Andy Divine places his wager on the ignorance of his readership! Old Socialist comments

Headline: The Opportunity of White Anxiety

Sub-headline: A new answer to the disturbing rise of far-right politics

Are the audience, the readership of Mr. Divine’s essays not aware of his advocacy, indeed his enthusiasm for The Bell Curve, when he was editor of the New Republic, in the time of publisher Martin Peretz.  A link to the essay:

Headline:Race, Genes and I.Q. — An Apologia3

Sub-headline:The case for conservative multiculturalism

(This article was originally published in the October 31, 1994, issue of The New Republic. Since many staffers at the time objected to its publication, this excerpt of The Bell Curve was published alongside a raft of articles condemning it.)

Links from Charles Lane’s devastating review in December 01, 1994 of the New York Review of Books (Behind a pay wall) I’ll post the beginning paragraphs of the review available to the non-subscriber :

For all the shock value of its assertion that blacks are intractably, and probably biologically, inferior in intelligence to whites and Asians, The Bell Curve is not quite an original piece of research. It is, in spite of all the controversy that is attending its publication, only a review of the literature—an elaborate interpretation of data culled from the work of other social scientists. For this reason, the credibility of its authors, Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein, rests significantly on the credibility of their sources.

The press and television have for the most part taken The Bell Curve’s extensive bibliography and footnotes at face value. And, to be sure, many of the book’s data are drawn from relatively reputable academic sources, or from neutral ones such as the Census Bureau. Certain of the book’s major factual contentions are not in dispute—such as the claim that blacks consistently have scored lower than whites on IQ tests, or that affirmative action generally promotes minorities who scored lower on aptitude tests than whites. And obviously intelligence is both to some degree definable and to some degree heritable.

The interpretation of those data, however, is very much in dispute. So, too, are the authors’ conclusions that little or nothing can or should be done to raise the ability of the IQ-impaired, since so much of their lower intelligence is due to heredity. Murray and Herrnstein instead write sympathetically about eugenic approaches to public policy (though they do not endorse them outright). It is therefore interesting that Charles Murray recently expressed his own sense of queasiness about the book’s sources to a reporter from The New York Times: “Here was a case of stumbling onto a subject that had all the allure of the forbidden,” he said. “Some of the things we read to do this work, we literally hide when we’re on planes and trains. We’re furtively peering at this stuff.”1

What sort of “stuff” could Murray mean? Surely the most curious of the sources he and Herrnstein consulted is Mankind Quarterly—a journal of anthropology founded in Edinburgh in 1960. Five articles from the journal are actually cited in The Bell Curve’s bibliography (pp. 775, 807, and 828).2 But the influence on the book of scholars linked to Mankind Quarterly is more significant. No fewer than seventeen researchers cited in the bibliography of The Bell Curve have contributed to Mankind Quarterly. Ten are present or former editors, or members of its editorial advisory board. This is interesting because Mankind Quarterly is a notorious journal of “racial history” founded, and funded, by men who believe in the genetic superiority of the white race.3

Mankind Quarterly was established during decolonization and the US civil rights movement. Defenders of the old order were eager to brush a patina of science on their efforts. Thus Mankind Quarterly’s avowed purpose was to counter the “Communist” and “egalitarian” influences that were allegedly causing anthropology to neglect the fact of racial differences. “The crimes of the…

And Mr. Lane’s reply to Richard Lynn’s critical letter in reply to the Lane’s review :

‘The Bell Curve’ and Its Sources

History is bunk, as Henry Ford proclaimed?  Andy’s readers think of him as the part of a trio of political pundits Jonathan Chait and Frank Rich. New York Magazine predates the salmon pink pages of the New York Observer, of another era. Where New York and its current obsessions with the politics, people, the toney neighborhoods, and events of the New York City beau monde.
Read ‘The Silver Fork Novel’ by Edward Copeland for a description of another time and place, that mirror these status obsessions .  But be aware that the Observer was equally obsessed with the Manhattan Real Estate Market:  who sold, who bought, awash in celebrity name dropping, that embraced the famous and the Broker hangers-on who were the deal makers.  Tom Wolfe could have been its editor, in the fictional world of The Bonfires.
Look at the headline and the photo illustration of Andy’s latest essay:

Andy is one of the many Midwives of Trump, and his xenophobia tinctured in racism, by way of The Bell Curve.  Not to forget Trump’s full page ad about The Central Park Five.  This historical fragment quite irrelevant to his incurious readers in the political present. Conservative Sociology  and its  Bell Curve were, in part, the offspring of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and of Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair speech; not speak of the Dixiecrat Migration from the Democratic to the Republican Party, in 1964 and 1965. Mr. Divine did not just give credence to this Conservative Sociology, but provided a platform in a ‘Liberal’ magazine for Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein’s ersatz but academically respectable racism.  

None of this history is of interest to Mr. Divine’s readers, who live in a perpetual  political present, and find history boring. That is the why of Andy’s success, a  readership that lives in the zone of  near a-historicism. Andy’s is a capacious sensibility, that is the focal point of the world in all its dimensions. So the preposterous notion that Mr. Divine can discuss ‘White Anxiety’ ,with anything like objectivity, is rendered into what it is narcissism riding in on a self-serving political nihilism.

Old Socialist


Added April 13,2019 10:00 AM PDT: the opening paragraphs of Andy’s essay, framed in a geologic metaphor:

There are times when it feels as if two huge tectonic plates are colliding beneath the surface of Western politics, and, right now, neither seems to be giving ground.

The first plate is the force of demography. In most Western countries, the pace of immigration from the fast-growing and ever-younger global South, and the higher birth rates of immigrants, is shifting us to a whole new model of nationhood: culturally and ethnically far more diverse, with no single historical or traditional national narrative. At the same time, the inhabitants of those countries — still largely white — are increasingly troubled by the pace of change, panicked about the fast-shifting identity of their country and angry at the elites who created this swift ethnic transformation. You have an almost irresistible demographic force and a near-immovable psycho-political response. Hence the deadlock. “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born,” in Gramsci’s words. “Now is the time of monsters.”

Old Socialist



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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