For those who may still be new to, or still somewhat unfamiliar with, the Dark Enlightenment and Neo-Reaction, one of their hottest and most talked-about concepts is that of HBD, or Human Biological Diversity. This concept is one that is most popular among a certain subset of Dark Enlightenment thinkers – those who tend more towards the atheistic and scientifically-minded end of the spectrum. The inimitable Fred Reed has a column on it here, in which the basics are explained in his usual straightforward manner, and it is a good primer on the concept for non-scientists. In short, it has to do with evolution (it depends, in fact, on that concept), and the evolved differences between diverse groups of human beings; specifically, between the races. Most controversially, it posits that one biologically-ingrained difference between the races is a persistent, measurable, significant disparity in average intelligence between them, with East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews at the top of the chart, followed by whites, South Asians, mestizo Latinos, and, lastly, blacks. As anyone who has been paying attention to the progress of race issues in the west, and especially in the United States, over the last half-century or so can tell, this is an explosively controversial issue to say the least.
I am not here to make the case for or against HBD. I certainly have some issues with some of the assumptions that underlie it; with Darwinian evolution and the ability of IQ tests to actually measure what they are claimed to measure at the top of the list. And yet there is a lot of solid evidence behind it, much of it empirical. It isn’t just IQ tests that reflect this stratification – just about every measure of applied intelligence, from SAT and GRE scores, to Nobel Prizes in hard sciences issued by country or ethnicity, to percentages by race of people employed in intellectually-demanding fields, to GDP of nations that have a majority population of one race or another, reflect the same thing. Half a century’s worth of attempts in the United States to equalize these results through remediation, increased education funding, Affirmative Action, government-imposed equal opportunity laws, and many other schemes imposed from above have produced little by the way of tangible results. The problem seems absolutely intractable, and excuses that keep egalitarian myths intact are beginning to wear thin.
I will not, however, offer an opinion here on whether HDB is true or not. I am not a scientist, nor am I even particularly scientifically-inclined, and so I am unqualified to offer an informed opinion. I am, however, philosophically and politically inclined, which puts me in a position to answer an underexplored question regarding HBD, which is: What if it is true? What will it mean? What do we do then?
This is what Fred Reed once referred to as the “Oh God, what now?” question – the question that society cannot bring itself to face, as its implications are simply too terrible to even consider. However, this is really only true of a society wedded to an unrealistic egalitarian ideology. For a society more grounded in realism, answers are perhaps possible to arrive at. We avoid these answers, partly because of true belief in the ideology underlying them, but in some cases also for less altruistic reasons. And yet failure to consider them, I contend, in the end benefits only a select few.
Let us first consider what the implications of HBD (again, if true) really are. HBD means, essentially, that some minorities (blacks especially – here let us just be honest about who we primarily mean) are on average less capable at some kinds of thinking – particularly academic and technical thinking – than others. And yet this is not truly a grave insult. Let us remember that aptitude in academic and technical thinking were skills that, for the vast majority of the human race over the vast majority of human history, were really not all that crucial. From the caveman to the 18th century farmer, some extra skill in these areas might (or might not) have provided a moderate advantage, but it was hardly critical to survival. It is only in the last 200 years or so that these skills have become important, and only really now, in this hyper-technological age of cognitive haves and have-nots, in which it is loudly proclaimed that “Average Is Over”, that these skills seem to have become critical to success. Is being less apt in areas that have only recently become very important really such a condemnation?
As for the social problems facing blacks – the crime, the drugs, the illegitimacy – the truth is that blacks can do better than they have. We know this because they did do better – far better – than they are now doing, back in the days before the left showed up to “help” them. It has become something of a running joke among rightists that the media will run headlines along the lines of “Tornado Strikes Oklahoma: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit”, but those hardest hit by the social rot brought about by Cultural Marxism really have been women and minorities, and blacks especially. Through centuries of hardship, the three pillars that black America stood upon were family, faith, and community. These have been destroyed by leftist modernity, and the replacements that have been provided, such as welfare and Affirmative Action, have disastrously failed, not just at allowing blacks to rise, but at preventing them from falling further to the bottom of society than ever.
And here we come to the ways in which Blank Slate Theory actively hurts blacks. Blank Slate Theory, as practiced by modern egalitarians, is essentially the opposite of HBD – the idea that all people (and just as importantly, all groups of people) are born with more or less the same innate capacity to be good at any particular given task. This theory was most famously advanced by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, which put forward the idea that the most important factor in being able to master a skill is practicing it for a certain amount of time, which Gladwell estimated at 10,000 hours. Now let us consider the state of American blacks. No one has been hit harder by the destruction of the American industrial base and the slow erosion of its middle and working classes than have blacks. It is difficult to believe that it is mere coincidence that the spike in social problems among (especially urban) blacks started, not just when leftism started taking hold in their communities, but (nearly simultaneously) when the American industrial base began to decline starting in the 1970s. Over this period, a large percentage of what was once the black working class has become the back welfare class, as the working-class jobs they once held have been taken over by the tidal wave of Latino immigrants that has swamped the country in the past forty years. So bad have things become that vast numbers of blacks are leaving the big northern industrial cities to which their grandfathers and great-grandfathers came during the Great Migration of the early 20th century, looking for factory jobs and other working-class opportunities which have long since disappeared. They are largely moving back down to the south – some to large southern cities, but many to the rural south from whence their ancestors came.
And yet if Blank Slate Theory is true, then this is a problem that can be overcome. All it will take for the huge black underclass to be transformed into investment bankers, metallurgists, and software developers is for that magic elusive fix that will finally erase the academic and technical performance differences between races to be found. Add some “opportunity”, which would presumably include the opportunity to put in 10,000 hours of trying in their chosen field, and presto – the problem of inequality will be solved. If all this is indeed the case, then the displacement of blacks from the working class – by legal Latino and other immigrants, by illegal aliens, and by machines – is a fixable problem.
But what if it isn’t the case? What if HBD is true, and most blacks will never become those things because they fundamentally cannot become them, no matter how much effort is expended on trying to make it happen?
And here is an even more pointed question for our cynical age: What if some large chunk of the powers-that-be know on some level that HBD is true, and yet continue to push Blank Slate Theory in order to gain economic or political advantage? For the supposedly-egalitarian politicians of the left, a large number of people dependent on government-run social welfare schemes amounts to a virtually-guaranteed bloc of voters for themselves. For those whose business models depend on cheap labor, having an excessive pool of employees or potential employees around allows them to keep wages low – this is simple supply and demand. What if this is all, to some degree, intentional? I do not mean to offer an answer to those questions here, but they do seem to be worth asking.
But now let us turn to solutions. If HBD is true, what do we do? What happens next? First, we must be realistic about what will not happen. First, blacks are not going to disappear from American life, nor should they be required to. By right of history, it is their country as much as it is anyone else’s whose ancestry is not American Indian, and the idea that that many people are going to go… where, exactly?… is sheer fantasy. What else will not happen is that the current welfare state will not continue at anything close to its current level for all that much longer. The economic writing has been on the wall in terms of that for a long time now.
This latter truth may be a motivating reason behind the reversal of the Great Migration, which in itself may be one of the solutions for the question of what does, and ought to, happen next. Blacks, perhaps not on average technologically or academically inclined (if HBD is true) but still no fools, may be sensing which way the wind is blowing, causing them to leave the cold, atomized, and dependent life of the northern cities for places where the bonds of community are stronger, where the cost of living is cheaper, and where more self-sufficiency is possible. If – when – the welfare state collapses, blacks located in such places will be far better off than those who aren’t.
Here too is another necessary part of any possible solution – restoring the pillars of family, faith, and community that long sustained black America. Perhaps outside of the industrial megacities, this becomes more possible.
Economically, if HBD is true, a Buchananite protectionism seems to be wise. Immigration and outsourcing should, in that case, be severely restricted by law, and tariffs raised sharply to protect American-made products. Some limit to the degree of mechanization of jobs might also be worth considering. This would do much to return to America – and to Americans, black and otherwise – the sort of working-class jobs that do not require exceptional academic or technical abilities.
Socially, it seems as if some degree of voluntary separation may be advisable. Despite centuries together, right next to each other, blacks and whites remain vastly different from one another in innumerable ways. Perhaps an acknowledgement of that reality, instead of further attempts to erase it when all previous attempts have failed, is the better course. The worst possible way to make some people genuinely like others is to try to force them to do so, and the sad reality of human nature is that good fences often really do make good neighbors. Perhaps some more space, with each group able to live more in accordance with its unique culture, attitudes, and worldview, yet still free to voluntarily associate (or not associate) with each other as they please, would do something to reduce tensions between the races. It seems to be at least worth trying – certainly nothing else that has been tried so far has proven to work very well.
In terms of criminal justice, too many blacks are imprisoned now. Certainly some – those who prey on the person or property of others – should be imprisoned, and few blacks would disagree. But many more are imprisoned for victimless drug offenses, and this should end. The War on Drugs has been a dismal failure, and should be discontinued, with drugs decriminalized. The problems associated with drug use among blacks should be handled by the black community itself.
This brings us to another idea – that black social problems require black solutions. Among whites, there is a widespread and growing feeling – far more desperate than hateful – that they have tried everything they can think of to solve the social problems of the black community, and none of it has worked. Perhaps this is because white solutions to black problems cannot truly work. And even if they could, would blacks really want them to? Would they really want to feel that they could not solve their own problems without whites there to deliver solutions? Here, again, separation may help. Much of the behavior of the black underclass is deeply self-destructive, and as anyone who has dealt with a self-destructive person knows, the worst possible thing to do with them is to allow them excuses for their self-destructive behavior. Perhaps with some separation from whites, with the ability to use the race card to get more largesse from the public fisk off the table, and forced to face its own problems head-on, the black community will begin to come up with the solutions it needs to its problems.
These are my suggestions, and I believe them at least worth considering.
Finally, I wish to reemphasize that I am taking no position on whether HBD is true or not. I again mean here simply to start a conversation about a heretofore underdiscussed aspect of the issue. Some of the possible solutions I’ve suggested strike me as ones that would be wise no matter what the truth about HBD may be. Do I actually expect any of them to happen? Not particularly. Americans are far too much idealistic and far too little realistic. This results in a strong tendency to do nothing about difficult problems in the Panglossian belief that everything will somehow work out fine in the end, until the point is reached at which a problem becomes a massive and basically insoluble crisis. Nothing in recent American history suggests that this tendency has gotten any better over time – just the opposite. But I have made it my mission to say the things that must be said, no matter who will or won’t listen.