Derbyshire and Sailer speak

Here are transcripts of two speeches from last weekend’s annual conference of the H.L. Mencken club:
http://johnderbyshire.com/Reviews/PoliSci/menvsman.html
http://vdare.com/sailer/101024_mencken_speech.htm
I’ll have more to say on these in the comments. The entire conference will eventually be available in audio form here:
http://www.hlmenckenclub.org/HL_Mencken_Club/Home.html

Added 10/29: Hey, let’s have some comments here! I added some of my own on what John Derbyshire and Steve Sailer said, so readers to lazy to follow the links can still opine and pontificate. 😛

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2 Responses to Derbyshire and Sailer speak

  1. Derbyshire discusses a 1910 book by Mencken and Robert La Monte, “Men versus the man”. This book is in a format I am very fond of: a political discussion as an exchange of letters between friends. Its 12 chapters are alternately written by La Monte, a Socialist and disciple of Marx, and Mencken, an Individualist and disciple of Nietzsche.

    The book is available online, but Derb has done the work for us and gives an interesting compare-and-contrast, discussing what assumptions of that day have been discredited over the last century, and what principles held by the disputants retain currency.

    Here is an excerpt:

    This faith in the infinite malleability of the individual human being has survived all these decades unscathed, from the Taft presidency to Obama’s, from Mary Pickford to Miley Cyrus. And of course it long predates La Monte. In the form of the tabula rasa concept, it goes all the way back through intellectual history to Avicenna and Aristotle.

    It was socialists who carried it forward through the 20th century though, and made it into an obscurantist hindrance to our understanding of ourselves. E.O. Wilson pointed this out in his 1978 book On Human Nature:

    The strongest opposition to the scientific study of human nature has come from a small number of Marxist biologists and anthropologists … They believe that nothing exists in the untrained human mind that cannot be readily channeled to the purposes of the revolutionary socialist state. When faced with the evidence of greater structure, their response has been to declare human nature off limits to further scientific investigation.

    And if equality between individuals is a cherished principle, how much more equality between populations, however isolated and inbred. The socialist propagandist Stephen Jay Gould laid down the marker here, in a 1984 essay:

    Say it five times before breakfast tomorrow; more important, understand it as the center of a network of implication: “Human equality is a contingent fact of history.”

    Mencken is having none of that; and as as today’s race deniers, world-uplifters, educational romantics, and enthusiasts for unlimited immigration from absolutely everywhere all share their core assumptions with Robert Rives La Monte, however naïve his faith in the proletariat, so today’s race realists, anti-globalists, educational reductionists, and immigration restrictionists can draw nourishment from Mencken, however coarse his disdain for what he unabashedly calls “the low-caste man.”

    Derbyshire concludes (somewhat disingenuously, since it is obvious which side he is on):

    The argument of Men versus the Man is one we are still having today. The content of the argument is the relative desirability of two approaches to our social life. On the one hand is proposed a society of men: a society in which none is allowed to rise too high above another, a society that subtracts great resources from the more able in an effort to raise up the less able. On the other hand is a society of the man: a society in which individuals are left to do what they can with their inherited capabilities, in conditions of maximum personal freedom and minimal state control.

    The argument has been going on in one form or another for a couple of millennia. It is reasonable to hope that we might soon — in less than another century, I’d hope — attain sufficient understanding of our species to know beyond doubt which kind of society is more stable and enduring, which less likely to foster cruelty and injustice.

  2. Steve Sailer spoke about the topic “Can HBD Trump PC?” (HBD=Human Biodiversity, PC=Political Correctness). In the transcript I linked to, he remarks

    In 21st Century America, however, noticing reality is often, by unfortunate necessity, a political act. As George Orwell pointed out, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”.

    In other words, as I said in a comment on a recent post: noticing patterns is racist.

    Sailer puts the major issue this way:

    “We’re often told that Political Correctness is a trivial matter of using the latest name for minority groups…PC is vastly more far-reaching. It enervates American intellectual discourse on many levels.”

    The willed ignorance necessary not to notice what Sailer calls “hatefacts” is an example of the Orwellian concept of “crimestop”. He concludes:

    “A more realistic political goal for HBD is mere survival as a field of study…It has to struggle politically to not be exterminated as a subject for intellectual inquiry.”

    As they say, RTWT, then comment here.

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