A Whimper and a Bang: Richard Lynn on "The Perils of Diversity" 20

Richard Lynn reviews Dr. Byron Roth’s book making the case for immigration skepticism.

While I think Dr. Roth’s presentation of the findings of the available data from the social science research and historical evidence is accurate, I disagree that the findings of “IQ realists” are grounds for racial determinism.  Thomas Sowell explains why. IQ is more elastic than what determinists would recognize. Also, IQ is interrelated with climate and broader environmental conditions. For instance, there is a strong correlation between low IQ and malnutrition. See here. This latter factor would go along way to explain why those areas of the world with the lowest average IQ levels also exhibit the highest levels of malnutrition. We also have to consider the large variation in IQ within racial and ethnic groups. Additionally, a high IQ by itself does not guarantee social success. I have known individuals, for instance, with very high IQs in the 160 to 190 range who were total fuck ups, e.g., flunked out of college, drug addicts, mentally ill, chronically unemployed, unable to care for children, etc. In some ways, people with lower IQs often tend to be more socially and personally stable and less given to extremes of behavior or emotion. Think of all the boring everday folks with normal IQs who aren’t particularly interesting or inspiring people but who can keep jobs, raise their kids, drive safely, pay bills on time, etc.
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Dr. Byron Roth, Professor Emeritus of psychology at Dowling College on Long Island, has written an important book on the damage that has been done to the United States and Europe by the large scale immigration of non-European peoples that has taken place in recent decades.

Roth begins The Perils of Diversity by documenting how elite opinion-makers in academia and the mainstream media almost all assume that the peoples of all races are similar, and therefore that they can all be accommodated in the United States and Europe. The principal “debate” is between those who advocate assimilation and those who advocate multiculturalism. While acknowledging that different racial groups can sometimes be in conflict, assimilationists argue that these ethnic problems can be solved through “the magic of assimilation,” in which all races and religions are gradually transformed into Americans or Europeans. The multiculturalists argue that we should let the immigrants keep their culture, beliefs, and practices; this can be accomplished, they say, peacefully, and different communities can live in social harmony. They blame the intolerant attitudes of the host populations in the United States and Europe for the discord that is frequently present: It is the fault of the indigenous American and European peoples, who do not do enough to accommodate immigrants.

Roth argues that both the assimilationists and the multiculturalists fail to understand human nature.

Assimilationists believe that all races have the intelligence and values required to maintain Western civilization, while multiculturalists believe that all races and cultures can live together in social harmony. These beliefs are, Roth argues, seriously incorrect in the light of historical experience and scientific evidence.

To sustain these beliefs, the academy, the legal profession, and philanthropic foundations ignore and suppress the scientific evidence that has shown that genes have a major impact on both individual and racial differences. But academics who state that there are genetic racial differences come in for tremendous criticism and punishment—they are deemed “racists” are run out of the academy. Dr Roth describes the fate of Chris Brand, who was fired from the University of Edinburgh, as well the attacks on Bruce Lahn of the University of Chicago, and on James Watson, who was forced to resign from the research institute at Cold Springs Harbour. All of these scientists were punished for suggesting that there are race differences in IQ.

Discussion of these issues is further suppressed in a number of countries by “hate speech” laws that prohibit public debate on race and intelligence. It is effectively illegal to publish a book criticizing immigration on these grounds in Canada, and publishers are highly reluctant to do so in Europe.

Philanthropic foundations sponsor publications and conferences on race, but do not invite anyone who might make the case for genetic racial differences. They also give huge sums for studies of “racism” to pro-immigration groups, including The National Council of La Raza, as well as Hispanic lobbies that have advocated the return of the southern states to Mexico.

Roth notes the vested interests of many of those that favor mass immigration. Business leaders often like open borders because immigrants provide cheap labor. Liberals and leftists favor mass immigration because they care little about the preservation of Western civilization and have adopted a form of racialized Marxism, in which Whites have effectively taken the place of Marx’s bourgeoisie and non-Whites, the proletariat. They regard the Europeans as the oppressors and non-Europeans as the oppressed.

In making his case, Dr. Roth outlines human evolutionary history—that is, “Big History” of the past tens of thousands of years. Early man lived in bands of some 50 to 100 close relatives. These bands were, in many ways, altruistic, and each member participated in reciprocal co-operation (what is often called “inclusive fitness.”) On the other hand, each band typically had relations with outside bands in varying degrees of hostility. This in-group/out-group dual code, as the British sociologist Herbert Spencer described it in the 19th century, has evolved as human nature. The remaining hunter-gatherers that survive in the Amazon basin and elsewhere typically make frequent attacks on neighboring bands; the victors pass on their genes for hostility to out-groups.

In multiracial societies, the integration of ethnic groups is hard enough when the groups have the same abilities; the strains on social harmony are much greater when the abilities of the groups differ widely. Dr Roth has three chapters explaining racial differences in ability and the effect that climate has had on selecting for intelligence. He summarizes the numerous studies that have shown the existence of race differences in intelligence. The essential facts are that with the average European IQ set at 100, the North East Asians have an average IQ of approximately 105, Hispanics have an average IQ of approximately 89, South Asians and North Africans, an average IQ of approximately 84, and sub-Saharan Africans, an average IQ of approximately 70. These racial differences present difficulties for multiracial societies.

Furthermore, because (apart from small numbers of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans) the immigrants into the United States and Europe have lower average IQs than the European peoples, the IQs of the populations will decline. As their numbers increase by further immigration and higher fertility, the average IQ in the United States and Europe will fall further and this will seriously impair the economic and intellectual world leadership of the European peoples.

Additional problems are that all multiracial societies are stratified by ability such that the more intelligent races achieve more power and wealth. The groups with lower IQs resent this and lobby for legislation and “affirmative action” to redress the perceived inequity. In Indonesia, for example, the ethnic Chinese have an average IQ of approximately 105, while Indonesians average around 87. The Chinese are approximately 3 percent of the population but control about 70 percent of the private economy. This generated resentment among the Indonesians, who in 1998, killed about 2,000 Chinese and looted and burned their homes and businesses.

Roth gives an account of how it has come about that non-European immigrants have flooded into the United States and Europe in the last few decades. The first American immigrants came mainly from Northwest Europe. Between 1881 and the early 1920s, larger numbers came from Southern and Eastern Europe, particularly Italians, Poles and Jews. In 1924, an immigration act was passed that imposed quotas restricting the numbers from Southern and Eastern Europe, in order to preserve that the Northwest European ethnic identity and culture. There were no restrictions on immigration from Latin America, but at this time few Latin Americans arrived.

By the 1960s, the American elites viewed immigration restriction as what Roth describes as “morally compromised” and “inconsistent with American ideals.” The Immigration Act of 1965 was passed that abolished national preferences favoring Northwest Europeans. The act set a total limit of 290,000 admissions per year, but also admitted immigrants’extended families outside the quota. It was this act that opened the floodgates of non-European immigrants, who, together with Blacks, are projected to become a majority of the population by around the year 2042. From 1965 onwards, numerous illegal immigrants entered the United States. In 1986, amnesty was granted to 3.1 million illegal aliens who had arrived in the country before 1982. By this time, about 600,000 people were entering the United States legally every year, so in 1990 Congress raised the quota to 700,000.

The flow continued to increase, reaching approximately one million a year in the 1990s. Only about 16 percent of the immigrants were now coming from Europe or Canada.

Roth documents similar mass immigration of non-Europeans into Western Europe after the Second World War. The two main reasons for this were the shortage of manual labor and immigration from former European colonies.

Germany brought in large numbers of mainly Turkish “guest workers” to help rebuild the country in the 1950s. Many of these workers brought in their families, and there are now over three million Muslims in Germany (most of them being Turks.) These newcomers do not do well by any social measure, and a government survey in 2004 found that they are becoming increasingly alienated from German society. Mosque attendance is rising, and a survey [PDF] has shown that a bout 40 percent consider “the use of physical violence as a reaction to the threat presented to Islam by the West is legitimate.”

Nearly two-thirds of those aged 14 to 18 report having few or no German friends. Immigrants from former colonies have come in large numbers to Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. In France, Muslims from Africa are estimated at 5.7 percent of the population.

Muslims have high rates of crime throughout Western Europe. In Britain they are overrepresented in jails by a factor of 3.67; in France by four to five, and in Germany by six to seven. In Denmark, where they constitute only 4 percent of the population, Muslims have been convicted for more than half the rapes, and these are almost always of non-Muslim women.

In the last chapter Roth discusses the likely future of the West and the world. He estimates that the average American IQ will decline from 98 to 95 by mid-century. This may seem a small drop, but it will have dire effects for elites, because the percentage of Americans with an IQ of at least 120 will fall from 7.1 to 4.8. In the United States and Western Europe, there will likely emerge a rich White-and-Asian elite and a Black-and-Brown majority. This demographic transformation will profoundly impair their economic and military strength and their intellectual world leadership.

China will likely emerge as the new world superpower. Over the next 40 years, the number of well-trained Chinese with IQs over 120 will outnumber their American counterparts by about eight to one. Roth writes, “The upshot is that the gap in the potential for innovation and economic growth between China and the U.S. will grow enormously and begin to have its effects in the very near future.”

Roth also predicts an American fiscal disaster that will produce high inflation and an inability to fund social programs. This will lead to a political conflict between the productive, mostly White part of the population threatened by inflation, and the less productive, mostly non-White part threatened by the loss of welfare handouts.

Roth is even more pessimistic about Europe. He regards the European Union leaders as left-wing authoritarians who aim to turn the European Union into a centrally controlled unified state. The higher fertility rates of Muslims will likely produce Islamic majorities throughout Western Europe by the end of the present century.

Byron Roth has done a terrific job setting out his gloomy but indisputable analysis of the future of the European peoples in his closely argued book. When we reach the end of book, we can only reflect that we are living in a unique moment in human history, in which the European peoples are complacent about the destruction of their genetic and cultural heritage brought about by the invasion of alien peoples.

One is reminded of the Chinese curse—“May you live in interesting times.”

20 comments

  1. Accusations of genetic determinism are by and large straw-men. No psychometrician denies that IQ can be influenced by environmental factors. Neither do any of them claim that IQ wholly explain socio-economic disparities. For a good summary of current scientific data on racial difference in IQ, check-out Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability by Arthur Jensen & J. Philippe Rushton. If however you are really interested in the subject matter, Jensen’s book http://www.amazon.com/Factor-Science-Evolution-Behavior-Intelligence/dp/0275961036 is a more thorough exposition. It is expensive, but worth the price.

  2. Richard Lynn also wrote a thought provoking review of Robert Wright’s The Moral Animal:

    http://www.prometheism.net/articles/wright.html

    One line stands out for me: “[H]uman males are biologically programmed to stratify their societies into status hierarchies. Males compete to become top dog, or at least to become middle dogs.” I totally believe this, and, as I’ve commented elsewhere on this site, believe that the artificial hierarchy created by monarchy/aristocracy is preferable to the state of affairs under democracy, where people compete for social status through “keeping up with the Jones,” that is, democracy leads to careerism.

    Overall, I have a rosier view of human nature than Lynn does, but I will concede that his points definitely need to be addressed.

  3. “One line stands out for me: “[H]uman males are biologically programmed to stratify their societies into status hierarchies. Males compete to become top dog, or at least to become middle dogs.” I totally believe this, and, as I’ve commented elsewhere on this site, believe that the artificial hierarchy created by monarchy/aristocracy is preferable to the state of affairs under democracy, where people compete for social status through “keeping up with the Jones,” that is, democracy leads to careerism.”

    Well what if I don’t want to be in the pecking order? What if I don’t want to be pecked? I am no fan of democracy necessarily, but I don’t see how careerism is worse than a system where status is a matter of violence and coercion, in other words who can dominate others the most effectively. Well status itself is not compatible with liberal/libertarian principles, the fact that someone is more highly regarded than another or has more skills in certain areas doe not infringe on anyone’s liberty (IMO at least), but if you accept that “becoming top dog” is an unalterable aspect of human male nature then it’s hard to see how men will not resort to using violence to back up their hierarchies in the absence of a mitigating power. This is one of the reason’s why I at times am hesitant about decentralization. As I said before in the comments section to Michael Parrish’s assessment of left libertarianism, I am very anti-state and I am opposed to the present system, but my reason for such opposition is rooted in a more fundamental opposition to domination and coercion and I have to desire to simply extend the power to coerce others to a larger group of people.

    On the other hand, if Lynn’s view of male competitive nature is correct then my immigration policy is let all attractive females in from everywhere and make all males get the hell out 🙂

  4. Jared,

    You, like all humans, can’t escape your nature. Two bright sides, however: Lynn’s picture of primitive human society is overly dark, IMO. I don’t believe early humans lived in a Lord of the Flies society in which alpha males ruled over the rest of humanity with clubs and axes. Secondly, part of human nature is ability to communicate. Humans can figure stuff out and tell others about what they figured out, so progress is possible and in keeping with human nature (the creation of a relatively peaceful earthy would not entail “transcending” human nature, in other words.)

    Dave

  5. You, like all humans, can’t escape your nature.

    If that’s true, then by the same token, I certainly don’t have to accept one person’s construction of it. If there’s a coherent and useful thing called “human nature”, I still deny the ability of anybody to dictate it to me. It always appears to be trotted out as an excuse for limiting man and his possibilities instead of explaining those limitations and why they cannot be overcome. A veritable “just-so” story.

  6. Just as a simple, not especially deep, truth: you can’t transcend your nature, because that’s the nature of natures. This is similar to my belief that “supernatural” is a nonsense word. If something exists, it is natural. We can only talk about that which is natural. To me, this is just basic stuff.

    I agree that you have to take statements on what human nature is with a grain of salt. I happen to like popularizers like Steve Pinker and Steve Sailer, since as a whole they seem credible.

    Here’s Sailer interviewing Pinker:

    http://www.isteve.com/2002_QA_Steven_Pinker.htm

    Best line: “[I]t’s not an emphasis on genes or evolution that is dangerous. It’s the desire to remake humanity by coercive means (eugenics or social engineering)….”

    My concern with the concept of the blank slate is that it generally leads to social engineering schemes. I bet it’s the case that any intellectual who puts forth the idea that humans are for the most part malleable is (1) unsatisfied with the way human nature currently exists and (2) wants to see human nature transformed through coercive means. In the West, given our Christian heritage, I also bet that blank slate theorists, following Rousseau, see some event as a Fall that must now be overcome, like the rise of the patriarchy in PC feminism.

  7. “You, like all humans, can’t escape your nature.”

    Ok, the first thing I would point out is that I actually happen to think that in the future (if technology continues to advance and everything doesn’t collapse) people will be able to alter their “natures” in far more fundamental ways then we can imagine. I will leave that point aside, however, as it is not really relevant to what I am going to discuss here I will say no more about it. As for human nature as it is, I think that as Jeremy pointed out, “human nature” is mainly used as a sort of argument within itself and is often used more as cheap rhetoric than as an actual explanation of anything. The fact is that whatever actions that humans have done and exhibits are a part of human nature. So when conservatives claim that hierarchy, patriarchy, and conflict among other things are a part of human nature, I would point out that the negation of such things is also part of human nature. After all, it wasn’t aliens that wrote the declaration of independence, that invented classical liberalism, and later libertarianism(s) In some cases, I think that some of these things that are held up as being absolutely inherent parts of human nature are really hardly so. For example, if they ever invent some kind of drug to take away fear, I’m going to guess that all of those pecking orders wouldn’t last very long.

    One point here, you mentioned that you like Steve Sailer and Steven Pinker as popularisers of this science and you linked to an interview which I have come across before and will have a few words to say about later. First, to get it out of the way, from what I have read of Steve Sailer, he comes across to me as an authoritarian asshole but then that’s just my subjective opinion, take it for what it’s worth. I happen to think that both Steve’s are guilty of going far beyond the scientific evidence and attempting to draw broad philosophical conclusions from such data where that cannot be done. BTW, I always am wary of anyone who says that certain facts necessitate the adoption of certain political views or courses of action as that almost always depends upon assumptions being smuggled into the argument. There is a perfect example of what I am talking about in the interview which I will mention in a moment. I should point out that I have observed scientists doing this before so I am not singling one person out here.

    As for the interview, the point that illustrates what I am talking about is where Sailer asks whether there are any on the left that embrace this science and Pinker mentions among others, Noam Chomsky, who supposedly has a naive view of human nature unaware of evolution and I guess that is what explains his left anarchism. Pinker then goes to say that only romantics (he never defines what that means) can be anarchists and no one who accepts Darwinian evolution can be a romantic. I roughly paraphrased this as I am lazy to look it up again, but that section is one I remember quite well after two years. I would be curious, btw, how Mr. Keith Preston would respond to that as he calls himself an anarchist yet at the same time holds a perspective on human nature not that different than the typical conservative one. Anyhow, it is not true anyway, one could believe in no government even if one believed the absolute worst of human beings. Pinker is assuming here that everyone believes peace and order are things of the utmost importance above all others. I would recommend reading de Sade, for anyone that believes that as it would be quite a shock to their system.

    “Best line: “[I]t’s not an emphasis on genes or evolution that is dangerous. It’s the desire to remake humanity by coercive means (eugenics or social engineering)….””

    You know this may shock some here, but if it came down to eugenics and parent licensing versus all the crap that adults have to put up with from the state now, I would choose the former as I think that would solve more problems than all the laws that are constantly being made. Also, as for Sailer, I should point out that I read a presentation he made advocating enforceable eugenics in order for the west to compete with China, talk about authoritarian statism at its best. What really gets me is this same fucker whines about pc and speech codes when he advocates something that is Imo far more insidious.

  8. “As for the interview, the point that illustrates what I am talking about is where Sailer asks whether there are any on the left that embrace this science and Pinker mentions among others, Noam Chomsky, who supposedly has a naive view of human nature unaware of evolution and I guess that is what explains his left anarchism. Pinker then goes to say that only romantics (he never defines what that means) can be anarchists and no one who accepts Darwinian evolution can be a romantic. I roughly paraphrased this as I am lazy to look it up again, but that section is one I remember quite well after two years. I would be curious, btw, how Mr. Keith Preston would respond to that as he calls himself an anarchist yet at the same time holds a perspective on human nature not that different than the typical conservative one. Anyhow, it is not true anyway, one could believe in no government even if one believed the absolute worst of human beings.”

    I think that a “negative” view of human nature is actually more compatible with political anarchism than a more rosy view. If human beings are basically “bad,” then why trust them to hold political power on the assumption they will “do the right thing” most of the time? If on the other hand humanity is a mass of sheep generally guided by whatever wolves happen to push their way to the front of the herd, as I believe to be the case, then for Christ’s sake we’d better make damn sure that no one gains too much political power over others. Such an outlook warrants a skeptical and suspicious view of institutional authority to a much greater degree than the view that people are basically kind, generous, motivated by good will, etc..

    I’ll grant that a lot of classical as well as modern anarchist thought maintains an optimistic view of humanity and reflects the influences of Rousseau or Marx. Chomsky falls into that category to a large degree. I don’t think this refutes the anarchist idea per se as much as it is simply a philosophical error that requires revision.

    I also think this view of human nature explains why most liberals and leftists are statists. Anarchists are a small minority among leftists and generally regarded as an embarrassment. Most leftists believe statism is fine so long as “the right people” (meaning those who have been enlightened by ideology) are in charge because the enlightened ones are virtuous, benign, selfless, etc.

    I also think that conservatives are inconsistent regarding the political implications of their view of human nature. The standard conservative line is: “Human beings are basically bad, so we better trust the President, at least if he’s a Republican, worship the military, support the troops, and lick the boots of the police who are saving us all from criminals and terrorists.”

    That perspective makes no sense at all from the conservative view of human nature. If human beings are basically bad, why doesn’t that also include the military, the police, right-wing politicians, et.al.? Why trust these any more than leftist movements or politicians?

    I remember having a conversation once with a standard “conservative” flag-waver type who said, “If some countries are going to be more powerful than others, then don’t you want your own country to be the most powerful?”

    Those kinds of sentiments reflect a complete herd mentality. The automatic assumption operating there is that “your country” is a reflection of yourself and is somehow inherently your friend, benefactor, etc. I responded to that person that I consider the state that I live under to be a much greater enemy than a foreign state because the enemy that is close is a more immediate threat than the enemy that is distant. They seemed to have no clue as to what I was talking about, which more or less affirmed my view that “conservatism” is a movement for Bell Curve low-enders.

    “Pinker is assuming here that everyone believes peace and order are things of the utmost importance above all others. I would recommend reading de Sade, for anyone that believes that as it would be quite a shock to their system.”

    Right. Not every individual would make the same choice as Hobbes of preferring tyranny over chaos, though the majority of people probably would.

  9. I don’t believe early humans lived in a Lord of the Flies society in which alpha males ruled over the rest of humanity with clubs and axes.

    Only negroes do that.

  10. “The fact is that whatever actions that humans have done and exhibits are a part of human nature. So when conservatives claim that hierarchy, patriarchy, and conflict among other things are a part of human nature, I would point out that the negation of such things is also part of human nature. After all, it wasn’t aliens that wrote the declaration of independence, that invented classical liberalism, and later libertarianism(s)”

    You’re absolutely right, Jared. No argument here. I simply content that there is a large part of our nature that is fixed and that efforts to mold human nature have always and likely will always end badly.

    “from what I have read of Steve Sailer, he comes across to me as an authoritarian asshole”

    Not everybody is a Rothbardian, unfortunately. Even Gottfried, who was close friends with Rothbard, isn’t one. Sailer generally impresses me with his insights. I’m willing ti give him a pass for not hating the State.

    “humanity is a mass of sheep generally guided by whatever wolves happen to push their way to the front of the herd”

    Keith, I don’t think this was true for 99% of human history, that is, during the hunter gatherer stage, pre-State. There have always been wolves, but under the correct circumstances, they do not rule. I think circumstances right now are pretty frigging bad, much worse than they were before the 1960s. I believe the emergence of the State allowed the wolves to gain more power than they had in caveman days, when they likely wound up on the receiving end of a well-placed rock. Perhaps this is a reflection of my Catholic upbringing. I see the rise of the State as a fall from grace.

    Dave

    • The USA began as an implicit ethnic state, whose Protestant European identity was taken for granted. As a result, the founding fathers made few remarks about ethnicity, but John Jay famously stated in 1787 that America was ‘one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.”’ a prominent statement in one of the republic’s founding philosophical documents that attracted no disagreement.

      The “founding fathers” had no idea – and no intention — that the USA would eventually look demographically/ethnically like it does now. That means that the “self-correcting” protections built into the Constitution don’t work because the current 2016 “audience” is totally different demographically from what they intended. This is a very important distinction and is hardly grasped yet by the masses.

  11. “I think that a “negative” view of human nature is actually more compatible with political anarchism than a more rosy view. If human beings are basically “bad,” then why trust them to hold political power on the assumption they will “do the right thing” most of the time? If on the other hand humanity is a mass of sheep generally guided by whatever wolves happen to push their way to the front of the herd, as I believe to be the case, then for Christ’s sake we’d better make damn sure that no one gains too much political power over others. Such an outlook warrants a skeptical and suspicious view of institutional authority to a much greater degree than the view that people are basically kind, generous, motivated by good will, etc..”

    You have said in the past that you oligarchy as inevitable which makes me wonder then what sort of practical politics should be embraced in such a case. I certainly agree that the majority of humans do seem to be follower types, but must that be the case forever. I still agree with anarchism at the philosophical level and I think that it is better to be suspicious of all forms of rule, but when it comes to decentralization on a practical level, I at times wonder whether it makes sense to replace one bad state with a multitude of bad ones. Maybe, as in many things in life, it is a matter of picking the least worst? This is one of the reasons why I am not that hostile to the welfare state the way many right-wing libertarians seem to be. My reasoning is that if you’re going to be bossed around by a government, you might as well get as much from that government as you can. I agree that it would be worse for one all powerful government to control everything as there would be no possibility of escape, but at the same time, it must be acknowledged that the majority of secessionist protects are not aiming at creating more freer societies.

    “I also think that conservatives are inconsistent regarding the political implications of their view of human nature.”

    Yes!, that is one of my big beefs with conservative thought and I could write a whole blog post detailing such inconsistencies. Come to think of it, I probably will do such a thing in the future. I mentioned some of them in a comment below the “Judge Let Me Go” article, somewhat in response to that J.J. figure.

    “Human beings are basically bad, so we better trust the President, at least if he’s a Republican, worship the military, support the troops, and lick the boots of the police who are saving us all from criminals and terrorists.”

    That perspective makes no sense at all from the conservative view of human nature. If human beings are basically bad, why doesn’t that also include the military, the police, right-wing politicians, et.al.? Why trust these any more than leftist movements or politicians?”

    That’s something that I’ve never been able to figure out myself either. How can all humans be considered so rotten yet all members of the military, the police, the (republican/conservative) government be so wonderful and selfless in fulfilling their duties. It’s funny how some Conservatives charge the younger generation for being nihilists for not having faith in traditional institutions yet it seems to me that such a view is far more consistent.

    “I remember having a conversation once with a standard “conservative” flag-waver type who said, “If some countries are going to be more powerful than others, then don’t you want your own country to be the most powerful?”

    Those kinds of sentiments reflect a complete herd mentality. The automatic assumption operating there is that “your country” is a reflection of yourself and is somehow inherently your friend, benefactor, etc.”

    That’s one of the reasons I am sceptical of all collectivist movements, including racialist ones. The reason being that such movements are about basing one’s individual sense of worth in that of a larger group, something I think is the cause of far more disorder int he world than individual selfishness. I don’t understand such a mentality, why do I care about the success of a group when I am being dumped on by everyone above me in the group. That point is particularly applicable to the flag waving types you mention, as they often come from the lower classes.

    “They seemed to have no clue as to what I was talking about, which more or less affirmed my view that “conservatism” is a movement for Bell Curve low-enders.”

    I think that’s definitely true for the rank and file. Check out this absurdity http://www.stoptheaclu.com/2011/06/17/left-libertarian-hate-speech/

    “Right. Not every individual would make the same choice as Hobbes of preferring tyranny over chaos, though the majority of people probably would.”

    True and I think that is one of the reasons that the majority of people will not adopt libertarianism, left or right wing because most people want an absolute guarantee of security, or as Mencken put it,

    “What the common man longs for in this world, before and above all his other longings, is the simplest and most ignominious sort of peace — the peace of a trusty in a well-managed penitentiary. He is willing to sacrifice everything else to it. He puts it above his dignity and he puts it above his pride. Above all, he puts it above his liberty. The fact, perhaps, explains his veneration for policemen, in all the forms they take — his belief that there is a mysterious sanctity in law, however absurd it may be in fact. A policeman is a charlatan who offers, in return for obedience, to protect him (a) from his superiors, (b) from his equals, and (c) from himself. “

  12. “You have said in the past that you oligarchy as inevitable which makes me wonder then what sort of practical politics should be embraced in such a case.”

    Anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism, of course. 🙂

    “I certainly agree that the majority of humans do seem to be follower types, but must that be the case forever.”

    I think it will be the case so long as human nature remains what it is. The elastic, malleable view of human nature often found on the Left is what I consider to be the aspect of leftist “first principles” that most warrants skepticism.

    “I still agree with anarchism at the philosophical level and I think that it is better to be suspicious of all forms of rule, but when it comes to decentralization on a practical level, I at times wonder whether it makes sense to replace one bad state with a multitude of bad ones. Maybe, as in many things in life, it is a matter of picking the least worst?”

    I’m going to get into that a bit in my reply to Matthew Lyons. The value of decentralization is that is creates a kind of civilization-wide laboratory where all different kinds of social and political experiments can be carried out. Some will fail and disappear. Others will thrive, grow and become prototypes for future civilizations. Also, the horrors of overly centralized governments have been demonstrated by the modern totalitarian systems. How much more evidence against the state would we need?

    “This is one of the reasons why I am not that hostile to the welfare state the way many right-wing libertarians seem to be. My reasoning is that if you’re going to be bossed around by a government, you might as well get as much from that government as you can.”

    The welfare state was never an issue of particular important for me, either. Conservatives and libertarians who make that their pet issue seem to me to be engaged in selective indignation.

    “I agree that it would be worse for one all powerful government to control everything as there would be no possibility of escape, but at the same time, it must be acknowledged that the majority of secessionist protects are not aiming at creating more freer societies.”

    Most secessionist groups I’ve encountered have been about creating freer societies for themselves and others with similar values, though not necessarily for other people. Like everyone else, they’re looking out for their own interests. I don’t really have a problem working with secessionists whose beliefs I sharply disagree with because I look at it from the perspective of “good riddance.”

    “The reason being that such movements are about basing one’s individual sense of worth in that of a larger group, something I think is the cause of far more disorder int he world than individual selfishness.”

    Arthur Koestler, an ex-Stalinist who became a sharp critic of totalitarian movements, made an argument along those line. Disciplined herds of selfless true believers are far more dangerous egocentric individuals.

    Thanks for digging up that Mencken quote. I had forgotten that one. Such observations are at the core of the philosophical framework that informs my wider political outlook.

  13. Most leftists believe statism is fine so long as “the right people” (meaning those who have been enlightened by ideology) are in charge because the enlightened ones are virtuous, benign, selfless, etc.

    By doing this, they implicitly endorse the inequality many of them claim to decry. An even less (consistently) PC Lefty statist might assert that such inequality has a biological basis: that some people really are “born leaders” and “naturally good/better” as far as ‘virtue’ is concerned, and, thus, should rule ueber alles.

    Has anyone here encountered such a viewpoint?

  14. The traditional Leninist view is that a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries enlightened by Marxist theory is necessary to guide the working class towards realization of its “true” interests. Otherwise, the workers are not capable of rising above mundane “trade union consciousness.” This is a classic example of leftist non-egalitarianism.

    A lot of earlier leftists specifically embraced non-egalitarianism. I’m going to touch on that a bit in my reply to Lyons critique as well.

  15. I’ve come to hold a more negative view of human nature the last few years, but I nevertheless hold a positive view of humans in general. Pro-social human nature provides the building blocks for spontaneous social order. The Mary Poppins song says that money makes the world go around, that is, greed, but I suspect greed alone would not do it.

    One thinker I like is primatologist Frans de Waal. Here’s a quote from Sara Lippincott’s review of his book “The Age of Empathy”:

    “De Waal bolsters his case with plentiful anecdotes of sweet-natured primates and contemporary examples of ill-advised human cold-bloodedness (Enron, the response to Hurricane Katrina). Along the way, you learn a lot of interesting primatological arcana, such as that apes can’t swim and invariably defecate when excited. In concluding, De Waal points out that Adam Smith, the alpha male of free marketeers, has consistently been misunderstood. Smith’s disciples ‘leave out an essential part of his thinking, which is far more congenial to the position I have taken throughout this book, namely, that reliance on greed as the driving force of society is bound to undermine its very fabric.'”

    Another quote from the article:

    “[O]ur fellow feeling, ‘an innate age-old capacity[,]’ … has been naturally selected for — for the excellent reason that without it we would have gone extinct long ago. ‘It’s not as though we’re asking our species to do anything foreign to it by building on the old herd instinct that has kept animal societies together for millions of years,’ he writes. ‘Every individual is connected to something larger than itself. . . . The connection is deeply felt and . . . no society can do without it.'”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/sep/20/entertainment/ca-frans-de-waal20

    Here are two quotes from de Waal pulled from Wikipedia’s article on him:

    “The possibility that empathy resides in parts of the brain so ancient that we share them with rats should give pause to anyone comparing politicians with those poor, underestimated creatures.”

    “I’ve argued that many of what philosophers call moral sentiments can be seen in other species. In chimpanzees and other animals, you see examples of sympathy, empathy, reciprocity, a willingness to follow social rules. Dogs are a good example of a species that have and obey social rules; that’s why we like them so much, even though they’re large carnivores.”

    BTW, one can have a positive view of human nature and still fear what humans in charge of a large centralized State will do. Being nice to your fellow human within a community is natural. Being a selfless Fuhrer isn’t.

    Dave

  16. Excellent article. All human beings are tribal and ‘collectivist’ on some level. There is no such thing a free individual without affiliation with or membership, even nominally, within a larger collective entity, racial, ethnic, cultural, national, regional, religious, familial.

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