In his July Diary over at VDare, John Derbyshire recounted an exchange he had with Mark Steyn about biological reality. Like most men his age, Steyn is incapable of thinking clearly about race and ethnicity. Instead he tries to jam reality into the blank slate fantasy, where culture makes the man. Steyn asked, “Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados? Why is India India and Pakistan Pakistan? Skin color and biological determinism don’t get you very far on that.”
This is a popular form of arm flapping by right-wing Progressives. Whenever they are confronted with biological reality, they reel off a series of exceptions they think extremely clever. Somehow, they think their ignorance is some sort of magic spell that will make the bad men go away. If biology cannot explain everything to them to their satisfaction, then they will hang onto their magical thinking. It is a good example of how you cannot overcome superstition with facts and reason.
Now, as to the challenge, Derb correctly points out that biology is one ingredient that results in the societies we see. The biology of Barabbas is a lot closer to the biology of Haiti than it is to Iceland. Yet, Barbados seems to be closer to Iceland on the civilization scale than it is to Haiti. Of course, Barbados is not Iceland, not even close. Botswana is much nicer than Somalia, but that does not make Botswana a paradise. Maybe Steyn should first explain why Barbados is not Iceland.
It turns out though, that Steyn’s “gotcha” response is actually a very good example of the role biology plays in social organization. Haiti was a French colony and its current population is descended from the slave population used by the French. Barbados, in contrast, was a British colony. About ten percent of its population is white and its black population is descended from both slaves and free men. Further, Barbados never sank into anarchy, so its population has been stable for generations.
How big a difference does that white population make in Barbados? If we assume the whites are fairly typical of the sorts of people willing to colonize the New World, they are probably a bit smarter than the average European. That means they will make up the bulk of the island’s smart fraction. Haiti, in contrast, will have no smart fraction, as even the talented ten percent fled a long time ago. Barbados may not have the smart fraction of Iceland, but it has one, while Haiti does not have one.
Of course, Barbados will have a talented ten percent, as well. While the bulk of the black population is descended from slaves, a lot of blacks came to the island as freemen during the age of sail. Just as with North America, the British were a much softer touch on their colonies than the French and Spanish. That history has resulted in a much better black population than in Haiti. It’s talented ten percent, plus the white population, is capable of maintaining a civil society.
That may strike some as a small difference to hang an argument, but in biology, small difference can have very large downstream consequences. As Derb pointed out, Albania has an average IQ in the low 80’s while Ghana is in the 60’s. That does not seem like a big difference, but it means Albania has about 4% of the population that qualifies as a smart fraction, while Ghana has none. That 4% has a huge impact on the outcome of Albania. Small differences mean a lot in biology.
That does not explain all of the differences between the two places. As Derb points out in his piece, history and geography play a role. Chance plays a role as well. Haiti has not been helped by its geography. That massive earthquake would have been tough for any of the island populations to endure. It’s also regularly raked by tropical storms and hurricanes. Outside interference from America has not always been in the best interest of the Haitian people. Haiti is a very unlucky place.
Still, there is a reason no African nation has created a modern society or been able to maintain one that was handed to them. Somalia has all of the things modern libertarians celebrate, but it is a violent hell hole. Liberia adopted the US constitution, but Liberia is nothing like America. Detroit has a much better history than Salt Lake City, but it has much worse biology. Perhaps Steyn thinks Detroit’s problems are due to weather, but most likely he knows the real reason. He just hates it.
That really is the issue with the science deniers. It’s not so much that they don’t accept biological reality or even that they lack the numeracy to grasp it. They just hate facing the reality of the human condition. It should be noted that the science deniers tend to live as far from human diversity as possible. Steyn, for example, lives in a whites-only part of northern New Hampshire. Celebrating diversity from a great distance is the hallmark of the science deniers and egalitarians.
Putting aside the revealed preferences of the deniers, they cling to their superstitions because to do otherwise means accepting some harsh truths. One of which is that the only way to maintain Western civilization is to maintain the European people. That means playing very rough with the rest of the world’s people. It turns out that we have not advanced beyond our nature. Life for us is the same struggle for survival it has always been. The winner has to play for keeps.
As a practical matter, that means the Europeans will have to deport their non-European populations. Not all of them, but most. Telling a few million Muslims they have to go back is not something our betters care to face. Similarly, it means sinking enough migrant boats in the Mediterranean to discourage the practice. Europe’s leaders lack the stomach to defend their people, so instead they have embraced magical realism as a coping strategy. It’s an effort to gracefully lose the struggle for life.
Reality is that thing that does not go away when you stop believing in it. Biological reality is no exception. The history of man has been a struggle between people. History, geography and some good fortune made Europeans the dominant people on the globe, because they were willing and able to out-compete their rivals. That’s reality. If Europeans are unwilling to compete, then they will be overrun by their rivals. That too is reality, a realty that will not go away even if the deniers stop believing it.
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