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Surviving political repressions in Communist regimes is one of those rare problems that don’t seem to be at all g loaded.
When someone like spandrell talks of “IQ shredders” he refers to the role of modern cities as fertility vortices for society’s best and brightest. But in the 20th century those shredders could be all too literal. One can’t help but shudder reading through the lists of scientists and intellectuals judicially murdered under Stalin in the 1930-40s. (The Old Bolsheviks at least usually had the minimal decency to allow them to emigrate).
This “aristocide” was replicated on higher IQ groups further down the social ladder, including the liquidation (to varying extents) of the kulaks, the priesthood, and the national intelligentsias of the countries that fell under Red dominion.
To what extent did this unravel the gains of centuries spent under the Malthusian grindstone? What was the cost in terms of national IQ?
The only people who ask such questions tend to be, almost by definition, anti-Communists (self-explanatory) and far right (by dint of their indulgence of the hereditary theory of IQ).
Therefore, unsurprisingly, their answers tend to be extremely pessimistic.
Fortunately, James Flynn has Done The Math on Cambodia, the country where Communist bloodlust far surpassed that of any other by about an order of magnitude.
Rulers can cause mass exterminations that have dysgenic effects no matter what their intent. Between 1973 and 1976, Pol Pot killed millions of Cambodians (Kampucheans). His criteria were purely political but discriminated to some degree against those with superior genes for IQ. He tried to eliminate urban dwellers (mildly superior because people abandon impoverished rural areas when they find they can be viable elsewhere) and anyone with “elite” qualifications (superior because access to education is to some degree competitive favoring those with greater talent). Those who wore spectacles were used as a criterion: they needed spectacles for a literate occupation and they had the money to afford them. He also destroyed all bicycles.
How much did Pol Pot do to lower the mean IQ of the Cambodian people? Sunic (2009) puts Croatians at a mean IQ of 90. He asks whether the communist massacre of hundreds of thousands of the Croat middle classes in 1945 was the answer. He accuses communists in general of “aristocide” in the sense that much killing, whatever the rationale, was motivated by hatred for those more successful and intelligent than oneself. He generalizes (p. 3/5) that communist aristicides have crippled the whole of Eastern Europe: “A large number of intelligent people were simply wiped out and could not pass their genes on to their offspring.” None of these nations suffered massacres anything like the scale of Cambodia. It is hardly surprising that there has been public speculation about how much Cambodia’s average IQ was reduced (Learning Diary, 2009).
This question can be settled by a few calculations. Pol Pot killed somewhere between 1.7 and 2.5 million people. I will put this at 2.1 million or 26% of Cambodia’s 8 million people (Kiernan, 2002). If he had done it using IQ tests, eliminating the top 26% would have lowered the IQ of the remaining parents by 6.4 IQ points and a good portion of this deficit would have been handed down to their children. However, as we have seen, he in fact used occupation as his criterion.
We do not know the correlation between the occupational status of the parent and the IQ of their (no longer to be born) children, but in a semirural society it would be below that of the United States. At that time in the United States, it was 0.300 (Flynn, 2000b). If you eliminated the top 26% of the US population by occupation, the mean IQ of their children would drop by only 1.92 points. Moreover, Pol Pot did not really use a pure criterion of occupational status. For example, a lot of his henchmen doing the killing were intellectuals (Pol Pot attended the Sorbonne, although he did flunk all of his courses). When he tried to eliminate everyone who lived in the capital city of Phnom Penh, this included many in humble occupations. The genetic capital of the Cambodian people was lowered by not much more than an IQ point. The people were hardly stripped of intellectual talent. …
Pol Pot provides not only an estimate of the quality of Cambodia’s genes but also something more. He sets a probable limit on the dysgenic consequences of even the most horrific events of world history. …
Sunic (2009, p. 2/5) speculates about negative selection of genes for other behavioral traits: “Did communism … give birth to a unique
subspecies of people predisposed to communism?” For example, did it produce people who felt comfortable only with little personal freedom? I may be excused for not addressing that question.
One can rejoinder that the impact must have been heavier on individuals who were more effective at converting their intelligence to scientific/artistic eminence (“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is perhaps nowhere truer than under totalitarian Communist regimes).
And it seems likely that this was further amplified by the “family responsibility” and guilt-by-association principles that many Communist regimes operated under, meaning that the consequences of repressions would reverberate most strongly against the clusters of interest groups and blood relations that surrounded its prime targets; that is, against those people who most helped society cultivate eminence, and who had the highest chances of becoming eminent themselves.
Nonetheless, even those caveats aside, since even the Khmer Rouge couldn’t have cardinally dented Cambodia’s national IQ, it certainly couldn’t have done anything substantial to Russia, where the scale of Stalinist aristocide didn’t exceed 1% of the Soviet population. (The Soviet famines, with far higher numbers of victims, would if anything have been marginally eugenic; one wonders if some bold Communist will ever try to tout this argument?).
In the Communist world as elsewhere, the main eugenic/dysgenic driver must have been fertility patterns.