Worker and Parasite

Whiteshift by Eric Kaufmann

Episode Summary

In this episode we discuss Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities by Eric Kaufmann. Next time we will discuss True Names by Vernor Vinge.

Episode Notes

In this episode we discuss Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities by Eric Kaufmann. Next time we will discuss True Names by Vernor Vinge.

Some highlights from Whiteshift:

Many people desire roots, value tradition and wish to maintain continuity with ancestors who have occupied a historic territory.

This means we’re more likely to experience what I term Whiteshift, a process by which white majorities absorb an admixture of different peoples through intermarriage, but remain oriented around existing myths of descent, symbols and traditions

No one who has honestly analysed survey data on individuals – the gold standard for public opinion research – can deny that white majority concern over immigration is the main cause of the rise of the populist right in the West. This is primarily explained by concern over identity, not economic threat.

We are entering a period of cultural instability in the West attendant on our passage between two relatively stable equilibria. The first is based on white ethnic homogeneity, the second on what the prescient centrist writer Michael Lind calls ‘beige’ ethnicity, i.e. a racially mixed majority group. In the middle lies a turbulent multicultural interregnum. We in the West are becoming less like homogeneous Iceland and more like homogeneous mixed-race Turkmenistan. But to get there we’ll be passing through a phase where we’ll move closer to multicultural Guyana or Mauritius. The challenge is to enable conservative whites to see a future for themselves in Whiteshift – the mixture of many non-whites into the white group through voluntary assimilation.

Anyone who wants to explain what’s happening in the West needs to answer two simple questions. First, why are right-wing populists doing better than left-wing ones? Second, why did the migration crisis boost populist-right numbers sharply while the economic crisis had no overall effect? If we stick to data, the answer is crystal clear. Demography and culture, not economic and political developments, hold the key to understanding the populist moment.

Because Western nations were generally formed by a dominant white ethnic group, whose myths and symbols – such as the proper name ‘Norway’ – became the nation’s, the two concepts overlap in the minds of many. White majorities possess an ‘ethnic’ module, an extra string to their national identity which minorities lack. Ethnic majorities thereby express their ethnic identity as nationalism.

I contend that today’s white majorities are likely to successfully absorb minority populations while their core myths and boundary symbols endure. This will involve a change in the physical appearance of the median Westerner, hence Whiteshift, though linguistic and religious markers are less likely to be affected. Getting from where we are now, where most Westerners share the racial and religious features of their ethnic archetype, to the situation in a century or two, when most will be what we now term ‘mixed-race’, is vital to understanding our present condition.

In our more peaceful, post-ideological, demographically turbulent world, migration-led ethnic change is altering the basis of politics from class to ethnicity. On one side is a conservative coalition of whites who are attached to their heritage joined by minorities who value the white tradition; on the other side a progressive alliance of minorities who identify with their ethnic identity combined with whites who are agnostic or hostile towards theirs. Among whites, ethno-demographic change polarizes people between ‘tribal’ ethnics who value their particularity and ‘religious’ post-ethnics who prioritize universalist creeds such as John McWhorter’s ‘religion of anti-racism’.

Whites can fight ethnic change by voting for right-wing populists or committing terrorist acts. They may repress anxieties in the name of ‘politically correct’ anti-racism, but cracks in this moral edifice are appearing. Many opt to flee by avoiding diverse neighbourhoods, schools and social networks. And other whites may choose to join the newcomers, first in friendship, subsequently in marriage. Intermarriage promises to erode the rising diversity which underlies our current malaise.

Religion evolved to permit cooperation in larger units.31 Our predisposition towards religion, morality and reputation – all of which can transcend the tribe – reflects our adaptation to larger social units. Be that as it may, humans have lived in large groups only in the very recent past, so it is reasonable to assume tribalism is a more powerful aspect of our evolutionary psychology than our willingness to abide by a moral code. Today what we increasingly see in the West is a battle between the ‘tribal’ populist right and the ‘religious’ anti-racist left.

Much of this book is concerned with the clash between a rising white tribalism and an ideology I term ‘left-modernism’. A sociologist member of the ‘New York Intellectuals’ group of writers and literary critics, Daniel Bell, used the term modernism to describe the spirit of anti-traditionalism which emerged in Western high culture between 1880 and 1930. With the murderous excesses of communism and fascism, many Western intellectuals embraced a fusion of modernist anti-traditionalism and cultural egalitarianism, distinguishing the new ideology from both socialism and traditional liberalism. Cosmopolitanism was its guiding ethos. Unlike socialism or fascism, this left-wing modernism meshed nicely with capitalism and globalization. The left-modernist sensibility spread from a small elite to a much wider section of middle-class society in the 1960s with the rise of television and growth of universities, taking over as the dominant sensibility of the high culture.

As it gained ground, it turned moralistic and imperialistic, seeking not merely to persuade but to institutionalize itself in law and policy, altering the basis of liberalism from tolerating to mandating diversity. This is a subtle but critical shift. Meanwhile the economic egalitarianism of socialism gave way to a trinity of sacred values around race, gender and sexual orientation.

Immigration restriction became a plank of the Progressive movement which advocated improved working conditions, women’s suffrage and social reform. This combination of left-wing economics and ethno-nationalism confounds modern notions of left and right but Progressive vs. free market liberal was how the world was divided in the late nineteenth century. A prominent plank in the Progressive platform was temperance, realized in the Volstead Act of 1920 prohibiting the sale of alcohol. The Prohibition vote pitted immigrant-origin Catholics and upper-class urban WASPs such as the anti-Prohibition leader and New York socialite Pauline Morton Sabin on the ‘wet’ side against ‘dry’ working-class, rural and religious Protestants. For Joseph Gusfield, Prohibition was principally a symbolic crusade targeted at urban Catholic immigrants who congregated in saloons and their ‘smart set’ upper-class allies. This was a Protestant assertion of identity in an increasingly urban nation in which Catholics and Jews formed around a fifth of the population. Those of WASP background had declined to half the total from two thirds in the 1820s.

What’s interesting is that Anglo representatives did not make their case in ethno-communal terms, nor did they invoke the country’s historic ethnic composition. Rather they couched their ethnic motives as state interests. Instead of coming clean about their lament over cultural loss, they felt obliged to fabricate economic and security rationales for restriction.
Much the same is true today in the penchant for talking about immigrants putting pressure on services, taking jobs, increasing crime, undermining the welfare state or increasing the risk of terrorism. In my view it would be far healthier to permit the airing of ethno-cultural concerns rather than suppressing these, which leads to often spurious claims about immigrants. Likewise, immigrants’ normal desires to defend their interests are decried as ‘identity politics’.

[Randolph] Bourne, on the other hand, infused Kallen’s structure with WASP self-loathing. As a rebel against his own group, Bourne combined the Liberal Progressives’ desire to transcend ‘New Englandism’ and Protestantism with Kallen’s call for minority groups to maintain their ethnic boundaries. The end product was what I term asymmetrical multiculturalism, whereby minorities identify with their groups while Anglo-Protestants morph into cosmopolites. Thus Bourne at once congratulates the Jew ‘who sticks proudly to the faith of his fathers and boasts of that venerable culture of his’, while encouraging his fellow Anglo-Saxons to:

Breathe a larger air … [for] in his [young Anglo-Saxon’s] new enthusiasms for continental literature, for unplumbed Russian depths, for French clarity of thought, for Teuton philosophies of power, he feels himself a citizen of a larger world. He may be absurdly superficial, his outward-reaching wonder may ignore all the stiller and homelier virtues of his Anglo-Saxon home, but he has at least found the clue to that international mind which will be essential to all men and women of good-will if they are ever to save this Western world of ours from suicide. [1916]

Bourne, not Kallen, is the founding father of today’s multiculturalist left because he combines rebellion against his own culture and Liberal Progressive cosmopolitanism with an endorsement – for minorities only – of Kallen’s ethnic conservatism. In other words, ethnic minorities should preserve themselves while the majority should dissolve itself.

Cosmopolitanism must manage the contradiction between its ethos of transcending ethnicity and its need for cultural diversity, which requires ethnic attachment. Bourne resolved this by splitting the world into two moral planes, one for a ‘parental’ majority who would be asked to shed their ethnicity and oppose their own culture, and the other for childlike minorities, who would be urged to embrace their heritage in the strongest terms. This crystallized a dualistic habit of mind, entrenched in the anti-WASP ethos of 1920s authors like Sinclair Lewis and H. L. Mencken and the bohemian ‘Lost Generation’ of American intellectuals such as F. Scott Fitzgerald. All associated the Anglo-Protestant majority with Prohibition, deemed WASP culture to be of no value, and accused the ethnic majority of suppressing more interesting and expressive ethnic groups. The Lost Generation’s anti-majority ethos pervaded the writing of 1950s ‘Beat Generation’ left-modernist writers like Norman Mailer and Jack Kerouac – who contrasted lively black jazz or Mexican culture with the ‘square’ puritanical whiteness of Middle America. As white ethnics assimilated, the despised majority shifted from WASPs to all whites. The multiculturalism of the 1960s fused the Liberal Progressive pluralist movement with the anti-white ethos of the Beat counterculture.

The situation by 1924 was a far cry from the pre-1890 dispensation, when a liberal-assimilationist Anglo-Americanism spanned both universalist and ethno-nationalist shades of opinion. Prior to 1890, most Anglo-Protestant thinkers held the view that their ethnic group could assimilate all comers. During moments of euphoria, they talked up the country as a universal cosmopolitan civilization; in their reflective moods, they remarked on its Anglo-Saxon Protestant character. By 1910, this Emersonian ‘double-consciousness’ was gone, each side of its contradiction a separate and consistent ideology. Most WASP intellectuals were, like New England patrician Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, ethno-nationalists who backed restriction, or, like Bourne and Dewey, cosmopolitans calling for diversity and open borders. Few ethno-nationalists favoured open immigration. No pluralists endorsed restriction. Herein lie the roots of our contemporary polarized condition.

Critical race theorists contend that white ethnics only ‘became white’ when they became useful to the WASP majority. Even Bill Clinton, a southern Protestant whose Irish heritage is undocumented, latched on to the idea that his Irish forebears ‘became’ white. Irish Catholics in the north, some claim, were important allies of southern whites in the struggle against Yankee republicanism, so southerners embraced the Irish.60 I’m less convinced. The Irish, Jews and Italians may not have been part of a narrower WASP ‘us’, but they were perceived as racially white, thus part of a pan-ethnic ‘us’. This entitled them to opportunities not available to African- or Asian Americans. Post-1960s intermarriage led to an extension of American majority ethnic boundaries from WASP to white but the foundations for expansion were already in place. From the 1960s on, the religious marker of dominant ethnicity came to be redefined from Protestant to ‘Judaeo-Christian’.

This chapter underscores several aspects of American ethnic history that are relevant today. First, that the US, like most European nations, has had an ethnic majority since Independence. Second, that the Anglo-Protestant majority underwent a Whiteshift in the mid-twentieth century which permitted it to absorb Catholics and Jews, members of groups once viewed as outsiders. Finally, certain ethnic groups – notably Anglo-Protestants and African-Americans – have become symbolically intertwined with American nationhood. Two thirds of Americans are not members of these groups, yet many recognize them as ethno-traditional: part of what makes the nation distinct. On the right, an ethno-traditional nationalism focused on protecting the white Anglo heritage is emerging as an important force in American politics.

Culture is not ethnicity and the two have too often been conflated. Even if white culture remains the default mode, ethno-cultural decline may proceed apace. There are two separate ethno-cultural dynamics, white ethnic decline and the attenuation of the white tradition in American national identity. Only whites will be concerned with the former, but conservative-minded minorities may be attached to white ethno-traditions of nationhood. That is, they will wish to slow changes to the America ‘they know’.

Where conservatives seek to preserve the status quo, which might be multiracial, authoritarians always prefer less diversity and dissent. Conservatives are not the same as authoritarians. For instance, authoritarians dislike inequality – a form of economic diversity – thus may find themselves on the left

Electoral maps based on aggregate county results matched to census data offered the first snapshot of the social drivers of Trump, and it was apparent that education, not income, best predicted Trump success. Still, at first glance, maps reinforce stereotypes like the urban–rural divide.

As with Brexit, income is correlated with education, but there are many wealthy people – think successful plumber – with few qualifications. Similarly, many resemble struggling artists, possessing degrees but little money. When you control for education, income has no effect on whether a white person voted for, or supports, Trump. Being less well-off produces an effect on Trump voting only when authoritarian and conservative values are held constant – and even then has a much smaller impact than values. Education is the best census indicator because it reflects people’s subjective worldview, not just their material circumstances. Researchers find that teenagers with more open and exploratory psychological orientations self-select into university. This, much more than what people learn at university, makes them more liberal. Median education level offers a window onto the cultural values of a voting district, which is why it correlates best with Trump’s vote share. In American exit polls, Trump won whites without college degrees 67–28, compared to 49–45 for whites with degrees.

The changing racial demographics of America could permit the Democrats to consistently win first the presidential, then congressional, elections. Alternatively, the Republican establishment may be able to install a pro-immigration primary candidate. But is this a solution? With no federal outlet for white identity concerns or ethno-traditional nationalism, and with a return to policies of multiculturalism and high immigration which are viewed as a threat to these identities, it’s possible the culturally conservative section of the US population could start viewing the government as an enemy. This is an old trope in American history and could pose a security problem. It is also how violent ethnic conflict sometimes ignites. For instance, the British-Protestant majority in Northern Ireland, where parties run on ethnic lines, meant Irish Catholics lost every election in the province between 1922 and the abolition of the Northern Ireland provincial government in 1972. This lack of political representation produced alienation which helped foment the civil war in 1969. What happens if rural and red-state America is permanently frozen out of power when it considers itself the repository of authentic Americanism?

[EUROPE:] Liberals fought against the ‘normalization’ of the far right, but with rising populist-right totals and coalition arithmetic pulling towards partnership it was only a question of time before the consensus gave way. The anti-racist norm against voting for the far right began to erode and centrist parties started adopting their policies. Elite obstruction may actually have contributed to an angrier anti-elite mood, recruiting yet more voters to the far-right banner. The anti-racist taboo against them has weakened but remains: more voters express strong anti-immigration views than are willing to vote far right.4 Yet, as I explain in chapter 9, the higher the populist right’s vote share, the more the taboo erodes. This eases their path to a higher total when conditions permit, setting in motion a self-fulfilling spiral.

Economic rationales frequently disguise underlying psychological drivers. For instance, in small opt-in samples on Prolific Academic, one group of white Republican voters scored the problem of ‘unchecked urban sprawl’ a 51 out of 100, but another group of white Republicans who saw the question as ‘unchecked urban sprawl caused by immigration’ scored it 74/100 (italics added for emphasis). Likewise, among a sample of white British Brexit voters, the problem of ‘pressure on council housing’ scored a 47/100 but ‘immigrants putting pressure on council housing’ was rated 68/100. In both cases, it logically cannot be the case that the immigration-driven portion of the problem of urban sprawl or pressure on council housing is more important than the problem itself. Thus what’s driving opposition to immigration must be something prior to these material concerns. Likewise, the large-sample, representative British Election Study shows that concerns over the cultural and economic effects of immigration are tightly correlated. This suggests opposition to immigration comes first (Jonathan Haidt’s unconscious ‘elephant’ moves us to act) and various rationalizations like pressure on public services follow (Haidt’s conscious ‘rider’ telling us a story about why we acted as we did).17 But rationales matter. If a morally acceptable rationale is not there, this inhibits a party’s ability to articulate its underlying anti-immigration grievances. This is why restrictionists tend to don the cloak of economic rationalization.

The idea that the country has a traditional ethnic composition which people are attached to – what I term ethno-traditional nationalism – and which should not change too quickly, is viewed as beyond the limits of acceptable debate. This is a pity, because the ‘legitimate’ arguments stigmatize minorities and are often racist in a way the ‘illegitimate’ arguments about wanting to slow cultural loss are not. Only when the latter is taken to the extreme of wanting to bar certain groups or repatriate immigrants do they become racist.

Rising diversity polarizes people by psychological outlook and reorients party platforms. As countries ethnically change, green parties move to capture cosmopolitan liberals and the populist right targets conservatives and authoritarians.88 While attitude liberalization did throw up cultural debates over religion, gay marriage and traditional values, these are on their way to becoming marginal in Europe as liberal attitudes attain mass acceptance. The legalization of drugs and the question of how best to address crime are live social issues, but neither promises the same radical transformation of society as ethnic change. Therefore it is ethno-demographic shifts which are rotating European societies away from a dominant left–right economic orientation to a globalist–nationalist cultural axis. The West is becoming less like homogeneous South Korea, where foreign policy and economic divisions dominate, and more like South Africa, where ethnicity is the main political division.89

When a regalizing order fails to make a charge of deviance stick, the norm begins to unwind, leading to a period of intense cultural contestation. Competing groups police norm boundaries and marginalize deviants who are seen to have violated their community’s sacred values. I maintain we are currently in such a period, in which hegemonic liberal norms known as ‘political correctness’ are being challenged by both populists and centrists, some of whom are trying to install new social norms, notably those defining Muslims and cosmopolitans as deviant.

Fascism and socialism lost out after the Second World War, but what of the victor, liberalism? The Allies’ victory did enlarge and protect the scope of negative liberty. But alongside this success a positive liberalism was smuggled in which advocated individuality and cosmopolitanism over community. Most, myself included, value individual autonomy, but one has to recognize that not all share this aim. Someone who prefers to wear a veil or dedicate their lives to religion is making a communitarian choice which negative liberalism respects but positive liberalism (whether of the modernist left or burqa-banning right) does not.

Expressive individualism advocates that we channel our authentic inner nature, or what H. G. Wells or Henri Bergson termed our life force, unconstrained by tradition or reason. Aesthetically, it tended towards what the influential American sociologist Daniel Bell terms modernism, rejecting Christian or national traditions while spurning established techniques and motifs.22 Not only were traditions overturned but esteem was accorded to those whose innovations shocked sensibilities and subverted historic narratives and symbols the most. Clearly something happened between the nation-evoking historical and landscape painting of a Delacroix or Constable in the early nineteenth century and Marcel Duchamp’s urinal of 1917. This ‘something’ was the rise, after 1880, of what Bell terms modernism and Anthony Giddens calls de-traditionalization.
For Bell, modernism is the antinomian rejection of all cultural authority. For Giddens, the shift is from a past- to a future-orientation and involves a decline in existential security.23

For Bell, modernism replaces contemplation of external reality and tradition with sensation and immediacy.26 The desire to seek out new and different experiences elevates novelty and diversity into cardinal virtues of the new positive liberalism. To favour tradition over the new, homogeneity over diversity, is to be reactionary. Left-modernism continually throws up new movements such as Surrealism or Postmodernism in its quest for novelty and difference. The shock of the new is accompanied by a cosmopolitan pastiche of borrowings from non-Western cultures, as with the Primitivism of Paul Gauguin. Yet there is a tension between the expressive-individualist and egalitarian strands of left-modernism. Gauguin, for example, who considered himself a cosmopolite defending Tahitian sexual freedom against the buttoned-down West, stands accused by the New Left of cultural appropriation, colonialism, orientalism and patriarchy.

The social penetration of left-modernist ideas would take a great leap forward only in the 1960s as television and university education soared. In America, the share of 18- to 24-year-olds in College increased from 15 per cent in 1950 to a third in 1970. Given the large postwar ‘baby-boom’ generation, this translated into a phenomenal expansion of universities. The growth of television was even more dramatic: from 9 per cent penetration in American homes in 1950 to 93 per cent by 1965.41 The New York, Hollywood and campus-based nodes in this network allowed liberal sensibilities to spread from a small coterie of aficionados to a wider public. Rising affluence may also have played a part in creating a social atmosphere more conducive to liberalism. All told, these ingredients facilitated a marked liberal shift across a wide range of attitudes measured in social surveys from the mid-1960s: gender roles, racial equality, sexual mores and religion – with the effects most apparent in the postwar Baby Boom generation.42

Since so much of the debate around the boundaries of the permissible revolves around racism, we need a rigorous – rather than political – definition of the concept. It’s very important to specify clearly, using analytic political theory and precise terminology, why certain utterances or actions are racist. Only in this manner can we defend a racist taboo. I define racism as (a) antipathy to racial or pan-ethnic outgroups, defined as communities of birth; (b) the quest for race purity; or (c) racial discrimination which results in a violation of citizens’ right to equal treatment before the law.

The problem is that left-modernism has established racial inequality as an outrage rather than one dimension – and not generally the most important – of the problem of inequality. If racial inequality is one facet of inequality, it should be considered alongside other aspects such as income, health, weight or age. To focus the lion’s share of attention on race and gender disparities entrenches ‘inequality privilege’, wherein those who suffer from low-visibility disadvantages are treated less fairly than those who fit totemic left-modernist categories. A white male who is short, disabled, poor and unattractive will understandably resent the fact his disadvantage is downplayed while he is pilloried for his privilege.

In effect, the 2010s represent a renewed period of left-modernist innovation, incubated by near-universal left–liberal hegemony among non-STEM faculty and administrators. Most academics are moderate liberals rather than radical leftists, but in the absence of conservative or libertarian voices willing to stand against left-modernist excess, liberal saturation reduced resistance to the japes of extremist students and professors. Social media and progressive online news acted as a vector, carrying the new left-modernist awakening off-campus much more effectively than was true during the first wave of political correctness of the late 1980s and 1990s.

Angela Nagle finds that leftist radicalism emerged first, attracting a far-right response. One of the first to trace the emergence of this polarizing dynamic, she shows how, in left-modernist online chat groups, those who stake outlandish claims about white male oppression win moral and social plaudits. These in turn are lampooned by the alt-right, who leverage left-modernist excesses to legitimate blatant racism and sexism. This begins a cycle of polarizing rhetorical confrontation. Alt-right message boards adopt a playful countercultural style, emphasizing their rebellion against a stifling, puritanical-left establishment.11 Whereas bohemians like the Young Intellectuals of the 1910s and 1920s lauded African-American jazz and immigrant conviviality as a riposte to an uptight Prohibitionist Anglo-Protestant culture, the alt-right champions white maleness as a liberation from the strictures of the puritanical left.

Hamid argues that being attached to an ethnic group and looking out for its interests is qualitatively different from hating or fearing outgroups. This is a distinction social psychologists recognize, between love for one’s group and hatred of the other. As Marilyn Brewer writes in one of the most highly cited articles on prejudice:

The prevailing approach to the study of ethnocentrism, ingroup bias, and prejudice presumes that ingroup love and outgroup hate are reciprocally related. Findings from both cross-cultural research and laboratory experiments support the alternative view that ingroup identification is independent of negative attitudes toward outgroups.54

If politics in the West is ever to return to normal rather than becoming even more polarized, white interests will need to be discussed. I realize this is very controversial for left-modernists. Yet not only is white group self-interest legitimate, but I maintain that in an era of unprecedented white demographic decline it is absolutely vital for it to have a democratic outlet. Marginalizing race puritanism is important, but muzzling relaxed versions of white identity sublimates it in a host of negative ways. For example, when whites are concerned about their decline but can’t express it, they may mask their concern as worry about the nation-state.

It’s more politically correct to worry about Islam’s challenge to liberalism and East European ‘cheap labour’ in Britain than it is to say you are attached to being a white Brit and fear cultural loss. This means left-modernism has placed us in a situation where expressing racism is more acceptable than articulating racial self-interest.

David Willetts, Minister of Education in David Cameron’s Conservative government:

The basis on which you can extract large sums of money in tax and pay it out in benefits is that most people think the recipients are people like themselves, facing difficulties which they themselves could face. If values become more diverse, if lifestyles become more differentiated, then it becomes more difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a universal risk-pooling welfare state. People ask, ‘Why should I pay for them when they are doing things I wouldn’t do?’ This is America versus Sweden. You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the US you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests.62

trying to reconstruct our racial categories from above through politics may be as difficult as trying to get people to unlearn the primary colours. This doesn’t mean categories can’t evolve, but it suggests the process is complex, evolutionary and bottom-up. As the median racial type changes, the boundaries of whiteness may expand because people judge categories based on the average type they encounter.

Hispanics, like the Italians before them, may become part of the ethnic majority in the not-too-distant future. Many white Americans currently view those with Spanish surnames or Hispanic features as outsiders. A majority of Hispanics see themselves as white, but only 6 per cent of Hispanics who identify as white say they are accepted as such by American society. Even among those with just one Latino grandparent, 58 per cent identify as Hispanic.43 Yet this may change with increased intermarriage, cultural assimilation and the arrival of more culturally distant groups. Already, lighter-skinned Hispanics are more likely to vote Republican or live in the same neighbourhoods as whites.44 As group lines are blurred by intermarriage, ethnic boundaries may shift: Ramirez may be considered an Anglo-American on a par with De Niro. Hispanic surnames are unlikely to be ‘counter-entropic’ barriers to assimilation. This assimilation process is a major reason why the centre-left writer John Judis revised his thesis that America’s changing demographics will automatically produce Democratic victories in the future.45

When the criteria for defining who is in or out of the majority change, whole chunks of the population who are not of mixed origin – like the fully Irish John F. Kennedy – suddenly become part of the ethnic majority. The analogy would be if fully Hispanic or Asian Americans came to be viewed as white. I deem this unlikely, given the proximity to Mexico and the established nature of the racial categories noted by Richard Dawkins. What seems more likely is that the high rate of intermarriage between Latinos and whites, as well as the rising share of native English-speakers, Protestants or seculars among them, may expand the boundaries of whiteness to include those of mixed parentage. That is, those with some European background who are culturally assimilated and have Anglo first names – but who have Spanish surnames or a Hispanic appearance – may be accepted as white.