Every year Edge.org gets some certifiably smart people to give answers to a Big Question. This year’s Big Question is “What should we be worried about?” I suppose if I was invited to comment, it would be about the decline of Whites in all societies that have been historically White, from Australia to Europe, and what that might mean in terms of future racial/ethnic conflict as multiculturalism continues to march forward unimpeded.
But none of these smart people are concerned about that. Nevertheless, there are a couple of comments that bear on these issues. Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico and NYU, discusses Chinese eugenics as a long term threat to the West. In the West, as John Glad has shown, eugenics was a casualty of World War II and the successful effort by Jewish intellectual activists linking eugenics with the Holocaust. Eugenics is alive and well in Israel and China, but any mention of eugenics is greeted by the West with moral panic. Miller notes that “With the 1995 Maternal and Infant Health Law (known as the Eugenic Law until Western opposition forced a name change), China forbade people carrying heritable mental or physical disorders from marrying, and promoted mass prenatal ultrasound testing for birth defects.”
In the early part of the 20th century, eugenics based on Darwinism was common knowledge, and there were concerns about the future of the race, but among Europeans like Madison Grant and the Chinese:
Many scientists and reformers of Republican China (1912-1949) were ardent Darwinians and Galtonians. They worried about racial extinction (miezhong) and “the science of deformed fetuses” (jitaixue), and saw eugenics as a way to restore China’s rightful place as the world’s leading civilization after a century of humiliation by European colonialism.
China, like Israel, is an ethnostate, with a strong commitment to ensuring the future of the race:
One of Deng’s legacies is China’s current strategy of maximizing “Comprehensive National Power”. This includes economic power (GDP, natural resources, energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, owning America’s national debt), military power (cyberwarfare, anti-aircraft-carrier ballistic missiles, anti-satellite missiles), and ‘soft power’ (cultural prestige, the Beijing Olympics, tourism, Chinese films and contemporary art, Confucius Institutes, Shanghai’s skyscrapers). But crucially, Comprehensive National Power also includes “biopower”: creating the world’s highest-quality human capital in terms of the Chinese population’s genes, health, and education ….
There is unusually close cooperation in China between government, academia, medicine, education, media, parents, and consumerism in promoting a utopian Han ethno-state. Given what I understand of evolutionary behavior genetics, I expect—and hope—that they will succeed. The welfare and happiness of the world’s most populous country depends upon it.
Miller sees this as a threat to the West which continues to put view eugenics from the cultural Marxist perspective:
My real worry is the Western response. The most likely response, given Euro-American ideological biases, would be a bioethical panic that leads to criticism of Chinese population policy with the same self-righteous hypocrisy that we have shown in criticizing various Chinese socio-cultural policies. But the global stakes are too high for us to act that stupidly and short-sightedly. A more mature response would be based on mutual civilizational respect, asking—what can we learn from what the Chinese are doing, how can we help them, and how can they help us to keep up as they create their brave new world?
Another response to the same Edge Big Question is by Douglas Kenrick, an evolutionary psychologist at Arizona State University.
The movie Idiocracy was hardly academy award material, but it began with an interesting premise: Given that there is no strong selection for high IQ in the modern world, less intelligent people are having more children than are more intelligent people. Extrapolating that trend for 500 years, the movie’s producers depicted a world populated by numbskulls. Is this a possibility?
According to Kenrick, it is a possibility. He focuses on people who have large families because there is a negative association between IQ and family size. And he thinks the main reason people have large families is conservative religion. Such people are a danger because they threaten to cut off scientific research which is the lifeblood of a productive economy.
And there is another potential ironic twist. If the population of less educated religiously conservative individuals increases, and continues to vote as they have been voting, funding for education and scientific research is also likely to decrease. A less educated population could contribute not only to an upward shift in population size, but also to a downward economic spiral. … So to the extent that a growing anti-intellectual portion of the population manages to cut funds for education and for scientific research, they effectively cut off the system that feeds what has been the world’s most productive “human capital” machine.
Kenrick manages to do all this without talking about the racial/ethnic angle in America and now pretty much throughout the West. Any policy proposing that lower IQ people should have smaller families would be met with a firestorm of criticism from low IQ groups (Blacks, Latinos) and the entire leftist cultural establishment. One can only imagine the hostility such a policy would be greeted by the New York Times editorial writers. (Miller notes that one reason for China’s one-child policy was to curb dysgenic fertility among rural people because traditionally they had large families.)
And the problem is not really religious conservatives cutting off funding for science. Just today in California, Gov. Jerry Brown said that the University of California and the California State University systems have to cut back on research and formulate plans (like online classes) so that more students can be processed. This will be hugely resisted by the universities, but the writing is on the wall because of a mass influx of low-IQ people in need of high levels of services. In a Wall Street Journal article (“California’s Greek Tragedy“), two Stanford professors, Michael F. Boskin and John F. Cogan, note that
from the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000. … With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
So while China is doing everything it can to improve the genetic quality of its population and has a strong sense of being an ethno-state, the U.S. is importing massive numbers of poorly educated, low-IQ types whose need for government services inevitably trumps scientific research and having first-class universities.
Finally, a comment by John Tooby epitomizes how so many evolutionary psychologists completely discount the importance of ethnic collectivities. Indeed, Tooby writes that there is
a second category of menaces—hidden, deadly, ever-adapting, already here—that worry me even more: the evolved monsters from the id that we all harbor (e.g., group identity, the appetite for prestige and power, etc.), together with their disguised offspring, the self-organizing collective delusions that we all participate in, and mistake for reality.
The Chinese and the Israelis have quite obviously developed a strong collective ethnic identity; they have ethno-states that are directed at advancing the interests of a particular ethnic group. And both the Chinese and the Jews have a long history of practicing eugenics within their group (for China, see Miller; for Jews, see Glad or my 1994 book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone). How exactly are these mistakes? These policies are aimed at furthering the ethnic interests of their peoples, while in the West the idea that White people have ethnic/racial interests is derided as without merit — as yet another example lingering racism, etc.
Most evolutionary psychologists have had their heads in the sand when it comes to group conflict and selection between groups (but certainly not Frank Salter). Tooby continues in this tradition. It’s always struck me as amazing that scientists who purport to take evolution seriously can be completely oblivious to natural selection in the contemporary world. They can easily spot natural selection in the natural world as one animal or sub-species competes with another within an ecological niche, with the result that some genes survive and prosper and some do not. But the decline of Whites in all societies that have been historically White, from Australia to Europe gets nothing but yawns. Not important.
Tooby is also quite aware that the intellectual world is full of ingroups and tribes:
Consider the cascade of collective cognitive pathologies produced in our intellectual coalitions by ingroup tribalism, self-interest, prestige-seeking, and moral one-upsmanship:
That is exactly the thesis of The Culture of Critique, but Tooby would doubtless by horrified at the thought that quite a few of the things intellectuals like him believe are the result of ethnic conflict over the construction of culture where—as in the case of eugenics— Jewish ingroup tribalism has played a critical role, as has moral condemnation of Whites and their culture. All of the Jewish intellectual movements discussed in The Culture of Critique involved moral critiques of the West, most especially for the history of anti-Semitism.
But if, as Miller predicts, the Chinese evolve into a super race by utilizing the principles of eugenics — if they are able to create a society with an even higher average IQ and relatively free of psychiatric disorders, they will enormously increase their competitive ability by being able to have well-ordered, technologically sophisticated societies unhampered by divisive ethnic conflict as the West slides toward idiocracy.
Meanwhile, the West is left to impotent moral outrage—a sure-fire prescription for evolutionary oblivion. Given the role of Jewish intellectuals in creating the current hostility toward eugenics in the West, one must at least entertain the possibility that their motivation has a lot to do with making the peoples of the West less competitive—particularly when we note that Israel is committed to eugenics and I am unaware of Jewish intellectuals in the West criticizing Israeli practices.
National Socialism had a strong concern about securing and preserving the racial future of Germans. It is not surprising then that Jewish hostility toward National Socialism would also extend to hostility toward the ability of Germans (and by extension, other European peoples) to take charge of their own genetic future as championed by many in the classical eugenics movement. In the end, Jewish opposition to eugenics may be seen as just another aspect of the ongoing ethnic warfare between Jews and Europeans. (see here)