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June 05, 2020


Jan Wiklund

... as Charles Tilly explained in Durable inequality from 1998. Employers employ people they know. Or people their trusted employees know.

An Obvious Racist

Taboo subject, but how do you deal with cultural norms correlated with poverty? How do you deal with communities that have preferences for large families where one parent (mother usually) is economically inactive? Or, communities where one parent (typically father) is often absent? What do you do about health inequalities resulting from cosanginous relationships? UK has no long standing history of state taking responsibility for these types of preferences. Welfare state is supposed to provide safety net and safeguard future of our society, but wasn't designed to subsidise certain scenarios common amongst some minorities. My grandparents born pre WW2, pre Beveridge, had experienced of large families, absentee father, disabled sibling with little formal welfare support.

There's no excuse for police brutality, but as a white person I do get sense of ambivalence when BLM UK present people doing high risk crime as victims, people like Duggan or Charles who choked on drug related paraphernalia he was tryingto conceal (open democracy has some interesting background info on the drugs operation he was involved with). I suspect if they were a white gun runner or dealer they'd be long forgotten now. Which community do they really think was going to suffer consequences of that gun or from those fake drugs? Where do those black lives fit in the story?

The truth

Whilst what you say is true in the short term. The success of Jews, Japanese, etc in America shows that in the long term intelligence wins out in the few market.

What you (and others) don’t recognise though is that on average blacks are less intelligent. So below average outcomes for blacks even adjusting for education are to be expected.


"What you (and others) don’t recognise though is that on average blacks are less intelligent"

The ones not descended from (US) slaves seem to be doing okay - Caribbeans and Africans specifically.

Amusingly if you're that way out, even the race politics of their nation should probably be understood as a subset of class politics.


@ Jan Wiklund "Employers employ people they know. Or people their trusted employees know."

Over a few decades I found this to be completely true. I ended up employing people from Yorkshire and/or Comprehensives quite a lot. I could read them and understood them, being one such myself.

Quite often we would not understand the nuance of CVs from other countries. One example was an Australian with a degree from the state university. Fortunately we had an Australian in HR we could go to and ask, and she explained that many would go to their state university, but that qualification was a really good one and not many people got that. And we did employ him and he was excellent.

Whilst it is true that like recruits like, it is also true that like chooses to work for like, so the feeling of comfort is two way. Hence if you really want to be recruiting from a diverse pool to make sure that your team has the highest standard you can get and also encompasses a range of views, you need the people doing the recruitment to be diverse.


The USA is a unique country with a history of systemic racism, and also with police forces recruited and run at state level (and sometimes local level I think). The UK is completely different; there is no history of legal racism or history of slavery within the UK, and the UK police force is national in its structure. There are many police officers of race at senior levels and the most senior police officer is a woman openly in a same sex relationship.

Reading across from the US experience to the UK experience is completely inappropriate.

Having been born in Rochdale and brought up in Yorkshire I can do a pretty good number on discrimination against northerners, how southerners will never give you a proper chance, how you have to emigrate if you want to get anywhere. Such attitudes were widespread in Yorkshire when I was growing up. Personally I now think those views are lazy and wrong, but moaning about systemic unfairness is endemic amongst many groups, not just people of colour.


I admire your concise style of writing. However, I think you are smushing too many things into the first paragraph. "Taking the knee" to show you care isn't kind. It actually does nothing tangible to benefit anyone, except for showing other caring (white) people that you're a good egg.

Saying you're going to be nice and actually being nice are poles apart. Lots of businesses spend thousands of pounds crafting exactly the right statement to show how contrite they are. But they do nothing to actually change their corporate behaviour, so they continue to discriminate: against blacks, northeners, gays, neuroatypical people, etc.

Saying this isn't their fault - that it's somehow the fault of the system - echoes Thatcher's comments on society. Companies should not be forgiven for 'the system' in which they operate. They need to realise it's them - and only them - that need to be the change they want to see in society. Racism persists because of their nice corporate messaging, not despite it.


The thing that angers me about the focus on racism in the UK is that it is a clear diversionary tactic.

About 10-15% of the UK population is privileged white. About 10-15% of the UK population is BAME and immigrants. About 75% is state-educated ordinary white. But those first two groups constitute about 100% of the cultural life of the UK. The 75% are almost completely absent.

We know what happens to people without representation, without a voice. They get demonised, they get their rights eroded, they get forced into a second class status. This is what we see with the mass of the white population. They are stupid, they are bigoted, they are racist, they are easily manipulated, they should not be allowed to vote, their opinions should not be broadcast.

Somehow, in all this, my ancestors who for generations did crap manual jobs in poor conditions in Devon have become the chief agents of Empire and I have inherited the guilt of their oppression of peoples round the world. Seriously?

Survey after survey shows many BAME groups doing well in this country. Higher educational qualifications, higher income levels, more representation on TV and the media. White working class representation is so rare in the media and arts that you can practically name every representative. Of course some groups do less well, and we should look to elevate those groups and get better outcomes, as we should be doing for every disadvantaged group regardless of race.

No-one, anywhere, says Black Lives don't matter. Not a single person in the UK thinks the police should not be held to account for acts of racism or unprovoked violence. The marches are a disingenuous push for power from a coalition of metropolitan BAME activists and privileged white activists seeking to control the culture of the nation for their own direct benefit. Justice simply doesn't enter this equation.


«all this does not, indeed, depend on the good or ill will of the individual capitalist. Free competition brings out the inherent laws of capitalist production, in the shape of external coercive laws having power over every individual capitalist.»

I have long thought about this and there is an important detail, the difference between bankruptcy and takeovers:

* Bankruptcy even more than high competition is what drives economies to be efficient. But it does not result in behaviours by employers that are particularly oppressive, because avoiding bankruptcy is a "satisficing" constraint, as long as there is a profit the business is viable, it does not have to be maximized by pushing down at all costs the worker share of value added.

* Takeovers instead are a completely different matter: other things being equal, executives who squeeze their workers harder and grab a larger percentage of value added for profits than others will have more means to buy rival businesses that squeeze their workers less hard, and will have the incentive to do so, because squeezing the workers of acquired businesses harder will give those executives more protection against their own business being taken over and themselves being eliminated. That is takeovers drive a "maximizing" constraint for profits, as that protects not just the existence of the business, but the careers of their executives, who are often very keenly self-interested.

As mentioned in "Wall Street: The Book" by Doug Hendon, it as Michael Jensen who made popular the idea that hostile takeovers should be made easier as a way to discipline executives into maximizing the value added of their businesses, or else be taken over and lose their jobs.

But Michael Jensen himself eventually repented, because it turned out that for executives it was much easier to maximize profitability not by increasing the value added of the business, but by squeezing workers harder to grab a larger shared of the existing value added, and to misrepresent that value added with imaginative accounting, usually deferring costs as unbooked risks, and bringing forward future revenues by booking mere hopes.


«About 10-15% of the UK population is privileged white.»

Actually it is more like 30-40% that is privileged native-white or of jewish or far-eastern or indian origin: the "Blow you! I am alright Jack" people of "Middle England", those with southern property or otherwise deriving a large part of their income from assets instead of working.

«About 10-15% of the UK population is BAME and immigrants.»

You are forgetting the biggest "identity politics" group, women, which may be also economically privileged (many are), but are anyhow considered oppressed.

«About 75% is state-educated ordinary white.»

That 60-70% (or 50-60% if excluding BAME workers) are ordinary workers, those who often were members of trade unions and would be so uppity as to sometimes strike.

«But those first two groups constitute about 100% of the cultural life of the UK.»

Well, isn't it clever to for the rentier oligarchy to set the 10-15% "underclass" and the 60-70% "working class" (or lower middle-class workers) at each other throats, replacing economic conflicts of interest with identity discrimination as the most important political divide?

Wasn't it clever of "third way" politicians to make clear that "class war" is obsolete, and that the working majority are getting their just deserts, unless they be discriminated *by other workers* because of their identity? The new version of an old hymn should say:

"The rich man in his castle / The poor man at his gate / The Market made them high and lowly / And ordered their estate."

«The 75% are almost completely absent. We know what happens to people without representation, without a voice. They get demonised, they get their rights eroded, they get forced into a second class status. This is what we see with the mass of the white population.»

Whether white or not, it is indeed the mass of workers that needs being kept down.

As to representation, as to voice, why doesn't that 60-70% of workers get together and create a party to represent their economic interests, with a nice clear name to show whom it is for, something like "Labour"? :-)

Identity politics whig entrysts have turned "Labour" into "New Labour", with the aim of having all 3 main parties offer the same regressive economic policies, and making their differences entirely as to the type of identity politics they preach and practice ("Leave"/"Remain" spectrum, feminist/gay/BAME spectrum, ...).

Just look at the propaganda press, from "The Guardian" to the the "Daily Express", they are constantly pushing stories of some type of identity politics conflict, rarely mentioning material interest conflicts, because "we are all thatcherites now", as Peter Mandelson said almost 20 years ago.


The most unambiguous example of systemic racism I’m aware of today is the Bumiputera system in Malaysia. These laws compel you to be racist against Malaysians of Chinese and Indian heritage, in favour of Bumiputera (native) Malays. In Malaysia, you can actually be fined for failing to be racist. For instance, if you’re selling your house, you are legally required to offer a 7% discount if the buyer is a native Malay, but not if they’re Chinese or Indian. If you want to employ someone whose Chinese or Indian, you have to prove that no native Malay is available to do the job.

The system has its origins in the Constitution of 1957, but really became institutionalised in the 1970s. It was set up because the native Malay majority tends to be less materially successful than the Chinese and Indian minorities. And, in its defence, it has definitely helped create a relatively contented Malay middle class.

Right now Malaysia’s Chinese minority currently make up 23% of the country’s population. They pay 90% of the country’s income tax. Understandably, they don’t like this, and many have emigrated. If the Bumiputera system is repealed, it will be because of Exit, not Voice.

As far as I know, the USA in 2020 has nothing corresponding to the systemic racism of the Bumiputera system. It definitely has racism, but not this direct, legislated, institutional kind.


@ The truth
"What you (and others) don’t recognise though is that on average blacks are less intelligent."

Eh? Had you instead said "...on average blacks score lower in tests" you'd have been on firmer ground. As it is your statement is less 'The truth' and more a fiction. A racist hypothesis. Perhaps not inspired by malice, rather ignorance and/or prejudice?

As Angela Saini says in Superior; "We forget that these stereotypes can change over time. Asian Americans are today considered a model minority. Yet more than a century ago, European race scientists saw Asians as biologically inferior, somewhere between themselves and what they referred to as the lowest races. In 1882, the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to ban Chinese immigrant labourers, because they were seen as undesirable citizens. Now that Japan has been highly prosperous for decades, and India, China and South Korea are fast on the rise with their own wealthy elites, the stereotypes have shifted the other way. As people and nations prosper, the racial prejudices move target. Just as they always have...Eric Turkheimer says: “Think about what happened to all the old racial stereotypes. A hundred years ago, people were quite convinced that Greek people had low IQs. You know, people from southern Europe? Whatever happened to that? Did somebody do a big scientific study and check those Greek genes? No, nobody ever did that. It’s just that time went on, Greek people overcame the disadvantages they faced, and now they’re fine and nobody thinks about it any more. And that’s the way these things proceed. All we can do is wait for the world to change and what seemed like hardwired differences melt away and human flexibility just overwhelms it.”



Yes. Completely

And even if it were true, what does the statement 'Race X are less intelligent' mean? That they are all less intelligent? That the median is less intelligent? If the distribution within a race is greater than the differences between the means, why is that the case? What is it that determines intelligence to a greater extent than race.

Charles Murray was aware off all these questions when he wrote the Bell Curve but his 'followers' don't seem to be. But then again, according to the race and intelligence argument, the white Caucasians arguing this point are fairly middle-of-the-pack. By their own arguments they should be asking other more highly scoring races to solve these particular questions.


Just to bang on, do people seriously think that Bristolians walk past a statue of Colston and think what a great idea slavery was? Or is it that Guardian thing that I understand that Colston was bad but you are so stupid you will think he was good?

Statues of bad people remind you that your history is imperfect and that societies values change over time. That tomorrow will be different from today. If you erase your history you forget that today is a point is time in an evolving flow of ideas and instead think your current viewpoint is a kind of universal eternal good that can never change. Orwell understood all this.



I find Saini’s statement bizarre, especially if she’s actually read the writings of these “European race scientists” she claims to explain.

Francis Galton, the man who invented the word “eugenics”, wrote a famous letter to The Times in 1873, entitled “Africa for the Chinese”. In it he argued that China’s then weakness was temporary, and the best way for western countries to avoid future conflicts with the Middle Kingdom was to invite the Chinese to colonise Africa.

Here is how Galton describes the Chinese:

“The Chinaman… is endowed with a remarkable aptitude for a high material civilisation. He is seen to the least advantage in his own country, where a temporary dark age still prevails, which has not sapped the genius of the race… The natural capacity of the Chinaman shows itself by the success with which, notwithstanding his timidity, he competes with strangers, wherever he may reside. The Chinese emigrants possess an extraordinary instinct for political and social organisation; they contrive to establish for themselves a police and internal government, and they give no trouble to their rulers so long as they are left to manage those matters by themselves. They are good-tempered, frugal, industrious, saving, commercially inclined, and extraordinarily prolific…”

My impression of the Chinese Exclusion Act is that it was a kind of Bumiputera law, passed because the Chinese were out-competing local Whites in the jobs market.

The truth

Yes Galton and many others realised that the Chinese and other north Asian races were being restricted by their government. Galton was particularly prescient as Africa is being taken over by the Chinese.

Realist don’t pretend that whites are at top of some intelligence pyramid. But they do realise that the races vary by mean intelligence. Therefore, given we live in a system which over the long run tends to reward intelligence economically, a lower average economic outcome for blacks is to be expected.


The point about racial and ethnic stereotypes still stands.It aint just about Dalton and the Chinese. But quite apart from that, the repetitive statements about 'mean intelligence' of blacks etc, suggest the science is settled whereas the science doesn't offer anything like the support for the claim that The truth seems to take for granted...even on the understanding of what is being measured as intelligence, so one is left wondering just what, (if not the science) it is that leads him to calmly state as fact, mere hypothesis and hotly contested hypothesis at that... one can only surmise it is some combination of confirmation bias and discriminatory attitude along the lines that Saini proposes.

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