Tag Archives: the dark enlightenment

The Dark Enlightenment and Duck Dynasty

The Dark Enlightenment has been discovered. Eeeek.

I’ve written about my adoption by the Network and have nothing to change–it’s not something I consider myself part of, per se, but they apparently find my writing helpful. I’m fine with that. I would refer Jamie Bartlett to the above image to reinforce what seems to me to be obvious: the “dark enlightenment” is not characterized by political objectives and has very little unity of purpose.

hbd chick wrote a detailed response to the Jamie Bartlett column which, to the extent I understand it, I agree with. But I would refer someone trying to figure this thing out to read the comments, particularly this one by T. Greer:

The many voices in the ‘dark enlightenment’ do not harmonize. They don’t share the same ideals, aims, or even impulses. They defined by a shared enemy; were this enemy to disappear then so would all talk of a cohesive ‘dark enlightenment.’

The major strand that unites the entire community is a willingness to frankly state opinions polite society does not accept (but in many cases once did) and listen to others do the same.

That is, as I say in response, the defining element of the Dark Enlightenment is not political, philosophical, or cultural views, but a shared loathing of “The Cathedral”. Unfortunately, I can’t find one clear definition of the Cathedral that doesn’t involve reading all of Mencius Moldebug, who I don’t really understand and makes me feel Hemingway brusque. I use the term Voldemort View to characterize the most likely reason for the achievement gap; the Cathedral can be thought of as the Canon of Modern Anathema, the official dogma of views that must not be spoken. Some of the views are actual truths, others are opinions. But if they are uttered, the speaker must be cast out into the darkness and, more importantly, economically ruined.

I can think of no common objective the nodes in that diagram share, but we all hate and despise the Cathedral. Our touchstones are not racial purity, male dominance or a derailing of democracy (all objectives I unreservedly oppose) but the expulsion of James Watson, Jason Richwine, and John Derbyshire—whether we agree with them or not. I almost never hate people. But I hate the Cathedral. Probably in part because I trusted it a couple decades ago, and there’s nothing like a reformed ex-smoker. Screw you if you want me to righteously disassociate. Take my ideas on their own merit or don’t, never assume I agree with any idea unless I say so. But if you’re the sort who demands indignant condemnation, it will be my considerable pleasure to deprive you of that satisfaction. In short–but why be short when English has so many words?—I will not disavow on principle.

I suggest that if the “dark enlightenment” is spreading, it does so not because of any distaste for democracy, much less some weird white guy radicalization, but because the general public is slowly becoming deeply tired of the elites getting exercised about exorcising yet another heretic.

And so to Duck Dynasty, a show I vaguely knew of before the fuss. Phil Robertson opines, identity groups cluck, and all the pundits write cynically about the outrage, secure in the knowledge that the machine will roll over and crush Robertson. But then, glory be, the Robertson clan doesn’t just refuse to back down, it refuses to apologize, and for once, the cultural segmentation of American society turns out to be a net positive. Christians everywhere have time to make their displeasure known, and A&E realizes that the money move lies in keeping Phil, leaving GLAAD out in the cold. Truly a great day. And if you can’t understand why an agnostic with no interest in denying the reality of pre-civil rights America would celebrate that outcome, you don’t understand how much I hate the Cathedral.

Patton Oswalt quoted Steve Sailer’s pithy statement “Political correctness is a war on noticing”. A few of his followers disapproved. The resulting twitter fest is very funny, as a couple of Oswalt’s followers try to alert him to the evils of Sailer, and Oswalt remains blithely unconcerned. Money quote, from Oswalt: “I’ve never been scared of ideas. I can hear all kinds & still keep my feet. Think I’ll call this stance ‘diversity'”.

But then you’ve got the earnest, well-meaning Michael Pershan, one of the only actual math bloggers I read. Pershan is Jewish, I think, although he never mentions it on the site (I remember his wedding announcement vaguely), and I mention this only because when I read this twitter mess my first thought was “he’s Jewish, he went to Harvard, he lives in New York City, and he didn’t see this coming?” But I think he’s a particularly observant Jew (not like noticing things, like observing Jewish custom), and until recently taught at a Jewish boys’ high school, so perhaps he doesn’t get out much.

Anyway, he takes gentle issue with a PoC teacher blogger who makes what would normally be called racist statements were he talking about anyone but white folks, and gets “schooled”, literally, in a key plot point: in the identity culture, all whites are the same. Michael Pershan, like many reflexive progressives (the sort who haven’t really thought it through but hey, all their friends are doing it) wants race and gender warriors to accept that there are “good” whites and “bad” whites. He wants to be able to point fingers and shame bad whites, but is troubled that the PoC and women seem to paint all whites and all males as the same. The identity divas will have none of that, and kick him around for a while. Pershan has retired from both the fray and Twitter, which is too bad. Not that I sympathize with his point of view. If you want to walk the identity path, baby, then all whites are equally undeserving of their largesse. You either reject or embrace the identity and entitlement game in its entirely; there are no half measures. The correct response is to deny the identity folk all satisfaction. It’s okay, they mostly enjoy the process, gives them something to complain about.

And just to show the compartmentalization of my ideas: I think many of the people beating down Michael Pershan in that conversation are just fine, as teachers. I often agree with them. Not always. Jason, the PoC blogger who started the sound-off, has a good teaching blog, and I don’t find his writings on identity to be insanely insufferable, which is a compliment.

I want more Duck Dynasty victories. I want the Michael Pershans to laugh at the very idea of seeking approval from identity divas. I want the Cathedral thwarted routinely and eventually dismantled. Not as a blogger, but as a person.

As a blogger, I’ll still write about education policy and education itself from all different angles, including the lamentable determination to ignore cognitive ability.

On that point, I’ve noticed a recurring theme that Razib Khan made in the hbd diva post, also seen here in Rod Dreher’s call for silence on HBD: the notion that most people who “embrace” (their word) racial differences don’t have a clue about the science.

I find this flummoxing. I know that Razib, who has his own node on the Network, is not criticizing the ideas themselves, but rather the people promoting them as ignorant. But who are these people promoting science, good or bad? I’m not sure if he’s talking about me. I’m certain the commenters on Rod’s site, from the “reasonable conservatives” to the “moderate progressives” are criticizing the ideas as wrong and the people promoting them as ignorant.

I don’t read the other sites much, save for Steve Sailer and Razib Khan, so maybe they’re doing all sorts of bad science. For myself, I don’t do science. I barely do math.

I often see reporters refer to “beliefs” or “opinions” about IQ. My “beliefs” about IQ involve the degree to which IQ is inaccurate, missing some aspects of intelligence that might be largely irrelevant to measuring IQ among white populations, but highly relevant in others. Actually, they wouldn’t go so far as “belief” or “opinion” but maybe “wonderings”.

But they aren’t talking about those beliefs, but the “belief” that IQ is meaningful, that IQ is not the same in different populations. That’s not a belief.

Or, as Steven Pinker famously wrote of Malcolm Gladwell’s maunderings on IQ: “What Malcolm Gladwell calls a “lonely ice floe” is what psychologists call ‘the mainstream.'”

When taking down a heretic, Cathedral strategy demands that the heretic be easily expelled with a minimal degree of cognitive dissonance. And so no one takes on Steven Pinker. Many reporters regurgitate what they understand of the Flynn Effect, but no one asks James Flynn if black IQs are, on average, lower than white IQs and whether that might make a difference to academic outcomes or whether the gap can easily be fixed with a more nurturing environment. Only one person asked Harvard’s Christopher Jencks why he blessed Jason Richwine’s doctorate, or why Harvard signed on for it. These people are of the Cathedral and if they challenge the canon, maintaining orthodoxy becomes impossible. So they are left alone, ignored politely when they speak anathema.

I don’t do science. I keep my blog anonymous because of I explore the impact of the Voldemort View, the view that must not be spoken, the view that says the achievement gap between different racial and income groups is primarily caused by differences in cognitive ability, on educational outcomes. I believe that IQ is imperfect as a metric of cognitive ability, although I can’t prove it and my opinion is still inchoate (ooh, Thomas of Convenant!). I accept the mainstream findings that shows a clear and largely unchanging difference in IQs by race and income. If Steven Pinker, James Flynn, or Christopher Jencks have said anything that disagrees with my representation of mainstream research, most fully articulated here, I’m unaware of it. So don’t ask me about IQ and race. Ask them.

The Dark Enlightenment and Me

I am a node on the network of the Dark Enlightenment.

I myself refer to the subject as the Voldemort View, the View that Must Not Be Named. But everyone else is naming it, and the damn names keep changing. I had just gotten used to HBD. Now, just as I’m becoming to accustomed to Dark Enlightenment, the new buzz word seems to be neoreactionary.

Steve Sailer discusses my essays, on occasion. The notorious Derb has me in his reader, a great honor even though I would take none of his infamous advice. Charles Effin’ Murray said nice things about me on Twitter. Don’t think I don’t brag about these achievements to my few friends, even fewer of whom even know this blog exists, much less read it.

So my appearance as a node shouldn’t come as much of a shock. And yet it does, a bit. I’m not ashamed or worried, nor am I rushing to disavow the association. Let’s be clear that, should my real name ever be linked to this blog, that placement on the node would be a career ender even if my individual essays didn’t do the trick. I could be logically worried, even if I’m at the third level of commitment, beyond just pointing out facts and well into theories and proposals. I could be concerned on practical grounds even while acknowledging that I meet some of the criteria: rejecting the Cathedral, beyond skeptical and flatly opposed to increased immigration at this point, worried that democracy leads to mediocrity, convinced that political labels are obsolete. (And lordy, the whole typology obsession reminds me of libertarian buddies I had in the 80s and 90s. I myself used to love typing and am depressed to discover I’m less interested as I age—just one more sign of encroaching decrepitude.)

But I’m surprised because I didn’t realize the Network had noticed me, much less adopted me, to some extent. I am not a big part of their conversations. I participate in Steve Sailer’s blog quite a bit, Razib Khan and West Hunter a little (the science is too hard), and occasionally comment on the others. In contrast, I have regular email and twitter discussions with reporters and education policy folk, both of which comprise a flattering percentage of my tiny twitter following. In the online world, I see myself as a teacher who knows a lot about education policy (as opposed to most education policy folk who barely dabbled, if at all, in teaching), rather than a member of the Network.

The newcomer will see much that shocks in the Dark Enlightenment body of work. The elites fuss over Sailer and Derbyshire, but both men are writing for general public consumption—a brave public, a curious public, but public that includes the uninitiated. The folks writing for the converted are a different story. I get a lot of traffic from Chateau Heartiste, so clicked on the site once to see what it was about, and holy crap. It’s not fun to read but what makes it tough—for me, anyway—isn’t that he’s wrong. He isn’t. He’s taking the basic economic fundamentals of mating, removing all the sentiment, tenderness, and fun from them and laying the stripped version out cold. What makes it tough is that his brutal accuracy is offset by a huge lack, and a lack that characterizes Dark Enlightenment discourse in general. Empathy, maybe? I offer this as observation, not criticism. And it’s a good thing my few friends don’t read this blog, because they’d all be commenting that “lacks empathy” is high on my checklist of personal shortcomings. But I shall push on with an example.

One of my ed school instructors became a friend, and in an early conversation, he asked me why I was so cynical about education. I told him I wasn’t cynical about education, but rather the people who wanted to “fix” it, since all sides of the education policy debate were ignoring cognitive ability. He asked about poverty, I told him about poor whites outscoring high income blacks, he asked for cites. Over a period of a year or so, he read the info I gave him and sent me interesting articles he’d come acrosss. He thought The Role of Intelligence in Modern Society was extremely compelling and, like me, became fascinated by the possible differences in crystallized vs. fluid intelligence. A Hispanic, he asked me what I would say to those who point to our troubled past, in which whites denied blacks and Hispanics a chance at advanced education by tracking them out of these options.

I responded in two parts. First, I said, I would like to see hard data on the “troubled past”. Everyone repeats the truism, but I’ve never seen data. Were schools of the 60s and 70s putting high-scoring black and Hispanic kids into middle or low-tracks? Do we have proof that it happened? Because most folks have absolutely no idea how huge the gaps are, and it’s just possible that the schools weren’t actively discriminating. Second, assume that the data shows that schools were actively discriminating back then. I find it impossible to believe that today’s schools, bastions of “tolerance” lectures and multi-culti support, would suddenly initiate rampant discrimination against low income kids. But I agree that we should be extremely cautious. We should, for example, allow anyone to take advanced courses, regardless of test scores, and then carefully monitor results. We should give all sorts of support to black and Hispanic children who feel isolated in advanced courses, because like it or not, culture and group identity matters. And, as I’ve written before (and first conceived of in these conversations), we must continue to research the best ways to educate students with below average cognitive ability, rather than pretend such problems don’t exist.

About six months ago, this friend told me that I had completely transformed his thinking, so much so that he now grew impatient when he heard the usual platitudes trotted out—and since he is a researcher at an elite education school, he hears the platitudes all the time. He sees now that he teaches a doctrine, not a method (not that there is a method). He can’t understand why everyone else is in denial—that is, of course he understands, but he can’t believe the nonsense he hears spouted by people whose expertise he used to accept without question.

I convinced a full-blown liberal progressive, a guy steeped in elite ed school tradition, to consider and then largely accept cognitive ability as the root cause of the achievement gap. Bow to my greatness.

Yet he wouldn’t have listened to word one had he not known me as a prospective teacher, one who had to fight like hell to make it through the program, who cared passionately about teaching kids, helping them succeed. I am well aware that, while my opinions on cognitive ability and the social policies that ignore it haven’t changed in a decade or so, my new career as a teacher has deepened my understanding of the issues involved. I have more street cred, if you will, but I am also even more aware of the human cost of the policies I oppose—as well as the impact that my desired policies would have on many of my students. My opinions require bifocals; one lens for broader policy, one lens for the individuals I work with every day. I might oppose immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and affirmative action, but I will advise my students of every possible option they have under existing law. I have taught and coached illegal immigrants to higher SAT/ACT scores, advised African American students with solid but not awesome test scores to apply to top 30 schools, even though I knew white and Asian kids wouldn’t have a chance with those scores, even though I want a world in which African Americans wouldn’t be accepted with lower scores. Until that day, my students are my students and I’ll work to give them every advantage I can.

When people read my blog, I hope they see that part of me. Yes, I scathe and mock, yes, I despise the denial that wastes time, money, and lives, yes, I’m angry that opportunists throughout the political landscape go further than simply deny cognitive realities and blame the wrong people (teachers usually, parents sometimes) for the failure of their wholly unrealistic expectations. But I never mock the underlying conditions that everyone’s denying. I’m totally comfortable with the word “smart”, but believe the word “stupid” should be reserved for an otherwise “smart” person who just isn’t using the brains god (or genes) gave him. Feel free to mock my cognitive dissonance.

I don’t see low cognitive ability as a flaw to be fixed. I am well aware that people deny the import of cognitive ability because they see it as an insurmountable disability, one that just doesn’t fit their vision for future. What the hell are we supposed to do, in this modern society, with those who don’t have the mental abilities to master the abstract world we live in? Well, that’s the real challenge, isn’t it? Let’s set some goals, rather than deny the problem.

In other words, odd as it may sound coming from a ruthless sarcastic cynic, I see my Voldemortean views as, er, kinder and gentler than those seen from full-fledged members of the Network. I grew up overseas—-way, WAY overseas—and I’ve lived in one of the most diverse areas in the country the rest of the time. It’s easy to mock “diversity” and “multi-culturalism”, now that their sell-date seems way overdue, but here’s a story that happened last Friday:

During lunch, I’d decided to jet on over to Starbucks, something I rarely do, when I ran into one of my intermediate algebra students who had stopped by to ask me if I’d be interested in reading his science fiction screenplay. He then proceeded to tell me the story outline, about a man who woke up with temporary amnesia, struggling to make sense of the society around him. I was anxious to get my iced latte, but drawn in despite myself, as the student related the details of that society and the conflicts driving the plot. As we reached my car, he said, “…and what I really need now is someone to read it and spot all the story development gaps I missed. I know they’re there, but I need outside eyes to find them.” Tell me that’s not a writer.

We chatted for a bit, coffee be damned, and I gave him some advice and told him I’d love to read his story (Why he’s asking me, a math teacher, I dunno).

This kid is black. He’s a Nigerian immigrant. His story had nothing to do with Africans, blacks, white oppression, or anything even remotely involving civil rights. He’s a geek who wants to write a kick ass science fiction screenplay, and is spending hours of his free time crafting his vision.

When I finally left for Starbucks, I found myself trying to bring down my great mood by imagining all the ways in which he probably hadn’t acculturated. Like, his dad probably has 8 circumcised wives, all of them living off food stamps and welfare, that the kid probably wants to be rich and famous so he can recreate his father’s harem. It was all nonsense, but I was determined to crush the delirious joy I found in that little exchange, the feeling of oh my god, here’s the vision in action, here’s what everyone has in mind when they talk about giving blacks, immigrants, “people of color” equal opportunities to live the American dream. Not a kid who wants to major in African American studies, work for “social justice” or beat Lebron at his own game, but a creative artist who’s getting good grades in school yet isn’t sure if he wants to go to college, not because he doesn’t like school but because he thinks his time would be better spent writing. How frigging cool is that? And I wanted to temper any celebration of that young man because I know that as awesome as he is, likely with no circumcised harem in the background, he’s just the fringe of a much bigger, messy group that won’t assimilate as well, a group that would, on average, simply add to the problems we already have educating our own population with its racially imbalanced mix of low ability people who are going to struggle in this modern world.

But that conversation reminded me, again, of the awesome achievements our society has made because of this commitment to a diverse population with equal opportunity, achievements that I think might possibly be exclusive to…whites? England and its offspring? You don’t see a whole lot of concern for diversity or equal opportunity in Africa, Asia or South America, and it’s not all that strong in Europe, save England. And we’ve been tremendously successful over the centuries in expanding opportunity, expanding rights, and assuming that equal outcomes would follow. Who can blame people for seeing the most recent stall as a temporary setback rather than an outright limit?

It’s easy to forget that part. I often do, because lord knows the elites, in their eagerness to ignore reality in favor of an all-too-attractive delusion, are out to discredit people like me, to at best point and sputter, at worst destroy our careers.

Anyway. I confess I’m secretly proud of my little node on the network, even if nonplused by some of the company. But I will continue to identify myself primarily not as an HBDer or a member of the Dark Enlightenment, but as a teacher who has a clear sense of the problems in our current educational policy.

I think, somewhere in this typically longwinded screed, is some advice for the brethren in the neoreactionary cause (not the top dogs, but those, like me, on the lower tiers). But it would be far too condescending to spell out, and they’re a smart bunch.