A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Ron Unz Archive
How Social Darwinism Made Modern China
A thousand years of meritocracy shaped the Middle Kingdom.

社会达尔文主义如何造就了现代中国

During the three decades following Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 reforms, China achieved the fastest sustained rate of economic growth in human history, with the resulting 40-fold rise in the size of China’s economy leaving it poised to surpass America’s as the largest in the world. A billion ordinary Han Chinese have lifted themselves economically from oxen and bicycles to the verge of automobiles within a single generation.

China’s academic performance has been just as stunning. The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests placed gigantic Shanghai—a megalopolis of 15 million—at the absolute top of world student achievement.1 PISA results from the rest of the country have been nearly as impressive, with the average scores of hundreds of millions of provincial Chinese—mostly from rural families with annual incomes below $2,000—matching or exceeding those of Europe’s most advanced and successful countries, such as Germany, France, and Switzerland, and ranking well above America’s results.2

ChinaGDP_2e These successes follow closely on the heels of a previous generation of similar economic and technological gains for several much smaller Chinese-ancestry countries in that same part of the world, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and the great academic and socioeconomic success of small Chinese-descended minority populations in predominantly white nations, including America, Canada, and Australia. The children of the Yellow Emperor seem destined to play an enormous role in Mankind’s future.

Although these developments might have shocked Westerners of the mid-20th Century—when China was best known for its terrible poverty and Maoist revolutionary fanaticism—they would have seemed far less unexpected to our leading thinkers of 100 years ago, many of whom prophesied that the Middle Kingdom would eventually regain its ranking among the foremost nations of the world. This was certainly the expectation of A.E. Ross, one of America’s greatest early sociologists, whose book The Changing Chinese looked past the destitution, misery, and corruption of the China of his day to a future modernized China perhaps on a technological par with America and the leading European nations. Ross’s views were widely echoed by public intellectuals such as Lothrop Stoddard, who foresaw China’s probable awakening from centuries of inward-looking slumber as a looming challenge to the worldwide hegemony long enjoyed by the various European-descended nations.

 

The likely roots of such widespread Chinese success have received little detailed exploration in today’s major Western media, which tends to shy away from considering the particular characteristics of ethnic groups or nationalities, as opposed to their institutional systems and forms of government. Yet although the latter obviously play a crucial role—Maoist China was far less economically successful than Dengist China—it is useful to note that the examples of Chinese success cited above range across a wide diversity of socioeconomic/political systems.

For decades, Hong Kong enjoyed one of the most free-market, nearly anarcho-libertarian economic systems; during that same period, Singapore was governed by the tight hand of Lee Kuan Yew and his socialistic People’s Action Party, which built a one-party state with a large degree of government guidance and control. Yet both these populations were overwhelmingly Chinese, and both experienced almost equally rapid economic development, moving in 50 years from total postwar destitution and teeming refugee slums to ranking among the wealthiest places on earth. And Taiwan, whose much larger Chinese-ancestry population pursued an intermediate development model, enjoyed similar economic success.

Despite a long legacy of racial discrimination and mistreatment, small Chinese communities in America also prospered and advanced, even as their numbers grew rapidly following passage of the 1965 Immigration Act. In recent years a remarkable fraction of America’s top students—whether judged by the objective winners’ circle of the Mathematics Olympiad and Intel Science competition or by the somewhat more subjective rates of admission to Ivy League colleges—have been of Chinese ancestry. The results are particularly striking when cast in quantitative terms: although just 1 percent of American high-school graduates each year have ethnic Chinese origins, surname analysis indicates that they currently include nearly 15 percent of the highest-achieving students, a performance ratio more than four times better than that of American Jews, the top-scoring white ancestry group.3

Chinese people seem to be doing extremely well all over the world, across a wide range of economic and cultural landscapes.

Almost none of these global developments were predicted by America’s leading intellectuals of the 1960s or 1970s, and many of their successors have had just as much difficulty recognizing the dramatic sweep of events through which they are living. A perfect example of this strange myopia may be found in the writings of leading development economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, whose brief discussions of China’s rapid rise to world economic dominance seem to portray the phenomenon as a temporary illusion almost certain soon to collapse because the institutional approach followed differs from the ultra-free-market neoliberalism that they recommend.4 The large role that the government plays in guiding Chinese economic decisions dooms it to failure, despite all evidence to the contrary, while America’s heavily financialized economy must be successful, regardless of our high unemployment and low growth. According to Acemoglu and Robinson, nearly all international success or failure is determined by governmental institutions, and since China possesses the wrong ones, failure is certain, though there seems no sign of it.

Perhaps such academics will be proven correct, and China’s economic miracle will collapse into the debacle they predict. But if this does not occur, and the international trend lines of the past 35 years continue for another five or ten, we should consider turning for explanations to those long-forgotten thinkers who actually foretold these world developments that we are now experiencing, individuals such as Ross and Stoddard. The widespread devastation produced by the Japanese invasion, World War II, and the Chinese Civil War, followed by the economic calamity of Maoism, did delay the predicted rise of China by a generation or two, but except for such unforeseen events, their analysis of Chinese potential seems remarkably prescient. For example, Stoddard approvingly quotes the late Victorian predictions of Professor Charles E. Pearson:

Does any one doubt that the day is at hand when China will have cheap fuel from her coal-mines, cheap transport by railways and steamers, and will have founded technical schools to develop her industries? Whenever that day comes, she may wrest the control of the world’s markets, especially throughout Asia, from England and Germany.5

 

A People Shaped by Their Difficult Environment

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.6

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.”7

During the second half of the 20th century, ideological considerations largely eliminated from American public discourse the notion that many centuries of particular circumstances might leave an indelible imprint upon a people. But with the turn of the new millennium, such analyses have once again begun appearing in respectable intellectual quarters.

The most notable example of this would surely be A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark’s fascinating 2007 analysis of the deep origins of Britain’s industrial revolution, which was widely reviewed and praised throughout elite circles, with New York Times economics columnist Tyler Cowen hailing it as possibly “the next blockbuster in economics” and Berkeley economist Brad DeLong characterizing it as “brilliant.”

Although Clark’s work focused on many different factors, the one that attracted the greatest attention was his demographic analysis of British history based upon a close examination of individual testaments. Clark discovered evidence that for centuries the wealthier British had left significantly more surviving children than their poorer compatriots, thus leading their descendents to constitute an ever larger share of each generation. Presumably, this was because they could afford to marry at a younger age, and their superior nutritional and living arrangements reduced mortality rates for themselves and their families. Indeed, the near-Malthusian poverty of much ordinary English life during this era meant that the impoverished lower classes often failed even to reproduce themselves over time, gradually being replaced by the downwardly mobile children of their financial betters. Since personal economic achievement was probably in part due to traits such as diligence, prudence, and productivity, Clark argued that these characteristics steadily became more widespread in the British population, laying the human basis for later national economic success.

Leaving aside whether or not the historical evidence actually supports Clark’s hypothesis—economist Robert C. Allen has published a strong and fairly persuasive refutation 8—the theoretical framework he advances seems a perfectly plausible one. Although the stylistic aspects and quantitative approaches certainly differ, much of Clark’s analysis for England seems to have clear parallels in how Stoddard, Ross, and others of their era characterized China. So perhaps it would be useful to explore whether a Clarkian analysis might be applicable to the people of the Middle Kingdom.

Interestingly enough, Clark himself devotes a few pages to considering this question and concludes that in contrast to the British case, wealthier Chinese were no more fecund than the poorer, eliminating the possibility of any similar generational trend.9 But Clark is not a China specialist, and his brief analysis relies on the birth records of the descendents of the ruling imperial dynasty, a group totally unrepresentative of the broader population. In fact, a more careful examination of the Chinese source material reveals persuasive evidence for a substantial skew in family size, directly related to economic success, with the pattern being perhaps even stronger and more universally apparent than was the case for Britain or any other country.

Moreover, certain unique aspects of traditional Chinese society may have maintained and amplified this long-term effect, in a manner unlike that found in most other societies in Europe or elsewhere. China indeed may constitute the largest and longest-lasting instance of an extreme “Social Darwinist” society anywhere in human history, perhaps with important implications for the shaping of the modern Chinese people.10

 

The Social Economy of Traditional China

Chinese society is notable for its stability and longevity. From the gradual establishment of the bureaucratic imperial state based on mandarinate rule during the Sui (589–618) and T’ang (618–907) dynasties down to the Communist Revolution of 1948, a single set of social and economic relations appears to have maintained its grip on the country, evolving only slightly while dynastic successions and military conquests periodically transformed the governmental superstructure.

A central feature of this system was the replacement of the local rule of aristocratic elements by a class of official meritocrats, empowered by the central government and selected by competitive examination. In essence, China eliminated the role of hereditary feudal lords and the social structure they represented over 1,000 years before European countries did the same, substituting a system of legal equality for virtually the entire population beneath the reigning emperor and his family.

The social importance of competitive examinations was enormous, playing the same role in determining membership in the ruling elite that the aristocratic bloodlines of Europe’s nobility did until modern times, and this system embedded itself just as deeply in the popular culture. The great noble houses of France or Germany might trace their lineages back to ancestors elevated under Charlemagne or Barbarossa, with their heirs afterward rising and falling in standing and estates, while in China the proud family traditions would boast generations of top-scoring test-takers, along with the important government positions that they had received as a result. Whereas in Europe there existed fanciful stories of a heroic commoner youth doing some great deed for the king and consequently being elevated to a knighthood or higher, such tales were confined to fiction down to the French Revolution. But in China, even the greatest lineages of academic performers almost invariably had roots in the ordinary peasantry.

Not only was China the first national state to utilize competitive written examinations for selection purposes, but it is quite possible that almost all other instances everywhere in the world ultimately derive from the Chinese example. It has long been established that the Chinese system served as the model for the meritocratic civil services that transformed the efficiency of Britain and other European states during the 18th and 19th centuries. But persuasive historical arguments have also been advanced that the same is even true for university entrance tests and honors examinations, with Cambridge’s famed Math Tripos being the earliest example.11 Modern written tests may actually be as Chinese as chopsticks.

With Chinese civilization having spent most of the past 1,500 years allocating its positions of national power and influence by examination, there has sometimes been speculation that test-taking ability has become embedded in the Chinese people at the biological as well as cultural level. Yet although there might be an element of truth to this, it hardly seems likely to be significant. During the eras in question, China’s total population numbered far into the tens of millions, growing in unsteady fashion from perhaps 60 million before AD 900 to well over 400 million by 1850. But the number of Chinese passing the highest imperial exam and attaining the exalted rank of chin-shih during most of the past six centuries was often less than 100 per year, down from a high of over 200 under the Sung dynasty (960-1279), and even if we include the lesser rank of chu-jen, the national total of such degree-holders was probably just in the low tens of thousands,12 a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the overall population—totally dwarfed by the numbers of Chinese making their living as artisans or merchants, let alone the overwhelming mass of the rural peasantry. The cultural impact of rule by a test-selected elite was enormous, but the direct genetic impact would have been negligible.

This same difficulty of relative proportions frustrates any attempt to apply in China an evolutionary model similar to the one that Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending have persuasively suggested for the evolution of high intelligence among the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe.13 The latter group constituted a small, reproductively isolated population overwhelmingly concentrated in the sorts of business and financial activity that would have strongly favored more intelligent individuals, and one with insignificant gene-flow from the external population not undergoing such selective pressure. By contrast, there is no evidence that successful Chinese merchants or scholars were unwilling to take brides from the general population, and any reasonable rate of such intermarriage each generation would have totally swamped the selective impact of mercantile or scholarly success. If we are hoping to find any rough parallel to the process that Clark hypothesizes for Britain, we must concentrate our attention on the life circumstances of China’s broad rural peasantry—well over 90 percent of the population during all these centuries—just as the aforementioned 19th-century observers generally had done.

 

Absence of Caste and Fluidity of Class

In fact, although Western observers tended to focus on China’s horrific poverty above all else, traditional Chinese society actually possessed certain unusual or even unique characteristics that may help account for the shaping of the Chinese people. Perhaps the most important of these was the near total absence of social caste and the extreme fluidity of economic class.

Feudalism had ended in China a thousand years before the French Revolution, and nearly all Chinese stood equal before the law.14 The “gentry”—those who had passed an official examination and received an academic degree—possessed certain privileges and the “mean people”—prostitutes, entertainers, slaves, and various other degraded social elements—suffered under legal discrimination. But both these strata were minute in size, with each usually amounting to less than 1 percent of the general population, while “the common people”—everyone else, including the peasantry—enjoyed complete legal equality.

However, such legal equality was totally divorced from economic equality, and extreme gradations of wealth and poverty were found in every corner of society, down to the smallest and most homogenous village. During most of the 20th century, the traditional Marxian class analysis of Chinese rural life divided the population according to graduated wealth and degree of “exploitative” income: landlords, who obtained most or all of their income from rent or hired labor; rich, middle, and poor peasants, grouped according to decreasing wealth and rental income and increasing tendency to hire out their own labor; and agricultural laborers, who owned negligible land and obtained nearly all their income from hiring themselves out to others.

In hard times, these variations in wealth might easily mean the difference between life and death, but everyone acknowledged that such distinctions were purely economic and subject to change: a landlord who lost his land would become a poor peasant; a poor peasant who came into wealth would be the equal of any landlord. During its political struggle, the Chinese Communist Party claimed that landlords and rich peasants constituted about 10 percent of the population and possessed 70–80 percent of the land, while poor peasants and hired laborers made up the overwhelming majority of the population and owned just 10–15 percent of the land. Neutral observers found these claims somewhat exaggerated for propagandistic purposes, but not all that far from the harsh reality.15

Complete legal equality and extreme economic inequality together fostered one of the most unrestrained free-market systems known to history, not only in China’s cities but much more importantly in its vast countryside, which contained nearly the entire population. Land, the primary form of wealth, was freely bought, sold, traded, rented out, sub-leased, or mortgaged as loan collateral. Money-lending and food-lending were widely practiced, especially during times of famine, with usurious rates of interest being the norm, often in excess of 10 percent per month compounded. In extreme cases, children or even wives might be sold for cash and food. Unless aided by relatives, peasants without land or money routinely starved to death. Meanwhile, the agricultural activity of more prosperous peasants was highly commercialized and entrepreneurial, with complex business arrangements often the norm.16

For centuries, a central fact of daily life in rural China had been the tremendous human density, as the Middle Kingdom’s population expanded from 65 million to 430 million during the five centuries before 1850,17 eventually forcing nearly all land to be cultivated to maximum efficiency. Although Chinese society was almost entirely rural and agricultural, Shandong province in 1750 had well over twice the population density of the Netherlands, the most urbanized and densely populated part of Europe, while during the early years of the Industrial Revolution, England’s population density was only one-fifth that of Jiangsu province.18

Chinese agricultural methods had always been exceptionally efficient, but by the 19th century, the continuing growth of the Chinese population had finally caught and surpassed the absolute Malthusian carrying-capacity of the farming system under its existing technical and economic structure.19 Population growth was largely held in check by mortality (including high infant mortality), decreased fertility due to malnutrition, disease, and periodic regional famines that killed an average of 5 percent of the population.20 Even the Chinese language came to incorporate the centrality of food, with the traditional words of greeting being “Have you eaten?” and the common phrase denoting a wedding, funeral, or other important social occasion being “to eat good things.”21

The cultural and ideological constraints of Chinese society posed major obstacles to mitigating this never-ending human calamity. Although impoverished Europeans of this era, male and female alike, often married late or not at all, early marriage and family were central pillars of Chinese life, with the sage Mencius stating that to have no children was the worst of unfilial acts; indeed, marriage and anticipated children were the mark of adulthood. Furthermore, only male heirs could continue the family name and ensure that oneself and one’s ancestors would be paid the proper ritual respect, and multiple sons were required to protect against the vagaries of fate. On a more practical level, married daughters became part of their husband’s household, and only sons could ensure provision for one’s old age.

Nearly all peasant societies sanctify filial loyalty, marriage, family, and children, while elevating sons above daughters, but in traditional China these tendencies seem to have been especially strong, representing a central goal and focus of all daily life beyond bare survival. Given the terrible poverty, cruel choices were often made, and female infanticide, including through neglect, was the primary means of birth control among the poor, leading to a typical shortfall of 10–15 percent among women of marriageable age. Reproductive competition for those remaining women was therefore fierce, with virtually every woman marrying, generally by her late teens. The inevitable result was a large and steady natural increase in the total population, except when constrained by various forms of increased mortality.

 

Remarkable Upward Mobility But Relentless Downward Mobility

The vast majority of Chinese might be impoverished peasants, but for those with ability and luck, the possibilities of upward mobility were quite remarkable in what was an essentially classless society. The richer strata of each village possessed the wealth to give their most able children a classical education in hopes of preparing them for the series of official examinations. If the son of a rich peasant or petty landlord were sufficiently diligent and intellectually able, he might pass such an examination and obtain an official degree, opening enormous opportunities for political power and wealth.

For the Ming (1368–1644) and Ch’ing (1644–1911) dynasties, statistics exist on the social origins of the chin-shih class, the highest official rank, and these demonstrate a rate of upward mobility unmatched by almost any Western society, whether modern or premodern. Over 30 percent of such elite degree-holders came from commoner families that for three previous generations had produced no one of high official rank, and in the data from earlier centuries, this fraction of “new men” reached a high of 84 percent. Such numbers far exceed the equivalent figures for Cambridge University during all the centuries since its foundation, and would probably seem remarkable at America’s elite Ivy League colleges today or in the past. Meanwhile, downward social mobility was also common among even the highest families. As a summary statistic, across the six centuries of these two dynasties less than 6 percent of China’s ruling elites came from the ruling elites of the previous generation.22

The founding philosophical principle of the modern Western world has been the “Equality of Man,” while that of Confucianist China was the polar opposite belief in the inherent inequality of men. Yet in reality, the latter often seemed to fulfill better the ideological goals of the former. Frontier America might have had its mythos of presidents born in log-cabins, but for many centuries a substantial fraction of the Middle Kingdom’s ruling mandarins did indeed come from rural rice-paddies, a state of affairs that would have seemed almost unimaginable in any European country until the Age of Revolution, and even long afterward.

Such potential for elevation into the ruling Chinese elite was remarkable, but a far more important factor in the society was the open possibility of local economic advancement for the sufficiently enterprising and diligent rural peasant. Ironically enough, a perfect description of such upward mobility was provided by Communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, who recounted how his father had risen from being a landless poor peasant to rich peasant status:

My father was a poor peasant and while still young was obliged to join the army because of heavy debts. He was a soldier for many years. Later on he returned to the village where I was born, and by saving carefully and gathering together a little money through small trading and other enterprise he managed to buy back his land.

As middle peasants then my family owned fifteen mou [about 2.5 acres] of land. On this they could raise sixty tan of rice a year. The five members of the family consumed a total of thirty-five tan—that is, about seven each—which left an annual surplus of twenty-five tan. Using this surplus, my father accumulated a little capital and in time purchased seven more mou, which gave the family the status of ‘rich’ peasants. We could ten raise eighty-four tan of rice a year.

When I was ten years of age and the family owned only fifteen mou of land, the five members of the family consisted of my father, mother, grandfather, younger brother, and myself. After we had acquired the additional seven mou, my grandfather died, but there came another younger brother. However, we still had a surplus of forty-nine tan of rice each year, and on this my father prospered.

At the time my father was a middle peasant he began to deal in grain transport and selling, by which he made a little money. After he became a ‘rich’ peasant, he devoted most of his time to that business. He hired a full-time farm laborer, and put his children to work on the farm, as well as his wife. I began to work at farming tasks when I was six years old. My father had no shop for his business. He simply purchased grain from the poor farmers and then transported it to the city merchants, where he got a higher price. In the winter, when the rice was being ground, he hired an extra laborer to work on the farm, so that at that time there were seven mouths to feed. My family ate frugally, but had enough always.23

Mao’s account gives no indication that he regarded his family’s rise as extraordinary in any way; his father had obviously done well, but there were probably many other families in Mao’s village that had similarly improved their lot during the course of a single generation. Such opportunities for rapid social mobility would have been almost impossible in any of the feudal or class-ridden societies of the same period, in Europe or most other parts of the world.

 

However, the flip-side of possible peasant upward mobility was the far greater likelihood of downward mobility, which was enormous and probably represented the single most significant factor shaping the modern Chinese people. Each generation, a few who were lucky or able might rise, but a vast multitude always fell, and those families near the bottom simply disappeared from the world. Traditional rural China was a society faced with the reality of an enormous and inexorable downward mobility: for centuries, nearly all Chinese ended their lives much poorer than had their parents.

The strong case for such downward mobility was demonstrated a quarter century ago by historian Edwin E. Moise,24 whose crucial article on the subject has received far less attention than it deserves, perhaps because the intellectual climate of the late 1970s prevented readers from drawing the obvious evolutionary implications.

In many respects, Moise’s demographic analysis of China eerily anticipated that of Clark for England, as he pointed out that only the wealthier families of a Chinese village could afford the costs associated with obtaining wives for their sons, with female infanticide and other factors regularly ensuring up to a 15 percent shortfall in the number of available women. Thus, the poorest village strata usually failed to reproduce at all, while poverty and malnourishment also tended to lower fertility and raise infant mortality as one moved downward along the economic gradient. At the same time, the wealthiest villagers sometimes could afford multiple wives or concubines and regularly produced much larger numbers of surviving offspring. Each generation, the poorest disappeared, the less affluent failed to replenish their numbers, and all those lower rungs on the economic ladder were filled by the downwardly mobile children of the fecund wealthy.

This fundamental reality of Chinese rural existence was certainly obvious to the peasants themselves and to outside observers, and there exists an enormous quantity of anecdotal evidence describing the situation, whether gathered by Moise or found elsewhere, as illustrated by a few examples:

‘How could any man in our village claim that his family had been poor for three generations? If a man is poor, then his son can’t afford to marry; and if his son can’t marry, there can’t be a third generation.’25

… Because of the marked shortage of women, there was always a great number of men without wives at all. This included the overwhelming majority of long-term hired laborers… The poorest families died out, being unable to arrange marriages for their sons. The future generations of poor were the descendants of bankrupted middle and rich peasants and landlords.26

… Further down the economic scale there were many families with unmarried sons who had already passed the customary marriage age, thus limiting the size of the family. Wong Mi was a case in point. He was already twenty-three, with both of his parents in their mid-sixties; but since the family was able to rent only an acre of poor land and could not finance his marriage, he lived with the old parents, and the family consisted of three members. Wong Chun, a landless peasant in his forties, had been in the same position when he lived with his aged parents ten years before, and now, both parents having died, he lived alone. There were ten or fifteen families in the village with single unmarried sons.27

… As previously mentioned, there were about twenty families in Nanching that had no land at all and constituted the bottom group in the village’s pyramid of land ownership. A few of these families were tenant farmers, but the majority, since they could not finance even the buying of tools, fertilizer, and seeds, worked as “long-term” agricultural laborers on an annual basis. As such, they normally were paid about 1,000 catties of unhusked rice per year and board and room if they owned no home. This income might equal or even exceed what they might have wrested from a small rented farm, but it was not enough to support a family of average size without supplementary employment undertaken by other members of the family. For this reason, many of them never married, and the largest number of bachelors was to be found among landless peasants. Wong Tu-en, a landless peasant working for a rich peasant for nearly ten years, was still a “bare stick” (unmarried man) in his fifties; and there were others in the village like him. They were objects of ridicule and pity in the eyes of the villagers, whose life [sic] centered upon the family.28

Furthermore, the forces of downward mobility in rural Chinese society were greatly accentuated by fenjia, the traditional system of inheritance, which required equal division of property among all sons, in sharp contrast to the practice of primogeniture commonly found in European countries.

If most or all of a father’s property went to the eldest son, then the long-term survival of a reasonably affluent peasant family was assured unless the primary heir were a complete wastrel or encountered unusually bad fortune. But in China, cultural pressures forced a wealthy man to do his best to maximize the number of his surviving sons, and within the richer strata of a village it was not uncommon for a man to leave two, three, or even more male heirs, compelling each to begin his economic independence with merely a fraction of his father’s wealth. Unless they succeeded in substantially augmenting their inheritance, the sons of a particularly fecund rich landlord might be middle peasants—and his grandchildren, starving poor peasants.29 Families whose elevated status derived from a single fortuitous circumstance or a transient trait not deeply rooted in their behavioral characteristics therefore enjoyed only fleeting economic success, and poverty eventually culled their descendents from the village.

The members of a successful family could maintain their economic position over time only if in each generation large amounts of additional wealth were extracted from their land and their neighbors through high intelligence, sharp business sense, hard work, and great diligence. The penalty for major business miscalculations or lack of sufficient effort was either personal or reproductive extinction. As American observer William Hinton graphically described:

Security, relative comfort, influence, position, and leisure [were] maintained amidst a sea of the most dismal and frightening poverty and hunger—a poverty and hunger which at all times threatened to engulf any family which relaxed its vigilance, took pity on its poor neighbors, failed to extract the last copper of rent and interest, or ceased for an instant the incessant accumulation of grain and money. Those who did not go up went down, and those who went down often went to their deaths or at least to the dissolution and dispersal of their families.30

However, under favorable circumstances, a family successful in business might expand its numbers from generation to generation until it gradually squeezed out all its less competitive neighbors, with its progeny eventually constituting nearly the entire population of a village. For example, a century after a couple of poor Yang brothers arrived in a region as farm laborers, their descendents had formed a clan of 80–90 families in one village and the entire population of a neighboring one.31 In a Guangdong village, a merchant family named Huang arrived and bought land, growing in numbers and land ownership over the centuries until their descendants replaced most of the other families, which became poor and ultimately disappeared, while the Huangs eventually constituted 74 percent of the total local population, including a complete mix of the rich, middle, and poor.32

 

The Implications for the Chinese People and for American Ideology

In many respects, the Chinese society portrayed by our historical and sociological sources seems an almost perfect example of the sort of local environment that would be expected to produce a deep imprint upon the characteristics of its inhabitants. Even prior to the start of this harsh development process, China had spent thousands of years as one of the world’s most advanced economic and technological civilizations. The socioeconomic system established from the end of the sixth century A.D. onward then remained largely stable and unchanged for well over a millennium, with the sort of orderly and law-based society that benefited those who followed its rules and ruthlessly weeded out the troublemaker. During many of those centuries, the burden of overpopulation placed enormous economic pressure on each family to survive, while a powerful cultural tradition emphasized the production of surviving offspring, especially sons, as the greatest goal in life, even if that result might lead to the impoverishment of the next generation. Agricultural efficiency was remarkably high but required great effort and diligence, while the complexities of economic decision-making—how to manage land, crop selection, and investment decisions—were far greater than those faced by the simple peasant serf found in most other parts of the world, with the rewards for success and the penalties for failure being extreme. The sheer size and cultural unity of the Chinese population would have facilitated the rapid appearance and spread of useful innovations, including those at the purely biological level.33

It is important to recognize that although good business ability was critical for the long-term success of a line of Chinese peasants, the overall shaping constraints differed considerably from those that might have affected a mercantile caste such as the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe or the Parsis of India. These latter groups occupied highly specialized economic niches in which a keen head for figures or a ruthless business sense might have been all that was required for personal success and prosperity. But in the world of rural Chinese villages, even the wealthier elements usually spent the majority of the lives in backbreaking labor, working alongside their families and their hired men in the fields and rice paddies. Successful peasants might benefit from a good intellect, but they also required the propensity for hard manual toil, determination, diligence, and even such purely physical traits as resistance to injury and efficiency in food digestion. Given such multiple selective pressures and constraints, we would expect the shift in the prevalence of any single one of these traits to be far slower than if it alone determined success, and the many centuries of steady Chinese selection across the world’s largest population would have been required to produce any substantial result.34

The impact of such strong selective forces obviously manifests at multiple levels, with cultural software being far more flexible and responsive than any gradual shifts in innate tendencies, and distinguishing between evidence of these two mechanisms is hardly a trivial task. But it seems quite unlikely that the second, deeper sort of biological human change would not have occurred during a thousand years or more of these relentlessly shaping pressures, and simply to ignore or dismiss such an important possibility is unreasonable. Yet that seems to have been the dominant strain of Western intellectual belief for the last two or three generations.

Sometimes the best means of recognizing one’s ideological blinders is to consider seriously the ideas and perspectives of alien minds that lack them, and in the case of Western society these happen to include most of our greatest intellectual figures from 80 or 90 years ago, now suddenly restored to availability by the magic of the Internet. Admittedly, in some respects these individuals were naïve in their thinking or treated various ideas in crude fashion, but in many more cases their analyses were remarkably acute and scientifically insightful, often functioning as an invaluable corrective to the assumed truths of the present. And in certain matters, notably predicting the economic trajectory of the world’s largest country, they seem to have anticipated developments that almost none of their successors of the past 50 years ever imagined. This should certainly give us pause.

Consider also the ironic case of Bruce Lahn, a brilliant Chinese-born genetics researcher at the University of Chicago. In an interview a few years ago, he casually mentioned his speculation that the socially conformist tendencies of most Chinese people might be due to the fact that for the past 2,000 years the Chinese government had regularly eliminated its more rebellious subjects, a suggestion that would surely be regarded as totally obvious and innocuous everywhere in the world except in the West of the past half century or so. Not long before that interview, Lahn had achieved great scientific acclaim for his breakthrough discoveries on the possible genetic origins of human civilization, but this research eventually provoked such heated controversy that he was dissuaded from continuing it.35

Yet although Chinese researchers living in America willingly conform to American ideological restrictions, this is not the case with Chinese researchers in China itself, and it is hardly surprising that BGI—the Beijing Genomics Institute—has become the recognized world leader in cutting-edge human genetics research. This is despite the billions spent by its American counterparts, which must operate within a much more circumscribed framework of acceptable ideas.

During the Cold War, the enormous governmental investments of the Soviet regime in many fields produced nothing, since they were based on a model of reality that was both unquestionable and also false. The growing divergence between that ideological model and the real world eventually doomed the USSR, whose vast and permanent bulk blew away in a sudden gust of wind two decades ago. American leaders should take care that they do not stubbornly adhere to scientifically false doctrines that will lead our own country to risk a similar fate.

Ron Unz is publisher of The American Conservative.

 


(Reprinted from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
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  1. spite
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    A good article, providing insights on China that one never gets from Stratfor and other similar outlets. If the supposed collapse of China were to happen (which to some should have already happened 10 years ago) it would still not be like the USSR, the country is unified under the dominant Han ethnic group, even Tibet and Xinjiang has had an influx of Han specifically as a counter for Western pressure to make those regions independent. The CCP government may fall, but unlike most in the West believe, this will not lead to splitting up of the country, it will probably lead to even higher economic growth.

    Nor do I see China as a threat to the world as others claim, the Chinese care about becoming wealthier, disputes with Taiwan and the island disputes in the China south sea are hardly comparable to old Japanese imperial moves, these are border disputes. If China decides to make claims on Siberia then one should start getting worried, but as things currently stand China is not on an imperial mission.

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  2. el supremo
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    While looking at pre-modern China is a very valuable exercise, the degree of its meritocracy has been quite overstated. As scholars look more closely at how its society actually functioned, the picture becomes more complicated, and the image of meritocracy gets replaced by a more traditional ruling class which organized the system to remain relatively constant.

    A couple of points which complicate the picture:
    - Degrees were increasingly available for purchase, so prosperous but untalented families could continue to hold office and so dominate the local economy
    - Educational resources were quite unequally distributed, and opportunities to learn the specific and increasingly esoteric literary styles needed to pass the exams were often available only to insiders – members of the gentry, official families, or merchants.
    - As a result, while the statistic Unz cites for the number of “new men” passing the chin-shih exam are high, most of them came from gentry families who during previous generations had held local or provincial office, as opposed to truly “new men”
    - Large chunks of the most profitable parts of the economy were controlled through semi-private monopolies, protected by the government, which were often insulated from competition from families outside a few which controlled them.
    - The last 400 years of late imperial China also saw major migration to newly opened provinces and marginal land that became viable as New World crops were introduced (Potatoes, corn, and tobacco allowed cultivation of huge swaths of new land). As a result, the intense competition for a limited amount of land is reduced during this period.

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  3. Fascinating article. As an aside, I find it interesting how on the one hand those who insist upon the teaching of Darwinian evolution to the exclusion of so-called “Creationism”–and I believe they are correct, seem to ignore if not deny the consequences of same i.e. “natural selection”, thus having it both ways.

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  4. RH
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    el supremo,

    The evidence regarding the lack of perfect meritocracy in exams is besides the point. Unz believes that the selection pressure operated mostly through individuals and families experiencing socioeconomic mobility. To refute his theory, one would have to show that the article exaggerated how much socio-economic mobility there was.

    Only the last two points you make are relevant.

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  5. Jason Liu
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    Interesting. But I think you are describing the symptoms, not the cause.

    East Asians succeed the way we do because of our ultracompetitive culture, and that culture stems from racial differences.

    A very unpopular thing to say amongst Westerners, I’m aware.

    Take Japan, for instance. The Japanese do not have the sort of diaspora Chinese do, and Japan today seems to be mired in senility and first-world decadence. For a few decades after the war, their topped the charts on academic rankings, even the ancient Chinese game of Go was dominated by Japanese players in international contests. Today, China and Korea have overtaken them. Still, they rank very close to their Asian competitors.

    Japan did not abolish feudalism, nor adopt Confucian exams on the same scale, nor suffer same sort of constant famine China did. Their civilized history is not even half as long as ours. They were not a fully patriarchal, hierarchical Confucian society until the 13th century at the earliest.

    Yet in my experience, the Japanese at their core, have no less the inherent capacity for deviousness, business smarts, self preservation, and common sense as we Chinese. I have no doubt that should all the Chinese of this world be replaced by Japanese, the success would be equal.

    Why? Because East Asians have a deep seated desire for competition. The best for ourselves. The best for our people. And there is no competition without a strong personal identity. You’re either one of us, or you’re not. Unity is paramount. Outsiders are not treated like one of us.

    ——————

    Some personal observations and trends. They’re not gospel, nor do they describe every Asian alive, so take them as you will.

    In general, East Asians have more foresight. Both for our individuals, and our nations. China operates on a 100 year plan. The US operates on a 4 year plan. Our families count every penny to see how much our grandchildren will have to live on. You make generic platitudes “for our future” children to whip up sentiment. We force ourselves into boring but profitable jobs. You “follow your heart” into mediocrity.

    In generals, East Asians are more sensitive. Call it vigilance, paranoia, or insecurity. It’s the same thing. We record, and remember every instance of wrong done against us, so we may use it to leverage political victimhood. We constantly check the political status of our nations to ensure things like leftism, liberalism, and feminism, multiculturalism are not growing out of control. We obsess over demographic statistics even when the percentage of foreigners in our country is under 1%. We perceive even the most distant of threats to the collective. Westerners don’t seem to realize until it’s already on top of them.

    In general, East Asians make better decisions. We have better common sense. We avoid overly risky situations (not always a good thing). We don’t dig holes we can’t get out of. We don’t succumb to our most immediate desires. We use empathy not to make sympathetic, emotional decisions, but to manipulate that knowledge to maximum gain. From serious projects to group gaming, what requires a team of non-Asians verbal communication and planning can often be done ad hoc by a silent team of East Asians, collaborating through an unspoken sense of likeminded decisions.

    In general, East Asians are more proud. We easily take offense at insults to our identity. We know our own histories, and will spin it to a favorable interpretation. We promote our own cultural icons against those of our rivals. We are less likely to forget or forgive someone who has offended us.

    In general, East Asians are not nearly as emotional. This is by far the most important thing.

    It effectively diminishes moral and ethical concerns to secondary status. Meaning: Objectivity, pragmatism, and results before concerns for “feelings”, “equality”, “tolerance”, and all the things that cause so much dispute in non-Asian societies. Collective, nationalistic strength is more important than any lofty moral ideal. Most importantly, wealth and geopolitical influence.

    It’s why East Asians are willing to put up with authoritarianism if it means economic growth. South Korea under Park Chung-hee. Japan under 60 years of LDP rule. Taiwan under nationalist autocracy until 1995. Singapore’s entire history under Lee Kuan-yew’s party. China today.

    It’s why Tiger Mom is willing to risk emotionally damaging her kids if it means pushing them into a good university, and often with thankful kids to show for it.

    It’s why East Asian countries are not deeply invested in political, or any sort of ideology (unless coerced). You will not find the sort of ideological partisanship in any East Asian country, except for nationalism, which is really more a default position. Few Asians past puberty willingly go around attaching -isms to their identity. It is seen as immature. This means we judge things on its merits, its profitability, and benefit to the nation state overall. The West engages in pitched battles over precious ideological standards. You pretend your support for your ideology is because it’s the best vision for your country, when in fact, it’s obvious you do so because you’ve become emotionally attached to those positions.

    It’s why no one makes political decisions in Asia based on “social issues”. The desire for national cohesion easily overtakes altruistic desires to fight for some minority cause. Those issues exist, but they are not top-tier issues when it comes to the struggle for geopolitical supremacy. There are Chinese who care about gay marriage. But there is not a single Chinese who knows, or cares what Xi Jinping’s stance on gay marriage is. We expect our leaders to do their real jobs: manage the economy and outmaneuver our geopolitical rivals. Now try talking to an American liberal about politics, and see what they’re concerned about. The result is “social progress” for you, and actual progress for us.

    There are a myriad of things that less emotionality does for East Asians, too many for me to list here. And no, it’s not the same as our pride or sensitivity. Those things serve more a functional purpose than the knee-jerk emotional reactions you see with non-Asians.

    Why are East Asians like this and not others? Is it the slightly larger head in proportion to the body? Is it the well-documented fact that East Asians have less testosterone on average? Is it the diet?

    I don’t know.

    But what I do know is that despite cultural, environmental, and societal differences, these traits are so overwhelmingly linked by our racial identity that it’s hard to discount a common genetic factor.

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  6. Reader
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    —-

    Another recent article that makes a similar argument is:

    Geoffrey Miller: Chinese Eugenics, The Edge, Jan. 14, 2013

    http://www.edge.org/response-detail/23838

    —-

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  7. el supremo
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    RH,

    I think Unz raises interesting points – but his vision of a brutally competitive Chinese society with a relatively open, meritocratic elite – diverges from the current historical understanding at both its understanding of the top and the bottom.

    At the elite level, the idea of a meritocracy with great social mobility which Unz deals with at length is not substantiated in looking at how the exam system actually worked, who took exams, passed them, and gained offices (my first two points). Prosopography of the Chinese scholar/merchant/gentry class shows a relatively closed group, with most new entrants coming from rich merchant families, as opposed to from the rice paddies. Instead of a hereditary nobility there was an huge array of policies and social norms that served this interests of this elite, and kept it relatively closed to outsiders.

    As you note, Unz’s point about evolution doesn’t get driven by this 2% of the population. But here as well the current scholarship shows a very different picture of Chinese economy and livelihoods for the bottom 95%. I raised two points which complicate the picture – there are many more as scholars have done a lot of work on local economies and their evolution during this period, such as how migration, trade, a huge growth in village manufacturing, and production of commodity crops during this period changed the prospects of peasants and offered many more ways of supporting families. (Timothy Brook and “1493″ provide good overviews of these rural and economic changes grounded in current scholarship)

    Unz’s citations of the Darwinian rural world are drawn from older sources which mainly look at poor regions in the twilight of the imperial period, and these are not representative of the forces shaping the Chinese population as a whole – it is a bit like writing a history of American farmers based on the Grapes of Wrath.

    A final comment that any look at the dynamics of the Chinese population from 1100-1900 would need to take account for the 4 immensely destructive wars which killed huge amounts of people and rearranged landholdings in a way unrelated to selective fitness (the Mongol invasion, the chaos at the Mongol/Ming transition, the Manchu invasion, and the mass rebellions in the mid 19th century)

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  8. As usual, people are making HUGE extrapolations based on current events. Would anybody be talking about China’s inevitable rise 50 years ago? Of course, not. I can imagine people back then speculating on what genetic basis underlies the Chinese propensity for creating terrible leaders and disastrous economic policies.

    Acemoglu and company offer a simple, uncontroversial thesis, namely that the type of government predicts the welfare of the country. Exhibit A: ethnically identical North and South Korea. Exhibit B: ethnically identical East and West Germany. I guess this idea is just too darn BORING: there must be some deep, mysterious reason! Maybe it’s the environment, maybe it’s the genes. It can’t be something as mundane as accountable government and free enterprise.

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  9. collin
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    In terms of China, I tend to be in the middle ground if they are going into debt crisis depression or continue growing. My take is China will continue growing until they reach debt crisis in 10 – 20 years. The economic growth is following to a T the Japanese model and the question would be if they are Japan 1970 or Japan 1980. The whole society is focused on low cost manufacturering at the risk all other social and economic issues. However, they are going to be old before they get rich although the sheer size of the population may protect them from being replaced. (Or least until complete robot future is here.)

    I always assumed China was able to get away with such sweatshop conditions because for past generations it was better conditions than the Cultural Revolution and aftermath. Now The Cultural Revoution is history so factories can’t just open doors to hundreds of workers anymore.

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  10. EliteCommInc.
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    Ohhh good grief this is not genetics. Mr. Unz’s article is inspiring. But it is minus the horrific periods in which millions and millions of Chinese were put to the sword to acheive just the right qualities for greatness.

    Social Darwinism:http://www.enotes.com/mao-zedong-reference/mao-zedong
    Most historians agree that excess deaths (the difference between projected and actual demographic data) total at least 20 million (with more than two-thirds of these deaths occurring in 1960 alone); high estimates stand at 65 million (in 1957 China’s population was 646 million).

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  11. EliteCommInc.
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    I appreciate the Chinese. I have had some pleasant experiences among their educated, but

    I am keenly aware that they are engaged in a human genocide the likes of which are unparralled: abortion.

    And perhaps, I missed it, but those chinese youth who aren’t laboring away seven days a week (I exaggerate) spend more time in school than any in western cultures. It is nearly an edcuational system which has their students in school all year. I am not criticizing the practice. But it explains a great deal as to educational acheivement.

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  12. EliteCommInc.
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    Next someone will raise the age old argument that the first humans actually are from China.

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  13. el supremo
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    @Jason Liu – I am sure the many Chinese who were purged or killed for failing to meet the ideological purity standards of the Mao era would be surprised to hear about this genetic and deep rooted East Asian fondness for pragmatism and disdain for “-isms”

    Also, for a people who supposedly think in 100 years plans, the Chinese government’s vision of the future has changed pretty dramatically and quite regularly during the last century. The official national plan has switched from constitutional monarchy, to capitalist republicanism, to fascism, to Khrushchev bureaucratic Communism, to rural industrialization, back to bureaucratic Communism, to perpetual mass revolution, back to bureaucratic Communism again, then to “market socialism”, and now to one party state capitalism.

    The supposed East Asian traits of prudence, risk avoidance, efficient organization also rather contrast with the rampant speculation, frequent asset bubbles, and short term profit and rent seeking that characterizes much of the contemporary Chinese economy.

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  14. Jason,

    Not to be rude–but were a white person to write what you wrote, he’d likely be denounced as racist, peddling yet another ridiculous warning of the oncoming “yellow peril”. (Replace “Chinese” and “East Asian” with “Jew”, and your diatribe would sound like a great deal of anti-Semitic agit-prop written throughout history). That fact that a Chinese wrote it, as an apparent exercise in triumphant gloating rather than as a dire warning to man the barricades and close the borders, doesn’t make it any less obnoxious.

    If you look back at history, you’ll find plenty of examples of rising empires proclaiming the innate superiority (in some regard) of their people. In some cases, the rising empire is crushed in its infancy, as was the Third Reich and imperial Japan; in others, the empire does indeed ascend and dominate a region for an era, until entropy cuts it down, as entropy eventually will.

    A century past, Americans were stuffed full of nonsense about how hardworking we were, and how lazy and decadent the European powers were, and how this would mean the inevitable decline of Europe and the launching of a new American epoch. An American epoch did rise–aided by both simple macro-economics (developing economies with ample natural are often cheap places to do business, for various reasons; coupling that with mercantilist policies will often produce an economic boom) and by a pair of world wars that devastated both Europe and Asia but left our shores mostly unscathed. American arguments of this sort were made on cultural/religious rather than bioloigcal grounds–seeing that America was dominated by the European diaspora, the suggestion that we were somehow biologically superior would have been laughed at–but they were made much the same.

    When I hear (and read) Chinese claims of superiority over allegedly lazy westerners–you’ll forgive me for rolling my eyes getting a bit of deja vu.

    In general, any racial claim that leads with “in general” is, to put it bluntly, full of crap. Some of your observations do ring true, particularly those that can be pinned on something other than biology. As the PRC government does not have to stand for elections, they can take a longer-term view than can the American polity; a US administration which asked the people to suffer so that their grandchildren might rule the world, would be booted out of office in short order.

    Some of your other observations seem to be comparisons of Chinese elites vs the entire spectrum of other societies. I’ve seen first-hand how many low-class Chinese live (both immigrants to the US, and in China itself), and quite frequently much of the same dysfunction is present as in many lower-class Western subcultures–the suggestion that all Chinese are striving in unity for national dominance (and forgoing hedonistic pleasures) is utterly ridiculous. Likewise, “tiger moms” and such can easily be found in upper-class American families–and while Amy Chua may go around boasting that one of her offspring “performed at Carnegie Hall” (said child has since abandoned a career in music, though is professionally successful in other areas), is this style of parenting the most effective way of producing high-functioning children? (If you read her daughter Sophia’s blog–you’ll note she sounds like any other American millennial, and resembles not the stereotype of Chinese that you are peddling).

    Further, you indicate that Chinese seem to view “leftism, liberalism, and feminism, multiculturalism” as threats–the first, at least, is rather ironic in a country that bills itself as a People’s Republic. And places like Hong Kong or Shanghai are easily as bourgeois as the more affluent parts of the US.

    A few others points simply make me think that you don’t understand the West, or confuse liberal Western sentiments with Western thought overall.

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  15. Very good piece!

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  16. Duke of Qin
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    Jason Liu is wrong on so many things, in fact almost everything. The Chinese and Japanese are culturally and racially very distinct despite their superficial similarities. Much more so than the English differ from their continental neighbors.

    The weltanschauung of the Japanese and the Chinese could not be further apart. Americans and the West as a whole often mistakenly lump the two together and I cannot say I fault them their ignorance entirely though they are cognizant of the differences between the Frenchman and the Spaniard; the German with the Italian; the Pole and the English. This is an ignorance magnified by distance and the cluelessness of the Chinese vis-à-vis the European is no less.

    The Japanese are at their core a collectivist people like no other. They are a people of almost childlike naivety and a capacity for faith and romanticism. The Chinese, contrary to belief otherwise, are raw cynics and individualists at heart, caring naught for what is beyond themselves and their immediate families. Rudyard Kipling himself wrote with more artistry than I can muster here describing the difference between the two as the Chinese as having been biblically marked with the knowledge of good and evil while the Japanese maintained their innocence.

    The Japanese are actually not a competitive people. Their faith is in their collective nation and when their rulers demand that they compete, they will do so. When the same requests that they lay down arms, they will do likewise. They are a united people which is the source of their strength. The Chinese are anything but. We are a mountain of sand; firm from afar but one swift gust will send all the grains flying every which way. The Japanese have reverence in their divine emperor and pride in the continuity of his line. Dozens of ours have died by sword and dagger, poison and noose. The Chinese are a competitive people constantly at a low intensity war with ourselves. Competing for status, competing for money, competing for power.

    If there is one thing that Chinese lack, it is precisely foresight that is missing. If we had it, China wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today ruled by Bolsheviks beholden to an utterly alien and abhuman ideology. An Lushan wouldn’t have been invested with so much power by a foolish emperor. Wu Sangui wouldn’t have thrown his lot in with Nurhaci after rebel armies had taken Beijing. The Chinese are dedicated to their families, but only in line with our self-serving ends.

    I am unsure if you are familiar with the writer Larry Niven who wrote a series of science fiction novels. One fictional alien species described, the Pak, were a race of aliens completely dedicated to the preservation of their own genetic descendants at all costs and were constantly at war with themselves to further this prime directive. The Chinese behave in much the same way. The nouveau riche Chinese elites flooding into the Anglophone West is a symptom of this. Banally stupid Western liberal journalists breathlessly report this as Chinese elites lacking faith in the communist “system” and how the lack of “rule of law” is the cause of the exodus. No, the fundamental reason of this is as the same as the parents (inevitably parents with children) plainly admit, the desire for a better future for their children. They are leaving the fight so their children won’t be cut down by more competitive peers.

    There is more but I am tired.

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  17. I have no issues with the perspective that Cinese operate as a whole. The high context theory of such societies, I think rings true. I will nver forget the comments by Japan’s finance minister years ago, that blacks should focus on being consumers as opposed to participants in structuring the country. I have little doubt that japan and Asia see them themselves as superiors – none. And that they do believe said superiority is innate.

    The west has fed that view more than opposed it.

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  18. Nick K.
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    What a good, thought-provoking article. Having said that, it does seem to have a few small issues. First, as some other commentors have already pointed out, Mr. Unz does seem to exaggerate the degree to which China has historically been meritocratic. His “up from the paddies” hypothesis is a bit hard to accept. A farmer struggling to get by in the manner which Unz describes would hardly be able to provide to his son the rigorous course of study required to pass the imperial examinations. The system was meritocratic in theory, to be sure, but I suspect that Unz is over-simplifying that aspect. Furthermore, China today is a country were merit only takes one so far. Having connections, “going through the back door”, remains central to how things get done, how fortunes are made, and how careers rise over there.

    Anyway, those are small criticisms of a strong piece. Unz should be congratulated for raising the taboo fact that all peoples are not created equally. This used to be something that whites understood, not coincidentally, around the same time when we stood astride the world. China included.

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  19. EliteCommInc.
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    Correction: I have little doubt that Japan and China see them themselves as superior to – none. And that they do believe said superiority is innate.

    I am not sure if any of us have an inside track in understanding China’s international goals. But one would be foolish to ignore the antagonistic dynamics bewteen the the US and China. I don’t think China is going to turn back the clock — they might but it is doubtful. What that means is anyone’s guess. They are a formidable force. And they have been around a far sight longer than the United States. I keep waiting for my promised invitation to teach.

    To ignore the competitive nature of societies for food and water is to ignore the history of human civilization. Suppose for example, that are debt is so over extended that we are unable to make payments. Will China, N.Korea and others, forstall payments at the expense of feeding their large populations? Will they take land in exchange? And should we offer nothing to compensate them should we default. The economic reprcussions on businesses could stress to the point of conflict.

    The extensions of old rivalries are already playing themselves out as China exerts her identity in the region. She is already investigating the solvency of other trading partners. While peaceful relations ought to be the rule of the day. I see no reason to underestimate her ability to exercise force soft or otherwise.

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  20. Marcus
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    @Jason Liu

    You’re lucky, Jason. Your people, admirable in many ways, have rarely been burdened with types like Engineer(ed)Scotty.

    Ugh, how many bromides can a guy punch out in a single email?

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  21. EliteCommInc.

    I should point out that our public debt (to China, and anyone else) is in the form of Treasury securities, denominated in US dollars. Barring any future debt-ceiling debacle that paralyzes the US polity and prevents the Treasury from redeeming such when they come do, it’s not really possible for us to “default” on these–after all, we are a sovereign currency issuer. Now, if inflation were to greatly devalue US debt, you could expect borrowing costs to get higher, or China might seek to invest elsewhere, but the US cannot run out of dollars. Unless it chooses to (which it might–inflation will be adverse to the interests of the domestic ruling class as well as to foreign creditors–a debt crisis gives the powers that be broad powers to decide who gets a seat and who does not once the music stops).

    At this point, China lacks the military capacity to “collect” on any US debts by force; and such an undertaking would, in any case, likely be more expensive than the amount in question. A generation hence, who knows?

    But it’s not like the Chinese unilaterally have us by the balls on this subject. As the old saying goes, “if you owe the bank a thousand, and you cannot pay, you have a problem. If you owe the bank a billion, and you cannot pay, the bank has a problem”. Both the size of the debt, and the current import/export dynamic (Chinese companies still depend heavily on US markets, as domestic consumption is suppressed by internal policies) makes the relationship one of delicate inter-dependence, and not at all similar to the relationship between a desperate gambler and his bookie.

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  22. spite
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    EngineerScotty
    “In general, any racial claim that leads with “in general” is, to put it bluntly, full of crap”.
    You want to bet on that ? How about: In general the 100m sprints are dominated by Blacks, not Chinese. So either you can claim that its all about socio economic conditions, or its simply genetics.

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  23. Unz should be congratulated for raising the taboo fact that all peoples are not created equally. This used to be something that whites understood, not coincidentally, around the same time when we stood astride the world. China included.

    Depends on what you mean by “created”. If you mean that “not all people are born into equal circumstances”, definitely.

    If you mean “not all people are born with equal abilities”, definitely again.

    If you mean that “there are measurable biological differences between national or regional populations, which explain or dominate the difference in national outcomes”, eh, not so much.

    Allegations of eugenics programs aside…forty years ago, China was a backwards nation barely unable to feed itself; today it is a budding superpower. There are plenty of other examples of countries which were backwards forty years ago, and developing today; and plenty of others that were backwards then and are backwards now; including several of China’s neighbors. It’s doubtful that any of this can be explained by biology.

    And if the US and western Europe gets eclipsed by China as a global power–what does that do to longstanding claims of white supremacy? Or will it all be blamed on immigration from poor areas (ignoring that China attracts plenty of poor immigrants as well–it treats them like dirt, but they’re there…)

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  24. Glossy
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    I don’t know a whole lot about Chinese history, so I’ll just say that up until the last paragraph nothing in this piece contradicted what I know.

    “During the Cold War, the enormous governmental investments of the Soviet regime in many fields produced nothing…”

    Obviously, the Soviet Union was the first to conquer space, the first to derive economic use from nuclear power, etc. Lasik surgery was pioneered in the Soviet Union. Since this article is about China, I’ll note that I don’t know of any technological innovations at all that have come from China since antiquity. In 1957, the year of Sputnik, only 12 years separated the USSR from total ruin. It’s now been 35 years since the start of Deng’s reforms.

    “The growing divergence between that ideological model and the real world eventually doomed the USSR…”

    Until Gorbachov started screwing things up, the USSR was doing great. Economically and in every other way.

    I’m participating in the BGI study that was mentioned in this piece. It’s great that the Chinese are doing that. But with so many resources at their disposal they could have been doing so much more. They could have been developing a moon colony, searching for life on the moons of Saturn, trying to create a space elevator, to grow human organs in a laboratory, etc.

    America and Europe aren’t doing things of that general nature anymore because they’re crippled by debt and bad, defeatist ideology. The Chinese don’t have either of those two restraints. They’re probably being restrained by biology instead.

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  25. TGGP
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    Your cite to Robert Allen could have linked to his review.

    I haven’t read Acemoglu & Robinson’s book, but I’ve read a decent bit of their blog and would be surprised if they were advocating “ultra-free-market neoliberalism” (rather than a more inclusive political system) or the “heavily financialized” economy of the U.S. Their critique of the post-apartheid South African government is decidedly from the egalitarian left, and they’ve bemoaned the decline of labor unions here might be leading us toward an uninclusive “extractive state”. I’m also surprised you suggested a stark contrast between Singapore and Hong Kong when most people would consider them rather similar in their economic policies (Lee Yuan Kew has said he envies Hong Kong it’s more extreme policies, but didn’t think he could get away with them), with its low tax rates in particular often cited as a reason it has so many millionaires.

    Aside from IQ there is another psychometric factor correlated with success in modern civilization: the “five-factor” personality dimension of “conscientiousness”. I’d expect a long period of life under strict rule of law to produce that, so I’m surprised you didn’t mention it. Greg Clark also thinks that’s what caused the industrial revolution in England.

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  26. T. Sledge
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    The only east Asians that I have come to know very well are the Vietnamese. I studied the Vietnamese language (North Vietnamese dialect) under instructors who were ethnic Vietnamese and employed by the Defense Language Institute more than 43 years ago as an enlisted man.

    The military had its own reasons for investing more than a year’s worth of full-time language and technical training in 19-22 year old enlisted men, but I took the opportunity that it afforded me to learn as much as I could about the Vietnamese.

    I laboriously translated everything that I could get my hands on that was available in this country 40+ years ago in Vietnamese, and read as extensively as time permitted everything that I could find in English about Vietnam. I also took the opportunity to talk to my instructors as much as possible, outside of the classes.

    The fact that the Vietnamese fought the Chinese for 3000 years to repel every attempt by the far more populous, and far more militarily (as least in numbers) powerful Chinese told me that sweeping generalizations about every East Asian ethnic group is foolish.

    As for the notion that ALL Asians hold these long simmering grudges, if that were true, then the many men about my age (in their 60s) who served the American war machine against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, would not be making sentimental journeys back to the scenes of the battles they fought in that country almost 50 years ago.

    There are many documented instances of ex-grunts sharing memories with the ex-VC and ex-NVN men that they fought against.

    I don’t know any other East Asian ethnic group as well as I do the Vietnamese, so I’m wholly unqualified to make any informed statements about them. But simple observation over more than 62 years of life on this planet tells me that those who do make such generalizations are just as far off base in the case of East Asians, as they would be in making such generalizations about Poles vs. Frenchmen, based upon how many great mathematicians the one group produced versus the other.

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  27. cortesar
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    I believe that you should read much more carefully what Jason wrote
    Most of it actually rings true including racial and cultural component.
    It is at the same time an exercise in gloating and triumphalism very much reminiscent of Jewish one
    At this point both have equal right to feel victorious over decadent Western culture
    But Jason overlooks one thing;those not willing to take risk never have ruled the world and they never will

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  28. You want to bet on that ? How about: In general the 100m sprints are dominated by Blacks, not Chinese. So either you can claim that its all about socio economic conditions, or its simply genetics.

    And the Chinese guy will win at ping-pong. (Or the Swede, or somethin’ like that).

    Obviously, I was speaking of socio-economics. Science has discovered precise physical attributes that correlate to performance in “burst” sports, such as track-and-field (but not long distance running), basketball, and football. (Look up “fast twitch muscle”). Some of these attributes do correlate to the West African diaspora, but are certainly not limited to it.

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  29. “Obviously, the Soviet Union was the first to conquer space, the first to derive economic use from nuclear power, etc. Lasik surgery was pioneered in the Soviet Union. Since this article is about China, I’ll note that I don’t know of any technological innovations at all that have come from China since antiquity.”

    Whites tend to love big showy projects that yield almost no return. They exist only to massage the egos of the upper class. The Soviet success is a reflection of the dumping of billions into prestige projects. China’s prestige projects actually help the people (Grand Canal, Great Wall, Xinjiang Karez System).

    If whites were not around East Asians would simply start doing the innovation by themselves, but why not take advantage of European shortsightedness? It might have cost the US trillions to develop the technology that is widespread in Japan today, but they got it for free by continuing to sell themselves as a strategic counter-balance to China and the USSR. Now that Japan is faced with an energy and labor crisis, they predictably hold a lead in alternative energy and robotics patents – producing much more per dollar spent on R&D (3.37 as much as of late): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_patents
    Korea goes even farther, producing 5x as many patents per dollar spent.

    Something you don’t realize in the throes of your hubris is that your scientific achievements are partly a reason for your decline, not evidence of objective superiority. Japan is the source of 1.25 times as much technological output as America with less than half the population and literally no natural resources (it imports more than half of its calories, almost all of its timber and fossil fuels etc).

    Japan, along with Singapore and Hong Kong, are richer than America in nominal per capita wealth (assets) terms. Taiwan is richer when measured at purchasing power, and South Korea is close: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_wealth

    As for “innovation since antiquity”, take artimesinin for one. Not surprisingly they focus their efforts on practical problems. Likewise, agriculture in China was highly developed and Europeans adopted many of their practices, which led to a population explosion. Even with legions of slaves and vast tracts of arable land Europeans were never able to produce as much food as China did, which tells us a lot about “biology”.

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  30. 39Joshua
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    Jason Liu, if Chinese are so clever, properly nationalistic and pragmatic as you say, then why were the last 150 years (a century and a half!) or so of Chinese history so horrible, bloody, and traumatic, and the history of the “ideological” and “emotional” U.S. so much more prosperous and benign in comparison? Also, since I assume you’re an ABC, why in the world do you think your kin came to the U.S., if not because life was (and probably still is) so much better here than in your kin’s homeland?

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  31. tom merle
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    When the Tiger Mother book was causing such a stir, David Brooks made a very incisive comment, saying in effect, that the mother had it all wrong if she wanted her daughters to excel.

    And this incapacity is the achilles heel of the country as a whole. Brooks faulted the TM for doing precisely what she was insisting on; that her daughters drive themselves without any literal and figurative potty breaks or overnights.

    Instead, she should have encouraged them to spend more time in the school cafeteria so that they come to understand the value of conviviality and collaboration vs. driven competition, even if the Chinese mind acts more holistically. The Chinese, not to put to fine a point on it, lack humanity.

    So we have only one Chinese heritage comic, Margaret Cho. The Chinese or Chinese Americans simply can’t “hang loose” a necessary trait to become something else besides an engineer…. This in part is why the Jews Thrive.

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  32. EliteCommInc.
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    EngineerScotty,

    I have but two response to your comments.

    Tell that to the bond/security holders’ of Greecian, Spanish, Italians, Irish in Europe, the United States and Asia.

    In the book, “Bull by the Horns” by Shelia Bair, addresses that response. The Bloomberg defense and that of the wealthy who can for a time hold the banks at bay because the debt is so large a default would collapse the lender. It just that history tells a different story. Because won way or another, the dollars either run out or they devalue, in either case lenders will have their day, even at a loss. Even the above nations have discovered that there is no perpetual lending machine. And your construction that our debt is spread across several bond holder’s is evidence that should it come to that they will marshall together to minimize their losses.

    That the US cannot run out of dollars sounds like a comment I heard from Stiglitz, maybe, I am not sure if that is correct. But I appreciate that your comments ncluded the ability of the lender to collect, the fall back position, “Come collect, if you think you can.” As though there are no other methods of debt collection. The United States is no longer leading banking rules as they once did. And the Europeans would be all to happy to sign on with a prosperous China to hold us to account, even selling off for less the profit they may have anticipated and do an end around the US. The recent crisis is all about too leveraged to fail — the problem. They failed and they failed big. Unless we turn around our current financial practice and actually move toward paying down on the principle, we are headed for disaterous, because it’s not how much money one can print. It’s also the value of dollar face.

    As I noted earlier, China, has already begun rerouting it’s trading partners. The United States, has proven vulnerable on multiple fronts. And China will not have to send its’ fleeft to collect. But I find it curious that so many are willing to risk it.

    And i agree with one aspect of your comment as I think I noted earlier —

    they are not the sole owners of the reference you made.

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  33. M Steinberg
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    Anthropologist Peter Frost has commented on this also:

    “Clearly, the higher mean IQs of East Asians cannot be solely or even mainly attributed to the Confucian exam culture. The main cause was the establishment of a State society, its monopoly on the use of violence, and its creation of an orderly, rules-based society. Reproductive success depended on being able to play by the rules.

    The rules, however, were formalized in the teachings of Confucius. One’s knowledge of these teachings became a proxy for one’s ability to succeed in East Asian society. More generally, it became a proxy for intellectual performance, all the more so because one had to memorize Chinese characters (a minimum of 10,000 for functional fluency) and understand an archaic form of the language. Thus, Confucian exam culture might explain some of the differences between European and East Asian intellectual performance.

    But why did this exam culture develop in East Asia and not in Europe? Greco-Roman society similarly valued study of classical literature and proficiency in archaic Greek and Latin (as opposed to the contemporary Koine Greek and Vulgar Latin). With the advent of Christianity, however, classical “pagan” literature became viewed with suspicion. Emphasis shifted toward study of the Bible, and such study usually involved entry into celibate religious orders. Insofar as academic success was linked to heritable predispositions, the overall impact of natural selection would have been negative.”

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.co.nz/2011/02/east-asian-intelligence.html

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  34. Jason Liu
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    el supremo,

    The Mao era was the exception in a long history of pragmatic meritocracies. It was also fueled by a foreign ideology. The list of -isms you give are precisely the things Chinese people don’t care about. The average Chinese would not make the distinction other than the government being a top-down bureaucracy with a free market, as it has been for most of history. Profit seeking is just that, profit seeking. It is not mutually exclusive with having a long-term plan.

    Scotty,

    These are all tired, politically correct canards. The observations I note go beyond national egos, chauvinism, class/cultural/economic differences, etc. If that was so, Asians would’ve bought into the liberal “equality” narrative long ago. No, these are serious, level-minded observations that many of us have come to conclude after objective experiences, while knowing full well how stigmatized the subject is in the West, as well as all the intellectual backflips they’re willing to use to explain innate differences away.

    It is not in our interests to buy into false hype and stereotypes. Asians engage in serious self-reflection to determine if there is truth behind them. Many will quietly conclude Yes, there is. When our children innocently ask us why their non-Asian peers are so naive and trusting, we shush them in public and explain in private. This trend has been observed in the logs of Chinese ambassadors and merchants long before there was contact with the West. It is not merely a case of Romans looking down on peripheral barbarians, but an honest and lucid analysis.

    Plus, superiority has little to do with it. These are differences, sometimes advantageous, sometimes not. The same Chinese would just as easily admit to inherent flaws amongst ourselves. It just so happens that the traits we possess are better for nation building and its preservation.

    Asian dysfunction does not discount what I said. The point was, on average, East Asians are still more protective, nationalistic, and objective than non-Asians. Amy Chua’s daughter is, ironically, a good example. While a white kid may end up going down a classical music career, many Asians who grew up playing the piano or the violin end up abandoning it for serious, more potentially profitable careers. Money matters.

    Hong Kong and Shanghai are nowhere as leftist, liberal, feminist, or multicultural as the West. Nor do they wish to be. I don’t see why you brought that up.

    Go find the most assimilated Chinese-American. The kind that’s been here for generations, descended from coolies. Or the kind that immigrated to the Caribbean hundreds of years ago. For example, ask them what they think of their ancestral homeland being “diversified” the way the West has. You will not get the same degree of affirmation as you would from a sample of Westerners. Because while diversity may benefit us abroad, we are not so simple as to think it has no consequences for the majority.

    T. Sledge,

    The Vietnamese are not East Asian in the sense that China, Korea, and Japan are. They will bemoan this, but inside, they know it’s true. Some Viets are similar in culture and comportment to Chinese, many are not. And your history is faulty. Vietnam was ruled in one way or another by China for around 1,000 years. Much of what constitutes the Viet ethnic group comes from heavy mixing with the Han, although they are nationalistic enough not to admit it.

    cortesar,

    I am not gloating or indulging in triumphalism. It is the error of many Westerners to simply believe what I’ve said as precursor to some imperialistic, Hitler-like rampage. It is not. Even imperial Japan was borne out of a desire to be on par with the European colonial powers at the time. Nationalist mythos is not the same as common observations. Propaganda regarding the Yamato people being “divine” was never seriously believed by the populace. However, the differences I outlined between Asians and non-Asians were undoubtedly believed in Japan before, and after their imperial era.

    It is true that Asians shy away more from risk, and have a greater tendency to avoid drastic change. These traits may or may not be beneficial. For example, Asian math majors choosing stable, abundant careers like engineering over most “risky” fields like theoretical physics leads to a higher average income, but a lower chance of producing a scientific breakthrough. Being xenophobic and conservative has led to unfruitful periods of isolation in Chinese and Japanese history, but it also shields the nations from too much self-destructive pluralism.

    None of which should really concern the West, anyway. China has no real intention of “ruling the world”, only that it returns to the status of a respected, affluent power.

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  35. M Steinberg
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    Steve Hsu also notes:

    “he excerpt below is from a review of Greg Clark’s book. The review is mostly negative about Clark’s big picture conclusions, but does provide some interesting historical information. Note, the reviewer does not seem to understand population genetics (see discussion further below).

    The comparison of Beijing nobility and Liaoning peasants is drawn from Lee and Wang’s (1999) survey of Chinese demography, which, in turn, is based on a very detailed investigation of population in Liaoning by Lee and Campbell (1997). In Liaoning, all men had military obligations and were enumerated in the so-called banner roles, which described their families in detail. Individuals’ occupations were also noted, so that fertility can be compared across occupational groups. High status, high income occupations had the most surviving sons: for instance, soldiers aged 46–50 had on average 2.57 surviving sons, artisans had 2.42 sons, and officials had 2.17 sons. In contrast, men aged 46–50 who were commoners had only 1.55 sons on average.

    The references cited are

    Lee, James Z., and Cameron D. Campbell. 1997. Fate and Fortune in Rural China: Social Organization and Population Behavior in Liaoning 1774–1873. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Lee, James Z., and Feng Wang. 1999. One Quarter of Humanity: Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities, 1700–2000. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press.

    So we have at least two documented cases of the descendants of the rich replacing the poor over an extended period of time. My guess is that this kind of population dynamics was quite common in the past. (Today we see the opposite pattern!) Could this type of natural selection lead to changes in quantitative, heritable traits over a relatively short period of time?

    Consider the following simple model, where X is a heritable trait such as intelligence or conscientiousness or even height. Suppose that X has narrow sense heritability of one half. Divide the population into 3 groups:

    Group 1 bottom 1/6 in X; 1 SD above average

    Suppose that Group 3 has a reproductive rate which is 10% higher than Group 2, whereas Group 1 reproduces at a 10% lower rate than Group 2. A relatively weak correlation between X and material wealth could produce this effect, given the demographic data above (the rich outreproduced the poor almost 2 to 1!). Now we can calculate the change in population mean for X over a single generation. In units of SDs, the mean changes by roughly 1/6 ( .1 + .1) 1/2 or about .02 SD. (I assumed assortative mating by group.) Thus it would take roughly 50 generations, or 1k years, under such conditions for the population to experience a 1 SD shift in X.”

    http://infoproc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/08/demography-and-fast-evolution.html

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  36. FN
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    What about the role female infanticide might have played in the selection process? How did the frequency of that practice differ by social stratum?

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  37. This brazen Jason Liu speaks of his own Chinese, with a few glances to the left and right, and says “East Asians”. It would seem he’s a self-identified “(East) Asian American” proudly invested in this membership, but what he supposes to be a unitary racial entity is in truth a mishmash of unlikes.

    We Koreans are not of the same substance as you. No, I’m afraid we are not one kind. Maybe your crowning point – “In general, East Asians are not nearly as emotional. This is by far the most important thing.” – is your apt judgment of Hans, but with it you make clear your ignorance of the irrepressible and very much Korean capacity for passion, volatility, fanaticism, and ebullience, hates and bitternesses and loves that are not more muted or circumscribed than those of occidentals but often overflow them.

    There is more to the Korean character than the perfect gentleman-scholar and Confucian proper place – there is the rejoicing in brutal stone fights* that up until not too long ago had a government-sanctioned fortnight reserved for them each spring; the ecstasies of shamanic possession and dancing on knives; a reverence for divisions of rank and grades of human worth that not only exceeded those of the Chinese Confucians but largely (in genuine caste, with hereditary aristocrats, huge numbers of born chattel slaves, and ritually polluted untouchables) had their basis in something else entirely. I make no apologies. This is not cause for lamentation but a point of pride.

    The depth of our schizophrenia, how our ruling strata made a cargo cult of outdoing the Chinese in wen, in Chinese formulations of cultured virtue, is obvious to see. We sought to pass ourselves off as crisped to the great maw, to the alimentary state that divided all barbarians into “raw” and “cooked”, and took pride in our score lines. So I am all the more glad for that which is wild, unreasonable, unpragmatic, and uncringing in us. They mean the failure (at least the incompleteness) of Sinitic civilization’s program of human domestication.

    During my time in Central Asia and in particular East Turkistan/Xinjiang, I always found myself somehow much more immediately at home, much more at ease, amongst North and Inner Asians – assorted South Siberians, Mongols, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and indeed even the half-Caucasoid Uyghurs of the Tarim oases – than among Han Chinese or any kind of Southeast Asians. There were, in our sensibilities, our potentials for creation, our forms of expression, our instinctive understandings, so many primal congruences – reminders that there is more one way of being Asian, even East Asian, than the Sinitic. These moments would arc into me with an electric twinge, a goring on the Sibero-Scythian prongs of those crowns of buried Silla, a reminder of what could, and would, have been.

    And that is just to speak of Korea.

    Objectivity, pragmatism, and results before concerns for “feelings”, “equality”, “tolerance”, and all the things that cause so much dispute in non-Asian societies.

    Since nothing says “pragmatism” and “results” (let alone “more foresight”) like backyard furnaces. Since nothing embodies detachment from “feelings” or lack of “ideological partisanship” like Red Guards defacing a painting or beating into kidney failure a middle school teacher because both were one day said to embody the Four Olds. As an aside on “objectivity,” maybe you should consider what it means that pre-modern East Asia had so little to hold out in terms of formal logic and empirical sciences.

    We constantly check the political status of our nations to ensure things like leftism, liberalism, and feminism, multiculturalism are not growing out of control.

    Mine is not a triumphalist account. Modern Korea is a nightmare of pathology, perhaps terminally ill, that should put paid to your smug preconceptions. Perhaps you can divine what “far-sightedness” or avoidance of Western pitfalls there is in this:

    The ROK has had a Ministry of Gender Equality and Family since 1998.

    The ROK has, since 2009, been enforcing hate speech codes imposing penalties like a $900 fee for calling a man from India “dirty” and “smelly” on a commuter bus.

    The Korean government has acknowledged dramatic social changes in contemporary Korean society and has attempted to implement this view of contemporary Korean society in national curriculum standards. National curriculum standards have replaced mono-ethnicism with the notions of cultural diversity and multiculturalism. (Moon, 2010)

    In 2010, 10 percent of married couples were interracial, an increase from four percent in 2000, according to Statistics Korea. The prevalence of interracial couples is dramatically higher in rural areas. About 40 percent of married couples in Korean rural areas are interracial couples; it is projected that biracial children will represent about 50 percent of rural children in 2020. (Park, 2011).

    For the conservative government, South Korean nationalism and democracy is fundamentally tied to the doctrine of neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism refers to the flow of economic migrant labour and mobile global capital. This global environment also requires government policies to attract foreign migrants and workers into South Korea’s economy and society.

    Multiculturalism is a state-led response to these global changes. The policies of multiculturalism define the present and future economic, security and cultural national strength of South Korea. Critics suggest that, in fact, the GNP regards multiculturalism as an instrumental policy of increasing national state power in this global environment. (Watson, 2010)

    Will other East Asian states fare better? Some discussion of this very question here and here.

    * Arnold H.S. Landor, 1895, on a settling of scores between the butcher and mud-plasterer “guilds” (more like castes, and two of the lowliest):

    If you can imagine eighteen hundred people fighting by twos in a comparatively limited space and all crowded together; if you can form an idea of the screaming, howling, and yelling in their excitement; and if you can depict the whole scene with its envelopment of dust, then you will have a fair notion of what that stone-fight was like. The fighting continued briskly for over three hours, and many a skull was smashed. Some fell and were trampled to death; others had very severe knife wounds; a few were killed outright.

    […] After a long discussion on the part of the leaders, it was announced that the battle was to be considered a draw, and that it would, therefore, have to be renewed on the next afternoon.

    [...] The police generally attend these battles, but only to protect the spectators, and not to interfere in any way with the belligerents.

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  38. pedr mohr
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    The vast numbers of Chinese is due to their ability too avoid the black plague, farm rice well and to the fact they have no FDA agency nor American medical society.They have avoided cancer partly by way of the healthy green and white tea.They are smart enough to convert soy into natto which is much better in all respects.

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  39. Peter Barlow
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    This is an interesting article. Any serious studies of Chinese history are interesting because China has long been difficult for non-Chinese to understand.

    Mr Liu suggests many characteristics of East Asians, and describes them as a kind of uber mensch caste. Has he ever visited the Philippines? Virtually every point he makes about East Asia could be refuted by a cursory look at the Filipino people. They are emotional, poor at budgeting, cheerful, quick to forgive, and like most people, they work when they have to. As one of the commenters writes, generalisations are risky.

    Mr Unz seems to be saying that during China’s long imperial history, some people were lucky, and rose in a meritocracy. Human nature being what it is, no doubt family connections had something to do with it. And the majority struggled, and if they could not use their brains, or were not lucky enough, ended their lives poor. That about sums up the lot of most of humanity, even today.

    One point with which I think we could take issue, is Mr Unz’s point about “equality before the law” — what law? To this day, mainland China hardly has laws, in the Roman, Byzantine or European sense of the word “law”. And during its history, the law was the decision of the ruler or his agents, in fact if not in theory. And China’s experience up from about 1900 to 1950 was one of almost total absence of any de facto law.

    Take the experience of Chinese immigrants to North America as an example — going before the law was literally the last resort for all first generation immigrants. Police and courts were avoided at all costs, surely because of the memories that these people had of a lawless homeland.

    One final point — what killed imperial China was arrogance about having received the seal of the mandate of heaven, unlike the wretches who inhabited the non-Chinese world, and thus hubris, combined with internal disorder. As China once again becomes rich and powerful, there may be a risk of hubris, that of the rulers believing that somehow they have cheated history and restored the greatness of the Ching era.

    This is the country that invented clocks, then used them to calculate when the emperor should try to conceive his heir. The invention of gunpowder was used to make fireworks for the emperor’s birthday. For all the talk about the 100-year view, and the rise of a sleeping Asian dragon, we need to keep our eyes on history, and maintain a sense of reality.

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  40. Ron:

    Hmm…. If heritability of IQ is not that high, and you can systematically identify the heritable components of IQ, then selecting on them, even though it is not meritocratic, will increase the mean IQ faster than selecting directly on the trait.

    A person from a smart family who is not themselves smart is likely to have smart genes, but to have got an unlucky shake of the environmental (random development) stick.

    If you’re interested in raising mean smartness, then you might do better to help a person have kids who is dumb, but likely from random developmental factors, than some meritocrat who is smart, but from environmental factors.

    There might be an ideal level of meritocracy for Darwinian Selection – if someone is an outlier for their family background, its likely to be for environmental (read: random) factors. Such a person isn’t going to pass their specialness on to their kids.

    A dumb Darwin-Wedgwood might be a better prospect in terms of passing on the genes for intelligence than a smart meritocrat!

    That doesn’t mean the smart meritocrat doesn’t *deserve* more wealth than the dumb Darwin-Wedgwood!

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  41. Panda@War
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    “Take the experience of Chinese immigrants to North America as an example — going before the law was literally the last resort for all first generation immigrants. Police and courts were avoided at all costs, surely because of the memories that these people had of a lawless homeland” (Peter Barlow)

    Seriously, have you ever visited Haiti? Virtually every point you make about North America having any laws, or police for that matter, could be refuted by a casual walk in Port-au-Prince.

    rofl.

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  42. Larry Long
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    My compliments to Ron Unz on his excellent insights and enviable writing style.

    In the above posts, the criticisms of this article appear to me to be based more on ideology than fact, giving a strong sense of “I am determined to believe this, because . . .”

    Also, the claims about Mao gratuitously massacring however many millions of people, is myth and fairy tale. Certainly there was a famine from misguided food allocation, but bad decisions are not evil; they are just bad decisions.

    I have never encountered any evidence that Mao ran around the Chinese countryside, kiling whomever didn’t fit the mold. From everything I know, these claims are just fabrications. And yes, I’ve read web pages containing so-called ‘evidence’, but these appear to have been written by ideologues and none of their claims could be documented.

    I think Ron Unz has done the world a favor with this article – as he has with other of his writings.

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  43. Goose Gander
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    Larry Long, do you know nothing at all about the Cultural Revolution?

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  44. Jason Liu’s frankness in his contempt for the West is kind of refreshing for paranoids like myself, who find it more consistent with China’s soulless philosophy; as opposed to the pious dissembly of the “devious”.

    I mean that literally; the world is a battleground between those for whom there is no higher value than survival (personal, tribal, racial) and those for whom there are causes worth your life’s sacrifice, if need be – namely, the care of the human soul. And the latter ALWAYS triumph, even in defeat. As the secular West is finding out.

    This alleged speech by a Chinese General backs up the attitudes of Comrade Liu. We ignore these ideas at our peril.

    http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/5-8-8/31055.html

    Mike

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  45. may
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    @Glossy
    You said:” I’ll note that I don’t know of any technological innovations at all that have come from China since antiquity.” I am shocked. A cursory online check can reveal China was a center of innovations for centuries!
    Even wikipedia can correct you:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_inventions

    British scientist Joseph Needham—is renowned for his study of: Chinese scientists’ every invention and contribution to every field of science over five centuries

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  46. Gaeranee
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    Peter Barlow – East Asia includes China/Taiwan/Hong Kong/Japan/Korea. It does NOT include the Phillippines.

    Jason – Your racial solipsism was quite amusing and frightening to read at the same time. You attack Unz’s article as describing a symptom, not the cause; yet, you give no support for your conclusion. Being an Asian-American, I am quite familiar with the stereotypes you’ve mentioned and I would argue the reverse — that a few stereotypes that ring true are actually the symptoms of the social Darwinism described by Unz. Traits of hard-work, pragmatism, business acumen are developed when one needs to survive in an ultracompetitive world. These can be handed down from one generation to the next; not just through genetics as Unz posits, but through children modeling their behavior after their parents and so on. Your racial superiority propaganda only feeds into the paranoia so well displayed here by Michael McLeod. All I can say is that you sound very young.

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  47. Gaeranee
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    Recent studies have shown that IQ is not fixed over time. IQ can be increased by rigorous studying. The higher IQs found in the East Asian population as well as in the immigrant population in the US — a point Mr. Unz ponders in one of his writings — can be attributed to the neverending studying done by most Asian students, even among the poor. In Seoul, Korea, on average, 1/3 of a middle class’ family salary is used to fund their children’s education – particularly on studying English at a young age. An average salary in Seoul is $3000/month. But $1000 is used for private cram schools to help children get ahead. This is also the case in China; and used to be the case with Japan although less so now, which explains why their PISA test scores have been slipping. Most students from China and Korea come home at 10 pm at night after a full day of studying.

    While I don’t dispute that there was Social Darwinian factor at play that may have increased the East Asian IQ by perhaps… 1 %, in my humble opinion, I think the dispositive factor for higher Asian IQ in the past 30 years is a very obvious one — Asians as a whole just study harder, thereby raising their IQ.

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  48. Giles Ho
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    Social Darwinism best fits cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore (maybe Taipei), which has attracted and fostered the merchant class of China for hundreds of years due to their warm water ports. Their love of entrepreneurship and rigid stinginess fit the the bill of a hyper capitalist society. However, Social Darwinism fails as a model to describe the other provincial capitals of mainland China.

    I believe most of the sampling is off in that regard, especially when those port cities mostly belong to a merchant class, often concentrated from those fleeing the PRC suppression of the market economy. Shanghai is part of the mainland yes, but the merchant mentality (&attitude) has survived the strict socialist years. Those from Wenzhou (a city near Shanghai) proudly boast to have originated capitalism, after all. And yes, this is the same Wenzhou county that many in China have blamed for causing the real estate boom.

    This founder effect is even more pronounced among the Chinese who reside in South East Asia. They are not rumored, but it’s within well knowledge that for the fraction of the population they represent, the Chinese in South East Asia control a staggering proportion of the economy, in particular in the countries of the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and even Myanmar. The Thai Chinese reportedly control upwards of 50% of the GNP, Filipino Chinese control 50-60% of the share capital despite being 1.3% of the population and the Indonesian Chinese who own that country’s financial sector. The Chinese in South East Asia do not generally “blend” in with the local population, and in many aspects mirror the Ashkenazi Jews of the Western World, but operate in a more brazen matter (due to larger wealth disparity vs the natives). For a short personal story, my grandfather as a child was being photographed in clothing and leather shoes imported from Paris, when the rest of the country was stuck in a national famine that took away over a million lives.

    As for the rest Mainland China, they are largely from a rural, farmer background, who have been quickly transitioned to industry and mining the last few decades. Dongbei/Northeast China in particular, focused on heavy industry (China’s version of the Midwest), whereas Sichuan focused on agriculture and mining (China’s version of California). In many respects, these places of China, and those which haven’t seen such such bright economic prosperity appear more standard in comparison to the rest of the world.

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  49. pstreitz
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    Ron Unz’s article on China’s rise is certainly provocative, but it is less than fulfilling. He is claiming that the social cultural patterns of the Chinese have suddenly in a period of forty years produced this astounding growth after a hundreds of years of cultural and economic stagnancy. It is true that the Chinese invented gunpowder, making porcelain glassware, printing, and a few other things, but it was the Europeans who exploited these inventions. It was the Europeans that made gunpowder into practical weapons. China has made zero economic progress in five hundred years and has lived as no other western country has on always being on the brink of starvation.

    Nor does his article mention the cultural arrest in 1423. The Chinese had floated a flotilla around the world of immense junks of 300 feet and attendant supply ships that navigated around Antarctica, up both the western and eastern coasts of South America and North America, leaving stone buildings in Rhode Island. (See 1421 by Gavin Menzies). When the junks returned in 1423, the Chinese ended all exploration of the world, burnt the junks and burnt the records of their travels. They continued their trade into the Mediterranean. (See 1434 by Gavin Menzies) They sailed their junks into the Mediterranean and had delegations meet the Pope. But that also ended. The total isolation of China is a question that has puzzled historians for decades.

    I would offer a different reason for the ascension of the Chinese: the collapse of the WASP’s in the United States. It is the transference of WASP technology to China that enabled them to build their factories. It is the transference of American wealth that has financed their country. The hollowing up American manufacturing produced the Chinese miracle, not any sudden solitary efforts of the Chinese.

    Further, the Unz describes the cycle of poverty caused by the ancestor worship of the Chinese, that is, the desire for as many male descendents as possible. The result is prosperous Chinese have many male descendents. Then the estate of the wealthy father among the sons is divided equally among the sons. This progressively makes smaller plots of land and the family goes from abject poverty to wealth to abject poverty over generations. The desire for ancestors to worship you after your dead effectively ends after three or so generations according to Unz.

    This cycle could be quickly stopped and China could reduce its population explosion by adopting primogeniture where the land could only be given to the oldest son. This would force the younger sons into occupations other than farming. No elder sons of the European aristocrats went into the clergy, military or business. Some aristocrats, not necessarily royal, can trace their family line back fifteen generations. A smaller number of sons, but ones whose propagation could be assured for generations would seem to be a better choice, but the Chinese do not make this choice.

    Further, Unz does not examine the racial characteristics of the Chinese, other than to say they are smart. The Chinese can be thought to be on one extreme of human behavior while Africans can be thought as being on the other extreme with Whites somewhere in the middle. Chinese have higher IQ’s, more social conformity, lower testosterone levels, higher levels of monogamy and less aggression, than either of the two groups. Given these characteristics, the Chinese society was intelligent, cooperative, but intellectually stagnant until it awakened through the intervention of the WASP’s looking to manufacture their goods in China and import them into the United States.

    The United States adopted Free Trade as its economic doctrine replacing its Hamiltonian protectionism that brought it to world dominance. This is well documented in Patrick Buchanan’s “The Great Betrayal,” Michael Lind’s “Land of Promise,” Ian Fletcher’s “Free Trade Doesn’t Work,” and my “America First: Why Americans Must End Free Trade, Stop Outsourcing and Close Its Open Borders.” Despite overwhelming evidence that Free Trade doesn’t work, it is roundly praised by academic economists, and Republican and Democratic legislators and Presidents.

    Why the WASP’s surrendered to the Chinese is source of much discussion on this website. But what generally has not appeared is any reference to the ideas of David McClelland in his “The Achieving Society” where he examines the rise and fall of both literate and illiterate society. Basically, he says that the fall of society is preceded by a fall in the level of Need of for Achievement, nAch, where the culture is aggressively nationalistic and pro expansion. This reason for the decline he says is that the sons and daughters of such wealthy individuals are raised by slaves and are therefore less independent and assertive. (They want the comfortable life their parents enjoyed. Not economic risk and self-assertion.) The culture decays, the economics decay and the culture declines.

    Arthur Kemp adds to this that it was massive immigration into Rome that eventually doomed Rome. By the end of the Empire, Rome had imported thousands of slaves into the city-state. There were simply not enough Romans to defend Rome. Kemp also argues in “March of the Titans—A History of the White Race,” that the great civilizations of Europe (Egypt, Greece, Roman and now Western Europe) were all created by, call them what you will: Nordics, Caucasians or Aryans.

    England was virtually unscathed in WWII, while Germany was leveled. Prior to the war England’s standard of living was twice that of Germany. Thirty years after the war the situation was reversed. England collapsed into the third world mess it is today with half of London Muslims because of cultural collapse. It is changing in cultural attitudes that precede changes in economies. England when into some grand funk, elected a labor government and was more interested in providing a massive health care system that expanding its wealth so that every citizen could privately afford medical care. (Sound familiar.) England kept its free trade policies, while Germany did not.

    The United States has experienced the same thing since 1960’s. It opened its doors to millions of foreigners and shipped billions of jobs overseas. The argument for Free Trade and Third World immigration became the mantra of both the Democratic and Republican Party. The United States followed England’s example by adopting Free Trade and the countries march together displacing their native populations with Third World immigrants.

    It is worth noting that not all “white” IQ’s are the same. In particular, it is the WASP’s who made the greatest contributions to American technology and industrial organization. To name a few, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, Carnegie, Rockefeller, to name but a few, have been WASP’s. No other immigrant group has come close to making the United States into an economic power house with its high standard of living.

    In “Albion’s Seed,” by David Hackett Fischer, he points out that the economic progress of the United States came from one population group: the WASP’s who came from Anglia (south east of London) and inhabited the northern colonies. Further, from this group also producer the greatest number of contributors to the English success.

    However, in an amazing reversal, it is now the WASP states on the coasts (ME, MA, NY, CT, CA, OR, WA) that are now the blue socialist states. They solidly vote for multiculturalism, massive immigration and free trade.

    (I don’t believe that all white IQ is the same by nationalistic group and the two highest high IQ groups would be those of WASP and German descent. This regards Jews as being genetically different population. Average German IQ has been measured at 107. If you exclude the Turks living in the country, 25%, it would be 111. Whether the Turks were included in the study is not stated.)

    There are 350,000,000 personal computers shipped world wide each year. Almost all manufactured in China. The smart phones and smart pads have created about 650,000 manufacturing jobs in China. Those industries were never developed by the Chinese. The products were not invented by the Chinese. They were invented and developed by Americans who did their manufacturing in China. (Bill Gates ancestry: English, German, and Scots-Irish. Steve Jobs: Joanne Carole Schieble, of Swiss Catholic descent, and Syrian-born Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, who were both unmarried at the time. Wikipedia.) These are the two individuals most responsible for China’s economic rise. They are obviously, not Chinese.
    Gates now an internationalist is firmly supporting massive immigration claiming that the United States needs to import the best “brains” from all over the world. This plainly contradicts economic history where the best brains are found in the United States, England and Germany, not in India or China.
    While illuminating Ron Unz’s assertion that China’s economic rise in such a short time is simplistic and inadequate. China’s rise has been fueled by Americans who have brought their technology to China and insured its success by destroying the American economy. Why the WASP’s let this happen and why they are the strongest supporters of policies that will destroy the country that their forefathers built is the larger question.

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  50. pstreitz
    says:
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    Ron Unz’s article on China’s rise is certainly provocative, but it is less than fulfilling. He is claiming that the social cultural patterns of the Chinese have suddenly in a period of forty years produced this astounding growth after a hundreds of years of cultural and economic stagnancy. It is true that the Chinese invented gunpowder, making porcelain glassware, printing, and a few other things, but it was the Europeans who exploited these inventions. It was the Europeans that made gunpowder into practical weapons. China has made zero economic progress in five hundred years and has lived as no other western country has on always being on the brink of starvation.

    Nor does his article mention the cultural arrest in 1423. The Chinese had floated a flotilla around the world of immense junks of 300 feet and attendant supply ships that navigated around Antarctica, up both the western and eastern coasts of South America and North America, leaving stone buildings in Rhode Island. (See 1421 by Gavin Menzies). When the junks returned in 1423, the Chinese ended all exploration of the world, burnt the junks and burnt the records of their travels. They continued their trade into the Mediterranean. (See 1434 by Gavin Menzies) They sailed their junks into the Mediterranean and had delegations meet the Pope. But that also ended. The total isolation of China is a question that has puzzled historians for decades.

    I would offer a different reason for the ascension of the Chinese: the collapse of the WASP’s in the United States. It is the transference of WASP technology to China that enabled them to build their factories. It is the transference of American wealth that has financed their country. The hollowing up American manufacturing produced the Chinese miracle, not any sudden solitary efforts of the Chinese.

    Further, the Unz describes the cycle of poverty caused by the ancestor worship of the Chinese, that is, the desire for as many male descendents as possible. The result is prosperous Chinese have many male descendents. Then the estate of the wealthy father among the sons is divided equally among the sons. This progressively makes smaller plots of land and the family goes from abject poverty to wealth to abject poverty over generations. The desire for ancestors to worship you after your dead effectively ends after three or so generations according to Unz.

    This cycle could be quickly stopped and China could reduce its population explosion by adopting primogeniture where the land could only be given to the oldest son. This would force the younger sons into occupations other than farming. No elder sons of the European aristocrats went into the clergy, military or business. Some aristocrats, not necessarily royal, can trace their family line back fifteen generations. A smaller number of sons, but ones whose propagation could be assured for generations would seem to be a better choice, but the Chinese do not make this choice.

    Further, Unz does not examine the racial characteristics of the Chinese, other than to say they are smart. The Chinese can be thought to be on one extreme of human behavior while Africans can be thought as being on the other extreme with Whites somewhere in the middle. Chinese have higher IQ’s, more social conformity, lower testosterone levels, higher levels of monogamy and less aggression, than either of the two groups. Given these characteristics, the Chinese society was intelligent, cooperative, but intellectually stagnant until it awakened through the intervention of the WASP’s looking to manufacture their goods in China and import them into the United States.

    The United States adopted Free Trade as its economic doctrine replacing its Hamiltonian protectionism that brought it to world dominance. This is well documented in Patrick Buchanan’s “The Great Betrayal,” Michael Lind’s “Land of Promise,” Ian Fletcher’s “Free Trade Doesn’t Work,” and my “America First: Why Americans Must End Free Trade, Stop Outsourcing and Close Its Open Borders.” Despite overwhelming evidence that Free Trade doesn’t work, it is roundly praised by academic economists, and Republican and Democratic legislators and Presidents.

    Why the WASP’s surrendered to the Chinese is source of much discussion on this website. But what generally has not appeared is any reference to the ideas of David McClelland in his “The Achieving Society” where he examines the rise and fall of both literate and illiterate society. Basically, he says that the fall of society is preceded by a fall in the level of Need of for Achievement, nAch, where the culture is aggressively nationalistic and pro expansion. This reason for the decline he says is that the sons and daughters of such wealthy individuals are raised by slaves and are therefore less independent and assertive. (They want the comfortable life their parents enjoyed. Not economic risk and self-assertion.) The culture decays, the economics decay and the culture declines.

    Arthur Kemp adds to this that it was massive immigration into Rome that eventually doomed Rome. By the end of the Empire, Rome had imported thousands of slaves into the city-state. There were simply not enough Romans to defend Rome. Kemp also argues in “March of the Titans—A History of the White Race,” that the great civilizations of Europe (Egypt, Greece, Roman and now Western Europe) were all created by, call them what you will: Nordics, Caucasians or Aryans.

    England was virtually unscathed in WWII, while Germany was leveled. Prior to the war England’s standard of living was twice that of Germany. Thirty years after the war the situation was reversed. England collapsed into the third world mess it is today with half of London Muslims because of cultural collapse. It is changing in cultural attitudes that precede changes in economies. England when into some grand funk, elected a labor government and was more interested in providing a massive health care system that expanding its wealth so that every citizen could privately afford medical care. (Sound familiar.) England kept its free trade policies, while Germany did not.

    The United States has experienced the same thing since 1960’s. It opened its doors to millions of foreigners and shipped billions of jobs overseas. The argument for Free Trade and Third World immigration became the mantra of both the Democratic and Republican Party. The United States followed England’s example by adopting Free Trade and the countries march together displacing their native populations with Third World immigrants.

    It is worth noting that not all “white” IQ’s are the same. In particular, it is the WASP’s who made the greatest contributions to American technology and industrial organization. To name a few, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, Carnegie, Rockefeller, to name but a few, have been WASP’s. No other immigrant group has come close to making the United States into an economic power house with its high standard of living.

    In “Albion’s Seed,” by David Hackett Fischer, he points out that the economic progress of the United States came from one population group: the WASP’s who came from Anglia (south east of London) and inhabited the northern colonies. Further, from this group also producer the greatest number of contributors to the English success.

    However, in an amazing reversal, it is now the WASP states on the coasts (ME, MA, NY, CT, CA, OR, WA) that are now the blue socialist states. They solidly vote for multiculturalism, massive immigration and free trade.

    (I don’t believe that all white IQ is the same by nationalistic group and the two highest high IQ groups would be those of WASP and German descent. This regards Jews as being genetically different population. Average German IQ has been measured at 107. If you exclude the Turks living in the country, 25%, it would be 111. Whether the Turks were included in the study is not stated.)

    There are 350,000,000 personal computers shipped world wide each year. Almost all manufactured in China. The smart phones and smart pads have created about 650,000 manufacturing jobs in China. Those industries were never developed by the Chinese. The products were not invented by the Chinese. They were invented and developed by Americans who did their manufacturing in China. (Bill Gates ancestry: English, German, and Scots-Irish. Steve Jobs: Joanne Carole Schieble, of Swiss Catholic descent, and Syrian-born Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, who were both unmarried at the time. Wikipedia.) These are the two individuals most responsible for China’s economic rise. They are obviously, not Chinese.

    Gates now an internationalist is firmly supporting massive immigration claiming that the United States needs to import the best “brains” from all over the world. This plainly contradicts economic history where the best brains are found in the United States, England and Germany, not in India or China.

    While illuminating Ron Unz’s assertion that China’s economic rise in such a short time is simplistic and inadequate. China’s rise has been fueled by Americans who have brought their technology to China and insured its success by destroying the American economy. Why the WASP’s let this happen and why they are the strongest supporters of policies that will destroy the country that their forefathers built is the larger question

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  51. Gaeranee
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    pstreitz’ comment is peculiar and interesting on so many levels.

    His point that the greatest contributions to technology in the US was made by WASPS is rather funny. Who are we comparing them to? The Native Americans? During the time of the Carnegies, Rockefellers, Whitneys, Bell… there were hardly any Asians, Jews, Hispanics in this country. The few that were here were from the lower echelon of society who came here to make a living for themselves — in the Chinese’ case, to build railroads. As for blacks, they just gained their independence from slavery. He forgets that WASPS were here the longest and thus had the most opportunity to contribute to this society. If the last 20 years is any indication, that will change soon.

    Then he argues that companies like Microsoft and Apple were made by a Caucasian (Gates) and a half Syrian, not the Chinese. Doesn’t the fact that Jobs was half Syran just undercut his argument that WASPs, Aryans, Caucasians are just naturally superior to all other races? And why limit the analysis to them? How about Oppenheimer – a Jew. Einstein – a Jew.

    If we’re going to talk about more recent developments, how about Youtube – a Chinese, a half Bangladeshi Persian (not sure about the third inventor); Facebook – a Jew; Google – a Russian Jew and a half Jew; Wang of Wang laboratories (Chinese).

    As for his cherry picking of greatest civilizations, there’s definitely ethnocentrism at play here. Who determines what is a “great civilization?” Kemp? Him? If we’re talking about empires, why not count the Spanish empire, Ottoman empire, Mughal empire, and all the other Asian empires that are counted as “great” among Asians.

    The downfall of the Asian civilization was its hubris. While the western powers were exploring the world, slaughtering Native Americans to occupy their land, enriching themselves off the backs of slaves from Africa and the West Indies, while exploiting the riches of the Orient, the Middle East and South America, the other civilizations were merely content to enjoy their own riches. This led to colonialism of China first by the Europeans and then the Japanese… and then ultimately communism. These situations didn’t exactly lend themselves to many inventions by the Chinese.

    What I see now is hubris by Americans (or more from like people like pstreitz, if he is indeed American.) They think that just because they became the dominant power for the past century, they (and WASPs who were the early settlers) are somehow genetically or culturally or morally superior. What they fail to realize is that a century is just a tiny little blip in the history of empires. Most empires lasted hundreds of years and they fell not because of immigration, they fell because of hubris. We, as Americans, should all take care in not letting that get the best of us. And most Asian-Americans are willing to take part in building this great society. That is what many of us had in mind when we came here.

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  52. Bob Hope
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    @pstreitz

    >It was the Europeans that made gunpowder into practical weapons.

    This comment shows that are you massively ignorant about chinese history

    When Europeans were still using swords and armored knights the chinese were fighting with guns, rocket launchers, multistage rockets, land mines, naval mines, grenades, poison gas, flamethrowers, repeating crossbows armed with explosive bolts

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huolongjing

    rendered by its translator into English as Fire Drake Manual; in modern English, Fire Dragon Manual) is a 14th century military treatise that was compiled and edited by Jiao Yu and Liu Ji of the early Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD) in China. It outlined the use of various ‘fire–weapons’ involving the use of gunpowder.

    The Huolongjing provided information for various gunpowder compositions, including ‘magic gunpowder’, ‘poison gunpowder’, or ‘blinding and burning gunpowder’. It had descriptions of the Chinese hollow cast iron grenade bomb, shrapnel bombs, and bombs with poisonous concoctions. The book had descriptions of the 10th century Chinese fire arrow, a simple wooden arrow with a spherical soft casing attached to the arrow and filled with gunpowder, ignited by a fuse so that it was propelled forward (and provided a light explosion upon impact). However, the book explained how this simple ‘fire arrow’ evolved into the metal-tube launched rocket. The book provided descriptions of various rocket launchers that launched tons of rockets at a time, the advent of the two stage rocket having a booster rocket igniting a swarm of smaller ones that were shot from the mouth of a missile shaped like a dragon, and even fin–mounted winged rockets. The book described the use of explosive land mines and descriptions of explosive naval mines at sea and on the river; this incorporated the use of a complex trigger mechanism of falling weights, pins, and a steel wheel lock to ignite the train of fuses. The book described various proto–guns including the fire lance (a short-burst flame-thrower that emitted a charge of shrapnel), multiple metal barrel handguns (with up to ten barrels), and descriptions of handguns with possible serpentine locks, used as components in matchlock firearms. The book provided descriptions of the early bombard and cannon, including the use of hollow gunpowder–packed exploding cannonballs, cannon barrels filled with metal balls containing poisonous gunpowder solutions, and cannons that were mounted on wheeled carriages so that they could be rotated in all directions.

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  53. Bob Hope
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    @Gaeranee

    >IQ can be increased by rigorous studying. The higher IQs found in the East Asian population as well as in the immigrant population in the US — a point Mr. Unz ponders in one of his writings — can be attributed to the neverending studying done by most Asian students, even among the poor.

    Care to explain why korean children adopted by whites display higher IQ than white children with white parents?

    Studies on Korean infants adopted by European families have consistently shown a higher IQ than the European average.[18][96][119][120] Frydman and Lynn (1989) showed a mean IQ of 119 for Korean infants adopted by Belgium families. After correcting for the Flynn effect, the IQ of the adopted Korean children was still 10 points higher than the indigenous Belgian children.[18][96][119] Stams et al. (2000) showed a mean IQ of 115 for Korean infants adopted in the Netherlands.[120] Lindblad et al. (2009) studied school performance of adoptees in Sweden relative to intelligence tests in Sweden’s military. The study showed that Korean adoptees had a higher grade point average and higher intelligence test score than Sweden’s national average. While non-Korean adoptees had a lower grade point average and lower intelligence test score than Sweden’s national average.[121] The higher IQ for Korean adoptees is in line with the higher IQ average of South Korea compared to Western nations.[122]

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  54. Gaeranee
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    Hi Bob Hope, I don’t dispute that there is a genetic component. I think it’s entirely conceivable that harsh conditions may have led to the decrease in the lower IQ population in Asia; hence, raising the mean IQ in the Asian population. But I think cultural factors are more important because even the poorest farmer in East Asia will spend a large amount of his money toward educating his children. So a child who was born with an IQ of 90 may end up with an IQ of 98 with rigorous studying.

    As for the adoption point, it can be a preselection bias. Most people who adopt are usually people of means. That means that they can afford to educate their young adoptees. It would be interesting to see if adoptive parents on average have higher IQs than the average population, which could explain your point.

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  55. CPS
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    Ron’s articles are usually quite logical and well thought out, but this one seems to have a critical flaw, unless I’m somehow mistaken. Here are the relevant sections from the article –

    … only the wealthier families of a Chinese village could afford the costs associated with obtaining wives for their sons, with female infanticide and other factors regularly ensuring up to a 15 percent shortfall in the number of available women. Thus, the poorest village strata usually failed to reproduce at all, while poverty and malnourishment also tended to lower fertility and raise infant mortality as one moved downward along the economic gradient. At the same time, the wealthiest villagers sometimes could afford multiple wives or concubines and regularly produced much larger numbers of surviving offspring. Each generation, the poorest disappeared, the less affluent failed to replenish their numbers, and all those lower rungs on the economic ladder were filled by the downwardly mobile children of the fecund wealthy.
    ….
    Successful peasants might benefit from a good intellect, but they also required the propensity for hard manual toil, determination, diligence, and even such purely physical traits as resistance to injury and efficiency in food digestion. Given such multiple selective pressures and constraints, we would expect the shift in the prevalence of any single one of these traits to be far slower than if it alone determined success, and the many centuries of steady Chinese selection across the world’s largest population would have been required to produce any substantial result.

    The impact of such strong selective forces obviously manifests at multiple levels, with cultural software being far more flexible and responsive than any gradual shifts in innate tendencies, and distinguishing between evidence of these two mechanisms is hardly a trivial task. But it seems quite unlikely that the second, deeper sort of biological human change would not have occurred during a thousand years or more of these relentlessly shaping pressures, and simply to ignore or dismiss such an important possibility is unreasonable.

    The death of the last unmarried son would certainly end the family name, thus making it appear from geneological records that the poorest families “disappear”. But what do you think happened to the daughters? With the paucity of females, any daughters born in the lowest social stratum would have an excellent chance of marrying (or becoming concubines of) the middle- and upper-class males.

    (Incidentally, this would bring valuable bride-price and social connections to a girl’s parents and brothers. So I expect daughters were more valued by poor families.)

    In essence, many of the poorest families (conservatively, >75%) would manage to pass on at least half of their genes – as one or more daughters would marry.

    So the genetic effect of this “reproductive failure” is only in the Y chromosome of the poorest families “vanishing”. The Y chromosome is exceedingly widely shared in the society anyway*, so on a population level, there’s close to no effect at all.

    The net effect of continuous downword social mobility on the gene-pool of the Chinese population would be close to negligible. Any “bad genes” that played a part in the downword trajectory would not get weeded out. (The obvious harmful mutations would be minimised regardless of class and trajectory.)

    *The X-Y sex chromosome get shuffled up only in a tiny fraction of the Y chromosome, so it’s passed around in the society largely unchanged. Ascribing any hypothetical fractional genetic aspect of the many many causes of social mobility to these few genes seems quite unrealistic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoautosomal_region

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y_chromosome#Genetic_genealogy

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  56. Bob Hope
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    @Gaeranee

    Read the passage more carefully

    While non-Korean adoptees had a lower grade point average and lower intelligence test score than Sweden’s national average.

    They already did the same thing with non koreans

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  57. AndrewL
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    @pstreitz

    The answer to your question – why WASP’s would build up Chinese economy and hollow out the American one by moving technology and manufacturing to China – is one word: greed.

    Apple outsources manufacturing to China because the labor cost of an iPhone, between $12.50 and $30 (depending on the model), is just 2-5% of the sales price. Consequently, Apple makes more than 50% of the entire mobile phone industry’s profits.

    The corporate elite of this country no longer cares about America. With S&P 500 at an all-time high, do the CEOs of those 500 companies lose sleep over the unemployment rate that is still above 7%?

    The real challenge facing this country is not the rise of China; it’s the near impossible task of breaking the corporate-political complex that’s choking this country. If America puts its house in order, no one would care to read such a well-written article by Mr. Unz.

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  58. “For decades, Hong Kong enjoyed one of the most free-market, nearly anarcho-libertarian economic systems; during that same period, Singapore was governed by the tight hand of Lee Kuan Yew and his socialistic People’s Action Party, which built a one-party state with a large degree of government guidance and control. ”
    Isn’t Singapore one of the freest economies in the World? Didn’t Lee Kuan crush his old socialist rivals? Lee Kuan has stated that, as he shifted from Fabian Socialism to Free Market Economics, he copied Hong Kong policies as much as his people values and Singapore “democracy” allowed him to and that it was a uphill battle. By the way, I wonder why Mainland China racially blessed Chinese didn’t experience as much success under Chairman Mao’s socialistic (at least, he WAS a socialist) rule as Singapore has experienced under those PAP pinkos.

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  59. Probably the only error in this well-argued and convincing article concerns the initials of Mr. Ross’ name. The author of The Changing Chinese (Ross 1911) was not A.E. Ross, but E.A. Ross. E for Edward, A for Alsworth.

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  60. A fascinating argument on the impact of meritocracy and the subsequent evolution of social Darwinism in China, this article says that Chinese poor died out and were replaced by the downwardly mobile descendants of the rich. (It also suggests that pre-welfare state England, the same applied on a smaller scale). I’m not sure about the eugenic side of the argument, but I can well believe that a hardier body and better ability to digest and make use of simple rice (and greens and the occasional piece of meat) could be inherited genetically.

    What I’m interested in is whether this still applies to modern China, where rich families (as before) are able to give the best education to their children (who with connections also do well), but where food is far more plentiful and starvation more remote. And the opposite side of the argument : in a social welfare state, does laziness and sloth drive out any efforts at self-improvement (in terms of economic and social status), as some argue? Is there any article that compares social demographics in say, the UK in the last fifty years, and compares it to the current status of the British? And in the West, immigration is a major social change factor, bringing in enterprising (mostly!) and hard-working families that replace those unwilling to better themselves. The problem is controlling for so many other factors.

    So, what about a comparison between growth rates and social development indicators in Hong Kong (no meritocracy but fierce economic competition) and a Chinese city of comparable size? In one, there is economic and social (and some political freedom), but no meritocracy. In the other, there is meritocracy, but freedom is constrained by the state. I suspect that Hong Kong does much better on all social development indices. The generational/genetic influence of Chinese society and the belief in hard work is nearly the same.

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  61. What made China China was its materialism. The Chinese are still, whether here or in China, the most materialistic people, compared to whom the Jews and Armenians are pikers. And the Chinese, unlike Jews and Armenians, have never taken religion seriously.

    You can admire the Chinese if you like. But I would not want to be at their mercy since money is their God.

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  62. Charles Murray argued (in “The Bell Curve”) that Jewishness is genetic, and that Jews are genetically superior (intellectually) to European Christians and to back Africans. I disagree, and think of American “Jewishness” more as an ethnicity than as a race.

    Marilyn Jager Adams wrote (In “ABC Foundations For Young Children”) that most American kids finishing first-grade still can’t name and write all of the alphabet letters, a preventable disaster hurting mostly poor Latino and African-American kids. The amazon review for her book are at:
    amazon.com books, ABC Foundations.

    We have found that all kids in kindergarten, irrespective of race or ethnicity, can easily become successful at fluent handwriting, letter knowledge and literacy if only good teaching were available.

    So much for “race”.

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  63. trt
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    “during that same period, Singapore was governed by the tight hand of Lee Kuan Yew and his socialistic People’s Action Party, which built a one-party state with a large degree of government guidance and control.” – that’s nonsense. Singapore is much more free-market than US and EU. For years it has been the 2nd most free economy after Hong Kong. Lee Kuan Yew pretended in the 1950s to be a leftist but once he got to power he elbowed out the reds and returned to capitalism after years of British Labour Party mismanagement and leftist experiments.

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  64. Why don't Asian Guys Get Laid? - Icarus Green
    says:
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    […] parents aren’t all to blame though. There’s of course the genetic reasons. Not to complicate it, but the very factors that make China the world’s oldest surviving […]

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