, the notion of a black race is no more legitimate or scientific than a blue-eyed, brown-eyed or left-handed race. (Note that ‘Race’ to these folk, is almost synonymous with colour and has no deeper implications).
Over time, the Left-wing view has become dominant in Western society. No politician could be elected having questioned the dogma of ‘we’re all the same underneath’. The mainstream ‘right’ is thereby just as wedded to the concept as the Left.
To find the contrary view, we must go to the far or extreme right. There, people hold the view (in agreement with the majority of scientists) that race is not only real, more than skin-deep and scientifically viable, but also immensely important as a tool of explanation. They argue that a country like Uganda is less developed than Japan for primarily biological reasons. They reject the notion of innate, inborn human equality as little more than wishful thinking. And they view multiracial societies like those of the US and UK as wrong-headed utopian experiments that can only end by robbing the White peoples of their hard-won evolutionary advantages.
My view? Well, in the cartoonish way I’ve described the matter, I lean strongly toward the latter interpretation. I do believe race is real and that biology can explain things like behaviour and intelligence – perhaps not completely, but reliably enough to provide a guiding rule.
Nevertheless, the Left-wing argument is not wholly wrong and deserves more consideration than ethno-nationalists seem willing to grant it. There plainly are ‘races’ with a socially constructed basis. The surreal American conception of ‘black’ (one drop of African blood makes you fully African) is a social construct, for example. A black man in America might be a White man in Brazil and vice versa. The Arab and Hispanic ‘races’ are also social constructs (both Arabs and Hispanics are heterogeneous categories defined only by language). Japanese and Koreans are so genetically similar that the hostility between them has a mostly social basis. The treatment of Jews and Arabs as ‘White’ Caucasians on the American census is a social decision. The demented division of White Europeans into Alpines, Nordics and Mediterraneans by Madison Grant similarly represents a product of human bias more than scientific reality.
Thus, the race as social construct idea is not as wholly wrong as we might regard it at face value.
Of course, the reason we might feel inclined to disregard it likely arises from the way the theory is used by our opponents. To take the commonsensical points I have conceded and use them to argue that nothing biological separates a Black African from a Swede is simply crazy. A great deal of evolutionary difference separates them and has supplied them both with very different characteristics.
There is much to be fascinated with in racial science. The athletic superiority of black people, the apparent inclination of East Asians to obedience and feelings of shame, the religiosity of the Semites, the efficiency of the Nordics, the romanticism of the Latin peoples etc… All of these phenomena can (potentially) be explained scientifically. I for one would think it a shame if we shied away from doing so.