SNUL: The Classic Slum

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.

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12 thoughts on “SNUL: The Classic Slum

  1. bob sykes

    Apparently, you haven’t heard about HBD.

    Dalryrmple’s White underclass were suffering from the same (or similar) genetic defects afflicting our Negro underclass. Obama and Dalrymple, himself, don’t suffer from those defects, and they thrive.

    The problem the Negro race as a whole has is that the percentage of Negros with the genetic defects is higher than the percentage of Whites or Asians with them.

    Many of the commenters over a Z-Blog and others also are ignorant of HBD and are believers in racial typology, a concept that Darwin was supposed to have done away with, or at least tried to.

    1. Severian Post author

      Thanks for proving my point about reductionism.

      I’ve heard about HBD, but I’ll need to see the lab work before I believe that, in the course of 75 years, the population of Salford as a whole developed a whole bunch of genetic defects that turned them into, basically, American blacks. I also need to see the lab work on the genes that turned monogamous, hardworking American blacks — which most were, prior to 1964 — into thugged out ghetto bangers in the course of just 30 years.

      Looking at history, you can see social pathology spike among American blacks at two points: (1) Right after the Great Society, when illegitimacy across ALL groups, but especially blacks, shot through the roof, and (2) when crack hit in the early 80s.

      Not coincidentally, you see similar spikes among white folks in Britian: (1) The 60s, with illegitimacy rates, and (2) the mid-1700s, with the Gin Craze. As it turns out, if you introduce a highly addictive intoxicant to a defenseless class at the bottom of the social order, it’s a problem.

      Genetics is an important component of success, but it’s far from the ONLY one. Culture’s important, too.

  2. Toddy Cat

    Of course, it should also be noted that Blacks, both in Britain and the United States, have far higher crime rates, especially murder, than do the white underclass. And yes, it’s true, blacks once did have significantly lower crime and illegitimacy rates than they do now, back in the supposedly dark days of the ’50’s. But they were still significantly higher than those of whites, which were also lower back then. So, turning your formulation around, yes, culture is important. But so is biology.

    As for Obama and Dalrymple, both are primarily white, despite the fervent protests of Obama to the contrary.

    1. Anonymous White Male

      The truth is that most leaders in the black movement and those that are “a credit to their race” are usually of mixed genes. Look at all the evidence from before the War of Northern Aggression. If you consider any “black” to be someone that is a good example for their race, such as Frederick Douglas or Smokey Robinson, the great majority of the time they will be mixed race. So, if “not blacks” are the examples used for “black” success, there is a scam being conducted. Carrots can’t be potatoes, even if they are both vegetables.

  3. Recusant

    The HBD crowd, JayMan for example, would have it that ‘it’s all in the genes’, but culture, as you say, has a strong role to play. It might help, however, and also to keep them sweet, if we give it a more ‘sciency’ name. How about, instead of calling it Culture, we call it Pavlovian Conditioning, then everybody can be happy.

  4. Toddy Cat

    By the way, don’t get me wrong. Twin studies indicate that most traits are about 40-60% heritable, which means that there is a lot unaccounted for by genetics. If we could somehow go back to the laws, customs, and social mores of the mid-1950’s, crime, illegitimacy, and social dysfunction would all drop dramatically, and I have no doubt that most people, black and white, would be a lot happier and better off. If I could push the magic “Ike” button, and have this happen I would most certainly do it. But almost all evidence indicates that blacks would still have higher incidences of these pathologies. After all, they did back then.

    By the way, it’s common, even among “race Realists” to point out that, while underclass blacks are worse off today, upper class blacks have benefited by the social revolution of the 1960’s, by being inducted into the West’s ruling elite. I am not so sure. They may be better off materially (although there most certainly were rich black people in 1950’s America, much propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding), but becoming a member of a soulless, materialist, deracinated, dissembling ruling class that secretly despises the people it rules over, white, black, and otherwise, seems to me to be a very questionable benefit.

  5. P_Ang

    Walter E. Williams just put up a post at Townhall the other day. Like nearly half of his posts, he notes that the difference between the ’50s blacks and today’s blacks is fatherhood and illegitimacy, respectively. It’s the easy road out to say “all y’all came from Afeeka!” and blame it on biology. The simple fact of the matter in THIS case, I think, is that the royal “we” tried culture, and the “we” that actually NEEDED to try culture just kept pumping out babies and waiting for gub’ment handouts. Not that this was entirely the fault of their own, but the culture intentionally pushed on them by LBJ and his infamous quote that he would have (their culture) voting Democrat for 200 years.

  6. Severian

    All good points. Again, my gripe isn’t with HBD, “race realism,” whatever you want to call it — I’m a “race realist,” too, in that I believe there are identifiable subpopulations of humans with easily identifiable, heritable traits. I further believe that a given subpopulation isn’t going to thrive in a society built by and for a very different subpopulation — stoners don’t do well with jocks, jocks don’t do well with nerds, there’s a whole bunch of 80s teen comedies about this. 🙂

    That said, it’s not JUST genetics. Or culture. Or magic, because nothing that affects so complex a creature as a human being is JUST anything.

  7. Robert M Mitchell Jr.

    I bring up “Mau Mauing the Flack catchers” by Tom Wolfe. Before the Democrats started “helping”, black legitimacy was higher then average. Was that genetics? I have my doubts. But then why did this one particular community stumble, when the ones before them integrated just fine? The Democrats were able to use the money flowing in from the Great Society” to empower the worse of society, to give them honors and riches. Which is normally how we appeal and enforce successful culture.

    1. Toddy Cat

      “Before the Democrats started “helping”, black legitimacy was higher then average”

      With all due respect, sir, I do not believe that this statement is correct. According to the National Vital Statistics System Reports, in 1940 (which is as far back as I could find) whites had an illegitimacy rate of 2.5-3%, whereas “non-whites” (until 1969 or so, all minorities were lumped together in this category, although overwhelmingly this meant black) had a rate of about 17%. There is also evidence to indicate that this was the continuation of a long-established patters. According to La Wik, “According to data extracted from 1910 census manuscripts, compared to white women, black women are more likely to become teenage mothers, stay single and have marriage instability, and are thus much more likely to live in female-headed single-parent homes”.

      Now it is true, the black illegitimacy rate in 1940 was somewhat lower than the non-Hispanic white rate is today (25%), and there can be no doubt that the Great Society was devastating to the black family, which was doing OK, if not great, back in 1940. But I cannot find a time in the last one-hundred years when the black non-marital birth rate was lower than the white rate, or anything close to it.

  8. Al from da Nort

    I agree with your premise that HBD *alone* can’t account for the rapid rise of Ghetto Thug Culture. As you point out, there are, at most, three generations of adults between the 1950’s and today. Animal breeders need a lot more generations than that using fully ruthless intelligently design to create a new breed (not species).

    How many generations, you ask. Well, in the Siberian Fox example in Russia it took over 80 years to arguably domesticate said species by allowing only the selected traits to survive to adulthood. Since foxes are like dogs and come to full maturity in a year, at most two, we’re talking 40 – 80 generations. In human terms, this equates to about 1,000 – 2,000 years of completely ruthless selection.*

    Another aspect is that cultures obviously evolve much faster than humans. Back in the day when Anthropology pretended to be (semi) scientific, it was an accepted fact that cultures evolved, only the mechanism was in question. That they evolved in darwinian fashion, i.e. armed competition for resources, was even a (semi) respectable view, given all known human history and all that. But since this view *might* imply that some cultures were better than others, it was put down the memory hole in the ’70’s.

    If culture evolves in response to environment, both natural and human, (and, in a sane intellectual environment, it’s hard to argue the contrary) it should not be controversial that repression, and its sudden release, could be a forcing factor for cultural change. American Blacks lived under formal repression in the South and informal repression in the North.** This repression was lifted by the stroke of LBJ’s pen (to greatly oversimplify) in 1964.

    Suddenly the cities erupted in race riots and the rapid slide to Ghetto Thug Culture began. Likewise the moral inversion we see today in our larger culture, where the underclass suddenly became the arbiters of fashion. It’s eating us alive, Black as well as White.

    So, one is forced to conclude that while cultural oppression of human desires may not be fun, some of it is necessary

    *One theory to account for HBD is that there have been about 8,000 years of mildly ruthless selection against traits that make it hard to live in close proximity to non-kin semi-strangers in villages and cities for some races and not for others.

    ** I’m not saying that either was moral. In the North, where I lived at the time, it was ethnic immigrant gangs and wink-nudge informal rules (e.g. redlining) that did the oppressing. Blacks at the time had the saying, ‘In the South they (honkeys) don’t care how close you get, but they do care how big you get. In the North, they don’t care how big you get, but they do care how close you get.’


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