Killing the Unicorns

This is a response to Ryan Faulk. In one of his recent videos (here), he complained that white conservatives do not show racial solidarity. You might as well complain that white conservatives are killing all the unicorns. Racial solidarity doesn't exist. It never has and it never will. That is an implication of evolutionary theory.

First of all, what is race? Race is a categorization scheme for human beings based on phenotypic similarity. Humans evolved differently in different parts of the world, and there are also founder effects due to small populations migrating to new areas and expanding. So, yes, there are meaningful ways to categorize people into racial groups. African blacks are not the same as Amerindians, East Asians are not the same as Europeans. It is valid to inquire into the differences between different human population groups. There are real differences, and that does have implications for social policy.

On the other hand, race is somewhat vague and arbitrary. Racial differences are continuous, not discrete like the distinction between species. Individuals from different species do not normally mate and produce fertile offspring. 

Take, for example, brown bears and polar bears. Polar bears evolved from brown bears but are now a different species. Polar bears and brown bears can mate and produce fertile offspring, but that doesn't happen in the wild because they den at different times of the year. Polar bears mate on the pack ice in the spring when brown bears are still hibernating on land. Also, there is no intermediate niche that can be occupied by an intermediate kind of bear. Polar bears are pack ice hunters of sea mammals, brown bears are land-based omnivores. At some point in the past an isolated population of brown bears evolved into polar bears and added a new branch to the bear family tree. Eventually, the brown bear and polar bear genomes will diverge to the point that they cannot interbreed and produce viable offspring.

Subspecies or races are not branches on a tree, although sometimes they are depicted that way for convenience. They are more like waves on a choppy sea. The bumpy surface represents the distribution of genetic variants. Each bump is a cluster of similar individuals -- a race -- but the area between those waves is not empty. There are intermediate forms, genes flow between the bumps, and the bumps change over time. This metaphor is called "adaptive topography".

If you go to Kazakhstan you will see people that are intermediate between European, East Asian, and Middle Eastern. If you go to Mexico or Colombia, you will see people that are intermediate between Amerindian and European. Unlike species, which almost always go their separate ways after diverging, races split and merge in the same way that waves on a choppy sea split and merge. A racial category is just a statistical cluster of correlations among genetic variants. The distributions of variants, and their correlations, change over time. Races mix, merge, split, appear or disappear for all kinds of complicated historical and geographical reasons.

A race is not really a "thing", and it is a misleading metaphor to view it as an object that can be acted upon. A race is a descriptive category of things. Just because I can assign people into descriptive categories, it does not follow that those categories will interact with the world as units. In general, they won't.  It would be very difficult to act on Europeans as a class, just as it would be very difficult to act on all left-handed men over 6 feet tall. Neither class meets the criteria for an object. A rock is an object that can be acted upon as a unit. It has internal coherence by its nature. A race is not an object; it has no internal coherence.

Likewise a race is not a subject. It has no will or awareness. It does not act in the world. The white race doesn't have agency any more than the set of all left-handed men over 6 feet tall has agency. Both are merely descriptive categories to which individuals can be assigned. That's why it is stupid to blame whites as a class for such things as slavery and colonialism. White people never did anything as a unit. There were various individuals and social groups doing various things, the net result of which included such outcomes as slavery, colonialism and the expansion of European populations into the Western Hemisphere.

For people to act together as a unit requires social organization. Social organization is not based on shared genes, but rather on cooperation between selfish individuals.

Some people believe that society is based on shared genetic interests. Let me explain why that is false. Suppose you have a population of individuals who are altruistic (that is, self-sacrificing) for the good of the race or species (or any group -- it doesn't matter). Now suppose you introduce a variant individual who is purely selfish: only works for the good of his children, not the good of the group. As a member of the group, he will receive transfers of energy from others, but he will not give anything back, and thus he will have more energy to invest in his offspring. The selfish strategy will always outcompete the altruistic strategy. 

That is why love is a very narrow thing. We care for our mates, our children, our grandchildren, perhaps a little for our nephews and neices, but that's about it. Even though we all share 99.9% of our DNA with one another, we are still selected for reproductive selfishness, because any deviation from that strategy would be quickly eliminated by natural selection.

Society is not based on altruism at any level: global, racial, national or even tribal. It is based on cooperation between selfish individuals. A society can act in the world as a unit because it has an internal power structure. That structure also gives it internal coherence. A society is a kind of object and a kind of subject. A race is neither.

And that is why you don't see racial solidarity.You didn't see it in the colonization of the Americas, when European societies fought each other alongside native allies. You didn't see it in the American Civil War. You didn't see it in WWI. You didn't see it in WWII. You don't see it today in the Congo. You don't see it in Detroit. It doesn't exist. It never has. It never will.

Nobody killed the unicorns. They never existed.

Video version: Killing the Unicorns

I am BlitheringGenius on YouTube and PoisonAero on Twitter.