The liberal-conservative magazine Junge Freiheit (Young Freedom), based in Berlin, has published an interview with Frank Salter on the subject of genetic interests and the social costs of ethnic diversity. The German version was published in August 2015. It can be read here.
The English version is posted below. Though the interview was conducted in mid 2014, its theme is now more topical than ever as the German government is accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. When the crisis began, the German police union urged the government to suspend the Schengen Treaty that disallows border checks within the European Union, because they were being overwhelmed by the numbers of refugees. The Merkel government responded by maintaining Schengen and suspending a treaty provision that refugees must return to the first country arrived at. This effectively cleared the way for a mass migration of Africans and Middle Easterners in Italy and Greece to the wealthy welfare states of Northern Europe. For the first time visible minorities are evident in small towns as well as cities throughout Germany.
- Dr. Salter, you argue that all humans have a vital interest in genetic continuity and that this is threatened by mass migration. Could you explain your thesis!
The theoretical background for this statement comes from evolutionary biology, as set out in my book On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity & Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration. Humans, like all species, are evolved to reproduce. Individual survival is not the point but genetic continuity is. We know this through studies of altruism, initially by the English ethologist William Hamilton in the 1960s. Biologically speaking, parents have a “genetic interest” in their children. That explains, in evolutionary terms, why parents usually invest emotionally and materially in their children. Each child carries half of each parent’s genes. So each child is a store of the parents‘ genes. That is why parental behaviour evolved. We also share genes with members of our ethnic groups, typically at the level of first cousins. This was first shown by Hamilton in the early 1970s and confirmed by American geneticist Henry Harpending. Ethnic groups can number in the millions, so we have a much larger aggregate genetic interest (kinship) in them than in our families. Immigration by genetically different people reduces the long-term size of the original gene pool in its home territory. Carried to an extreme, as is happening in many Western societies, immigration displaces a significant proportion of the original gene pool. This is maladaptive in the evolutionary sense.
- Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt calls your work “persuasive, but the policy formulations are provocative”. Do you see any politically provocative potential of your thesis?
My thesis is provocative to some because it runs counter to the prejudices of the mainstream social sciences and leftist political culture. For political reasons, biology was largely driven out of such disciplines as sociology, anthropology and political science beginning in the 1920s and 1930s. That is still largely true today. Although my subject matter is society and politics the analysis of genetic interests sprang from ethology and sociobiology, including many years working at the Max Planck Forschungsstelle for Human Ethology headed by Eibl-Eibesfeldt.
- “Genetic Continuity” is a term, which is understood in Germany as part of the Nazi-ideology. Could you explain why this is a false understanding.
I have never heard the term attributed to the Nazis. I doubt the Nazis would be so notorious if they merely sought continuity. They were not so modest, talking instead about conquest. I took the term from evolutionary biology, in which continuity is the minimum adaptive goal. The alternative, competitive breeding, is inappropriate in a crowded world. In my own theory genetic continuity is an interest possessed by everyone, without privilege.
But if Hitler did talk about continuity, why would that be significant? He also talked about peace. Does that make pacifism suspect? Conversely, the Soviets denied the efficacy of genes throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Why should that influence our epistemology or vocabulary? Allowing our thinking to be influenced by monsters is not the path to understanding.
- If your thesis is right, the multicultural society-model could not work, correct? Why not?
I argue that multiculturalism can be made to work with sufficient social controls. The questions I raised were whether it is compatible with genetic interests and with liberal democracy. I suggested that the conditions needed to produce these compatibilities are impracticable. Genetically that is because multiculturalism legitimates permanent mass immigration, which increases the size of minorities at the cost of the majority. Politically, the cause is the costs of ethno-cultural diversity. One cost of rising diversity is ethnic conflict, using “conflict” in the broad sense to mean not only violence (civil war, coups, secession) but also polarisation and competition in the political and economic spheres. The fact that ethnocultural diversity promotes conflict is why societies that adopt multiculturalism usually erect a coercive and indoctrination apparatus to regulate free speech and discrimination. A partial exception is the United States, where free speech is protected by the First Amendment, though there are powerful informal social controls known colloquially as “political correctness”.
- But ethnicity is historical a consequence of random amalgamation (intermixture) processes. So, how can ethnicity have an “interest”? Societies (even multicultural) can have an interest, but not ethnicities!?
It is true that ethnogenesis involves the amalgamation of smaller populations. But the process is not random. Whether one considers the Han Chinese, the Koreans, the English, the French, or the Zulus, ethnic amalgamation takes place among closely related neighbouring populations. The result is a new ethnicity with substantial genetic and cultural similarities. A recent example is the emergence of large ethnicities in the United States, formed from closely related cultures, such as “white Americans”, “black Americans”, and “Jewish Americans”.
- Ethnicities are also fragmented in social, cultural and religious groups – where is the difference to multicultural fragmentation of society?
Belief in descent from common ancestors lies at the heart of ethnic identity, as observed by Max Weber in the late 19th century. Meta-ethnicities such as the Germans, English and Han are aware of their common origins despite cultural differences. That cannot be said of multicultural societies formed from immigrants from around the world.
- Benjamin Disraeli said (about 19th century ethnically homogeneous Britain): “The rich and the poor: Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.” Doesn’t that show that ethnical homogeneous societies are in fact not more homogeneous than others!?
Britain was and is a multi-national kingdom consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and once Cornwall etc. For the last two centuries a meta identity has been emerging, “British”. Disraeli was incorrect to call the “rich and the poor” two nations; they are classes. Multicultural societies also have classes, to which they add ethnic differences, which makes them more prone to division than ethnic nations. Worse still, for various reasons, multicultural societies typically show some stratification among ethnicities, as in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Philippines, etc. Ethnic stratification is highly divisive yet seems inevitable as diversity rises. As ethnic inequality is not primarily due to racism it cannot be remedied by coercive social controls preferred by multiculturalists.
- You say: “More ethnically homogeneous nations are better able to build public goods, have higher productivity , develop social and economic capital faster”. What is the reason and what are the scientific proofs?
- You also say: “Ethnically homogeneous nations are more democratic, less corrupt and unequal, more trusting and care more for the disadvantaged, have lower crime rates, are more resistant to external shocks, and are better global citizens, for example by giving more foreign aid.” Again: What is the reason and what are the scientific proofs?
Allow me to answer these two questions together. For the evidence readers should consult my edited books, Welfare, Ethnicity & Altruism: New Data & Evolutionary Theory, (Frank Cass) and Risky Transactions: Trust, Kinship & Ethnicity (Berghahn). The conclusions you quote are based on studies reported in those books. Interestingly, the studies were inspired by the evolutionary hypothesis that altruism and trust would emerge more easily in homogeneous than heterogeneous societies, due to shared ethnic identity. Evolutionary theory is generally not good at making predictions but it is a useful heuristic. In that sense it is also a useful guide to policy, because it keeps our attention on vital interests such as continuity.
- Couldn’t one disagree by arguing that multiculturalism is a new phenomena, which has to develop in the future, and that it will also become productive, democratic and stable!? – Homogeneous societies had also to develop in history, they have not been productive, democratic and stable from the beginning!
Multiculturalism can be too stable. A distinction can be made between Eastern and Western multiculturalism. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX_5J76h7N8 – The former includes the majority ethnicity in the multicultural spoils system. The latter is an inverted ethnic hierarchy in which the state licenses minority ethnocentrism but discourages majority ethnocentrism. The result is an alliance of the state and organised minorities against the majority. The emergence of Western multiculturalism was a watershed in political development where the founding nation lost control of the state it had created. Sociologist Eric Kaufmann calls this “asymmetrical multiculturalism”. Western multiculturalism was introduced undemocratically by elites hostile or indifferent to the majority. It has been used to legitimate permanent mass immigration, which works against the demographic interests of the founding nation. If understood in those terms, multiculturalism is a form of permanent top-down revolution. And, as I suggested above, the process usually requires coercion or misinformation to suppress majority resistance, because no people in history has voluntarily given up its majority status in its historic homeland.
- Most western countries are multicultural today. But they are also the most economic productive, most democratic and most stable states in the world. Does that show that your statements are wrong?
It is true that most Western societies are not homogeneous but to disprove my analysis would require showing that Western societies became wealthy, democratic and stable as a result of rising diversity. The causal chain is in the reverse direction. European-based societies were among the most homogeneous in the world, even if one allows for slavery in the southern US states. They pioneered liberalism and democracy, science and industry. The latter made them wealthy, which drew in immigrants and thus diversity. It remains to be seen whether civil liberty, democracy, a high standard of living and social stability can long survive rising diversity. The evidence so far is not encouraging. The real test will be how these societies perform under economic hardship. In the West the welfare state has been used to appease the effects of ethnic stratification by redistributing taxes from rich to poor. Rising diversity means that redistribution is occurring more and more across ethnic lines, as in the US, Britain, France and Germany. The danger is that an economic downturn will reduce the state’s ability to appease its multicultural clients. That would tend to increase ethnic stratification and conflict. The same effect would result if the majority voted to reduce welfare.
- There have been most successful multicultural societies in history too, like the Roman Empire, the Empire of Persia or the Habsburg Empire for many hundred years! (Of course, one day they vanished – but that happened also to homogeneous societies.)
That is true. The Ottoman Empire is another example. But all these examples were empires, authoritarian hierarchies. The Ottoman and Habsburg empires collapsed under external shock and did not recover. Like the Soviet and Yugoslav empires 70 years later, they broke up into more homogeneous societies. These examples help make my point that diversity makes it more difficult to maintain democracy or equality. Diversity seems to be pushing us towards authoritarian rule, perhaps oligopoly. The sort of precursors we should be considering are democratic, which existed in some part of Europe (Ancient Greece, Republican Rome, England from Magna Carta, Iceland) and all hunter-gatherer societies. But all of these were relatively ethnically homogeneous among those included in the demos.
- You say, most wars since 1945 have been civil wars and that ethnically homogeneous nations are less prone to civil war than multicultural societies. Could you give proof!?
Conflict within states – coups, revolts, purges, attempted secession, riots, pogroms, terrorism, massacres, genocide – have been more common than conflict between states. My main source was the late Rudolf J. Rummel, an authority on collective violence and warfare at the University Hawaii. Using data assembled by the anthropologist M. G. Smith, Rummel found that between 1932 and 1982 ethnic diversity accounted for 20 per cent of the variation in frequency of intra-state violence in 166 states. Only democracy explained more variation than diversity. A recent study by Finnish sociologist Tatu Vanhanen used a wider definition of conflict, to include polarisation and political competition to control immigration policy. His comparison of 176 societies finds that ethnic heterogeneity accounts for 60 per cent of the scale of ethnic conflict, i.e. the more diverse a society, the more widespread the conflict.
- What is the impact of ethnic diversity on welfare state?
My edited book, Welfare, Ethnicity & Altruism, carries several studies on the subject. Sociologists Stephen Sanderson (USA) and Tatu Vanhanen (Finland) compared welfare around the world and found that ethnic diversity is negatively correlated with welfare rights. Diversity explains 32% of the variation in welfare. In other words, as societies become more diverse, welfare tends to decline. This makes sense when diversity leads to ethnic stratification. Middle class taxpayers are less motivated to vote for generous welfare when the funds go to a different ethnic group.
- Could you explain your concept of “Universal Nationalism”! What is it and why could it be an answer to the problem of multiculturalism?
Universal nationalism is meant as an alternative to both globalism and chauvinistic nationalism. The aim is to optimise people’s fitness, by which I mean genetic and cultural continuity, not expansion. This entails retaining national identities, which also allows “public altruism” to develop – the sense of community and belonging that diversity erodes. Two major threats to continuity are globalism‘s destruction of human biocultural diversity through mass migration and hyper-nationalism‘s destruction of individuals and particular countries through inter-state warfare. From the individual citizen’s point of view, the risks are under- and over-investment in the public sphere. That risk is minimised when the individual prioritises family over society and society over humanity, while also investing in globally shared interests such as the environment and inter-state cooperation.
Universal nationalism would be consistent with a genuine multiculturalism that honoured the founding nation instead of making it the enemy. That would democratise multiculturalism by giving the majority a say. Such a reform would tend to reduce mass immigration, which serves the interests of minorities and corporations. Diversity would begin to decline due to assimilation; public altruism would increase. Democratising multiculturalism is an existential goal for Western nations.
- When were you a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology? Do you have any experiences with criticism of multiculturalism in Germany? (You may know that it is a highly political matter today! Although Mrs. Merkel said: “Multiculturalism has failed” (politicians also say: “Read my lips, no new tax”) it has become a kind of unofficial state doctrine in Germany.)
I began at the Max Planck Institute in 1991 as a post-doctoral researcher, and finally left 20 years later, in 2011. The most insightful critic of multiculturalism I met in Germany was Irenaeous Eibl-Eibesfeldt, who pointed out that ethno-cultural diversity could undermine communal peace.
Mrs Merkel made one statement criticising multiculturalism but it does not mean very much because she has done nothing to reform multiculturalism in a democratic direction. She is committed to the EU, a commercial and bureaucratic empire that is dissolving national identities and bleeding German taxpayers. She takes seriously Turkey’s application to join the EU which, combined with the Schengen Treaty, would be a demographic disaster for Europe and, in the long run, bad for Turkey.
- What is the situation in Australia? Are your criticisms appreciated in politics or by the public or academics? Do you have access to the media and public/academic debate? Or do they stigmatize you and exclude such critics?
My academic subjects are not taught in Australian universities so I make my living in the business world. Australia is suffering from the worst type of multiculturalism, in which an alliance of the left and minority activists excludes the majority of Australians from the policy table. The political culture is ill informed regarding ethnicity, though sophisticated in other areas such as economics. I have managed to publish some articles in a (genuinely) liberal magazine, Quadrant.
- Immigration, open borders and multiculturalism could solve most of our problems, many experts say, like world poverty, lack of democracy in undemocratic countries, the western demographic-problem, improving democracy in western countries by ending undemocratic native traditions, etc. etc. So, isn’t it immoral to deny the open-border-concept? Why do you consider the advocates of open borders as “immoral” and misguided?
A policy of open borders is immoral because it would end the national existence of the countries most attractive to immigration. That would be tragic because nationhood carries many benefits, including internal peace, public altruism, greater stability in the face of shocks (such as recession, war and natural disaster), moderating the ambitions of world government, and sustaining human cultural and biological diversity. Strong borders not only make good neighbours, they help maintain local traditions which keep the world a more interesting place. The inevitability of assimilation within states means that the ideal of multiculturalism is only really attainable internationally. Another benefit of nation states is that when they defend their borders they help protect the environment, because the most attractive destinations for immigrants are also the most industrialised and therefore the most polluting economies. Any increase in population burdens the environment. The free movement of people is a corporate interest, not a national one.