different but equal

@NeoconMaudit suggests that having Charles Murray review A Troublesome Inheritance, a new book on genetics and race by New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, looks almost like “trolling” on the part of the Wall Street Journal.

According to Murray, the book lays out the science in effect completely overturning the “race is a social construct” orthodoxy, and restoring the outlines of traditional views at least in some major part: “It appears that the most natural of all ways to classify humans genetically is by the racial and ethnic groups that humans have identified from time out of mind.” With his own experience as co-author of The Bell Curve in mind, Murray predicts a systematic attack on the book, on Wade, and on anyone caught live buying it:

Before they have even opened “A Troublesome Inheritance,” some reviewers will be determined not just to refute it but to discredit it utterly—to make people embarrassed to be seen purchasing it or reading it. These chapters will be their primary target because Mr. Wade chose to expose his readers to a broad range of speculative analyses, some of which are brilliant and some of which are weak. If I had been out to trash the book, I would have focused on the weak ones, associated their flaws with the book as a whole and dismissed “A Troublesome Inheritance” as sloppy and inaccurate. The orthodoxy’s clerisy will take that route, ransacking these chapters for material to accuse Mr. Wade of racism, pseudoscience, reliance on tainted sources, incompetence and evil intent. You can bet on it.

I have yet to find a major by-lined review of the book, but Publisher’s Weekly points to the model for reception that Wade himself proposes:

Science journalist Wade (Before the Dawn) ventures into territory eschewed by most writers: the evolutionary basis for racial differences across human populations. He argues persuasively that such differences exist and that they have been “ignored by academics and policy makers for fear that such inquiry might promote racism.” But, Wade argues, the essence of racism is an assertion of superiority of one race over the others, while the recognition that genetic differences lead to behavioral tendencies provides no such value judgment.

@NeoconMaudit further suggests that coping with this issue – one of many questions posed by science to ideology, but an especially explosive one – “will be one of liberalism’s chief challenges.” By “liberalism,” he goes on to explain, he means “the sort of ideology to which 90+ per cent of us moderns in the West subscribe.”

The challenge or question would appear to be whether a scientifically sound restoration of the category of race, under whatever name or re-configurations, can be sustained without being sooner or later converted into “value judgment.” The difficulty in adopting Wade’s hopeful or possibly naive view might rest in its foundations, since the racial differences of the sort that biological science or Wade’s rendering of it seem to support would themselves constitute value judgments of a very particular and concrete type: Survival-critical – or “life and death” – responses to selection pressure, a kind of implacable and inexorable natural value judgment. In any social system under any “pressure” at all – in other words, any social system like all those known to us – some traits will be, on average, more highly valued, and in a survival-critical sense, than others. “Different but equal” may last as an ideal or a guide, or point of social insistence and civic faith, but may remain difficult to practice, with the results, backed by the best genetic science has to offer, continually threatening that faith and undermining that insistence.

The action may unfold much as Murray’s reading of real-existing political-intellectual selection pressures predicts, or maybe we will discover that we have evolved on these subjects. Perhaps Wade will find champions in the “clerisy” after all, liberal pundits who recognize an interest in heading off the impulse to assign a dogmatic reading and to announce general orders of proscription. We could perhaps seek to imagine some hardier variation on traditional American liberal-universalist ideology, a glorification of hybrid vigor and the uses of a diverse gene stock, a mixed rather than white racialism, still an exceptionalism of a sort, but once again in transit to a more just world order, on sociobiologically evolutionary rather than merely political time scales.

Home Page  Public Email  Twitter  Facebook  YouTube  Github   

Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

2 comments on “different but equal

Commenting at CK MacLeod's

We are determined to encourage thoughtful discussion, so please be respectful to others. We also provide a set of Commenting Options - comment/commenter highlighting and ignoring, and commenter archives that you can access by clicking the commenter options button (). Go to our Commenting Guidelines page for more details, including how to report offensive and spam commenting.

  1. Some things are crimethink, some are not, just consider the dreck that Candida Moss, published, and that of William Cohan,

Commenter Ignore Button by CK's Plug-Ins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

Comment →

Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

Comment →

[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

Comment →
CK's WP Plugins


Extraordinary Comments

CK's WP Plugins