Excellent article by Free Northerner The High-IQ Homo Economicus
This is one off those articles that everyone-both the high-IQ right and high-IQ left–can relate to, as an example of a shared narrative and as part of the ‘great debate’ raging online about economics. Although Free Northerner is of the ‘right’ and the article is intended for the right-wing readership, liberals can relate to the message that recent economic and social factors have stratified America into two classes: one that is thriving and a second that isn’t, and that the former is indifferent, and at worst, complicit, in the plight of the second. This is why Noah Smith, a liberal, shared it on his Twitter (and how I found the article), and ties in what I wrote earlier about how the IDW is like an extended family composed of members of differing ideological views but united by a shared internal value system.
Regarding the article, he mentions “Puritans” a couple times, which is a departure from the possibly implied Jewish scapegoat:
Now, some people can succeed in this. Low-time preference, high-IQ groups and individuals, like New England puritans and myself can more or less get by without too many supports. Rootless homo economicus, like Williams, New York bankers, and hipsters, can have satisfying(?) lives living in a rat utopia, grubbing for dollars and status, anomie won’y affect them much. Sociopaths (in the colliquial sense), like most politicians, are made to survive in soulless, inhuman system.
With the exception of German, Irish, Scottish, and Italian immigrants, most Protestant whites are from the same English stock yet have stratified into classes, with rich white elites residing in the cities, for example, and poorer whites in the suburbs or rural areas. This means that even among homogeneous racial populations, people will still self-segregate by class and other non-racial factors. Wealthy whites that shun the urban life may, for example, buy an expensive ranch, possibly to avoid having to be around poorer whites. This is the problem with appeals to racial solidarity, because most people place their own personal interests and those of their family above that of a racial collective.
None of this is to say that we should adopt socialist or communist policies where everybody gets free government handouts. That’s just another form of anomic, inhuman mammon-worship. There are other options besides anomic socialist mammon-worship and anomic corporatist mammon-worship. I’m planning another post on economics, hopefully soon.
This part also stood out. His article is basically left-wing, but he injects this shot at socialism, possibly to signal to his readership that he has not gone full-liberal. This is a observation you sometimes see where a writer is faced with a sort of cognitive dissonance and this tug of war is reflected in the writing. He strawmans a very narrow definition of communism (free government handouts) while glossing over the fact that socialism and communism are more than just ‘free stuff’, but rather are characterized by class warfare, which his article is replete with. I’m not buying that he has totally disavowed it.
Real conservativism and reaction recognizes that not all people are equal. You can’t just abandon whole swaths of people to anomie, poverty, and economic misery. Superiors have a duty to protect and care for their inferiors just as the inferiors have a duty to obey and respect their superiors. Conservatives can not abandon the idea of noblesse oblige.
Who enforces this “duty”…a bigger government? Isn’t that the system we already have today, where almost half the country pays no taxes and is effectively supported by the productive half. Look how much entitlement spending has surged in the past 50 years. To say that the rich have reneged on their ‘noblesse oblige’ or duty to help the disadvantaged, flies in the face of reality. If anything, they have helped too much. If that is not good enough, then what does he want.
I agree with his economic assessment though. It takes a certain type of person–maybe sociopathic or narcissistic–to get ahead in today’s hyper-competitive economy. But also a high IQ, which is necessary to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in such an economy, and also low time preference. As stock prices, web 2.0 valuations, home prices, etc. soar into the stratosphere, high-IQ people are getting richer than ever as average-IQ people are stuck with jobs that don’t keep up with inflation and aren’t participating in the post-2009 wealth creation boom. But also, America capitalistic system, in general, and especially as of late, rewards people who are cunning and smart, not those who merely ‘show up’ or agreeable. Contrary to the popular expression, 90% of success is not ‘showing up’, but rather creating economic value and being exceptional. Just being average will not longer cut it an economy that rewards individual exceptionalism. Also, people are getting rich in ways that don’t involve ‘going to work’, but rather by posting links on Twitter, using social media, etc.–stuff that requires more ingenuity, self-actualization, and imagination than obedience.
Modern conservatives, having whole-heartedly adopted liberalism, fall into the tabula rasa trap from a different angle. All men are capable of perfecting themselves, they just need to become rugged individualists and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. While personal responsibility and individual effort are important, to think that all men are capable of self-actualization in anomic isolation is just as nonsensical the New Soviet Man.
Agree. Tabula rasa is wrong. But I oppose how Free Northerner possibly misconstrues or disparages Kevin Williamson as being a pure blank-slateist, when he’s not. Kevin Williamson, who I think is ‘woke’ about HBD and IQ, would also agree that tabula rasa is wrong or at best is incomplete. But also, the funny thing is, in terms of rejecting democracy and populism and an overall air of elitism, Kevin Williamson, ironically, despite being the bane of reactionaries, is more reactionary than most self-proclaimed reactionaries. The ‘bootstraps’ message does not mean anyone can do anything or that a low-IQ person can become a coder, but rather that individuals bear some personal accountability for the choices they make and their outcomes. A person with an IQ of 85-95 can choose to go on welfare or go to a vocational school, for example. But I agree that the bootstraps message can be overdone, and when used by politicians ignores the limitations imposed by IQ and other immutable biological factors, much like telling penguins to ‘flap harder’ in order to fly. Kevin Williamson, again, would also agree. Kevin Williamson may also be making a social Darwinist argument that low-IQ towns dying is part of the evolution of society and something that is inevitable…this is an HBD argument at its core, and possibly one that Free Northerner does not want to hear despite his own rejection of tabula rasa and support of HBD. Free Northerner wants the HBD he agrees with and rejects the aspects of HBD he dislikes. As Free Norther’s response to Ayn Rand inspired social Darwinism espoused by Kevin Williamson shows, HBD can be an affront to some people’s moral sensibilities. Society, individuals deem it less harmful to suspend disbelief than confront biological reality, which explains the appeal of the bootstraps narrative. In polite society, telling someone who isn’t smart that they can aspire to anything if they try hard enough, although a lie, is deemed less harmful than telling someone that they are not smart enough to do something.