The “Tea Party economist” Gary North is ordinarily proficient in constructing arguments, abrasive and arrogant though his rhetoric may often be, but he sings a strangely (yet predictably) different tune when the verboten subject of race rears its ugly head, as often occurs when reality is perceived. He disparages “a pure Aryan racist who turned in his white sheet in exchange for a bibliography,” by which he evidently means a white man who offers intelligent arguments grounded in objective and publicly accessible statistics.1 North thus sides with the cultural Marxists who prefer petty mockery and “wow. just wow” incredulity to reasoned responses. Witness his absurd paraphrases he offers as refutation:
Here is what he believes.
First, there are two kinds of humans: smart ones — his tribe — and less intelligent ones. The less intelligent ones are doomed to failure.
Laughably, this is how a modern scholar responds to evidence for racial differences in intelligence. North effectively argues that if any differences in intelligence exist according to racial categories, then there must be two fixedly distinct categories of humans, smart and dumb, and that these two categories strictly correspond to whites and nonwhites – all whites being smart and all nonwhites being “less intelligent.” But North certainly understands the concept of averages, unless he missed the fourth grade, in which case we can properly condemn him for the willful stupidity he displays to score some PC points. And who would be so unintelligent as to mock the notion that intelligence affects economic success or failure? Only a fool blinded by a false morality and a love for applause.
Second, ethical reform cannot reverse crime and social degradation. Social degradation is genetic.
This fallacy, in response to the federal crime statistics cited in the email, is only slightly less irritating. The truth, as established by the evidence, is that blacks are innately more prone than whites to commit criminal acts like rape, assault, and murder; and this truth is grounded in the broader theological truth that different sinners can, due to varying genetic constitutions, be disposed more or less strongly to particular actions. An obvious example: testosterone is known to alter one’s sexual dispositions, and men are known to have higher testosterone than women. This genetic fact, this different dispositional starting point, is not required to remain fixed forever, but can be altered by varying environmental and other influences, including the influence of the Holy Spirit. Nature can be molded by nurture. It would thus be the height of foolishness to argue that if nature exists, then nurture can have no effect on it.
Third, the recovery of liberty probably cannot reverse this: it’s 50-50. “Differences in average intelligence predictably lead to differences in economic outcomes between populations. Indeed the effect of intelligence is so strong that it is of at least equal importance to economic freedom in determining an economy’s degree of prosperity.”
The pre-quote commentary is only mildly misrepresentative. It’s not a question of whether the adverse economic effects of blacks’ lower intelligence can be reversed, all or nothing, by a reduction of governmental economic involvement. To a degree they likely would. Rather, the question is whether two peoples with equal degrees of economic freedom, one on average more intelligent and the other less, will produce the same degree of economic prosperity. The question should be merely rhetorical, unless the questioned has an agenda to defend.
Fourth, ideas do not have consequences. Only genetics does. “Thing is, these two variables are also largely correlated with one another, so that the more intelligent a population is, the more likely it is to adopt free institutions.” Yet if we look at the best universities, where the intellectual elite go, we find that Keynesianism is dominant. Socialists and Communists have greater representation here than in any other institution.
In fact, all such improvements in the economy will only make the disparity greater. The richer that society gets, the more there will be inequality — not just economic inequality, but separation of the low-IQ tribe from all productivity. The free market probably cannot reverse this. It does not increase the wealth of nations, if the nations have lots of blacks in it. Adam Smith was wrong. Mises was wrong, too.
1. When the emailer says specifically that economic freedom accounts for a large portion of the variance in GDP among nations, North has to be rash and dull to retort that the emailer denies that ideas have consequences. He just specifically agreed on the intellectual consequences of economic theory! The salient point is this: if we understand that genetics can affect intelligence and intelligence can affect ideas, then it follows that genetics, to some degree or another, has intellectual consequences which subsequently have other types of consequences; but none of this entails that ideas themselves have zero consequences.2
It’s getting to the point where I fear offending my readers’ intelligence by articulating these responses.
2. North’s point about Keynesianism is interesting in its irrelevancy. What point is he trying to make? Is he denying that his libertarian economics are the conclusions of true intelligence? Isn’t that a backhanded way of saying his own ideas are false? Whatever qualifications North would make to demonstrate that the universities’ promotion of Keynesianism is actually foolish and unintelligent, despite the high raw intelligence of the students and professors, he would be providing his emailer’s response to his own red herring.
It is true, of course, that extremely intelligent men will often advocate for great falsities. Like all other types of power, intellectual power tends to corrupt and is heavily prone to moral misuse. In this sense we need not assume a strict correlation of human intelligence and truth. Yet it still stands to reason that higher intelligence is necessary to dissect the various Keynesian errors and to see the rational superiority of a more free-market approach. Moreover, higher intelligence better enables individuals to understand and vividly appreciate the future consequences of their actions, which is necessary “to defer gratification and accumulate capital,” as the emailer himself noted. In sum: that intelligent men will be willfully stupid in promoting economic errors does not undermine the advantages of intelligence in attaining economic prosperity. This, again, ought to be obvious.
3. North’s final argument implicit in this “summary” is a bit more complicated. He is responding to the emailer’s contention that in a more primitive society of “hunting and foraging,” racial differences in intelligence would not be important, though they would be “in a modern complex division of labor economy.” Hence, according to the emailer as understood by North, the rise of economic prosperity would end up making less intelligent people poorer, their skillsets being less valuable as the standard of living rises. North believes this contradicts the tenet that the free market will also lift up the poorest parts of society.
The sense in which this is true is, somewhat, an intriguing phenomenon; a higher standard of living does seem to require, for further economic growth, occupations which involve heightened levels of intelligence and capacities for abstraction. Hence if there are populations with a higher quantity of high-intelligence persons and a higher average intelligence overall, those populations will be more capable of attaining higher levels of economic prosperity. But inasmuch as North admits that individuals vary in intelligence, he must himself provide some explanation why the increased requirement for high intelligence which accompanies the increased division of labor in a society does not plummet the unintelligent into further poverty. This phenomenon must be explained by anyone who believes both (a) that more advanced societies require higher intelligence to subsist and improve and (b) that everyone does not have the same degree of intelligence. It must be explained by North too, not merely by North’s emailer. Surely the solution will involve the fact that these higher-intelligence positions are required at the upper echelons of a given society, not for every occupation, and that the lower-intelligence individuals will still have a valuable role to play in the lower economic echelons. Whatever the answer is, however, it has zero bearing upon the antiracist points which North is trying to make.
Fifth, I am pathological for holding to Mises’ view — a “tunnel vision on Detroit is simply one symptom of a deeper pathology I mentioned in the first paragraph, namely your refusal to look beyond Austrian principles in your explanation of any phenomenon.”
He might have mentioned that I am also a Christian who believes that regeneration is positive for individuals and society. When it comes to my pathology, I am even deeper than he thinks.
This is a rather messy statement: North seemingly agrees that any phenomenon can be explained in terms of Austrian economics, then adds an independent factor of explanation: the moral character of a populace, as improved by supernatural regeneration. Not much to say here, other than that, as a summary, North gladly embraces his neglect of biology (nature) in his agreement with agnostic Ludwig von Mises that nurture determines all, further specifying the nurture-influence of the Holy Spirit.
North subsequently mocks the emailer’s preference for privacy and fear of persecution, ridicules his occupation with no knowledge of the details, and not-so-subtly insinuates that he is living in sin. Let the reader judge the value and propriety of these statements.
North concludes his article with the low blow that we “racists” are “marginalized in life.” Given his utter disdain for the truth, his willingness to publish his haughty and overconfident yet obfuscated counterpoints is stupefying. What hubris is required for a man to utterly ignore the arguments made on so important a subject and, rather than expressing his hesitancy or difficulty with the subject, to assert himself the clear victor? This poisons the minds of his readers and cultivates a severe vice within his own soul. Gentlemanly disagreement is one thing; base ridicule while obscuring the truth – and doing so on a topic so central to the unbelieving zeitgeist – is another. Hence we observe when Gary North abjectly fails: when he attempts to join unbelievers in scorning the most demonized of men in our society – despicable, verminous “racists” – vindicating his antiracist credentials. But Christ will be vindicated in due time.
- Note well: this is the same man who, in his books on theonomy and Reconstructionism, extols his ilk’s ability to bury their enemies in footnotes! When his enemies provide footnotes, they are then mocked for doing so. ↩
- This is an important point: the poverty of heavily-black areas is due not only to blacks’ poorer work ethics, their lower intelligence, and their consequent lesser ability to create civilization, but also to their tendency to prefer socialistic government structures. Hence, even if the problem were reducible only to economic freedom and governmental intrusion – though it definitely isn’t – the issue of race would still be important: why do blacks tend to prefer bigger government; why is the Tea Party so white? It’s not true, of course, that all whites characteristically prefer smaller government, nor would I necessarily claim that most whites do; but it is nevertheless true that those who prefer smaller government are characteristically white, and this racial fact stands in need of explanation. ↩