There is a distinction, current in sociobiology, that is worth noting for our understanding of racism: the difference between positive and negative ethnocentrism.

As I understand it, positive ethnocentrism is the tendency to prefer your own kind over others, to give them special consideration. This is basically family love and commonality taken beyond clan and to the tribal and even national level. Negative ethnocentrism is the tendency to disfavor, discount or even hate members not of your kith and kin and country.

The importance of positive ethnocentrism to the survival and progress of our species can hardly be under-estimated. Negative ethnocentrism is a much more difficult subject, and it would be worth knowing how much of it is a mere extrapolation from positive ethnocentrism and how much derives from the same or quite distinct impulses/instincts.

Of course, one value of negative ethnocentrism is fairly obvious: it bolsters positive ethnocentrism. But it presents also a danger, for negative ethnocentrism can embroil societies in warfare that advances no group’s welfare. Internecine conflict bought on hatred, loathing or mere fear is just that, internecine, unprofitable for all parties. The obvious problem with negative ethnocentrism is that it leads to negative sum interactions.

Now, it is obvious that both forms require a regulatory propensity, tradition, or law. Or something. One can be too positively ethnocentric as well as too negatively ethnocentric. I suspect the lack of any kind of ethnocentrism is also a vice.

Now, racism takes the group particularism beyond nation (shared genes and language and culture) to a larger grouping based on certain morphological markers of no small but often less definite significance — shared genes are fewer, several language groups could be involved, and the cultures can be startlingly different. Anti-racism started out as an attack on racism as a negative ethnocentrism unbounded by nationalism. But ideas don’t stay put, and hidden in each memeplex lies the seed of its own destruction . . . when the “infected” take one salient element to an unwarranted extreme. We witness just this in current woke attacks upon racism that have led to attacks upon any kind of positive ethnocentrism (at least by powerful white people). The result is a bizarre altruism: the fear and hatred not of the outsider but of one’s own kind.

There are few mind viruses more loopy than white intellectuals hating on whites . . . in general. This cultural development is ridiculous, in that it is anti-racism carried to the unwarranted extreme of an inverse (rather than reverse) racism.

It is probably worth mentioning that one impetus for the development of this inverse racism is likely quite simple: noticing that racism-as-hatred entails fallacious discriminatory treatment against individuals because of an invidious distaste or distrust of members of their race in general, it crosses one’s mind that discriminatory treatment for individuals because of a valorized love of one’s own kind is also kind of fallacy. And it can be. But a predisposition for one’s own kind is not on the same level of error, for a number of reasons. Like what? Well, one of them is our limited capacity for altruistic action, which requires us to expect limitations in fellow-feeling, and, by a small step in reasoning, we should expect it to flourish most in cases of similarity and commonality (not “identity”); it is in family, clan, community and culture where we should expect to see altruism first flourish, and if we do not see it here, we are unlikely to see it elsewhere. A moralistic duty to cultivate altruism for people furthest from us is likely to induce a pharisaic sense of love and a heightening of ugly moralism in culture.

Which we do in fact see.

Whereas positive ethnocentrism is an oikophilia, the reversal stemming from fanatical attachment to anti-racist ideas is sometimes called oikophobia; whereas negative ethnocentrism is called xenophobia, the inverse racism valorizing others over “ours” gets the moniker xenocentrism.

So far I have not taken up the philosophical account of racism. That defines racism as the taking into the realm of justice the errors of fools: namely, the errors of judging parts by wholes and wholes by parts, the misconstruing of the relationship between sets and members, the fallacies of ad hominem and guilt by association, and even the genetic fallacy.

These are obviously complex subjects, but it has to be useful to draw out the full continua on which the concepts associated with racism and anti-racism belong. While I am aware of some of the phenomenological literature on this, and have read a few relevant papers in sociobiology, I am obviously a beginner here. But I do notice something: many well-regarded experts seem laggard in this endeavor to draw out the full range of key concepts.

So, though there has to be much good work done on this subject, it remains regrettable that it is the shoddy, beginner-level work that too often stands out. This apparent fact, however, does not mean that the subject is suspect. Merely that most participants are.

Oh, and it is OK to be white. If you think otherwise, on what grounds? That some who say this are racist? That is illogical, as we say: fallacious. The fallacy is guilt by association.

For the record, I rarely think of myself as “white.” But because I am of solid Yamnaya genetics, hailing from Finland with genetic markers labeling that heritage at about 96 percent, I sometimes express commonality with my fellow Finns and Finnish-Americans. But because I am also an individualist, my particular flavor could be called Finndividualism.

There are not many of us Finndividualists, but perhaps more in America than in the woke home country.