May 22, 2008

The House of Cards

I am surprised to be having such an acrimonious discussion with fellow conservatives.  I repeat my suggestion that Mr. Stegall has not read any of the relevant literature—Arthur Jensen, the Bell Curve, Sailer, etc.—and therefore he has little relevant (or accurate) to say about the subject.  I note he’s twice dodged my question on this subject.  In the absence of facts, he has resorted to invective and ad hominems.

My position should be familiar: people have different IQs.  I think these differences partially explain differences in social outcomes within and across racial cohorts.  There are many other factors like culture and family life and social expectations that affect individual and group outcomes, but IQ is a significant one.  IQ is heritable, and, like most “heritable” human characteristics, it has a large genetic component. It also has a feedback effect; the culture of a low IQ group will be different from a high IQ one.  A cursory review of the relevant literature makes these basic facts uncontroversial.  If Mr. Stegall’s denial of facts persist, I suppose soon we’ll be fielding Lamarckian suggestions that racial differences in skin color are also caused by social conditions.

I have little use for noble lies.  Truth does not contradict truth.  Christian society demands suppression of neither natural nor social science, particularly when the insights of study accord with common experience. It is not news to most people, whose minds are not blinded by liberal ideology, that individual people have different intellectual endowments and that there are some broad trends in this department between groups, whether those groups are families or the large extended families that we designate as races. 

As I review our exchange, I wonder if this is more of a hurdle for Protestants than Catholics.  Catholics are used to inequality and hierarchy.  We are reminded, for instance, in the very design of our churches that some people are illiterate; thus, beautiful statues and paintings and music are employed to convey God’s message.  We do not demand from every believer the performance of detailed textual hermeneutics. We know St. Peter, with all of his flaws, had certain insights into Jesus’ nature that eluded his peers.  Today, we retain the medieval structure of rank and privilege and duty:  we have priests, religious, nuns, bishops, and a Pope.  We’re very comfortable with individual and civilizational noblesse oblige as the proper moral response to human differences. 

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Zmirak and other commenters that differences in intellect do not make us different in kind.  We have souls, freedom, and moral agency. We are connected to one another as fellow Americans, brother Christians, and fellow human beings. But individuals have passions, capacities, and tendencies.  Not everyone (nor every group) can easily compete well in a free market or avoid the temptations of drugs and crime.  Troubled souls, often folks with low IQs and consequent shorter time horizons, need charity and other forms of support and direction, including laws on such varied matters as usury and public intoxication.  It is beneficial for such “permanent children” that we act paternalistically.  And this is the case with simpler people in a world with and without different races living alongside one another. 

I am passionate on this issue because I hate lies and any system built on lies.  We must make due with human nature, in all of its diversity and inequality and individual variation and group tendencies. This is a moral imperative.  As Solzhenitsyn said about another dishonest egalitarian regime, “But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. . . . Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.” Any society built on lies and distortions is fragile, unstable, and unjust. The suppression of truth demands various forms of violence and ostracism, as my paleoconservative ancestors, Joe Sobran and Sam Francis, learned the hard way along with more recent victims, such as Dr. James Watson. 

It is self-evident that our IQs are different within racial cohorts, but the differences across races are also very significant, usually measured around one standard deviation.  Individuals and societies must subordinate themselves to reality.  Ironically, it is those who deny racial differences that obsess about differences in outcome between white and black groups, seeing it as evidence of “invidious” racism.  We should be aiming instead that both groups achieve maximum performance and social flourishing, while recognizing and accepting that there may always be a gap.  It’s not a question of “catching up.”  We are who we are.  Certainly black society did much better under the austere leadership and philosophy of racial realists like Booker T. Washington in the early 20th Century.

Mr. Stegall’s egalitarian schtick subordinates our inquiry into truth not for a genuinely noble reason—such as avoiding scandal or certain demoralization—but to serve the needs of a disordered and declining society built on various liberal myths about democracy, equality, hierarchy, and economic life.  If we suppress all of the facts that demonstrate the differences between groups, then on what basis will we prefer European to Third World Immigration?  How will we explain the persistent and perennial differences in outcome from one racial cohort and another?  The inevitable gap will demand an explanation.  We’ll have to suppress the fact of that gap too, and that in essence that is what our corrupting affirmative action regime aims to do.  Lies beget lies. 

Mr. Stegall’s discussion makes another dubious assumption about the relation of conservatives and our society.  He suggests we are elites, that I am a lousy elite, and that a more responsible leadership class would recognize the obvious necessity of suppressing racial differences in intelligence.  We are not, in fact, the elite.  We are insurgents. We are on the losing side of a 40 year culture war.  The central moral claim of that order is that the inherited American society is wrong, unequal, racist, and evil.  I will not kowtow to the elite that regards our civilization as only now hitting its stride, after a long eon of darkness starting with the Crusades, moving on to slavery, and culminating in the Holocaust.   Anti-racism and the enactment of anti-racist reforms is the central moral tenet on which modern liberalism is built.  I don’t accept this characterization of our complicated past.  I don’t accept this view of our present inequalities.  We must fight these corrosive lies, not as elites, but as the vanguard of restoration and counter-revolution.  If we do not succeed, let us at least maintain our integrity.

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