Social Shaming

Part 2 of Kevin MacDonald’s Foreword to Tomislav Sunic’s Homo americanus: Child of the Post-Modern Age

Responding to Breaches of Decorum

Because the Jewish community has been so intimately involved in creating the therapeutic state, it is noteworthy to examine how the Jewish community responds to breaches of decorum – that is, to challenges to its hegemony. Here the methods are quite similar to those used in post-World War II Germany, as described by Sunic: “When silencing their critics the German authorities do not need to resort to violent means. They usually create a cultural smearing campaign whereby a cultural heretic is portrayed as a funny, pseudo-scientific crank that does not merit a place in mainstream publishing houses. Moreover, the heretic is often induced into a self-muzzling behavior making impossible any portrayal of himself as a martyr.”

A good example is the response to the unflattering portrayal of the Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. The power of the Israel Lobby is legendary and has had a major effect on U.S. foreign policy, including the recent war in Iraq. The typical response has included an argument or two aimed at small pieces of the edifice erected by Mearsheimer and Walt, but the real common denominators are intimidation, guilt by association, and charges of anti-Semitism. The guilt by association tactic appeared in the very earliest media accounts of the article and has continued to be invoked regularly. For example, David Duke has been repeatedly cited as supporting Mearsheimer and Walt. Alan Dershowitz’s 46-page rebuttal of Mearsheimer and Walt contains no less than 14 references to David Duke and 5 references comparing Mearsheimer and Walt’s article to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Charges of anti-Semitism abound. This occurs despite the fact that David Duke is never cited as a source on foreign policy issues or anything else in the mainstream media. However, since Duke is an activist on behalf of European-Americans who is regularly linked in the media with the Ku Klux Klan, Nazism, and “White supremacy,” the technique works to marginalize the work of Mearsheimer and Walt – even though Mearsheimer and Walt have performed the ritual denunciation of Duke.

The sad reality is that discussing a whole host of issues related to Jews, even in a rational, informed manner, brings charges of anti-Semitism and incompetent scholarship ringing down from the highest reaches of academia and the elite media. One can easily see that this is a recipe for paranoia, frustration and ultimately anti-Semitism.

But the tactics of the Jewish intellectual and political infrastructure are effective because even if they create dark suspicions about the behavior of the organized Jewish community among a few, and vague twinges of anxiety among many, these attitudes are forced to remain underground. They occur in the privacy of one’s thoughts or in guarded conversations and coded emails. And because there is more than a grain of truth to these attitudes, for some they readily give rise to apocalyptic, impossible conspiracy theories. After all, if the reality of Jewish power on issues such as Israel is as plain as the nose on your face and you know that its power is ultimately maintained by intimidation, smear tactics, and endlessly repeated propaganda emanating from the mainstream media and elite academic institutions, at some point informed people start thinking that there’s probably a whole lot else they aren’t telling you.

There is an old saying that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” However, the sad reality is that the vast majority of Americans in politics, the media, and the academic world are terrified of being labeled an anti-Semite or of having their work compared to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is at least ironic, because there is an image of academicians as fearless seekers of truth. Unlike politicians who must continue to curry favor with the public in order to be re-elected and unlike media figures who have no job protection, academics with tenure have no excuse for not being willing to endure labels such as “anti-Semite” or “racist” in order to pursue the truth. Part of the job – and a large part of the rationale for tenure in the first place – is that they are supposed to be willing to take unpopular positions – to forge ahead using all that brain power and expertise to chart new territories that challenge the popular wisdom.

But that image of academia is simply not based in reality as shown by an article appearing almost two months after the publication of Mearsheimer and Walt’s essay and appropriately titled ‘A hot paper muzzles academia.’14 “Instead of a roiling debate, most professors not only agreed to disagree but agreed to pretend publicly that there was no disagreement at all. At Harvard and other schools, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper proved simply too hot to handle – and it revealed an academia deeply split yet lamentably afraid to engage itself on one of the hottest political issues of our time. Call it the academic Cold War: distrustful factions rendered timid by the prospect of mutually assured career destruction.” Professors refused to take a stand on the paper, either in favor or against. As one Ivy League professor noted, “A lot of [my colleagues] were more concerned about the academic politics of it, and where they should come down, in that sense.”

Bear in mind that the vast majority of the professors unwilling to take a stand on this issue have tenure and literally can’t be fired. They are afraid not of starvation but of having their career ruined by being associated with the wrong side in this debate. The downside is that they won’t be invited to deliver papers at other universities or important conferences. They will not be able to publish their work at prestigious academic or commercial presses, or they may even have difficulty having their work published at all. They won’t be invited to the good parties, or get nice summer fellowships, or get asked to serve as dean, or in a future administration in Washington. Or maybe their sources of funding will dry up.

And it’s pretty clear that the “wrong side” of this debate is to publicly approve of a paper that has been denounced in the elite media as anti-Semitic, as endorsing conspiracy theories at the same level as the Protocols, and as being on the same side of an issue as David Duke. Can anyone believe that the Alan Dershowitzes of the world are not taking names and will not hold people accountable for supporting a paper that they have publicly denounced as spreading the most vicious lies about Israel and the American Jewish community?

It’s not that professors don’t want to sound off on public policy issues. When there is an opportunity to spout righteous leftism, professors leap to the front of the line. A good example is a recent case where three white men from the Duke University lacrosse team allegedly gang-raped, sodomized, and choked a black woman who had been hired as a stripper for a party.15 Despite considerable evidence that the charges were spurious, 3 academic departments, 13 programs, and 88 professors at Duke bought an ad in the campus newspaper in which they assumed the guilt of the men, and stated that “what happened to this young woman” resulted from “racism and sexism.”16

But of course in this case, the professors who went public with their indignation knew they were part of a like-minded community and that there would be much to gain by being on the politically correct side. Indeed, a university committee charged with looking into the response of the Duke administration to this incident recommended more hiring of minorities in order to increase the diversity of the Duke administration.

Sadly, there is now a great deal of evidence that academics in general are careful to avoid controversy or do much of anything that will create hostility. In fact, some researchers are pointing to this fact to call into question whether tenure is justified. A recent survey of the attitudes of 1,004 professors at elite universities illustrates this quite clearly.17 Regardless of their rank, professors rated their colleagues as reluctant to engage in activities that ran counter to the wishes of colleagues. Even tenured full professors believed [other full professors] would invoke academic freedom only “sometimes” rather than “usually” or “always”; they chose confrontational options “rarely”, albeit more often than did lower-ranked colleagues, and appeared more conciliatory... than one might have anticipated in light of the principles governing academic freedom. Their willingness to self-limit may be due to a desire for harmony and/or respect for the criticisms of colleagues whose opinions they value. Thus, the data did not support the depiction of Professorus americanus as unleashed renegades. Seen in this context, the reaction to Mearsheimer and Walt makes a lot of sense. As one professor noted, “People might debate it if you gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card and promised that afterwards everyone would be friends.”18

This intense desire to be accepted and liked by one’s colleagues is certainly understandable. It is probably part of human nature. There have been times when I have had to endure charges of anti-Semitism, most recently in an article by Jacob Laksin titled ‘Cal State’s Professor of Anti-Semitism’ published by David Horowitz’s It’s perhaps worth nothing that also published perhaps the most vitriolic anti-Mearsheimer and Walt piece to date, Abraham H. Miller’s The New Protocols. (Miller begins by stating “Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s recently disseminated anti-Semitic screed has been ripped apart by both prominent scholars and literary figures showing it to be an intellectual fraud being passed off as serious scholarship.” The essay ends with “Anti-Semites have now found the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

It didn’t really bother me much that such an article was published if the discussion was confined to the impersonal world of the internet. I would write a detailed reply and circulate it among the people who read my stuff and I knew that people who support my writing would rally to my defense and say nice things about me and my reply to Laksin. And I knew that I would get a few pieces of hate-mail and maybe a couple of death threats, but that is to be expected. And it’s all rather abstract, since I basically sit in solitude at my computer and read it all, and it pretty much ends there. Frankly there is a part of me that feels good about it because visits to my website are up and more people are buying my books. I fantasize that the word is getting out, even if only a little bit.

The point is that when this article came out, almost all my anxiety stemmed from worries that the article would be picked up by people on my campus or in professional organizations that I am involved in. I wasn’t worried that I would lose my job, although Laksin was clearly upset about California State Universities “ignoring altogether the question of why it considers the manufacture of stylized bigotry an appropriate avocation for a tenured scholar.” What I dreaded was coming into my office and being greeted by cold shoulders and hostile stares, by colleagues not wanting to go to lunch or nervously looking away when I passed in the hall. I worried about reading sensationalistic articles in the campus newspaper.

I imagined going to academic conferences and receiving the same sort of reception. I worried that people wouldn’t invite me to write academic papers or wouldn’t cite my writing in other areas not related to Jewish issues.

This little bit of personal experience is doubtless typical of the forces of self-censorship that maintain the political order of the post-World War II West. It’s the concern about the face-to-face consequences of being a non-conformist in the deeply sensitive areas related to race or to Jewish influence.

Consider the response of Anne Morrow Lindbergh to the torrent of abuse heaped upon her husband, Charles Lindbergh, for stating that Jews were one force promoting war against Germany in 1941. The speech threw her into “dark gloom.” “Will I be able to shop in New York at all now? I am always stared at – but now to be stared at with hate, to walk through aisles of hate!”20 Again, what is most feared is the personal, face-to-face hatred.

As an evolutionary psychologist, it’s tempting to speculate that our evolved psychological mechanisms are triggered far more by the close and personal context of day-to-day interactions, not in the cold and impersonal world of communicating on the internet.

And it’s not just that it is in the face-to-face world of everyday life. It is that the areas of non-conformity we are talking about here have huge moral overtones. If one dissents from the reigning theory of macro-economics or the main influences on 19th century French Romanticism, one may be viewed as a bit eccentric or perhaps none too smart. But one is not likely to be viewed as a moral reprobate. One is not likely to be subjected to torrents of moral outrage.

Evolutionary theorist Robert Trivers has proposed that the emotion of guilt is a sign to the group that a person will mend his ways and behave in the future, whereas shame functions as a display of submission to people higher in the dominance hierarchy. From that perspective, a person who is incapable of shame or guilt even for obvious transgressions is literally a sociopath – someone who has no desire to fit into group norms. Such sociopathy would usually be a death sentence in the small groups that we humans evolved in. Only the most dominant individuals would be able to resist the moral outrage of the group, and even they must be concerned about coalitions rising against them.

What is striking and perhaps counter-intuitive is that the guilt and shame remain even when we are completely satisfied at an intellectual level that our beliefs are based on good evidence and reasonable inferences. Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes, “I cannot explain my revulsion of feeling by logic. Is it my lack of courage to face the problem? Is it my lack of vision and seeing the thing through? Or is my intuition founded on something profound and valid? I do not know and am only very disturbed, which is upsetting for him. I have the greatest faith in him as a person – in his integrity, his courage, and his essential goodness, fairness, and kindness – his nobility really... How then explain my profound feeling of grief about what he is doing? If what he said is the truth (and I am inclined to think it is), why was it wrong to state it?”21

Her reaction is voluntary and irrational – beyond the reach of logical analysis. Charles Lindbergh was exactly right in what he said, but a rational understanding of the correctness of his analysis cannot lessen the psychological trauma to his wife who must face the hostile stares of others. In psychological terms, the trauma is the result of implicit, unconscious processes stemming from our evolved psychology and a long history of successful socialization.

Puritan Moralism and Christian Universalism

The preceding discusses the “push” of movements that have attempted to alter American and other European-derived societies into defenseless entities with no ethnic or cultural identity. But the other side of the equation must also be examined – the traits that predispose Westerners to willingly accept their own oblivion as a moral necessity. Here Sunic emphasizes the heritage of Christian universalism and, especially in the case of America, the heritage of Puritan moralism.

Several writers have noted the Puritan spirit of egalitarianism and democracy combined with violent crusades against immorality.22 In the 17th century Puritan areas had low levels of personal violence but the highest levels of public violence directed at heretics and those suspected of witchcraft. I have suggested that this emphasis on relative egalitarianism and consensual, democratic government are tendencies characteristic of Northern European peoples as a result of a prolonged evolutionary history as hunter-gatherers in the north of Europe.23 But the Puritans added a high degree of cohesion within the group made possible by a powerful emphasis on cultural conformity (e.g., punishment of religious heresy) and public regulation of personal behavior related to sex (fornication, adultery), public drunkenness, etc. One might say that Puritans tried to square the circle by combining egalitarianism and democracy – both strongly associated with individualism – with high levels of cultural control – a collectivist trait.

But, as Sunic emphasizes, it is the Puritan tendency to pursue utopian causes framed as moral issues that stands out the most – their susceptibility to utopian appeals to a ‘higher law’ and the belief that the principal purpose of government is moral. New England was the most fertile ground for “the perfectibility of man creed,” and the “father of a dozen ‘isms.’”24 There was a tendency to paint political alternatives as starkly contrasting moral imperatives, with one side portrayed as evil incarnate – inspired by the devil. Puritan moral intensity can also be seen in their “profound personal piety”25 – their intensity of commitment to live not only a holy life, but also a sober and industrious life.

Puritans waged holy war on behalf of moral righteousness even against their own cousins. Whatever the political and economic complexities that led to the Civil War it was the Yankee moral condemnation of slavery that inspired the rhetoric and rendered the massive carnage of closely related Anglo-Americans on behalf of slaves from Africa justifiable in the minds of Puritans. Militarily the war with the Confederacy rendered the heaviest sacrifice in lives and property ever made by Americans.26 Puritan moral fervor and its tendency to justify draconian punishment of evil-doers can also be seen in the comments of “the Congregationalist minister at Henry Ward Beecher’s Old Plymouth Church in New York [who] went so far as to call for ‘exterminating the German people... the sterilization of 10,000,000 German soldiers and the segregation of the woman.27

This Puritan moralism and its deep roots in America account for the importance of moral legitimacy in maintaining the current cultural regime. It’s interesting that Anne Morrow Lindbergh commented in her thoughts on her husband’s speech that “I would prefer to see this country at war than shaken by violent anti-Semitism. (Because it seems to me that the kind of person the human being is turned into when the instinct of Jew-baiting is let loose is worse than the kind of person he becomes on the battlefield.)” In other words, the thought that even a disastrous war that might kill hundreds of thousands of Americans (and, as her husband believed, might result in the destruction of European culture and the white race) is preferable to the possibility of an outbreak of violent anti-Semitism. For Puritans-at-heart like Mrs. Lindbergh, the moral demeanor of Americans is more important than their survival as a nation or people.

Elsewhere I have argued that this tendency toward moralistic punishment is a form of “altruistic punishment” described recently by research on group behavior in individualistic cultures.28 Because Europeans are individualists at heart, they readily rise up in moral anger against their own people once they are seen as morally blameworthy – a manifestation of their much stronger tendency toward altruistic punishment deriving from their evolutionary past as hunter-gatherers.

Thus the current moralistic crusade of the left so characteristic of contemporary Western civilization: Once Europeans were convinced that their own people were morally bankrupt, any and all means of punishment should be used against their own people. A major theme of The Culture of Critique is that the most influential intellectual and political movements of the 20th century presented European civilization as morally bankrupt and the proper target of moralistic punishment. Western culture had become the culture of guilt whose central icon had become the Holocaust and the slavery of Africans.


The forces maintaining the current cultural regime are multi-layered. Because this culture of guilt has seized control of the pinnacles of moral and intellectual authority, resistance carries huge costs that go far beyond practical considerations like keeping one’s job. The costs are also psychological and deeply personal.

But resistance does serve a function. As Sunic notes, there is a real prospect of social breakdown given the increasing ethnic divisions in the U.S. In The Culture of Critique I predicted that the current regime would lead to increased ethnic strife and an increased sense of group consciousness among the European peoples of the United States. As an evolutionist, it is difficult for me to believe that a racial group would be unconcerned with its own eclipse and domination.

I believe that in the United States we are presently heading down a volatile path – a path that leads to ethnic warfare and to the development of collectivist, authoritarian, and racialist enclaves. Although ethnocentric beliefs and behavior are viewed as morally and intellectually legitimate only among ethnic minorities in the United States, the development of greater ethnocentrism among European-derived peoples is a likely result of present trends.

Ethnocentrism on the part of the European-derived majority in the United States is a likely outcome of the increasingly group-structured contemporary social and political landscape – likely because evolved psychological mechanisms in humans appear to function by making in-group and out-group membership more salient in situations of group-based resource competition. The effort to overcome these inclinations thus necessitates applying to Western societies a massive “therapeutic” intervention in which manifestations of majoritarian ethnocentrism are combated at several levels, but first and foremost by promoting the ideology that such manifestations are an indication of psychopathology and a cause for ostracism, shame, psychiatric intervention, and counseling. One may expect that as ethnic conflict continues to escalate in the United States, increasingly desperate attempts will be made to prop up the ideology of multiculturalism with sophisticated theories of the psychopathology of majority group ethnocentrism, as well as with the erection of police state controls on non-conforming thought and behavior.

At some point the negative consequences to the European population of the U.S. of multicultural ideology and massive influx of other peoples will become so obvious that current levels of control will be ineffective. We will be like the Soviet Union when it became, in Sunic’s words, “a make-believe system in which nobody truly believed and where everybody including former communist party dignitaries made fun of in private.”

And if at this point, Europeans stare into the abyss and voluntarily cede political and cultural power, they will have no one to blame but themselves. But they will be cursed by their descendants. Perhaps they will one day read Tomislav Sunic’s excellent book and think about what might have been.

Kevin MacDonald
Department of Psychology
California State University – Long Beach


14. E. Fairbanks (2006). A hot paper muzzles academia. Los Angeles Times, May 14. http: /www.latimes. com/news/printedition/opinion/la-op-fairbanks14may14,1,6447050.story?coll=la-news-comment

15. English, B. (2006). Immorality play. The American Conservative, May 22, 12-13.

16. Taylor, S. (2006). In Duke’s case, a rogue’s gallery. National Journal.

17. Ceci, S. J., Willliams, W. M., & Mueller-Johnson, K. (2006). Is tenure justified? An experimental study of faculty beliefs about tenure, promotion, and academic freedom. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in press.

18. As ref. 14.


20. A. M. Lindbergh 1980, 220-230; italics lost.

21. A. M. Lindbergh 1980, 220-230; italics lost.

22. See: Fischer D. H. 1989. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. (NY: Oxford); MacDonald, K. B. (1994/2002). Diaspora Peoples preface to the paperback edition of A People that Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse; Phillips, Kevin. 1999. The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. New York, NY: Basic Books.

23. Preface to the paperback edition of The Culture of Critique. K. MacDonald 2002; Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

24. Fischer 1989, 357.

25. Vaughn, A. T (1997). The Puritan Tradition in America, 1620-1730, revised ed. Hanover and London: University Press of New England, p. 20.

26. Phillips ibid., 477.

27. In Phillips ibid., 556.

28. As ref. 23.

Main Directory

Banner with link back to the main directory