I recently had the privilege to exchange a series of questions with Norwegian author and pundit Ole Jørgen Anfindsen via e-mail. Anfindsen’s writings on race, gender, and political correctness have appeared in major publications, and provide a rare corrective to the prevailing orthodoxies about those subjects. He founded the English- and Scandinavian-language website HonestThinking.org with his brother Jens Thomas, and is currently its editor. His recent book Selvmordsparadigmet (The Suicidal Paradigm) features original contributions by Roger Scruton, Henry Harpending and Frank Salter, and Fjordman.
Svein Sellanraa: You often write about race and immigration. Explain your basic position on these issues and how it differs from prevailing opinion in Norway and the West.
Ole Jørgen Anfindsen: The existence of racial differences, including in average IQ and other mental abilities and dispositions, is proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Experts disagree among themselves as to the relative importance of nature and nurture when it comes to explaining said differences, but the completely extreme position that they are all due to environmental factors only has never really been tenable, and can now safely be dismissed as plain stupid; anyone who subscribes to such a view is simply ignorant or dishonest. This is so because, as many have pointed out before me, you cannot have populations living apart for several generations without genetic differences accumulating.
Not only have various races and ethnic groups been subject to different selective pressures through centuries or millennia, and therefore evolved differently in terms of personality traits, general intelligence, and more, we all have an inherent tendency to identify with and prefer those with whom we are closely related, genetically speaking, i.e., our own people. This follows as a corollary of William D. Hamilton’s groundbreaking insight about gene-centric evolution (popularized in particular by Richard Dawkins in his international bestseller The Selfish Gene). While I am a great admirer of Dawkins’ unparalleled ability to popularize science, I think he has thus far failed to live up to his responsibility as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals, by hardly addressing the thorny issues and ethical dilemmas that racial and ethnic differences give rise to. Two outstanding authors who have indeed done so are Frank Salter (a political scientist) and J. Philippe Rushton (a psychologist). Interested readers are advised to look for books and articles from said authors discussing topics such as genetic interests or genetic similarity theory.
All of the above is, by the way, valid even for those who subscribe to a creationist world-view, since we are merely discussing evolution within a single species (in this case Homo sapiens), i.e., an example of what creationists prefer to call micro-evolution; a phenomenon in which they are firm believers. In other words, religious fundamentalists cannot escape the race-related issues just by claiming that they are a by-product of ‘atheistic science’, or something along those lines.
Whether we like it or not, observations like these have profound political consequences. While I think we should avoid all kinds of excesses and extreme viewpoints here, and while we should in particular not jump to the conclusion that immigration is always bad, we need to realize that man’s biological nature places certain limits on the number of immigrants that can be absorbed in a certain amount of time by a given society without that society becoming dysfunctional. In other words, a society cannot remain sustainable unless immigration is limited to such a level that successful integration of immigrants can indeed be accomplished.
Several factors influence how difficult it is to integrate different groups of immigrants, but the most important of them seem to be how distantly related they are to the indigenous population in terms of language, culture, religion, and race/ethnicity. The general problems of multiculturalism and Western immigration policies are convincingly and thoroughly discussed by Professor Byron M. Roth in his excellent book The Perils of Diversity.
SS: Why and how was HonestThinking founded?
OJA: It was founded by my brother Jens Tomas Anfindsen (a philosopher) and myself back in 2005. We were both frustrated by what we perceived as a lack of honest public discourse on a number of topics, including ones having to do with feminism, race, ethnicity, culture, Islam, and immigration. Given the reluctance of the mainstream media to allow said topics to be discussed but in the most cursory and superficial way, the two of us decided to establish our own website.
We chose the name HonestThinking (HT) because we felt that perhaps the most fundamental problem of Western societies is its widespread flirtation with dishonest thinking. In particular, as explained in our General Manifesto, we are opposed to philosophical relativism as well as the collection of phenomena loosely referred to as postmodernism. We see these approaches or positions as being self-defeating and incoherent, and therefore ultimately incompatible with democracy and freedom, and thus something every truth-loving and honest person should fight against.
Using HT as our platform, my brother and I have been quite active in the public debate in Norway. Most of the material published by HT is in Norwegian (or the closely related languages Danish or Swedish), but we also publish quite a bit of material in English. The Norwegian/Scandinavian section has thus far been given the highest priority, while the English section to a large degree has functioned as a kind of “reader’s digest”, where we highlight noteworthy quotes and point our readers in the direction of articles of particular interest. However, our own judgments and points of view are usually implicitly, and quite often also explicitly, visible.
In 2007 my brother began working full time for a Norwegian think tank, at which time he had to abandon all his HT work to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Later he and his family moved abroad, so I have since 2007 run HT by myself and on my spare time. Thus, HT is admittedly a fairly humble member of the worldwide family of websites fighting against the prevailing tyranny of political correctness. Even so, I think it has a certain unique flavor that makes it worth visiting, and I hope this interview will cause more people to acquaint themselves with HT.
SS: I understand that an English translation of Selvmordsparadigmet may be published sometime in the future. What is the premise of that book, and what can it contribute to the discussion outside of Scandinavia?
OJA: While certain sections and appendixes in Selvmordsparadigmet (The Suicidal Paradigm) contain material that is primarily of interest to Scandinavian readers, most of the contents of my book is highly relevant to the entire Western world, and actually beyond that as well (countries such as e.g. Japan, China, and South Korea ought to carefully study the grave mistakes that have been made in the West, and take measures to avoid repeating them).
Thus, I am currently making preparations to see if there are publishers who might be interested in an international version of The Suicidal Paradigm, which I would then hope to see translated into English and possibly other languages as well.
My book proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Western politicians, rather than basing their views on a scientific understanding of human nature and human biodiversity, have chosen to build their policies on a foundation consisting of a disgraceful mixture of lies, half-truths, and wishful thinking. The basic thesis of The Suicidal Paradigm is that no country, no nation, no society can indulge in said kinds of dishonesty without destroying its democracy and becoming unsustainable. In other words, my book sets out to convince its readers that the Western world has adopted an intellectual paradigm that will ultimately lead to civilizational suicide.
The Suicidal Paradigm is a science-based book. However, it is written in a language that can be understood by the proverbial man in the street, and it should be of interest to anyone who cares about the big political questions and the future of our children.
The reactions in Norway have been strongly divided; people either love the book, or they hate it. While mainstream media have published a couple of sarcastic and superficial reviews that hardly take the book’s contents serious, or – more often – have simply pretended the book does not exist, a number of individuals have reacted in an overwhelmingly positive way; many of them have expressed their opinions publicly, and even more have contacted me directly. I can confidently state that my book creates a lot of enthusiasm with those who are willing to seriously consider its message.
The Suicidal Paradigm (like several others, e.g. Prof. Roth’s book mentioned above) is meant to be a wake-up call to the Western world. We either have to turn from our utopian and unsustainable ways, and set our house in order, or somebody else is going to do it for us. Both options are going to be painful – the former a lot less so than the latter.
SS: It is often claimed that political correctness has advanced farther in the Scandinavian countries than anywhere else in the world. Do you agree with this claim? How does PC manifest itself here?
OJA: No, I am not convinced that the situation in Scandinavia as a whole is very different from the rest of the West. However, the three Scandinavian countries are quite different as far as PC oppression and lack of freedom of expression is concerned, ranging from critically ill to not bad. Please allow me to comment on each one separately below.
Sweden is now in a terrible state, and the country can hardly be considered a proper democracy any more. The PC censorship is formidable, and there is widespread persecution, sometimes violent, of opponents. While hostile groups of immigrants are turning an increasing number of suburbs into no-go zones, the main concern of the ruling elites apparently is to figure out how to prevent the Swedish people from putting and end to the continued destruction of their country. The situation in Sweden is a disgrace not only to themselves and Scandinavia, but to the entire Western world.
The situation in Norway is a lot better, although there is obviously room for improvement. People with non-PC opinions are few and far between – or largely invisible – among our elites. Even so, the multiculturalists have not yet succeeded in taking away our freedom of expression (and not for lack of trying). Thus, non-PC people that would have been censored or brutally silenced in Sweden are more likely merely to be ridiculed or ignored whenever they manage to voice their opinions in the mass media here in Norway. The Internet seems to be the only place where anything that resembles a truly free and open debate does indeed take place. And, in all fairness, it should be mentioned that our major newspapers allow a fairly free debate to take place at their respective websites. One of them, called Verdidebatt and owned by the Christian daily Vårt Land, even invited me to be a guest writer for two weeks at the time of my book’s publication. Verdidebatt has, by certain intellectuals and political activists, been heavily criticized for this, but its editors have thus far stood their ground affirming their dedication to free speech (and I do indeed continue to publish articles on various topics at this website).
Denmark appears to be among the most free and democratic countries in the Western world and the mainstream media give room for lively debates on many issues related to immigration and integration. It is also interesting to note that Denmark has a number of prominent intellectuals who regularly challenge PC thinking. Alas, most Danish intellectuals, with psychologist Helmuth Nyborg and philosopher Kai Sørlander being notable exceptions, tend to shy away from what are perhaps the most important issues of all in this context, viz. those having to do with racial differences and ethnic identities.
This brings me to another question which I think should be at least briefly mentioned in this context. The immigration-related public debate in the Scandinavian countries – to the degree that there is such a debate at all (see above) – is very much centered on Islam and Muslims, and much less so on the formidable – quite possibly impossible – challenges of integrating into the indigenous population foreigners who, genetically speaking, are quite distantly related to the Scandinavians. Not only is this unfair to Muslims who are made into scapegoats and blamed for all the problems of multiculturalism, one is also automatically granting half a victory to the ruling elites by implicitly agreeing to the latter’s claim that there actually are certain issues (viz. those related to race/ethnicity) where political correctness ought to be considered more important than scientific correctness.
This is not to say that Westerners aren’t facing challenges having to do with our relationship to Islam. We are indeed, and we are going to need frank and honest discourse about all the involved issues. What I am saying is merely that these things must be put into perspective, and that anyone who pretends that Islam is the one and only topic we need to discuss, is doing the Western civilization a great disservice.
SS: Many of the opinions you advance are considered beyond the pale by the establishment. How did you come to hold such iconoclastic views, and how have people reacted to them?
OJA: Whenever people in power try to prevent certain issues from being discussed, there is every reason to be suspicious. Over the years it slowly dawned on me that the propaganda we are all being fed about all races and ethnic groups having the same intellectual and mental capabilities is not much more than a combination of wishful thinking, half-truths and downright lies. As anyone with a basic understanding of science can easily figure out, this beautiful and egalitarian view of humanity just cannot be true. Pretending the world is different from what it actually is, hoping that this will cause the problems to go away, is not only stupid and naïve, but will also ensure that the problems are exacerbated.
After having thought long and hard about the issues and being convinced that the truth is what sets us free, I decided a few years ago that I was no longer going to ignore the elephant in the room, and I was no longer willing to go along with the hypocrisy that is expected of all ‘decent’ people, and so I started to write about racial issues at the HT website, and also voicing my opinions in the media. This has caused quite a bit of heated debate, and I have of course been branded a racist by some. With last year’s publication of The Suicidal Paradigm the whole situation has intensified, but by and large I think people tend to respect a person who sticks to his or her convictions, and refuses to give in to pressures of conformity. I have repeatedly challenged Norwegian scientists and intellectuals to prove me wrong, but the few that have tried have, in my (possibly biased) opinion, failed miserably. Many people are beginning to realize that our current policies are based on an utterly false view of human nature and racial differences, but thus far they hesitate to draw any conclusions from this, let alone speak up about their concerns. Processes like these take time, unfortunately, and as the years go by the West continues its move in the direction of disintegration and demise.
SS: What can be done to keep the West from committing suicide? Do you see any chance of this happening, or is it already too late?
OJA: While I do not see it as inevitable that the West will eventually commit suicide, it does appear to be a quite likely outcome of today’s processes. The currently ongoing destruction of our societies is possible because people either don’t care enough to speak out against our elites, and/or because they actually believe that we are merely going through some ‘adjustments’ on our way to the multicultural paradise. Our political Titanic can only be turned around if sufficient numbers of voters demand a change.
This appears unlikely to happen in the near future, and I suspect that part of the reason has to do with a certain level of decadence that has permeated the Western mindset. Exaggerating somewhat, people care more about wealth, status, and careers than about the future of their own children. As a matter of fact, we are not even producing sufficient numbers of children for there to be any future for us at all. Unless there is a change in attitude here, our societies are doomed, and deservedly so.
I suspect we have a long fight in front of us; a fight that will ultimately be about what Western civilization is, and upon which values it should be built. As we engage in battle with those who hate the West and everything it stands for, as well as those who despise people of European descent, let us not stoop to their corrupt ways and despicable methods. Let us affirm the value of every human being, irrespective of ethnicity, race, or religion (or lack of such). Let us be caring, reasonable, and generous – without becoming utopian, stupid, or naïve. And let us, above all, seek the truth – wherever it may lead.