Blog powered by Typepad

« Your Monday Funnies: 4.11.19 | Main | Bye-bye, Bercow! »

Monday, 04 November 2019


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

All our states' laws are descended from English common law except for Louisiana's, which are based on Napoleonic law. And the predominant language is English. However, there were many other contributions to US culture and law:

"The Iroquois Confederacy, founded by the Great Peacemaker in 11421, is the oldest living participatory democracy on earth2. In 1988, the U.S. Senate paid tribute with a resolution that said, "The confederation of the original 13 colonies into one republic was influenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy, as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the constitution itself."

The broader culture had other European influences:

Not to say Lowry is wrong - only that he seems to have tailored the piece to sell his book.

I have written about this many times. The American Revolution was between two bands of Englishmen over which one was more English and the English won. Many of the same themes we see in the English Civil Wars are apparent in the American Revolution, in particular, the debate over whether it was more English to be a loyal subject of the Monarch or whether it was to be an adherent of the concepts of individual liberty and representative government with limits on the Crown. In addition, of course, a lot of colonists did not want to pay the Crown for having defeated the French threat--INGRATES!

For many colonists, it was a tough call to be for or against the Crown. I doubt that more than about a fifth or so of the colonists were active supporters of the Revolution--at least initially--and maybe an equal or slightly greater number remained loyal to the Crown. Most of the rest were "neutral" in the sense that they did not want to take up arms either for or against the Crown and just wanted to be left alone. In the end, it got rather more bloody than either side had anticipated: Englishmen are very tough warriors and it is not pretty to see Englishmen fight Englishmen.

If you want to see what North America would have been like without the English, look at Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, etc. I will stick with the English although I personally have not a drop of English blood and all my ancestors are from Spain.

Bob: "However, there were many other contributions to US culture and law".
Your capacity for stating, or in this case, restating, the 'bleedin' obvious' has no bounds.

Thanks, 'Dippers', you sum up a complex situation well. As I understand it, which is not very well, many of the early American/English were there to obtain religious freedom. On the whole they were able to read and no doubt arrived with considerable numbers of books - and even more opinions! Those books and opinions helped dig the foundations.

That William Caxton has much to answer for!

It was England done right*.

England taken to its analytical, logical, rather continental European if I may say so, conclusion.

All the compromises, contradictions, hypocrisies rinsed out and flushed down the crapper.

See, rationalism can be done without making a French Revolution cock-and-bollocks of it, just takes the right type to do it.

That's why we should be back in the EU showing 'em how it's done (oooooh noooo ... Ed). Oh, I forgot, we already did with the Single Market and the Four Freedoms.

Seems we've failed to recognize our own handiwork twice with the two greatest continents shaped by us in our own perfected image of what we think of ourselves as, but can never bring ourselves to be. God damn it, what a curse.

To ram home the case in point: we design and export that Single Market and Four Freedoms beauty to Europe, then immediately propose and get excited about putting a border right down the middle of our own state.

Quite extraordinary, really, but that's us, in a nutshell.

* Note past tense.


The American Rebellion and Revolution was a complicated mess. Initially, the divisions were about in thirds: loyalist, leave me out of it, and patriot. The War itself after dragging on for years began to move south through Virginia, North Carolina and what now is western North Carolina/Eastern Tennessee. Those last two locations held many Scots and Irish who didn't want to be bothered. They got bothered real fast after Britain landed in Charleston and moved inland. Then it was English yeoman vs Scots Irish farmers and others. This was civil war before the Red Coats got to them.

Spain had settled in Florida years before England tried a semi permanent colony on NC's coast before a permanent one in Jamestown, Virginia. And then Massachusettes. Since the soon to arrive English couldn't understand Spanish, the Spanish soon departed for Cuba and South America. The Spanish came looking for gold and the English were looking for God. At least that is what we were taught long ago.

You can thank me later David.

(Incidentally, the author's English.)

To whet your appetite - so to speak.

Belay listening to that first one David.

That's the one more sure to draw your enthusiasm.

Of course America would have been different. Radically, fundamentally, unrecognizably different.

We hear often that "race is a social construct", which I think has it exactly backwards. Cultures don't just fall from the sky; they are, I think, the "extended phenotypes" of the populations that create them. (For an explanation of what I mean by using this term, see here.)

JK, that book Between Two Worlds is really outstanding. I'll second the recommendation.

SoD, I agree with "done right". I also agree with the past tense, because now it's "right done".

David, sorry to burden you with the obvious, but it's difficult to surprise someone who knows everything.

Malcolm, culture is also a social construct. Since colonial days US culture has changed significantly many times as new groups immigrated and law and technology advanced. At least half of us consider it part of being American and don't think dynamism means going to hell in a hand basket. In fact, it's quite the opposite.


Some differences between the Spanish and English colonization in America.

The English Crown granted a charter and both the charter holder and King were very laisse fare (sic) in their control of the colony. Almost all the local government was in fact local because apart from the Governor very few were appointed from England. .

In the Spanish colonies Madrid controlled all appointments. Eventually a colonial person could be appointed but not in in the colony he came from.

Result is that on independence the North Americans knew how to run a government because they had been doing it for years. In the Spanish colonies the administrators went home on independence. The locals who took over were not experienced in running a government. It was not until the 20th century that this worked itself out.

Also, many of the Spanish who went to the Americas came to get rich and come home (similar to the British role in the Raj.) In North American most of the people who came, came to settle. So, they built for their children and grandchildren.

Note that in many of the former Spanish colonies the lower classes are of Indian or Africa decent while the upper classes have a larger Spanish descent. The Spanish came to exploit not settle.

What would have happened if the Spanish had had a policy similar to the Engilish, I’m not sure, not the same result of course but I think better.

The above is large generalization, I’m sure one could find many exceptions. But I think it is good big picture explanation.

"sorry to burden you with the obvious, but it's difficult to surprise someone who knows everything."

But something tells me you're gonna keep up the effort anyway.


You seem to think that, somewhere in what I wrote, I had claimed that American culture had never changed at all, or that anything but complete stasis is bad.

Au contraire: change is inevitable. Change can be either good or bad, however, so prudence and good stewardship suggests some caution and incrementalism in order to distinguish the difference, and to catch errors before they become irreversible. Democratic "dynamism" can give you civil rights, or it can give you Auschwitz.

Thomas West, in a recent book about the Founding, used an Aristotelian idea that's relevant to this post: he said that the political theory applied by the Framers was the "form" of the new nation, and the particular American people -- overwhelmingly of British stock, with broadly shared folkways, history, and legal and religious traditions -- were the "matter".

So: the question here was whether the American nation would have "been the same" if the "matter" -- the people -- had been other than what they were. I doubt it very much -- but in our current frenzy of "dynamism", we now seem awfully keen to find out.


Of course the character of any country is determined by the overall character of its people at any particular time. However, it's just wrong that colonial America was influenced by only the culture of one ethnic group or that any group's culture was homogenous.

If we can believe the book description, Thomas West perpetuates that kind of oversimplification by claiming Protestantism was a main feature of the American founding. From a book by David Holmes:

"the largest group consisted of founders who retained Christian loyalties and practice but were influenced by Deism. They believed in little or none of the miracles and supernaturalism inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Holmes finds a spectrum of such Deistic Christians among the founders,[citation needed] ranging from John Adams and George Washington on the conservative right to Benjamin Franklin and James Monroe on the skeptical left."

I haven't read that particular book, but several like it. Starting in the 1980's, the American right made a loud argument that we are a "Christian nation" as a political convenience. I knew that was wrong, but was amazed by how wrong it actually is. The most prevalent philosophical values of the US founding were Enlightenment values. The average Brit colonist, if religious at all, and many weren't, was probably orthodox, but the main players in our founding were not. They made it a point to treat religion as a personal and not state matter and created our "godless Constitution". (If you search using those words you'll find a lot of books defending it.)

Can you name a period in American history when there was significantly less dynamism than our current time's?




Just because someone has shed their faith doesn't mean they aren't still rooted in its values, cultural mores, social practices, etc.

They behave just the same but don't go to church on a Sunday.

The power and corruption innate in organised religion turned us - the Brits and the Yanks - off both power and religion, but the goodly codes of behaviour remained. And in the case of the Proddies, their existence was predicated on a rejection of the power and corruption of Roman Catholicism. These were important forcers in the culture of the peeps that made rationalist Libertarianism do-able. Compare elsewhere: Revolutionary France, for example.

On the direction of how hollowed out those values and behavioural mores are today with the "new faith in power" on left and right, here's a thought: If a pro-rata selection of Americans were washed up on a shore today, would they make a go of it? Or would it degenerate into a statist power-fest basket case, a sort of second Brazil? The Jews / Israelis (delete as applicable) managed it 70 years ago, but would that work today?



You make an assumption that cultural norms emerge from religion or faith. For the most part they don't. They're only locally agreed on codes of conduct shaped by local conditions. A random group (you didn't mention how large) of Americans who washed up on a shore in isolation would probably form a primitive social group centered on survival. If they washed up on Oahu with limited means they would most likely get a job, hang loose, fish, surf and drink rum or smoke pot. Some might go to a library and study up on philosophy, but probably not.

""the largest group consisted of founders who retained Christian loyalties and practice but were influenced by Deism."

"I haven't read that particular book, but several like it."

You really ought to Bob, read the book that is.

"Influenced by Deism" really blows your skirts up appears to me Bob as similarly "They made it a point to treat religion as a personal and not state matter and created our "godless Constitution" likewise as I say 'it appears to me.'

You familiar with the records of one James Wilson (one of Pennsylvania's delegates to the convention what later on resulted in replacing the Articles of Confederation)?

James Madison's notes from said convention puts the words "Render unto Caesar" as issuing from Mr. Wilson's mouth - Deism suggests to us moderns many possibilities; Mr. Wilson being but one example.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

That's the text of the 1st Amendment Bob on the chance you don't readily recognize it - And, it also would appear, something else seems of particular pleasure to yourself that "godless Constitution' you've handily included.

Really Bob I think your reading Mr. Holmes' book would be of benefit.

And not just to yourself.

Religion was nearly universal in founding-era America, and it was overwhelmingly Christian and Protestant. Jefferson was perhaps the most Deistic of the Founders, but certainly not Godless; atheism was far beyond the pale. The Declaration appeals repeatedly to God, and the Constitution is only "godless" because it was not a manifesto of principles, but only a practical framework of laws. The bedrock of the Founding, however, was the idea of natural law and natural rights, derived from "nature and Nature's God". That is the gist of Thomas West's book -- the centrality of natural-law theory -- not the dominance of Protestantism. (Which not to say that Protestantism hasn't dominated American history -- but for that, I recommend a course of Moldbug, or The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism, by George McKenna.)

All of the Founders stressed the importance of religion for the prospects of the new nation. John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And that religion was the one they'd brought along from England: overwhelmingly Protestant.

But I don't even know why we're talking about religion here; in my comment I'd said almost nothing at all about religion. What I had said was that the "form" of the American Founding was particularly tailored to the "matter" at hand: the particular American people, who were in overwhelming majority British settlers with a commonality of particular folkways. Furthermore I argue that those particularities are themselves the "extended phenotype", under a process of genetic and cultural selection and coevolution, of that distinct population. Swap out the population -- replace the 2.5 million British colonists in 1776 with Somali Muslims or Han Chinese -- and the "form" would no longer match the "matter", with vastly different results.

In Federalist #2, John Jay noted the cohesion bestowed by commonality and kinship:

Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

Homogeneous? No. Even Britain itself wasn't. But the inhomogeneities of Founding-era America were almost entirely the internal factions of an insular and distinctive European, Christian population. I'm sure that for many people today it would be comforting to imagine that other, more exotic ethnic groups might have had anything even remotely approaching the influence on America's founding that the British colonists did. But however such a fantasy might warm the cockles of those who would prefer such a story to the real one, it simply isn't so.

As for "dynamism", it seems that in this age it takes a new and distinctive form: first, the deliberate dilution and disintegration of the founding-era "matter" into squabbling and immiscible identity groups, and second, the incremental rejection of the original "form", because it no longer suits our newly updated "matter".

I'll add that the idea that those driving the culture "forward" today are free of religion is a sham. They are in the grip of a crusading, missionary cryptoreligion that slips under the radar only by having displaced its sacred objects earthward, and making new, secular "gods" for itself.

It is trivially easy to trace this religion back, though its evolutionary history, to its origins. (Like a cave-dwelling fish that has lost its eyes, it is still very much a fish, and a fish of a particular type.) And -- lo and behold! -- that ancestral form, which still provides the lineaments of its descendant's frame, and almost all of its behavioral dispositions, is none other than the Protestant Puritanism of old New England. As it spread and evolved, it conquered first the Upper Midwest, then after the Civil War the South, and then after World War Two, in its fully mutated and highly infectious form, it conquered Europe. What the "right people" think at Harvard is now what they think from San Francisco to Berlin.

You could say, almost, that Massachusetts conquered the world.


The argument over the religious beliefs of the founders is too big for a comment section. There have probably been hundreds or thousands of books on the subject, so I'll just make a few points. One is that Jefferson's views varied during his lifetime, and weren't simple in any way:

Religion was, for a time, a part of most colonists' lives because it was forced by colonial governments, in the style of Europe:

"The many peoples who called early America home represented a great variety of spiritual traditions. Although most colonies had established churches that received state support, the framers of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights determined that the nation as a whole should not follow this precedent, but protect the free exercise of all religions. Rather than limiting belief or practice, religious freedom fostered diversity and growth."

Probably the most famous reasoning behind the elimination of state religion in America was put forth by the "Father of the Constitution":

Only religion is religion. To claim that some other belief system is religion is either an empty rhetorical trick or an expression of not understanding what religion is:

American Heritage Dictionary: "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe; A particular integrated system of this expression; The spiritual or emotional attitude of one who recognizes the existence of a superhuman power or powers."

The fact the definition is widely abused as an implied insult changes nothing.

The "great variety of spiritual traditions" you cite were almost entirely varieties of Christianity.

I'm glad you have that dictionary handy; it's a real time-saver. But if you cannot see that the religious impulse can take secular forms in which transcendent metaphysics is pushed under the rug, and that it has done exactly that in the modern era -- if you really can't see that even despite the direct historical ancestry and gradual mutation that is plainly apparent to the inquiring scholar, and despite the unaltered missionary zeal that has been a constant feature of this religion since the days of the Puritans, I won't bother trying to persuade you.

As for state religion in America, I'll leave this, from Curtis Yarvin:

If you have a rule that says the state cannot be taken over by a church, a constant danger in any democracy for obvious reasons, the obvious mutation to circumvent this defense is for the church to find some plausible way of denying that it’s a church. Dropping theology is a no-brainer. Game over, you lose, and it serves you right for vaccinating against a nonfunctional surface protein.


Some of the Christian sects hated each other worse than they hated non-Christians. Other traditions practiced by colonists that are often considered anti-Christian were astrology, alchemy, forms of witchcraft (don't forget the witch trials) and other magical practices. That's in addition to deists of many stripes. Some also bought into native beliefs or had none at all.

Religion will eventually go away not because of any policy, but because people will continue to learn it raises more questions and problems than it answers.

Bob, only a quibble. Religion meaning something besides Creator based? That religion is only replaced with Man as the center. I believe this eventuality has been foretold somewhere by someone.

Then again Whitewall I think you'd agree that in a couple areas (at least) Bob exhibits, etymologically speaking of course, quite religious tendencies in some areas - the "accepted" Climate Science most notably but the one area I've had the more contentious religious debate with Bob has been in his fervent over his faith where gun control manifests.

Speaking of which Bob on that latter - How's your Scripture deal with this?

Whitewall, If you're saying religion can only be replaced by mankind worshiping ourselves I'd have to say that's quite a reach. We don't have to worship anything as being a god.

JK, You're probably trolling me, but science is nothing like religion. Religions start with the proposition that a supernatural god exists and go from there. Science studies nature in a framework of checks and balances to learn about reality.

The analysis is 35 pages. Alas, I no longer have the energy to write a response to every point. If you'd like to pick out a few, I'll be happy to give that a shot.

Bob you no doubt noticed my inclusion of the qualifier, "etymologically speaking"?

from the Latin, religiosus "devout, pious, imbued with or expressive of religious devotion."

Those Romans you know were around before Christianity was a thing.


I personally don't know any Romans. Believe it or not, I also don't really care much about guns either - certainly no where near enough to start praying over them. Not that other people don't...

But we WILL worship something! It is hard wired in human nature. Nature abhors a vacuum. If not a Supreme being of some sort, then it will be Man, and we will be compelled to worship him,her,it,them or that.

Er, well, you can always worship me, if you want to - sorry, did you say something?

David, are you an "it,them or that"?

He am that He am.

Or words to that effect ...

Thanks JK. I now see that Duff has been an 'Oracle' since 2007! My life now has meaning....

Whiters, I am all things to all men, er, and the ladies, too, if they're interested! Also, my first blog post was on 17th Feb 2005 entitled "Virgo non-Intacto!"

Yeeeeeeeeees quite, and things have not improved much since then!

Here's the link:


Truly thou art a god. Command us.

Malcolm ...

Furthermore I argue that those particularities are themselves the "extended phenotype", under a process of genetic and cultural selection and coevolution, of that distinct population. Swap out the population -- replace the 2.5 million British colonists in 1776 with Somali Muslims or Han Chinese -- and the "form" would no longer match the "matter", with vastly different results.

So this 'ere "extended phenotype" also includes Jewish "genetic and cultural selection"? They packed their bags and left us 70 years ago (or at least a whole bunch of them did), having lived amongst us for 2000 years but not intermixing with our genes. And they established a functioning state in the model of any Anglo-Saxon Puritan effort.

So is it not the culture that carries the importance, not the gene, in supporting a functioning Liberty-Democracy?


David, that original post was a work of art! It approaches Divine! Explains a lot!

SoD, all that incest stuff had to stop. Europe was in the balance.


Some "matter" is better suited to certain "forms" than others. Ashkenazi Jews - the human population with the world's highest average IQ - have for centuries undergone selection pressure, both internal and external, to live as a diaspora in Western nations where, partly because of restrictions on land ownership, vastly overrepresented in "g-loaded" occupations: finance, diplomacy, translation, etc., and were often functionaries of government in various ways - including, for example, your own Benjamin Disraeli. (I note the absence of any Somali PMs to date.)

In other words, the selection pressure of, as you say, "living amongst us for 2,000 years without intermixing with our genes" has shaped their own genotype to be nicely compatible with the Anglo-American "form" (and, I'd say, it was that genotype, and the culture it produced, that made such productive embedding of the Jews as a distinct diaspora possible in the first place). We would better ask why they would have taken with them the political culture they've adapted to so well (and indeed, helped create), but why on earth they wouldn't.

Culture and genes coevolve.

Malcolm ...

Not sure that being a "G-loaded" person, Jewish or otherwise, was, is, or ever will be a founding Father of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Plenty of the dumbest of people get it and plenty of the brightest thwart it with every bone in their bodies (or was that gene?).

I too acknowledge a genetic input to the do-abilty of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: It is the relatively low level of pol gene in the immigrant populations anywhere and everywhere they go.

The kind of people who despise power and run from it are by their nature Libertarians. They leave behind them the pol-gened folks who prefer the established power institutions of developed states and for whom the Wild West is not their game.

England was the second to last place founded by immigrants and no surprise the second to last place to develop Liberty and its culture for the benefit of the world. And there's a beautiful recent example of the pol gene being left behind: 3.5 million people, mainly eastern Europeans, arrived recently, bursting out of the newly opened door to escape from oppressive socialism. So far I see not one single political representative from amongst them in UK political life. They are pol-geneless. They left all the bossy-boots behind.

The last place of immigrants was the US, and here's the rub ...

In the founding of the US by immigration there were two, not just one, forcers for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: The absent pol gene, yes, as with all other immigrations. But also the people coming were already imbued with the idea and practice of Liberty in their culture and mores having enjoyed an absence of pol-gene in Blighty because all the pols were off bossing the natives around in the far flung corners of the Brit Empire.

This Accidental Liberty, as I refer to it as, where academic advancement of the idea of it and practical implementation of it went through generations as the empire sucked the pol gene out of day-to-day life, meant what arrived from Blighty on the east coast of the US was de-pol-gened and Liberty-cultured.

That double-whammy of positive reinforcement is what made the US England done right as I said at the beginning.

And it wouldn't have mattered what the other genes were, black, white, blue eyes, slanty eyes, so long as the people on the boats were immigrants escaping power and thereby pol-geneless and cultured with Liberty, they would have made a go of it too - and the Jews corroborated that when they founded Israel.



You must forgive me, as I'm not at all sure I am following your "pol-gene" argument here.

The question that I'd popped in to answer was simple enough: "Would America Be the Same If It Had Been Settled by Russians or Spaniards?" I said I thought it almost certainly wouldn't have, because of the innate differences between different human groups -- which I think are an important part of why different populations create different cultures.

After reading your last, I really don't know whether you agree, or disagree, or what. Perhaps you think it's "culture all the way down", as we are all expected to believe these days, but then again maybe you don't. (Speaking for myself, I find that "turtle-style" explanation quite obviously unsatisfactory, as it doesn't really explain much and ignores a great deal else.)

I think it's pretty clear that if we had settled a lot of Afghan goatherds at Plymouth Plantation and Virginia, rather than English colonists, we'd have seen rather a different outcome -- even if we'd exposed them to the magic soil of Britain for several years beforehand.

So I'm sorry not to give a better response; perhaps if you could boil that down a bit I'll give another try.

I'll add: I don't want you to think I'm saying that genes are everything, because they aren't. But they certainly aren't nothing, either -- and as I said above, cultures don't just fall from the sky and land on whatever population happens to be passing beneath.

Isolation and selection alter genes, genes shape culture, culture shapes selection, selection shapes genes. Rinse and repeat for centuries or millennia, and you get considerable, and meaningful, variety -- not just in looks, but in other things as well. There's a reason the same Constitutional principles produced rather different results in America and Liberia.

Malcolm ...

We're agreeing that nature and nurture / genes and culture make us what we are as groupings. Unless anyone can think of another forcer?

I sensed, possibly wrongly then, that you were saying that there was some correlation between the genes that express race - skin colour, shape of eyes, build, etc. - and the genes for intelligence that might make Liberty more or less doable in groupings of one race or another or bright people rather than dummies. I disagree with that - but it's not what you're saying.

My observation and hypothesis is that there is a pol gene* in the pool of humanity i.e. irrespective of all races and intelligence groupings. There are two processes in human activity that cause, Moses like, the gene pool to part, with pol gened folks going one way and non-pol genes folks the other: Immigration and Empire.

Immigration because oppressed people labouring under circumstances where the pol gened folks have lined their ducks up part from their pol gened oppressors and go elsewhere. In those immigrants there is a lower quantity of pol gene by virtue of those remaining having the lion's share from the grouping's gene pool.

Empire because oppressive people having lined their ducks up effectively to apply power then part from the less pol gened to go boss the natives around in the empire territories, thereby those with lower levels of pol gene remain. No surprise that Democracy, Republic, and Liberty found their feet at the homeland of the Greek, Roman and British empires.

And so when you combine the two gene forcers in the unusual circumstances of the foundation of the US where pol gene-less immigrants booted the pol gened emperors out, you end up with a double filtering: an already pol gene-less group (the English) emigrated its even more pol gene-less subset to the US.

And the third Liberty forcer is the culture of England during those times which, absent of the pol gened folks off doing empire stuff with natives, was allowed to grow Liberty academically and practically into the English culture - as happened in Greece and Rome. The culture emigrated to the US with the English into the bargain for a rare (like I can't think of it ever happening anywhere else in history) triple filtering - like a super-smooth whiskey (check with JK in "them thar hills"!).

Your point about the circular, non-linear, Godel-esque feedback of genes on culture and culture on genes is interesting. Funnily enough I'm not too sure about that. It's not usually possible to make any predictions or causal attributions about a system in such circumstances (hence the valid major criticism of climate change and global warming alarmism). Non-linear dynamical systems in mathematical chaos are the destructor of causality attribution and predictability - which is mighty handy in the cause of Liberty of course, being, as it is, an argument that power is not deserved in any individual when cause and outcome are not knowable.

So in summary: -

Firstly, if you were thinking that race and intelligence genes were a forcer on Liberty culture, I disagree. You need to look elsewhere on the double helix - but it appears you weren't saying that.

And secondly, if nature and nurture are non-linear in mathematical chaos then I would criticize any arguments that attributes a causality and any predictions beyond a very short timespan.


Hi SoD,

I do think we are converging on an understanding.

I sensed, possibly wrongly then, that you were saying that there was some correlation between the genes that express race - skin colour, shape of eyes, build, etc. - and the genes for intelligence...

I wouldn't make this distinction, which implies that all there is to "race" are visible aspects of the phenotype, while everything else -- variations among groups in the relative distribution of cognitive, behavioral, and dispositional traits -- is somehow orthogonal. If races are greatly extended, long-isolated kin groups, then there's no reason to divide things up that way (except perhaps for fear of violating taboo).

And it isn't as if intelligence doesn't play some role in fitting a people to create and maintain systems based on philosophical abstractions such as those that make people refer to the U.S. as a "proposition nation". To create and sustain a republican form of government -- in which liberties must be balanced by the citizenry's voluntary commitment to corresponding duties, and to civic virtue -- is simply not possible for every population, for reasons both cultural, and yes, genetic (with those two things locked, as we both seem to agree, in a continuing relationship of mutual influence).

And secondly, if nature and nurture are non-linear in mathematical chaos then I would criticize any arguments that attributes a causality and any predictions beyond a very short timespan.

Yes, I think that's right, with two caveats: first, "very short" is rather vague; and second, that we must live in the world as we find it now.

Malcolm ...

I'm having an off moment with the semantics of my sentence (some would say "situation normal". ... Ed) ...

I sensed, possibly wrongly then, that you were saying that there was some correlation between the genes that express race - skin colour, shape of eyes, build, etc. - and the genes for intelligence...

Taken in the context of the ... that clips the rest of the above sentence, the intended meaning of the whole sentence changed. Let me say it hopefully better: -

Race and intelligence are correlated. The Jewish grouping you refer to as being one of the most intelligent, for example. That's a whole different story and not the direction I was going.

What I meant to say is: -

Race genes are not causal or correlated to a group's ability to do Liberty.

Intelligence genes are not causal or correlated to a group's ability to do Liberty.

The pol gene is causal and correlated to a group's ability to do Liberty.



Well, the next question would be what is meant by "do Liberty". If it means "design a complex system of government that strikes a careful balance between those liberties that must be surrendered in order to secure the rest, and then live in accordance with such a framework's necessary requirements of duty, self-discipline, and civic virtue" -- then such a "form" very likely requires a rather particular combination of qualities from the "matter", i.e. the people.

The different distribution of such qualities in various distinct human populations is, I think, of real importance here. I think intelligence matters, but it's only one part of the picture.

Malcolm ...

No other qualities needed except an absence of, or reduction in, the pol gene there and then, or for a sustained period in the past whereby culture asserts itself. That's what gets you the right "matter" to suit the "form" of Liberty.

Think we'll have to agree to disagree on that one!


The comments to this entry are closed.