The “scientific” attack against egalitarianism…

Attacks against egalitarianism have existed for as long as hierarchies have existed. There have always been privileged ideologues paid by the rulers to articulate reasons why the rulers are always right and deserve to use their power in any way found necessary. That’s the way hierarchies work.

In the past, they argued that rulers were appointed by divine fiat. Nowadays, we are too sophisticated to fall for such simplistic justifications. In modern times, there have been two main areas which these ideologues have used to argue against egalitarianism:

1. “Scientific” atomism: The pseudo-scientific analysis of human behavior through purely individual factors, which includes most economics, sociobiology, and evolutionary psychology (as well as philosophical ideologies derived from them). It is used to “prove” that some people are naturally superior to others and that this justifies inequality (up to genocide, depending on the “researcher”).

I have discussed these attacks in various entries, such as “Hierarchies are natural!”, “Greed is part of human nature!”, Against Psychological Egoism and The trouble with time preference (I may have written other entries that relate to this topic, but they are not coming to my mind at present). Economic support for STV can also be included in this category, as it reduces value to the desires of the individual, instead of connecting it to the larger world of labor.

2. “Scientific” racism: The pseudo-scientific analysis of race (itself a pseudo-scientific concept) through the lens of some desirable variable, such as brain size, intelligence, industriousness, or others. This “research” is then used in order to “prove” that some races are superior and some are inferior, and that this justifies racial inequality. The most recent example of this hate rhetoric disguised as science is the book The Bell Curve.

Both of these attacks are interrelated. One starts by attacking individuals, and the other starts by attacking races, but it’s easy to go from one to the other, because whatever standard we use to evaluate one can be applied to the other.

In this entry, the second kind interests me more, since I don’t believe I have ever written about it. As I said, the most prominent example of “scientific” racism in recent times is the book The Bell Curve, which mostly relies on “research” funded by neo-nazi organization The Pioneer Fund, which was first founded to support eugenics policies and now supports its modern equivalent, heredity research. In this we see the natural descent of “scientific” racism from the phrenological racism of the early 1800s, to the eugenics of the early 1900s, to the IQ/race connection of the late 1900s.

It’s hard not to make a comparison between this and the natural descent of creationism towards intelligent design and irreducible complexity. The more failures they face, the more pseudo-scientists have to narrow the field of their nonsense. “Scientific” racism, like creationism, has to increasingly hide under the skirts of science in order to keep its credibility; but both doctrines are more about the performance of scientific rigor and open-mindedness than about actually using scientific methods and being open-minded. Doing actual science would be counterproductive to creationist and racist aims, but giving the appearance of being scientific in order to deceive is very productive to them. Furthermore, both first found their roots in the Bible.

Creationism and “scientific” racism are also inherently elitist, although in entirely opposite ways: creationism in its rejection of evolution as demeaning, populist “liberal dogma,” and “scientific” racism in its pretend adoption of evolution as a rebuttal of “blank slate,” politically holistic “liberal dogma.”

They lump together behaviours seen as criminal in our society, and look for genetic explanations. They tap the spinal fluids of violent prisoners to test for levels of a chemical which they believe reduces violent behaviour. But their choice of violence is completely socially determined. They do not look at the spinal fluids of the policemen who beat up blacks in custody or those of the soldiers who fought in the Gulf War. Violence in these instances is seen as justified. The idea that you can lump together a whole series of behaviours and label them as crime or violence is clearly flawed.

The very concepts of IQ and race are highly questionable, and highly questioned. I don’t think I need to explain this to my readers. Again, the Socialist Review makes a good point in this respect:

Scientists have claimed that there is a gene for being gay. But the idea is ludicrous. The idea that there is a separate group of people who can be labelled homosexual has only existed for the last couple of hundred years. Same gender sexual relationships have existed in all societies, but the idea that gay people exist as a separate group is a relatively new one. It would be nonsense to suggest that the gene has only appeared in the last 200 years.

The idea of race has a political history, reflecting the needs of the capitalist system, particularly in justifying the slave trade. In previous societies the idea that the colour of someone’s skin was significant was completely unheard of. Why then should we believe it now?

Because the whole study is spurious, and the “research” is made up, it should be no surprise that the results of this “research” has always matched prejudice. In the past, Jews were considered to be intellectually inferior, but since World War 2, “research” has proven the opposite, that Jews are the most intellectual race. The current “research” gives us the following order: Jews, then asians, then whites, then, far below, blacks. How convenient that, again, this fits racial prejudices perfectly. What a marvelous coincidence (can you tell I am being sarcastic?).

Such “research” is not much different from the humongous amount of “research” done every year on the GDP (“the economy”). The GDP is used to reinforce both optimistic beliefs about social progress and nationalistic superiority compared to other countries having a lower GDP. It is ostensibly scientific but has very little to do with science or facts.

The only reply by “scientific” racists is that the data is ironclad, that they are being censored, and that we just have to deal with the facts and stop being “close-minded.” This is another similarity with creationism, as I have recently pointed out how attacks against methodological naturalism rely on accusations of the opposition being “close-minded” to the possibility of the supernatural. But the belief that egalitarianism is impossible is just as close-minded as the belief that naturalism cannot explain everything.

Because of its atomism, the doctrine of “scientific” racism deliberately omits anything having to do with social interactions and institutions, and therefore is silent about the violence of currently existing institutions. Here is an example:

To illustrate “consilience,” [biologist E. O.] Wilson interprets the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He writes that it was partly an example of “ethnic rivalry run amuck,” reflecting our genetically based tribal instincts. It also had a “deeper cause, rooted in environment and demography.”

Consider what Wilson omits from his analysis. Hutus and Tutsis intermarried centuries ago, and there is no biological distinction between them. European colonialists arbitrarily created an ethnic distinction and used the Tutsi minority to impose indirect rule on the Hutu majority. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed agricultural and financial reforms that shifted land use from subsistence food production to export crops such as coffee…

Nationalist leaders in Rwanda recruited, incited, and armed the “teenage soldiers.” Pres. Clinton prevented the US Government and the UN from intervening to halt the genocide. Wilson blames genocide on human nature and overpopulation to let imperialists and local nationalists off the hook. Under the banner of “consilience” Wilson excludes from his analysis knowledge provided by history, anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, demography, and environmental science.

We see now the hypocrisy of the party line that equality cannot possibly work because of inborn inferiority. The refusal to help others which comes from believing in inborn inferiority is what creates these dramatic collapses which then “prove” inborn inferiority further. Like all prejudice, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The final word, I think, should go to C. Loring Brace who, responding to the “scientific” racist concept that toddlers can be genetically evaluated to see if they deserve a good education or not:

There is no such thing as an undeserving five-year-old.

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8 thoughts on “The “scientific” attack against egalitarianism…

  1. [...] call “Social Darwinism” actually existed far before Darwin. Darwin was fighting against an ideology (which at the time was called pluralism, because it claimed separate origins for each human race) [...]

  2. anonymous January 10 2013 at 15:32 Reply

    Um… When was egalitarianism about providing equal opportunities for people? From what I understand its about providing MORE opportunities for people who fall behind even with the standard set of opportunities. Which is anti-evolution by the very nature of evolution. If two people are given 10 bucks and told to make money, and one makes 30 bucks while the other loses 5, you don’t give that person 25 bucks to make it even. Thats what egalitarianism is about. In the hundreds of thousands of hears humans have existed in the current form, we haven’t changes much at all through our use of tools which prevented the need for physical adaptation to our environments. Now what this meant is the smartest of the group who could make the best tools the fastest was the victor. But if we take even that amount of competition out of humanity (i.e. egalitarianism getting id of social/physical/intellectual competition) then we won’t ever advance further as a species ever.

    • Francois Tremblay January 10 2013 at 15:34 Reply

      So, what’s your point?

    • Gunther Leenaert March 31 2014 at 17:08 Reply

      Look at it this way: What is the hardest form of communication, but from which you learn the most, as in have the opportunity to process the most information?

      – Monologue
      – Dialogue
      – Trialogue
      – Open forum

      Obviously, an open forum, given the right protocols, has the potential to have the biggest amount of information at its disposal and requires the most skill in communication and regulation. And in this information age, knowledge is power. So why do we still maintain hierarchical bottlenecks in our society? Because, essentially that is what any centralized or anti-egalitarian system is. A bottleneck. It restricts the flow of resources, information and energy by compartmentalizing it or claiming it. Just look at government, oligarchies and monopolies.

      Now think about the following: What has been one of our greatest achievements and is equally great in terms of egalitarianism? Something that to this day revolutionizes the way we live and think. An invention that, after a short militaristic and academic life, was made to be public, in a fairly altruistic manner.

      Yes, the internet. And it has brought us more together than any of us could have ever imagined centuries ago. Something most mammals never achieve. Hierarchy is a learned construct, by animals who need it to function in an otherwise chaotic environment. Are we ready to throw the shackles of hierarchy at our feet? Are we ready to try something greater?

      I say, in order to distance ourselves even more from animal and base behaviors that lead to disharmony in our society, we should at least try to make egalitarianism work. I mean, we live in a globalist age and that’s what globalism is all about. It’s about creating equilibrium on this planet so that we can expand our horizons communally instead of maintaining the imbalances and profiting from people who are currently predetermined to live a less meaningful life due to lower intelligence, disabilities, beliefs, region, class or ethnicity.

      Privilege brings responsibility.
      Wealth brings responsibility.
      Intelligence brings responsibility.

      This is what egalitarianism is all about. Live and let live properly.

  3. […] is Geher’s pathetic attempt at justifying a merger of evolutionary psychology, which is an ultra-conservative form of political rhetoric, and feminism, which is radical in […]

  4. […] the existence of exploitation but claim that there are good reasons for it to exist. There are whole areas of study dedicated to “proving” that inferiors deserve to be inferior. In recent times, […]

  5. […] by “objective” research or systems of thought. I’ve examined these justifications in the case of racism. The gender hierarchy shares many of these methods: evolutionary psychology is a good case in […]

  6. […] This has always been the case. The correlation between black slavery and the rise of proto-Social-Darwinism in the US is another example of […]

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