In his book, At Our Wits’ End, Ed Dutton uses the space program as an example of how general intelligence has declined. It’s not a bulletproof example, but more of a way to think about how declining intelligence impacts a society. Fifty years ago, America had the collective ability to organize a massive project like the moon shot. Today, the country lacks the organizational ability to do a moon shot. That organizational ability is a function of the general intelligence of society.
Again, it is not the perfect example, but it is a good way to start thinking about how declining IQ manifests. Fifty years ago when the nation celebrated the moon landing, everyone, including the scientists involved, assumed it was the first step in exploring the solar system. The nation that conquered the world, was now going to conquer the solar system. Instead, fifty years on, America is a nation being invaded by primitive barbarians and struggling to keep the cities from collapsing.
Another way to think about the impact of both declining intelligence and the barbarian invasions is to think of the social structures of society as tools. Things like political systems and government institutions are the tools evolved by society to address its challenges. Those tools reflect the intelligence and cognitive complexity of the people who created them. It’s why things like liberal democracy are not easily exported to other countries that lack the craftsman to use these tools
Liberia, for example, can adopt the American constitution for themselves, but remain a backward African nation. The people who created the American constitution were smart and mostly of northern European heritage. The average IQ of the colonists was probably in the high 90’s. The average IQ of Liberia is in the 60’s. Expecting the Liberians to implement the tools of American political order is like expecting a child to operate a five-axis CNC machine. It can never happen.
In America, where the smart fraction gets smaller and the average IQ declines, the process will be different. These tools exist. They were created and made functional by our ancestors. As we run short of people capable of operating these tools, they will either be abandoned on stripped down, so they can be operated by a population no longer able to run a complex society. The Democratic presidential field is a good example of what happens when human capital is in decline.
One area to watch is the war machine that was created to be run mostly by smart white guys with a sense of adventure. Automation and technology has replaced a lot of human brainpower in the military. The sophisticated computer systems on ships, planes and weapons makes it possible for mediocre people to operate them. No one needs to calibrate machine guns on fighter planes or learn trigonometry in order to serve in an artillery unit. Computers do the heavy thinking today.
Even so, the war machine needs the organizational intelligence to make the whole thing function. It also needs a significant number of young men willing to risk their life to achieve military objectives. Navy Seals are often portrayed as unsophisticated risk takers, but they are the smart fraction of the military. The point of the spear is a combination of intelligence, risk taking and creativity that reflects the general intelligence of the military and the society that produces it.
This story about the problems in the elite services is a sign of things to come. It’s not just that the number of men available to serve in these units is in decline. It is the decline in organizational intelligence that is needed to maintain these units. These units require a leadership stack above them with the skill and ability to keep these types of soldiers on edge, but under control. In the multicultural America, the vibrant and diverse military will not have the human capital to fill these roles.
The military is not about to collapse, but like the space program, it is less capable, because of declining human capital. The phenomenon of Navy ships smashing into things is another example of what happens when the skill of the craftsman falls below that required of his tools. As the leadership becomes more vibrant and diverse, the ability of the war machine to function as it was designed will decline. Eventually, the decline in organizational competence will result in a catastrophe.
The response to this will also be what we see with the space program. The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was probably the last big foreign adventure for the Empire. The reason the usual suspects have not been able to start a war with Iran is the growing awareness that the military is not capable of waging it. America can launch a bunch of missiles and conduct air strikes, but an actual war with Iran would most likely be the Varian Disaster of the American Empire.
As we see all over America, the decline in general intelligence will result in a decline in military capability. The services will become increasingly vibrant. The leadership will reflect the new Americans that are pouring over the borders. The combination of the barbarian invasions and the decline in native intelligence will slowly reduce the military to an expensive tool no one can operate fully. It will become nothing more than a very expensive jobs program that no one dares put in the field.
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