A strange thing that used to be more common a decade ago, but still persists to this day is the use of the book Guns, Germs and Steel as an escape hatch. That is, when a conversation with good whites turns to biology, they will at some point attempt to change the subject by bringing up this book. Always, it is in the form of “A great book on this is Guns, Germs and Steal. Have you read it?” After all these years, it remains the one acceptably dangerous book they have read on the subject.
In this context, dangerous means that the book sort of accepts the fact that human populations are not exactly the same everywhere. The book attempts to explain why Eurasian and North African civilizations have defined the story of man, while arguing against biological reality. For good whites, merely acknowledging that sub-Saharan Africans have little to show for their time on earth is scary. Even though Diamond is a biological denialist, the book is still a dangerous read.
Of course, it is acceptable because of that denialism. The thesis of the book is that serendipity and ecology explain why some human populations have advanced beyond simple farming, while others have not. Diamond makes many claims about different food stuffs, weather and pathogens to explain why Europeans, in particular, have risen to the top of the human hierarchy. The basic claim, in a nutshell, is they got lucky and really don’t deserve their spot at the top of the hierarchy.
This is a familiar theme for those who have read the writings of Ben Shapiro and Yoram Hazony, both of whom make similar claims. In the case of Shapiro, he argues that Europe was the creation of Hellenize Jews, who arrived with the Romans. He is not that honest or explicit, but that is his claim. Hazony takes a similar approach, but credits the Romans for imposing culture on the people of Europe. He also credits dumb luck in explaining why Europe is not the Levant or Mesopotamia.
This makes sense from the perspective of Zionist Jews. They view life as a great struggle between people, particularly their people, the Chosen People, and the rest of the people of the world. They don’t have to think too hard about why they are superior to Arabs, but Europeans are another matter. The Jewish people don’t have a big trophy case like the people of the Occident. They credit this to dumb luck in order to maintain the fiction that they are still God’s favorite people.
Now, it is important to note that the Diamond book is riddled with errors of fact and logic that undermine the central premise. In fact, there are so many of these errors it has to be assumed the author knew he was making false claims. For those with some time to kill, Ryan Faulk made a two hour video going into the details of Diamond’s claims about agriculture and animal husbandry. The best you can say about Guns, Germs and Steel is it is a masterful display of modern sophistry.
Now, ecology did play a defining role in shaping the people of Europe, just as it did the people everywhere on earth. Fundamental to the human sciences and dissident politics is that people are different. The people of Europe are different because they had to be in order to survive and thrive in their environment, which is radically different from the environment of Africa. They also mixed with archaic people, just as East Asians mixed with a different archaic people. Human biodiversity is real.
The appeal of the Diamond book, the intent of it actually, is to turn this reality on its head in order to supplant biological reality with the egalitarian fantasy. The impression Diamond tries to leave on the reader is that he is accepting the premises of the realists, while coming to a more parsimonious explanation. This is a similar approach taken by Nathan Cofnas in his critique of Kevin McDonald’s book. It is a form of abductive reasoning meant to persuade, not explain.
Similarly, a book popular with the same crowd twenty years ago was Why Nations Fail, which attempted to solve the same problem. It makes the claim that the reason the West has raced ahead to lead the world is that they have inclusive institutions and that economic prosperity depends above all on the inclusiveness of economic and political institutions. This magical inclusiveness just fell from the sky and landed in the West, explaining why the Occident has dominated.
The popularity of these books, and in the case of the Diamond book its enduring popularity, speaks to the power of the egalitarian faith. People in modern democracies, particularly bourgeois people, need to believe that all people are born with the same innate talents and abilities. The belief is so powerful it can overcome the absurd circular reasoning in a book like Why Nations Fail and raise Guns, Germs and Steel into the gospel of modern liberal democracy.
There is another element to this. The premise is that the “superficial” differences in people are due to environment, but the people themselves are all the same, once those environmental issues are removed. This sort of thinking allows the believer to feel shame for his privilege, while lamenting the fact the poor browns were not blessed with better stuff or the divine magic of liberal democracy. The good white can indulge his natural self-loathing and proselytize for his way of life.
This is a very Christian dynamic. The good white, like the good Christian, embraces the fallen state of mankind. For Christians, it is man’s obvious sinful nature. For the good white, it is white privilege, the undeserved blessings of serendipity. Like the believing Christian, the good white sees the path to salvation in spreading the faith. Instead of observable reality leading to an acceptance of the human condition, it drives a desire to rectify it and overcome the forces that have shaped it.
This is probably why a book like Guns, Germs and Steel remains a popular text with the good whites. It is literally written to flatter the reader and offer an alternative narrative to explain observable reality. White people are not evil because of their nature, but because of their failure to acknowledge their privilege and put it to good use in saving the rest of mankind from his plight. To be a good white means embracing one’s undeserved place in the world as fuel to reform the world.
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