Tag Archives: racialism

Pure versus applied racialism among restrictionists

Post by Vipul Naik (regular blogger and site founder, launched site and started blogging March 2012). See:

Immigration restrictionists draw upon a diverse collection of arguments against immigration. While some restrictionist arguments stress the number of immigrants, others outline concerns about the characteristics of immigrants (more here). The characteristics-based arguments include IQ deficit, dysfunctional immigrant culture, and skills mismatch. There are other arguments that stress the harms of hetereogeneity per se.

One type of reasoning used in characteristics-based arguments, that has historically been the subject of much controversy, is racialist reasoning. [The topic of race seems to draw strong moral reactions, including accusations of racism and unhelpful stereotypes. I’ll try my best to avoid moralism on the issue in this blog post, though it may not be hard to see where I stand.]

“Racialist” arguments, per my understanding, are arguments that use race as a fundamental unit of analysis in the study of social phenomena, and typically do so in a manner that treats race as something more than a “social construct” but rather as something that has a biological and/or internal cultural component. This is a broad brush definition that may not fit all cases, but it’s a good start. For many people, racialism is the same as racism, while others argue that racism is much narrower than racialism, and it’s possible to be racialist without being racist.

I want to add to this understanding of racialism by distinguishing two types of racialism: pure racialism, where race is treated as a morally salient end in itself, and applied racialism, where race is only used as a proxy, or statistical predictor, of other phenomena. In the context of immigration restrictionism, a pure racialist argument may say, “Immigrants are of the wrong/bad/other race, therefore we should close our borders.” An applied racialist argument may say, “Immigrants are of this race, and we know that this race, statistically, has a lower average IQ or higher crime rate or votes the wrong way or is a drain on the welfare state. Therefore, we should close our borders.”

A small but not insignificant fraction of restrictionist groups and websites employ racialist arguments against immigration. Foremost among these is VDARE, which is focused on making the case against immigration to the US, and uses racialist reasoning, along with many other forms of reasoning, to argue against immigration. The American Renaissance website is focused on racialism and also advocates for immigration restrictions. There are many other websites that use racialist arguments against immigration. Alternative Right is one such website.

In so far as these arguments are applied racialist arguments, they can be addressed more directly by considering both the empirical evidence for the actual harms claimed, as well as keyhole solutions that tackle those harms. Continue reading Pure versus applied racialism among restrictionists