Just horsing around? Or is there also a political message?
It’s year’s end, and to date I’ve written nothing on the three themes I promised to blog about back in January. One reason was the need to comment on certain unforeseen events, like Phil Rushton’s death and the confirmation that Europeans became white-skinned long after their ancestors had arrived in Europe. Another reason was the difficulty in finding relevant data, particularly with respect to the Burakumin of Japan.
So, before the clock runs out, I’ll post my thoughts on all three themes:
There is growing evidence that a Neanderthal-like archaic population once inhabited parts of Africa. Lachance et al. (2012) studied the genomes of three hunter-gatherer peoples from sub-Saharan Africa: Pygmy, Hadza, and Sandawe. All three of them showed introgression from an unknown archaic group whose ancestors had separated from ancestral modern humans at about the same time as ancestral Neanderthals had.
Africa is probably the continent where modern humans have the most archaic admixture, since it is where they were in contact with archaic hominins for the longest time. In addition, it’s also where modern humans were in contact with “almost-moderns” who offered weaker barriers to intermixture because they were so similar behaviorally and physically.
But what does all this mean? If a human population has a lot of archaic admixture, is it therefore more primitive anatomically and mentally? Not really. The “modern” gene variants are still present in the gene pool, and if they’re any better they will progressively displace their archaic counterparts through natural selection. Over time, archaic admixture will thus be confined to junk DNA of little or no selective value. Mallards, for instance, have outbred so much that only a minority of them cluster together on an mtDNA tree, the rest being scattered among black ducks (Avise et al., 1990). Yet each and every one of them looks, quacks, and waddles like a mallard.
Indeed, if we follow Greg Cochran’s reasoning, an admixed population provides natural selection with a wider range of interesting variants, some of which might even be better than the ones in the original genetic toolkit.
The Korean tinderbox
In late capitalism, the elites are no longer restrained by ties of national identity and are thus freer to enrich themselves at the expense of their host society. This clash of interests lies at the heart of the globalist project: on the one hand, jobs are outsourced to low-wage countries; on the other, low-wage labor is insourced for jobs that cannot be relocated, such as in the construction and service industries.
This two-way movement redistributes wealth from owners of labor to owners of capital. Business people benefit from access to lower-paid workers and weaker labor and environmental standards. Working people are meanwhile thrown into competition with these other workers. As a result, the top 10% of society is pulling farther and farther ahead of everyone else, and this trend is taking place throughout the developed world. The rich are getting richer … not by making a better product but by making the same product with cheaper and less troublesome inputs of labor.
In the United States, globalism is being pushed by a contrived bipartisan consensus. As Jeff Faux (2012) notes:
But the national discourse is silent on the tacit agreement both parties have already made on the future that lies ahead for the majority of working Americans: a dramatic drop in their living standards. […] Even before the financial crash, real wages for the typical American worker had been stagnant for 30 years as a result of:
1) trade and investment deregulation that shoved American workers into a brutally competitive global labor market for which they were unprepared; 2) the relentless war on unions that began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980; and 3) more recently, the erosion of the social safety net for low wage workers and the unemployed.
In East Asia, South Korea has gone the furthest in embracing the globalist project, as one observer recently summarized in comparing that country with Ireland and the U.S.:
[…] lesser skilled jobs are moving from advanced markets to developing nations. Companies recovering from the financial shocks of 2008 have discovered more cost-effective processes than older, more labor-intensive means through technology and outsourcing. Consequently, the recent economic rebounds have not been matched with expected re-employment.
Independent “knowledge professionals” represent more and more of the labor force. Decreasing numbers of “permanent” employees mean more reliance on multi-skilled, independent specialists on a plug-in and plug-out basis for short- and medium-term projects. This major development is becoming an increasingly common aspect of this new paradigm.
[…] I have seen an erosion of the middle classes, and a strengthening of the upper-middle classes and upper classes, while the lower classes are growing in size. At the same time, I have seen the middle class getting by on less, and becoming much less aggressive consumers. (Coyner, 2012)
South Korea has also gone global by opening its borders to immigration. Officially, there are about 1.4 million foreigners (2011), but this figure excludes illegal immigrants (estimated to be 30-50% of the legal total) and foreigners who have acquired South Korean citizenship. Also excluded are their Korean-born children (Anon, 2011).
This influx of foreign labor is framed as a positive development that will make South Korea a more open society:
In order to sustain its development, the country has increasingly turned to foreign labor and selective immigration as countermeasures for its economic and demographic problems. The state manages the influx of foreigners under a framework of “multiculturalism” that professes openness towards becoming a “multicultural society” despite resistance rooted in ethno-nationalism and a history of homogeneity. (Kim & Kwon, 2012).
The veneer of official discourse conceals the stresses and strains that are building among ordinary South Koreans. With conditions of life deteriorating for the majority, animosity is growing toward the top 10% whose lives are steadily improving. The latter are satirized in the hit video “Gangnam style” by Korean rapper Psy:
Gangnam is a wealthy neighborhood in the South Korean city of Seoul where young people go to party. In the song, Psy describes the kind of guy he is and the kind of girl he wants, painting caricatures of the ostentatious culture of people who hang out in Gangnam.
As The Atlantic pointed out in an in-depth article last month, behind the flashy costumes and killer dance moves in Psy’s video, there’s a subtle commentary on class in South Korea.
WHAT DOES THE CHORUS, ‘OPPAN GANGNAM STYLE,’ MEAN?
It roughly means something like ‘Your man has Gangnam Style.’ ‘Oppa,’ which literally means ‘older brother,’ is an affectionate term girls use to address older guy friends or a boyfriend. It can also be used as a first-person pronoun, as PSY does here — in this case, he’s telling a woman that he has Gangnam style.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH HIS SIGNATURE DANCE?
“It’s a horse-riding dance,” PSY explained in an interview with NY1 anchor Michelle Park. “So there is an invisible horse, and you’re on it. (Goyette, 2012)
No, that’s not the whole story. The dance is also a parody of an American cowboy. (Twirling a lasso is not a usual feature of horseback riding). There is in fact a streak of anti-Americanism in all of this, as recent revelations about Psy’s past have shown. Something is going on beneath the apparent calm of South Korean society, and it won’t be pretty when it finally comes to a head …
Places like South Korea and Greece, which lie on the periphery of the current world-system, will be the first to push back against globalism. In such countries, national identity is still strong and the elites use little imagination in adapting their approach to local circumstances, preferring to “copy and paste” from elsewhere. There too, the failure of globalism will be the most obvious.
In pre-modern Japanese society, the Burakumin specialized in jobs that required contact with dead flesh, e.g., butchery, leather making, and preparation of corpses for burial. They were and still are socially stigmatized, and marriage with them was forbidden. Because of their endogamy and their reserved occupations, they may have thus escaped the process of demographic replacement that Gregory Clark (2007) described for English society, i.e., they were not gradually replaced by downwardly moving members of the middle class. As such, they might provide a glimpse into the genetic predispositions that characterized the Japanese several centuries ago—at a time when the State was largely absent and when social relations were quite different.
In this earlier social environment, adult males were expected to use force on a regular basis to defend themselves and their families. Law courts did exist, but their rulings were enforced by the aggrieved party, not by the State. Young men preferred to socialize with other young men in small loosely hierarchical groups that sought to control local territory while engaging in raids to plunder neighboring territories. Literacy was rare, with less importance being given to creation, processing, and storage of abstract information. Finally, time orientation was focused much more on the present. This reflected the uncertainty over one’s own future, including life expectancy, and also the difficulty in converting oral agreements into long-term enforceable contracts.
These behavior patterns seem to describe the Burakumin. Modern Japanese society is alienating to them, not because of discrimination but because of its high level of domesticity, social discipline, and nerdish devotion to intellectual pursuits. Male Burakumin, in particular, prefer alternate forms of social affiliation and expression, such as the Yakuza (Japanese mafia), the largest Yakuza syndicate being over 70% Burakumin. At school, their achievement scores have remained nearly one standard deviation below those of other Japanese regardless of the time and place of the research (BLHRRI, 1997). The persistent gap may reflect a lack of either ability or interest, or a lack of both.
This topic unfortunately suffers from insufficient good data. The American literature often asserts that IQ scores have risen dramatically among Burakumin immigrants to the U.S., but Jason Malloy has shown that this claim is an academic legend:
I often see media assertions like Steve Olson in The Atlantic: “Yet when the Buraku emigrate to the United States, the IQ gap between them and other Japanese vanishes.” This claim is somewhat apocryphal. There is no data for Burakumin in the US. False claims about US IQ data have mutated second-hand from John Ogbu who claimed a study showed that the Buraku immigrants here “do slightly better in school than the other Japanese immigrants”. The book chapter Ogbu references for this claim (Ito 1966) however, is by a pseudonymous author who relied strictly on gossip from non-outcast Japanese communities in California to surmise how the outcasts here might be performing. The author’s informants believed the US outcasts were more attractive, more fair-skinned, and made more money. Though– as a testament to Ogbu’s immaculate scholarship– the author reported no gossip about how these Burakumin performed in school.(Cochran, 2011)
The Japanese literature doesn’t seem much better. It generally admits the existence of negative stereotypes about the Burakumin but provides little information on the content of these stereotypes.
Anon. (2011). Foreigners make up 3% of Korea’s population, December 19, Gusts of Popular Feelinghttp://populargusts.blogspot.ca/2011/12/foreigners-make-up-3-of-koreas.html
Avise, J.C., C.D. Ankney, W.S. Nelson. (1990). Mitochondrial gene trees and the evolutionary relationship of mallard and black ducks, Evolution, 44, 1109-1119.
BLHRRI (1997). Practice of Dowa Education Today, Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Institute.http://blhrri.org/blhrri_e/dowaeducation/de_0006.htm
Clark, G. (2007). A Farewell to Alms. A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford.
Cochran, G. (2011). Risch’s conjecture, December 28, West Hunterhttp://westhunt.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/rischs-conjecture/
Coyner, T. (2012). Learning to move with the tide, Korea Joongang Daily, September 12 http://koreajoongangdaily.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2959517
Faux, J. (2012). The elites are unanimous: Lower everyone’s wages and standard of living, Jeff Fauxhttp://jefffaux.com/?p=345
Goyette, B. (2012). Psy’s ‘Gangam Style,’ explained! NY Daily News, September 7,http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-09-07/news/33682557_1_gangnam-psy-dance
Ito, H. (1966). Japan’s outcastes in the United States. In G.A. deVos and H. Wagatsuma (eds.), Japan’s Invisible Race. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kim, J. & Y-S. Kwon. (2012). Economic development, the evolution of foreign labor and immigration policy, and the shift to multiculturalism in South Korea, Philippine Political Science Journal, 33, 178-201.
Lachance, J., B. Vernot, C.C. Elbers, B. Ferwerda, A. Froment, J-M Bodo, G. Lema, W. Fu, T.B. Nyambo, T.R. Rebbeck, K. Zhang, J.M. Akey, S.A. Tishkoff. (2012). Evolutionary history and adaptation from high-coverage whole-genome sequences of diverse African hunter-gatherers, Cell, 150, 457-469.http://22.214.171.124:9998/91keshi/Public/File/42/150-3/pdf/1-s2.0-S0092867412008318-main.pdf
Wikipedia. (2012). PSY (entertainer).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSY_(entertainer)