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August 01, 2004

Dum spiro, spero

Is there hope for Godless Capitalist?

Godless comments:

Heh:

“Godless Capitalist” is an intellectually incandescent and politically juvenile young Indian who sometimes diverges from making interesting scientific postings on the remarkable human bio-diversity blog Gene Expression to his second task: acting as Political Commissar to make sure America is kept safe for high-IQ recent non-white Immigrants.

"Intellectually incandescent", huh? Might put that one on the sidebar, suitably clipped of context :)

Seriously, though...just for the record, I have blasted "hate crimes" and ethnic studies and endorsed profiling before. It'd be a mistake to group me politically with the South Asian studies types at Berkeley (unless you believe that demography is political destiny even at the individual level).

While it's no secret that we've been quite critical of VDare in the past (see here, here, here on the Hmong, here on Rubinstein, and here), and while it's also no secret that many of VDare's writers [1] don't think very much of us...I do think that VDare fills an important role today.

Increasingly, I believe that the demagoguery of La Raza, Tamar Jacoby, and company has to be met with equally ferocious populist opposition from the other side. Despite leftist alarmism, I see little sign of this boiling over into overt violence (for one thing, felons seem to be much more common on the other side.)

With this proviso, I think VDare is useful in that it opens up the space for more moderate organizations, like FAIR, NumbersUSA, and CIS. They've railed against this triangulation strategy in the past, but the fact is that triangulation works to inject ideas into the debate. Consider some examples from both sides, purely as a study in tactics:

  1. Clinton triangulated off the Republicans to pass much needed welfare reform.
  2. Social Democrats triangulated off Communists to pass the welfare state. (bad policy, I know, but a good example).
  3. Entine triangulated off the Bell Curve to publish Taboo, which was just recently cited favorably in Science.
  4. Perhaps most materially, in the UK, UKIP masterfully triangulated off the BNP to make the Euroskeptic/immigration platform a viable vote-getter.

In plenty of publications (such as this one and this one), VDare is cited as the bad cop to CIS or FAIR or NumbersUSA's good cop. What many people don't understand is that if VDare wasn't present, CIS would be demonized as the bad cop.

You can see this in miniature with myself and Razib. When I take a leave of absence, Razib is denounced as beyond the pale. But compared to me, Razib is considered the voice of moderation. It's not so much that we hold different views; it's just that Razib is more willing to compromise. But without me in the picture, he wouldn't be seen as moderate; instead, fanatical "antiracist" types would stalk him and print his home address.

And there's the rub. Sometimes you need dedicated people on the margins to get an ignored but important idea into the center of political discourse. Tax cuts, for example, were an impossibly radical idea in the 70's but a staple of discourse today thanks to the efforts of Friedman and Wanniski (among others).

Our own small contribution to the public discourse is to allow people to triangulate off us. One of the purposes of GNXP is to provide enough information on genetics, ancestry, population groups, and intelligence research to get more discussion of h-bd into the public discourse. Next to the larger reach of authors like Pinker, Wilson, Ramachandran, Sarich, Entine, Stock, Ridley, and many others, we're trying to get the info out there to see more situations like this:

...for example here is an episode in my clash last year with Gene Expression alum "Godless Capitalist" over his racialist take on genes and IQ, here is a post on why intelligence might be societally-overrated, and here is a long post on why it will be much harder than folks think to identify real intelligence genes, and next-to-impossible to do anything to change them. Anyway, I think I've established my bona fides as being (a) not a racist, but (b) still open to the possibility that there is a genetic component to intelligence, so I'm rather depressed to be accused of racism (by email, actually that I "have been in touch with [my] inner Klansman for quite some time") in the long comments section of this Matthew Yglesias post on intelligence testing.

Anyway, it's a subject that is very interesting, racial aspects aside, and I'd love to write more about it in the future, but if people think I'm a racist for my troubles, then maybe I won't bother. Better that than to pretend that the two-ton elephant in the room is just a chest of drawers.

If I could offer any advice for the VDare people, it's this: don't get mad when people triangulate off you. It means your advocacy is succeeding, as the policy is moving to the center of the spectrum - and becoming increasingly feasible. After all, isn't immigration reform more important than ideological purity?

[1] Steve Sailer, of course, is an exception, as is Joe Guzzardi. Just as one can be anti-immigration without being anti-immigrant, one can be opposed to the general editorial thrust of VDare while being favorably or neutrally disposed towards Sailer, Guzzardi, Malkin, etc.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 04:45 PM