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The Genetic Limits of Social Mobility

5,855 words

Gregory Clark
The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014

One of the continual areas of inquiry in sociology and economics is that of social mobility. Much effort is put forth in attempts to uncover the degree to which it occurs and to delineate the factors involved in its occurrence (or lack thereof) among various demographic groups. Gregory Clark, a professor of economics at the University of California at Davis, has utilized a very interesting approach to this topic: he traces the histories of a sampling of surnames of different races and ethnicities in various countries and uses genealogical research to map out the financial and educational success of those with these names. By tracing income, educational status, occupations and other markers of material success, he makes some very important conclusions: social mobility is far more limited in all societies than is commonly assumed; little, other than the glacial pace of a natural regression to the mean, can alter the status of either the upper or lower classes, which does, however, almost invariably occur in all populations; and that a family’s social phenotype (current social status) is ultimately far less important in the determination of life outcomes than is a family’s social genotype (the average social status attained by an individual’s parents, grandparents, and ancestors). For racialists, these basic points will come as no surprise, but there is more to this investigation than simply race. Questions of class, opportunity, luck, family planning, and education are also involved in his analysis.

In the first chapter, the author argues that “[s]ocial status is inherited as strongly as any biological trait, such as height” (p. 9). Little, he says, can be done to change this. He observes that the governmental programs which have been in effect for about a century and half in the West have done very little to alter the life outcomes of low-status groups. He estimates that “50 to 70 percent of the variation in general social status within any generation is predictable at conception” (p. 10). He recognizes that this conclusion will bother some readers and so offers what is presented as a caveat but is, in fact, just a more comfortingly-worded restatement of the above conclusion:

. . . these data do not imply that outcomes happen to people solely because of their family background. Those who achieve high status in any society do so because of their abilities, their efforts, and their resilience in the face of obstacles and failures. Our findings to suggest, however, that we can predict strongly, based on family background, who is likely to have the compulsion to strive and prosper (p. 10).

The real caveat comes in the form of a related conclusion he draws from his data: that, although a slow occurrence, the vast majority of high status groups are not able to maintain their status across many generations because regression to the mean will eventually occur. In general, the rich do not stay rich indefinitely and the poor do not stay poor indefinitely. But why? Unsurprisingly, the author’s data point to genetics.

In the first part of the book, Dr. Clark explores rates of social mobility in particular regions. He begins with Sweden, which is often “cited as a reproach to the economic model of the United Kingdom and the United States” (p. 19). It is commonly assumed to have a higher rate of social mobility and is thus frequently used in arguments for the efficacy of government social intervention and high taxation. However, as the author demonstrates, this assumption is false. Swedish social mobility is equivalent to that of the United Kingdom and the United States. Furthermore, social mobility in contemporary Sweden is “no faster than social mobility in eighteenth-century Sweden under monarchic rule” (p. 20). It is here that we are introduced to the nuts and bolts of the author’s methodology.

First, the author chooses which surnames to study. In the case of Sweden, he looks at two sets of elites: the “uncommon surnames associated with the Swedish nobility” and “the surnames of the educated elite of the seventeenth and eighteenth century” (p. 20). The noble surnames derive from membership in the Riddarhuset, the Swedish house of nobility, and which have distinct characteristics:

When Swedish families were enrolled in the Riddarhuset, they typically adopted a new surname embodying status elements such as gyllen (gold), silfer (silver), adler (eagle), leijon (lion), stjerna (star), creutz (cross), and ehren (honor). Thus we get names like Leijonhufvud, Gyllenstjerna, Ehrensvärd, and Adlercreutz (p. 22).

Another group of noble surnames has German origins, “reflecting the number of German military commanders rewarded with ennoblement for their service to the Swedish crown in the seventeenth century: hence names such as von Buddenbrock and von Köningsmarck” (p. 23). Some noble names have become common and those who possess them are deemed by the author to not descend from noble stock and thus he limits his study to a very select few, possessed by “four hundred or fewer people” (p. 23). He has been greatly aided in this approach by the Names Adoption Act of 1901 which prohibited anyone other than nobles from using their names (p. 23).

He arrives at his second set of surnames by using those which are latinized. He writes: “In the preindustrial era, when most Swedes had impermanent patronyms, clerics, academics, and some merchants adopted surnames sometimes derived from Swedish names but typically ending in –ius or –eus, which became characteristic of an educated class” (p. 23). These names are very rare in contemporary Sweden but still, due to a dramatic increase in the adoption of such names between 1810 and 1990, the author limits his study to those latinized surnames extant prior to 1800.

Having gathered his two sets of historically high-status surnames, Dr. Clark then searches tax information. If Swedish social mobility is high, these names would not likely carry special significance anymore and the tax rates and incomes associated with their holders would be on par with those of average Swedes. However, this is not the case. “Individuals with noble and latinized surnames have higher taxable incomes, both earned and capital incomes, than those with the common surname Andersson” (p. 28). These two sets of surnames are both overrepresented at the top income levels and underrepresented at the bottom levels. The “range of income among individuals with these names is just as great as among Anderssons, but the mean of that range is higher in each case” (p. 28).

The author next turns to high-status groups to test his hypothesis: attorneys, physicians, university students, and members of the Royal Academies (p. 30). Similar patterns to those above are to be found. He writes:

. . . the surnames held by titled nobles–counts and barons–appear in the [Swedish Bar Association] register at nearly six times the rate they occur in the general population. Other overrepresented surnames include those associated with untitled nobles and latinized surnames, both appearing at about three times the expected rate (their share in the population) (p. 30).

Such patterns are to be found among the other occupational groups he investigates. Though his work is complicated by the higher presence of newly arrived foreigners among these groups as well as historical periods in which surnames were more fluid, he is able to arrive at his conclusion that historically high-status surnames remain high-status over long periods of time. So, in light of the common misconception of Sweden as a shining light of social equality and the virtues of the “modern, inclusive, social-democratic” (p. 41) state, what does the author make of his analysis? He concludes:

Nearly one hundred years of Swedish social democracy has created a more economically equal society, but it has been unable to change the underlying rate of social mobility. The strong intergenerational persistence of status in a country after many years of generous public provision of opportunities and funding for education, at a level a level similar to that of other countries without such equalizing expenditures, suggests that the forces that determine intergenerational mobility must be fundamental to the formation and functioning of families. These may be forces that are impossible to alter (pp. 43-44).

It appears that while the condition of society can improve generally, the status hierarchy shifts correspondingly.

The author turns next to the United States, a rather more complicated affair due to its greater levels of racial and ethnic diversity. He chooses as his elite groups Jews, individuals with rare surnames descended from those who were wealthy in 1923-1924, individuals with rare surnames who are descended from those who graduated from Ivy League universities in 1850 or earlier, and Japanese (p. 45). He also analyzes the American underclass, represented by Native Americans, blacks whose ancestors arrived prior to the Civil War, and “surprisingly, the U.S. descendants of the French settlers who came to the French colonies of North America between 1604 and 1759” (p. 45).

First, he lists his chosen surnames and explains why they were chosen. For Ashkenazi Jews, he uses the surnames Cohen, Goldberg, Goldman, Goldstein, Katz, Levin, Rabinowitz, and their variants (p. 47). He observes that “[t]hese names appear among physicians at a rate nearly six times higher than in the general population, the highest frequency of any domestic surname group . . .” (p. 47). For Sephardic Jews, he uses the surnames Abecassis, Baruch, Saltiel, Salomone, Sarfaty, Sasson, and their variants (p. 48). Though these names are rare, they still appear in lists of physicians at four times their rate among the general population, “making them the second most elite group among long-established populations in the United States” (p. 48).

Regarding the rest of his categories of high-status groups, the surnames of those descended from the rich of 1923-1924 that he uses are Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, Winthrop, Colgate, Guggenheim, Sonn, Bloomingdale, Plaut, Kempner, and Pruyn. He notes that these names include “descendants of the Puritan settlers in New England, the colonial Dutch, and the Jewish populations” (p. 48). In the year 2000, these numbered about 100,000 with a rate of physicians three times higher than that of the general population (p. 48). All Japanese surnames are overrepresented as physicians, with the thirty most common appearing as physicians at twice the expected rate (p. 48). Of the Ivy League graduates from 1850 or earlier, most are obscure English, Dutch, German, and Irish surnames which appear as physicians at twice the expected rate.

He then lists his selected low-status groups. The surnames he uses of descendants of French settlers are Hebert, Cote, Gagnon, Bergeron, Boucher, Delong, and Pelletier. They appear as physicians at less than three-fifth the expected rate (pp. 49-50). For blacks whose ancestors arrived in the United States prior to the Civil War, surnames include Washington (about two-fifths of this group), Smalls, Cooks, Gadson, Merriweather, Broadnax, Boykins, and Pettaway. These surnames appear as physicians at one-third the expected rate based upon their population (pp. 50-51). Native Americans are represented by the surnames Begay(e) and Yazzie (about two-fifths of this group), Manygoats, Roanhorse, Goldtooth, Fasthorse, Yellowman, Twobulls, Bitsilly, and Smallcanyon, names which appear as physicians at one-third of their expected rate (p. 51).

Having his various sets in place, Dr. Clark begins his analysis. As in Sweden, social status appears to be rather constant over time. And, also as in Sweden, the normal range of status appears within each group but with different means. For Jews, certain fluctuations occur due to periods when quotas on their presence in medical schools limited their social mobility and, for blacks, affirmative action has increased their percentages in medical schools but he works around these interventions to find what he believes is the natural pattern. And, as in Sweden, though the tendency to converge towards the mean is real, it is remarkably slow. The author estimates, based on his data, that “it will be three hundred years before the Ashkenazi Jewish population of the United States ceases to be overrepresented among physicians” and “that even in 2240, the black population will be represented among physicians at only half the rate of the general population” (p. 58). Similar patterns are seen for attorneys.

The case of the odd persistence of low-status descendants of French settlers is interesting. The author dismisses arguments that would normally be used to explain low-status in other groups, such as blacks. He writes: “No one bears a grudge against the Gagnons or holds prejudicial views of their abilities” (p. 63). He also notes that these people intermarry with other, more successful ethnicities at average rates and that they are not a closed, highly-ethnocentric community which historically rejected assimilation. He posits an alternative hypothesis: that French settlers in North America came from the lower end of French society and that, further, those who left Canada for the United States were from the lowest rungs of Canadian society. It is likely, in his words, that “their low status in the United States stems from the fact that they are a twice-selected low-status subgroup of the parent French population” (p. 66).

The case of the Japanese is also unique. Dr. Clark writes: “Unusually, Japanese Americans until recently showed no tendency to regress toward the mean” (p. 66). The author suggests that this is accounted for by a process that is the reverse of the French settlers. Japanese immigrants came from the best of Japanese stock and experienced few of the institutional barriers that confronted, for example, Jews. There was little discrimination against them in places where they resided. Unlike Jews, who were graduating college at high rates which thus prompted the initiation of quota systems on the East Coast, Japanese graduated at average rates and so were not generally seen as a threat to whites, nor were they an especially large percentage of the population (pp. 66-67).

In the next two chapters, the author deals with medieval England. Despite the popular conception of its having been a time of a uniquely granitic social hierarchy, social mobility was not really any more or less pronounced than in any subsequent era. His analyses and conclusions are similar to those described above but here he begins to develop more deeply the idea of a regression to the social mean. If social mobility requires that those in the underclass be able to move up in status, then it follows that those in the upper class must also move down. To demonstrate this process he uses locative surnames, a tradition which began with the Norman conquerors, whose surnames indicated their home villages in Normandy (ex. Mandeville, Montgomery, Baskerville, Percy, Neville, and Beaumont) (p. 76). Eventually, “the Norman elite was gradually displaced by an indigenous English propertied class” and “new locative names associated with high status appeared: Berkeley, Hilton, Pakenham, and so on” (p. 78). Those with these surnames make up almost half of the names associated with thirteenth-century universities despite having been a small portion (approximately five percent) of the English stock (p. 79). From 1200 to 2012, their share of enrollment at Oxford and Cambridge decreased, not dramatically but consistently, while those with occupational surnames (ex. Smith, Baker, Cook, Carter, Baxter, Coward, Walker) increased their enrollment percentage (pp. 71-78). The rate of downward mobility is roughly the same as that of upward mobility. Similar results are found when analyzing property ownership, political status, and wealth. The author concludes that “the surname data we examine show absolutely no sign that any intellectual, social, and economic advances between 1300 and 2000 in England produced much increase in social mobility” (p. 87).

In chapter six, he provides an underlying theory which explains the remarkable consistency of social status across multiple measures of status and social systems. He writes:

. . . we must distinguish between a family’s surface or apparent social status and their deeper social competence, which is never observed directly. What is observed for families is their attainment on various partial indicators of social status: earnings, wealth, occupation, education, residence, health, and longevity. Each of these derives from underlying status, but with a random component (p. 108).

The random component is twofold: luck and value emphasis. An example he uses to illustrate the effect of luck on life outcomes is that of the person who chose to work at Facebook instead of Myspace (p. 108). Regarding value emphasis, some people simply value one particular aspect of status over another. He illustrates this with the example of a person who becomes a philosophy professor rather than a plumbing hardware salesman, despite the latter job paying more (p. 108). This random component, coupled with the assumption that “underlying social status in families regresses only slowly toward the mean . . . and this high rate of persistence is constant across all societies” explains social mobility (pp. 108-09). This is his basic formula.

The reason surname analysis is more accurate than conventional models of social mobility is that the latter tend to focus on one particular aspect of social status and the relation of only children and parents to it. They neither account for the random component nor the underlying social competence of individuals. Partial measures of social status (studies only focusing on income, for example) cannot account for underlying social competence because they are only loosely correlated with it. Dr. Clark provides an excellent example of what he means:

As an illustration, the State of California conveniently makes available to the public the salaries of all faculty in the University of California system. This information reveals that professors who would be regarded as equivalent by such criteria as level of education and occupational status in fact earn vastly different amounts. [. . .] Professors of English and music earn about one-third the salaries of professors of management. If we were to infer status based only on earnings, we would conclude that there was a vast social gap between these species of academic (p. 111).

By analyzing surnames, one is able to incorporate a great deal of data that is missed by focusing on a single area and thus account for the underlying social competence of families, something that is not easily tested otherwise.

The last chapter of the first section of the book deals with nature versus nurture and why social status is as heritable as genetic traits. He writes that “status inheritance is indistinguishable in form from the inheritance of genetically controlled attributes” (p. 126). Nature trumps nurture, despite the real effects of the latter. The public, as well as economists and others, often assume that such things as income and educational opportunities “matter as much as children’s abilities in determining outcomes” (p. 128). This, however, cannot account for the relative stability of status across multiple generations because these things “have been demonstrated to be fluid across generations within individual families” (p. 128). He tests this theory using data concerning public education and demographics.

Again, the author turns first towards Sweden, a country which offers a tremendous amount of state assistance for education (free meals, free tuition, loans and grants for higher education, living expenses, etc.) (p. 129). According to common logic, Sweden should have particularly high rates of social mobility. And, based on this same logic, the United States, which has far fewer state-sponsored educational benefits, should have a particularly low rate of social mobility. As has been shown, however, both countries have comparably low rates. Dr. Clark writes: “. . . it seems that social status is transmitted within families independently of the resources available to parents” (p. 131). The amount of spending on education does not change the outcomes of either high status or low status families.

Another logical assumption based on the idea of the primacy of nurture in social mobility is that larger families will have lower status children because resource allocation per child will necessarily be smaller. Correspondingly, small families will have children with higher social status due to higher per child resource availability. To test this, he examines England, in which, prior to the eighteenth century, the upper classes had about twice as many children as poorer citizens. If the common logic holds, then a high rate of downward social mobility should have occurred among the elites. This is, however, not true. Indeed, even in the 19th century, as the upper classes began to produce fewer children, there was no dramatic change in social status. As is true with all areas of his analysis, social status is apparently transmitted across generations independent of factors commonly held to be crucial to the enhancement of social mobility.

In the second part of the book, entitled “Testing the Laws of Mobility,” the author ventures away from the West to test his theories in other countries, and also describes particular groups in greater detail, including those that seem anomalous. Some of this information, though interesting in its own right, will not be particularly important to White Nationalists so it is sufficient to only note that Dr. Clark’s hypothesis holds true in other regions as well. In India, despite a tremendous amount of sustained effort (both in the colonial period and following independence) to eliminate caste barriers via government programs and social pressure, social mobility is even lower than in Western countries. The author also finds low social mobility in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Chile. In each case, social programs were ineffective in changing this pattern.

In chapter thirteen, Dr. Clark deals with the anomalies: Protestants, Jews, Gypsies, Muslims, and Copts. Of particular interest is his discussion of Jews. Some have theorized that Jewish success is a result of their ancient adherence to the study of religious texts (one might say, a primitive version of educational investment). Another argument put forth is that “by 1490 CE, the Jewish population was a modest subgroup of descendants of a much larger parent population” and “that only about 10 percent of the descendants of the parent Jewish population of 70 CE was still Jewish” (pp. 229-30). The scholars who make this point argue that the decision to remain Jewish (or convert to Judaism) was largely an economic one driven by the economic value of literacy. But, as the author points out, if this were the whole of the case, then in an era of nearly universal literacy, “Judaism should offer no economic or social advantages” (p. 231). This is obviously false. Further background on Jews is then provided.

The author notes that the emergence of Ashkenazi Jews as the bulk of world Jewry is something of a mystery. He writes: “It is ironic that a community renowned for its early embrace of literacy has no written records to show its own origin or migration to Eastern Europe” (p. 236). He rejects the Khazar hypothesis in favor of the Rhineland hypothesis: that is, “that the Ashkenazi were an offshoot of the Sephardic community that migrated from Italy to western Germany in the Middle Ages” and were later “driven east under the pressure of persecution in Germany following the onset of the Black Death in 1347” (p. 236). Genetic evidence bears this out. Ashkenazi Jews are indeed genetically related to other Jews. He adds: “Four women, for example, account for 40 percent of the mitochondrial DNS of the Ashkenazi” and the “evidence from the Y chromosome suggests that only 5 to 8 percent of the Ashkenazi genetic material comes from admixture of European males” (p. 237).

The reason that Ashkenazi Jews have retained their elite status for so long is that, like other groups who have historically behaved similarly, they have practiced endogamy and selectively lost their low status members (p. 237).[1] In Muslim societies, the jizya (a tax on religious minorities) prompted the lower classes to convert to Islam, which acted as eugenically within minority communities, leaving elites to maintain their traditions and high status free of elements that would more quickly reduce their communities to the mean. The Copts of Egypt are a prime example of this, as are Christians in the Middle East and minority religious communities in Iran (pp. 238-39).

Others with persistent social status, but at the wrong end of the spectrum, are Gypsies and the Travellers in England (not the same thing at all, despite popular notions). Unfortunately, Dr. Clark clumsily and probably unintentionally lumps the two together (he speaks of Roma specifically, for example, in the quote below, but does not provide any data on actual Gypsies) in his study and declares that them to be of almost entirely native British stock (p. 240). However, as his actual data deal only with Travellers, it is sound. He writes:

It is likely that among the indigenous English population, by random chance, some families ended up at the margins of society as traveling harvest workers, basket makers, and showmen. But this marginal group, perhaps even drawing inspiration from the few genuine Roma they encountered, adopted a romanticized version of the Gypsy lifestyle and a creation myth of their own. (pp. 242-43)

Because Travellers are of native British stock, they can easily move out of their communities and assimilate into the wider community. But even though this should mean that that the average status of Travellers should rise over time, there is a steady influx of new marginalized families into this community and these people tend to have a large amount of children. This offsets any gains made by high status Travellers and so the community, to the extent that it is “real,” maintains its low status (p. 247). Those who make it out no longer describe themselves as Travellers and those who don’t still claim membership in that community. His surname data confirm this.

It will no doubt come as a surprise to even to some White Nationalist readers that the author’s list of elites in the United States includes no European Protestants. Using the numbers of physicians per group based on each group’s percentage of the population, the elites are (in order of status, from highest to lowest): Copts, Hindus, Indian Christians, Iranian Muslims, Maronites, Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Black Africans, Greeks, Armenians, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Black Haitians (p. 248). This is a result of immigration policy that generally selects for high-skilled immigrants but is also a result of which groups emigrate to the United States from their respective countries. In some countries, such as Laos and Mexico, immigration is generally of low status, low-skilled people whereas, for the groups above, the opposite tends to be true. And, of course, illegal immigration is engaged in by low status people because, as the author observes, it “should not be an attractive option for educated populations, given the manifest disadvantages that illegal status imposes in the United States” (p. 251). He adds: “Recent research suggests convincingly that Mexican migrants to the United States in recent years have substantially less schooling than nonmigrants and earned considerably less in Mexico before migrating than did nonmigrants” (p. 251).

The third and final part of the book is entitled “The Good Society.” In it, he places his preceding analyses in a wider context and addresses some common concerns about social mobility. First, it is generally assumed that high social mobility is proof that “all men are created equal” and, if evidence suggests that social mobility is low, then there must be some fundamental systemic problem. This is false. Social mobility is always low, regardless of the type of society in which one lives. Second, the idea of using multigenerational data to predict life outcomes is to “deny the importance of human agency and free will” (p. 262). This is also false for the simple reasons that predictions are never set in stone nor does hard work never pay off. He writes: “We can predict only that you are likely to be the type of person who can make the effort and endure the defeats along the way in order to succeed socially and economically in the end . . . social and economic outcomes are determined by the agency of the person” (p. 263). Third, it is commonly assumed that if social mobility rates are low, there is a great deal of wasted potential due simply to being born into the “wrong” family. Dr. Clark writes in response that if this is true then social programs will help, and if it is not true then there is no wasted potential, and “social mobility rates are optimal” (p. 262). Since the evidence for the former is lacking, it is therefore more likely that social mobility rates are, if not “optimal,” then at least natural.

He spends more time on one last major objection: the “disquiet . . . from the fact that a century of redistribution, public education, and social policy seems to have done nothing to improve the social mobility rates” (p. 262). His lengthy response to this contains information that is well-understood by White Nationalists: “Biology may not be everything, but it is the substantial majority of everything” (p. 264). He explains the lessons of adoption studies, sibling studies, and studies of familes who received financial windfalls (e.g. lottery winners, and beneficiaries of the Norwegian oil boom). In each case, no significant, lasting difference in underlying social competence was discerned.

Next, he offers some advice based on the fact of slow social mobility. He suggests that because it is a heritable constant, societies should worry less about attempting to alter this fact and instead focus on ameliorating its effects. This can, of course, take many forms, including the governmental safety nets emblematic of Nordic countries. He also adds that, due to the diversity of the United States, social inequality will naturally persist for many more generations. He writes:

Given the historic disparities in its constituent populations and the likelihood that immigration policies will sustain them, the United States needs to consider whether its commitment to social institutions that tolerate and even foster such social inequalities is appropriate (p. 278).

The latter bit of advice is obviously fundamentally contradictory based on his own evidence. The origin of the problem in the United States is based in the presence of multiple non-white populations rather than systemic racism (the concept of which he himself denies on more than one occasion in the book).

In the final chapter, “Escaping Downward Mobility,” he explains that there is little evidence that financial expenditure on children can affect their life outcomes. The sole scientific advice he offers is to choose the best possible mate, which, in theory, can enable a family to escape downward mobility. This, however, is not as easy as it seems. People tend to choose mates based on observed characteristics (the social phenotype) rather than their underlying social competence (the social genotype) (p. 282). He explains:

This means that people currently occupying the upper tails of the distribution of education, wealth, and occupational prestige tend to include disproportionately the lucky, the ones who benefited from happy accidents. Systematically, at the top, the phenotype is better than the genotype. Symmetrically, concentrated at the bottom are people who have experienced bad luck and unhappy accidents. There, the social genotype is much better than the observed genotype. The curse of the elite is that they are surrounded by imposters, possibly including themselves, and thus the marriage market for the upper classes is full of prospects likely to underperform as carriers of a lineage. In contrast, the bottom of the marriage market is full of potential overperformers. Bad luck dominates, rather than bad social genotypes. So outcomes for the next generation tend to be better (p. 282).

This almost poetic paragraph, however, does not seem to jibe statistically with his previous arguments but he does not go into further detail.

Another piece of advice he offers is to marry into the highest possible social genotype. Before settling on a partner, one should observe the status of his or her family, including grandparents and cousins. As an example he offers this hypothetical situation:

Suppose you are faced with a choice to two marriage partners, both of whom have a high-status phenotype. They are both graduates from elite colleges and have PhD’s in philosophy, for example, or both are board certified in rhinoplasty. But one partner is of Ashkenazi Jewish background and the other of new France descent. Then the predicted status of your children will be higher if you select the Jewish partner (p. 285).

He then goes on, in conclusion, to paraphrase the Jewish economist Bryan Caplan who suggests that “upper-class parents pointlessly invest too much time in the rearing of their children . . . genetics is what matters, so you might as well have more children, invest less in each, and enjoy being a parent more” (p. 285).

So, from a White Nationalist perspective, what does one make of this book? Most importantly, it confirms yet again that intelligence matters. Intimately related to this concept is, of course, the correlation of intelligence and race. With regard to Dr. Clark’s list of elites, it is clear that some of these groups have benefited from affirmative action and so exist as an unnatural, artificially-created elite. There is absolutely no chance, for example, that black Haitians, based on the proven validity of race and its connection to intelligence, would ever outperform any group of European Protestants in medical school without special assistance in admissions and hiring. Nor is there any reason why they should even be given the chance.  Importing immigrants of high status into white countries necessarily displaces high status whites just as importing low status immigrants displaces low status whites. Such a process would be bad enough even if entirely meritocratic, but given that it is not, it is insanely disgusting from a moral perspective and totally unnecessary from a social and economic perspective. It is also worth noting that if one were to apply the author’s notion of social genotype rather than social phenotype to many of these new elites this picture might look even scarier.

Given the data in this book, the choice for whites who don’t want to become part of a lower status social group is to either interbreed with non-white elites or to prevent them from having any role whatsoever in the future of our countries. Even if no other problems were associated with massive immigrant populations, the presence of non-whites would speed up our marginalization based on historical patterns of social mobility alone. Simply put, they offer us nothing of value while subtracting value across the board.

On a more positive note, the author’s data regarding the persistence of status across many different social systems is heartening. Not only does this also bolster the validity of genetics as being the primary social building block, but it could free future White Nationalist policy makers from the constraints of arbitrary sociological, political, and economic assumptions. Rather than being wedded to abstract social constructs such as the free market or legal traditionalism, policy could be strictly race-oriented, fluid, adaptable and progressive in the best sense. Additionally, there could be no hard and fast arguments against governmental intervention to help poor or unfortunate whites wherever and whenever needed. The living community could finally take priority over mere rules and abstractions.

On a final note, the author briefly mentions the differences of values between individuals, as in his example of the person who chooses to become a philosophy professor rather than a more highly paid plumbing hardware salesman. For him, this is an aspect of the random component of any individual’s life outcome. But it is a concept that can and should be applied to groups. Different groups of people have different values. When applied to homogeneous populations, that seemingly random component transmutes into a spiritual component, the embodiment of both a racial norm and a racial ideal. What seems random on an individual level is, to a large extent, a mere isolated fragment of the larger vision and will of the racial collective. And this racial spiritual component has as great an impact on the society as a whole as a career choice has on any given individual. For whites, life’s true value is and always has been found in this ineffable but very real space. It is certainly not to be found in strategic breeding with a Jew so as to give birth to a future Wall Street usurer.

Note

1. For a far more detailed discussion of this precise topic, see: Kevin MacDonald, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy, with Diaspora Peoples (San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2002).

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14 Comments

  1. Patrick
    Posted July 9, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I think social class is almost as genetic as race. My parents were lower middle class as were their ancestors and they lived in working class neighborhoods for generations. However I grew up in a upper middle class neighborhood and the social norms and attitudes of the people I grew up around seemed alien to me and made no sense. I never really felt like I was around people who were similar to me until I spent time around working class white people and I found their attitudes and norms to conform to what I felt made sense on an intuitive level and this is likely due to the fact that on a genetic level my social class doesn’t match up to the social class I was born into due to my ancestry.

    This is why I think too much class mobility is not really a good thing. I do agree with the american dream of anyone being able to make it rich being good and I believe in freedom of people to pursue class mobility but just as it makes genetic sense for parents of a similar racial background to marry I also think it makes sense for parents to raise their children in an area with people of a similar social class background to them because their children are not likely to get along with kids whose ancestry is associated with occupations different from ones own ancestry. If one has ancestors that were farmers and manual laborers going back generations it doesn’t make sense for that person to raise their kid surrounded by people whose ancestors worked in more academic and clerical related jobs going back generations. The instincts are entirely different due to generations of people existing and working in those environments.

  2. Sharkeisha
    Posted July 3, 2017 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    One of my hobbies is genealogy. I’ve noticed that anyone in the family tree who is is descended from the Dutch/Huguenot founders of New Amsterdam is always buried with a bigger, fancier tombstone. If in the military they are always of a higher rank.

    This supports the central idea described in this review.

  3. nineofclubs
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    A very interesting review. I’d agree with the basic contention that nature trumps nurture and that high achieving, high status parents are likely to have children who achieve a similar status. The evidence for these concepts looks compelling.

    I would, however, question some of the assumptions here about the objectives of the Swedish economic system.

    We’re told that ‘Sweden is commonly assumed to have high rates of social mobility’ and that this assumption is frequently used in arguments for the efficacy of government social intervention and high taxation. But is this accurate? Do those arguing for taxation levels higher than the UK and US really frame their argument around social mobility?

    I believe that much of the argument for such systems is actually about the economic distance between the rich and the poor, rather than how readily people move between the two poles. By this measure (the gini coefficient) Sweden does outrank both the US and UK. So systems which redistribute wealth don’t actually increase social mobility, but they do seem to decrease the difference between the wealthiest and poorest in a society.

    Looking at any Gini index, it becomes clear that the countries with the most unequal income distributions are frequently those hosting a variety of ethnically distinct groups. So Brazil and South Africa have highly unequal income distribution, but more ethnically homogeneous countries (Finland, Faroes, much of Eastern Europe) have more equally distributed incomes.

    I don’t think this is a coincidence. It seems likely that ethnically homogeneous societies are more likely to accept policies which redistribute wealth.

    Now, it might be argued that I’m confusing causation with correlation here and that homogeneous countries have more equal income distribution because their people are more closely talented and motivated. Not because of government policy.
    But if that were the case, you’d expect to see little difference in income distribution between all of the white people in the US. As this is not the case, economic policy obviously matters.

    And policy is shaped by culture. I’m more likely to want to help out a poor cousin than someone who doesn’t even speak my language. Even if that cousin won’t be lifted up to the top of the social scale by my help.

    This is an irony which much of the modern ‘left’ prefers to ignore. Ethnic diversity lends itself to systems that increase economic inequality.

    There might be some who imagine that free school lunches will increase social mobility, but they’d be deluded. Others, including myself, would just like to think that they’re a way of helping out members of my own tribe / nation who’ve fallen on hard times.

    Thanks again for a very thought provoking article.

    .

    • Donald Thoresen
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Thank you. Very good comments. I think you are correct. I don’t think the author of the book would necessarily disagree with you either, but his project here is just a bit different from the one required to prove your points.

  4. Rose Madder
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how the exclusion of those with the highest IQs from professional occupations factors in.

    http://polymatharchives.blogspot.ca/2015/01/the-inappropriately-excluded.html

    Social status isn’t a measure of intelligence, only so much intelligence is useful.

    My observations in the corporate world are that social skill is more important than intelligence. underlings can and are hired to do the thinking.

  5. dolph
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Some points:
    Why all this emphasis on medicine? As a middle class physician I can tell you that 99% of practicing physicians in the United States are nowhere near the levers of economic or political power. If there are people out there aspiring to be one, I’m telling you, don’t waste your time. Go to banking, business, finance, law. And then worm your way into the executive suite of a health insurer or hospital.

    Secondly, the United States has the specific phenomenon of Jewish elites using their financial power to lend enormous amounts to black neighborhoods, businesses, sports leagues, rap music etc. This wildly inflates black wealth, and still they manage to blow it all. Of course they also have unlimited financing for areas like Hollywood which admittedly has innumerable whites, but perhaps of a somewhat less productive, more degenerate type.

    It’s been decades, maybe even 40 years, since anybody in the United States really knows what anyone else should be worth.

    • Sharkticon
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      From Underwoods, by Robert Louis Stevenson:

      There are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd: the soldier, the sailor and the shepherd not
      unfrequently; the artist rarely; rarely still, the clergyman; the physician almost as a rule. He is the flower (such as it
      is) of our civilisation; and when that stage of man is done with, and only remembered to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the
      race. Generosity he has, such as is possible to those who practise an art, never to those who drive a trade; discretion, tested by a hundred secrets; tact, tried in a thousand embarrassments; and what are more important, Heraclean
      cheerfulness and courage. So it is that he brings air and cheer into the sickroom, and often enough, though not so often
      as he wishes, brings healing.

    • Donald Thoresen
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Physicians are high status whether they have any political power or not. As are the other occupational and educational categories he mentions. There are always exceptions but it is just a good way to estimate social status across history and get an idea of the current high status groups. I doubt anyone will start talking talking about the Copt Question after reading his list of elites but it forms part of a larger picture of white displacement. Any implication that Copts have some sort of real power above, say, Jews, is obviously false. But the author rightly does not make value judgments in the book (it is neither his point nor would it have been professional to do so) and avoids politics. But this does tie in to your last and very good point about our no longer being able to estimate the real worth of anyone. There is a lot in that statement.

  6. Sharkticon
    Posted June 28, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I question the assertion that Jews were excluded from medical schools. I would like some evidence or a reference for this.

    There were quotas in Ivy League schools, yes, but they were fully able to go to college at any other school. Even now Ivy League’s are only open to very narrow subset of people. You might argue that Southerners have always been excluded, as Thomas Sowell does(bless his heart).

  7. Dave
    Posted June 28, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    The key to social equality is feminism: Encourage girls of high rank to pursue careers, while paying girls of low rank to breed like rabbits. High-ranking men might still outbreed low-ranking men, but they must do it with low-ranking women, so their genetic advantages dissipate in a couple of generations.

    The only flaw in this brilliant plan is that it achieves equality by lowering the ceiling, not raising the floor, thus turning a functioning society into an amorphous mass of idiots.

    • Margot Metroland
      Posted June 28, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      A more immediate problem is that major traits are sex-linked. Intelligence and athletic ability pass to the next generation through the mother, so a brainy jock male basically has to marry someone of his own caliber if he wants kids like him. If he picks a low-caliber female who can breed like a rabbit, they’ll end up with dumb bunnies.

      Realistically though, males in the West do not really get to “pick” anyway; women can and do make themselves unavailable to men they don’t want. Which is a good thing, because when males do pick it’s seldom for social status or intelligence; it’s simply for sex and reproduction, and gets very dysgenic. Hence mestizos and mud people.

      • Matthias
        Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        “Intelligence and athletic ability pass to the next generation through the mother”
        Requesting a source on that. I’m quite deep into genetics and never heard of that one, apart from the obvious problems in operationalizing those traits.

        “Which is a good thing, because when males do pick it’s seldom for social status or intelligence; it’s simply for sex and reproduction, and gets very dysgenic. Hence mestizos and mud people.”
        Perhaps in the colonial past roughly from the 16th to 19th century, but since about a hundred years the overwhelmingly dysgenic macrofactor was, of course, women’s liberation. Women of quality, instead of reproducing, were pushed into “careers” and hedonic self-indulgence, with all the effects we can see today.

  8. Sharkticon
    Posted June 28, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Very very good thank you for this. I’ve read his other book Farewell to Alms, that was really good too, along similar lines.

    I wonder about some of his conclusions, however, for example the idea that blacks will regress to the mean socially and move upward in status over, albeit, a large length of time. Regression to the mean occurs within their genetic population means, and excluding a large amount of interbreeding with the wider population(hope to avoid), I wouldn’t think that this should happen, excluding some external selection pressures, and a more Darwinian environment. Unless we revert to some kind of mad Max future, I would expect entropy to take its toll and they would actually move down in status.

    I don’t mean this negatively, but his measures of status tend to be economic in nature, and while I agree his methodology is the best scientifically for purposes of objectivity, it leaves out important branches of human quality. For example, Jews tend to be underrepresented in matters of visuospacial skill, the plastic arts, and poetry, which are difficult to quantify. Clearly some of them have no idea what good poetry is! But this methodology always puts skills of economic outcompetition, above aesthetic ones.

    • Donald Thoresen
      Posted June 28, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. I’m glad you liked the piece and I appreciate the input.

      I agree with you. Your second point was indirectly addressed in the last paragraph but perhaps I should have been more specific. I also agree with your first point. I think one of the weaknesses of this book is that he actually spends very little time discussing specifically the processes involved in regression to the mean, despite it being such an important aspect of his theory. It could be due to the fact that such a discussion would necessarily have to deal with some uncomfortable truths. But the concept itself is repeated so often in the book that I suppose I stopped noticing it and thus neglected to critique it. This was a mistake on my part.

      I am actually reading “A Farewell To Alms” right now and will have a review of it up here as soon as possible (maybe one or possibly two reviews from now). I hope you’ll comment on it as well.

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