Quote notes (#69)

Ron Unz, roughly this time last year in The (since sadly decayed) American Conservative:

Western intellectual life a century ago was quite different from that of today, with contrary doctrines and taboos, and the spirit of that age certainly held sway over its leading figures. Racialism — the notion that different peoples tend to have different innate traits, as largely fashioned by their particular histories — was dominant then, so much so that the notion was almost universally held and applied, sometimes in rather crude fashion, to both European and non-European populations.

With regard to the Chinese, the widespread view was that many of their prominent characteristics had been shaped by thousands of years of history in a generally stable and organized society possessing central political administration, a situation almost unique among the peoples of the world. In effect, despite temporary periods of political fragmentation, East Asia’s own Roman Empire had never fallen, and a thousand-year interregnum of barbarism, economic collapse, and technological backwardness had been avoided.

On the less fortunate side, the enormous population growth of recent centuries had gradually caught up with and overtaken China’s exceptionally efficient agricultural system, reducing the lives of most Chinese to the brink of Malthusian starvation; and these pressures and constraints were believed to be reflected in the Chinese people. For example, Stoddard wrote:

“Winnowed by ages of grim elimination in a land populated to the uttermost limits of subsistence, the Chinese race is selected as no other for survival under the fiercest conditions of economic stress. At home the average Chinese lives his whole life literally within a hand’s breadth of starvation. Accordingly, when removed to the easier environment of other lands, the Chinaman brings with him a working capacity which simply appalls his competitors.” — Stoddard (1921) p. 28.

Stoddard backed these riveting phrases with a wide selection of detailed and descriptive quotations from prominent observers, both Western and Chinese. Although Ross was more cautiously empirical in his observations and less literary in his style, his analysis was quite similar, with his book on the Chinese containing over 40 pages describing the grim and gripping details of daily survival, provided under the evocative chapter-heading “The Struggle for Existence in China.”

That’s Lothrop Stoddard, of course. Wherever The American Conservative was heading then, it quite obviously isn’t heading there any longer.

March 30, 2014admin 31 Comments »
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31 Responses to this entry

  • Handle Says:

    This is the logic of perpetual immigration. It seems almost Marxist in the ‘self-destructive cycles of Capital seeking foreign markets’ manner.

    1. To work hard for meager compensation, someone must be born and raised in circumstances within a hand’s breadth of starvation.
    2. But we have made ourselves rich and achieved the goal of ensuring that no one here is raised within a hand’s breadth of starvation.
    3. But that means none of our nation’s children will work hard for meager compensation! That work ethic cannot be taught at school, it must be lived in one’s formative years.
    4. But there is plenty of that near-starvation abroad, with peasants who were harshly trained by impoverished circumstances to work hard for peanuts.
    5. So we will import them here, to make them our Helots.
    6. But then their children will grow up in our rich system, beneficiaries of the apparatus that ensures no one will grow up within a hand’s breadth of starvation.
    7. So we must go on importing, generation after generation.

    Alas, the children of helots, who are not fit for anything other than helot work, when brought up without the requisite hard-life-trained work ethic to conduct that helot work, tend to participate in … less socially optimal behavior patterns. The population fraction consisting of ruined-helots and the magnitude of the challenge of dealing with the resulting consequences, therefore, is destined to increase.

    [Reply]

    MW Reply:

    “This is the logic of perpetual immigration. It seems almost Marxist in the ‘self-destructive cycles of Capital seeking foreign markets’ manner.”

    It is Marxist — almost textbook — which is why it’s crazy that leftists all seem to be wildly in favor of it, but then again they lost their class struggle edge years ago.

    [Reply]

    VXXC Reply:

    @Handle,

    I agree completely just not as convincingly as you. Especially on the children of Helots.

    That is the most convincing and cogent, pithy argument I’ve ever read and I’m stealing it.

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 at 2:45 pm Reply | Quote
  • Henry Dampier Says:

    Let me contradict you: it can be taught through special measures. That is what boarding school and expectations of military service can help to inculcate (but not in a guaranteed way). Also the entire older ethic of youth sports was arranged around developing boys into well-rounded men. Today the objective of sports is to provide entertaining inventory to advertise against.

    If you raise rich kids as rich kids, you get Rich Kids of Instagram. If you take it seriously, on the other hand, you get a class of people who go conquer more than half of the world’s territory.

    Also, even in Stoddard’s day, a horde of workers is not as important as the engineers who develop the machines. A horde of workers is also not very useful if they revolt regularly and you need to hire Pinkertons to spy on them and/or kill them when they become unruly.

    It is hard to argue against mass importation of helots in a country founded by heretics, convicts, indentures, and other assorted cast-offs.

    Democracy is the key difference here, really. Under an aristocratic system, the superior classes have incentives to improve the long term value of their charges. Because they have at least partial ownership stakes in them and the land that they live upon.

    Under democracy, no one really owns anything for very long, so the incentive is to rape as much as you can until you are knocked off your perch. Your property rights themselves are highly perishable, and this is one of the main things de Tocqueville remarked upon — America’s early anti-inheritance laws, which have mutated considerably to perform similar functions today in rather different ways.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    No. ‘Work Ethic’ is context-dependent. There is no lack of work ethic at reasonable high levels of society, plenty of managers in private firms and even in government are driven and ambitious workaholics, often admirable, but sometimes almost pathological. At the top, the competition is fierce, and the striving for money and status intense.

    The problem is at the bottom. Teaching people do be voluntarily willing to work hard for peanuts doing low-skill, mind-numbing, back-breaking manual labor, without any ‘higher’ social purpose than mere economic production of low-status commodities (so, not the military), especially when there’s an alternative path to subsistence available, is something that can’t be don’t through anything less than Orwellian levels of brainwashing.

    It requires people being brought up in a desperate situation where they felt the chill on their back of the ever-nearby icy fingers of destitution, watched friends and neighbors occasionally fail, and where there was no other choice but to struggle constantly to survive.

    Sure, we could do a much better job at trying to encourage people to respect the dignity of labor and so forth, but even if this was done as optimally as possible, you’d still need to offer a much larger economic incentive to a native-born, public-benefits-accessible individual to do that kind of work for low pay.

    And anyway, we need neither immigration nor obnoxious levels of indoctrination, because the alternative is for employers to simply participate in the domestic labor market and properly bid for native labor at whatever rates are necessary to attract it, instead of perpetually trying to escape those higher wages by finding foreign peasants bred in near-starvation conditions in hell-hole countries to be willing for work for very little and the chance to raise their kids in a better country.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    The classic liberal endgame is around 2040, where the number of working people in the world starts tapering off. Then, wages rise for everyone, everywhere. There will be no low wage high productivity place left. It may be too late for the current generation in the developed world, but history need not operate on human time-scales.

    Also, that is only an indicator of the world super structure being insufficiently techno-commercial. In any sane version of today’s reality, singapore and hong kong would be expanding, creating burb-claves all around the world, in various stages of development with structures in place for all sorts of relocation. Even GE and Google would have created their own cities. Rapidly, almost every genetic legacy that can produce good workers would be identified and they would all be working.

    [Reply]

    5371 Reply:

    You must expect a collapse in the birth rate worldwide by 2020, if you yourself understand what you said. Can you argue for one?

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    @5371,

    The time i wanted to refer to is 2055.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/09/20/business/World-Population-Could-Peak-by-2055.html?_r=0

    I don’t know why I remembered it as 2040. My mistake.

    Anomaly UK Reply:

    I think it’s significant the degree to which 19th-century education systems (which we still have) are set up to prepare the masses for easily-supervised factory work. The median worker comes out of school accustomed to the idea that he must work while a supervisor is watching him. Fewer and fewer jobs are actually suitable for a worker with this training.

    [Reply]

    RiverC Reply:

    Not to mention that the strictness that a school must have to inculcate this level of obedience is unsustainable in our current milieu. They can’t paddle the boys, so there’s no way to break them of certain tendencies. The factory model (borrowed from India) is also bad in a democratic system, because you won’t get long-term support for segregating people in and out of the factory schools according to ability. We’ve always had magnet schools to deal with this problem, but the format itself is maddening for boys of a decent level of intelligence, and even the magnet schools tend to just be higher quality factories (with ‘professors’ instead of ‘teachers’ or ‘instructors’)

    As Blasio has shown in these recent months, the inevitable socialists will not brook young talent rising above the mass. The only possible redemption would be if at least the factory schools were decent factory schools, but they’re not.

    I never get tired of writing poems about ruin.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    I never get tired of writing poems about ruin.

    Now there’s a T-shirt slogan for ya.

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 at 2:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    we need neither immigration nor obnoxious levels of indoctrination, because the alternative is for employers to simply participate in the domestic labor market and properly bid for native labor at whatever rates are necessary to attract it, instead of perpetually trying to escape those higher wages by finding foreign peasants bred in near-starvation conditions in hell-hole countries to be willing for work for very little and the chance to raise their kids in a better country.

    Hard to say it better.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    In addition, as Mark Krikorian and Ron Unz point out repeatedly, labor shortages are what create the incentives for labor-saving / productivity-enhancing capital innovation and automation. If there aren’t enough docile peasants to pick your strawberries and corn, we can invent robots to do it instead.

    Labor costs is the problem capitalists are trying to solve. It is wise to constrain and channel capitalist energies so that the tournament for profit motivated their efforts to be made in the direction of invention and innovation, which benefits everyone in the long-run.

    If capitalists can instead seek an alternative source of cheap labor, then they’ll spend their money and energy on rent-seeking and bribing the legislature and brainwashing the masses to let them solve the problem that way, which is socially deleterious and parasitical, instead of in socially constructive way.

    When there is plenty of room for further labor-saving innovation, and the escape-hatch of outsourcing and immigration is made unavailable, there is practically no downside to making the labor market at tight and well-compensated as possible.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    If anything seems almost Marxist it’s this… the complaint of outsourcing beyond the existing workforce is one of the main reasons unions exist.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Too bad they sold out on that purpose a long time ago.

    fotrkd Reply:

    @ Handle

    …So your solution is to make the nation the union and, what – ban all companies from outsourcing to foreign countries? Add in curtailed immigration to decrease supply/drive up minimum wages and you have all the ingredients of a non-competitive economy. Depending on your intentions, it may not be such a bad idea…

    Handle Reply:

    @fotrkd:

    You don’t have to ban anything. One solution is annually balanced free trade, enforced through the use of Import Certificates.

    So, an example. Let’s say a company makes widgets domestically, and for the domestic market, and pays its labor force $10 an hour. It takes an hour of labor and $90 of capital to make a widget, and they sell for $100. The company can outsource the factory and pay Chinese laborers $2 an hour, and now try to import and sell the widgets for $92.

    But now, in order to do so, for each widget they wish to sell, they must buy enough Import Certificates to permit the importation of $92 worth of merchandise. If the going rate is more than 8/92, it’s not worth it to outsource. If it’s less, then that still means you had to generate at least $84 more in additional domestic production destined for export, and subsidize it with the cost of the import certificate, which the domestic government redistributes in a manner designed to compensate the losers of the outsourcing, which would usually take the form of wage supports to achieve full employment – like EITC.

    So, trading partners need not build up foreign debts through massive and even-expanding trade and current account deficits, and they can both achieve full employment while concentrating on their comparative advantages. Trade is still common, but the advantage much be significant instead of marginal Furthermore, it becomes futile for countries to try and play exchange rate manipulation games, or debase their currencies in an attempt to beggar their neighbors, because no matter what they do, trade must still be balanced.

    fotrkd Reply:

    @ Handle

    Fair enough. Still sounds like scary Red tape to me, but I’m not looking for US-sized solutions.

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 at 3:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    The inhabitants of the Orkney Islands helped develop Canada. The wilderness in the West was treacherous, but much better than living on sand blasted rocks.

    Re: work ethic. I don’t see why this can’t be solved by raising children properly. The Chinese have a saying, “Wealth does not pass the third generation.” That isn’t true for all families though.

    The other half is getting rid of the ideology of free trade. Capital loves to arbitrage the near starvation hard working peasant in the basket case nation with the law and order of the wealthy developed economy.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    >Capital loves to arbitrage the near starvation hard working peasant in the basket case nation with the law and order of the wealthy developed economy.

    That is precisely Romer’s case for charter cities. Allow the creation of charter cities and soon, there will be no hard working peasants left in any basket case nation. They would have all left for the charter cities.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 at 3:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • Igitur Says:

    Unrelated. Despite the name, more like a decentralized trust/reputation system.

    http://digitalinterface.blogspot.com/2014/03/strangecoin-proposal-for-nonlinear.html

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 at 7:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Porphy's Attorney Says:

    [Reply]MW Reply:March 30th, 2014 at 5:10 pm“This is the logic of perpetual immigration. It seems almost Marxist in the ‘self-destructive cycles of Capital seeking foreign markets’ manner.”
    It is Marxist — almost textbook — which is why it’s crazy that leftists all seem to be wildly in favor of it, but then again they lost their class struggle edge years ago.
    [Reply]

    It’s not crazy when you think about it that way. Well, ok, it’s crazy. But it follows the crazy-logic of Leftism.

    Western proles were not operating within the parameters of the theory.

    The theory has to be right, though.

    Get a new basis (flip Orthodoxy and focus on culture – the Multicult is born). Get a better (from the standpoint of left theoretics) set of proles. A more loyal Vote Bank to replace the one that had betrayed the Brahmans who, after all, only care about their wel – er, ok since they’re kulaks now, we don’t actually give a feck about them anymore, demonize the Western proles and import a Cape to pedistalize and fetishize, which will be loyal (or at least loyal enough), not to the states they are imported to, but as vote banks for the Cause.

    Until it all implodes horribly, but leftists are leftists because they do not believe progressivism implodes. They believe it is the One True Path to the sunlit uplands of a Better Future for All (well, all except those who have to be paved over in the building of the path).

    [Reply]

    MW Reply:

    Right, and I remember reading somewhere about how Grievance Studies mostly developed as a reaction to the failure of Western proles to usher in #fullcommunism — need a new revolutionary subject (i.e. the student, black people, postcolonials, women, queers, etc.) — so it makes sense that brain-dead lefties would want to totally destroy the American worker to make him more malleable to whatever designs they have. I doubt most of them are really conscious of what they’re doing.

    [Reply]

    RiverC Reply:

    This suggests however, they will create a race of Uberantiprogressives, survivalistic, hard headed, traditional, aegalitarian (having no specific preferences for social equality) vigilantistic, and ultra-industrious.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 31st, 2014 at 4:13 am Reply | Quote
  • The Logic of Perpetual Immigration | Junior Ganymede Says:

    […] the proprietor of the Handle’s Haus […]

    Posted on March 31st, 2014 at 11:33 am Reply | Quote
  • Alat Says:

    Seeing the Stoddard quote, I can’t resist transcribing a passage from another observer, Arthur Diosy, founder of the British “Japan Society”, in the fourth edition (1904) of his The New Far East (a very interesting book, by the way). The quote is long but good:

    Were we mindful only of our own interests; did not philanthropy, which knows no distinction of race, or of nationality, fill the hearts of some of us; did greed, lusting after the fortunes to be made out of an awakened China, not animate others; did these opposite feelings not combine to sway the minds of many more, we should fervently pray that the Celestial Empire might continue in its lethargic slumber for evermore. Once the many millions of China call in the hitherto despised aid of Western science, they will not for long be content to employ it chiefly for the benefit of the Occident.

    The busy factories, such as the one Kubota has prophetically depicted, where docile, intelligent Chinese will work in swarms, for fifteen hours out of the twenty-four, under this skilled guidance of Occidentals, will, in due course, be succeeded by similar establishments conducted, on their own account, by scientifically – trained Chinese. Imagination falters at the contemplation of the prospect. What chance will the workers of the Occident, striving daily to do less work for higher wages, have against the teeming millions of Chinese, sober, docile, marvellously thrifty, intelligent and skilful, working, unremittingly and cheerfully, for pay that would keep them in comfort, but on which no Occidental could live ?

    […]

    Here is food for reflection for the Occidental industrial classes, high and low, especially for those who contribute their labour. If a correct appreciation of the industrial possibilities of the New Far East – possibilities that will be probabilities next year, and certainties within this generation – could be brought home to the Occidental workers, Capital and Labour would, if not entirely bereft of reason, cease their internecine strife. Here is a question for our Socialists, of various shades, to consider. How do they propose, if any of their social systems be put into operation, to cope with the competition of the Yellow Multitudes, to whom Socialism is as naught ?

    [Reply]

    Grotto Reply:

    This is an amazing, facinating quote. The HBD-aware Sinosphere watchers of the early 1900’s seem like a rich vein of research for neoreaction to mine.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 1st, 2014 at 3:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Alat Says:

    Pages 337-339, I forgot to mention.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The Occidental deep-cultural structure of sinophobia-technophobia convergence is a special research interest of mine, for which that reference is a gold mine. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Alat Reply:

    Diosy is indeed a gold mine. There’s more of him in the relevant chapters of the first two volumes of The Book of History, a turn-of-the-century general history. There you’ll also find some interesting articles by Max von Brandt, founder of the German Ostasiatische Gesellschaft and top Wilhelmine German diplomat in the East, who wrote about China. The three volumes of Brandt’s memoirs of the east (“Dreiundreissige Jahren in Ostasien”) are waiting their turn in my reading list.

    Links to the two first volumes of the BoH follow.

    FIRST
    https://archive.org/stream/bookofhistoryhis01bryc#page/n13/mode/2up

    SECOND
    https://archive.org/stream/bookofhistoryhis02bryc#page/n9/mode/2up

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 1st, 2014 at 3:15 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Nothing good will happen with the current Prog elites, for they mean Harm.

    The system may be tinkered with all one likes, they’ll turn it to harm and profit from the harm. Indeed they’ll build businesses around the Harm.

    They.Gotta.Go.

    I like the import certificates however.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 3rd, 2014 at 12:59 am Reply | Quote

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