Rant re: the Panglossian optimism of racial essentialists and neoliberal Ph.Ds

This is a followup to:

The former is a response to the Panglossian optimism that tends to afflict fencesitters and spectators. In this case, it’s the racist internet dwellers who assume everything will be nice in the future because someone will have solved the race problems and the West will be all white people. It comes from an old Nazi belief called racial essentialism, where all people are more or less expressive of one or more racial archetypes.

You can understand this by imagining a stereotypical German, a stereotypical Englishman, and a stereotypical Italian positioned on a graph. A person who has all three sorts of genetics in his background will have a phenotype somewhere on the spectra between these stereotypes. Some people from the same family come out looking and acting a bit more German, or a bit more Italian, whatever. So far the theory is scientifically defensible. Where it goes off the rails is in the “essentialism” part where the assumption of zero variation in individual traits: i.e. two pure-blooded Germans will have the same phenotype with no variation in traits like intelligence, personality, or skeletal structure.

This is frankly absurd, and can only be maintained as fundamentalist dogma by persecutions and accusations. If a pure-blooded German were found to have an IQ less than the Party says he should (roughly 115), or of a verbal tilt rather than visuospatial, or he were short, then this cannot be ascribed to the genetic lottery. In this case, since the theory can’t be wrong, the man himself must be wrong. He is then accused of being mixed with inferior races. The social dynamic that follows from this is analogous to that of “wreckers” in the Soviet Union. The catabolic collapse follows because such a delusion can’t be maintained even at the cost of the nation. Everything must be the fault of these wreckers, not the fault of low-quality whites or communist doctrine, because that is declared impossible by definition. And that’s why you have people in the comments of a Dutton video claiming that a racial purge will return the white American IQ to 105. To them, an 85-IQ white is a contradiction in terms.

How much more delusional then are the other ideological tribes in America if this is the one I expect to dominate the future of our religious life?

The accurate belief is that heritability of traits increases as nurture improves, which is explained toward the beginning of this blog post: https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/2023/03/new-paper-on-group-differences-in-the-heritability-of-intelligence-a-reply-to-giangrande-and-turkheimer-2022/

The basic idea is if you feed your kids enough to reach their full height, there’s nothing you can do to improve their intelligence further. This is upsetting to the Panglossian optimists in the neoliberal crowd because it means black students cannot become smarter with the infusion of money and tender loving care. They are stuck with their 85 IQs (on average!) and no matter how you raise them, when they grow up they’ll pursue the same life strategies as other dumb people: substance abuse and dysfunction in the workplace and in the home. This is what happens when you tell a bunch of incurious midwits that they’re intellectual powerhouses: they think the problems with their understanding is a problem with reality because they don’t understand conditional probabilities. So they walk around with their 125 IQs making the world a grotesque place and feeling high and mighty about it.

Their underdevelopment in intellect is comparable to my financial achievement, with the difference being I’m at least ashamed of my deficiency and don’t go around thinking my brain means I must be rich too. As unimpressive as all these Ph.Ds walking around today are, you’d think by chance at least one of them would have noticed that they’re all bureaucrats with nothing interesting to say. But that’s the tragedy of the bureaucrat: he thinks he must be interesting because he shoulders great responsibilities. It’s the ancient tragedy of fools. If a man knew he was a fool, he wouldn’t be one. I’d quote Voegelin here but this is already pretty long. Ah, what the hell. Captive audience.

Precisely this tradition of common sense I now recognized to be the factor that was signally absent from the German social scene and not so well developed in France as it was in England and America. In retrospect, I would say that the absence of political institutions rooted in an intact common sense tradition is a fundamental defect of the German political structure that still has not been overcome. When I look at the contemporary German scene, with its frenetic debate between positivists, neo-Marxists, and neo-Hegelians, it is the same scene that I observed when I was a student in the 1920s in the Weimar Republic; the intellectual level, however, has become abnormally mediocre. The great figures engaged pro and con in the analysis of philosophical problems in the 1920s—men like Max Scheler, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Alfred Weber, Karl Mannheim—have disappeared from the scene and have not been replaced by men of comparable stature and competence.

I imagine the mediocre intellects all thought themselves the heirs of Goethe and Gauss, two of the greatest minds in history, because they had read their books. Cargo cultists. Feckless ingrates. Better to have drowned them all at birth like the litter of ill-bred puppies they were.

Nowadays it’s worse, people think they’re smarter than Goethe because they could look him up on Wikipedia if they’d ever even heard of the great man in whose shadow we live. All modern people walking around today profess the ideals of the German Romantic movement, reliving the traumas of the world wars with every joke they make, and none of them the wiser. The hubris is sickening. Goethe may have been a disaster for the human race, but he was a great man and we will never see the like again for a thousand years at least.

Goethe’s history shows that he loved darkness rather than light, because his deeds were evil. It was his heteropraxy that led to his heterodoxy. To one who had made an essentially immoral decision, it was a great satisfaction to find what seemed to be a rational justification of his position. And this he did find in the philosophy of Spinoza. I do not mean that Goethei was a metaphysician or a lover of metaphysics. With his inborn love for clearness and for facts he even derided the philosophic schools of his day. He explains his own greatness by his avoidance of such speculation:

Mein Kind, ich habe’s klug gemacht;
Ich habe nie iibcr’ s Denken gedacht

“My wisdom has been, never to think about thinking.”

If he had thought more about thinking, he might possibly have scrutinized more sharply the system which he accepted, might have perceived its incongruity with the facts of human life, might have seen its utter inability to explain such things as sin and guilt, remorse and retribution. But Goethe did not accept the views of Spinoza upon rational grounds; he accepted them rather because they fitted in with a previous moral decision of his own. He has himself well said, “As are the inclinations, so are the opinions.” And Fichte, whom he ridiculed, uttered the same truth in the aphorism, “Men do not will according to their reason, but reason according to their will.”

He read Spinoza in 1774, when he was twenty-five years of age. “I well remember,” he writes, “what peace and serenity came over me when I first glanced over the surviving works of that remarkable man. This sensation was still quite distinct to me, though I could not have recalled any particular point. But I hastened forthwith to the works to which I was so much indebted, and the same sense of peace took possession of me. I gave myself up to reading them, and thought when I scrutinized myself that the world had never looked so clear.”

Far be it from me to deny that in the works of Spinoza there is this charm for the mere intellect. His system is a system of Monism. There is but one Substance, one aspect of which is extension, and the other aspect is thought. All the events of the universe follow from the nature of this one Substance, as the nature of the diameter follows from the nature of the circle. There is no freedom, no purpose, no morality. It is a sort of Monism, but it is not an Ethical Monism. “The great systematic work of Spinoza,” says Hodge, “is entitled ‘ Ethica’ ; but for real ethics we might as well consult the ‘Elements’ of Euclid.” And though this one Substance is called God, it might far better be called the Universe.

Hegel was right when he declared the superiority of his system to Spinozism to lie in his substitution of ‘Subject’ for ‘Substance.’ “The true Absolute,” says Seth, “must contain, instead of abolishing, relations; the true Monism must include, instead of excluding, Pluralism.” And this true Absolute, I may add, is a Personal Intelligence and Will, not bound to the Universe by necessity, but freely originating the Universe, and expressing in his relations to free moral beings not only his wisdom and power, but also his holiness and love.

Such a God as this Spinoza knew nothing of, and Goethe knew the true God quite as little as Spinoza. Hutton tells us that Goethe combined the pantheistic view of God with the personal view of man. But I think it is clear that whatever personality is left to man becomes distinctly unmoral. If there is no freedom in God, there can be none in man, and a personality without freedom is entirely illusory. Man is only a part of the all-embracing Spirit of the Universe, a Universe eternally changing indeed, but changing according to unchangeable laws. No attributes can be ascribed to God—in fact, we can have no definite thought of him. No special revelation can come from him. He is deaf to our entreaties. He speaks only in us. It is impossible to make God an object of love, for love goes out only toward persons. Or, if we say that love to God becomes love for Nature, this means no more than that we love the highest expression of God, namely ourselves. All tends to the exaltation of self and the weakening of the sense of obligation. God is within, not without. There, in the desires and aspirations of the individual soul, is to be found the only standard of morality.

As Goethe had no definite thought of God, so he had no definite expectation of immortality—at least it was no present aid to him. “Such incomprehensible subjects lie too far off,” he said, “and only disturb our thoughts if made the theme of daily meditation. An able man who has something to do here, and must toil and strive day by day to accomplish it, leaves the future world till it comes, and contents himself with being active and useful in this.” And Faust’s words only express the poet’s own view:

The sphere of earth is known enough to me,
The view above is barred immutably.
A fool who there his blinking eyes directeth
And o’ er the clouds of earth a place expecteth,
Firm let him stand and look around him well 1
This world means something to the capable;
Why needs he through eternity to wend?
Here he acquires what he can comprehend.

Which simply means: Every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost. There is no eye to pity, and no arm to save.

It is a proof of the blinding influence of sin, that Goethe maintained this plan of life to be unselfish.


About Aeoli Pera

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9 Responses to Rant re: the Panglossian optimism of racial essentialists and neoliberal Ph.Ds

  1. Sturm Bringer says:

    “It comes from an old Nazi belief called racial essentialism”, stop, stop stop!

    One mein Redhead, do not use “Nazi”, unless referring to jewry; second where in the devil’s fools gold mine did you “learn” this?

    The Natsocs(not nahzee) knew and understood individual differentiation inside a race, and Hitler drew attention to the fact that oft a third, fourth or later son would be the gifted(or genius) of the family, and not the first or second(necessarily).

    Thirdly, IQ heavily politicized and may be less meaningful than expected.

    Fourth, funnily enough the quote on Weimar does not include the National Socialists, the actual leading lights in Dutchland.(its not funny just blinders put on by his being raised in a Jewdahssary school.)

    I could go on, but the hour is late and I feel lazy.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      > where in the devil’s fools gold mine did you “learn” this?

      Michael Woodley, in an episode of the Jolly Heretic (since deleted).

      • Fox says:

        I’ve read part of the relevant source material in the original language:

        Those people were pros at hereditarian science, differentiating between “races” (Nordic, Alpine, Dinaric etc), classes and even regional subgroups (Franks, Bavarians, Swabians etc).
        One book went through the ancestry trees of Germany’s top thinkers (Goethe most prominently), one study evaluated a whole village’s genetic history.
        What suprized me was that:
        – they fully acknowledged their own people’s “diverse” genetic origins (Nordic + Alpine + Faelid + …)
        – they saw good qualities, even sublime ones, in non-Nordic races as well and weren’t hesitant about pointing out the Nordic race’s faults
        – overall, they saw the Nordic race not as the universally superior one, but as a unique race whose presence and leadership is critical for state-formation and impactful historical developments (exploration, innovation etc)

        They didn’t take good racial traits for granted at all, but as an inheritance which must be guarded and nurtured each generation.

        To sum up, I’ve no idea which primary sources Menie could have based his argument on (directly or non-directly).

      • Sturm Bringer says:

        The Brutish are terribly weded to Dutchman bad, so terribly it seems their vital organs (brain, heart and soul) shut off when it comes to reviewing the World Wars.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      What is up with people using scare quotes at me lately?

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