Monday, February 13, 2012

The essential problem with all race theory is that it is inherently collectivist.  Whether a person argues that "every race should be treated equally" and that the way to measure progress towards this equality is analyzing statistical outcomes by race, or a person argues that "races are inherently different" and appeals to the evidence of statistical differences in outcomes when grouped by race, both are making the same fundamental error of measuring the race rather than the individual.

If you measure the IQ of people by their self-identified racial category, and allow "no preference" or "none" or "other" as a racial category for a person to identify with, you'll find that those people who don't identify themselves by race have, statistically, much higher IQs than any other race.  What does this tell us about race?  Does it seriously suggest that there is some previously unidentified race out there that is markedly superior to other races?  Or perhaps simply that the very concept of grouping people by race is fundamentally flawed?

People who enjoy a certain degree of individual excellence (including intellect) are far more likely to identify themselves in more individualistic terms.  There is nothing surprising about this, it is too characteristic of personality to suggest that it is 'only human'.

The 'elitist' holds to the view that only those who have exceptional merits (often rather hazily defined) deserve to be treated as individuals, while the common masses of humanity are properly subjected to categorization, regimentation, and disposal based on their 'type' (be that racial, economic, or ideological).  The more consistent individualist holds that everyone is fundamentally an individual, and while we necessarily recognize that certain characteristics are shared between some individuals and not others, which requires acknowledgment if we're to seriously understand them as individuals, it is still the recognition of the individual rather than the collective which is our focus.

I'm all for recognizing that individuals who are born and raised in the ethnic culture of their nation are to be regarded as having, individually, a far greater stake in that nation as a result of it being their 'homeland', the place and people of their childhood memories and aspirations.  For that reason I'm generally opposed to mass-immigration into any established Western nation.  And that becomes more pointed when the immigrants are coming from cultural backgrounds that will make their new society seem wholly alien and uncomfortable to them because of their upbringing in a totally different culture.  Only very strong individual commitment to a new nation, combined with strong personal reasons for utterly discarding their old national identity, can overwhelm this disparity for any given individual.

I'm not worried about the collective rights of 'whites' or even of any particular nationality to be the majority in their 'own' nations.  I'm worried about the rights of millions of individuals to have the opportunity of living in a nation that is recognizable to them as the place that they grew up, populated by the people they grew up among, ordered by the values that informed their ethical development.  That seems a far stronger argument for preserving the distinctive character of every nation that doesn't provoke its people to flee it at the first opportunity.

I don't even object to the individual right of people to think of the nation where they grew up as having a certain 'racial' character.  But there is always a serious problem when you try to assign the rights to the collective rather than the individual.  Collectives don't do anything, individuals do.  Even taking credit or responsibility by the collective for the actions of individuals is something that has to be done by individuals, collectives don't even do that on their own.  While the exigencies of national conflict may make it impossible to trace responsibility for acts back to particular individuals rather than assigning blame to a nation, we still should recognize that it is individuals that do everything that is blamed on their nation, culture, or race.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

16 comments:

  1. Having read this post, I believe that you and I could agree that the ideal of Multiculturalism is not only a delusional concept, but also a dangerous construct. Whether the need to dwell amongst those of one's own kind is a natural human trait, or one that has come about due to some cataclysmic event in our distant past that stamped the experience into our collective memory, the fact remains, we feel more comfortable living with our own kind. Is it really any wonder that prior to the white man's explosion of exploration, that nearly every individual nation consisted of homogenous peoples? Are we really meant to become multi-racial nation states, or does the past hold a very profound lesson for us all?

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  2. Well, the division between that which is "natural" and that which is the logical result of previous events would be a bit difficult for me to understand. It is generally the case for most life-forms that they have greater tolerance or even desire for proximity to very closely related members of their own species.

    This probably is the result of an increased vulnerability to extinction among organisms that do not exhibit this preference. There are three essential things that living things "know" about organisms genetically similar to themselves. First, they know that they are likely to be highly similar genetically, and thus the reproductive success of either organism contributes to the effective reproductive success of the other. Because of the role of genetic inheritance in shaping a species, this means that those more genetically related to you are more likely to help you even if you do not reciprocate (though they will be even more likely to help you if you do). Second, they know that they are likely to have similar environmental requirements, so the presence of a group close relatives is a good sign of a reasonable habitat. Third, they have a high confidence of being able to successfully interbreed.

    That addresses three significant concerns of trying to fit into a group of organisms that are not obviously related. First, they are far less likely to have any instinct to go out of their way to keep you alive. Second, they might be thriving in an environment that is unsuitable to you. Third, you might not be able to successfully reproduce with them. These concerns exist for individual organisms and can wipe out even large populations that readily allow themselves to become intermixed with a preponderance of a very different organism.

    All humans currently belong to the same species, which tends to mitigate the third concern but does not remove it entirely, some human populations do have significant difficulty interbreeding successfully for various reasons. And while all humans are quite adaptable by nature, the optimal environmental conditions (which often vary seasonally as well as geographically) are quite different for some groups, an African deciding to settle with some friendly Aleuts during the summer would be in for a life-threatening surprise come winter (leaving aside things like diet and disease resistance, factors that are implicated in most of the worst results of European contact with non-Europeans).

    As for the first...yeah. Humans often treat non-human commensals better than clearly unrelated humans. A cat or dog would be safer trusting to the good-will of most humans than would a fellow human with very divergent genetics.

    The idea of a melting-pot, in which diverse groups are encouraged to assimilate and intermarry, is quite successful in both human cultural history and in wider biological terms (there are certain conditions, which could be addressed at length). With a generation or two of through interbreeding, the pitfalls of being unrelated can be mostly resolved. But encouraging populations to remain distinct while attempting to share a single habitat is a recipe for disaster.

    Chiu Chun-Ling.

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  3. Hi Chun-Ling,
    People feel happiest among those who share their behaviors. To be remarkably different is to face abuse. This is human nature, this safety of the herd, to knock these people down. "Who do you think you are? Think you're special drawing attention to us? You'll never amount to much!"
    Every child has to conquer these animal instincts and not be ruled by them.
    The trade-off for a longer gestation is a less independent baby, an impressionable mind, more intelligence and more capacity to do sicko-things. In this respect our sub-species do genetically differ: Asians seek isolation from suffering, Indians embrace suffering as Fate, Whites to their Servant-Kingdom of worthlessness, and Blacks for their magic God-Man. Different paths taken to run from reality. Getting out of isolation means more information. Culture represents a people's level of perception. To rise above such hypnosis is to have a conscience pricked, and the desire to seek out the associated emotional pain-hunger to its very root, to separate from attachment by realization alone, to become objective.
    Hard for a donkey, harder for a camel. Why should humans who bred in diferent environments not be just as different too?
    "I'm worried about the rights of millions of individuals to have the opportunity of living in a nation that is recognizable to them as the place that they grew up,...ordered by the values that informed their ethical development."
    Growing up in mixed-cultures, children learn the programming of each other. They are tempted to follow the lowest offered them because it is easiest, but for the enquiring mind they are the least interesting. Comparative religions uncover all the historical sources of their myths. We need to see the world as it is, not offered an intropective Ramadan for each nation so a cunning elite can rule and divide.

    I know I don't know... and no one does either.

    Whatever comes into your head, will come from the experiences of each battle won.

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  4. Learn only from battles won, and you learn nothing you didn't already believe. It is those who learn from failure that can discover and eventually understand what they didn't already know.

    Among humans, it only takes one generation for a new "sub-species" with entirely different responses to suffering to emerge, even without substantial input of new genetic material into a population. Which suggests that different terminology be employed.

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  5. Learn only from battles won, and you learn nothing you didn't already believe. It is those who learn from failure that can discover and eventually understand what they didn't already know.

    I'm sorry, to put it more clearly: Learn only from battles you did not lose...

    Every mistake is a learning process. Failures are always failures if internalized. Character is made from not losing to bad experiences. By this definition, you "won" and overcame. Then you can deal with bigger battles. Otherwise you stick with repeating the easy failures you blamed for ruining your life.

    "Among humans, it only takes one generation for a new "sub-species" with entirely different responses to suffering to emerge,"

    That defines each and everyone of us. Wise to remember.

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  6. You might be using a different definition of "learn" than I am. The term originally mean to get knowledge, study, read, and ponder. But in modern usage it often takes the the passive meaning "to be trained or habituated". There is a reason for this, but not a very good one. The object is to create a society of people that are passive objects of conditioning rather than active agents of their own destiny.

    One should never "learn" in the sense of allowing oneself to become habituated or conditioned. True, habits form, expectations are shaped, but do not mistake them for knowledge or thoughtful contemplation.

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  7. Good post. "Race" is definitely a collectivist notion, and defining or pigeonholing individuals according to race i collectivist. There's a related problem: race is undefined. It is *not* a genetic or biological distinction. There are genetic differences in people, but there's not boundary defining once race from another.

    Furthermore, if one takes an infant from one continent and "race," plops her/him down on another continent and has him/her raised as a member of the dominant "race," that's what s/he'll be. Who we are -- that's determined by our ideas, our values, our philosophies, and those are not genetic, they are learned and absorbed from those around us... or, for the thoughtful, they can be self-made.

    Race is hokum. Differences in skin color and similar characteristics a trick nature played on us, to see if we would get the joke.

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  9. Well, the problem of "race" being collectivist notion and the problem of "race" being ill-defined are clearly related by both being problems with the concept of "race", but neither is dependent on the other. We can perceive racial differences without making any collectivist assertions as a consequence, with or without establishing a clear-cut objective standard for racial distinctions. We can likewise establish scientifically objective distinctions between different genetic characteristics, with or without making any collectivist assertions in consequence.

    And of course it is historically well-established that people can have a fuzzy and subjective idea of "race" while imputing collectivist assertions as a consequence.

    Humans have differences in phenotype that are clearly genetic rather than the result of common environmental factors. Skin/hair/eye color is one of them. And those external phenotype differences can and do result in different environmental factors being applied in practice.

    Humans have differences in skin color because of differences in environment, namely to facilitate synthesis of Vitamin D while mitigating the risk of skin cancer. Globally, latitude plays the largest role here. Cultural factors over time (generations) can affect environment...if you have a people who live indoors/underground/fully-clothed for generations, they'll have lighter skin color than otherwise at a given latitude.

    So it's not exactly a "trick", unless you mean in the same sense that all biological distinctions is a "trick". The fact that humans bleed out and die from being shot or stabbed is just as much a "trick" or "joke". But you can die other ways, and you can survive being shot or stabbed, which is why focusing on gun/knife-control to attempt to eliminate violence from society is about as sensible as joining the KKK.

    Either is still an individual choice, people don't infallibly tout gun/knife control because of their lack of personal invulnerability anymore than people infallibly join the KKK because they have light skin and European ancestry. So accusing someone of belonging to the KKK just because they happen to be white is stupid.

    On the other hand, doubting someone is sincerely a member of the KKK if they are obviously black is commonsensical. It's a recognition of an individual factor (however involuntary) that would conflict with another individual factor (however voluntary).

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  10. Libertarian theory basis does hold that it all comes down to individuals. The real danger of collectivism is that individuals become willing to take the easy path of letting someone else who is 'strong' and has 'vision' to make their moral choices for them. This creates a ripe breeding ground for psychopaths to grasp power. So, while collectives may not do much, they offer an easy path to dominance for those who want to rule.

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  11. Which functionally disproves collectivism. If the collective existence and destiny of humans were ascendant over the individual, then the collective would select better (and less narrowly self-interested) leaders than individualists do. Ants (and other hive species) are genuinely collective, and they have strong instinctive mechanisms to help the collective root out and destroy selfish leaders (which solves several enduring conundrums about complex colony behavior).

    Humans are far more individual and quite weakly collective, with instincts to protect their individual selves more than to really protect the collective, whether against bad leaders or bad followers.

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  12. It is an interesting dilemma. I use successful team concepts every day at work and in my social interaction, but, the team concept cannot scale to a societal contract. Humans are apex predators by genetic coding and this means strong leaders form packs. With collectivism now being the water that we swim in as a society, there are few barriers for the truly despicable to grasp power. The dumbing down of America has been largely successful. Too few now have reasoning skills or the will to follow what reason dictates.

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  13. Well, that's not new. What's new is the presumption that all or even many humans are capable of living by reason rather than instinct.

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  14. The United States of America was a wonderful experiment in personal liberty and individual freedom and responsibility while it lasted. Of course, the collectivists could not let the shining city on the hill live. It was infiltrated, poisoned by degrees and then mocked while dying.

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  15. The last laugh is on them, since it is only individualists who can survive the death of a national collective.

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  16. Which, if you think about it, ties into a divine design.

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