Archive for April, 2013

Forward Optimization

More Dark Enlightenment self-reflection via Spandrell.

We can thank Nick Land for coining the phrase “optimize for intelligence” because it provides a terministic frame for discussing the vital heart, the gravitational center, of neoreactionary thinking. We all agree, as Spandrell says, that progressivism is no good. Why isn’t it any good? Because it optimizes for stupidity, dysgenic breeding, racial spoils, resentment, a crumbling infrastructure, corporate cronyism, an ever-decreasing space exploration budget, an education policy that caters to retards, 30 low-IQ immigrants into the West for every Brahmin genius, et cetera, et cetera.

Critiquing these facts is fine, but we must also ask the obvious follow-up question: For what should society optimize instead? What should we incentivize, and what should we disincentivize?

I side with the techno-capitalists in saying that we should optimize for intelligence and scientific advancement. I don’t know about you, but I like living in a world with electricity, penicillin, indoor plumbing, air-conditioning,  airplanes, automobiles, the internet, chemotherapy, SpaceX, cell phones, breathable fabrics, artificial limbs, 3d printing, and the possibility of avoiding human extinction at the hands of a rogue asteroid or natural climate change. Part of the reactionary awakening is the realization that technological advancement is not guaranteed, and that the West had better reclaim its mandate for scientific excellence unless it wants the Far East to take the mantle.

If there’s any intellectual project that should go forward in the reacto-sphere, it should be a collaborative study of the history of science, in order to better understand under what conditions intelligence thrives and scientific advancement leaps forward.

Of course, if the West is incapable of sustaining its techno-commercialist trajectory, then optimizing for ethno-stability seems a second best option. Europe still has enough time, barely, to curtail its suicidal immigration policies and, following Switzerland or Liechtenstein, to settle into a comfortably regionalist (though technologically stagnant) existence. America is a lost cause in this regard; white Anglos will be only half the population in our lifetimes. This demographic reality is one of the major reasons I side with the techno-capitalists; ethno-nationalism is not a luxury afforded to a white American circa 2013. And anyway, I’d much prefer living life in a world run by high-IQ East Asians than in some ethnic bunker, limned on all sides by barbarian hordes.

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Facts, Theories, Policies

In the comments section at Foseti’s, Handle (who should seriously consider starting his own blog) continues to discuss the relationship between evolutionary theory, Christians, seculars, and the Dark Enlightenment. He glosses four possible views of humanity:

You can make a little 4×4 matrix. Humans are:

AA: The product of Evolution and thus HBD.
AB: The product of Evolution and yet EQUAL.
BA: The product of God and thus HBD.
BB: The product of God and thus EQUAL.

Notice that only AB really requires a “yet” – the contradiction is inherent. God can do anything he wants. Following the logic and evidence of Biology would lead you to AA. But AB needs a whole lot of sophistry and social pressure.

I’m persuaded. My previous post attempted to make the same point: that someone like Derb (AA) and someone like Dalrock (BA) have arrived at the same conclusion via different routes; in terms of policy, however, the conclusion is really all that matters.

To what extent would your average biology graduate student or genetics professor accept that AB is, in fact, his own worldview? If he is intellectually honest, I imagine it might look like this:

AB2: The product of Evolution and thus HBD and yet EQUAL because . . .

We’re at the third level of knowledge after because, which means that no appeal to facts or theories (evolution, IQ gaps, whatever) will convince our hypothetical Leftist biologist not to pursue Equality at all costs. For him, the pursuit is its own good. It is a policy built on morals, divorced from lower-order facts and theories. So no “facts” will convince him to abandon the policy, even though Detroit might collapse around him while Silicone Valley thrives.


Degrees Earned, Women v. Men

[This post is from an old blog that I abandoned after a few weeks, but it contains some valuable data that I’ll share here.]

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As it does once or twice a year, the Chronicle of Higher Education has trotted out its favorite feminist talking point: the ‘gender gap’ in science and engineering fields:

There have been many efforts over the last three decades to draw more women into STEM fields. While impressive gains have been made in mathematics, statistics, biology, and chemistry, women are still far less likely than men to major in computer science and engineering. In addition, recent studies, like one published last month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have demonstrated that there is still bias among both male and female scientists against female students.

As any neoreactionary knows, the Cathedral believes that bias exists where women or minorities are ‘underrepresented’ in some arena or endeavor. However, the Cathedral never addresses precisely what it means by ‘equal representation.’ In terms of race, equal representation can be a tricky business. Equal according to what geographic locale? The black population of the United States is approximately 13%, but this percentage varies drastically by state. Should the Cathedral hold California–with its black population of 4%–to the same definition of ‘equal representation’ as, for example, Mississippi? The Cathedral mouthpieces never say.

When it comes to gender, however, things are a bit easier. I presume that equal representation would = 50/50. Otherwise, bias exists, right? We need to equalize those outcomes. We need to make sure men and women are earning an equal number of degrees in all fields.

Right?

Let’s look at some numbers. The following charts show us how many men and women earned a degree in a given field from 2009-2010, in American universities. All data come from the National Center for Education Statistics, a federal data-tracking agency. We’ll start with computer science and physics, the main concerns of the article linked above.

The Equality Czars are correct that fewer women earn degrees in computer science and physics. But putting those numbers in perspective, we realize very quickly what neoreactionaries have been saying all along: that the reason the Cathedral never defines ‘equal representation’ numerically is because the Cathedral does not actually care about equal representation. With gender representation, a pure 50/50 split is not what the Cathedral is after . . .

In the liberal arts, women outnumber men (in terms of degrees earned) at the same levels as men outnumber women in STEM fields. But even in certain Science fields, we see the same inequality . . .

Even in a few ‘hard science’ fields, like biotechnology, women still outnumber men.

In terms of degrees granted, women far outnumber men in most fields. Indeed, across all fields, taken cumulatively, women outnumber men:

The article above notes that “impressive gains have been made” in fields like biology, and as these numbers from 2009-2010 show, what this particular papal bull really means is that “women outnumber men,” and that that’s a good thing.

The clerics of the Cathedral preach but do not care about gender equality. We’ve know this for a long time, and the data above are simply another reminder of the fact. We know it because the clerics do not attack inequality in English or animal sciences. They only attack inequality in STEM fields because it is one of the few academic areas in which women don’t outnumber men. Inequality only cuts one way.


Levels of Commitment to the Dark Enlightenment

It’s one thing to collect data about IQ across nations and races, or to describe the courtship practices of a remote African tribe. It’s another thing to use these data and descriptions to theorize about the heritability of IQ or the evolution of social behavior. And it’s quite another thing to extrapolate from these theories political policies about immigration, segregation, employment law, affirmative action, et cetera, et cetera.

On the road to reaction, one can stop at any point in this hierarchy of knowledge. One can believe IQ is heritable and still turn out a Marxist. Or, rather, one can believe that IQ is heritable but still believe other things that counter-act whatever reactionary opinions might have developed otherwise. Never underestimate the power of denial, the lasting effects of cognitive dissonance, or the moral obligations of social relationships.

Richard Weaver reminds us:

It is only the first step beyond philosophical naivete to realize that there are different orders of knowledge, or that not all knowledge is of the same kind of thing. First, there is the order of facts about existing physical entities. These constitute the simple data of science. Next come the statements which are statements about these facts; these are the propositions or theories of science. Next there come the statements about these statements. The propositions which these last statements express form a partial universe of discourse which is the body of philosophical opinion.

We should add that this third level includes statements of policy. We should also add that the three levels are not a strict hierarchy but that they connect and re-connect with one another in a constant loop. Even a collection of brute facts relies upon prior assumptions which are not themselves brute facts.

However, for the sake of illustration, we can treat them as discrete categories to better understand different Levels (or Commitments) of Neoreaction, as well as the different scales at which the Cathedral operates as a censor.

1. Collection of facts.

Demanding the freedom to collect facts about nature and humanity is, circa 2013 AD, a very basic form of reaction. It’s surprising, really, but the Cathedral does in fact censor at even this scale of knowledge. To bring up crime statistics (even without extrapolating higher orders of knowledge from them) can be a dangerous move in mainstream debates about racial issues; even video-taping these statistics in action can cause lesser Cathedral clerics to attempt censorship. Cultural anthropology, from what I understand, has largely abandoned the old model of pure description of tribal or non-Western cultures, having realized that simply describing the fact of, say, sati or African witchcraft might confirm stereotypes. So brute collection of certain facts is abandoned.

Some members of the broader Dark Enlightenment community—e.g., Steven Pinker—seem committed to resistance only at this first realm of knowledge. They resent that areas of research are deemed ‘off limits’ and thus resist academic conformity for the sake of free inquiry. But their reaction does not extend beyond this demand for freedom of inquiry. They are often careful—to a fault—about making theoretical statements regarding the facts.

2. Theories about the facts.

Napoleon Chagnon and Linda Gottfredson have both been ostracized by their respective communities because not only did they collect and report uncomfortable facts (on tribal life and IQ, respectively), but they also made statements about those collected facts: theories about kinship in ancient cultures in Chagnon’s case, and theories about IQ and employment in Gottfredson’s. Being willing not only to collect and consider facts about uncomfortable subjects but to theorize about what the facts might mean demonstrates a decent level of commitment to reactionary resistance. Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending are other examples of people operating at this level of knowledge.

Cathderal censorship is most explicit at this level.  Being once removed from brute facts, the Cathedral can deploy ad hominem attacks, moral outrage, or strained sophistries about “the way the facts were collected” or “the way the facts have been misread” or “other evidence indicates something else (but don’t ask critical questions about this evidence, mind you).”

However, theorizing about uncomfortable facts does not mean moving into the final realm of knowledge—

3. Statements about the theories.

It takes true reactionary commitment not only to collect IQ data, not only to theorize that IQ is largely heritable, but to conclude that, say, because IQ is largely heritable, we should stop spending money on improving educational access for low-IQ populations and only allow high-IQ immigrant groups into the country (and kick out the low-IQ groups that have managed to get in).

While building the Network of Dark Enlightenment, I began to realize that one divide not often remarked upon is precisely this divide between the different levels of neoreactionary commitment, this divide between cautious empiricists merely devoted to free inquiry and balls-to-the wall ethno-nationalists willing to put the empiricists’ ideas to the political test.

If I were to draw a rough historical comparison, I would say that the difference I’m talking about is the difference between a Galileo, who simply wanted to prove that the Earth moves around the sun, and a Reformer who believed that the Earth’s movement around the sun was just one more reason why the Vatican needed to be usurped.


History of Science

In the comments here, you’ll find discussion about the role of science in the Dark Enlightenment (central, as far as I’m concerned), but also a nod toward the history of science, which should, I think, be engaged more often in the reacto-sphere. The history of science offers a chance to explore important questions: What are the optimal economic and political circumstances for the flourishing of discovery? Does science progress because of or in spite of larger social contexts? How have different individuals and generations dealt with the conflicts between science and faith? Who has silenced science throughout history, and why? How often do political leaders use science to make policy (or for political ends), and what have the consequences been? So on and so forth. Thomas Kuhn has given us plenty to think about in terms of the philosophy of science as it has evolved throughout history, but looking at the history of science through a social and political lens can be just as illuminating.

Of course, the history of science is messy business. Mapping any narrative onto it requires plenty of selection and deflection. But I think it’s a subject worth exploring, and it’ll certainly become a running theme here at Habitable Worlds.

For now, I’ll just note that the Wikipedia entry for Timeline of Scientific Discoveries is fascinating. I’m sure it’s incomplete and problematic (how is ‘scientific discovery’ being defined?), but even so, there’s an obvious trend. Arabs (Persians, more likely) dominate the short list of discoverers prior to the 15th century. And then, as soon as the 1500s arrive . . . it’s Europeans all the way down. What happened to the Muslim world after the Caliphate and the golden age of Islamic learning? There seems to have been a cultural collapse larger and longer-lasting than anything experienced in the Occident. There are lessons to be learned here . . .


On Evolution

In the comments, Jgress asks:

How would acceptance of Darwinism fit into this picture? My impression of most of the neoreactionary blogosphere is that evolution is not questioned and is more or less held to account for everything significant about human nature. I see only the Christian Traditionalists as being perhaps a bit skeptical, but my reading of blogs like Bruce Charlton or Chronicles indicates that whatever philosophical or theological problems they see in Darwinism, they are unwilling to embrace creationism or ID.

The Cathedral does not preach evolution; the Cathedral doesn’t believe in evolution, except as a tool for shaming fundamentalists and beating them into submission about other issues. If certain Traditionalists in the reacto-sphere don’t believe in evolution, that puts them on the opposite side of things in this one case. They know it, I suppose, and that’s why most of them just don’t bring it up.

The fact is, most creationists and ID’ers have more in common with the Cathedral than they would care to admit. Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great About Christianity has an entire section devoted to “Christianity and Science,” in which D’Souza* toes the same line as the Cathedral: evolution stops at the neck, and it’s something that happened a long time ago, doesn’t concern us today. He quotes Stephen J. Gould at multiple points in order to “refute” the likes of Dawkins and Dennett (who, for all their flaws, are much closer to HBD than Gould). Watch Ben Stein’s Expelled, the intelligent design movie. At one point, Stein starts equating evolution with Nazism, and he sounds just like a Professor of LGBT Studies equating sociobiology with racism. A lot of creationists are big fans of G.K. Chesterton, who advocated for a political system called distributism, which was essentially repackaged Communism. Conservative evangelicals—especially the ones combating The New Atheism—are always jumping at the bit waiting to tell you about how it was Christians (good, anti-Darwinian Christians!!) who were at the forefront of the abolition movement and the Civil Rights movement. Lutheran and Catholic charities—the ones importing third-world refugees by the vanload—are typically run by the same sorts of Christians who buy Dinesh D’Souza books; they’re anti-evolution at the bare minimum, creationists by default.

You need to ask yourself: how many evangelical, Bible literalist church-goers do you think would love to come together for  Bible study, fellowship, soda pops, and some old fashioned discussion about the failure of American democracy and the average IQ of Asians versus Haitians?

Outside the American South, the Christian Traditionalists of the reacto-sphere would be pariahs in any evangelical community espousing Bible literalism and disregarding evolution. Such communities are on the fringes of the Cathedral, yes, but still miles from neoreaction. Even the most “conservative” religious communities in Southern California—my homeland—would never suffer conversation about issues discussed in the reacto-sphere. You send one of those pastors a link to Chateau or Foesti—hell, even hbd chick—they’ll start praying for you.

But none of this should be a point of contention for the anti-evolution Traditionalists. The Dark Enlightenment is Dark precisely because it has followed the evidence where it leads, which turns out to be—in a great historical irony—right back to some of the conclusions (emphasis on some of the conclusions) reached by certain Christians pre-Darwin, the intellectual descendants of whom now inhabit the Christian Traditionalist end of the reacto-sphere.

The great divide between, say, John Derbyshire and Dalrock is that the former is a reactionary because he realizes society is ordered against natural reality; the latter is a reactionary because he realizes society is ordered against an old-school understanding of God—a God who doesn’t care all that much about earthly equality, who told the Israelites not to race-mix, who said the poor are always with us, who proclaimed the husband head of the wife, who ordained Original Sin, who doesn’t want mankind trying to bring Heaven to Earth. (Most Christians have abandoned this God in favor of Buddy Christ; the Christian Traditionalists have not.)

In other words, the HBD worldview turns out to be remarkably similar at certain junctions to the ancient Christian worldview, though very different reasons buttress the worldviews. The Christian Traditionalists believe the world is Fallen and awaiting its Savior. The rest of us believe the world is naturally Fallen. And any utopian Leftoid trying to “fix” it wholesale is just gonna make things worse. The Christian Traditionalists believe in gender roles because God said so. The rest of us believe in gender roles because there’s a thing called testosterone, and men make more of it, and we’re fucking sexually dimorphic hominids for Christ’s sake, not fungi.

So, must you accept evolution to be a neoreactionary? Yes. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that you must accept the world as it presents itself, not as we wish it to be. Whether you accept it as the result of “evolution” or of “God’s ordained existence” is a philosophical argument that, I hope, will not divide the Derbyshires and the Dalrocks.

*I’m using D’Souza to make a point here, not to frame him as a Cathedral mouthpiece. His books are worth reading, and he makes a lot of good reactionary points. He’s a champion of Western Civilization, if nothing else. But, like any mainstream conservative, he just can’t take his reaction too far.