The Chinese conundrum
This is the proper space for continuing with a chapter named Exodus, but we will defer that subject. The holiday of Christian redemption approaching, the day the German-Jewish philosopher-theologian Franz Rosenzweig called “a day of entry into eternity,” it behooves us to take notice.
Rosenzweig (1886 -1929) owes his own redemption from history’s benign neglect to the erudite Asia Times columnist Spengler, who has been championing this, in Spengler’s words, “sublime master of German letters,” for a long time. But for Christmas, one would do well to take exception to both Spengler’s and his prototype Oswald Spengler’s pessimism concerning the fate of the West.
Spengler’s December 1 much-quoted essay for Asia Times was entitled China’s six-to-one advantage over the US. In it, Spengler expounded on an issue I had commented on before, for it impresses daily on the mind of the thinking Westerner who lives in the Orient. I last expressed it in these words:
“China has 30 million students of classical piano and 10 million classical violinists. America has 40 million of ¿Tiene Preguntas? China has 50,000 students of geology who will be launched all over the world to look for new sources of raw materials. America has 500 students of geology, most of them foreigners, but 50,000 students in law schools.”
The Far East, in this case China, is running circles around the West, particularly with respect to the U.S. Frankenstein that hot-wired this Oriental colossus. Spengler adduces China’s six-to-one advantage in the number of classical pianists as an indication that China is rising to a dominant position versus the United States – and Europe, we might add.
“Chinese parents are selling plasma-screen TVs to America,” writes Spengler, “and saving their wages to buy their kids pianos - making American kids stupider and Chinese kids smarter. Watch out, Americans - a generation from now, your kid is going to fetch coffee for a Chinese boss. [snip] Americans really, really don’t have a clue what is coming down the pike. The present shift in intellectual capital in favor of the East has no precedent in world history.”
Spengler continues, “The world’s largest country is well along the way to forming an intellectual elite on a scale that the world has never seen, and against which nothing in today’s world [snip] can compete. Few of its piano students will earn a living at the keyboard, to be sure, but many of the 36 million will become much better scientists, engineers, physicians, businessmen and military officers.”
I share this feeling. Anyone with one foot in the West and one in the East who sees how the West packs itself with imported low-IQ minorities, how it corrodes its institutions of education through dumbing down for the sake of the self-esteem of such minorities, and how it debases the quality of its elite through reverse racism and sexism, reads the daily newspaper with a sense of deep foreboding.
In the East, it’s strict meritocracy. In China, the principle for gaining admittance to the lowest rung of the ruling elite is no different than it was 2500 ago, when Confucius had to cram for the Mandarin examination. In Japan, you gain admittance to a quality college strictly on the results of an examination. Nothing counts but your score – then, it’s Ashi kiri.
Ashi kiri is a sword-cut through which an able samurai could separate a grown man from his legs in one stroke. It means, cutting in half. The top half, per exam score results, goes to college. The bottom half goes to honorable and well paying assembly line jobs.
That’s the way it ought to be in a society that wants to live and grow and attain glory. But in Body Snatcher land, biographical and demographic details including skin color and gender, not IQ and test scores, separate the future Praetorian Guard from those who’ll never see the inside of the Harvard or Oxford Quadrangle. Not a sound recipe for success against the likes of China.
In classical music, China has embraced a highly elitist discipline, and one that, as Spengler puts it, is the most explicitly Western of all art forms. Furthermore, he comments, this drive to transcend national culture and master one of the most difficult disciplines of a foreign culture characterizes an empire that is determined to succeed.
“China's commitment to classical music,” Spengler adds,” will have effects that are at once too subtle and too powerful to categorize easily.” He submits, correctly in my opinion, that classical music produces better minds and promotes success in other fields, even though there is no direct causal link between producing good musicians and good scientists, for instance.
The incompetence, decadence and stupidity that one wades through on a daily basis in the West contrast one’s daily experience in the East. To begin with, the common Orientals are smarter. That mean IQ of 105 versus 99 for Whites is a tremendous advantage in producing an intelligent, competent workforce. When you add to it a work ethic unseen in the West since 19th century Northwest Europe, and a Confucian morality, the comparison is not flattering to the West.
But worst of all is that East Asians have an abiding desire to adopt what’s best in Western culture, from Cervantes to Max Planck, but we think in our fathomless arrogance that we have nothing to learn from them other than sushi and flying kung fu tricks. It’s dreadful.
The sun also rises in the West
Never give up. This being the birthday of the West’s redeemer compels one to look for a hole in Spengler’s gloomy tableau. Prospecting for such holes, looking for a way out of the other Spengler’s chute of Der Untergang des Abendlandes, one reviews Asia Times’ cultural pundit’s text. One finds a tear in it, and sunshine is pouring through that tear.
Spengler cites the Chinese piano prodigy Lang Lang’s performance of Mozart's C Minor Concerto K 491, with the China Philharmonic under the baton of Long Yu, as a portent of China’s nascent originality in high technology.
I don’t know much about the next generation of anti-missile radar and electric car batteries that Spengler projects from Lang Lang’s playing. But as a son of a mother who, like many such Polish mothers of her social class, wanted her son to be another Frederic Chopin, I know something about piano playing.
So listen up. Lang Lang’s performance of Mozart’s 24th Concerto conjures irresistibly Noel Coward’s quip that Mozart’s music is “like piddling on flannel.” And seeing Lang Lang’s playing, doubles that impression.
This is Mozart by a musical prodigy who doesn’t understand Mozart. Lang is a technical wizard with a perfect memory and total control of his fingers and his instrument. But one whose idea of Mozart must have come from the frilly portraits on confectionery wrappers and gilded souvenir saucers he may have bought as a tourist in Salzburg.
Mozart could ride a horse, punch a man, insult a prince, belch and fart heartily. He has probably dallied with more than a few wenches standing up on a dark staircase with odors of boiling potatoes and sizzling speck wafting about. This was no silk-stockinged court poodle, piddling on flannel while standing on brocade – though he may have played that role when necessary.
There is strength, vigor, grandeur, defiance, resilience, even force in Mozart, not just streams of little pearls spilling from Meissen porcelain. And Lang Lang’s 24th Concerto misses all that. To him, Mozart is a technical exercise in delicate finesse. But to a thinking, feeling Westerner, Mozart is a spiritual epiphany and a testimony to God's greatness.
Our strength -- lying in tatters now but resurrectable within two generations, is in our inequality. In our diversity and multiculturalism too, though they have little in common with the Body Snatcher (1) meaning of these terms. Classical music, the highest art, is a living embodiment of the glory of our inequality, and of our diversity in that inequality.
If you want to play the Father Vogler part in Amadeus, go ahead, tell me, "We are all the same under the skin. We are equal in the eyes of God."
I shall then cock my head, wait a beat like F. Murray Abraham's Salieri, and repeat his smashing retort to the padre, "Are we?"
A Colombian fan of Mozart listens, unbeknown to himself, to motifs of bawdy pop song from 18th century Vienna, processed through the mind of a man touched by God. The Korean Chopin virtuoso performs common Polish folk dances of the early 19th century, transformed by a genius into what Frederic’s girlfriend, a renowned artist who called herself George, called “the language of God.” And Johann Sebastian Bach just pencilled in his partner’s name right at the bottom of his scores: three letters, SDG, for Soli Deo Gloria.
That partner’s touch was so powerful, that a century later a great German musician converted to Christianity after studying the score of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, redeeming it from a century of obscurity, then mounting its production with an orchestra and choir of 400 in Berlin in 1829. This sublime work had been forgotten for 93 years, since its second performance in Bach’s lifetime, in 1736.
The resurrector of Bach & Deo’s work was Felix Mendelssohn. Son and grandson of grandees in the German-Jewish community, and a nominal Christian, Mendelssohn gained deep faith under Bach’s remote tutelage, and would hold on to it until his premature death at the age of 38. What Mendelssohn’s faith infused into his brief life resulted in a body of eternal music, so woven into Western culture that a piece of it accompanies every bride to the altar, even in the Far East, even today.
Beethoven, though not a conventional Christian, had powerful religious sentiments too, composed transporting liturgical music, and wrote in his conversation books that God can be experienced through art. And the possibility of touching the transcendent through the intermediation of a genius creator, a Beethoven, is a distinctive feature of Western Civilization, inherited from the Greeks. It is a singular blessing.
I, for instance, cannot reach the transcendent through theology or ritual. The priest talks, the incense wafts, and I leaf in my mind through Edward Gibbon’s clever deconstruction, The Christians and the Fall of Rome, that’s been around since 1776. But let the organ boom, or let me sit quietly in a pew at an old cathedral or at a Beethoven concert, and I am gone to another dimension. Nietzsche himself, upon hearing St. Matthew Passion in 1870, said, "One who has completely forgotten Christianity truly hears it here as Gospel."
Because the greatest Western music, the greatest of the West’s creation, reflects God’s glory as filtered through higher brains than ours. It shows us our own smallness and it consoles us in that smallness.
We have at our disposal a miraculous fountain of transcendent inspiration and invigoration, embedded in the works of Western culture. Such works have reached heights beyond anything that any other culture has ever produced in music, painting, sculpture, drama, literature, science.
It’s this frequency that Lang Lang’s otherwise exquisite receptors did not read. And that frequency is not within the spectrum that Chinese music can transmit either. Both its spiritual content and its sound are like the screeching of cats compared to the West’s musical glory.
The miracle of the broad-bottomed bell
Screeching Cats versus SDG is another way of looking at the contest between the East and the West, and another way of looking at the West’s destiny. Yes, the Orient’s mean IQ is 6 points higher, its labor is better, its values are sturdier. But our IQ and talent distribution spread is wider, which is another way of saying that our strength is in our inequality – or would be if inequality could be sprung from the dungeon where it has been stuffed, gagged and trussed, by demented Body Snatcher equalizers.
We have to take a detour to consult wiser men in this field. Comparative intelligence studies, such as in Richard Lynn’s seminal Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis and (with Tatu Vanhanen) IQ and Global Inequality, assume, for comparison purposes, a Standard Deviation of 15 in intelligence distribution across all races, cultures and genders.
But the standard deviation (“sigma”), which one may define as a measure of the spread of the sampled distribution from its mean, is not identical across races and genders. A timid suggestion that it might be so, relative to genders, got the President of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers, fired from his job. After all, Body Snatchers don’t fool around when it comes to Heresy, Apostasy and Desecration of the Host.
Summers said that the dearth of women among science and engineering professors in the Ivy League is the result of disparity in the sigmas of IQ distribution among males and females. The mean IQs give men the slightest edge, perhaps 2 points, but it’s the larger standard deviation that counts here. That’s why there are few women at the threshold level of three-and-a-half or four sigmas above the mean, i.e. minimum IQ of 152 -160, where cutting-edge science is being done.
This was entirely consistent with the body of up-to-date psychometric research. Moreover, this is transparently true even without research. It’s what one knows from second grade of elementary school.
The real morons in your class were boys. As were the nerds, doing with their brains what no else could. The girls on the other hand were, well, more “average.” Neither as stupid as some of the boys, nor as smart as some other boys. Rare exceptions to this.
To be so severely censured and punished as Summers was for stating something so obvious and universally observable is a symptom of a society that has careened into madness. But we already know that, and are looking here at ways to walk out on that madness.
That disparity in the width of the bottom of the distribution bell exists also between the races (2), and between different ethnic groups. The Japanese saying, “The nail that sticks out will be pounded down” expresses a cultural proclivity to produce narrow-based IQ/talent/personality bell curves, with as few deviants as possible. Orson Welles’ famous quip about the Italian Renaissance and Swiss cuckoo clocks, in a film scene of pure genius, (4) was a poetic exaggeration that a psychometrician could support by comparing the width of the Italian IQ bell distribution to the Swiss one. This would explain the overabundance of genius in Italy, even though an Italian who really wants to get his mail, rents a mailbox in Switzerland.
And that is why one cannot share either Asia Times’ Spengler’s or Oswald Spengler’s pessimism about the future of the West, compared to China or to any other part of the world.
The psychometric website La Griffe du Leon has drawn some qualitative conclusions from quantitative IQ sigma differences. La Griffe has coined the term “Smart Fraction” relative to different national populations, and computed its definition as the portion of the population with a verbal-analytical IQ of at least 106. La Griffe has found a direct proportionality between that and per-capita GDP. It’s another way of saying that the wider the bell-bottom of the statistical distribution of verbal-analytical IQ, the wealthier the people, when the means are not too far apart. (3)
Because the verbal-analytical IQ of Whites is higher than that of Orientals, it nullifies the general IQ advantage Orientals have due to their outstanding visual-spatial ability. But it also means that the more sub-106 immigrants are added to the population of the West, the poorer the West will be. China, needless to say, will not dilute itself with such immigrants.
But that’s still not what Spengler or I are after. An IQ of 106 links to bookkeepers, lab technicians, salesmen, with registered nurses and junior executives somewhat higher. In La Griffe’s words, “These people are not rocket scientists. They are, however, vital to a flourishing economy.” [ibid.]. But Spengler is talking about the Lang Langs of this world, whose IQs start at 135, and I am talking about the Beethovens of this world – the “Supersmart Fraction” whose IQs start at 160.
One in ten thousand. And from that pool, at most one in fifty – the second cut being determined no longer by IQ but by God’s alchemy (which you are welcome to call by a scientific name). Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Galileo, Stephen Hawking, Johannes Kepler, Gottfried Leibniz, Pierre Laplace, Isaac Newton, James Watt, Johann Sebastian Bach, Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, Mozart, Wagner, Miguel Cervantes, Johann Goethe, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Voltaire, Martin Luther, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Plato, Hugo Grotius, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, William Pitt – all IQs from 160 and up (5).
The good news is that there are no people in the world who can produce brainpower at that level commensurate with the ability of people of European origin. The bad news is that the West has grossly mismanaged this most precious resource in the last 50 years.
The West’s grace, its redemption, is in the 160+ extreme right hand tail of the IQ bell curve, which it alone seems to be able to populate significantly. The West has, as well, more and worse killers, louts, sociopaths, morons than the Orient does. That’s because when the base of the bell is broad, both the left and the right tails are long. The way to greatness lies in coaxing the right tail to produce more and better genius, while containing the excesses of the left tail through just law and order, tradition, and restrictions applied on commercial activity that lowers the lowest common denominator.
Body Snatcher state, which is the state of every single country inhabited by Euro-origin people, operates by a different principle, though applied with varying zeal. That principle, to quote Steve Sailer’s memorable insight, is for the right tail of the IQ Bell Curve to use the left tail to wage war on the middle.
It’s not the extreme right tail, the +4 sigmas, not our Galileos and Haydns who are waging this war, but the +2 sigmas. It’s the faculty of Harvard, Stanford and Oxford, and the editors of the grandest news media, and top business tycoons like George Soros and Maurice Strong, and high-IQ politicians like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Al Gore, Giscard d'Estaing, Barack Obama.
The middle is you and I. The left tail is the willfully underachieving “minorities-of-color,” white yobs at the public trough, and crowds of recidivist criminals going through the revolving door of Body Snatcher justice. The right tail ruling elite is doing what it can to lengthen this tail through an out-of-control immigration of the primitive and the uneducated.
The future of the West could be brilliant, not in the least involving serving coffee to piano-playing Chinese engineers. But for that, we have to realize that what the Chinese really are doing is not piano-playing but eugenics.
They are doing eugenics through Western culture and by breeding the smart to the smart or rich. We are doing our reverse eugenics through MTV and rap, debased popular culture and watered-down education. We are doing positive eugenics by breeding the beautiful to the handsome, and the fast to the strong, but that can only produce a population of more graceful coffee servers.
To reverse the direction of the West’s down-escalator, Body Snatchers state’s war against the middle of its subjects’ IQ bell curve must cease. The right tail has to stop using the left tail to flail the middle with.
Universal “human rights” must recede before “local peoples’ rights.” Reverse racism and sexism must stop, to allow the best to rise and the less good to sink to their relative level of incompetence. Dumbing down public education must stop, for giving a proper take-off field to the pool from which the 120+ and the 160+ IQs arise is far more important than preserving the self-esteem, racial pride, or loose discipline of those who do not make it to the right side of the IQ mean.
The gushing stream of the primitive and the uneducable from the Third World to the First should be dammed, impenetrably. Resources ought to be spent to give the best possible education to the indigenous, rather than providing an expensive sham palace for footbaths, hot meals, and multiculti pap to anyone who makes it past the border gate.
Freedom must come back, for the freedom to be unequal is far more important than maintaining a fraudulent façade of the equality of unequals. Justice must come back. Not as ‘social justice’ but as impartial laws applied to individuals irrespective of their group affiliation, favored “victim” or otherwise.
But that’s still not enough. What will be missing is SDG. The Western intellectual elite has lost its awe of the universe and of the superior, what we call “divine,” intelligence permeating it. Instead of working to glorify the creation of that intelligence, they work to obtain commissions from government commissions.
One can understand the disdain particularly gifted people have for organized religion and its grooves meant to guide the average flock. But Mozart and Beethoven, Newton and Einstein, Jefferson and Franklin were freethinkers, immune to conventional religiosity, but still permeated by the SDG spirit.
God does not play dice with the universe. But even a genius, as long as he went through 12 years of Body Snatcher education in his youth, will have lost his love and reverence for something higher than himself.
Even a big Supersmart Fraction will not help, if the smarts are not linked to goodness and wisdom. Both goodness and wisdom can be obtained through the contemplation of Soli deo Gloria, and by a humble retreat from the “progressive” chute that leads in one direction only: coffee-making for the Chinese.
The West now has many more smart people than it used to, but far fewer wise ones. Wisdom lies in regressing to the past. To the Bible, the Greeks and the Romans, the old aphorisms and the 160+ IQ people, not the 120+ IQ people. As Charles Murray has put it, those with superior intelligence need to learn to be wise.
The Gift of Redemption
A bell curve society is not enough, however wise and virtuous the smart ruling elite may be. Hope is important. Opportunity is important. Encouragement and empathy are important. The left-tails of IQ and talent distributions should not be cut off as though at the hips, and forgotten.
If I had the opportunity to counsel a person of lesser intellectual potential, domestic or imported but earnestly yearning to better his lot in life, this is what I would say in the context of China’s piano-playing tsunami, though it can serve as a metaphor for the larger context:
You may be just a minor cabinetmaker in a small, dinky shop. Your alcoholic father beat you when you were young, and your native lower-class culture discouraged education.
You will never be invited to the emperor’s gilded chambers like Mozart was. Beautiful women will not faint upon your entrance, as they did upon Liszt’s. Your name will vanish forever a few years after you are dead.
You have no chance of being equal. Don’t let Body Snatchers propaganda fool you. Forget the self-esteem crap they teach you in school.
Even if you had the means to buy yourself a piano and give up your saws and chisels for the practice of music, even if you used your minority status to gain admittance to a prestigious conservatory under Body Snatcher rules, even if you practiced 12 hours a day, you will never be Mozart’s equal. And that’s not because of the mystery of his genius.
For Mozart was the son of a great musician and the brother of a great musician, and the grandson, on his mother’s side, of a talented amateur musician. And Clara Schumann, a giant among virtuoso pianists, was not only the wife of the composer Robert Schumann and the great love of composer Johannes Brahms, but also the daughter of Friedrich Wieck, perhaps the best piano teacher of the 19th century. And Beethoven was the son and grandson of professional musicians. And there were at least 60 individuals surnamed Bach in the annals of Western music.
And it’s no different in our times. Krystian Zimerman is the son of musicians. Yo-yo Ma is the son of musicians. Ennio Morricone, a living legend, is the son of a trumpet player. But he also honed his native talent – as have all the others-- by decades of arduous study and journeyman work.
But with all the opportunities given, and with all your hard work, you still cannot be equal -- because your genes are not equal. You were not born a blank slate; banish Body Snatchers’ lying promises. They are lying to flatter you so that you vote for them, or to sell you stuff you don’t need.
Life is unfair. It cannot be made fair by reengineering society, which is the Body Snatchers’ sacred project. It cannot be made fair by giving everyone a subhonest mortgage loan and putting a flat-panel import TV in every parlor. Both the left and what passes for the right lie about this.
If I go along with the government’s scheme to redistribute my earnings to you, will you give me a piece of your chiseled cheekbones in return? Cheekbones, talent, charisma are all distributed “unfairly,” you know, and they are as good as money in the bank.
It’s Western Civilization that’s God’s equalizing gift. If you play Mozart’s music in your shop, you will make better cabinets. Even cows yield better milk with Mozart. So, first, chuck all those rap CDs. Forget about the stupid Associate degree the Snatchers will give you if you just enroll in their stupid Multicultural Studies program at their stupid Community College.
Make cabinets. But make them the way JS Bach composed music: SDG. Laborare est orare – to labor is to pray. And pipe in a bit of Bach or Schubert while you are working, for that will put you in touch with a higher power, a power that will infuse you.
If you are more sensitive to the play of space than the play of time, buy a wall calendar with the twelve most magnificent medieval cathedrals of Europe. Contemplate those pictures daily.
In time, you will have become the best cabinetmaker in town. You will make so much money that you will be able to hire a chamber orchestra for your daughter’s wedding.
And that daughter will have spent her childhood helping you in tidying up your workshop at the end of the day. While Bach is on your portable CD player. And her son will get started on the violin when he is four years old, which will help him in becoming a successful engineer.
By then, your seed will be in the pool of potential equals. And a hundred years later, perhaps a Mozart or a Galileo bearing your surname may be born.
You are standing at the threshold of a magnificent cathedral, the edifice of Western Culture. Much of it was built SDG, for a glory greater than man’s glory. Even the side chapel of its science was built with a sense of that glory, and awe.
It’s a capacious edifice too. It will take you in no matter where you live, no matter your race, religion or social background. It will reward you and your heirs a thousand times over, if you love it sincerely. But if you are foreign-born and live in the West, leave your other baggage outside, and enter in a spirit of reverence and humility.
Remember this at Christmas.
(1) The basic analogy reverts to Part 1, where we cited the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In the film, alien “Body Snatchers” produce giant legume Pods that replace living people while appearing to be identical to them. From the Pods develop the new Body Snatchers who cultivate further Pods etc. I use these terms interchangeably, usually preferring Pods as a catchall term, and Antipod as the antithesis of Pod.
(2) To visualize it, go here, scroll to the middle of the article and see a narrow-bottomed red IQ bell distribution of East Asians superimposed over the blue, broad-bottomed Whites’ IQ bell.
(4) Highly multicultural and diverse genius too, before there was “multicultural” and “diverse.” The Third Man is the work of a great English writer, Graham Greene, and a great English director, Carol Reed, some great British, Austrian, American and Italian actors, an American polymath genius, Orson Welles, a near-genius Australian cameraman, Robert Krasker, a Yugoslav-German giant among editors, Oswald Hafenrichter, an unforgettable Viennese musician, Anton Karas, and arguably the two greatest film producers in history, the American-Jewish David O. Selznick, and the Hungarian-British-Jewish Alexander Korda.
(5) These names are taken from popular sources, e.g. http://www.kids-iq-tests.com/famous2.html and their connection to genius-level IQ is by now a truism. However, there is no explanation I could find as to why it’s possible to estimate Plato’s IQ, but not Aristotle’s; Alexander Pope’s but not Shakespeare’s. Clearly some dozens more Western greats belong in this Pantheon.
From Meccania to Atlantis - Part 4½: Darkness in the Cranium, 14 December 2008.