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Benoist on Feminism, IQ, & the Wealth of Nations 
Interview on the Human Sciences, Part 4

860 words

Part 4 of 4

Translated by Greg Johnson

Specialists in evolutionary psychology claim that there are important differences between the sexes, and that these were acquired during the evolution of the species. To what does the New Right appeal to support its “differentialist feminism”?

First to history. From the beginning, in Europe women were never considered mere objects. Male domination, on the other hand, has long been legitimated by Christian theology which, especially in the first centuries, presented women as defective beings and a “place of sin.” From the 19th century on, bourgeois society has constantly repressed feminine values. This is what justifies the demands of women.

But there are two forms of feminism: egalitarian feminism and identitarian feminism. The first thinks that the best means of ensuring the promotion of women is to work to gradually blur the distinction between masculine and feminine social roles. Women must be able to do “everything that men do,” but in this case it the male social role is implicitly taken as the model. The second, by contrast, holds that one can assert the equality of women only on the basis of their distinctness. The New Right supports the second tendency, represented in particular by Luce Irigaray, rather than the first, represented in particular by Simone de Beauvoir or Elisabeth Badinter.

For its part, evolutionary psychology shows that the differences between men and women go well beyond their sexual organs. In mankind, the brain itself is sexually dimorphic. Thus sex is not reduced to “gender,” to a social construction (as claimed in “gender studies,” which are characterized above all by their sterility and their extraordinary monotony). Sex is a biological reality on which multiple social constructions are grafted. Feminism is thus completely legitimate when it demands the recognition of the equal value of what is distinctly female and what is distinctly male. But equal value does not mean indistinctness.

In IQ and the Wealth of Nations (2002), Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen in a way answered Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, 1999). To the famous question of Yali: “Why do you whites have so much cargo and have come as far as New Guinea, while we blacks have so little cargo?” Lynn and Vanhanen could have answered, in substance: “Well, Yali, after having reviewed the results of IQ tests and economic indicators from some 81 countries around the world, we concluded that the intelligence of the population constitutes the principal factor determining national differences in economic development. We believe that intelligence is partly determined by environment, but that genetic differences actually explain most of the variation. The environmental factor that most influences the intelligence is the quality of food that fetuses and children receive from their mothers” (cf. Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen “National IQ and Economic Development: A Study of Eighty-One Nations,” The Mankind Quarterly, Summer 2000, 415–35). How would you answer Yali?

The “elites” are by definition always powerful in any political system. In the Soviet Union, they were in the service of the Communist party. In the regime of liberal globalization, they are in the service of capitalism. Thus it is not difficult today to establish a correlation between IQ and development. This correlation says nothing about the intrinsic desirability of the capitalist system or of the value of “development.”

The bond between intelligence, social prestige, and the accumulation of riches is not valid, however, for all societies: in many traditional societies, social position is evaluated by the volume of wealth that can be redistributed or destroyed.

Furthermore, the correlations established by Lynn and Vanhanen have the disadvantage of being rather static. Viewed from a historical and dynamic point of view, they become less convincing.

To take only one example, if Argentina today is an economic basket case, whereas in the 1930s it was one of the world’s top five economic powers, it is certainly not because the Argentinean IQ abruptly crumbled, but because their country suffered from the liberal policies adopted by their governments under the pressure of the World Bank and the IMF.

Conversely, if China is experiencing extraordinary economic growth today whereas for centuries she was not at all concerned about “development,” it is not because Chinese IQ has made a sudden leap.

Today, the 225 richest people in the world together have the equivalent of the annual income of the 2.5 billion poorest. The owners of the largest American firms take on average 475 times the average wages their employees, against 11 to 24 times for European owners. I doubt that IQ can justify such discrepancies or such positions.

What would I say to Yali? I would initially try to explain to him that the “cargo civilization,” which is rich in material things but is spiritually increasingly vacuous, does not make those who live there happy and is not necessarily an example to be followed. After that, I would ask him to teach me what he knows. I would ask him about his language, the origin of his people, their customs and traditions, their beliefs and myths, the way they conceive the world and their names for the stars. I would try to learn from him rather than give him lessons.


  1. Verlis
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    That’s an evasive and unconvincing answer, isn’t it? A real letdown to what, despite its brevity, was a very insightful interview.

    Has “cargo civilization” always been spiritually vacuous according to de Benoist? Even 1000 years ago it was still far materially richer than black civilization; was it spiritually vacuous back then, too? If so, it would seem that de Benoist believes productive values are by definition opposed to spiritual values. You can have production or spirituality; one or the other, but not both — certainly not both in full measure. No surprise, then, that he’d rather chat about the names of stars and swap recipes with Yali than just give him a straight answer. (Though it should be noted that the fact that de Benoist sounds so much like the average disingenuous multicultist here is actually more of an indictment of multicultists than it is of de Benoist.)

    That said, the interviewer’s suggested answer is unnecessarily convoluted. “Whites have more because whites produce more. Whites produce more because they have both a greater a knowledge of how to produce and a greater desire to produce. Whites have greater knowledge and desire for reasons cultural, historical, and, it appears, innate.” That seems sufficient.

    And a pet peeve:

    To take only one example, if Argentina today is an economic basket case, whereas in the 1930s it was one of the world’s top five economic powers, it is certainly not because the Argentinean IQ abruptly crumbled, but because their country suffered from the liberal policies adopted by their governments under the pressure of the World Bank and the IMF.

    Argentina today is no economic basket case. Neither has Argentina has ever been one of the top five economic powers.

    Argentina’s economy from late 19th century through the 1940s was poorer than the biggest and richest European countries throughout the entire period. At the same time, she was certainly richer than those of its founding peoples’ home countries, Spain and Italy, but also countries like Austria and Norway.

    What occurred in Argentina in the post-war period wasn’t any decent into economic chaos. Argentina has grown every decade save the 80s (which was economically a “lost decade” throughout Latin America and Eastern Europe). Argentina simply grew at much slower rate than Europe or the Anglo countries. The debacle in 2001-02, which was the cumulative effect of a number of bad decisions and short-term fixes made years earlier, was quite devastating for those who lived through it, but what is so often ignored is the impressive way the country bounced right back and went beyond. Argentina today is unquestionably richer than ever before (ignoring for the moment the ferocious income inequality that blights her, and which itself is sure to be in part a result of the rising genetic inequalities of the people living there — “indio” immigration and birth rates).

    What comparisons through time between an Argentina and a Norway or a China or a Japan demonstrate is the fallacy of sizing up conditions in a certain country at a certain point in time and declaring this is the way these people are or that this is the best that the people of this country can ever do. Do that and you’ll certainly be surprised by the changes that occur — which remains true despite innate talents and proclivities being almost certain to play a much larger role in “national destiny” (if one is inclined to think in such terms) than de Benoist is prepared to acknowledge.

  2. Josh
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    This interview was remarkable, especially because of Benoist’s slight condescension to the interviewer. One can sense that Benoist, who has been nurtured in a rich intellectual tradition, is baffled by the (apparently American) interviewer’s frequent turns to biological race and an IQ-obsessed theory of eugenics. No wonder TOQ wouldn’t publish the whole thing. After asking a provocative opening question, this interviewer seems to be pleading with Benoist to acknowledge that race is important because it differentiates us from other groups (i.e., that race is important because it makes us smarter than blacks, not because it is valuable in itself).

    A telling microcosm of myopic and inconsequential American WN standing confused (yet nevertheless indignant) before its continental countertradition.

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