Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Did Europeans Create the Modern World? — Part 4

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.

This is the final installment in this series. For previous installments, see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) in his influential study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism identified capitalism with the Protestant branch of Christianity. I do think it is accurate to say that Protestant nations proved especially dynamic in adopting science and capitalism; Protestantism encouraged ordinary people to read the Bible in the vernacular, which spurred the growth of literacy. Still, there is no doubt that the foundations of capitalism were created in Catholic Europe, in the medieval city-states of northern Italy.

Western wealth began with urban growth and commerce in the twelfth century and accelerated during the Renaissance into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the development of a relatively autonomous class of professional merchants. Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), an Austrian and later British economist and philosopher, identified a new individualism provided by Christianity and the philosophy of Classical Antiquity which was developed during the Renaissance. He explains this in his classic The Road to Serfdom:

“From the commercial cities of Northern Italy the new view of life spread with commerce to the west and north, through France and the south-west of Germany to the Low Countries and the British Isles, taking firm root wherever there was no despotic political power to stifle it….During the whole of this modern period of European history the general direction of social development was one of freeing the individual from the ties which had bound him to the customary or prescribed ways in the pursuit of his ordinary activities….Perhaps the greatest result of the unchaining of individual energies was the marvellous growth of science which followed the march of individual liberty from Italy to England and beyond….Only since industrial freedom opened the path to the free use of new knowledge, only since everything could be tried — if somebody could be found to back it at his own risk — and, it should be added, as often as not from outside the authorities officially entrusted with the cultivation of learning, has science made the great strides which in the last hundred and fifty years have changed the face of the world.”

Western growth has roots in the medieval period. Nathan Rosenberg and L.E. Birdzell Jr. investigate this in How The West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation Of The Industrial World:

“Initially, the West’s achievement of autonomy stemmed from a relaxation, or a weakening, of political and religious controls, giving other departments of social life the opportunity to experiment with change. Growth is, of course, a form of change, and growth is impossible when change is not permitted. Any successful change requires a large measure of freedom to experiment. A grant of that kind of freedom costs a society’s rulers their feeling of control, as if they were conceding to others the power to determine the society’s future. The great majority of societies, past and present, have not allowed it. Nor have they escaped from poverty.”

World trade grew modestly until about 1840 and then took off. In 1913 the value of world trade was about twenty-five times what it had been in 1800 even though prices of manufactured goods and raw materials were in many cases lower. A true world economy had been created for the first time, centered in Europe. Great Britain played a particularly prominent role in using trade to tie the world and the far-flung British Empire together economically. This was greatly facilitated by the development of new means of transportation and communications. Railroads spread throughout Europe and North America to South America, Asia and Africa and together with steamships drastically reduced transportation costs. Intercontinental trade was also facilitated by the building of the Suez and Panama Canals. The Industrial Revolution represented a point of unprecedented European power.

As late as in 1880, European nations controlled only 10 percent of the African continent. Then came the “scramble for Africa” in which having colonies became something of a status symbol. European imperialism reached its peak in Asia at this time as well when the Dutch extended their rule of Java to cover most of what is today Indonesia, the British deepened their control of possessions such as India, the French established their rule over much of Indochina as well as West Africa and the United States acquired the Philippines in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Overall, the economic gains from these colonies were in many cases surprisingly limited. They were often acquired more for political than for economic reasons. Technological superiority made many Europeans sincerely convinced that they could “civilize” other peoples, an idea embodied in Rudyard Kipling‘s poem White Man’s Burden.

According to authors Rosenberg and Birdzell, “Colonialism planted the seeds for the early development of today’s North and South American economies — an awesome accomplishment. But the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and Dutch colonial experiences and their consequences were various, even in the Americas. Spain and Portugal became major colonial powers without ever becoming advanced capitalist economies….Their most valuable colonies were in Latin America, and the home countries lost these to independence movements while they themselves were in a precapitalist stage of development. By far the most striking accomplishment of British colonialism was that it seeded several advanced Western economies, to the substantial benefit of the colonies: the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. These colonies’ economic accomplishments also benefited Britain, for controlled and exploitive trade with an economically backward colony is much less beneficial to an advanced country than its trade with other advanced countries. France built and lost a large colonial empire, remembered for the violent collapse of its Indo-Chinese rule and the almost equally violent end of its rule over what was probably its most economically successful colony, Algeria. In retrospect, there is little reason to think that its colonial ventures contributed positively to France’s economic growth.”

There is no general correlation between the magnitude and timing of Western countries’ economic growth and their colonial empires. Germany in the late nineteenth century outperformed France and at times even Britain in industry yet held only few and marginal colonies compared to the latter. Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had the world’s largest empire, yet suffered from inflation and military overstretch. Italy during the same time period was politically fragmented and plagued by attacks from Muslim pirates, yet there was no Spanish equivalent to Galileo during the Scientific Revolution. Copernicus was born in Poland, which never had a colonial history; Tycho Brahe was from tiny Denmark and Kepler from disunited Germany. England at the time of Newton was not yet a major colonial power compared to the Turks and their Ottoman Empire. The greatest astronomical revolution in history simply cannot be attributed to “colonial plundering” no matter how hard you try.

Imperialist Spain and Portugal did not achieve long-term growth, in contrast to non-imperialist Switzerland or Sweden. Spain and Portugal used slavery widely in their colonies, but lagged behind in the development of modern growth economies. Of the estimated 10-12 million Africans who were forcibly transported across the Atlantic between 1450 and 1900, several million ended up in Portuguese-ruled Brazil. Michael Hart speculates whether interbreeding with low-IQ peoples (African slaves) slightly lowered the national Portuguese IQ during the colonial period.
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Sponsored by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), the Portuguese in the mid-1400s engaged in systematic voyages of discovery along the western coast of Africa, culminating when navigator Bartolomeu Dias (ca. 1450-1500) sailed around the southernmost tip of the continent in 1488, thereby opening the sea route to Asia. Mariner Vasco da Gama (ca. 1460-1524) and his crew reached India by way of the Cape of Good Hope (1497-99) and returned successfully to Lisbon loaded with spices and samples of Indian cloth. This triggered several armed clashes with Muslims, who had traditionally controlled much of this lucrative trade.

Lynn White, the eminent American professor of medieval history, states that “By the end of the 15th century the technological superiority of Europe was such that its small, mutually hostile nations could spill out over all the rest of the world, conquering, looting, and colonizing. The symbol of this technological superiority is the fact that Portugal, one of the weakest states of the Occident, was able to become, and to remain for a century, mistress of the East Indies.” This was a radical new development during the Middle Ages, because “before the 11th century, science scarcely existed in the Latin West, even in Roman times.”

Technological developments facilitated this Age of Exploration. Europeans may have been the first to use gunpowder to build large cannon, and while other civilizations in Eurasia used this invention, too, Europeans were especially adept at combining cannon with ships. The Portuguese and others pioneered new types of highly maneuverable sailing ships such as the caravel, and exploration led to improved maps and navigational techniques. The desire to Christianize pagan peoples was still very fresh among leading individuals such as Queen Isabella of Spain after centuries of struggles against Muslims. Government sponsorship was important for the Spanish and the Portuguese and in the seventeenth century for the Dutch East India Company. There was also the basic European curiosity about the world, although Asian spices and the search for material wealth were usually the most direct causes of these voyages. Vasco da Gama famously stated that the Portuguese sought “Christians and spices.”

According to scholar Lynda Shaffer, the Chinese with their large and sophisticated navy “could have made the arduous journey around the tip of Africa and sail into Portuguese ports; however, they had no reason to do so. Although the Western European economy was prospering, it offered nothing that China could not acquire much closer to home at much less cost.” In contrast, the Portuguese, the Spanish and other Europeans were trying to reach the Spice Islands in Indonesia. “It was this spice market that lured Columbus westward from Spain and drew Vasco da Gama around Africa and across the Indian Ocean.” In Shaffer’s view, technologies such as gunpowder and the compass had a different impact in China than they had in Europe and it is “unfair to ask why the Chinese did not accidentally bump into the Western Hemisphere while sailing east across the Pacific to find the wool markets of Spain.”

There is some truth in this. The Age of Exploration with Portugal and Spain initially began with a desire to link the world’s second-most important trading region, Europe and the Mediterranean world, with the world’s most important trading region, the Indian Ocean, and in doing so bypass Muslim middlemen. This is why Christopher Columbus mistakenly believed he had arrived in India when he reached the Americas. Europeans were initially more interested in buying Asian goods than vice versa, but this still doesn’t explain why the Chinese and other Asians didn’t create the equivalent of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Genghis Khan (ca. 1162-1227) and the Mongols are sometimes blamed for this.

The Mongol conquest certainly had a disruptive impact, and the trail of devastation it left behind severely depopulated regions from China and Korea via Iran and Iraq to Eastern Europe. It ended the dynamic Song Dynasty, yet even before this there were few indications that a development towards modern engines or mathematical physics was about to take place in China. A series of typhoons, dubbed kamikaze or “divine wind,” saved the Japanese from the Mongol fleets in 1274 and 1281, but they, too, didn’t develop a fully fledged industry until they adopted a Western model in the late nineteenth century Moreover, even if Western Europe escaped the Mongols, we should remember that Europeans experienced centuries of political disintegration and population decline, longer than in any period in Chinese history for several thousand years. Europe also had to face a more prolonged assault by Islam.

Some Muslims have claimed that scientific advances in the Islamic world were halted by the Mongol conquests. This is inaccurate for a number of reasons. First of all because the conquests didn’t affect Syria, Egypt, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, yet these regions didn’t make any more progress than did the Islamic East. Second of all, science in the Islamic world had already stagnated in many fields prior to this. In astronomy, Muslim achievements peaked after the conquests, in Iran with Mongol encouragement. Hulegu Khan gave his blessing to build the Maragha observatory after his troops had sacked Baghdad and ended the Abbasid Caliphate. His brother Kublai Khan constructed an observatory in China.

In Europe after the invention of eyeglasses and mechanical clocks, new scientific instruments for studying and quantifying the world were introduced, from telescopes and microscopes to thermometers, and their precision was steadily increased. After 1600, John Napier’s logarithms became important and new mathematics such as calculus and analytic geometry contributed immensely to analysis. A fundamental institutional pillar of Western science was the routinization of discovery, or the invention of invention. David S. Landes explains:

“Here was a widely dispersed population of intellectuals, working in different lands, using different vernaculars — and yet a community. What happened in one place was quickly known everywhere else, partly thanks to a common language of learning, Latin; partly to a precocious development of courier and mail services; most of all because people were moving in all directions. In the seventeenth century, these links were institutionalized, first in the person of such self-appointed human switchboards as Marin Mersenne (1588-1648), then in the form of learned societies with their corresponding secretaries, frequent meetings, and periodical journals. The earliest societies appeared in Italy — the Accadémia dei Lincei (the Academy of Lynxes) in Rome in 1603, the short-lived Accadémia del Cimento in Florence in 1653. More important in the long run, however, were the northern academies: the Royal Society in London in 1660, the Academia Parisiensis in 1635, and the successor Académie des Sciences in 1666. Even before, informal but regular encounters in coffeehouses and salons brought people and questions together. As Mersenne put it in 1634, ‘the sciences have sworn inviolable friendship to one another.’ Cooperation, then, but enormously enhanced by fierce rivalry in the race for prestige and honor.”

From the seventeenth century onward Europeans created many scientific societies and journals. No similar arrangements and facilities for the propagation of scholarly learning were to be found outside of Europe. China lacked institutional continuity for learning, and the Middle East and India didn’t do much better. US President Barack Hussein Obama’s Islamophile speech delivered at Cairo University in Egypt in June 2009 contained a remarkably high concentration of half-truths, distortions or plain lies. Take this quote:

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar University — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

Is there even a single truthful statement in this entire paragraph? Muslims did create some fine calligraphy, and a few of their scholars made contributions to algebra, but apart from that it’s almost total nonsense. The magnetic compass was invented by the Chinese and possibly by Europeans and others independently. Printing of books, too, was invented by the Chinese, and was stubbornly and persistently rejected by Muslims for a thousand years or more due to Islamic religious resistance. They liked the Chinese invention of gunpowder a lot more.

No direct link has ever been proven between Gutenberg’s printing press and printing in East Asia, although it is conceivable that the basic idea of printing had been imported to Europe. In contrast, we know with 100% certainty that Muslims were familiar with East Asian printing but aggressively rejected it. Scholar Thomas Allsen in his book Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia has described how the authorities in Iran under Mongolian rule in 1294 attempted to introduce Chinese-style printed banknotes but failed due to popular resistance:

“Certainly the Muslim world exhibited an active and sustained opposition to movable type technologies emanating from Europe in the fifteenth century and later. This opposition, based on social, religious, and political considerations, lasted well into the eighteenth century. Only then were presses of European origin introduced into the Ottoman Empire and only in the next century did printing become widespread in the Arab world and Iran. This long-term reluctance, the disinterest in European typography, and the failure to exploit the indigenous printing traditions of Egypt certainly argue for some kind of fundamental structural or ideological antipathy to this particular technology.”

It is likely that due to trade, Middle Easterners were familiar with printing centuries before this incident, yet because of Islamic religious resistance they did not adopt this great invention until a thousand years or more after it had been invented in China. Minorities such as Jews or Greek and Armenian Christians were the first to use printing presses in the Ottoman realms. The first book printed in the Persian language was probably a Judaeo-Persian Pentateuch.

Muslims had access to Greek optical theory. Alhazen’s Book of Optics, one of the best scientific works ever written in the Arabic language, was largely ignored in the Arabic-speaking world yet was studied with interest in Europe. It was written in Cairo, Egypt, but was not studied at al-Azhar close to where Alhazen lived for years. Al-Azhar was a center of religious education and sharia law, not secular learning and science. In contrast, Greek natural philosophy and secular learning was taught at medieval European universities in addition to religious subjects, which is why optics was studied by more European scholars. I have encountered few if any institutions outside of Europe that I would call “universities” in the Western sense before the colonial era. Among the better candidates would be the Great Monastery of Nalanda in India, which was a Buddhist institution. It was not built by Muslims; it was destroyed by them, as were so many cultural treasures in India and Central Asia.

The Chinese education system introduced some level of meritocracy by preventing the bureaucracy from becoming completely hereditary. However, it was rigidly controlled and focused overwhelmingly on literary and moral learning. Men wasted years of their lives on passing higher level exams, often failing again and again. Toby E. Huff has investigated this in The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, second edition:

“From the point of view of this study, the modern scientific revolution was both an institutional revolution and an intellectual revolution that reorganized the scheme of natural knowledge and validated a new set of conceptions of man and his cognitive capacities. The forms of reason and rationality that had been fused out of the encounter between Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Christian theology laid a foundation for believing in the essential rationality of man and nature. More importantly, this new metaphysical synthesis found an institutional home in the cultural and legal structures of medieval society — that is, the universities. Together they laid the foundations validating the existence of neutral institutional spaces within which intellects could pursue their intellectual inspiration while asking probing questions. Having laid those foundations, large sections of the Western world in the years after the Renaissance were enabled to go forward with the scientific movement as well as economic and political development.”

The medieval European university represented a real innovation, and Huff places its development, and the decision to include also natural sciences, not just theology, in its regular curriculum at the center of the later scientific achievements of the West:

“We should also not underestimate the magnitude of the step taken when it was decided (in part, following ancient tradition) to make the study of philosophy and all aspects of the natural world an official and public enterprise. If this seems a mundane achievement, it is due to our Eurocentrism which forgets that the study of the natural sciences and philosophy was shunned in the Islamic colleges of the Middle East and that all such inquiries were undertaken in carefully guarded private settings. Likewise, in China, there were no autonomous institutions of learning independent of the official bureaucracy; the ones that existed were completely at the mercy of the centralized state. Nor were philosophers given the liberty to define for themselves the realms of learning as occurred in the West.”

The Chinese had a tradition for viewing non-Chinese as barbarians, but one of China’s main challenges was that scientists found little room for independent thinking in an autocratic system with a centralized bureaucracy focused on Confucian literary classics and calligraphy. “The pursuit of scientific subjects was thereby relegated to the margins of Chinese society.” This does not mean that you cannot find promising beginnings in pharmacology, alchemy or medicine, “But in the end, institutions matter, as many economists have reminded us. Without them, fertile seeds of intellectual brilliance fail to grow into hardy plants.”

In The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Kenneth Pomeranz claims that several Asian countries, especially China and Japan, were at least as advanced as Europe by around the year 1800. Europe didn’t diverge critically from Asia until then, and the Industrial Revolution started in Britain in part due to a geographical accident because they had easy access to coal, and in part because of their overseas colonies and markets. In his view it had rather little to do with superior science or technology.

This claim is flat-out wrong. In the theoretical sciences, Europeans were ahead of East Asians throughout the late medieval and early modern periods, and the gap was rapidly increasing. These advances gradually affected applied technology as well. The Chinese had known about magnetism for centuries, yet they never discovered the connection between it and electricity, exemplified by telegraphy. Did Europeans have “easy access” to electromagnetism? Modern European studies of the speed and properties of light were far more advanced than Asian ones. Was this because Europeans had “easy access” to light? Didn’t they have light in Asia?

Medieval Europeans did well in mining technology, and this knowledge was carried to the New World. The Spanish Empire linked the Americas to the Philippines and Asia through regular convoys across the Pacific Ocean. The Spanish carried so much silver from Mexico to China that the Mexican dollar was a recognized currency in some Chinese coastal provinces. After 1400 China was remonetizing its economy, and silver was becoming the store of value.

Kenneth Pomeranz states that “The enormous demand for silver this created made it far more valuable in China (relative to gold and to most other goods) than anywhere else in the world: and China itself had few silver mines. Consequently, China was already importing huge amounts of silver (mostly from Japan, and to some extent from India and Southeast Asia) in the century before Western ships reached Asia. When Westerners did arrive, carrying silver from the richest mines ever discovered (Latin America produced roughly 85 percent of the world’s silver between 1500 and 1800) yielded large and very reliable arbitrage profits.”

In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, a largely — and in my view excessively — pro-Mongol book, author Jack Weatherford claims that the Mongol conquests triggered the Renaissance in Europe by opening up the continent to ideas from Asia:

“Because much of the Mongol Empire had been based on novel ideas and ways of organizing public life rather than on mere technology, these ideas provoked new thoughts and experiments in Europe. The common principles of the Mongol Empire — such as paper money, primacy of the state over the church, freedom of religion, diplomatic immunity, and international law — were ideas that gained new importance….Under the widespread influences from the paper and printing, gunpowder and firearms, and the spread of the navigational compass and other maritime equipment, Europeans experienced a Renaissance, literally a rebirth, but it was not the ancient world of Greece and Rome being reborn: It was the Mongol Empire, picked up, transferred, and adapted by the Europeans to their own needs and culture.”

So, we simultaneously see claims that the Renaissance was what caused the great advances in Western science and that it was triggered by Muslims in the twelfth century or Mongols in the thirteenth century. At the same time, there was supposedly nothing special about Europe until the turn of the nineteenth century. An intelligent reader will quickly see that all of these different claims cannot be true at the same time, yet they are all made at the same time.

The point here is not what is factually correct, the point is to put down any sense of pride people of European origins might have in their historical achievements. It is a bit ironic that European culture is constantly derided for being racist, oppressive and evil, yet everybody else seems very busy with claiming the honor for having created it. If we are racist oppressors who rape the Earth and create global warming, why are Muslims and others so eager to take credit for having created our culture? Shouldn’t they feel ashamed of themselves instead?

Western Multiculturalists claim that all cultures are equal, yet only one of them created modern organized science. This is the big elephant in the middle of the room. Multiculturalists try to explain this away by claiming that: (A. Science was invented independently in many regions and “merged” into modern science. (B. All cultures and peoples are equal. If one of them appears to be more successful than others, this must be because it exploits and oppresses the others. Since European civilization has been uniquely influential this can only be because it is uniquely evil. Consequently, stamping it out is a good deed for the sake of Earth and for mankind. An alternative way to respond to this explanatory challenge of why modern science emerged in Europe is to ignore the problem all together and talk about zebras and Australian plants instead. This is Jared Diamond’s preferred solution.

The truth is that the Scientific Revolution was the greatest achievement of the human mind in all history, and it was done by Europeans, not by anybody else. We can debate why this was the case, which can make for a fascinating discussion, but the end result is not debatable.

Pomeranz admits that there were no true scientific societies in China, but states that “unlike in Europe, where these formal scientific societies were often essential to protecting science from a hostile established church, in China there was no such powerful and hostile body.”

This is misleading. If the Christian Church had always been anti-science, it is unlikely that the Scientific Revolution would have taken place in Christian Europe. If Mr. Pomeranz had studied Toby Huff’s excellent work he would know that the situation was far worse in China. The Hongwu Emperor, or Taizu, was the founder (rule 1368-98) of the Ming Dynasty. He came from a poor family and created a new dynasty in the world’s largest economy. He was obviously a forceful character, but his case does illustrate underlying problems in the Chinese model. The Emperor thought that the students at the Imperial Academy were too unruly and appointed his nephew as head of the institution. Later he issued a set of pronouncements:

“In the third of these proclamations (ca. 1386) there was a ‘list of ‘bad’ metropolitan degree holders,’ that is, chin-shih or ‘doctorates,’ along with the names of some students. ‘He prescribed the death penalty for sixty-eight metropolitan degree holders and two students; penal servitude for seventy degree holders and twelve students.’ The author of this account in the Cambridge History of China adds that these lists ‘must have discouraged men of learning.’ Appended to the edict was a further reprimand. The emperor ‘would put to death any man of talent who refused to serve the government when summoned. As he put it, ‘To the edges of the land, all are the king’s subjects….Literati in the realm who do not serve the ruler are estranged from teaching [of Confucius]. To execute them and confiscate the property of their families is not excessive.’ The trial and punishment of Galileo (confinement to his villa overlooking Florence) is nothing compared to this.”

Copernicus’s 1543 book about heliocentrism did not produce an immediate upheaval; not until 1616 during the Catholic Counter-Reformation was it officially declared erroneous. As James Evans says, “Owen Gingerich has examined nearly all the surviving copies of the 1543 and 1566 editions of De revolutionibus, which total more than 500 books. The majority of copies in Italy were censored in conformity with the decree. But the decree had almost no effect elsewhere. Not even in Catholic Spain or Portugal were copies censored. The condemnation of De revolutionibus had very little impact on the acceptance of the heliocentric hypothesis. Even the famous trial of Galileo for continuing to advocate heliocentrism after the condemnation only served to popularize the new cosmology.”

One of the reasons why the West has enjoyed exceptionally high levels of sustained innovation is because we have often enjoyed a greater degree of political liberty and free speech than many other cultures. At least, we used to do so. In some critical fields we no longer do. What we are witnessing now is an experiment of unprecedented magnitude in world history: Never before have a massive amount of low-IQ peoples been allowed to settle in lands where the native inhabitants have substantially higher average IQ than themselves.

The European Union is currently promoting mass immigration to Western European countries by peoples from other cultures. It also imposes a centralized, authoritarian bureaucratic structure which used to be alien to pre-Soviet Europe. During all of European history, no single authority has ever been able to successfully censor ideas throughout the entire Continent, which, frankly, has been one of Europe’s greatest strengths. The EU and the national Multicultural elites are now purposefully destroying what have traditionally been Europe’s foremost comparative advantages: High average IQ combined with free inquiry.

Michael Hart in Understanding Human History deals with the issue of whether it is immoral to consider the possibility there could be differences in intelligence between various ethnic groups, and whether believing so makes you a “Nazi.” He suggests that the potential existence of such differences is not a moral question at all, but merely a factual one:

“Such differences (if they exist) are merely facts of nature; as such, they may be unfortunate, but cannot be immoral. Plainly, if such differences actually exist it is not immoral to believe that they exist, nor to honestly state one’s belief that they exist, nor to study the differences. And even if the differences do not exist, a belief that they do (if honestly held) is not immoral, nor is a serious inquiry into the question immoral. The attempt to turn factual questions into moral questions is the essence of dogmatism, and has long been a hindrance to scientific progress. A well-known example involves the conviction of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633. The members of the court that condemned him were turning a factual question (‘Does the Earth revolve about the Sun?’) into a moral question (‘Is such a belief contrary to scripture, and therefore heretical?’)”

Throughout the Western world there is powerful censorship of anything related to Multiculturalism and mass immigration of non-European peoples. In Europe, EU authorities constitute one of the major forces behind this in collaboration with national authorities, the media and the academia in various countries. Together they promote mass immigration and ideological “anti-racism” through social and legal intimidation as well as propaganda campaigns designed to silence anybody who might conceivably object to the above mentioned policies. This is easily the most serious cases of censorship in this civilization’s history. Much of Europe has enjoyed a remarkable genetic continuity since the Old Stone Age. Native Europeans are now supposed to be displaced by peoples with a completely different genetic profile, but we’re not allowed to debate the long-term consequences of doing so.

When people are asked about what constitutes the most serious case of anti-scientific censorship in Western history, they will usually mention Galileo vs. the Inquisition regarding Sun-centered astronomy. That was indeed a bad moment, but the attempted censorship of the heliocentric cosmology of Copernicus had little long-term effect. Moreover, this attempted censorship didn’t do anything to change physical reality. The Earth still orbits the Sun.

When scientists decoded a human genome after the year 2000 they were quick to portray it as proof of mankind’s remarkable similarity. The DNA of any two individuals, they emphasized, is at least 99 percent identical. But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain observed differences. After all, you who read these words may well be 99.5 % or more genetically identical to Newton and Einstein, but that last bit made a rather huge difference.

In 2007 The New York Times in the USA, a center-left newspaper very concerned about “racism,” real or imagined, asked in the article “In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice” “whether society is prepared to handle the consequences of science that may eventually reveal appreciable differences between races in the genes that influence socially important traits.” Multiculturalists have, reluctantly, admitted that race is not “socially constructed” when it comes to medicine; some ethnic groups are more susceptible to certain diseases than others.

It is likely that we in the twenty-first century will witness a genetic revolution that will change our view of biology as profoundly as the Copernican theory changed our view of astronomy. Maybe we will identify not only which genes are responsible for certain diseases, but also clusters of genes that contribute to unusually high intelligence. Perhaps a few generations from now, claiming that people are more or less genetically identical and that emphasizing differences in natural abilities between various ethnic groups is “racism” will appear just as quaint and irrational as it does for us to read older claims that the Sun orbits the Earth. The big difference is that once anti-Copernicanism had been discredited, the Western world was still much the same as before. If or when anti-racism has been scientifically discredited and it has been conclusively established that people really do have different levels of intelligence and capabilities, an entire civilization, the most creative and influential in human history, could in the meantime have been irreversibly destroyed through organized mass-stupidity.

Research by Rice University professor John Alford in 2008 found that identical twins were more likely to agree on political issues than were fraternal twins. He thinks that political scientists are too quick to dismiss genetics, and believes that genetics should be studied along with social influences. Alford’s research — and there are others studies with similar results — indicates that people who have a similar genetic make-up also think in similar ways.

Let us take this principle and apply it to entire societies: What if culture has a genetic component, perhaps even a powerful one? I am not a believer in genetic determinism as there are quite a few events in history that cannot be successfully explained by IQ or genes, but there are also many that can. Even if genes do not determine everything that does not necessarily mean that they don’t matter at all, yet the ruling ideology in the West today stipulates that everything is “socially constructed” and that all differences between groups of people are caused by prejudice and “racism,” by which is usually meant white racism only.

The case of the state of Israel is interesting. I have heard reports that it is difficult to integrate Ethiopian Jews in Israeli society. This could be because they have a part-African genetic profile which makes them too different from Middle Eastern or especially European Jews. If you postulate that any society cannot successfully absorb a substantial number of people with a radically different genetic profile, this will explain why Africans haven’t been integrated into the United States after living there for several centuries, longer than many European immigrants who were seamlessly assimilated. We could mention the case of the Gypsies, too, who come from India originally and have been living in Eastern and Central Europe for the better part of a thousand years (since the Late Middle Ages) but still aren’t integrated there.

One of our major problems today is what I would call binary thinking. In the binary system there are only ones and zeros, on and off. You cannot be anything in between, just like you cannot be slightly pregnant. When it comes to matters of IQ and genetic intelligence, the basic impulse among most Western academics is to make the entire subject taboo and denounce all those who touch it as “racists.” This is anti-scientific and should be rejected because of this.

On the other extreme you find those who attribute almost everything to genetic intelligence, which is simplistic. It wasn’t genetic changes that made medieval Italians create modern capitalism when Italians in the Roman era had never done the same, and it is unlikely that changes in IQ is the main reason why Scandinavians in the Viking Age were feared and respected as warriors yet are today considered feminized sissies. Western Europe by the early 1900s was the most powerful civilization on Earth and still ruled much of the planet. A century later the same region is weak and doesn’t even successfully rule its own suburbs. I seriously doubt that the average European IQ has drastically declined in the meantime. What happened is that the European spirit was broken, especially by two devastating wars and by the dysfunctional and dangerous Utopian ideologies that were unleashed in the process.

High IQ doesn’t automatically make you a more moral person. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, definitely had very high intelligence, yet this only enabled him to implement evil more effectively. I sometimes wonder whether Europeans have become addicted to implementing destructive ideologies. In that case, high IQ won’t do us much good.

People with an IQ of 100 will always have a far greater potential for great achievements than people with an IQ of 80. To what extent that potential is realized or inhibited depends to a large extent on cultural factors. You can easily destroy the ability of high-IQ peoples to utilize their potential, but you cannot create additional potential for low-IQ peoples. North Korea can be made a poorer country than South Korea through Communism, but West Africans can never become pioneers in space exploration. Likewise, France and Germany have produced many of the greatest mathematicians in recorded history. Algeria and Turkey have produced virtually none. I seriously doubt whether France will continue to produce great mathematicians if it is populated by Algerians, or Germany if it is populated by Turks.

Yes, I know that there are many white Marxists and others who are hostile to Western civilization, and there are many non-whites who genuinely admire this civilization and want to preserve it. Culture does not always follow genes, but on the other hand it is questionable whether the two can be completely separated. What if culture is at least partly the product a specific group of people with a related genetic profile? What if cultural heritage cannot be totally separated from genetic heritage and that in order to preserve the former in any meaningful way you must also preserve the latter? If so, Western culture was historically the product of European peoples and can only be maintained by them. In that case, perhaps US President Barack Hussein Obama will be remembered as a transitional figure in the evolution of the USA from a Western to a non-Western country with a non-European majority.

While Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel contains some worthwhile parts, the overall conclusion is almost certainly wrong. You can just look at the state of California to disprove it. California was by the 1960s and 70s the economic engine of the USA and by the extension the world. By 2009 it is close to bankruptcy. The reason for this is not that the geography of California changed, nor its plants or animals to any significant degree. What changed was the demographic make-up of California. As long as it was predominantly inhabited by whites it was a dynamic region. As soon as it become inhabited by Mexicans and other lower-IQ Third World peoples it came increasingly to resemble a Third World region. Diamond is currently a Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which means that he can see clearly that his theories are flawed just by looking out the window.

Jared Diamond is a poor and dishonest scientist for failing to seriously consider alternative hypotheses which sometimes explain observed reality better than his own. So why has he become so popular and influential? Because he gave the Western Multicultural elites exactly what they wanted to hear: People are equal, what matters is geography. This is an ideological green light for mass immigration of people from failed countries and cultures to the West. If you follow this logic to the extreme you should be able to swap the populations of, say, Japan and Kenya. Kenyans would then have access to all those magnificent Japanese plants and would therefore become much cleverer and would develop the next lines of high-tech cars for Toyota and Mitsubishi or sophisticated TVs for Sony. Personally, I don’t buy that idea. The experiences brought by non-Western immigration to Western cities so far indicate otherwise.


Homophobic Horse said...

You know the difference between a PhD and some yob with a degree is that PhD doctors do not write sloppy material. Every sentence needs to be substantiated.

To take one random sentence

"Then came the “scramble for Africa” in which having colonies became something of a status symbol. "

So the rapid (?) colonising of Africa was done to obtain status among powerful European countries? Where are the myriad sources to support this single statement?

Baron Bodissey said...

HH --

I assume you are taking Fjordman -- and not his sources -- to task.

If so, remember: Google is your best friend.

Concerning the "scramble for Africa": this is a time-hallowed phrase, one that is well-known to most people who study the history of 19th-century international affairs. I first learned of it in England when studying for my History A-levels forty years ago.

See the wiki for more on the term. It refers to a whole constellation of behaviors on the part of the European powers.

I don't like to speak for Fjordman here, but I will anyway. He's not just some "yob with a degree". He is an accomplished polymath who has researched these matters in great depth for a number of years.

He creates these excellent essays for us without being paid, and posts them here at no charge to the reader. If you consider his sourcing inadequate, it's easy enough to look up more background, starting with the information he presents here and the links he provides.

filthykafir said...

Indeed, Doctors of Philosophy doctors "do not write sloppy material." They do, however, Homophobic Horse, along with most of the rest of us yobs, know how to use the abbreviation PhD in a non-repetetive sentence.

mace said...

There has been a lot of discussion in regard to Islam's contributions to Western civilisation, I can suggest one.Without Moslem control of the Middle East and Central Asia,Europeans wouldn't have been forced to establish a sea route to India and Indonesia. After Columbus blundered into the Americas Europeans realised that there were, across the seas,possible rich pickings.The impetus for exploration was provided by those small competitive European nations. The Age of Exploration was the Islamic world's great gift to Western civilisation,we should be grateful.

It's interesting how much better, former British settlement colonies have done economically and politically than the colonies of other nations.
The only former Spanish colony that showed early promise was Argentina,however the country soon lapsed into the usual Latin American pattern of economic crisis and brutal dictatorship.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), an Austrian and later British economist and philosopher, identified a new individualism provided by Christianity and the philosophy of Classical Antiquity which was developed during the Renaissance.

I second that, except that it should really be the First Renaissance, not the second that is credited for this development.

The fusion of Greek philosophy (in particular from the freshly conquered Library of Toledo) with Christianity created the particular circumstances that gave birth to capitalism and freedom. Rodney Stark's wonderful book Victory of Reason elaborates on this.

As for the rantings of Homophobic Horse, I won't take them too seriously. Today, when Google makes it easy to check any details of a text, there is no need to burden each and every sentence with a ton of obscure references. If Fjordman happens to be mistaken on anything (unlikely yet possible), I'm sure he'll correct it, if you provide him with documentation for it.

Henrik R Clausen said...

BTW, it is interesting how Austrian economists (the school, not the country) tend to be philosophers, too. That holds for Hazlitt, Hoppe, Rothbard and not least von Mises himself.

Fjordman said...

Homophobic Horse: If you look at the behavior of, say, Germany from the 1880s on, it is quite clear that having colonies was something of a Great Power symbol. I didn't include detailed discussions of this because it's already pretty well established.

mace said...


I agree,colonies were part of the "Great Power" mystique,the modern equivalent is the capacity of a nation to put a human into orbit.Like most space exploration, most colonies were a waste of money to the metropolitan country,of course one notable exception to that generalization is that nation of shopkeepers.

If your critics are really interested I'd advise them to read a book or two.Books are still the best source of coherent information, or take a college course on Imperialism, as I did, many years ago.

Afonso Henriques said...


Zimbabwe and Jamaica were British colonies as well.
Quebeque, in Northwest Canada was a French colony, just like Haiti.

It is not just because English people passed through a place that it becames great, or that because it was conquered by Spaniards or French it is a hell hole. It depends on how successfull they were in being colonised or in how many white people there is, which correlates to how "Western"/"Europeanised" a country is. Take for instance, the Spanish Americas as an example. I'll give you some countries, from the least Westerner to the most Westerner:

Guatemala - Mexico - Colombia - Chile - Argentina - Uruguay...

Also, don't judge Argentina in that light. It was a great work that was made there.
For instance, Argentina ranks better than most Western countries of Eastern Europe.

Traditionally, Argentina has been richer than Spain itself (through the XX century). Argentina has created since the 1850s a great National character and culture (very Western/European, in my opinion).

Spain was a kind of fascist dictatorship from the 30s to the mid 70s!!! Argentina was not far behind.

Also, Argentina had to be a victim of the Americans playing chess during the Cold War. That's why they had so much military in power.

You see, if you want to judge the world, you can't judge it from you little redneck window. You have to understand that you are way too privileged to live in (America) a country that does not have to pay tribute to others. Guess what? All others have to.

mace said...

Afonso Henriques,

"little redneck window",really? Please avoid ad hominem comments they are a waste of cyberspace.You made an incorrect assumption, for your information I'm not American, I'm Australian,does that change your attitude? It's too easy to blame the Yanquis for Latin America's problems,if the Americans were able to interfere it's partly due to the dysfunctional nature of South American political institutions and the corruption of their elites.

I wrote "settlement colonies", this type of colony had a small indigenous population which was soon overwhelmed by immigration from the metropolitan country and other European nations,examples are obvious. I'm not sure what point you are are making by comparing the "Westernization" of various Latin American countries,none of those on your list are in the First World. I can't think of any former British settler colony that is not an advanced industrial nation and I can't think of any former Spanish or Portugese colony that is.
Argentina is an interesting study.
About a hundred years ago the countries with the highest per capita incomes in the world were Australia and Argentina. The smart money was on Argentina which had all the advantages,a higher population,better agricultural resources and is much closer to the markets of the US and Europe. Argentina was predicted to leave Australia far behind in economic development,instead the reverse occurred.Why? In my opinion the political,social and economic institutions that Australia took from Britain were the key to success. I visited Argentina about 30 years ago and the lost prosperity was evident, to even a casual observer.
I don't dispute your facts,however they don't support your argument.

Laurel said...

Why did Europeans create the modern world? Because they could.