May 14, 2008

Our Tribalism, and Theirs

It’s been a rather bleary morning: after last night—don’t ask—I stumbled out of bed, made myself some very strong coffee, and naturally turned to Taki’s Magazine for comfort, where I was delighted to find Bill Kauffman’s excellent piece on Ron Paul: Bill’s style is inherently sympathetic, elegant yet bereft of preciousness and down-home without being anything like Hillary mimicking the rubes. Just my cup of tea. Then, unfortunately, I turned to the “Sniper’s Nest,” and—gack!—came upon this:

“Jeremiah Wright?s loony speeches were not a ‘distraction’; in fact, looking at the numbers tells us that he is a typical representative of his people and their chosen leaders.  Numbers relating to voting, criminality, illegitimacy, IQ, and poverty also tell the story of our deep internal divide in an undeniable and often depressing way . . . if only we take the time to count.”

Really? Can this be true? Well then, let’s look at West Virginia, that bastion of Hillary’s Volk, whose crime rates have steadily risen even as the population declined—they’re big on rape in Hillary-land. Politically, the state is dominated by the Democrats on the local level, and it is one of the biggest recipients per capita of welfare in the nation. Indeed, the Appalachian area was the great experiment of the social engineering Democrats in the 1960s, with the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty.” As Wikipedia reminds us, “Mr. and Mrs. Alderson Muncy of Paynesville, West Virginia, were the first food stamp recipients on May 29, 1961. They purchased US$95 in food stamps for their 15-person household. In the first food stamp transaction, they bought a can of pork and beans at Henderson’s Supermarket.” Today, one in every six West Virginians is receiving food stamps.

What about those numbers, Senor Roach? Do they tell us anything about the “white working class”?

Here’s some more numbers that might prove illuminating:

Let’s talk about illegitimacy rates. As Steve Sailer points out, the black illegitimacy rate is declining, while on the “white” side of the spectrum, it is skyrocketing:

“The highest illegitimacy rates among whites are found in certain rural states such as Maine (33 percent), a state that has quietly developed a lot of social problems in recent years. Vermont, West Virginia, and Indiana follow Maine on the list.”

Those exemplars of Middle American white-ness, the rednecks of West Virginia, are producing children out of wedlock at an alarming rate.

On to IQ scores: West Virginia, with an average IQ score of a piddling 93 —a few grades above Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron—reflects the utter stupidity of its mostly white population. It is near the bottom both in IQ test scores and SAT test results. How does Senor Roach explain those numbers?

So what conclusions should we draw from these supposedly omniscient numbers, which Roach is so on about? Well, by my lights, none at all: people are individuals, not collective entities, and ought to be judged accordingly. Not so with the Roachian analysis, alas: according to him, these statistics “tell the story of our deep internal divide in an undeniable and often depressing way . . . if only we take the time to count.”

“Numbers representing facts are the starting point for realistic appraisals of everything from our enormous debt to the burden of mass immigration,” avers Roach.  “Numbers too demonstrate the deep alienation and tribalism of black Americans and other minorities.” Murray Rothbard rightly warned us to be wary of statistics, which are, of necessity, the instrument of government social engineers, and I would venture to say that Roach’s invocation of them in this instance reflects another sort of tribalism “in an undeniable and often depressing way.” 

UPDATE: In answer to Christopher Roach’s reply in the comments below: I deny the validity of the concept of “race.” We are nearly all of us racial mixtures, except for some isolated peoples who are the exceptions that prove the rule, and therefore when dealing with individuals—and we are all of us individuals—“racial” criteria are practically useless. Furthermore, this is the natural historical trend: in the end we’re all going to be somewhat coffee-colored, and so the racial theorists are headed for the dustbin of history.

It isn’t race, but culture that is the determining factor in human behavior: not genes, but environment that forms the human character and allows us to interact with each other in a way that makes sense. IQ tests don’t measure only inherent genetic limits, but the quality of the environmental factors that have shaped individual characteristics—and, in any case, since the concept of “race” is so imprecise, the idea of racial superiority or inferiority is a meaningless floating abstraction. That’s why there is no “white solidarity”—people generally termed “white” are Italian, Polish, Greek, Scots, Irish, and whatever. That is where their ethnic loyalties, if any, are located. The idea that “whites” should band together against the encroaching Third World masses is a literary-political construct that has no meaning, at least in America—and thank the gods for that.

I would argue that the problems experienced by the black community are the result of State intervention and social engineering programs, starting with slavery—surely the most damaging—and continuing on with the “Great Society” and all the other social experiments supposedly designed to lift blacks up, and which in reality have only kept them down. The social programs of the 1960s destroyed the black family, and led to the appalling statistics the commenters below have remarked on.

In anser to Paul Gottfried’s remarks, I would add that the degeneration of the “white” (i.e. racially mixed) population in the US shows that my thesis on the environmental factors as determinative is correct. The welfare state has eroded values that were once considered unquestionable: it isn’t our genetic stock that is the problem, but our political and economic structure, which encourages—indeed, subsidizes—destructive social trends.

Paul writes: “I do get tired of what seems to be the left libertarian tic of beating up on people of my skin color in order to show that one is not a racist.” I am not sure exactly who I’m supposed to be beating up on—the voters of West Virginia, Christopher Roach, or some other person or group yet to be identified. I was merely pointing out that “statistical analysis” can be deceptive, especially when one ventures into it carrying unexamined assumptions. And speaking of unexamined assumptions, I would question whether I am trying to prove to anything to anybody: I am merely stating my views. As for being a “left-libertarian,” I hardly think the description fits—although, again, we are dealing with an undefined term. My definition of the species is closer to, say, Matt Welch and the editors of Reason magazine, than it is to the author of Reclaiming the American Right and a defender of Ron Paul—but, then again, what do I know?

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