Saturday 20 October 2012

What is the best kind of society for intellectuals?


In relative terms, and biologically speaking; the answer would be stable, complex agrarian societies - the Roman Empire, Medieval Europe, the cultural peak of Islam, China or Japan in the centuries before the modern era etc.

Because in these societies - or so it seems - the intellectual classes usually have the highest reproductive success, which is probably due to lower child mortality, which suggests that they are doing better than almost any other class.

Consequently, average intelligence seems to rise (relative to baseline) in these complex agrarian societies.


But since the industrial revolution, the intellectual classes reproductive success plummeted, at first relatively (compared with the lower classes) then absolutely as fertility dipped further and further below replacement levels.

Although intellectuals have high levels of health, life expectancy, prosperity, comfort and so on - the fact that their reproduction has collapsed, strongly implies that intellectual are maladapted to industrial (and 'post-industrial') societies - since reproductive suppression is evidence (in general) of severe stress, a seriously hostile environment.


Yet, of course, it was intellectuals that created the industrial revolution.

So, intellectuals made a new kind of society which is biologically-lethal to intellectuals.  

And as the effects of collapsed reproduction continue to work through ('dysgenesis') then the industrial revolution will stop then reverse; and (probably) revert to the kind of complex agrarian society which is - again - beneficial to the reproductive success of intellectuals.


What was the Achilles heel of the intellectuals in industrial societies?

Atheism - since the only known antidote to reproductive suppression among intellectuals in post-industrial revolution societies is devout traditional religion.


(That is, even in modern societies, traditionally religious intellectuals will - on average - have fertility above replacement levels.) 


And atheism is the root of Leftism; and Leftism destroys traditional religion; and Leftism also destroys modern industrial societies.

But whose fault was atheism/ Leftism?

Why - the fault of the intellectuals, of course!

Bad choices- choices of bad; multiplied by hundreds, thousands, millions.



Valkea said...

Cato (234BC - 149BC) said: "Carthage must be destroyed", and it was finally devastated after many wars in 146 BC. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106BC - 43BC) said it was stupid to destroy Carthage, because Rome was internally so rotten, that it needed outside enemies to keep it flimsily together, and morally and spiritually somewhat in order. Despite it's rotten state, it persevered with difficulty to 476 AD.

Even rotten states and empires might die very slowly. Even if this process is accelerated by various internal groups and their measures, it might take long time. This needs to be accepted as a possibility.

Donald said...

Bruce I am wondering what your opinion is on contraception that potentially prevents implantation of an embryo? This is most hormonal means, with IUDs likely being worse.

Ben Nye said...

Professor Charlton,

Enjoy the blog. It has expanded my thinking.

On an unrelated note: Did you see this study?

I think it supports some of your other hypotheses. Namely, modernity collapsing on itself. Clearly music has gotten significantly less complex and annoyingly banal. The progress that allowed music to be heard more widely (radios, TV, the internet, etc.) pushed it towards mediocrity. Artists are now 'performers' and are perfectly handled to appeal to the mass. Perhaps, like your theory on 'Real Science' modern music (and here I mean music that is popular, no person could possibly explore the vast catalogue of all music now performed, composed, and written) must be viewed as something that can not be done as a career. The musical artist must in some way 'sell out' to make any money. If the artist wants to survive it is better that he/she should take up another line of work (ideally teaching music) to survive and then allow for composing, arranging, performing on the side. The problem with this of course is that to become a true expert the artist must dedicate thousands of hours to his craft, making it difficult to do anything other than practice.

The mass (general population) no longer values truth, goodness, virtue, etc. It follows logically that its music and artistic choices should be in line with the prevailing sentiment of the day: the exaltation of the material and the denial of transcendental truth. The exaltation of the material leads to pleasure seeking, which leads to a lack of discipline, which leads to crappy music. Either the artists themselves, the listeners, or both, no longer care to sit still and perform/listen to a symphony or an acoustic blues. The music must be loud, catchy, and provocative in order to compensate for the lack of skill of both the listener and the performer. Thus we get Katy Perry. If the musician wants to achieve greatness he should anticipate working a variety of odd jobs in order to make ends meet and then dedicate the majority of his time to perfecting his craft. He should avoid like a plague the 'musical industrial complex' as popular music is no longer capable of producing works of genius. He should see the music as inherently beautiful and therefore an end of itself. Not a means to notoriety, fame, or fortune.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BN - In relation to popular music, I am not worried about whether people are professionals or not.

Most of the pleasure comes from the freshness of the performer (one reason why youth is prized), and seeing raw natural talent (rather than polished, all-round talent).

Another pleasure is from seeing experience, polished by age (one reason why aged performers retain a fascination in genuine areas of music).

What I am saying is that folk music is the proper model for popular music; and a folk music driven by innumerable local live performances.

The professional folk musicians I used to love forty years ago were certainly marvels - (Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior and Steeleye Span, John Kirkpatrick, Ashley Hutching's various bands) but they were not strictly necessary.

The real thing was going on week by week in dances, fairs and festivals, small rooms, pubs and clubs all over the British Isles. That was pop music.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Donald. Probably questions of such precision cannot really be answered satisfactorily; but in general I am moving to the broad brush view that the sexual revolution has to be rejected in totality; and that we cannot pick and mix from the bits of it we like.

A possible exception is among Mormons, who almost all use contraception, but have retained most other aspects of traditional sexual morality - including big families.

(H/T WmJas)

They have no precise teaching about contraceptive methods - nor does the LDS church specifically approve contraception, but emphasize that these kinds of decisions are very serious and have profound spiritual consequences; and are properly something between the married couple (considered as a spiritual unit) and God, and requires prayer and seeking for revelation.

Probably the Mormon answer (or rather question) is much more how such matters *ought* to be approached; rather than the legalism and logic-chopping of some mainstream Christian denominations.

Donald said...

@BGC. I think I agree and like the Mormon approach. I also like the idea of fertility awareness methods, whether the couple abstains or use a barrier (perhaps with emphasizing the abstaining as an ascetic practice similar to fasting from food in orthodoxy), because it keeps the woman's fertility always involved/on the mind even if a couple is looking to space children.

If you were a young doctor and you had apprehensions about hormonal BC would you prescribe it?

Simon in London said...

I think this is accurate concerning our modern era and the medieval era. I'm unsure about the Roman empire though; the sub-replacement fertility of the Roman upper class is well known, and it seems they may have suffered from a similar cultural malaise to our own era.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SiL - Remember the Roman Empire was very extensive, and its capital was only Rome for approx. the first third of its existence.