A little bit more on Anatoly Karlin’s IQ thesis

Posted on

In Anatoly Karlin’s world, average IQ explains almost all economic success. In my world, that of a professional economist–albeit of a somewhat heterodox stance–I could say with certainty that economic success probably explains as much of the variation in average IQ across countries. We can build an entire regional (i.e., general to all geographic levels) endogenous growth model that I think, if specified correctly in economic developmental parameters like per cap clean water, calorie, and protein intake, might even wash the IQ variable right out of the equation(s). I elaborated on this a few days ago in this forum but Anatoly is too busy bloviating on his discovery to read the replies to his blogging. Adding to my “reverse causation” critique, Karlin’s cosa nostra is a socio-economically retrograde, and ultimately racist and colonialist, theory of economic development, especially when we apply it to the actual history of the conquest of the Americas, over the last 500 years (or even the last 100).

Bill Luker Jr




A call for a new movement: We want our fucking money back

Posted on

Quoting Slavoj Zizek, extensively. And although very well said, if you have the vocabulary and terminology, nothing he says is new. I said it in 1986, in my paper entitled “Privatism and Sunbelt Development in the US” [eventully published in Challenge Magazine in the early 1990s] and there were only a few maybe, one or two, who said it with me. BWA-HAHA BWA-HAHAHAAAAA. I will have my vindication when all those who misunderestimated me [indeed, George W. Bush’s great contribution to the English language] bow at my feet.

Zizek, 09/27/2018, RT

“Liberalism and its great opponent, classical Marxism, both tend to reduce the state to a secondary mechanism which obeys the needs of the reproduction of capital. So, they both thereby underestimate the active role played by state apparatuses in economic processes. Today (perhaps more than ever) one should not fetishize capitalism as the Big Bad Wolf that is controlling states: state apparatuses are active in the very heart of economic processes, doing much more than just guaranteeing legal and other (educational, ecological…) conditions of the reproduction of capital.
In many different forms, the state is more active as a direct economic agent – it helps failing banks, it supports selected industries, it orders defense and other equipment – in the US today than ever before. Around 50 percent of production is mediated by the state, while a century ago, this percentage was between five percent and 10 percent.

Old Rope

One has to be more specific here: the digital network that sustains the functioning of our societies as well as their control mechanisms is the ultimate figure of the technical grid that sustains power today – and does this not confer a new power to the old Trotsky idea that the key to the State lies, not in its political and secretarial organizations, but in its technical services? Consequently, in the same way that, for Trotsky, taking control of the post, electricity, railways, etc., was the key moment of the revolutionary seizure of power, is it not that today, the occupation’ of the digital grid is absolutely crucial if we are to break the power of the state and capital?”

In the same way Trotsky required the mobilization of a narrow, well-trained “storming party, of technical experts and gangs of armed men led by engineers” to resolve this “question of technique,” the lesson of the last decades is that neither massive grassroots protests (as we have seen in Spain and Greece) nor well-organized political movements (parties with elaborate political visions) are enough. Instead, we also need a narrow strike force of dedicated “engineers” (hackers, whistle-blowers…) organized as a disciplined conspiratorial group. Its task will be to “take over” the digital grid, and to rip it from the hands of corporations and state agencies which now de facto control it.

WikiLeaks was just the beginning, and our motto should be a Maoist one: let a hundred of WikiLeaks blossom. The panic and fury with which those in power, those who control our digital commons, reacted to Assange is a proof that such an activity hits the nerve.

There will be many blows below the belt in this fight – our side will be accused of playing the enemy’s hands (like the campaign against Assange for being in the service of Putin), but we should get used to it and learn to strike back with interest, ruthlessly playing one side against the other in order to bring them all down.

Were Lenin and Trotsky also not accused of being paid by Germans and/or by the Jewish bankers? As for the scare that such an activity will disturb the functioning of our societies and thus threaten millions of lives, we should bear in mind that it is those in power who are ready to selectively shut down the digital grid to isolate and contain protests. Indeed, when massive public dissatisfaction explodes, the first move is always to disconnect the internet and cell phones.

Or, to put it in the well-known terms from 1968, in order for its key legacy to survive, liberalism needs the brotherly help of the radical Left.”


The Idiocy of IQ Reductionism and Determinism, or, Anatoly Karlin Screws the Pooch

Posted on

My comments are based on an article by Anatoly Karlin, a right-wing Russian economist, entitled The Idiocy of the Average – and Why It Matters (Unz Review, September 04/18.) He is making a simple but basic mistake, made by many: Failing to understand that statistically significant determining effects in a multiple linear regression equation(s) (from which Karlin is reporting his findings) are as likely in the material world to move from Y to X as they are from X to Y. This is the fallacy of reverse causation. What I mean is that there is an equally plausible alternative analysis, another multiple linear regression equation that says differences in GDP per capita and other measures of general socio-economic welfare, including pre- and post-natal caloric and protein intake (presumably), are the forces that determine variations in IQ across countries. IQ is the dependent variable, not an independent variable that determines economic growth and welfare. Growth and welfare instead determine IQ. Not only can I envision such an empirical result, but I can discuss the theoretical reasons–in terms of endogenous economic growth theory–why this could be the case. The mistake is the same as in orthodox Western economists’s unquestioned maxim, that consuming higher levels of education leads to higher levels of income. The reverse is as likely to be true. The empirical data supports it (1975, Schooling in Capitalist America, Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis). Higher income levels are positively and statistically associated with higher levels of education, with the direction of the effect moving from income to education, not the other way ’round.