Immigration, Millennials, and the Smartist Era

In response to a post supporting more high-tech immgration, Derb replies:

Nobody “deserves” admission to anyone else’s country. Immigration has nothing to do with morality. It is the business of deciding whether we need any more people; and if so, from where, with what characteristics, taking into account all social and cultural factors, not merely economic ones (about which there is in any case no general agreement).

Derb is looking at the issue from a normative perspective – the law – while we’re looking at it from a positive perspective – what would be best for the economy under a meritocracy.

Yes, quality is more important than quantity, and we should be choosy, but more immigration of the best and the brightest can help negate the economic drain of the mouth breathers that are born here – and there’s no shortage of those. Smart Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese – to name a few – want to attend our elite institutions and can bring value to the economy by creating jobs and innovation, hence they deserve priority in admissions over lesser qualified U.S. citizens. It’s an unpopular opinion, but consistent in upholding the meritocracy. Many on the right are falling into the trap of the left by placing greater precedence on factors such as nationalism and citizenship over ability and achievement. The conservative party is supposed to be opposed to affirmative action, and rightfully so, but now they want affirmative action for Americans over foreigners, which seems hypocritical.

On Reddit, a post about Paul Erdos’ reliance on amphetamines to be a more productive mathematician got a massive 3,500 up-votes and 800 comments in 12 hours, surpassing major news stories and on par with celebrity ‘Ask-Me-Anythings’. This is evidence we’re in a smartist era, because when else has there been this much general public interest in a subject as arcane as the drug habits of a deceased octogenarian mathematician?

Authenticity, being an expert and being smart is the social currency of the smartist era. Among the millennial generation of Obama voters, unscientific platitudes – including those promulgated by liberal baby boomers – are out and originality, science, skepticism and empiricism is in – even if these views challenge leftist orthodoxy, such as supporting the right to bear arms, opposing affirmative action, and not being so quick to blame multinationals and rich people for wealth inequality. The millennials, the smartest and most educated generation ever thanks to the Flynn effect, won’t be ‘sold’ to the mouthpieces of special interests and political correctness as readily their parents. This is good news because academics and policy wonks – using facts and reason – can reach this demographic to promote pro-growth policy and HBD principles that earlier generations would have ignored due to not being smart enough or due to being brainwashed.

As recently as 20 years ago, behavior idiosyncrasies and eccentricity were viewed as defects to be masked; now they are worth ‘street cred’ and vaunted. Being anti-social and inscrutable will elevate one’s social status in today’s society – from being an outcast in an earlier generation – to a thought leader with throngs of disciples in the insular universities, but also increasingly in the mainstream on sites such as Buzzfeed, Reddit or or on Fox News or CNBC – in an era where intellect is revered and valued more than ever, and stocks keep going up. As a case in point, consider Slavoj Žižek – an eminent professor dubbed the “Elvis of cultural theory” and second only to Noam Chomsky in visibility – reveals in a video, speaking in his notoriously hard to understand Eastern European accent, that he doesn’t like teaching and, furthermore, showing indifference if one of his students were to commit suicide, going so far as to joke about it whimsically. Such remarks – however offensive – boost his stature because it’s ‘authentic’, going against the currents of normative social behavior. In the same way being a professional mathematician or physicist (amateurs are typically derided, unless they are better than the pros) gives you Stephen Hawking-like oracle qualities and adoration, taking recreational drugs exudes a down to earth hipness and open-mindedness. Combine the two and you have the archetype of a demigod in the smartist era – one that millions of people, many of whom are atheist or agnostic, worship on the alter of erudition.

If the left gets the economic crisis, real estate crash and bear market it so seeks, all of this will be derailed. The warrior class will gain a little ground on the cognitive elite – for example – the national aura of machismo and patriotism that immediately followed the events of 911.