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Amy Chua

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Andrew Ferguson’s witty and wistful new memoir, Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College, stands in obvious contrast to Amy Chua’s bumptious bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Between them, the two books nicely illustrate the stately but steady decline of the white upper middle class, of which Ferguson is a sterling representative, in the face of Asian competition for the commanding heights of American society.

Ferguson’s book could be called Wry Observations of the Deer Dad. The gentle satirist comes across as the anti-Chua as he describes what he learned from his family’s 18-month struggle with college admissions mania. The fair-minded Ferguson seems observant, skittish, respectful of his son’s individuality and preferences, slightly passive, and, in the multi-generational long run, dead meat for the tigers of this world.

Crazy U. is not really a how-to guide. Instead, the questions that interest Ferguson most have less to do with helping his son get ahead than with the Big Picture issues of why getting into college has become so frenzied and whether these changes are good for society.

Chua, on the other hand, just wants her progeny to win.

Granted, the likable Ferguson had plenty of resources with which to pull strings if he thought that was sporting. He’s had a long career in Washington, including a stint as a speechwriter for George H.W. Bush.Crazy U. comes with blurbs from a Murderer’s Row line-up of old white guy bestselling authors: Tom Wolfe, P.J. O’Rourke, Christopher Buckley, William Bennett, and Christopher Hitchens.

Ferguson is a “writer’s writer”, more admired by his peers in the magazine trade for his understated prose style (like that of an upscale Dave Barry) than recognized by the public. He’s an unobtrusive soul happier observing his fellow man than promoting his own image. Although I’ve read scores of articles by Ferguson over the years, the line by him that I remember best is from the opening page of P.J. O’Rourke’s 1991 book Parliament of Whores:

” ‘How come,’ I asked Andy, ‘whenever something upsets the Left, you see immediate marches and parades and rallies with signs already printed and rhyming slogans already composed, whereas whenever something upsets the Right, you see two members of the Young Americans for Freedom waving a six-inch American flag?’

“’We have jobs,’ said Andy.”

It’s telling that Ferguson’s most mordant line is in O’Rourke’s book. In his own writing, Ferguson lacks the reductionist urge to boil a bad idea down to its absurd essence. He’s a little too nice to be a great satirist and not quite cynical enough to be a great analyst.

Chua complains, with some justice:

“All these Western parents with the same party line about what’s good for children and what’s not … They’re not questioninganything, either, which is what Westerners are supposed to be so good at doing.”

Ferguson, however, does question the rules of the game. For example, why do parents obsess over how to get their child into a prestigious college but not over what their scion will (or won’t) learn there? Colleges are ranked on the test scores their students earned in high school, not on how much they learn in college. Is college mostly now an expensive signaling device for IQ and work ethic? The answers Ferguson comes up with won’t be terribly novel to readers of this column, but they’re sensible.

Like Barry Obama, Ferguson got into Occidental College in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He’s nostalgic for the less pressurized world in which he grew up. But he doesn’t notice all the causes of today’s crush ofcompetition, such as:

However, Ferguson’s lack of self-centeredness makes him ideal for describing the weird cult of today’s college application’s “Me Essay.”

The spread of the web-based Common Application has made it easy for kids to apply to dozens of colleges. So colleges have tried to winnow out the looky-loos by demanding ever more supplementary essays specific to each college. That’s sensible supply-and-demandthinking, but the essays’ topics—or, to be accurate, topic— is always: Write about … Me! Once in college, you are graded on writing about what you’ve learned. But to get in, you must first expound in the approved manner on your innermost feelings, something difficult for teenagers with healthy levels of self-consciousness and self-respect. Ferguson asks:

“I’d interviewed a dozen admissions professionals who slagged the SAT, looked for ways to expel it from the process altogether, on the grounds that it couldn’t accurately measure qualities that might make a kid asuccessful college student. But what qualities does the Me Essay measure?”

He answers:

“Narcissism, exhibitionism, Uriah Heepish insincerity, and the unwholesome thrill that some people get from gyrating before strangers. Which of these traits, I wondered, predicted scholarly aptitude or academic success?”

Not surprisingly, the Me Essays encourages embroidery:

“If you’re uncomfortable writing about your inner life, and if your outer life has been happy and free of character-formingcatastrophe … then you’ve got one option: make it up. … You can bend your life into a dramatic arc that it’s never had, in a voice that isn’t yours.”

Or, of course, you can just pay somebody to concoct your inner self for you. Last week, I heard from one tiger mom who attributed her daughter’s success in getting accepted by famous colleges to the $1,500 she paid a consultant to more or less write her daughter’s essay about the Real Me.

But, $1,500 is nothing compared to what I heard last spring from a Harvard man with some old money who wants his son to follow in his footsteps:

Him: I made some calls. I found out the Harvard Number.

Me: What’s “the Harvard Number?”

Him: It’s how much you have to donate to Harvard to get your kid off the waiting list and into Harvard.

Me: You can do that?

Him: Yeah, but it costs five million,

Me: Five million dollars? Who can pay five million?

Him: Hedge fund guys. They ruin things for everybody.

But if American colleges reward shamelessness, who is to say they are wrong? They certainly haven’t been shown to be going down the wrong path, at least not in the terms that matter most to these institutions: the perpetuation and exaltation of their own power and prestige.

Getting into college may have evolved since the 1970s from a fairly low-key contest of individual academic merit into an absurd test of parents’ desperation to do whatever it takes. But, hey, that seems to be working well out for the colleges.

It’s not as if Harvard and Yale have gone the way of Pan-Am and TWA. Instead, Asia is now full of parents even more feverish than Americans to get their children into name-brand American colleges.

Ferguson attributes the self-absorption of the essay prompts—“Tellus about a moment in your life when you refused to beembarrassed”—to the perkiness of the kind of person who goes into college recruiting: “Admissions people tend to be chipper folk, serotonin-soaked, and caffeinated from birth, and they assume that every high school senior should be too.”

There’s something to this. Midcentury humorist Richard Armour once joked that the Admissions Office is in charge of admitting the college’s mistakes. Ironically, Admissions departments tend to be staffed by their own errors: young alumni whose main accomplishment in life has turned out to be getting into the college they now work for. Recruiting pays poorly relative to the travel required, so the job tends to be filled by the college’s grads who couldn’t get better jobs elsewhere.

Admissions staffers are compensated in part with their power to pick applicants who remind them of themselves. Thus, the recent finding that applicants who have showed leadership accomplishments in socially or politically conservative extracurricular organizations—especially ones that aren’t likely to lead to highly paid careers, such JROTC or FFA—are often discriminated against.

Yet, there are, at least occasionally, some brains behind admissions. After all, somebody must be doing something smart. One possibility is that demanding verbal braggadocio gives a leg up to blacks (and, for that matter, to whites) over the Asian tiger cubs. Perhaps the tigers don’t donate much?

Ferguson is reticent to the point of tedium on the topic of “diversity”—which, of course, obsesses admissions officers. There’s plenty of opportunity for comedy there, but Ferguson will only handlerace gingerly. Indeed, judging from the names in his Acknowledgments of the other parents he obsessed over college admissions with, he doesn’t appear to socialize much with Tiger Parents—who are more likely to be frank than are nice white people. High-end journalism is overwhelmingly a white business, with a few Asians and Indians, so it is increasingly out of touch with what’s going on in America.

I don’t think it’s just the career self-preservation gene, though. Ferguson is always dull on race. For example, Ferguson’s 2007 review of the literary oeuvre of Barack Obama in the Weekly Standardclimaxed with the complaint that:

“Even now some reviewers and critics insist that Dreams [from My Father] is essentially a racial memoir. And it is, I guess, in the sense that Anna Karenina is a meditation on the power of locomotives in czarist Russia.” [TheLiterary Obama, February 12, 2007]

Obviously, a book subtitled A Story of Race and Inheritance isn’t really a story of race and inheritance.

Contrast how much brilliant fun Tom Wolfe has had with race going back four decades to Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchersversus how little Ferguson has had more recently. Differences in family background suggest themselves as causes.

Wolfe is an unapologetic son of the South, while Ferguson is from the Land of Lincoln, as he entitled his 2007 book about the Great Emancipator. Indeed, Ferguson’s father was a lawyer with the suburban Chicago firm of Isham, Lincoln & Beale, founded by Robert Todd Lincoln, the President’s son.

When it comes to race, Ferguson is an old-fashioned liberal Republican, high-minded to the point of obliviousness. For instance, in the March 28, 2011 issue of the Weekly Standard, Ferguson writes in The Quotas Everyone Ignores: Why Universities Are Quietly Favoring White Males Once Again:

“Anyone who clings to a belief in the inevitability of human progress might want to contemplate the latest trend in college admissions. After a half-century of battles over racial and gender preferences for URMs (admissions-speak for ‘underrepresented minorities,’ a term that has traditionallycomprised nearly anyone who isn’t a white male), colleges and universities have boldly embarked on a policy of affirmative action preferences for.  .  . white males. It’s like old times.”

Ferguson is puzzled why almost nobody objects to this trend. Ironically, although he likes to think of himself as urbane and world-weary, he really doesn’t get why liberal colleges would do such a thing. That’s because he only vaguely recognizes how financiallydependent universities, those juggernauts of liberalism, are upon admitting enough white male conservatives to eventually become wealthy alumni donors.

Unpublished statistical analyses by colleges have revealed that their most generous graduates tend to be competitive white males with team spirit and loyalty—in short, nature’s conservatives. From an admissions standpoint, the most likely future donors are smart white legacy jocks.

USC, for instance, last month announced a $200,000,000 donation from an old shotputter whose parents were also USC grads. David Dornsife, Class of ’65, majored in business while on the national champion USC track & field team, then made a fortune in the steel fabrication business in Fresno. I don’t know anything about Mr. Dornsife’s political or social views, but I’ll bet that theyare more conservative than those of the average USC professor.

White males are by far the biggest donors to college endowments. But nobody on campus will ever say anything good about white males as a group.

Perhaps we need a campaign to raise awareness. Andy Ferguson, however, certainly isn’t going to lead it.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative.

His website features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Amy Chua 
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January 2011, has been a month of great divisiveness. Yet one individual has unified America: Amy Chua.

For the last few weeks, it has sometimes seemed as if everybodyhated (and/or envied) the Yale Law School professor [Email her] whose third book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, recounts the hyperambitious “Chinese mothering” she used to nag her two daughters into being straight A students and classical music prodigies.

For example, Chua writes that her daughter can remember:

“… three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:

  1. “Oh my God, you’re just getting worse and worse.”
  2. “I’m going to count to three, then I want musicality.”
  3. “If the next time’s not PERFECT, I’m going to TAKE ALL YOUR STUFFED ANIMALS AND BURN THEM!”

Ever since an excerpt was published in the Wall Street Journal under the title Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior January 8, 2011, the public can’t get enough of the mom they love to hate. She’s even been a superstar at Davos last week, among the global uberclass.

Indeed, President Obama’s State of the Union address, with itsobsessing over Chinese competition, had the subtext that Americans must finally come together and unite against the Amy Chua Menace.

Yet, remarkably little attention has been devoted to the big picture: how Chua’s new memoir relates to her first book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, which I reviewed here in exactly eight years ago.

Before I get to the deepthink part of my review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, let me cover a couple of issues.

As Charles Murray was the first to point out (and most people still haven’t noticed), Chua can be an (intentionally) hilarious writer. I read Tiger Mother in about four hours and laughed out loud for maybe half of the time.

Chua isn’t just telling you exactly how she feels: she’s also playing a character who is funny because you know she’s going to tell you exactly how she feels. When satirist Evelyn Waugh tottered around mid-century London with a giant Victorian ear trumpet clamped to his head (which, when a postprandial oration began to bore him, he would ostentatiously unstrap and set on the table), he wasn’t just expressing his reactionary curmudgeonlyness. He was also gleefully playing his chosen role as England’s leading curmudgeonly reactionar y.

Similarly, Chua works hard in her writing to make herself the face of an increasingly important type: the flamboyantly Asian mother who forces her children to practice piano or violin endlessly to look good a decade from now on their Ivy League applications.

For instance, she commiserates with her prize-winning pianist daughter about how American pop culture doesn’t validate her child’s Oriental docility:

“In Disney movies, the ‘good daughter’ always has to have a breakdown and realize that life is not all about following rules andwinning prizes, and then takes off her clothes and runs into the ocean … But that’s just Disney’s way of appealing to all the people who never win any prizes. …

Chua, who is her own best audience, observes:

“I was deeply moved by my oration.”

When her higher-testosterone younger daughter wants to drop violin for tennis, Chua recounts:

“I compared her to Amy Jiang, Amy Wang, Amy Liu, and Harvard Wong‒all first-generation Asian kids‒none of whom ever talked back to their parents. … I told her I was thinking of adopting a third child from China, one who would practice when I told her to, and maybe even play the cello in addition to the violin and piano.”

This looks artless, but notice how amusing the Sino-American names sound when read out loud in that precise order in a tone of mounting hysteria: Amy Jiang, Amy Wang, Amy Liu, and Harvard Wong. Or consider how much the author gets our hopes up momentarily that she might just be crazy enough to carry out her threatened adoption experiment. Wouldn’t you like to know how that would turn out?

Granted, Chua’s character in Tiger Mom isn’t original. Many East Asian women feel as Chua does about all the politically correct rationalizations that whites tell each other to make America’s status climbing / mating market games seem less Darwinian. To Chua, happy talk is for losers. If you tell too many genteel lies, your children might start believing them. And then your descendants will be weak.

And you know what happens to the weak …

Chua’s semi-self-parody is an up-market version of the brilliant British comedienne Tracey Ullman’ s character Mrs. Noh Nang Ning, the brutally frank donut shop owner. Here’s a video from HBO’s 1990s sketch comedy show Tracey Takes On of Mrs. N coaching her nine-year-old niece at the figure skating rink:

Nice white mom [sententiously]: Well, we don’t care about Henie winning … The important thing is that my daughter go out there and have a good time.”

Mrs. Noh Nang Ning [fiercely]: “Me, too. I want niece to have good time. You know what good time is? Winning! …”

Mrs. Noh Nang Ning [encouraging her niece]: “You lose, you no come home!”

Nice white mom [aghast]: How can you SAY that to a child?”

Mrs. Noh Nang Ning [dismissively]: “Good motivation. Kid no want to sleep in box on street. … You don’t win, you nothing!”

Chua frets:

“The next generation [i.e., her daughters' children] is the one I spend nights lying awake worrying about. … Finally and most problematically, they will feel that they have individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and therefore be much more likely to disobey their parents and ignore career advice. In short, all factors point to this generation being headed straight for decline.

Well, not on my watch.

Chua shares happy family memories:

“One jarring thing that many Chinese people do is openly compare their children. I never thought this was so bad when I was growing up because … my Dragon Lady grandmother … egregiously favored me over all mysisters. ‘Look how flat that one’s nose is,’ she wouldcackle at family gatherings, pointing at one of my siblings.’Not like Amy, who has a fine, high-bridged nose. … That one takes after her mother’s side of the family and looks like a monkey.’”

By the way, her hugely creative father is only a minor, dissonant character in her book. She mentions toward the end that he wound up loathing his Dragon Lady mother for her Chinese mothering.

So much for Chua’s humor. Secondly, what I’m sure you are all dying to know: What’s my opinion of Chua’s childrearing techniques?

Like both Prof. Chua and many of her detractors, I myself don’t have a large enough sample size of children reared to generalize wildly from my own personal experiences. Unlike both, however, I’m rather humbled by my ignorance. So, I’m going to skip the advice-giving (other than to say that you should never write a memoir featuring your children as major characters, especially if you have more than one.)

Malcolm Gladwell, David Brooks, and a host of other sages have explained that differences in natural ability are largely irrelevant to success. The only thing that really matters is having your child put in 10,000 hours of focused practic e.

Well, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother shows you what The 10,000 Hour Rule looks like in the real world. It’s not a pretty sight.

As an obvious aside, let me point out that Chua’s two high-achieving daughters chose their ancestors wisely. Amy Chua’s paternal grandmother got rich opening factories in the Philippines. Her father,Leon Chua, Professor of Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley, inventor of Chua’s Circuit and the concept of the memristor (Hewlett-Packard is currently gearing up for mass production of them, four decades after he dreamed them up) has received nine honorary doctorates. Her mother, a chemical engineering major, was valedictorian of her college class in Manila. The author herself holds an endowed chair at the nation’s most intellectually elite law school, Yale.

So does her husband, Jed Rubenfeld. (They met when they were on the Harvard Law Review.) In his spare time, Jed wrote a 2006 murder mystery novel, The Interpretation of Murder

(in which Sigmund Freud plays detective), that has sold over a millioncopies. His father was a psychoanalyst and his mother published a biography of art critic Clement Greenberg.

You would expect less regression toward the mean in the offspring of family trees with these levels of IQ, energy, and Attention SurplusDisorder. (As Ms. Chua notes, “As a purely mathematical fact, people who sleep less, live more.”)

Chua notes that her Chinese-Jewish-American children represent “an ethnic group that may sound exotic but actually forms a majority in certain circles, especially in university towns.” It would be interesting to try to quantify how much of the rage againstChua in the women’s’ press is motivated by inchoate feelings that Chinese women, with their naturally straight hair, are Stealing Our Men. (Before going to Harvard Law School, Chua’s handsome husband studied drama at Julliard alongside Val Kilmer.)

Chua likes to portray herself as the stereotypical Chinese,diligent, conventional, and uncreative:

“As the eldest daughter of Chinese immigrants, I don’t have time to improvise or make up my own rules. I have a family name to uphold, aging parents to make proud. I like clear goals, and clear ways of measuring success.”

Chua sounds like the last person to become controversial:

“I did well at [Harvard] law school, by working psychotically hard. … But I always worried that law really wasn’t my calling. I didn’t care about the rights of criminals … I alsowasn’t naturally skeptical and questioning; I just wanted to write down everything the professor said and memorize it.”

Yet you don’t have to be extremely creative to make important contributions to public understanding—as long as you have the courage to tell truths that other people won’t. At the end, Chua rants to her daughters:

“All these Western parents with the same party line about what’s good for children and what’s not‒I’m not sure they are making choices at all. They just do what everyone else does. They’re not questioning anything, either, which is what Westerners are supposed to be so good at doing. They justkeep repeating things like ‘You have to give your children the freedom to pursue their passion,’ when it’s obvious that the ‘passion’ is just going to turn out to be Facebook for ten hours …”

Chua deals with the kind of subjects that everybody thinks about, but we’re not supposed to talk about. For example, Chua’s 2003 book World on Fire was the first to acquaint me with one of the key facts of the history of the 1990s. Chua wrote:

“IN THE spring of 2000, a professor whom I’ll call Jerry White was furiously trying to finish an article on the debacle of Russian privatization. … It seemed to me that most of the key players in the privatization of Russia were Jewish.

“’Oh, no,’ Jerry replied instantly. ‘I don’t think so.’

“’Are you sure?’ I pressed him. ‘If you look at their names . . . ‘

“’You can’t tell anything from names,’ Jerry snapped, clearly not wanting to discuss the topic any further.

“As it turns out, six out of seven of Russia’s wealthiest and, at least until recently, most powerful oligarchs are Jewish.”

Google News finds 1,570 recent news articles about “Amy Chua”. Yet only two of those go on to mention the crucial term she coined in World on Fire“market-dominant minorities”—to describe groups like her own Overseas Chinese and Ashkenazis in Yeltsin’s Russia.

You may think I’m just dragging the topic of the day around to my own area of interest, but Chua explains in her new memoir the origin of her first book:

“Combining my law degree with my own family’s background, I would write about law and ethnicity in the developing world. Ethnicity was my favorite thing to talk about anyway”.

Chua’s ancestors were from southeastern China’s Fujian province “which is famous for producing scholars and scientists”.Traditionally, Fujianese led in the mandarin civil service exams and today in China’s college admission test.

Chua’s parents grew up in the Philippines, where a small number of Chinese own most of that country’s business assets. The population of the Philippines has grown from 28 million a half century ago to 92 million in 2009, so there’s not all that much to go around.

In Southeast Asia, the Chinese have most of the money, but the natives have most of the guns. So, when Chua’s aunt in Manila was murdered by her Filipino chauffeur who then fled, the Filipino policemen made only derisory efforts to find and arrest their co-ethnic. Sure, he’s a murderer, the Filipino cops seem to have reasoned, but he’s our murderer. And that rich Chinese woman probably had it coming.

Nice place …

Chua’s rich family comes from a poor world where there’s room for only a few at the top to live well. They do what it takes to stay on top. She has inherited these worries:

“One of my greatest fears is family decline. There’s an old Chinese saying that’prosperity can never last for three generations.’”

Of course, 19th Century Americans had a similar saying a century ago: From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

Yet this American version never had quite such a Malthusian ring to it. If a 19th Century American family fell out of riches, they weren’t in danger of Oriental poverty. They were still a 19th Century American family—with a giant new country to try their luck in.

Why has life in America generally been less stressed-out than in other parts of the world?

America has traditionally been a lot nicer place than China or the Philippines. We Americans like to dream up self-congratulatory reasons for this. Some of them might even be true. But a big reason is simply that America is less crowded—and thus less competitive.

Back in 1751, the highest achiever of all Americans, Benjamin Franklin,explained the greater happiness of life in America: because a middle-class life is more affordable for the average person in empty America than elsewhere.

Unfortunately, our elites have been working to erase thatdistinction.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative.

His website features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Amy Chua 
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Francis Fukuyama famously announced at the end of the Cold War that humanity had reached “the end of history.” Unfortunately, he forgot to tell history not to bother coming to work.

Easy as it is to make fun of Fukuyama, where exactly did he go wrong?

Fukuyama’s conception was formed by his expensive miseducation in the works of Hegel and other 19th Century German philosophers.History consists of the struggle to determine the proper ideology. Now there are no plausible alternatives to capitalist democracy. History, therefore, must be finished.

Lenin held a more realistic theory of what history is about: not ideology, but “Who? Whom?” (You can insert your own transitive verbbetween the two words.) History continues because the struggle to determine who will be the who rather than the whom will never end.

Fukuyama may be the only major nonwhite American intellectual who does not write primarily about race. This is admirable in many ways, but it’s a fatal shortcoming in a thinker of such expansive ambitions. Race remains enormously relevant in this world.

Amy Chua’s readable and eye-opening new bookWorld on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability” documents just how pervasive ethnic inequality is around the world and how much that drives the traumas we read about every day. (See also Paul Craig Roberts’ review of her book here.)

Chua builds upon Thomas Sowell’s concept of the “middle-man minority”the often-persecuted immigrant ethnic group with a talent for retailing and banking, such as Jews, Armenians, Chinese, Gujarati Indians, Lebanese Christians, etc. She broadens that idea to include other relatively well-off groups, such as un-entrepreneurial hereditarylandowners, like the Tutsis of Rwanda and the Iberian-descended whites of much of Latin America. She lumps them all together under the useful term “market-dominant minorities.”

Chua begs off explaining why economic inequality exists between hereditary groups. So let me offer a general explanation.

Creating wealth is difficult. People who have wealth pass down their property, their genes, and their techniques for preserving and multiplying wealth to their descendents, rather than to strangers.

In countries without a reliable system of equal justice under the law, clannishness is particularly rational. Businessmen must depend upon their extended families for protection and enforcement of contracts. So they are particularly loath to do serious business with people towhom they have no ties of blood or marriage and who would thus be more likely to stiff them on a deal.

“Globalization,” or economic liberalization, tends to make the poor majorities slightly richer and the “market dominant minorities” vastly richer. Sometimes the masses find this an acceptable tradeoff. But sometimes it drives them into a fury.

Often, the minority’s post-globalization riches are honestly earned, but not always. American-backed privatization schemes in Russia and Mexico put huge government enterprises into the hands of the most economically nimble and politically well-connected operators at give-away prices. (Chua and her brave editor Adam Bellow, who published The Bell Curve, deserve praise for calling attention to the ethnic makeup of the post-Soviet “oligarchs,” something I was completely unaware of.)

Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, is herself the progeny of a market dominant minority: the Chinese of the Philippines. Chinese-speakers make up only 1% or 2% of the Philippines’ population. But they own the majority of the country’s business assets. They secludethemselves in a luxurious world fenced off from the indigenous majority, whom they hold in contempt and wouldn’t dream of marrying.

Not surprisingly, the impoverished natives aren’t crazy about the rich newcomers. Chua’s beloved aunt in Manila was brutally murdered by her chauffeur. The unmotivated cops made little effort to find him.

It’s definitely nicer to belong to the minority than to the majority in these countries. But Chua makes clear that, to Americans used to our norms of congeniality and social equality, it would be an awfully depressing way to live.

After anti-Chinese riots in 1969, the Malaysian majority voted itself affirmative action at the expense of the Chinese. Chua considers this quota system a success. Malaysia has avoided subsequent violence.

Still, long-time Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s pre-eminent Muslim statesman (granted, the competition isn’t stiff), has become disillusioned with his plan. As he put it recently: “I feel disappointed because I achieved too little of my principal task of making my race a successful race…” The same week that President Bush tacitly endorsed college admissions quotas, the strong-willed Mohamad ended them.

A much grimmer example: Indonesia. The Chinese made up 3% of its vast population, yet owned the great majority of all businesses. The dictator Suharto, whose family had lucrative ties to the Chinese community, fell in 1998. Democratization set off a vicious pogrom against the Chinese, many of whom fled to Chinese-majoritySingapore. The government expropriated $58 billion in assets.

Not surprisingly, the native Indonesians proved inept at running the businesses nationalized from the Chinese, and the economy collapsed.

All of which leads to a disquieting conclusion: it can be contradictory for America to demand that other countries simultaneously free their economies and democratize their politics.

We are seeing this in Venezuela right now. The dark-skinned, democratically-elected Hugo Chavez is at war with the fair-skinned rich, who want the national oil company privatized. The BushAdministration ludicrously endorsed the white elite’s coup against Chavez last spring as a “victory for democracy,” only to be embarrassed when the majority rose up and reinstalled him.

(Chua shows that all across South America since the year 2000, brown and black people are finally developing ethnic self-consciousness and solidarity in the struggle against the whites who have so easily held them down for so long. This historical shift will probably be reflected among Hispanic immigrants in the U.S., most likely to the electoral benefit of the Democrats. Similarly, Beijing’s sponsorship of anti-white racialism following Tiananmen Square has translated into a shift to the Left among Asian-Americans.)

That property rights and one man-one vote democracy don’t always mix well would not have surprised Aristotle, Edmund Burke, or Alexander Hamilton. Yet many Americans who call themselves conservatives have forgotten this.

One reason: we are one of the fairly small number of lucky countries with “market dominant majorities.” We can have our cake (capitalism) and eat it too (democracy) because our majority group is economically quite competent.

America’s perpetual trouble has been a less-productive black minority. Black-white economic inequality is not a problem that America is going to be able to solve any time soon. But, due to our market-dominantmajority, our country is rich enough to live with it.

In contrast, if our current mass immigration system is allowed to continue, America will become just another country with a market dominant minority. Through government policy, we will have inflicted upon ourselves the kind of ugly society seen in most of the rest of theworld.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: Amy Chua 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?