"The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media" (2009) by ancestry

The first list of influential liberals I found, from Forbes.
The exercise is subjective, by definition, and Forbes Opinions editors canvassed the views of more than 100 academics, politicians and journalists. The list that follows is a distillation of that survey.
Jews make up over half the list. Apart from Jews, non-whites, Irish Catholics, and a Greek, we have:

13. Bill Moyers Host and commentator, Bill Moyers’ Journal ["Born Billy Don Moyers[1] in Hugo in Choctaw County in southeastern Oklahoma, he was the son of John Henry Moyers, a laborer, and Ruby Johnson Moyers. Moyers was reared in Marshall, Texas.[2]" Enough said.]

21. James Fallows National correspondent, The Atlantic ["born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jean (Mackenzie) and James Albert Fallows, a physician"; mother has a Scottish name; looking at his father's ancestors going back a couple generations, I find ancestors from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Germany, but none from New England; update: I've now checked farther back on both sides, and find German, Scottish, and non-Puritan English ancestry; I've continued to find no New England ancestry, and can rule out any meaningful Puritan contribution.]

23. Kevin Drum Blogger, Mother Jones [You can see his ancestry here, directly from him. 3.5/8 of his ancestors appear to be Irish Catholic and 3/8 German or Swiss; at most 1/4 of his ancestry is colonial American, with half of that being Pennsylvania German; he has one great-grandparent born in Connecticut, but with a Scottish name, so unlikely to be of entirely early Puritan ancestry.]

24. Kurt Andersen Writer and host, “Studio 360? [born in Omaha, Nebraska; Scandinavian name; update: I checked his twitter account, and based on comments he's made Andersen is 3/4 Danish and 1/4 German, confirming he has no Puritan ancestry]

So even limiting our consideration to the 4 apparent NW Europeans on the list who don't identify as Irish Catholic, we see vastly more Southern and mid-Atlantic ancestry than New England ancestry, and more known or likely German, Scottish, and Irish ancestry than Puritan ancestry. The people who imagine Puritan descendants form a dominant segment of modern leftists for the most part have no idea what a descendant of Puritans actually looks like. They simply circularly identify northern liberals as "descendant of Puritans" and ignore southern liberals, while frequently trying to rationalize away the very obvious actual trends in ethnic overrepresentation.

1. Paul Krugman Op-ed columnist, The New York Times
3. Fred Hiatt Editorial page editor, The Washington Post
4. Thomas Friedman Op-ed columnist, The New York Times
5. Jon Stewart Host, The Daily Show
7. Rachael Maddow Host, The Rachel Maddow Show [1/4 Jewish; raised Catholic]
8. Joshua Micah Marshall Founder and editor, Talking Points Memo
9. David Shipley Op-ed editor, The New York Times
14. Christopher Hitchens Writer [3/16 Jewish; born in England]
16. Matthew Yglesias Blogger, ThinkProgress [1/2 Jewish]
17. Hendrick Hertzberg Columnist, The New Yorker [1/2 Jewish]
18. Glenn Greenwald Blogger, Salon.com
20. Gerald Seib Executive Washington editor, The Wall Street Journal
22. Ezra Klein Blogger and associate editor, The American Prospect
25. Michael Pollan Writer and journalism professor, University of California, Berkeley

6. Oprah Winfrey Presenter, The Oprah Winfrey Show
10. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (“Kos”) Founder and publisher, Daily Kos
11. Fareed Zakaria Editor, Newsweek International

Irish Catholic:
12. Chris Matthews Anchor, Hardball [mother is Irish Catholic; father's parents are English from England and Northern Irish from Northern Ireland]
15. Maureen Dowd Op-ed columnist, The New York Times
19. Andrew Sullivan Senior editor, The Atlantic The Daily Dish

2. Arianna Huffington Founder and columnist, The Huffington Post

The Port Huron statement: not a product of "Puritans"

Colin Woodard:
Combining the utopia-seeking moral impulses of secularized Puritanism, the intellectual freedom of New Netherland, and the tolerant pacifism of the Midlands, the social movement sought to remake and improve the world by breaking down the very sorts of traditional institutions and social taboos Dixie whites were fighting to protect. The Port Huron Statement, a 1962 manifesto considered the founding document of this “youth movement,” was an amalgam of core Yankee and Midlander values.
This presumably would have been a surprise to the Irish Catholic and Jewish drafters of the statement.
In the 50 years since its initial publication, Hayden has attracted the bulk of media attention surrounding the Port Huron Statement. He wrote much of the original text and served as its high-profile articulator and leader of its execution. But it’s the lesser-known Robert Alan (Al) Haber, ’65, still living in Ann Arbor, who is credited as the “big brain,” the “visionary,” and the “indispensable element” of the student movement.

[Port Huron Statement turns 50]

Important founders of Jewish background included Al Haber, Richard Flacks, Steve Marx, Bob Ross, Mike Spiegel, Mike Klonsky, and Mark Rudd. Nearly half of the delegates to the 1966 SDS convention were Jews, and a number of Jews became SDS chapter presidents at major universities [. . .] Jews also made up a significant portion of the movements intellectual vanguard. [. . .]

Other analysts continued to emphasize the strong historic Jewish commitment to the left since European emancipation. [. . .] The left-wing historian Arthur Liebman has suggested that the young New Left Jews had inherited a tradition of radicalism from their parents and had been emersed in a whole network of socialist-inspired institutions since childhood. The sociologist Nathan Glazer supports Liebman's contention, adding that the radical secular tradition was reinforced by the strong emphasis on intellectual activity.

[Seth Forman. Blacks in the Jewish Mind: A Crisis of Liberalism.]

Mark Rudd on "Why were there so many Jews in SDS? (or, The Ordeal of Civility)":
the numbers on Jews in SDS are clear. The author Paul Berman, himself a Jewish veteran of Columbia SDS, in his excellent book, “A Tale of Two Utopias,” gives the following data from reliable sources: two-thirds of the white Freedom Riders who traveled to Mississippi were Jewish; a majority of the steering committee of the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement were Jewish; the SDS chapters at Columbia and the University of Michigan were more than half Jewish; at Kent State in Ohio, where only 5 percent of the student body was Jewish, Jews constituted 19 percent of the chapter. I might add a strange statistic which I became aware of in the course of two trips to Kent State to commemorate the events of May, 1970: three of the four students shot by the National Guard at Kent State were Jewish. This, of course, defies all odds. [. . .]

I invoke Roth to let you in on the insularity of the world I grew up in. My family carried the Jewish ghettos of Newark and Elizabeth with them to the suburbs. We may have lived in integrated neighborhoods, that is integrated with goyim (there were only a few blacks in the town) and we may have gone to integrated schools, (of course there were no blacks in my elementary school) but we were far from assimilated, if that means replacing a Jewish identity with an American one. At about the age of nine or ten I remember eating lunch at the house of a non-Jewish friend and reporting back that the hamburgers had onion and parsley in them. “Oh, that’s goyish hamburger,” my mother said. I lived a Philip Roth existence in which the distinction between Jews and gentiles was present in all things: having dogs and cats was goyish, for example, as was a church-sponsored hay-ride which I was invited to by the cute red-haired girl who sat in front of me in my seventh grade home-room. My parents didn’t allow me to go, and, since repression breeds resistance, that was probably a signal event in my career of fascination with shiksas and things goyish, a career which paralleled that of young Alexander Portnoy in “Portnoy’s Complaint.” [. . .]

I got to Columbia University as a freshman, age 18, in September, 1965, a few months after the United States attacked Vietnam with main force troops. There I found a small but vibrant anti-war movement. In my first semester I was recruited by David Gilbert, a senior who had written a pamphlet on imperialism for national SDS, Students for a Democratic Society. David was one of the founders of the Columbia SDS chapter, along with John Fuerst, the chapter Chairman. Both were Jewish, of course, as were my mentors and friends, Michael Josefowicz, Harvey Blume, Michael Neumann, and John Jacobs. Ted Kaptchuk and Ted Gold were Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Columbia SDS the year before I was elected Chairman, along with my Vice-Chairman, Nick Freudenberg. All of us were Jewish. It’s hard to remember the names of non-Jewish Columbia SDS’ers; it was as much a Jewish fraternity as Sammie. [. . .]

Identifying with the oppressed seemed to me at Columbia and since a natural Jewish value, though one we never spoke of as being Jewish. [. . .]

But World War II and the holocaust were our fixed reference points. This was only twenty years after the end of the war. We often talked about the moral imperative to not be Good Germans. Many of my older comrades had mobilized for the civil rights movement; we were all anti-racists. We saw American racism as akin to German racism toward the Jews. [. . .]

What outraged me and my comrades so much about Columbia, along with its hypocrisy, was the air of genteel civility. Or should I say gentile? Despite the presence of so many Jews in the faculty and among the students—geographical distribution in the admissions process had not been effective at filtering us out, our SAT’s and class-rank being so high—the place was dripping with goyishness. When I got there freshmen still wore blue blazers and ties and drank sherry at afternoon socials with the deans. At the top of the Columbia heap sat President Grayson Kirk and Vice-President David Truman, two consummate liberal WASP’s who privately claimed to oppose the war but maintained the institution’s support of it. [. . .]

More than twenty years ago I read a book called, “The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss and the Jewish Struggle With Modernity.” The author, an Irish-American sociologist named John Murray Cuddihy, advances a fascinating theory on the origins of Marxism and Freudianism. Jews were newly emancipated, that is, given legal and political rights, in Western Europe in the mid to late nineteenth century. But even bourgeois Jews were still excluded from civil society by customs and especially by manners. As Jewish (or formerly Jewish) outsiders ostensibly allowed in, but not really, Marx and Freud brought critical eyes to European bourgeois society. Marx said, in effect, “You think you’ve got yourself a fine little democracy here, well let me tell you about the class exploitation and misery that’s underlying it.” Similarly, Freud exposed the seamy, sexuality-driven motives, the up-raised penises controlling the unconscious minds of civilized, well-mannered bourgeois society.

We Jews at Columbia—and I would guess at colleges throughout the country—brought the same outsider view to the campuses we had been allowed into. We were peasant children right out of the shtetls of New Jersey and Queens screaming, “You want to know the truth about Columbia University, they’re a bunch of liberal imperialists! They claim to be value-neutral but when we asked them to stop their research for the Vietnam War and their racist expansion into the Harlem community, they not only ignored us, but they called out the cops to beat us up and arrest us. Up against the wall, motherfucker, this is a stickup!” Morally and emotionally we could not fit into the civilized world of the racist, defense-oriented modern university. Such was our ordeal of civility. [. . .]

I am so obviously Jewish that no matter how much carne adovada or fry bread I eat, I’m instantly recognizable as a Jew. I proudly acknowledge the drive for education in Jewish culture which made me want to read about the world and to understand it and to become a teacher. I also recognize that in my social activism I am one of thousands working in the grand tradition of Jewish leftists, the Trotskys and the Emma Goldmans and the Goodmans and Schwerners of the twentieth century. I honor this lineage. As Jews our advantage in the past, though, was that we were outsiders critically looking in; today Jews sit at the right hand of the goy in the White House advising him whom to bomb next in order to advance the Empire. [. . .]

As a child I never fell for the seduction of patriotism. It seemed so arbitrary, who’s an American and who’s not. If my relatives hadn’t emigrated, who would I be? Since I was also at core an idealist and a utopian—another Jewish tradition?—I wanted to skip all that obviously stupid and dangerous stuff that gave rise to wars and racism. In 1965 I began to identify myself as a socialist and an internationalist. I still am an internationalist since old religions die hard.

As for non-Jewish influences, Tom Hayden, in his book on how he's not white but Irish, claims:
C. Wright Mills was the American intellectual who had the single greatest impact on the New Left. He authored a series of books and tracts that explained the American power elite and the mostly white-collar society from which a majority of activists emerged. He tried to resurrect and idealistic Marxism from the bureaucratic clutches of Stalinist states. [. . .]

Mills was Irish in his origins and style. But as an iconoclastic American he replaced ethnic heritage as an explanatory category with issues of class, status, and power. Mills was a descendant of Irish Famine immigrants from county Leitrim. In a 1963 letter, Mills's mother described the family forebears - the Gallaghers and McGinnisses - not primarily as Irish but as Catholics "driven from Ireland in 1840 by persecution from England on account of their religion."

In fact, it appears Mills was only about 1/4 Irish Catholic; but he was born in Texas and it appears the rest of his ancestry was Southern -- which is similarly inconvenient for Woodard's effort to slot 1960s leftism neatly into his "American Nations" framework.

A taste of the depth and explanatory power of Colin Woodard's "American Nations" analysis

Deep Southern oligarchs finally got one of their own in the White House in 2000, for the first time since 1850. George W. Bush may have been the son of a Yankee president and raised in far western Texas, but he was a creature of east Texas, where he lived, built his political career, found God, and cultivated his business interests and political alliances. His domestic policy priorities as president were those of the Deep Southern oligarchy: cut taxes for the wealthy, privatize Social Security, deregulate energy markets (to benefit family allies at Houston-based Enron), stop enforcing environmental and safety regulations for offshore drilling rigs (like BP’s Deepwater Horizon), turn a blind eye to offshore tax havens, block the regulation of carbon emissions or tougher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, block health care benefits for low-income children, open protected areas to oil exploration, appoint industry executives to run the federal agencies meant to regulate their industries, and inaugurate a massive new foreign guest-worker program to ensure a low-wage labor supply. Meanwhile, Bush garnered support among ordinary Dixie residents by advertising his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, banning stem cell research and late-term abortions, and attempting to transfer government welfare programs to religious institutions. By the end of his presidency—and the sixteen-year run of Dixie dominance in Washington—income inequality and the concentration of wealth in the federation had reached the highest levels in its history, exceeding even the Gilded Age and Great Depression. In 2007 the richest tenth of Americans accounted for half of all income, while the richest 1 percent had seen their share nearly triple since 1994.
G.W. Bush: not, as far as Woodard knows, of "Deep Southern oligarch" ancestry (though Bush and his father do incidentally have some Southern ancestry). Not even raised in the part of Texas Woodard includes in the "Deep South". But still "one of their own", because he has ties to an industry that didn't exist in antebellum America but which is obviously dominated by "Deep Southern oligarchs".

I don't think anyone will question that British Petroleum is run by Deep Southern oligarchs.

But looking at some Enron executives: Ken Lay was born in Missouri, the son of a poor Baptist preacher. He probably had ancestors from both Woodard's "Deep South" and "Greater Appalachia", and he certainly was not born into wealth. Jeffrey Skilling was from Pennyslvania. Andrew Fastow is a Jew who was born in D.C. and grew up in New Jersey.

The reality of course is the resource extraction industry (like every other industry) has incentives to lobby for favorable regulations -- irrespective of the ancestries or birthplaces of those involved. Woodard's attempt at rewriting American history as an inane leftist morality tale features similar confusions throughout.

General impression of "American Nations"

I've now read American Nations, and it's more or less what I expected: a middle-brow liberal journalist's comic book version of Albion's Seed. Actually, I was expecting a book at least a bit more intelligent and less polemical than the often bizarre American Nations news analysis advertorials I'd seen from Colin Woodard in various web outlets, but it's just 300+ pages of comparable drivel. Woodard's stated premise:
Americans have been deeply divided since the days of Jamestown and Plymouth. [. . .] Each of our founding cultures had its own set of cherished principles, and they often contradicted one another. [. . .]

America’s most essential and abiding divisions are not between red states and blue states, conservatives and liberals, capital and labor, blacks and whites, the faithful and the secular. Rather, our divisions stem from this fact: the United States is a federation comprised of the whole or part of eleven regional nations, some of which truly do not see eye to eye with one another. [. . .] Few have shown any indication that they are melting into some sort of unified American culture. On the contrary, since 1960 the fault lines between these nations have been growing wider, fueling culture wars, constitutional struggles, and ever more frequent pleas for unity.

I have very consciously used the term nations to describe these regional cultures, for by the time they agreed to share a federated state, each had long exhibited the characteristics of nationhood. [. . .] A nation is a group of people who share—or believe they share—a common culture, ethnic origin, language, historical experience, artifacts, and symbols. Some nations are presently stateless—the Kurdish, Palestinian, or Québécois nations, for instance. Some control and dominate their own nation-state, which they typically name for themselves, as in France, Germany, Japan, or Turkey. Conversely, there are plenty of states—some of them federated—that aren’t dominated by a single nation, like Belgium, Switzerland, Malaysia, Canada and, indeed, the United States.

Regional divisions in the US are more "essential and abiding" than black-white differences -- and everything else. America's regions constitute "nations", yet racial differences are inconsequential. Yes, this really is the book's central conceit, which Woodard forgoes logic and historical accuracy throughout to uphold. We're talking about someone whose explanation for why blacker areas areas of Virginia vote Democrat is the "noblesse oblige" of the Tidewater's "aristocratic founders".

An isteve commenter claimed Woodard obviously identified with (and descended from) New Englanders. In fact, Woodard evinces a fair amount of loathing for early New Englanders. While he wishes to legitimate the sorts of concerns that animate MSNBC hosts and Atlantic bloggers by anchoring insane modern leftism in the American past, and while for status reasons Woodard and those of his ilk sometimes prefer to latch onto New England in particular, this does not mean Woodard actually has any liking for Puritans.

It's multicultural "New France", and the "highly communalistic", "environmentally minded", and "female-dominated" "First Nation", that come in for the greatest praise, with Canada overall being the model Woodard aspires to for America. As Woodard rationalizes it, it's only the "Deep Southern oligarchs" (and those duped by them) standing in the way of America's glorious future as Canada.

The compulsion of Woodard and his fans like JayMan to force all of history, politics, and ethnic conflict into Woodard's "American Nations" framework obscures much more than it clarifies about America. Differences between regions exist (some rooted in early history, and some not). There are much larger differences between different races and ethnicities and among those with differing economic interests and innate political predispositions within regions.

Anyone tempted to read this book would be well advised to skip directly to the "Acknowledgments and suggested reading" section. The books Woodard relies upon (including Albion's Seed and The Nine Nations of North America) are not without their own faults, but they contain much of actual interest concerning American history and regional differences. Woodard's "synthesis" adds nothing (apart from the oversimplification, anachronism, and distortion demanded by the inane overarching political agenda).

More broadly, I'd also recommend reading, e.g., Jonathan Haidt. People like JayMan, and Moldbug cultists, have a need for abstraction. But they settle on a muddled middle level of abstraction that makes little sense. There's benefit both in thinking about human nature generally, and in having a grasp of specific historical detail. JayMan and Moldbuggists are attracted to shiny, specious quasi-abstractions that promise them sweeping insights about history without the hassle either of making any serious effort to understand human nature or of actually having to learn much in the way of mundane historical fact.

People of the British Isles project paper

After long delays, the main PoBI paper has finally been published. At this point, it comes as something of an anticlimax (particularly since it appears access to the underlying data will be restricted, when researchers had previously implied it would be openly accessible).

In the past, it's been said this publication was held up because reviewers had problems with the dating and attribution of the various clusters by the authors. I'd presumed such reviewers must be anti-migrationist holdouts motivated by politics. But now that I've read the paper, I can't say I'm impressed with the authors's methods or conclusions.

After the Saxon migrations,the language,place names,cereal crops and pottery styles all changed from that of the existing(Romano-British) population to those of the Saxon migrants. There has been ongoing historical and archaeological controversy about the extent to which the Saxons replaced the existing Romano-British populations. Earlier genetic analyses, based on limited samples and specific loci, gave conflicting results. With genome-wide data we can resolve this debate. Two separate analyses (ancestry profiles and GLOBETROTTER)show clear evidence in modern England of the Saxon migration, but each limits the proportion of Saxon ancestry, clearly excluding the possibility of long-term Saxon replacement. We estimate the proportion of Saxon ancestry in Cent./SEngland as very likely to be under 50%, and most likely in the range of 10–40%.

A more general conclusion of our analyses is that while many of the historical migration events leave signals in our data, they have had a smaller effect on the genetic composition of UK populations than has sometimes been argued. In particular, we see no clear genetic evidence of the Danish Viking occupation and control of a large part of England, either in separate UK clusters in that region, or in estimated ancestry profiles, suggesting a relatively limited input of DNA from the Danish Vikings and subsequent mixing with nearby regions, and clear evidence for only a minority Norse contribution (about 25%) to the current Orkney population.

We saw no evidence of a general ‘Celtic’ population in non-Saxon parts of the UK. Instead there were many distinct genetic clusters in these regions, some amongst the most different in our study, in the sense of being most separated in the hierarchical clustering tree in Fig.1. Further,the ancestry profile of Cornwall (perhaps expected to resemble other Celtic clusters) is quite different from that of the Welsh clusters, and much closer to that of Devon, and Cent./S England. However, the data do suggest that the Welsh clusters represent populations that are more similar to the early post-Ice-Age settlers of Britain than those from elsewhere in the UK.

An example of their reasoning:
The observation (Fig.2 and Supplementary Table 4) that particular European groups(for example, GER3, FRA12, FRA17) contribute substantially to the ancestry profiles of some, but not all, UK clusters strongly suggests that at least some of the structure we observe in the UK results from differential input of DNA to different parts of the UK: the absence in particular UK clusters of ancestry from specific European groups is best explained by the DNA from those European groups never reaching those UK clusters. A critical observation which follows is that groups which contribute significantly to the ancestry profiles of all UK clusters most probably represent, at least in part, migration events into the UK that are relatively old, since their DNA had time to spread throughout the UK. Conversely, groups that contribute to the ancestry profiles of only some UK clusters most probably represent more recent migration events, with the resulting DNA not yet spread throughout the UK by internal migration. ‘Old’ and ‘recent’ here are relative terms—we can infer the order of some events in this way but not their absolute times. Although we refer to migration events, we cannot distinguish between movements of reasonable numbers of people over a short time or ongoing movements of smaller numbers over longer periods.
Thus, their estimate of Anglo-Saxon admixture comes from picking which of their "European groups" -- which do not, of course, represent actual ancient European groups but are merely synthetic clusters generated on data from present-day continental Europeans -- to associate with Anglo-Saxons. Going with the authors's approach, estimates of the Anglo-Saxon contribution can range from 10% to over 50%, depending on what one deems "likely".

Personally, I deem it unlikely they're picking up any signals dating back to "the early post-Ice-Age settlers of Britain". I would guess that most of their clusters are influenced by more recent patterns of migration and isolation than the authors tend to assume. More credible estimates of, e.g., Anglo-Saxon admixture in Britain will await sequencing of large amounts of ancient DNA.

R. A. Fisher on group selection in humans

Fisher, who's been called "the most important geneticist of the 20th century", like Hamilton saw a significant role for group selection in human evolution.

A.W.F. Edwards once confusedly mentioned "a passage new to the 1958 edition, where Fisher stresses the theme of the book, that it is individual, not group, selection that drives evolution", but the passage in question says nothing of the kind. The short section added to the 1958 edition of The genetical theory of natural selection is headed "'The benefit of the species'". In it, Fisher clearly acknowledges multiple levels of selection, and explicitly includes "co-operative communities" along with individuals as units of selection. Fisher is plainly responding to "good of the species" arguments, and merely points out that selection at the level of species or higher must, for empirical reasons, be relatively unimportant compared to selection on individuals:

There would, however, be some warrant on historical grounds for saying that the term Natural Selection should include not only the selective survival of individuals of the same species, but of mutually competing species of the same genus or family. The relative unimportance of this as an evolutionary factor would seem to follow decisively from the small number of closely related species which in fact do come into competition, as compared to the number of individuals in the same species; and from the vastly greater duration of the species compared to the individual. Any characters ascribed to interspecific selection should of course characterize, not species, but whole genera or families, and it may be doubted if it would be possible to point to any such character, with the possible exception, as suggested in Chapter VI, of sexuality itself, which could be interpreted as evolved for the specific rather than for the individual advantage. [p. 50]
Fisher obviously includes humans among those capable of forming "co-operative communities", as is clear from discussion elsewhere in the book:
The only animal societies in which co-operation is sufficiently highly developed to justify comparison with civilized men are those of the social insects.

Fisher has an entire chapter on social selection in humans, unaltered in the 1958 edition, in which he speculates about selection for traits like heroism in a landscape of intertribal competition, Fisher's conception of early human society being not unlike those of W. D. Hamilton and James Neel.

Note that while in this chapter Fisher emphasizes intratribal social selection favoring the kindreds of heroes, this sort of selection only makes sense in the context of intergroup competition; and in contrasting "selection on whole groups" -- which Fisher does not dismiss but which he notes will tend to be slow -- and selection on kindreds, Fisher is not at odds with people like Hamilton or Neel, who envision tribes expanding, fissioning along lines of kinship, absorbing other tribes, etc. The latter situation -- as opposed to one in which only unmixing platonic groups compete -- is exactly the one we would most expect to favor generalized adaptations for kin recognition and ethnocentrism, which in the modern world might quite adaptively be deployed in the context of interracial conflict (regardless of how difficult Cochran finds it to think generally about the issue).

It is necessary to emphasize this unity of culture because, unlike civilized societies having comparable unity, barbarian peoples recognize private, or more properly tribal war as a normal means for avenging and checking crime. The obligation to avenge a kinsman was felt extremely keenly as a moral duty, to shirk which would be incompatible with self-respect or an easy conscience, or, in Wilfred Blunt 's forcible phrase as 'almost a physical necessity'. The existence of this obligation requires that the tribes of kinsmen to which it applies shall be somewhat sharply defined, and with this obligation follows, of course, the obligation to pay, and the right to share, blood money, or to share in booty. A certain degree of economic communism thus characterizes these kindred groups, so that there is little exaggeration in saying that the economic and the military units in such societies are made to coincide. This is at least a convenient form in which to express the contrast with all civilized societies, in which the interests of the economic unit, consisting of a single individual and his dependents, may differ widely from those of the military unit, consisting of the entire nation to which he belongs. The interests of the kindred group as a whole, whose rights to life and property can only be safeguarded by military preparedness, are of course, in the first degree, founded upon military strength, and consequently, among other qualities, upon the fertility of its members.

More from Hamilton on kin recognition and intergroup hostility

Hamilton, who's been called "the greatest mathematical biologist of the last half of the 20th century", believed group selection "may be a really appropriate term for many human situations". See also Hamilton on inclusive fitness and social behavior in humans and Robert Axelrod on the evolution of ethnocentrism.

Some excerpts from "Selection of selfish and altruistic behavior in some extreme models":


Galton 36 stated that cows that have dropped out of a moving herd in order to calve will attempt to fight off predators, although a solitary condition is one which usually causes great terror. This phenomenon, of course, is well known with many normally timid species and as an aspect of parental care it is easily understood even in the classical models of natural selection. But the case can also be viewed as conditional altruism encouraged by a particular kind of assortation of like genotype s; the mother and offspring have half their genes in common by direct replication.

Other cases of relationship may be viewed in the same way. The relatives of an individual can be considered to carry his genes in a statistically diluted state with the dilution depending in a definite way on the structure of the relationship (see Part I of the paper in Chapter 2). Distant relationships are obviously more dilute. Indeed, the required precise measure of relationship corresponds more or less to the vague popular notion of 'blood' similarity.

Robert Axelrod on the evolution of ethnocentrism

The evolution of ethnocentrism (pdf):

Ethnocentrism is a nearly universal syndrome of attitudes and behaviors, typically including in-group favoritism. Empirical evidence suggests that a predisposition to favor in-groups can be easily triggered by even arbitrary group distinctions and that preferential cooperation within groups occurs even when it is individually costly. The authors study the emergence and robustness of ethnocentric behaviors of in-group favoritism, using an agent-based evolutionary model. They show that such behaviors can become wide spread under a broad range of conditions and can support very high levels of cooperation, even in one move prisoner's dilemma games. When cooperation is especially costly to individuals, the authors show how ethnocentrism itself can be necessary to sustain cooperation.

Ethnocentrism is a nearly universal syndrome of discriminatory attitudes and behaviors (Sumner 1906; Le Vine and Campbell 1972). The attitudes include seeing one's own group (the in-group) as virtuous and superior, one's own standards of value as uni versal, and out-groups as contemptible and inferior. Behaviors associated with ethno centrism include cooperative relations within the group and the absence of cooperative relations with out-groups (LeVine and Campbell 1972). Ethnocentric behaviors are based on group boundaries that are typically defined by one or more observable characteristics (such as language, accent, physical features, or religion) regarded as indicating common descent (Sumner 1906; Hirschfeld 1996; Kurzban, Tooby, and Cosmides 2001). Such behaviors often also have a strong territorial component (Sumner 1906). Ethnocentrism has been implicated not only in ethnic conflict (Brewer 1979; Chirot and Seligman 2001), instability of democratic institutions (Rabushka and Shepsle 1972), and war (van der Dennen 1995) but also in consumer choice (Klein and Ettenson 1999) and voting (Kinder 1998). Although ethnocentrism is sometimes used to refer to a wide range of discriminatory behaviors, we will focus on ethnocentric behavior defined as in-group favoritism.

Ethnocentrism is generally thought to involve substantial cognitive ability in indi viduals (Sumner 1906; Simmel 1955; Sherif and Sherif 1956; Sherif 1966; LeVine and Campbell 1972; Hewstone, Rubin, and Willis 2002) and to be based on complex social and cultural inputs. While such factors certainly play a role in much ethnocentric behavior, extensive empirical evidence from psychology suggests the prevalence of a strong individual predisposition toward bias in favor of in-groups, which can be observed even when cognition is minimal and social input very abstract. [. . .]

The main result of the simulation is that the ethnocentric strategy becomes common even though, unlike previous models,3 favoritism toward similar others is not built into the model. In the final 100 periods of ten 2,000-period runs, 76 percent of the agents have the ethnocentric strategy, compared to 25 percent if selection had been neutral (Table 1, row a). This result shows that in-group favoritism based on simple tags and local interactions can overcome egoism and dominate a population even in the absence of reciprocity and reputation and even when "cheaters" need to be suppressed. Not only is ethnocentrism the dominant strategy, but cooperation (donation) is also the dominant behavioral choice: fully 74 percent of interactions are cooperative (Table 1, row a). Cooperation is common because the dominance of ethnocentric strategies is combined with a tendency for neighbors to have the same tag.

The emergence and dominance of the ethnocentric strategy is not a "knife-edge" phenomenon. In fact, its dominance is robust under a wide range of parameters and variations in the model. When any of the following parameters are either halved or doubled, at least two-thirds of strategies are ethnocentric: cost of helping, lattice width, number of groups, immigration rate, mutation rate, and duration of the run (see the sensitivity analysis in Table 1). The ethnocentric strategy becomes just as dominant even when the simulation starts with a full lattice consisting only of egoists, and no immigration is allowed. Another check for robustness is a variant of the model in which an agent can distinguish all four colors, rather than just distinguish ing between its own color and all other colors. Again, the results are very similar, with 80 percent ethnocentric strategies. Surprisingly, the results are also not very sensitive to the possibility that an agent will occasionally misperceive whether the ther agent in the interaction has the same color. Even when agents make this mis take 10 percent of the time, the population evolves to be more than two-thirds ethnocentric. This resistance of in-group favoritism to noise is quite a contrast to studies of reciprocity in the iterated prisoner's dilemma. The tit-for-tat strategy, for example, requires the addition of generosity or contrition to be effective in the face of even rare misperceptions (Molander 1985; Wu and Axelrod 1995).

Examining the dynamics of the model reveals how the ethnocentric strategy becomes so common and how "cheaters" are suppressed by ethnocentrics of a dif ferent color. In the early periods of a run, the scattered immigrants create regions of similar agents (Figure la). Colonies of those willing to cooperate with their own color will tend to grow faster, but over time, they face free riding by egoists who arise by mutation. Egoists who free ride cannot be suppressed by ethnocentrics of the same color and therefore tend to erode cooperative regions. Once the space is nearly full, another dynamic is added as regions with different attributes expand until they are adjacent to each other. These dynamics can be analyzed in terms of regions of contiguous agents having the same color and strategy (Figure lb). The most important aspect of regional dynamics is that an ethnocentric region will tend to expand at the expense of a region of a different color using any one of the other three strategies (Figure 2). In this way, free riding is controlled?egoists of any one color are suppressed by ethnocentric agents of different colors.

A remarkable result is that the ability to discriminate between the in-group and the out-groups can actually promote cooperation. As long as agents can distinguish their own color from other colors, even doubling the cost of cooperation sustains a cooperation level of 56 percent. However, when agents are unable to distinguish their own color from others, cooperation in the doubled-cost case falls to 14 percent. Therefore, as the cost of giving help increases, the ability to distinguish between in group and out-group members can be essential for the maintenance of cooperation in "austere" environments. In fact, the ability to distinguish between groups can be regarded as a basis for social capital within a group (Coleman 1990; Putnam 2000).

[RA Hammond, R Axelrod. The evolution of ethnocentrism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2006.]

Altruism via kin-selection strategies that rely on arbitrary tags with which they coevolve (pdf):

We show with an evolutionary model how contingent altruism can be sustained even when arbitrary heritable indicators of relatedness, called ‘‘tags’’, coevolve with the strategies gov- erning behavior. Discrimination based on tags is not assumed, but rather evolves endogenously in a viscous population (i.e., local reproduction and local interaction) and is selected for even when phenotypic matching is very coarse-grained. We also show how to extend Hamilton’s rule to establish the conditions under which kin recognition can support discrim- inating altruism even when coevolution causes the reliability of indicators of relatedness to vary with each individual’s evolving social environment. [. . .]

The resulting agent-based model is based on a model previously developed to study ethnocentrism in humans (Ax- elrod and Hammond 2003). The present model is not meant to be a literal representation of biological processes. Instead, our model is designed to illuminate the consequences of the fact that kin discrimination typically entails coevolution of three things: the strategies governing behavior, the reliability of the tags on which the behavior may be conditioned, and the population structure that determines who interacts with whom. [. . .]

The algebraic method above is the first published analysis of selection for kin recognition with simultaneous variation at the indicator and altruistic loci. This method helps us un- derstand the conditions under which kin recognition can sup- port discriminating altruism even when the reliability of in- dicators of kinship depends on the individual’s social envi- ronment.

The value of being able to distinguish tags can be under- stood in terms of inclusive fitness theory that takes into ac- count the degree of relatedness between two agents (Hamilton 1964; Lacy and Sherman 1983; Riolo et al. 2001). While proximity alone can be an indication of relatedness, being able to distinguish among heritable tags, as in the armpit effect (Dawkins 1982; Hauber and Sherman 2000; Hauber et al. 2000; Mateo and Johnson 2000; Isles et al. 2001), allows a still better indication of relatedness, for example among sessile cnidarians (Grosberg and Quinn 1989; Grafen 1990). The discriminatory abilities required for the armpit effect are likely to be widespread. The self-recognition required for multicellularity provides them from intimate contact, and the need to distinguish conspecifics for mating provides them more generally for animals. In both cases, a hardwired com- parison known as the green beard effect (Hamilton 1964; Dawkins 1976; Haig 1996; Grafen 1998; Keller and Ross 1998) would seriously slow evolution and make speciation almost impossible.

Viscosity is ubiquitous because few populations complete- ly mix from one generation to the next. Hamilton (1964) believed that simple viscosity was a widespread sufficient cause of fairly weak altruism, and various models have found that viscosity can indeed foster cooperation (Getty 1987; Pol- lock 1989; Nowak and May 1992; Nakamaru et al. 1997). However, this general claim is now considered doubtful. The balance between increased relatedness and increased com- petition between neighbors may tilt toward or away from cooperation (Taylor 1992; Wilson et al. 1992; West et al. 2002). Taylor and Irwin (2000) have suggested that with overlapping generations, and with altruism dispensed as ben- efits to fecundity, there is a tendency for population viscosity to support altruism. The 15.6% cooperation found in our model with one tag is on the one hand more than zero, sup- porting Taylor and Irwin, but on the other hand is rather limited. Adding observable tags shows that proximity can sustain cooperation based on contingent altruism, even if the very correlation of tags and relatedness evolves. By putting both the matching and the altruism under explicit genetic control, the model shows how altruism conditional on heritable tags can evolve despite substantial costs of cooperation. Thus, the present model, which combines viscosity, the armpit effect, and endogenous use of discrimination in a genetically explicit way, creates a very general expectation of widespread, and not necessarily weak, conditional altruism in nature.

[R Axelrod, RA Hammond, A Grafen. Altruism via kin-selection strategies that rely on arbitrary tags with which they coevolve.]

And some related work:

Recent agent-based computer simulations suggest that ethnocentrism, often thought to rely on complex social cognition and learning, may have arisen through biological evolution. From a random start, ethnocentric strategies dominate other possible strategies (selfish, traitorous, and humanitarian) based on cooperation or non-cooperation with in-group and out-group agents. Here we show that ethnocentrism eventually overcomes its closest competitor, humanitarianism, by exploiting humanitarian cooperation across group boundaries as world population saturates. Selfish and traitorous strategies are self-limiting because such agents do not cooperate with agents sharing the same genes. Traitorous strategies fare even worse than selfish ones because traitors are exploited by ethnocentrics across group boundaries in the same manner as humanitarians are, via unreciprocated cooperation. By tracking evolution across time, we find individual differences between evolving worlds in terms of early humanitarian competition with ethnocentrism, including early stages of humanitarian dominance. Our evidence indicates that such variation, in terms of differences between humanitarian and ethnocentric agents, is normally distributed and due to early, rather than later, stochastic differences in immigrant strategies.

[Max Hartshorn, Artem Kaznatcheev and Thomas Shultz. The Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 16 (3) 7]

Related: Hamilton on inclusive fitness and social behavior in humans

Yankeeland in the Middle West v. Finnish communists on the Iron Range

JayMan, having a full-blown relapse into Yankee monocausalism:
You know, your general trope of modern SWPLs not being the descendents of the Puritans doesn't actually hold water. A simple comparison of both genetic and self-reported ancestry (again aforementioned link, partially supplied by you) shows that Democratic voting Whites are only found in areas Puritans settled.
I point out Puritan-descendants are numerically insignificant in most of these areas. JayMan:

They don't need to make up a plurality or majority. They just need to be more common there than they are in non-Democratic voting areas, and they are (Mormons excepted).

Now, you can (correctly) point out that this is just a correlation, and may co-vary with the true cause. But if you have any idea what that is, I'm all ears. [. . .]

Look, we can keep running Occam's Razor in reverse and ignore inconvenient facts. Or you could at least try to run with the facts and come up with a plausible alternative explanation. If and when you do that, please let me know.

Let's ignore for the moment that no county-level estimates of Puritan ancestry have actually been derived and the supposed correlation has not been established. The idea that such a correlation could be explained by Puritan-descendants bloc-voting for Obama is fanciful, to say the least. We've already been through this for New England.

Via his post on "Rural White Liberals", JayMan lobs a couple of good examples of why, although demographics and settlement history can be of great interest in understanding the world, the sort of crude analysis that would simply label the Upper Midwest as "Yankee" fails.

Three areas feature an anomalous level of blueness despite being relatively unpopulated, at least as far as Democratic voting areas go. These areas – northern New England proper, the upper Mississippi valley, and the Minnesota Arrowhead/Lake Superior region and the surrounding area are – unsurprisingly – all in Yankeedom, with some parts in the Midlands and New France. All are overwhelmingly non-Hispanic White. All are relatively sparsely populated, and yet all vote Democrat. All are devoid of and are generally outside the orbit of major metropolitan areas, with the upper Mississippi valley area having only smallish metro areas (Iowa City, Waterloo, and the Quad Cities area) and northern New England having the Burlington, Vermont-Plattsburgh, New York metro as its most populous area. [. . .]

So what’s the deal with these three regions? Unfortunately, I am only intimately familiar with one of them, [. . .]

The upper Mississippi valley anomaly largely coincides with the unglaciated "Driftless Area", and a common designation for the "Minnesota Arrowhead" region is the "Iron Range". I'll tell you the deal with these two regions shortly.

First, some comments on Yankee settlement in the Midwest by a more serious researcher than Colin Woodard:

Narrowly defined, Yankeeland in the Middle West is confined to the Western Reserve of Ohio, southern Michigan, southeastern Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, and the central Dakotas; broadly defined it begins with the eastern Ohio apex and then fans out to cover all the territory from central Kansas to the Canadian border. Neither definition is more correct. The distinction is based on the degree of Yankee dominance, and it seems probable that the clearest expression of regional identity will be found in the smaller, inner region (outlined in black in Figure 1). [. . .]

A geographer who views the Yankeeland map is likely to ask, What does this map resemble? The northern fringe of Yankee dominance in the Great Lakes states follows the hardwood-coniferous forest transition. Across North Dakota, the dividing line runs just south of the area settled by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The cattle country of western South Dakota seems to be excluded. Yankeeland in Iowa is the northern two or three tiers of countries. The [southern] boundary seems to bend around the Driftless Hill region of Wisconsin. In Ohio only the Western Reserve is included. If this area labeled "Yankeeland" is to be meaningful geographically, it must be demonstrated that something other than place of birth also follows the same regional outline. [. . .]

The northern limit of wheat specialization in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota coincides closely with the hardwood-coniferous forest transition (Figure 2). To the north the land was poorer, settled later, and when it was settled it was less likely to be cultivated. Forestry was the dominant occupation of the north in the nineteenth century, and those who came to the Upper Great Lakes woods were overwhelmingly from the St. Lawrence region--the northern fringes of New York and Vermont, Upper Canada (Ontario), and the lowlands of Quebec. The "Canadianness" of the Upper Great Lakes is what distinguishes it most clearly from the Yankee belt to the south. Yankees are found in the leading urban centers of the region, but their northward migration clearly slowed to a crawl once the better agricultural lands were left behind. Instead, Yankees followed the prairie ecotone northwest to the Red River valley where they were joined by Canadians from the St. Lawrence zone. Eastern North Dakota became the wheat bonanza of the 1880s. The Northern Pacific Railroad's land grant attracted many to North Dakota from both the Yankee and St. Lawrence zones, including many German- and Norwegian-Americans. St. Lawrence settlers were uncommon in southern North Dakota, but in the rest of the state they rivaled the Yankee in numbers. [. . .]

Yankee Settlement and Politics

The democratic ideals held by Yankees and Midlanders were so similar that to focus on differences may seem unwarranted. A minor point, although pervasive, concerns the role of public buildings in urban design. Both Yankees and Midlanders laid out courthouse towns with city-block squares, but the Yankee seems to have balked at the idea of enshrining government by placing the courthouse on a center square; Midlanders had no such aversion. Therefore a subtle, but rather reliable, marker of the appearance of Yankee dominance is the off-center and sometimes hard-to-find courthouse in the Yankee county seat town.

In Yankee towns the church, the school, and the government had central locations, yet none was more important than the others, and hence none could become a single focus. Instead, the Yankee town centered on business. Prosperity was demonstrated by the massive business blocks built near the major downtown intersection. The practice of setting aside a central common or green, alleged to be important to New Englanders, evidently was forgotten by the nineteenth century. The Yankee town in the Middle West had a focus that was commercial, and the property near its center was almost entirely private; squares, parks, market places, and the like were not included. [. . .]

The Republican party's origin and the region of its greatest strength seem to be plausible consequences of the creation of a Yankee-dominated zone across the Middle West (Hart 1972). The contrast across regional boundaries is especially strong between the Yankee-Republican Middle West and the St. Lawrence zone to the north. The latter has had a history of political localism and radical movements which, although sometimes spawned by Republicans, clearly deviates from the sort of rational, tolerant, small-business oriented Yankee thinking that created and maintained the Republican party.

[JC Hudson. Yankeeland in the Middle West. Journal of Geography, 1986.]

Moving our attention back to the Iron Range: here we have a region which was at no point dominated by Yankees, and whose mines were populated by politically radical stoop laborers from Eastern and Southern Europe. But JayMan's razor informs us we should look to the descendants of Puritans to explain voting returns in this area.

Political Culture in Microcosm: Minnesota’s Iron Range

by Pamela A. Brunfelt


This essay is an analysis of the development of the moralistic political culture on Minnesota’s Iron Range. The idea presented here is that the Iron Range developed a moralistic political culture that was different from the rest of the state of Minnesota largely because of the massive wave of immigrants who settled in northeastern Minnesota between 1884 and 1920. Their struggle to forge a commonwealth that was not dominated by the mining companies resulted in the creation of social and cultural organizations, workers’ halls and labor union locals, and membership in radical political groups. Eventually, however, the New Deal and the Farmer-Labor party pulled the workers into the DFL’s political orbit where the people of the Range have remained for over 70 years. As a result, the political culture on the Range is different from the moralistic political culture in the rest of the state and will probably be resistant to individualistic impulses for some time to come. [. . .]

Hamilton on inclusive fitness and social behavior in humans

In his "admittedly speculative outline of certain cultural and genetic processes in tribal evolution", Hamilton emphasizes selection at a level higher than that of the individual. From "Innate social aptitudes of man: an approach from evolutionary genetics" (text; pdf):

[. . .] The other point concerns the distribution of gene frequencies. The apparent variability of colonies is expected to change rather sharply at certain critical levels of migration. These are M=.5 for the island model and M=1 for the two-dimensional stepping-stone model with close migration predominant. This means that at about the point where the colony members are related to each other like outbreds sibs it should become relatively easy for individuals to detect a fairly clear difference in appearance when comparing fellow colony members with outsiders. Actually, in the stepping-stone model the possibilities with regard to patchiness and cline-like effects are complex, but, considering simultaneously several traits which are independently inherited and at most weakly selected, the complex overlap of patterns should make possible fairly accurate separation of 'us' and 'them' at the level of colonies. We shall shortly see why natural selection might favour motivation and ability so to discriminate.