or papal directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
or go to https://patreon.com/chisala
or papal directly at email@example.com
or go to https://patreon.com/chisala
My Amazon kindle book, Barack Obama Vs Ayn Rand has reached a small milestone of receiving 30 reviews from readers, the vast majority of them very positive and encouraging.
I wrote the book as an imaginary debate after immersing myself in the writings and speeches of the two intellectuals: Obama and Rand. President Obama has actually talked about Ayn Rand a couple of times and he is well aware that his ideology is antithetical to hers. Ayn Rand was an individualist capitalist who believed that the biggest threat to America’s great social experiment is the ideology of collectivism. Obama believes the very opposite: he believes what made America great is this very “togetherness” and what will destroy it is a philosophy and culture of individualism. They both can’t be right.
Read the book at Amazon and decide who makes the stronger case.
[This edited article by Chanda Chisala was first presented to the Zambian President, Levy P. Mwanawasa in 2007, before publication that same year. The president subsequently expressed his opposition to adding these new “rights” to the Zambian constitution.]
After publishing my series of internet articles on “the Zambian Constitutional Debate,” in which I theorized that the root of the contentious constitutional debate is simply a matter of ideology (specifically Marxist ideology) trying to stealthily impose itself on a nation (Chisala, 2007), I was curious to see if someone else had already noticed this scheme. You always get more confidence that your theory is right when you have other people to corroborate your observations.
Although I did not find much support from Zambian commentators on this issue (virtually all the Zambian articles I found were, unfortunately, in favour of changing the Bill of Rights to include the social, economic and cultural rights), I was encouraged to discover that another nation, the United States of America, has in fact faced this same challenge before, and indeed some of its intellectuals did identify this surreptitious plot of some unrepentant Marxists to turn America into a socialist or communist state, legislatively, and to thus make the dream of individualism and free market enterprise practically illegal in America itself (in short, to forever banish the “American dream”). Fortunately, they failed to achieve this in America, but they are now trying to prey on some unsuspecting African nations by giving fallacious arguments to force constitutional socialism and Marxism on them.
The people who are fighting to have these social and economic rights included in our Bill of Rights are using the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), that are also informally referred to as “second generation rights,” as the basis for their campaign. Their argument basically is that Zambia should put this into its constitution because progressive societies are going along this route of entrenching this UN covenant into their constitutions (Mwale, 2004).
When you ask them which “progressive societies” these are which have included the social and economic rights in the bill of rights of their constitutions, our friends struggle to find good examples. The one country that they always rush to is the Republic of South Africa. They obviously hope that many people will be impressed with this example since everyone in Zambia knows that South Africa is a highly developed economy (compared to Zambia); after all, almost all the nice goods (and shops) are from South Africa, right? Thus, when our NGOs go campaigning for this change in our Bill of Rights, they just tell the people, “if you want us to be as rich as South Africa, we must force our government to have the same kind of constitution that South Africa has, okay?”
South Africa indeed included the social, economic and cultural rights in their current constitution which was formed upon the change of government from the apartheid government to a majority black government. Other developed nations like the United States of America have never included these “rights” into their constitutions, but some of our people strongly feel it is better for us to emulate South Africa.
Firstly, I want to say that if we have to choose between South Africa and the USA as a political or economic role model, common sense should incline us to the latter. This is simply because South Africa is much younger than Zambia, politically, and surely common sense forbids that an older nation should choose a very young nation as its role model. South Africa is relatively economically developed, yes, but this does not mean that it has the right political (or even economic) philosophy or vision. The current South African government simply inherited that economy, just as Robert Mugabe’s government simply inherited a vibrant economy a few decades ago. Imagine the folly of following Mugabe’s policies a few years ago just because he had a great economy. I think it’s only right that a young nation is given time before seeing if its policies or ideals are worthy of emulation. It would be like emulating the business principles of a young person who has just inherited all his money from his father, just because he seems to be very rich!
Objectively, it is Zambia that should be South Africa’s role model and not the other way around. South Africa is so politically immature that it even has a party that seriously named itself “South African Communist Party” – yes, in this very day and age! Although one would expect that such a party would be a laughing stock in any modern society, the SACP is actually a very strong and highly respected party that is even part of the ruling alliance of South Africa today! It is not surprising that South Africa could make the terrible mistake of including “social and economic rights” in its Bill of Rights; after all, one of its main political parties is a communist party.
And neither is it surprising that one of the leading proponents of social and economic rights in Zambia, Father Peter Henriot of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR), publicly expressed strong admiration for the Marxist leader of South Africa’s SACP (Dr. Blade Nzimande) and indeed openly confessed that he agreed with all his policies and economic vision, which he described as “wisdom”. According to Henriot, the difference between Nzimande and himself is just a matter of “labels” (Henriot, 2006). And it is of course through the influence of people like Nzimande that South Africa sacrificed its future to the Marxist ideals of “social and economic rights”.
The United States of America, on the other hand, has not only never entertained the possibility of including these “rights” in its sacred constitution, it has even officially refused to ratify the United Nations ICESCR. No wonder this society continues to be the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on the earth. It is so intellectually alert, that no one can easily trap it into ratifying something that it would woefully regret, just because other nations are doing it.
As far back as the 1940’s, some American intellectuals recognized that the economic and social rights in the UN Universal Declaration (and subsequently and more specifically, in the draft ISCER) were just a sinister plot to turn America into a Marxist-socialist state, or at least to promote a philosophy that was antithetical to America’s conception of human rights as expressed in its own constitution.
Although many people and NGOs were trying to lobby the American government into submitting to this covenant, Frank Holman, the then president of the American Bar Association or ABA (which is like our own Law Association of Zambia) was the first to quickly observe that this was just a dangerous socialist agenda, designed to alter America’s way of life in a very fundamental way. He chided some members of the American public for not noticing that these new “human rights” were not human rights at all, and also warned that this was “a proposal for world-wide socialism to be imposed through the United Nations on the United States and on every other member nation” (Holman 1948: 985). How one wishes that our own LAZ was that perceptive and intellectually alert; instead, they have joined themselves with some groups that have absolutely no understanding of the human rights discourse, and whose height of intellectual debate consists solely of the fallacy of claiming to speak “for the people” (or indeed, “for the Lord” in some cases) in order to silence all dissent.
The ABA president would have none of that. Commenting particularly on these social and economic parts of the Universal Declaration, Holman wrote:
“These latter articles do not pretend to limit the powers of government, but on the contrary, impose so-called economic and social duties upon government, the fulfillment of which will require a planned economy and a control by government of individual action. This program, if adopted, will promote state socialism, if not communism, throughout the world” (Holman 1948: 1080).
Holman was not the only member of the ABA to notice this “backdoor communism.” There were many others, including William Fleming who, also writing against the inclusion of social and economic rights in the draft covenant of the UN, argued that “it is impossible not to recognize the heavy imprint of Eastern philosophy. As a matter of fact, Part III is nothing else but the perfect embodiment of the unadulterated welfare state and unmitigated socialism.” (Fleming 1951: 794). He also recognized that the so-called “right to work” would mean the end of free enterprise (ibid., 795). In short, he could see that this was an onslaught against true economic freedom, and an exaltation of socialism, if not communism, to a legally binding philosophy for the American government.
Due to the very influential stature of the American Bar Association, the American government recognized that these “rights” were indeed contrary to the spirit of free enterprise and true human rights so dearly valued in American society and they thus refused to officially endorse the document. Many years later, President Jimmy Carter came close to accepting these social and economic rights and even signed the ICESCR although senate defied him by refusing to ratify it.
But even Carter was not totally deceived by this Marxist plot; his advisors demonstrated that they understood the issue better than him and they could not allow him to fall for the ploy completely. It is reported that during the drafting of a speech on human rights that Carter was supposed to deliver in May 1977, his top speech writer, Griffin Smith, decided to remove a part on economic and social rights that had been written by his subordinate. Rejecting the use of the word “rights” to describe “needs” (which is what these so-called third generation rights really are), Smith wrote in a memo to the original drafter of the speech:
“I know the temptation is strong to define one’s pet project as a human right so that the president will appear to be endorsing it, but let’s keep human rights to mean human rights, and find another label for economic and social progress (Hartmann 2001: 408).”
Indeed, many Zambian NGO’s are involved in these “pet projects”, some of which are even admirable and helpful to the poor, but they should not try to deceive the public that whatever they are doing for the poor constitute their “human rights” that should even be included in the Bill of Rights. A need is not a right. Even though charity work is important, no one should be punished for failing to meet another person’s need; indeed, no one should be legally forced to do so.
During the Carter years, many liberal NGOs and other socialist individuals put more pressure on Senate to ratify the ICESCR. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee therefore decided to hold hearings to allow more debate on the issue, from the experts. Fortunately, there were still many influential American intellectuals who held to the views expressed in earlier decades by the president of the American Bar Association and others. They could still see that this was just a lethal socialist plan that would destroy America and they presented clearly devastating arguments against the case for ratification once and for all. Phyllis Schlafley’s written statement to the Committee, for example, perceptively argued that “…article 2 [of the ICESCR] could mean that the United States is making a legally binding commitment to legislate unlimited taxes on ourselves …” (1979: 110).
This is very instructive because there are a good number of working Zambians who have correctly held reservations against adopting these social and economic rights on that very basis (of unlimited taxes). A proponent of adoption of these so-called rights from Father Henriot’s JCTR disclosed in his paper that a friend of his working in the formal sector of Zambia had argued with him that these rights would just lead to uncontrollable increases in taxes (Mwale 2004). The writer was of course using this as an example of how ignorant some Zambians are concerning this issue, and yet it demonstrates that there are still some people in Zambia who are perceptive enough to instantly and intuitively recognize danger when they see it. If Americans themselves can fear that simply ratifying these “rights” can lead to “unlimited taxes on ourselves” (since government does not make any money of its own to fulfill such “rights”), how can Zambians not fear something worse by putting these in our very Bill of Rights?
My favorite testimony at these senate hearings, which accurately confirms my own identification of the specific ideological source of this proposal, came from Oscar Garibaldi who testified that the ICESCR
“…is largely the historical product of Marxist ideology … coupled with the non-Communist world’s postwar infatuation with various forms of democratic socialism. In other words, however worthy its general goals may look, this is largely a document of collectivist inspiration, alien in spirit and philosophy to the principles of a free economy….Second, viewed in the best possible light, this is a big government treaty which, by virtue of the principle of progressive implementation, would commit the United States to ever-increasing levels of welfare, an ever-increasing governmental control of the economy, and ever-increasing restrictions on individual initiative and freedom.” (1979: 323).
Our Zambian intellectuals argue that we have nothing to fear since the proposal uses the word “progressive” (as in, “progressive realization of …economic rights”) [Mwale, 2006]. American intellectuals like the one quoted above saw that this only meant a commitment to a progressively increasing destruction of the economy. How can anyone think that the word “progressive” changes anything metaphysically?
What is most impressive is that so many of these American citizens could clearly see the Marxist source of this proposal and they aggressively opposed it to save their economy and way of life from the destruction that has accompanied all Marxist economies, and to preserve the spirit of freedom envisaged by the founders of their great constitution.
In case someone is tempted to think that Americans refused to ratify this covenant simply because of their cold war paranoia, one should observe that America has refused to ratify the covenant up to this day and their reasons have not changed. The official position of the United States has remained consistent throughout: they have totally rejected these “economic and social rights”, recognizing them as not real human rights, but just simply “needs” disingenuously elevated to the level of rights in order to hoodwink people into accepting them without question:
This process of reinventing the concept of human rights to make it resemble more closely the ideological predilections of the U.S. Government reached a high point in a June 1988 statement by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs [Paula Dobriansky], in which she sought to dispel a number of “myths” about human rights, the first of which was that “‘economic and social rights’ constitute human rights” (Alston 1990: 374)
America’s official position still stands today: the proposition that these ‘economic and social rights’ constitute human rights is a myth.
The sharpest nail in the coffin for this UN covenant as far as America is concerned came from America’s first female ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, who scathingly attacked these so-called rights, labeling them “a prayer to Santa Claus” (Kirkpatrick 1979). She thus sent a clear signal to the rest of the world (as UN Ambassador) that America would never be party to ratification of something that is clearly a socialist agenda designed to achieve nothing but the violation of the human rights of the more productive members of society by unfairly forcing on them the responsibility of meeting everyone else’s needs (like Santa Claus!).
The people of Zambia do not need to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from more intellectually developed societies why they have rejected these social and economic rights, not only on the constitutional level, but even on the simpler level of ratification of this UN covenant. Our former socialist president, Kenneth Kaunda, unfortunately ratified the UN covenant on social and economic rights (without allowing any dissent or debate, of course), and we even went further by putting them in our constitution, albeit not in the Bill of Rights. It would be a grave mistake to compound on these errors by pushing these suicidal commitments into the Bill of Rights itself (making them “justiciable”), so that government will be legally forced to implement them.
The only thing that has currently saved us from total destruction is that government is not legally forced to go this socialist way since it is not yet in the Bill of Rights. Ratifying the ICESCR was a mistake; it was like buying suicide pills. Putting these principles in the body of our constitution was like putting such suicide pills in our mouth. To put them in our very bill of rights will be to swallow these suicide pills and send them straight to the heart; it is to construct a self-imposed death sentence on our already fragile economy and nascent democracy. The foreign Marxist and “social democrat” donors who sponsor some of our local NGOs will have more reason to celebrate the “progress” of their pet project towards creating a socialist utopia in the world, but they will not be there when our children begin to pay for this myopic and fatal mistake.
Marxism, socialism, communism – misguided philosophies that put human desires (consumption) above human abilities (production) with the ostensible goal of achieving human “equality” – have always resulted in progressively increasing human rights abuses and deepening poverty whenever they were the guiding philosophy of any nation’s economic or political policies (in Zambia, it was called ‘Humanism’, and it also led to massive poverty and human rights abuses). Although all developed countries today permit a certain measure of socialism, there is none that has placed it at the point where it actually rules and guides overall economic practice. All of them are primarily, fundamentally and constitutionally free capitalist countries that treasure individual initiative above collective economic parasitism, which is why none of them can ever put this socialist contract in their Bill of Rights. Instead of emulating such nations, we want to follow a nation that was just recently born (South Africa), led by new politicians who have never been tested in the intellectual task of actually raising an economy from poverty to prosperity.
I therefore believe that including these social, economic and cultural rights in our Bill of Rights will be the single biggest political error committed by our nation in its entire political history. One can therefore only pray that God – or just common sense – will save us from actually going ahead with this colossal mistake.
Chisala, C (2007) The Zambian Constitutional Debate, parts 1 to 4, http://www.zambia.co.zm
(1979). International Human Rights Treaties. Committee on Foreign Relations. Washington DC, US GPO: 554.
Fleming, William (1951). “Danger to America: The Draft Covenant on Human Rights (Part I).” American Bar Association Journal 37(10): 739-742; 794-799.
Fleming, William (1951). “Danger to America: The Draft Covenant on Human Rights (Part II).” American Bar Association Journal 37(11): 816-820; 855-860.
Hartmann, Hauke (2001). “US Human Rights Policy under Carter and Reagan, 1977-1981.” Human Rights Quarterly 23(2): 402-430.
Henriot, Peter (2006). “Father, are you a Communist?” Zambian Post Newspaper April 2006.
Holman, Frank E. (1948). “An ‘International Bill of Rights’: Proposals Have Dangerous Implications for U.S.” American Bar Association Journal 34: 984-986; 1078-1081.
Holman, Frank E. (1949). “International Proposals Affecting So-Called Human Rights.” Law & Contemporary Problems 14: 479-489.
Kirkpatrick, Jeane (1979). “Dictatorships and Double Standards.” Commentary 68: 34-45.
Mwale, Simon (2004). “Zambia’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Why should they be in the new constitution?” JCTR Paper.
I’m focusing on my research on IQ for now. I will publish my findings and arguments at the Unz Review.
The question I’m answering is whether the black white IQ gap found on many tests is ultimately caused by racial genes or something else. I believe the question has already been settled by certain global developments which were missed by the IQ community, analytically.
When news reports started discussing how black immigrants and their children were taking most of the black places at elite universities, the question was settled. Yes, it’s no big deal if black immigrants are showing superior intelligence (compared to native blacks) since they could be just highly selected, but immediately they said “and their children”, it was over.
There is no explanation you can give for this trend that is consistent with a racial genetic hypothesis: my articles at Unz.com will show that you can’t explain those three words (“and their children”) under the current hereditarian conclusions on racial intelligence without contradicting either yourself or your premises.
By Chanda Chisala.
[For my more developed views on this issue, see my latest articles at Unz Review, http://www.unz.com]
“Regression would explain why Black children born to high IQ, wealthy Black parents have test scores 2 to 4 points lower than do White children born to low IQ, poor White parents.” (Jensen, 1998).
Professor Arthur Jensen was a brilliant psychologist who contributed many ideas to the field of human intelligence and its science of measurement (psychometrics). His research was so controversial that it is difficult to find people who do not either curse his name or swear by it.
Despite the many valuable ideas he contributed to the field, he is most famous for a conclusion he made concerning racial IQs that proposed that whites have an IQ that is genetically above that of blacks, thus suggesting that some negative pathologies in black communities that result from a low IQ are basically unavoidable and resistant to any kind of normal intervention. Others argue that the lower average IQ of blacks is a result of something environmental: something in their culture or socioeconomic conditions.
Debates have been heated, with most critics simply insulting Jensen and his defiant followers – whether those in the rigorous scientific world of formal intelligence research or in the more agile world of largely amateur “Human Biodiversity” (HBD) bloggers. It is almost natural for high-IQ individuals to take a decisive interest in this intriguing issue, no matter what their day job is.
The biggest reason that the debate has not been settled, it has been claimed, is that there are stringent access restrictions to some IQ-related public data due to political reasons, thus limiting the sample sizes for conducting truly conclusive analyses. But it could also be that the researchers have just not looked hard enough at society to see some clear “experiments” that “nature” has already given to them.
In short, there is enough free, unregulated data to kill (or save) Jensen.
One very simple phenomenon in society that appears to kill Jensen’s lower black gene proposition is the existence of many elite black families. If we can find many consistently elite families of black people, arising from apparently average black ancestors, we should be forced to abandon Jensen, or at least to entertain some serious doubts.
Why? Because his theory practically predicts that such a thing should not be possible. Let’s examine why.
Intelligence researchers have observed a certain statistical tendency that they call “regression to the mean,” discovered by Charles Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton. This simply means that if someone has an IQ that departs significantly from what his family genes are expected to “produce,” his close genetic relatives will evidently depart less from this “mean IQ”.
For example, if blacks have more athletic genes (say, in long and short distance running) than whites, then when you find a random black man who runs 100 meters in 10 seconds and a random white man who runs 100 meters in the same time, the white man is more likely to have siblings who are slower or less athletic than the siblings of the black athlete. In short, although both of these fast-running men are statistical anomalies in the human population, the extremely fast white athlete is even more of an anomaly than the equally fast black athlete, which is why his relatives will “regress” to a lower mean than the relatives of his black counterpart.
Our theory that whites are genetically slower than blacks in fast races would be put in serious doubt if we discovered some town where whites regularly bring up their children to be very fast runners and manage to produce world class runners out of same family siblings. This genetic gap theory would be killed beyond a shadow of doubt if we discovered that they have managed to do this for generations of many white families within their town, and that their ancestral founders of this program had no special athletic superiority. We would have to conclude that whatever inferiority in speed that we see in average whites could not be deterministically connected to their “white” genes.
In fact, this very thing has happened in the black “community” of America with regards to IQ. A fascinating book published in 1999 entitled “Our Kind of People” by bestselling black author, Lawrence Otis Graham, described in great detail how some black families have been building some sort of secret elite society for many generations, running all the way back to the Emancipation. The secrecy with which the remarkable achievements and activities of these families has been guarded from the public might explain why IQ researchers did not include them in their analyses before, but it does not explain why they have not fixed that since the book’s publication. It was reviewed in the New York Times, the LA Times, and many other places.
Granted, this elitist project was apparently started by blacks who were progenies of white slave masters and black slave women working in their homes, which admits a white gene component. They were treated differently from other black slaves – the “field negroes” – and this gave them a sense of being different from (and superior to) other blacks. They thus deliberately refused to associate closely with the less privileged blacks or to live like them, preferring the culture of their white masters. They even rejected their musical tastes and other forms of black cultural expression. However, they also “realized” that they were never going to be accepted by whites as their equals and in fact were legally forbidden from marrying white people, which made them develop an even stronger animosity against whites and to fiercely embrace their compromised “black identity,” while also being determined to prove themselves to their white colleagues.
Fully conscious of the overwhelming contradictions that their attitudes and goals entailed, they decided to keep their sentiments and activities a secret from the general public. (They would have perhaps been a perfect addition to Amy Chua’s “Triple Package” collection!)
Even when interracial marriage became acceptable, these families tended to avoid any such “miscegenation.” This makes for a perfect natural experiment because we know that the reason they continued to create generations of intellectually elite people was not because they started some selective mating with some white geniuses; the white gene admixture in each family tree was basically limited to the same historical slave masters (mainly in the South) and these have not been found to have been particularly selected for genius IQ for them to genetically cause such a dramatic rise in the generational IQs of these blacks. The group further limited their chances of genetically raising their IQ by traditionally rejecting association or marriage to blacks who were smart but did not share their historical “white” cultural values and tastes. This means that they made themselves elite, after being emancipated from slavery, not by significantly raising their genetic makeup, but by simply inculcating in themselves the positive values they gathered from their former white masters’ families, which they practice religiously to this day.
Beginning with an intensive children’s mentoring program they call “Jack and Jill,” these families constantly expose their children to black role models who are doctors, lawyers, dentists and so on – they are not allowed to become entertainers or sportsmen and are never exposed to any such “role models” no matter how rich they are. These children then qualify to very good universities before proceeding to elite professions that demand a pretty high IQ while also paying very well. They use their wealth from these professions to continue supporting the activities of Jack and Jill and their own adult versions of the elite children’s group!
The writer of the book was himself a product of this enduring “secret” project and his family is a classic example of this defiance of Jensenian regression to the supposed black mean: he went to Princeton and Harvard Law School while his only sibling, Richard, went to Tufts and became an orthodontist who set up his own successful dental practice in North Carolina.
The book attracted a lot of controversy and some opprobrium because of the embarrassment that some of these black families felt when this exposé was published, especially for their disdain for “mainstream” black culture. The writer was only half apologetic.
This natural “experiment” kills Jensen because, even if we account for the early white genetic admixture from the slave masters, the supposed genotypic IQ of their African slave girls according to Jensenites (IQ of around 70) would make it impossible to produce such elite offspring, and even more impossible for this to be sustained for generations, especially with the expected regression to the mean. The fact that it was the black women who had contributed the black genes makes it even more remarkable since they are expected to have had a lower average genetic IQ than the black men, at least according to Jensenite Richard Lynn.
The social profile of these black families show a mean IQ that is obviously above that of the white mean, which should never have happened in Jensen’s world. Jensen would certainly never have predicted, under any plausible scenario, that the white slave master’s descendants with the black slave woman would have a higher average IQ than his descendants with his good white wife, once given an approximately equal cultural environment.
Taking Jensen’s own theoretical framework, it appears from this experiment that the only way an elite class of black families could be formed and sustained, going down to many contiguous generations, is if the genotypic IQ of the blacks in this experiment was significantly higher than that of the whites to begin with. The average IQs required to practice in the professions that these families have typically chosen in the modern age should be at least 120, which would make average black genotypic IQ at least equal to white IQ (around 100). But since we have no evidence that the black slave women who had (nonconsensual) sexual relations with their white slave masters were selected for their elite IQs, it means that the average black genotypic IQ is plausibly equal to or near 120; these black elite families could in fact be of average black IQ, genotypically. But the purpose of this analysis is more modest than to argue that controversial conclusion with its ironic implications.
What should be incontrovertible is that by intentionally isolating themselves from the so-called “mainstream black culture” and some of its anti-intellectual proclivities, these families inadvertently escaped whatever “environmental” factors are responsible for the persistent nominal IQ gap between blacks and whites, and have certainly not been producing children who score “2 to 4 points lower than do White children born to low IQ, poor White parents.”
Buy New book by Chanda Chisala:
The book is an imaginary debate between Obama and Rand that I conceived in 2008 when I was a Knight Fellow at Stanford University, and then wrote some of it when I was a visiting scholar later at the Hoover Institution. I edited it recently to include some new revelations in Mr. Obama’s philosophy.
This edition contains only their debate on economic issues, while also laying their fascinating foundational philosophies of collectivist salvation versus individualist salvation. Both of them have in fact used the term “salvation” in this context and defended their moral ideals on the basis of this religious-sounding term. It is the best way of understanding the basis of both Obama’s and Rand’s ideas.
That’s the title of my latest article published at Zambia Online.
Today is Zambia’s independence day. Looking back at our nearly 50 years of independence (46 to be exact), I think the last statement of this article sums up my pensive mood:
Let our history books be reset. The struggle for African independence was not always as hard (or perhaps even as urgent) as our old “freedom fighters” and their “historians” claimed. What has been really hard is the struggle against tyranny – after independence.
Gregg Zachary, a professor of Arizona State University (formerly a Wall Street Journal and New York Times correspondent/columnist) also blogs generously about my article here.
Culture is not something inherent or genetically determined. It is a result of choices made by a group at one time, choices that could have been wrong at the time due to insufficient information or right for that time but not for a different time. These ideas and practices become automated over time until they begin to look like they are inborn.
It is not just ethnic groups and communities or even nations that have culture. Even corporations, for example, have cultures. When you visit Google in Mountain View, you can almost immediately see their culture of intellectual independence, passion and freedom (when I visited the Google offices with a Stanford group, I was shocked to observe that they are even allowed to bring their dogs to work!)
Another older software company, say IBM, that might have developed a culture of great managerial efficiency but not enough creativity will try to copy what Google does so that they can also achieve great results. That’s what the Harvard Business Review exists for: to study the habits of winning companies so that others can simply copy.
If this other company instead said, “let’s not copy anyone, let’s be proud of our culture, after all we have achieved so many things in the past that others even copied from us; we were once the kings in software, that’s a great heritage …” (and so on), we can all tell that such a company will continue being left behind, it will never catch up with Google. It even risks death.
If we can see this with companies, why is it so hard to see that the same applies to communities and even nations?
Indeed there is plenty of evidence in history showing this very attitude and how it destroyed once successful people. China, for example, was once upon a time the most advanced civilization in the world. It had the attitude of learning from others no matter who they were, as they came to trade with it and as the Chinese went out to them, until it became the most knowledgeable and most envied society in the world.
So how did they ultimately lose this status? They suddenly decided that they were too good to associate with others – the “barbarians” – and they now deliberately kept to themselves. Meanwhile other societies continued to humbly copy the advances of Chinese culture and to add to it other practical lessons from elsewhere. By the time China came into conflict with them, it was easily conquered. It was by now far from being the greatest, it was a mere shadow of its past.
Black pride has had an even worse effect on blacks all over the world, as they have continued to see other people, especially whites, as moral barbarians.
Leaders of black communities, including some now famous former community organizers, get surprised when they fail to get many young blacks interested in things like education, hard work, etc. But the reason is that the same leaders present the white people as moral barbarians, as “greedy capitalists” who are in fact responsible for their poverty, both historically and presently. Once these kids associate something with white culture, they will rebel against it even if you try to turn around and encourage them to embrace it. Why should they act the way evil people act? These evil people love school, so we shouldn’t love school, because we don’t want them to control us by giving us their things. We should have pride.
That’s the deeper, sometimes subconscious, logic that makes the black underclass rebel against the civilized practices discovered and internalized by other people who are more humble when it comes to learning from others.
Heritage is nothing to be proud of if it’s still not taking you to the top.
Some of my fellow blacks have argued against my proposal by pointing out blacks who have had some tremendous achievements or who have always practiced these positive habits practiced by other successful groups.
But I am not arguing, like a racist white supremacist, that there are no blacks who are great, intellectually or economically. The very fact that some blacks have practiced good cultural habits and succeeded well in their intellectual or business ventures is proof that such cultures are not the genetic property of certain ethnic groups. A black man can be disciplined even when he lives amidst a culture of general indiscipline, in short.
But this does not change the fact that the culture of his group is still backward. It means that a child who grows up in that community is more likely to grow up undisciplined than disciplined due to the general influence of those around him: his (absentee) father, his (jailed) uncles, the neighbor who boasts about gang rape, drugs, etc. Whether we like it or not, groups of people do have certain cultural habits that they promote, certain things that they value or disvalue. Some are fortunate enough to have parents who abandoned such a culture, sometimes by physically moving to an area where the reach of such influence is largely dissipated. But sometimes their children can still be influenced through the omnipresent reach of the media, unless they take some very deliberate steps to train them in another culture they observe from other people.
I remember a line in one of Tupac’s songs: “I come from a family tree of killers, thugs and drug dealers…” the legendary artist boasted. Using a talent that is definitely superior among blacks (music), many black artists have expressed a very negative culture from their communities that does not lead to true achievement. Economic measures might exclude such drug dealers and thieves from the brackets of the poor because of what they stole or because of a bestselling song they made about it, but in actual fact they are still poor because that’s not a sustainable way to live as a human being. Real success has to come from cultivating real virtues that will enable you to succeed anywhere and at any time, like the ability to always improve your education, for example. And an ability to always work hard, no matter what job it is or whether or not someone is watching over you. And of course the ability to always keep time, and so on.
One of the best brain surgeons in the world is a black doctor named Ben Carson. When my country (Zambia) had a very complicated case of Siamese twins born with joint heads who needed to be separated, they had to fly in the best surgeons in the world to do this. The operation was led by the famous Ben Carson.
But Dr. Carson’s life story only underscores my point about culture. He was going to a predominantly white school but he was the worst student in his class. He was coming from a community that did not value such discipline as the one demanded by school. His neighbors were only boasting about gang membership (at worst), or basketball skills (at best). And he came from a typical young single mother headed home in his community.
And then his mother just suddenly decided that she had had enough of this culture and resolved to save her children from their inevitable tragic future. She forced Ben Carson and his brother to start spending many hours a day just reading, even though she didn’t have any education herself. She didn’t care if they were accused of “acting white.” Learning from (or copying) more successful communities or nations does not mean you are trying to become them, it means you are trying to have what they have. If you want the results they have, you also need the same cause: the habits they culturally value.
From having the lowest IQ, Ben Carson soon became the best student in this predominantly white school and went on to become one of the best brain surgeons in the world (contrary to what some experts say, any normal person can raise his own IQ very significantly). He was also the youngest to hold his prestigious position at John Hopkins hospital.
His life confirms my theory that those who make the biggest cultural leap tend to become superior in ability due to that extra effort they have to make, especially when this even requires going against the trends in your own community. But the best is for the community itself to change its culture, as other groups have done in the past, by abandoning this strange postmodern concept of having pride for nothing.
Will black people ever be on top (in IQ scores, education and other intellectual and economic achievements)?
Yes, I believe it’s inevitable. My theory is that the bigger the cultural gap that has to be closed by one group to catch up with another culturally superior group, the more superior the copying group will end up becoming. This is why Jews have achieved more than the people they copied. Although Jews scored very low in IQ tests at one time in America, they still ended up being the group with the highest test scores in a matter of decades (or less) after they made the leap to catch up with the leading culture. Now they dominate in Nobel Prizes, literary prizes, and so on.
The Chinese in America were once so culturally inferior to whites in America that the latter gave up on trying to change them and finally concluded that they are “unassimilable.” Now they score higher in IQ tests than whites.
Black Americans are now at the bottom in IQ and culture; they consequently have the fewest achievements and highest unemployment rate. African blacks have an even lower IQ and culture in many ways. But what a great opportunity! What a great time to be last!
If blacks decide to catch up, culturally, without feeling any shame for this, they will make the biggest cultural leap in history and will naturally become conspicuously dominant in the sciences, technology, business, and so on. Others would then have to play catch up, at least intellectually.
But they will have to first get past the biggest obstacle of all: themselves. They will have to change their negative attitude to copying other people who are culturally more disciplined. And of course it takes hard work to become disciplined, especially at a time when there is no social pressure to change since your lifestyle supposedly expresses your identity and your weaknesses are blamed on others (which means they are the ones who should change).