The other day, the HBD blogger Jayman posed a question on Twitter. Can you have democracy and a universal acceptance of Human BioDiversity?
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Human BioDiversity is a catch-all term for the observed biological differences between groups of humans that are most likely tied to genetics. I say most likely because while modern biology assumes more than 90% of what we are is genetic, figuring out what is cultural from what is genetic is not always easy. Some biologists think the number is 99%, so there’s plenty of debate in the field.
The basic assumption of HBD is that like every other living thing on planet earth, humans evolved in response to the particular challenges they faced as a species. These challenges were environmental and cultural. It’s easy to forget that culture is part of our “environment” just like climate and topography. It’s also easy to forget it is still happening.
Humans living in the mountains adapted to mountain life. Their culture adapted as well and may have exaggerated certain traits that are well suited for mountain life. Even though we are just one people, arm in arm on this big blue marble we call earth, those differences remain baked into our genome.
At first blush, this may seem obvious. After all, the humans in sub-Saharan Africa are black, while the humans in Siberia are not black. The humans in the heart of Europe look nothing like the humans in Central America. There are plenty of red heads in Ireland, but you don’t see them naturally occurring in Indonesia.
It’s not just appearance. Something like 97 of the fastest 100 meter dash times are held by West Africans, while the long distance records are held by East Africans. There are no great black downhill skiers. Turn on an NBA game and it is obvious that a sport played best by men that are tall and jump high is dominated by Africans.
These differences are so plainly obvious, we are no longer allowed to talk about them in public, but they are undeniable. HBD simply observes that genetic traits are heritable. Tall parents have tall kids. Since cognitive traits are also genetic, they must be heritable as well. That means they will show up in human groups, just like physical traits.
That’s enough background. The question is, can a society embrace democracy when it also accepts that there are great variations in cognitive traits between population groups? The assumption I’m going to make is that Jayman means “democracy” in the modern sense of the word. That’s representative democracy or indirect democracy. Similarly, his idea of society is the modern, multi-ethnic, multi-racial variety we have in the West.
To answer the question, it’s important to know that humans evolved in small non-diverse groups. The sort of diversity we see today is an extreme outlier in human history. Up until the last century, when different human groups came into contact with one another, they tried like hell to exterminate each other.
That means there is a better than average chance that we are hard wired, in general, to resist diversity, as currently understood. Reproductive advantage goes to those who are most like the group and have traits most favored by the group. The result is we naturally are suspicious of strangers.
Put another way, it means humans are, to some degree, biologically inclined to distrust those outside their group. We know Africans, for example, evolved into small, isolated villages as a survival strategy. Communicable diseases, which Africa has in spades, no pun intended, don’t spread easily across populations that are isolated. Distance and a high level of distrust of outsiders are a natural firebreak to disease.
The other side of this coin is democracy, which is not a universal form of human organization. The Arab world not only lacks it, but actively rejects it. We killed a million Arabs trying to impose democracy on Iraq and it lasted about week after we ended the occupation.
Asia had democracy imposed on it in places, but even in very modern countries like Japan, it is a very Japanese type of democracy, not western democracy. Even in Europe, participatory self-government is a novelty. It’s why they are sliding into a kakistocracy called the EU. The truth is what we think of as western democracy is really Anglo-Saxon democracy.
The point here is western style democracy as we understand it is a very European-ish thing that evolved among peoples with a high degree of social trust within their ethnic groups. Even so, it was only within the last 100 years that universal suffrage became the norm. Countries like Spain and Portugal finally figured it out a few decades ago.
Where does that leave us?
If you accept that the observable differences between population groups are real and those differences are reflected in the organizational strategies, that means democracy will not work for all people. Arabs and Africans, for example, will never get the hang of it or even want to get the hang of it. This would explain why all attempts to impose it on them have failed.
If you take a bunch of Arabs, a bunch of Pakistanis, some Africans and settle them into England, the result is a sizable minority that is hostile to democracy, maybe even working to subvert it. If the rest of the population, even the Welsh, notice this and come to accept the HBD view of humanity, then democracy can’t last. No one would want it.
The blank slate crowd would argue that these differences are purely cultural and temporary. Since technocratic democracy and materialism are the future, these other groups will, in a couple of generations, get on the democracy bandwagon. This is the argument we hear in America with regards to importing the population of Mexico.
Fundamental to participatory democracy is the assumption that voters will vote their individual interests. The businessman will vote for pro-business candidates, even if his kin think otherwise. The working man will vote for the pro-labor candidate for the same reasons. Once a large number of people start voting on tribal grounds, everyone else has to follow suit.
To quote Lee Kuan Yew, “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.” Once that becomes apparent to the dominant group, they have no choice but to limit popular government and take measures to limit the numbers of the other groups.
The bottom line here is that HBD is not necessarily hostile to democracy, but it is hostile to immigration, open borders and the whole universalist religion, of which democracy is a small part. The answer to Jayman’s query is that acceptance of HBD can preserve western liberalism, but only at the expense if egalitarianism, multiculturalism and anti-racism. It’s HBD or diversity, but not both.