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Culture War Roundup for the week of May 13, 2024

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I have a somewhat alternate theory to the standard HBD concept, one that may not be original but I haven't seen before, although I haven't delved the HBD forums much.

The standard HBD argument is that different races have different IQs, and that is the primary factor leads to all sorts of different outcomes. Instead of IQ causing so many differences, which I think might be true but is a lesser factor, I think different races are domesticated to different degrees. I read the book The Goodness Paradox about a year ago, and it was about how while humans kill each other in vastly larger scales than any other animal, we're also much less likely to try to tear each other's faces off in the woods than any other animal. The author first divides violence into two categories: reactive and pre-mediated. Sometimes violence is pre-planned and calculated, like a sniper watching carefully for the moment to take the shot. Other violence is reactive, like someone punches you or even just insults your mother and you hit back before you even think. The author presents a simple answer: That there is a relatively straightforward evolutionary process through which animals are domesticated, and domestication leads to much lower rates of reactive violence. The mechanism is that the animal is essentially forever childlike mentally. But not just mentally, also physically; that's why dogs look like wolf cubs, and domesticated foxes have converged on similar traits like floppy ears.

I think black people are similar, in that they are a more "adult" human. They tend to be physically bigger and stronger. I often see black women called masculine, and that is the explanation for why they're less attractive and do worse on dating apps- but I think it makes more sense to call them more adult(whatever the opposite of neotony is). Black women are well known for large secondary sexual characterics like big ass and breasts, that's hardly masculine. And east Asian women by contrast, a race widely considered more on the high end of genetics by HBDers, tend to be more neotonous, with smaller secondary characteristics and young looking faces. And their men tend to be smaller and less physically strong. So I think it's quite plausible that that domestication mechanism, while probably not the sole factor, is a sizeable one in making black people have such higher rates of crime and east asians such lower rates of crime.

I think you're actually wrong there- whites are on average more physically imposing and have more facial hair, musculature, etc. I think you're also grossly oversimplifying the domestication process; the gene most associated with domestication is a thing that occasionally occurs in humans and causes williams syndrome, a rare developmental disorder. Insofar as animal intelligence can be measured, dogs are dumber than wolves, cattle and sheep are dumber than aurochs and mouflon, etc, etc- the opposite of whites and asians vs blacks.

Whites and Asians having more domesticated traits also needs a causative mechanism which doesn't run into obvious flaws- eg complex civilization as a domesticating force doesn't account for the middle east today.

Selection pressures on humans within historic times are interesting to talk about. But, I think domestication is definitely the wrong approach.

This is an area where I think it's also useful to start reading thoughts from other perspectives entirely?

Have you ever read Wolf Totem? It's a novel by a Chinese author, Lu Jiamin, who spent some time in Inner Mongolia, and he has a theory that Han Chinese people are 'domesticated' - he calls them Dragon Totem people - and as a result have been outcompeted and brutalised by wild steppe people and their descendants, which he calls Wolf Totem people. Notably he sees Europeans as Wolf people, and as the descendants of the steppe.

Here are a few passages to give you the impression:

“In world history,” Chen continued the thought, “nomads have been the only Easterners capable of taking the fight to the Europeans, and the three peoples that really shook the West to its foundations were the Huns, the Turks, and the Mongols. The Westerners who fought their way back to the East were all descendants of nomads. The builders of ancient Rome were a pair of brothers raised by a wolf. Images of the wolf and her two wolf-children appear on the city’s emblem even today. The later Teutons, Germans, and Anglo-Saxons grew increasingly powerful, and the blood of wolves ran in their veins. The Chinese, with their weak dispositions, are in desperate need of a transfusion of that vigorous, unrestrained blood. Had there been no wolves, the history of the world would have been written much differently. If you don’t know wolves, you can’t understand the spirit and character of the nomads, and you’ll certainly never be able to appreciate the differences between nomads and farmers or the inherent qualities of each.”


Chen, mesmerized by the sight, was deep in thought. “We’ll have to study him closely,” he said finally. “There’s a lot we can learn from this. Our dog pen is a microcosm of world history. I’m reminded of something Lu Xun once wrote. He said that Westerners are brutish, while we Chinese are domesticated.”

Chen pointed to the cub. “There’s your brute.” Then he pointed to the pups. “And there’s your domestication. For the most part, Westerners are descendants of barbarian, nomadic tribes such as the Teutons and the Anglo-Saxons. They burst out of the primeval forest like wild animals after a couple of thousand years of Greek and Roman civilization, and sacked ancient Rome. They eat steak, cheese, and butter with knives and forks, which is how they’ve retained more primitive wildness than the traditional farming races. Over the past hundred years, domesticated China has been bullied by the brutish West. It’s not surprising that for thousands of years the Chinese colossus has been spectacularly pummeled by tiny nomadic peoples.”

Chen rubbed the cub’s head and continued. “Temperament not only determines the fate of a man but also determines the fate of an entire race. Farming people are domesticated, and faintheartedness has sealed their fate. The world’s four great civilizations were agrarian nations, and three of them died out. The fourth, China, escaped that fate only because two of the greatest rivers—the Yellow and the Yangtze—run through her territory. She also boasts the world’s largest population, making it hard for other nations to nibble away at her or absorb her, but maybe also because of the contributions of the nomadic peoples of the grassland... I haven’t satisfactorily thought out this relationship, but the more time I spend on the grassland—and it’s already been two years—the more complex I think it is.”


Chen sighed. “The way I see it, the most advanced people today are descendants of nomadic races. They drink milk, eat cheese and steak, weave clothing from wool, lay sod, raise dogs, fight bulls, race horses, and compete in athletics. They cherish freedom and popular elections, and they have respect for their women, all traditions and habits passed down by their nomadic ancestors. Not only did they inherit their courage, their militancy, their tenacity, and their need to forge ahead from their nomadic forebears, but they continue to improve on those characteristics. People say you can tell what a person will grow up to be at the age of three and what he’ll look like in old age at seven. The same holds true for a race of people. In the West, primitive nomadic life was their childhood, and if we look at primitive nomads now, we are given access to Westerners at three and at seven, their childhood, and if we take this further, we get a clear understanding of why they occupy a high position. Learning their progressive skills isn’t hard. China launched its own satellite, didn’t it? What’s hard to learn are the militancy and aggressiveness, the courage and willingness to take risks that flow in nomadic veins.”

“Since I’ve been herding horses,” Zhang said, “I’ve felt the differences in temperament between the Chinese and the Mongols. Back in school I was at the top in just about everything, but out here I’m weak as a kitten. I did everything I could think of to make myself strong, and now I find that there’s something lacking in us...”

Chen sighed again. “That’s it exactly!” he said. “China’s small-scale peasant economy cannot tolerate competitive peaceful labor. Our Confucian guiding principle is emperor to minister, father to son, a top-down philosophy, stressing seniority, unconditional obedience, eradicating competition through autocratic power, all in the name of preserving imperial authority and peaceful agriculture. In both an existential and an awareness sense, China’s small-scale peasant economy and Confucian culture have weakened the people’s nature, and even though the Chinese created a brilliant ancient civilization, it came about at the cost of the race’s character and has led to the sacrifice of our ability to develop. When world history moved beyond the rudimentary stage of agrarian civilization, China was fated to fall behind. But we’re lucky, we’ve been given the opportunity to witness the last stages of nomadic existence on the Mongolian grassland, and, who knows, we might even discover the secret that has led to the rise in prominence of Western races.”

Now as a historical theory, there's a lot here that's doubtful - the proposed genetic link seems weak, Han are genetically closer to Mongols than Europeans are, at times he can't seem to decide on the racial associations (are the Romans weak decadents sacked by the Wolf people, or were the Romans Wolf people themselves?), and some reckoning with the fact that the Chinese have spent centuries kicking steppe peoples around seems necessary - but I think it's at least interesting as a window into how this sort of thing looks from another angle.

That is, here we have people immediately concluding that whites and Asians are both in the 'domesticated', Dragon category, but here's a Chinese voice utterly convinced that whites in the wild barbarian Wolf category.

I think it's also worth looking at theories in this in the context of trying to answer particular questions. Lu is writing in the context of the long Chinese tradition of wondering how the West outpaced them and how the Century of Humiliation happened. As late as the 18th century, there was still a case to be made that China was the most powerful and prosperous nation on the planet, and then in barely a century the Europeans comprehensively embarrassed, defeated, and exploited them, and even today the Chinese still struggle to understand how that happened and what to do about it. Lu's Dragon/Wolf, Farmer/Nomad distinction is an attempt to explain what's different about Europe and China on the macrohistorical level (and consequently places like Africa just don't rate a mention at all).

By contrast, when Westerners come up with theories about race and domestication and so on, they are trying to answer different questions. They perceive a different problem in front of them, which requires explanation. What's the mystery that is supposed to be solved?

I prefer my racial esoterica to revolve around Atlantis and the tower of babbel, but that was legitimately interesting

That was a beautiful and erudite post. Thank you for sharing.

As late as the 18th century, there was still a case to be made that China was the most powerful and prosperous nation on the planet

I believe that, excepting nuclear weapons, China is currently the most powerful nation on the planet. It's true that the western nations are in general more creative but this is offset by China's higher population, higher IQ, and higher diligence. In 2024, China produces most of the things that matter.

So, if China was ahead before, and they are ahead now, what happened in the meantime?

My answer: The Industrial Revolution was unique. Productivity increased at an extremely high pace for 200 years. In this brief, high-growth environment Western creativity dominated over Chinese diligence. But this period of history appears to have ended. Growth has slowed in the West, allowing China to catch and even surpass the West in many key areas.

Caveat: AI is a major wildcard.

I guess part of my point is that it seems to be that the traits we assign to each group are heavily influenced by the location wer'e starting from and the particular questions we want answered. The top-level comment here is interested in black-white relations, so the dynamic he zeroes in on is mature/neotenous, with wild/domesticated as a secondary factor. Lu Jiamin is interested in Chinese/European relations, so he focuses on a different dynamic - wild/tame, or steppe/agrarian, or something else entirely. It's also, I think, very noticeable which qualities of different groups he thinks are revealing. Diet appears to be important to Lu, but I don't notice any of the Western HBD types mentioning diet. Presumably diet comes into it because his binary is to do with agrarians (eating grains, weaving clothes from plant fibers, etc.) with nomads, hunters, and pastoralists (eating meat and dairy, wearing clothes made from fur and wool, etc.), but it also seems like for him diet is one facet of a broader lifestyle that also involves political and cultural practices (e.g. women's rights, parliamentary democracy), and for that matter economics. He thinks that a free market and a competition of equals is paradigmatic of the Wolf peoples, whereas Chinese communism, implicitly, is another form of the 'Dragon King' to which the Chinese people bow. The stereotypically Chinese/Dragon way is to have a tremendously powerful central authority that coordinates all economic and social activity, on a strict hierarchical lines, and to which the people meekly submit - the CCP is structurally the same as the emperor.

This seems especially interesting to me because Lu doesn't try to reduce it to a single factor, like genetics or descent. I notice in the top-level comment here (and in the usual comments of our local racialists) a very reductive approach, trying to find the one controlling factor. For Lu, it seems to be a complex - genetics play a role, but so does culture, education, political structure, economic structure, and so on. Thus Lu maintains some hope that it might be possible to teach the Chinese to understand or respect wolves (indeed one of the central themes of the novel is a lament for the dying grassland), to teach them to preserve the grasslands they are destroying, to discover the secret of the West, and form a kind of hybrid. There is a kind of fusion. By the end of the story, the wolf cub that Chen Zhen has raised dies, and they skin the wolf's pelt and tie it to a pole, like a flag:

A fierce northwestern wind sent the cub’s pelt soaring, combing through his battle garb and making him appear to be dressed formally for a banquet in heaven. Pale smoke rising from the yurt’s chimney wafted under the pelt, making it seem as if the cub were riding the clouds, roiling and dancing freely and happily in the misty smoke. At that moment, there was no chain around his neck and no narrow, confining prison under his feet.

Chen’s vacant gaze followed the impish, lifelike figure of the cub’s pelt as it danced in the wind; it was the undying outer shell the cub had left behind, but the beautiful and commanding figure seemed to still contain his free and unyielding spirit. Suddenly, the long, tubular body and bushy tail rolled a few times like a flying dragon, soaring in the swirling snow and drifting clouds. The wind howled and the white hair flew. The cub, like a golden flying dragon, rode the clouds and mist, traveling on snow and wind, soaring happily toward Tengger, to the star Sirius, to the free universe in space, to the place where all the souls of Mongolian wolves that had died in battles over the millennia congregated.

At that instant, Chen Zhen believed he saw his very own wolf totem.

By the end, the wolf has become a dragon, soaring through the air towards heaven, and Chen, one of the dragon people, has found his own wolf's soul.

(And then the grasslands are destroyed, because the Chinese government is terrible, and both the wild wolves of the region and the last nomadic herders die out. Boo!)

So there's something more to it than just under-resourced speculations about population genetics. (Indeed, the genetic part is one of the weakest parts of Wolf Totem, and can feel like a self-hating Chinese person's recapitulation of some kind of Aryan thesis.) There's more than one factor here - there are chances to learn.