Sunday, March 5, 2017
Why I don't feel bad for Charles Murray
Charles Murray attempted to give a talk at a place called Middlebury College, and got chased out by a mob. Murray, as this corner of the Internet knows, was the co-author of "The Bell Curve", in which the authors point out that there are different IQ distributions for different racial and ethnic groups, and that high IQ is correlated with better life outcomes. This is an appalling hatefact, because it leads to the conclusion that all men are not, in fact, created equal and government efforts to make them so are unjust and uneconomic.
Why do conservatives do this? They go to a riot and expect a debate to break out. Murray was also particularly venomous in denouncing Donald Trump, who was the only candidate promoting policies to protect the American prole class, a group whom Murray purports to champion.
Murray has forgotten an ancient formula: every political regime requires Ideas and the Muscle to immanentize it.
Ideological conservatives have spent the past several decades pretending they didn’t need Muscle. That’s how I used to think: the cogency, the elegance of my Ideas will carry the day! Not true. No amount of argumentation or even data will convince a liberal that all children are not equally educable. No parade of historical, real world-failures will convince a Marxist that the labor theory of value does not describe reality. So if you want a country where you can politely debate Enlightenment concepts like inalienable rights, then you need (1) a territory, (2) a people with the IQ and time preference necessary for abstract ideas and a temperamental aversion to violence, and (3) lots of razor wire and machine gun emplacements to keep out all the people who can out-thug, out-breed and out-vote you. Sometimes you are going to lose this fight, which is what the former Byzantine Christians in the Middle East found out.
Murray has the typical ideologue’s conceit: he thinks his lofty ideas built America and sustain it. That is only partially true. America was built by ornery Anglo-Celts and defended by two oceans and weak neighbors north and south. Since the 1980's Murray, George Will, and all the other polite conservatives who grew up in 88% white America soothingly told everyone that inside every immigrant was a Republican-voting WASP just waiting to get out. Donald Trump has a much more realistic view of human nature and he is in effect asking the conservative elite just what the hell they’ve been doing for the past twenty years.
Trump is like the boss who storms into the shop where everybody’s sitting around smoking cigarettes and talking on the phone. “What are you doing? Get to work! Conserve!" Murray’s the grumbling shop steward fighting the new reality.