Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It: Andrew Sullivan

Excellent article by Andrew Sullivan: Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It

Humans, in this view, are the only species on Earth largely unaffected by recent (or ancient) evolution, the only species where, for example, the natural division of labor between male and female has no salience at all, the only species, in fact, where natural variations are almost entirely social constructions, subject to reinvention. We are, in this worldview, alone on the planet, born as blank slates, to be written on solely by culture. All differences between men and women are a function of this social effect; as are all differences between the races. If, in the aggregate, any differences in outcome between groups emerge, it is entirely because of oppression, patriarchy, white supremacy, etc. And it is a matter of great urgency that we use whatever power we have to combat these inequalities.

This ties into a later passage:

In some ways, this is just a replay of the broader liberal-conservative argument. Leftists tend to believe that all inequality is created; liberals tend to believe we can constantly improve the world in every generation, forever perfecting our societies. Rightists believe that human nature is utterly unchanging; conservatives tend to see the world as less plastic than liberals, and attempts to remake it wholesale dangerous and often counterproductive. I think of myself as moderately conservative. It’s both undeniable to me that much human progress has occurred, especially on race, gender, and sexual orientation; and yet I’m suspicious of the idea that our core nature can be remade or denied. I completely respect the role of liberals in countering this. It’s their role. I think the genius of the West lies in having all these strands in our politics competing with one another.

If if collective factors cannot be blamed, that means the individual is accountable, not the collective. Even if genes predispose some to failure, it’s still an individual failing.

However, I think the divide has more to do with individualism vs. collectivism, than the malleability of human nature. Neoconservatives and neoliberals are intensely individualistic, sorta echoing Jordan Peterson, who has both neoconservative and neoliberal tendencies and in his videos exhorts the importance of the individual against forces of collectivist tyranny. Neocons care abut individualism as it pertains to property rights and capitalism; for neoliberals, it’s individualism in terms of freedom of expression, social issues, but also economics. The far-left and far-right tend to be more collectivist, whether it’s nationalism or racial or gender ‘solidarity’. Andrew Sullivan, like Dr. Peterson, is intensely individualistic. As discussed above, IQ is an extension of this individualism being that its a trait intrinsic to each individual and is impervious to efforts by social programs to boost it, which could explain why Andrew Sullivan and Dr. Peterson share similar views on this matter.

Klein cannot seem to hold the following two thoughts in his brain at the same time: that past racism and sexism are foul, disgusting, and have wrought enormous damage and pain and that unavoidable natural differences between races and genders can still exist.

That’s true, but I would also add it’s not just anti-biology, but more specifically the belief by the left that biology can be treated as something that is relative and or subjective. Differences between men and women, even if empirically true, are only made relevant by ingrained prejudices in society. This is similar to the view by Foucault that mental illness is a social contract based on on a preexisting norm of what constitutes mental health. They don’t deny that men, empirically speaking, are larger and stronger than women, but deny that this makes women unqualified for military and firefighting jobs, for example. Biological differences, according to the left, exist in a vacuum isolated from applicability or value judgement.