Over at Z Man’s, “race realism” goes off the rails. It always does. Have you noticed?
Z Man’s complaint is against Our Rulers and their belief in what amounts to magic. The only options for blacks’ lousy social, cultural, and economic performance vs. whites are race, culture, and magic, and since we’ve tried fixing culture and it can’t be race, it must be magic. Thus “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” and the rest, all of which can be summed up “bad juju, boss.”
I’ve got no beef with that. But, as always, the danger is reductionism (see the comments). Culture does play a part — a significant part. For proof, read Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom, then Robert Roberts’ The Classic Slum. Dalrymple’s underclass British whites are indistinguishable from underclass American blacks — from whom, it’s easy to see, they draw much of their worldview, language, and style. Roberts’ underclass British whites are very obviously proles, but they’re proud, industrious proles. You could walk down the street at night in Salford; in most British or American cities today, you’d better have SEAL Team 6 escorting you if you venture outside after dark.
What happened, of course, is that clever academics realized we’re all hypocrites, and from that, concluded that the very idea of standards is a major way The Man is keeping us down. Back in the Jurassic, we believed in God, so men falling short of their proclaimed ideals was no big deal — we’re not angels, we’re all fallen, let him who is without sin cast the first stone and all that. You’d never hear the following, which my Millennial students all consider the atom bomb of rebuttals:
Parent: Don’t do drugs!
Kid: You did when you were my age!
Back in the days, the parent would say “yeah, and that’s why I’m telling you it’s a bad idea!” and that would be the end of it.
Some of Roberts’ slum-dwellers had kids out of wedlock. Some of them were alcoholics. Some were homosexuals. Some of them had all the modern social pathologies (adjusted for time and place). And yet, nobody questioned that monogamy, sobriety, heterosexuality, etc. were good things. If we can’t all practice them as much as we’d like, well, see that “we’re no angels” stuff, above. It was important to try — you know, for the kids — such that even if you fell short, the kids would see that trying to rise above one’s circumstances is another good-in-itself.
Dalrymple’s slum dwellers have concluded that, since nobody can live up to his standards all the time, it’s stupid to even try…. and they’ll bust a beer bottle over your head if you do.
American blacks believed this once, too… or, if you must be a “race realist” about it, were forced to act as if they believed it by Jim Crow. Either way, though, culture kept a LOT of pathological misbehavior in check. It’s a necessary, but not sufficient, cause of social regeneration.