Lawrence Auster asks, "Is Sailer able to defend his status-competion theory of white suicide?" So I think to myself, hmmm...that sounds interesting. Sailer has a "status-competition theory of white suicide? Please do tell!"
The more fool I. Several hours and several thousand words later, having followed all of Auster's links (almost all of them to himself) and plowed through all of the ensuing verbiage, it turns out that the answer is: No. Steve Sailer does not have a 'status-competition theory of white suicide' - or, at any rate, Auster offers no reason whatsoever to believe that he does.
The most striking thing about this whole one-sided fracas is that, in the course of multiple posts with dozens of comments spread over the last couple of years, nobody - not Auster, not Gintas - not even such doubters as are allowed to speak - ever once quotes anything by Sailer. The whole discussion takes place in a weirdly fact-free vacuum.
Once, and once only, Auster links to (though he does not quote from) a VDARE column by Sailer, dating from 2nd January, 2007: "White Guilt, Obamania, And The Reality Of Race" - which is apparently the locus classicus of this grand, all-encompassing "status-competition theory of white suicide."
Here are the relevant passages from that column:
[Question:] "...why are so many whites, especially in the media, excited about promoting Obama for President in 2008?"...
[Answer:] "Supporting Obama for President...is seen by many whites as the ultimate in White Guilt Repellent.
"It's important to understand, however, that White Guilt is very different from, say, Catholic Guilt, which consists of straightforward feelings of personal moral failure.
"In comparison, I don't recall ever meeting any white person who personally felt guilty for the troubles of African-Americans. But I've known many whites who want to loudly blame other whites for black difficulties.
"Some whites at least heap guilt upon their own ancestors, but many who publicly proclaim the reality of White Guilt aren't averse to noting that their own forefathers arrived at Ellis Island long after slavery was over.
"In other words, White Guilt is just another ploy in the Great American White Status Struggle. Minorities are merely props for asserting moral superiority over other whites.
"Finding and punishing Guilty Whites has become a national obsession...
"...many whites want to be able to say 'I'm not one of them, those bad whites...Hey, I voted for a black guy for President!"
* * * * *
That's it. That's all, folks. So far as Auster seems to know, or care to know, that's all that Sailer has ever written on this subject. Yet he goes on, and on, and on about Sailer's point, parlaying it into some grand Sailerian theory of white suicide/suicidal liberalism, and complaining that it doesn't measure up to his own grand theory of same.
Now I would think that Sailer's point in this column is fairly straightforward and rather insightful: when many whites make a big show of their love for Obama and their hatred of racism, it's not because they actually care very much for African-Americans, in general, or think very highly of them. (In fact, in their daily lives, they go to great lengths to avoid contact with all but a very small and carefully selected subset of blacks.) However, they believe that their true thoughts and feelings here are shameful, and that they ought to think and feel just the opposite. They believe this because the media and the academy and all the other leaders and followers of public opinion have been telling them so for decades. Obamania just gives them a cheap way to advertise their ersatz enthusiasm for this high-status conventional wisdom.
Please note that Sailer makes no mention of "white suicide," or "suicidal liberalism," or any of the other things for which Auster seems to think he is offering a reductive theory. Nor does he speculate on why anti-"racism" has evolved, in the West, into the quintessential high-status belief, while "racism" has devolved into the ultimate badge of low-rent origins. Those interesting questions are simply beyond the scope of his column. He's just making an empirical claim about the nature of "white guilt." And it's far from an empty or trivial claim: presumably, the people he's talking about would loudly deny that he's right, and insist that their love is real and their enthusiasm genuine.
At one point, commenter M. Jose suggests to Auster that he's gone overboard: "I don't think that Steve Sailer is saying that status seeking is the root of 'anti-racism,' (i.e. white surrender). He is saying that status seeking rather than benevolence is what motivates most of the followers of 'anti-racism.'" Alas, this eminently sensible remark goads Auster into the following tirade:
"...if that's all Sailer is saying, then his statement has little more meaning than saying that people breathe oxygen. Since all human relations, and thus all human activities in society, inevitably involve questions of status...it's meaningless to say that white suicide is driven by status competition. It's like saying that people seek education and knowledge and the ability to speak well for motives of status. Well, obviously the degree of a person's education, knowledge and ability to speak well is highly correlated with status. But then how is the desire to be knowledgeable any different from the desire to parade suicidal liberal attitues on race? And how are those desires any different from the desire to have the most attractive possible mate, or from the desire to write a great book, or to discover a great scientific theory, or to design a great park? In Sailer's reductionist view of man, the motive for creating civilization is the same as the motive for destroying civilization. So his status competition theory tells us precisely NOTHING. Yet Sailer and his fellow reductionists somehow imagine that they've got the 'real goods' on suicidal liberalism!"
Now this is just remarkably silly.
In the first place, from the claim that "all human relations, and thus all human activities in society, inevitably involve questions of status," it does not follow that any particular activity of any particular individual or group is driven more by status-seeking than by some other motive. So to argue that Obamania is so driven is far from "meaningless."
In the second place, desires differ not only in their motives, but in their objects. So, for example, just because a particular instance of Obamania and a particular instance of the desire to be knowledgeable, or to have the most attractive possible mate, or to write a great book, or to discover a great scientific theory, or to design a great park might be similarly motivated, in part, by status seeking, these desires still differ in their objects.
In the third place, if Sailer really were to argue (which, so far as I can tell, he doesn't) that "the motive for creating civilization is the same as the motive for destroying civilization," that would be a really interesting claim, and would tell us a lot about "the whimsical condition of mankind," as Hume would say.
* * * * *
One might forgive Auster his many sins in these threads, were he to come through with a really useful Grand Theory Of White Suicide/Suicidal Liberalism of his own, but I'm afraid this is the closest he gets:
"...the unique liberal notion of morality...involves the following sequence of thoughts:
"(1) There is nothing higher than man.
"(2) Therefore, all human selves are equal.
"(3) Therefore the one wrong thing is to judge or discriminate.
"(4) Therefore people who do not believe in anything higher than man and who do not judge and discriminate, embody goodness itself, while
"(5) The people who do believe in something higher than man and who do judge and discriminate are subhumans. They are backward, the resentful, the bitter, the fundamentalist, the racist.
"(6) In short, all human selves are equal, but some human selves (namely those who know that all human selves are equal) are infinitely superior to other human selves (namely those who don't know and who resist this truth).
"Thus the belief in equality leads to the belief in the absolute superiority of some and the absolute inferiority of others..."
...from which we may safely conclude that Auster knows, if possible, even less about the ideas of the great theorists of liberalism then he knows about the ideas of Steve Sailer. Trust me on this one: I've read my Kant, and my Mill, and my Rawls, and so on and so forth, and I've known and worked with more liberals than you can shake a stick at - and not one of them, not ever, has gone through anything even remotely resembling any such "sequence of thoughts." This is not even a recognizable caricature. It's just weird, dopey stuff.
* * * * *
So here's my challenge to Lawrence Auster: next time you're in the mood to criticize Sailer, or Steyn, or Derbyshire, or Goldberg, or any of the other higher-status right-wing pundits who so obsess you - begin by actually reading their stuff. Continue by quoting their stuff at length. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PARAPHRASE THEM. You have no talent for sympathetic paraphrase, and you're probably too old of a dog to learn that new trick. Conclude by criticizing, as clearly and carefully as you can, what they have actually written, rather than something you think you have detected between the lines.
If you follow this advice, faithfully, for awhile, there's a chance - just a chance, mind you - that some of these worthies might stop ignoring you.