Sunday, June 24, 2012

Does the white privilege theory fit the facts?

The University of Minnesota-Duluth is sponsoring an ad campaign claiming that white people are successful because they are unfairly privileged.

It's no surprise that the ad campaign is running - the message is widely believed on the liberal left which dominates the universities both in America and elsewhere. But before I get into the theory, here is the ad:

There are also posters in which a white person's face is scribbled over with the message that:
You give me better jobs, better pay, better treatment, and a better chance - all because of the color of my skin.

Why would left-liberals push this message? Liberals in general think of individual autonomy as an overriding good. This means that people are supposed to be self-determining, which then means that our race, which is predetermined, must be made not to matter. In particular, race is not supposed to affect our life choices or our life outcomes.

But it does. Statistically, on a range of social indicators, blacks in the U.S. come out worst and Hispanics come out next worst. So liberals have to account for why race still matters.

Right-liberals usually opt for the idea that society is gradually progressing toward the desired liberal outcomes. Society is becoming ever more enlightened and continuing education and prosperity will eventually do the trick and create a truly race blind society.

Left-liberals have their own explanation. They believe that inequality arises when one group of people create a false category (e.g. "whiteness") in order to "other" and then oppress and exploit everyone else. In this view, whiteness is a social construct in which one group of people gain an unearned privilege at the expense of everyone else.

This left-liberal theory makes whites exceptional. Whites become the one group who need to be deconstructed and whose success can be put down to unearned privilege rather than to effort and talent.

The argument against whiteness studies

One argument against whiteness studies is simply this: that it is generated by a political ideology rather than by a disinterested examination of the facts.

But even if we disregard the ideological origins of the theory, there are still some compelling arguments against it.

The first I have made several times before. Whilst it is true that blacks and Hispanics do worst on a range of social indicators, it's not true that whites do best. It is Asian Americans, not white Americans, who on average have higher incomes, better access to the professions, and better educational and family outcomes.

This is not what the theory predicts. If society is set up to benefit whites at the expense of everyone else, then why would Asian Americans so rapidly rise to the top?

Here is some of the data:
a) Asians are the most highly educated group of Americans, with more than half with a bachelor’s degrees or higher.

b) Asian Americans, though only 4 percent of the nation's population, account for nearly 20 percent of all medical students. Forty-five percent of Berkeley's freshman class, but only 12 percent of California's populace, consists of Asian-Americans. And at UT-Austin, 18 percent of the freshman class is Asian American, compared to 3 percent for the state.

c) An Asian American male with the same level of experience and education as a white American male receives a 4% bonus in earnings - for women the gap rises to 17%. If mean earnings remain unadjusted for education and experience, then the discrepancy is even more pronounced: in 2000, native-born Asian American men recorded a 14% bonus in mean earnings compared to white American men, and the gap for women was 32%.

But here's something else to consider. If the theory of white privilege were correct then it ought to be evident in data showing economic growth across past centuries. In short, Europe, Africa and Asia ought to have had a similar standard of living until European colonisation began in earnest in about the 1550s. From that time onward, the data should show a gradual rise in the economic fortunes of the white colonial powers and a gradual fall in the economies of the Asian and African nations.

But that doesn't seem to be the case. Here is a chart showing GDP from the year 1 AD to 1800 AD:

The chart shows that African GDP hardly changed over the centuries; China's rose a little until the year 1500 and then stagnated, as did India's; Japan's rose very gradually; whilst Western Europe's GDP took off from about the year 1100 AD and kept rising.

That doesn't fit with what whiteness theory would predict. The Western economies began to rise a long time, in fact about 400 years, prior to any colonial contact with other races. So the economic success of the Western nations has to be attributed to something else. Nor did the rise of the West cause other parts of the world to decrease in GDP. Africa's GDP hardly budged from the $400 per capita over the entire period, regardless of what the European powers were doing.

It's true that China and India's economies stagnated from about the year 1500, but it's difficult to link this to European colonialism as most areas of China and India weren't subject to colonisation until a long time after the year 1500 as these maps indicate:

A) Colonisation 1550

B) Colonisation 1660

C) Colonisation 1754

D) Colonisation 1822

Here are some conclusions that can be drawn from these maps:

a) China wasn't subject to colonisation prior to 1822. To my knowledge, China kept out the West up to this time, apart from a guarded compound of merchants in the city of Canton. So the stagnation of the Chinese economy doesn't seem to be due to what white people were doing.

b) There were some Portuguese trading posts established in India by the 1550s, but they are so small they're difficult to see on the map. By the 1660s the European powers were active in the coastal areas, but even so this doesn't really match the fact that Indian economic stagnation began much earlier, by the year 1500.

c) You can see too that two of the main colonial powers were not even Western European. Russia expanded greatly to the east during this time, whilst the Turks had large colonial possessions both in Europe and Africa.

d) Even in 1822 the British colonies weren't as extensive as might be thought. Yes, parts of Australia are coloured red but in 1822 Australia was barely settled by Europeans and was not well developed economically. The same would be true of New Zealand. It's not really until very late in the 1800s that the expansion of a territorial empire starts to look more impressive on a map - and that was after the real take-off of the British economy, not before it.

What happened after 1800? Instead of a gradual rise in the economies of the colonial powers and a gradual fall in those of Asia and Africa, as the whiteness studies theory would predict, we get something very different:

What you're looking at is the effect of the Industrial Revolution. That is what really shot up GDP per capita in Western Europe and the U.S. - rather than some sort of white colonial "othering".

So let me summarise: Western European GDP per capita did rise gradually for a long time - but this rise predates any contact with non-Europeans by a period of 400 years. So it can't be attributed to the "invention of whiteness". Second, a big increase in GDP happened quite suddenly at the very time the Industrial Revolution was taking place. So this was a matter of industrial organisation and technique taking place in England and elsewhere, rather than a transfer of wealth from non-whites to whites.

Finally, I'd like to give some publicity to a group called Campus Reform which has criticised the University of Minnesota-Duluth campaign against white students. It's refreshing that there is some kind of organised opposition to what is happening.


  1. The counter-arguments write themselves.

    What everything you said fails to take into account is White entitlement, White skin privilege, institutional White racism, the invisibility of pervasive White entitlement and White skin privileged to cosseted racist Whites, and fundamentally the racism, the unacceptability and thus the non-credibility of the whole project of denying White entitlement and White skin privilege and covering up the injustice and oppression that pervades and underpins the White establishment.

    By saying the sort of things you just said, you've revealed yourself as a racist, and so what you've written doesn't need to be taken seriously, and in academic circles this sort of race hate talk certainly isn't taken seriously, except as cause for exclusion or disciplinary action. You should think about that and take a hard look at yourself in the mirror.

    The partial, recent, resisted success of Asians is easy to understand: honest hard work is the answer, something Whites could stand to learn from Asians. The way to facilitate that learning process is for Whites to have as many Asian co-workers and neighbors as possible, especially in countries that have historically been characterized by ignorance in racial matters, which is to say by White skin privilege and the exclusion of the Other.

    Another factor is that Asian cultures are vital and enriching and lead to good results, unlike the ossified structures of White racial privilege which have to be broken up so that European countries can become economically productive and culturally valid.

    Asians are intelligent, something that many Whites refuse to understand, first because of typically White racist dehumanization, seeing Asians as "different" and "not like us" but rather like "clever monkeys" which is to say like animals. Second because these attitudes percolate up from the least educated, most ignorant and backward elements of society and are countered (with as yet not enough success) by the best educated parts of society, which should tell you right away who's right and who's wrong and merely projecting their own inbred dimness on the Other. Third because - duh! - who owns everything, and who runs everything? Your cherry-picked little bits of data fail to deal with the brute reality of who still owns masses of land and other property in what are still White Aryan racist enclaves of privilege. Also, the iconography of oppression tells even the dumbest White brute who's boss and that it's his race in "his" land. A simple glance at the list of Australian prime ministers reveals whose really stolen this continent and excluded other races from posts of power.

    Finally, there are any number of other issues you will not be able to see, because your life of White privilege blinds you to them. You're not qualified to talk on this, what you need is to listen. You need to take courses on White privilege and entitlement, and White racism and White land-stealing and White oppressiveness and injustice until you "get it" at which point you'll realize the experts are right.

    Any time I use the same sort of argument you just attempted, I can get those sorts of replies, from very intelligent, highly educated people. It's like turning on a tap, and the water never stops. The more intelligent and educated they are, the less they question the proper story, and the more facts and examples and secondary issues they want to introduce to strengthen it. This shows how well informed and how smart they are, how moral and full of the correct opinions they are, and how dumb, racist, immoral and inferior you are - and everybody loves that position of superiority, and many people just love to talk the house down, when they've been primed all their life with the winning words.

  2. Could I make it clear, in case it wasn't clear from Daybreaker's last paragraph, that he's relaying the kind of responses we're likely to get from those who are part of the whiteness studies camp.

    He is right on all points - I've read similar things from those committed to the "deconstruction of whiteness".

    I don't think my post is likely to influence such people. What I'd hope is that it might encourage some of the more independent minded to take a more questioning stance toward what they're told about white privilege.

  3. "...he's relaying the kind of responses we're likely to get from those who are part of the whiteness studies camp."

    Yes. From memory. And it's distressing to get responses like that from people you thought knew you better than that.

    You're right that only the uncommitted can be influenced.

  4. It's only white male privilege. White females of course are encouraged to spit on, demean, chide, deride, hate, and abuse their white male counterparts because of the past. Oh and experience other races as well.

    This is what mainly blacks don't get. I knew this one liberal that flat out told me she had sex with a black guy because she felt obligated to. Sort of like reparations in a way. Now though when I look into the eyes of many women who are dating blacks, I see hate. They buy into the white male privilege, through culture or schooling, and the black anger encouraged by it. And of course many black males are doing it to get back at "whitey".

    Do as you please but at least be truthful for why much of the things happening in the west are occurring. To yourselves. That many men will pay dearly via a lower quality of life, societal shunning and isolation, should come as no surprise. Especially as their self loathing leads many to end their lives via their own hands. Sad that as a modern society, that real racism is still happening.

  5. It's only white male privilege. White females of course are encouraged to spit on, demean, chide, deride, hate, and abuse their white male counterparts because of the past. Oh and experience other races as well.

    Correction: it's only white, straight, cisgendered male-identifying privilege. Gays, trannies, and women who happen to have pale skin color don't count, and are also victims of white, straight, cisgendered male-identified privilege perpetuators.

  6. You are correct. On top of it, I do not trust white women anymore. Their minds are corrupted and finding those that are still reasonable is a chance too risky to take.

  7. Daybreaker is talking a load of tripe.

    Jim and Brendan are talking more sense.

  8. It's only white male privilege. White females of course are encouraged to spit on, demean, chide, deride, hate, and abuse their white male counterparts because of the past. Oh and experience other races as well.

    That doesn't really describe the current situation in Australia (though it might in the U.S.).

    In Australia these kind of left-liberal ideas are mostly held by the "cultural Anglo middle-class" - the kind of Anglo middle-class people who become, for instance, teachers.

    Holding to such ideas is like a tribal marker for this social class. But it is a foolish tribal marker, as in order to belong you have to commit to identifying with the other - which then encourages the dissolution of the tribe.

    And that's what is happening. In particular it's the young men of this social class, rather than the young women, who are marrying out (i.e. they are marrying non-Europeans).

    It's an odd situation - the lefty-liberal Anglo female teachers are pushing the whole "whites as racists" idea to the nth degree but as a kind of tribal marker for identifying as being part of an Anglo social class.

    But these women do not hate white men - I think they have a soft preference for marrying us - even whilst they do so much to portray us as racist oppressors.

    They have bought into a self-defeating Anglo tribal marker.

  9. There's now a Facebook page called Boycott the University of Minnesota:

  10. Not everyone is buying into the whiteness studies stuff.

    The Daily Mail has an article on the campaign and the reader comments are overwhelmingly opposed.

    And on YouTube the video currently has 294 likes and 4,632 dislikes.

    So although the official apparatus is against us, there's still rank and file opposition. If anything, I get the feeling that rank and file opposition is growing.

  11. Its not about the privilege, its about the ENVY.

    Well, actually who they need to promote is anyone they don’t ENVY, and who can be used to attack and bring down those they DO ENVY.

    Its a status game for power and control–within the racial groups and between them. Anti-whties use other people and exploit their interests with the hammer of race.

    And I think envy is a key dynamic here. ENVY.

    It is a shameful thing to be exposed for having, and embarrassing to admit to.

    Liberals, anti-racists, people who preach equality are primarily ENVIOUS. And will bring down the world and those they envy in that goal..

    BUT for shame the ENVY must never be revealed or pointed out, for it admits what it most wants to DENY.

    That there are gradations of value, that some things are superior to others, that discrimination is necessary to pursue and protect the good, that there is morality in distinctions, and that they themselves (as with anyone) may NOT measure up to that.

    I think this was important in communism, and in the pervasive ‘equality’ and ‘social justice’ rhetoric.

    It is why victimhood has become a coveted position rather than something to avoid. Victims have the power–and legitimacy in the public’s mind– to exact revenge and engage in aggressive behavior against those they hate–or perhaps envy. Hence we have a whole victim industry today.

    Destroy Western civilization, white countries and white ethnic groups around the world so that no one should feel envy towards them?---

    Hell yes, the anti-racists even think its a NOBLE ideal!!!

  12. And I think envy is a key dynamic here. ENVY.

    It is a shameful thing to be exposed for having, and embarrassing to admit to.

    Envy creates the desire to measure up.
    Without it, people would have no standard of behaviour to live up to.

    If you want a return to the "good old days" also means that you want people to "know their place".

    In the olden days, guess who was at the top of the place?

    Besides, that would also mean that women would know who was at the top of the place.
    And not every white man can reach that (fact).

    I also find it funny that many countries in the Anglosphere talk about falling standards of education in the native population ... but refuse to hire people meeting the skills shortages requirements ... who happen to be of other ethnicities, but gained their qualifications in the host country .
    It's almost as if they DO want to enslave their own people. Oops.

  13. @Daybreaker and Mark Richardson:

    The stories of success that you cite for Asians, aren't true across the whole community, Mark.
    The article above gives a good critique. AND is more up to date.

  14. "It's only white male privilege. White females of course are encouraged to spit on, demean, chide, deride, hate, and abuse their white male counterparts because of the past. Oh and experience other races as well."

    Mark replied: "That doesn't really describe the current situation in Australia (though it might in the U.S.)."

    Back in the late 90's I studied History 101 and 102. When a lecturer turned up the anti-White Australian rhetoric, it was not uncommon for the girls to boo and interject. Maybe girls have got with the program since then.

  15. P Ray,

    The article you linked to, whilst interesting, doesn't invalidate the point I was making.

    The article concedes that the six largest Asian ethnicities, comprising 83% of the total, are doing, on average, better than white Americans.

    The author of the article then provides some statistics that there are some smaller Asian ethnicities, who arrived as refugees, such as Laotians, who aren't doing as well as the others.

    That shows that there are variations within the larger racial categories. But the point remains, that if the U.S. were really designed to uphold an unearned white privilege, that those larger Asian ethnicities should not be doing better. What the theory predicts doesn't correlate to the success of the Chinese etc.

  16. The European Origins of Economic Development

    A large literature suggests that European settlement outside of Europe shaped institutional, educational, technological, cultural, and economic outcomes. This literature has had a serious gap: no direct measure of colonial European settlement. In this paper, we (1) construct a new database on the European share of the population during the early stages of colonization and (2) examine its impact on the level of economic development today. We find a remarkably strong impact of colonial European settlement on development. According to one illustrative exercise, 47 percent of average global development levels today are attributable to Europeans. One of our most surprising findings is the positive effect of even a small minority European population during the colonial period on per capita income today, contradicting traditional and recent views. There is some evidence for an institutional channel, but our findings are most consistent with human capital playing a central role in the way that colonial European settlement affects development today.

  17. Chris, that's really interesting.

    From the research paper you quoted:

    The estimated coefficients suggest that if Brazil had a Euro share of 0.084 rather than 0.074, then its average GDP per capita over the period from 1995 to 2005 would have been $9,798 instead of $7,942.

    It's evidence that Europeans, whatever the rights or wrongs of colonisation, did not suppress the economic growth of the non-European areas but enhanced it in the long run.

  18. A question that always comes up in my mind is why Asians are not as embattled as whites by liberal racial campaigns. If it can be proven that Asians are more socially successful than even whites are, why is not the campaign leveled more specifically against Asians?

    I suppose one hypothesis would be liberalism's opposition to the Christian culture that has traditionally come with white people, the battle against which culture trumps any other principled stances taken by liberal ideology, such as radical equality or individual autonomy.

  19. buckyinky, that's a good question.

    It might just be that when the left-liberal ideology was forming that whites seem more ascendant than they are now and that whites were targeted for that reason.

    Or it might have something to do with liberalism being most embedded in the white upper classes, so that identifying whiteness as the problem is a way that white liberals can demonstrate an identity with the other.

  20. As a history grad I can tell you that initial white edge came from labour scarcity, particularly after the Black Death hit in the 14th Century. In Asian cultures there was a labour surplus so there was little incentive to adopt more efficient ways of doing things.

    Unfortunately though, left liberals seem to want to undermine that edge by flooding majority white nations with third world labour.

  21. Hi Mark - Funny thing - but the subconscious message these billboards, videos and this general campaign gives is that white people are inherently superior to other races - no doubt this is not the intention, but such is the law of unintended consequences. Stuart L.

  22. Mark - fyi - this video is getting the thumbs down on Youtube which is encouraging. Stuart L

  23. Eventually whites will start turning very nasty indeed if this keeps up.

    Reminds me of the old Hulk TV show, when Bill Bixby used to warn, "You don't want to make me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry."

    We weren't made to be slaves; it's not in our nature. Especially not the Anglo/Saxon/Celtic branch of our race.

  24. @Daybreaker

    It always humors me that non-Whites will do anything they can to get into the West and once they are here they complain about Europeans constantly. Asians OWN everything in Asia and hold all the top positions in government.. so i hope you are campaigning to end 'Asian privilege and supremacy in Asia' Of course you aren't. Your only worried about White privilege in Supremacy in the West. You want the White mans civilization without the White men.

    NON-white supremacy rules over much of the world, for entire continental spaces like sub-Saharan Africa to all of Asia. I see no great floods INTO these places by refugees desperate to escape the horrors of White supremacy.

    You have the typical view of an invader.

    Anti-racism is a CODE WORD for Anti-White.