Racialism: feelings which are biologically so inevitable


There's Nothing Wrong With Racism (Except the Name)

Professor Geoffrey Sampson


... Once adult, though, I came to appreciate, intellectually at least, that this attitude makes no sense. The process of biological evolution ensures that organisms must normally have the patterns of behaviour which lead to their genes being replicated in many copies. For a man, the most direct way to replicate his genes involves getting mixed up with a woman's body, so biology ensures that he will want to do that. It is silly to be ashamed of feelings which are biologically so inevitable ...

But objecting to 'racism' as an emotion, rather than objecting to the word, is just silly. It is as silly as objecting to people's sexual feelings, and for similar reasons.

In Victorian times, it is often said that piano legs used to be draped, for fear that the sight of naked legs, even wooden ones, might inflame men's lusts. In time to come, the current hysteria over 'racism' will seem as ridiculous to us or to our descendants as horror of naked legs seems now. True, the draped piano leg story is actually an exaggerated myth -- the Victorians never took fear of sex that far. But even fifty years ago, like many Englishmen of my social class at the time, I was brought up to think of the desire to get involved with women's bodies as something utterly disgraceful and never to be admitted, even to oneself ...

Co-operating in daily life with fellow members of a social community helps them to flourish, and hence increases the chances of copies of their genes multiplying. So, naturally, we are disposed to co-operate actively with communities of people who appear to be genetically similar to ourselves. If we can tell by looking at some people that they share fewer of our genes, we will be at least somewhat less enthusiastic about active co-operation with them; we will to some extent see them as unwelcome competitors for resources. In a word, we are racialists ...

If some politically-correct person announces 'I have no racial feelings at all, myself,' the appropriate response is 'Oh, so does that mean you are asexual, too?' That might wipe the sanctimonious smirk off his or her face.

All this does not, obviously, mean that it is all right to act oppressively to members of other races -- any more than it is all right for a man to have his way with any woman who takes his fancy. Racial and sexual feelings are natural and healthy, but there have to be social mechanisms controlling how they are manifested in terms of concrete behaviour.

Until very recently, we used in Europe to have an excellent mechanism: the nation state. When I was a child, England and other European nations were racially very homogeneous. Except for a small Jewish community (who don't look much different from the indigenous English anyway), virtually everyone living in England was related to everyone else -- I don't know the maths, but two inhabitants of England chosen at random in 1950 must on average have had numerous common ancestors only a few centuries earlier. Interaction with members of distant races was mainly a matter of international trade, where it doesn't matter what individuals' attitudes to one another are because they are swapping goods anonymously to achieve mutual advantage.

Over the last half century, the situation has been transformed through massive immigration flows, so that now England is less like an extended family, more like a hotel. It is now very easy to find pairs of English residents who share no common ancestors for tens of thousands of years past, perhaps longer -- and who know this as soon as they see each other. Our governors, by permitting large-scale immigration, have destroyed the mechanism which previously guarded against adverse consequences of natural racial feelings. But, while destroying one mechanism, with mulish stupidity they have refused to recognize the problem which that mechanism solved. No British government in my lifetime has ever said 'We are going to change the racial make-up of the population, and here is how we are going to solve the resulting problem of racial animosities ...' Instead, they have introduced a series of laws and social policies whose intention seems to be to root out natural racial feelings from people's minds ...

Race isn't like that. People cannot change their racial make-up. In that sense, it is understandable and in a way admirable that many people urge the elimination of racial feelings. One can sympathize with someone who says 'Wouldn't it be better if people saw mankind as just one human race without distinctions?'

Perhaps that would be better. But it is like asking 'Wouldn't it be better if water flowed uphill as well as down?' Possibly it would, but there is not much point discussing it. It isn't going to happen.