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  • Two Views of Immigration

    Posted by David Foster on September 7th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Mary Antin was a Russian Jewish immigrant who came to the US with her family in 1894, at the age of thirteen.  I briefly reviewed her 1912 book, The Promised Land, here.

    Browsing through a used bookstore the other day, I saw a slightly later book by Antin:  They who knock at our gates–a complete gospel of immigration (available here).  It was published in 1914, at a time when immigration had become a very hot social and political issue, and is a highly polemical but pretty well-reasoned document.  Antin’s key points and arguments are:

    **The fundamental American statement of belief is the Declaration of Independence.  “What the Mosaic Law is to the Jews, the Declaration is to the American people…Without it, we should not differ greatly from other nations who have achieved a constitutional form of government and various democratic institutions.”  And  “it was by sinking our particular quarrel with George of England in the universal quarrel of humanity with injustice that we emerged a distinct nation with a unique mission in the world.”  Our loyalty to these principles is tested by our attitude toward immigration, “For the alien, whatever ethnic or geographic label he carries, in a primary classification of the creatures of the earth, falls in the human family.”  This universalist view leads Antin to conclude that we are morally obligated to accept as many immigrants as we feasibly can–and we have room for many, many more.  “Let the children be brought up to know that we are a people with a mission.”

    **Contrary to the assertions being made in some quarters (in 1914), today’s immigrants are not of inferior quality to those of earlier eras.  Jewish immigrants from Russia, for example, are pursuing religious liberty in a way directly analogous to the Pilgrims…indeed,  “It takes a hundred times as much steadfastness and endurance for a Russian Jew of today to remain a Jew as it took for an English Protestant in the seventeenth century to defy the established Church”…and Russian Jews have shown great courage in the revolutionary movements against the Czar.  Also, “We experienced a shock of surprise, a little while ago, when troops of our Greek immigrants deserted the bootblacking parlors and the fruit-stands and tumbled aboard anything that happened to sail for the Mediterranean, in their eagerness..to strike a blow for their country in her need….From these unexpected exploits of the craven Jew and the degenerate Greek, it would seem as if the different elements of the despised “new” immigration only await a spectacular opportunity to prove themselves equal to the “old” in civic valor.”  Recent immigrants have also distinguished themselves in their avid pursuit of educational opportunities.  “Bread isn’t easy to get in America,” Antin quotes a widow on Division Street, “but the children can go to school, and that’s more than bread.”

    **Many of the problems associated with immigrant communities are actually the fault of bad municipal administration.  “You might dump the whole of the East Side into the German capital and there would be no slums there, because the municipal authorities of Berlin know how to enforce building regulations, how to plant trees, and how to clean the streets….If the slums were due to the influx of foreigners, why should London have slums, and more hideous slums than New York?”

    **Those who choose to become immigrants, from whatever, country, represent that best of that population.  “Some of the best blood of New England answered the call of “Westward ho!” when the empty lands beyond the Alleghenies gaped for population…Of the aristocracy of New England that portion stayed at home which was fortified by wealth, and so did not feel the economic pressure of increased population; of the proletariat remained, on the whole, the less robust, the less venturesome, the men and women of conservative imagination. It was bound to be so, because wherever the population is set in motion by internal pressure, the emigrant train is composed of the stoutest, the most resourceful of those who are not held back by the roots of wealth or sentiment. Voluntary emigration always calls for the highest combination of the physical and moral virtues.”

    Hence, the United States has practical as well as moral reasons to maximize immigration.  Antin does not demand an absolutely uncontrolled immigration policy–“I do not ask that we remove all restrictions and let the flood of immigration sweep in unchecked”–she seems to be OK with health checks, and she calls for deportation of immigrants who have committed crimes–but does assert that the gate should be opened as wide as possible.

    A quite different view of mass immigration can be found (oddly enough) in one of George MacDonald Fraser’s picaresque Flashman novels (link).  In this passage, the anti-hero Flashman speaks very much out of character, soberly and thoughtfully in what is probably the author’s own voice, about the American Indian experience of European movement to their lands.

     

    You see, before ’49, if you were a Crow or an Arapaho or a Cheyenne, you might sit on a ridge and watch the schooners crawl across the empty prairie, one at a time, perhaps only a solitary train in a week.  You might trade with it, or take a slap at it for devilment, to run off a few horses, but mostly you’d leave it alone, since it was doing no harm, apart from reducing the grazing along the North Platte or the Arkansas, and thinning the game a little.  But the Indian just had to turn his back and ride a few miles to be in clear country which the caravans never touched, the bison herds ran free, and game abounded.  There was still plenty for everyone.

    It was different after ’49.  A hundred thousand folk need a power of meat and wood and fodder; they must forage wide on either side of the trail, in what to them is virgin country, and wreak havoc among the buffalo and smaller game; they must strip the grazing to its roots–and it ain’t in human nature for them to think, in all that vastness, what it may mean for those few figures sitting on the ridge over yonder…but if  you are those figures, Crow or Arapaho or Cheyenne, watching the torrent that was once a trickle, seeing it despoil the Plains on which you depend for life, and guess that it’s going to get bigger by the year, and that what was once a novelty is now a menace–what d’you do?  Precisely what the squire in his Leicestershire acres, or his New England meadow, would do if crowds of noisy, selfish foreigners began to trek through ruining the place.  Remonstrate–and when that don’t work, because the intruders can’t see what damage they’re doing, and don’t care anyway–what d’you do then?  I’ll tell you; Leicestershire squire, New England farmer, Cheyenne Dog-Soldier or Kiowa Hose-Cap, you see that there’s only one thing for it:  you put your paint on.

     

    67 Responses to “Two Views of Immigration”

    1. Ymarsakar Says:

      Migrants are not the best their culture produces, or rather it’s not what people think it means.

      Migrants are aggressive minded warriors and people who can’t stand the status quo, they are ambitious, and while that might contain some geniuses and good citizen pacifists, it also contains the criminals, the malcontents, the conspiracy members, and so forth.

      There are generally several different waves to a migratory movement.

      The most war like and also the most courageous, are in the first wave, like Jamestown or Plymouth or Cortez. Then later on, is what you get the “best” from, as people make calculations based on risk and reward, that’s where the rational ones with resources tend to decide it’s time to go.

      Islam has a tendency to combine warlike with ambitious, on top of calculating individuals. They can easily calculate the benefit of welfare to fund their jihad vs using oil wealth controlled by a few dynasties, which they aren’t part of.

    2. vxxc2014 Says:

      We must consider our present situation in 2015.

      We have irreconcilable internal difficulties and one side is abusing it’s leverage over the system to bring in reinforcements – especially the criminal, warlike and ambitious.

      Therefore we must admit no more.

      As for arriving in America and a few years later informing the Americans about what their Creed means and that their purpose on this earth is to be effectively the slave and slave warrior for the rest of the world to the particular advantage of one particular group of newcomers, crouched in high minded language about the good of mankind – No.

      We must defend ourselves from enemies within and without or we will perish-there’s an actual universal value.

    3. David Foster Says:

      Two huge differences between Mary Antin’s era and our own:

      **Immigration represents much less of an inherent permanent commitment. If you came to the US from wherever in 1914, you were truly cutting ties with the Old Country…there was no transoceanic telephony or email, cable telegrams were very expensive, travel was expensive and still far from trivial, though much easier than in sailing ship days….at most, people could usually afford one trip back home in their lifetimes, if that. All very different now.

      **The attack on the civilizational self-confidence of the US and other western countries…an attack largely perpetrated by academics, writers, and “community organizer” types…makes immigrants much less likely to be interested in assimilation in any meaningful sense.

    4. dearieme Says:

      “Those who choose to become immigrants, from whatever, country, represent that best of that population.” This is a sweet American belief, but as a generalisation it’s manifestly untrue.

    5. David Foster Says:

      Dearie…could you comment further on why it’s untrue?

    6. Mike K Says:

      “This is a sweet American belief, but as a generalisation it’s manifestly untrue.”

      Don’t tell that to the Irish as they know “The Cream Left” as my Irish friends tell me. American go to Ireland looking for “their roots” as I did and some are put off a bit by the reserved and even hostile reception they get.

      The Germans left to avoid Prussian conscription. Many Italians went back to Italy in the Depression.

      Many Chinese were brought over as laborers on the railroads and Japanese came to be farmers and gardeners.

      The Mexicans go back and forth and many (I’ve talked to them) plan to retire in Mexico where housing is cheaper. They are here to make money and go back. Not all by any means but a lot.

    7. Grurray Says:

      Where there’s opportunity and promise, the best will move.

      Where there is welfare and state imposed cycles of dependence, the worst will follow.

    8. vxxc2014 Says:

      “**The attack on the civilizational self-confidence of the US and other western countries…an attack largely perpetrated by academics, writers, and “community organizer” types…makes immigrants much less likely to be interested in assimilation in any meaningful sense.”

      Yes and they’re in Power. Not un-challengable if we would find resolute among us, but in power.

      “Where there’s opportunity and promise, the best will move.

      Where there is welfare and state imposed cycles of dependence, the worst will follow.”

      Brilliant.

    9. Mike K Says:

      Powerline had an interesting post about a controversy involving an accusation treason by law professors.

      I tend to agree but the writer was a bit over the top. Obama’s DoJ is full of traitors.

    10. dearieme Says:

      It’s seems to me to be likely to be untrue because even the slightest acquaintance with detailed facts show that plenty of people emigrating (e.g. to the US) included people emigrating to avoid arrest, to avoid creditors, to avoid the family of impregnated girls, and so on. In my own family, of the generation where the largest number left (for the US as it happens) it was the less gifted boys who left: the clever one stayed. He was clever enough to thrive in a mature society where the competition to enter well filled niches was intense: if you wanted less competition (and cheap land) you could go to (for instance) the US, as his brothers did. Heavens, you can see this in the rather sentimental accounts of the early USA: people like to boast that to become a lawyer all you had to do was put up your shingle. Yes, but turn that the other way round: you didn’t have to face intense competition to getting a university degree or a legal apprenticeship, and so on. The gifted could cope with the latter: the less gifted might try their luck in the colonies or the US.

      Another way to look at it would be to take a European country which supplied emigrants to the US (or Argentina, or Australia, …). Britain would do, or Germany. Just look at lists of the seriously able people in Britain in the 19th century or first few decades of the twentieth: how many left for the US? Hardly any: far less than the proportion of the population that emigrated. Or Germany: Germany had lots of people who might reasonably be called genius. Only Einstein left for the US, and that not because he was the greatest genius but because Hitler.

      It seems to me that the belief that it must be the best who left is simply an assertion with no evidence (that I’ve ever seen) to support it. If we’re in the world of assertion, I’ll assert that my guess is that emigration is particularly attractive to the mediocre. In spite of the scallywags mentioned above, I imagine that most emigrants were neither from the best or worst of society, but from the middle cut. Indeed, that would seem to be consistent with the societies that emerged in the US, Canada and Australia.

      That Irishmen like to butter up Americans is neither here nor there. No doubt if I went to Ireland they’d butter me up too: “your grandfather’s father was one of the cream”. Oh no he bloody wasn’t.

    11. David Foster Says:

      “Germany had lots of people who might reasonably be called genius.” Among the high-level researchers, professors, writers, artists, it is probably true that few emigrated to the US (or elsewhere), prior to the Nazis. However, what about the people who did not have educational credentials or class position but nonetheless were highly talented? I would imagine that quite a few of these did come to the US, and expressed their genius in directly practical terms in the workplace.

    12. dearieme Says:

      “I would imagine that …”: could be. But is there any evidence or just great wodges of wishful thinking?

    13. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Looking at my own particular field of expertise, Dearie – there were a lot of rather energetic and ambitious Germans who came to Texas in the 1840s and 50s and made considerable of a commercial, technological and cultural mark on the place … but to make a true comparison, we would need to know — what would they all have done IF THEY HAD STAYED IN GERMANY? Facts, figures, statistics … all that scientific comparison stuff.

      It’s a conundrum, to be certain. What would all these immigrants to the USA done IF they had remained in their countries of origin? And if they had managed, through some means or another, to fulfill their potential there… Don’t know. Probably can never know — but there are enough sons and daughters of plain working people, peasants, even — whose sons and daughters made it BIG in a cultural or economic way to have grounds for thinking that … Oh, yeah – granddad or great-granddad, or great-great-granddad made a pretty rational choice in legging it for America.

      We’ve always suspected that my own maternal grandfather was fleeing an irate father with a shotgun when he lit out for America in 1910. Charming man, no sense of responsibility. But a lovely hand with propagating rose-bushes.

    14. Mike K Says:

      “No doubt if I went to Ireland they’d butter me up too: “your grandfather’s father was one of the cream”. Oh no he bloody wasn’t.”

      I hate to be a cynic but you are the descendant of those who stayed. Why would I believe you ?

      Some of that depends on when the emigrants left. The Russian Jews left in the 1880s and the Italians left around the the turn of the century.

      Many early emigrants left for reasons we can only imagine. My ancestors came to the US around 1800. Some others ended in Canada about the same time. It is very difficult to tease out the reasons but they did quite well, perhaps as you say because of lack or competition, but they also moved west as transportation allowed and prospered.

      The only thing I am certain of is that the present wave of migration to Europe will be a disaster. I fear that Spengler is right and we may be seeing the end of Europe,

      At this point the floodgates of European sympathy opened, and Germany declared that it would accept 800,000 fugitives, including many from the world’s most brutal war zones. From a security standpoint it is foolhardy in the extreme: 250,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war since 2011 because other people killed them, mostly with small arms or improvised explosives (such as the government’s notorious “barrel bombs”). Such killing is a labor-intensive affair, and requires the participation of many thousands of killers. It is isn’t only that ISIS (and other jihadists) are able to smuggle to Europe as many of their operatives as they care to, as ISIS itself purportedly boasts. The refugee population itself is flush with killers from both sides fleeing the war. The presence of small children does not obviate this; killers have families, too.

      I see that Cameron has folded and will accept another 20,000. God help you all.

    15. Grurray Says:

      Only steerage and third class passengers were processed at Ellis Island, so that tells us that the tens of millions that passed through were of a low economic and social status. The fact that shortly after their assimilation into American society the United States grew to be the most powerful nation in history tells us of those immigrants’ worth.

    16. vxxc2014 Says:

      Perhaps it was intrinsic American strengths bringing out their own?

      Perhaps once we bought out the best in people?

      We should not however overlook our vast natural treasure trove, best on earth as well as our better systems of rule, economic policies that until recently bought prosperity. These are the reasons we’re being invaded and are traditional reasons for conquest.

    17. dearieme Says:

      “I hate to be a cynic but you are the descendant of those who stayed.” Not in my Irish line I’m not. As for believing me, take it or leave it. In my father’s mother’s family, whose history I know best, in one particular generation four so-so sons went off to farm in Iowa – where they thrived – and the clever boy stayed behind.

      In my mother’s mother’s family, people emigrated to Kenya and Australia. In my father’s father’s to Canada, Australia and the USA. There’s not the first sign that it was the abler who left. At least two left failed marriages.

      Among my own generation of first cousins, one went to France, one to South Africa, one to the US and one to Canada. Of the ten of us three were bloody clever. None emigrated.

      These are just anecdotes, but anyone sensible tests generalisations against anecdotes, especially if there is (as I suspect) no data behind the generalisations anyway.

      Anyway, try the experiment. Point to all the geniuses in the USA from (say) 1800 to 1900, descendants of those unusually able immigrants. Unless you use “genius” in a grade-inflated sense, you might reasonably conclude that there was only one, Josiah Willard Gibbs. Be even more demanding: list the American geniuses who have been civilisation-defining – people of the calibre of Newton, Darwin, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, Einstein, and a whole bunch more from Renaissance Italy, or from France, Britain, Germany and the Low Countries. At that very elevated level the number of Americans is nil. There may be an exception coming now: in the new software civilisation maybe one or two Americans will be widely recognised, looking back, to be geniuses, but I’d guess it more likely that they’ll be recognised as masters of the organisation of businesses. The US has produced such people for more than a century, both from natives and from immigrants, and bloody impressive many of them have been. But a Newton or a Descartes? No.

    18. Grurray Says:

      The first name that comes to mind is immigrant Nikola Tesla who invented AC power generation, radio, remote controls, and medical X-rays, among other things. It’s hard to argue those developments weren’t civilization changing.

      He may not have been a theoretical genius that Newton was, but then the America of the latter 19th century to early 20th century was a place of, as David mentioned up there, process and practice, which is no less of an endeavor than theorizing.

    19. Jim Says:

      Dearieme – Whatever the quality of emigrants from Europe to the US was in the late 19th and early 20th century it is clear that the current mass immigration of Mestizos from Mexico into the US is low in human capital. Current demographic trends in the US will lower the average US IQ by 3-5 points by the middle of this century. At a time when advances in robotics and automation are likely to greatly reduce the need for unskilled labor it is insane to let in more unskilled, poorly educated Mestizos with an average IQ in the low 90’s.

      Regarding your point that emigrants leaving a country to seek economic success elsewhere tend to be of less than average ability in their home country the case of Japanese emigrants to Brazil is interesting. In Brazil these emigrants tend to be highly successful which is not surprising given that the average IQ of the Japanese population is 107 and the average IQ of Brazil is 89. In recent times quite a few Brazilians of Japanese descent have returned to Japan. There this population has turned out to be something of a problem lagging the general Japanese population in economic and academic performance. The same people who were highly successful in Brazil are not so successful in Japan.

      Immigration from a high IQ country to a low IQ country may be beneficial for both. But immigration from a a lower IQ country like Mexico to a higher IQ country like the US is likely to be very bad for the higher IQ country.

    20. Jim Says:

      Dearieme – My paternal grandfather emigrated from Hanover to the US back about 1900 to avoid being drafted into the German ie Prussian army. He didn’t like Prussians and thought that Hanover had been better off before it became part of imperial Germany.

    21. Mike K Says:

      “But a Newton or a Descartes? No.”

      I’l grant that in the time those men lived, America was mostly a wilderness. Newton died in 1726. Descartes died in 1650.

      After 1800. Bessemer was British but, The modern process is named after its inventor, the Englishman Henry Bessemer, who took out a patent on the process in 1856.[5] The process was also claimed to be independently discovered in 1851 by the American inventor William Kelly,

      Maybe Kelly was wrong.

      Eli Whitney was born in Massachusetts in 1769.

      Ben Franklin was a major figure in Physics, aside from politics.

      Medicine was an area of major American discoveries in the 19th century. Pasteur and Koch were Europeans, of course.

      We could go through the one-up list but you have a good point that those who were successful in Europe had little incentive to leave.

      Modern studies of IQ suggest that the history of modern society is that high IQ kids now have more opportunity and that has changed things. Those opportunities did not exist in Europe during the period of emigration. It’s hard to make a case that those leaving were the dumb ones.

    22. Mike K Says:

      “thought that Hanover had been better off before it became part of imperial Germany.”

      I’ve been reading a bit about Waterloo and the Prussians the past few weeks as I leave tomorrow. This was a period when there was a lot of resistance to the Prussians and lots of Germans left.

    23. TimL Says:

      Responding to the Frasor claim. It’s not really true. Indians did attack early wagon trains if given the opportunity. You should always remember that the settlers were also armed to the teeth. Some were even kicked off wagon trains because they hadn’t brought enough ammunition. “Wagons West” by Frank McLynn limits itself to the pre-Gold Rush trains because he claims those were also typical of later wagon trains. The wagon trains were not easy pickings but even then there were incidents.

      If you look at the Donner Party, they probably had enough cattle with them to survive any winter, but most of the cattle were killed by Indians. They would put the cattle out to pasture at night and when they went to get them in the morning, they were pincushions loaded with arrows. The “noble savage” is largely a myth, more so even than “Manifest Destiny” which is now so hated.

    24. Grurray Says:

      A better measure of intelligence than IQ tests is reaction time.

      This is the basis for the theory that people were smarter in the past.

    25. Grurray Says:

      Tim, you are correct.

      The Plains Indians were relatively sedentary until the mid 18th century when they got horses. After that hunting grounds greatly expanded and many became nomadic. They then relentlessly hunted buffalo, cutting the North American herd population in half.

      There was no doubt that European settlers permanently changed the landscape, but to say that it was an unspoiled paradise before they came is another myth.

      “Box burning,” a common tactic, involved setting simultaneous fires on all four sides of a herd. The French word “Brulé,” or “burnt,” referred to the Sicangu (“burnt thigh”) Sioux division whose survivors of hunting fires were burned on the legs. Charles McKenzie, traveling the plains in 1804, observed entire herds charred from Indian fires. Another favored hunting tactic, the “buffalo jump,” involved luring a herd after an Indian dressed in a buffalo skin. At a full run, the brave led the herd to a cliff, where he leapt to a small ledge while the buffalo careened over the edge to their deaths. Either of these methods led to horrible waste and inefficient use of resources.

    26. Jim Says:

      To Grurray – The Classic Plains Culture that is familiar to many people from Hollywood movies did not exist until after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. This lead to a large number of horses coming into the possession of Pueblo Indians. These horses were stolen by or traded to Apaches who became the first horse-riding, buffalo-hunting, and raiding Indians we are familiar with from the movies. The Apaches were joined by the Kiowa from the Taos Pueblos and later by the Wichita who were Caddo Indians who gave up the rather sophisticated mound building Caddo culture for the free and easy life of Plain’s raider.

      About 1700 a Shoshoni band entered the Llano Estacado and they became the Comanche, perhaps the greatest horsemen in all of history.
      Horses spread to the north and other tribes began to move into the Plains adopting this culture. The Sioux moved into the Northern Plains about the end of the 18th century. At first contact with Europeans the Sioux lived in Minnesota.

      This colorful and exciting way of life, based on raiding and hunting buffalo, had a glorious but very brief life. It lasted a little over a century and a half on the Southern Plains and about a century on the Northern Plains.

    27. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >> But a Newton or a Descartes? No.

      That’s probably true to a large degree. One reason being that the highly successful had no driving reason and little incentive to leave. Also, the quality of American universities did not reach the level of European counterparts until after the 1930’s, and at least some of that improvement came from luring eminent people from Europe to found or head departments of studies. The rise of antisemitism and fascism in Europe made emigration to the USA a pleasant alternative to some of the brightest in Europe: Einstein to Princeton, Enrico Fermi to Columbia and later Chicago. There were many, many more.

      The explosion of artistic talent and creativity in New York and especially Hollywood from the 1930’s onward was driven by the influx European artists fleeing Europe. Mies Van Der Rohe, best known for his iconic steel and glass skyscrapers, left Europe for the USA in the 1930’s. Mies is the man who virtually defined the International Style of modernism, and his Barcelona Pavilion in 1929 and Crown Hall for Illinois Institute of Technology in 1956 were probably the most influential buildings of 20th century.

      Unfortunately for us, there were quite a few communists among the European immigrants and they ended up in influential positions in influential places. That was to become a poison in our well with which we’re still dealing.

      Barcelona Pavilion
      Crown Hall

    28. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Always thought it ironic that the Sioux and Comanche cultures rose to glory and dominance of the Northern and Southern Plains because of the horse … introduced by the white man.

      The white man giveth, and the white man taketh away. Blessed be the name of the white man.

      (Irony, people – irony. This note is added for the irony-challenged among our small number of resident … sarcasm-challenged commenters.)

      As a note … early emigrants (pre-Gold Rush) on the California Oregon Trail did not go out of their way to pick fights with the various Sioux divisions. The Sioux were all-powerful, impressive warriors, and the emigrants were just passing through … and although well-armed, the early emigrants were not crazy. Before the Civil War, trouble with the local tribes usually happened farther west, among the Utes and Paiutes (who looked pretty ragged in comparison to the Sioux), and usually took the form of harassing the ox-herds loosed for the night. Sometime in the late 1840s, the son of an old mountain men who had set up in business to guide wagon-trains killed a Paiute Indian along the Humboldt River. The son was half-Crow Indian, and was exiled from the train … by order of his father.

      That’s the enduring fascination of the frontier — it’s all so much more complicated than appears at first glance.

    29. Mike K Says:

      The original Indians came across the Bering during a period (Ice ages) when the sea was lower and there was a land bridge. They worked their way down the west coast and encountered huge herds of horses and camels. It did not occur to them to domesticate these animals and they were exterminated by hunting. The Indians did not invent much, including the wheel, and it took the white Europeans to teach them how to use horses.

      This, of course, is anathema to the SJWs.

    30. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >> the horse … introduced by the white man.

      Actually, RE-introduced by the Spanish Conquistadors. Horses (and camels!) originally evolved in North America. They were wiped out along with lots of other animals – like mastodons and saber-tooth cats – at the end of the last ice age around 10-12,000 years ago. The supposition is they were hunted to extinction by pre-Columbian peoples whose descendants were the ‘Indians’. Horses survived on in Europe and Central Asia where they migrated to across the Bering Land Bridge earlier in the ice age. How ironic is that?

    31. dearieme Says:

      “It’s hard to make a case that those leaving were the dumb ones.” “Regarding your point that emigrants leaving a country to seek economic success elsewhere tend to be of less than average ability in their home country”

      aaargh, those are precisely not my point. My point was that disproportionately the mediocre leave, not the least nor the most gifted. That’s “mediocre” meaning mediocre, not “mediocre” used as a euphemism for dud. If disproportionately the best and brightest left, why doesn’t it show up in a disproportionate production of the highest calibre of intellects among their descendants?

      As for Newton and Descartes, the point is being entirely missed. I’m not suggesting that the North American colonies were odd in not producing stellar geniuses in that era. I’m pointing out how odd it is that in the era when the USA was a populous, rich country it hasn’t produced anyone of that calibre either. And don’t fret away at the US: the same is true of all the countries in the temperate zone where Europeans settled in numbers: Canada, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. The nearest chap I can think of as a counter-example is Rutherford, a first generation kiwi who promptly emigrated to Britain. Eight countries to produce one figure nearing the first rank. Or two if you add Gibbs. It’s very odd.

      There will be exceptions – people who left for very particular reasons. Quite a few left in groups, after all, frustrated in their attempts to impose their religious views on their countrymen. Such people might, I suppose, contain disproportionately clever people. Nobody seems to think the Pilgrim Fathers did, but I wouldn’t be surprised of the Huguenots perhaps did. But then again, such people might, I suppose, contain disproportionately the sort of energetic, dim zealots who are such a trial to a society. I’d guess that useful generalisation on that particular topic is unlikely to be possible.

    32. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      BTW, on the subject of horses, I found this really interesting. There was a long time argument among archaeologists and paleontologists on the accuracy of images depicted in cave paintings; were they realistic or was there ‘artistic license’ employed, or both? A particularly famous example being depictions of spotted horses in 25,000 year old cave paintings in France. Spotted horses?

      http://www.calacademy.org/explore-science/spotted-horses

    33. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >> I’m pointing out how odd it is that in the era when the USA was a populous, rich country it hasn’t produced anyone of that calibre either.

      I wonder if this is due to homogenization, standardized schooling for example? Were people more likely to develop genious faculties – let’s say an ability to think in wholly novel ways about a problem – when less influenced by a predefined ‘correct’ view or thinking process?

    34. Mike K Says:

      The computer revolution has been largely American with a few genes from elsewhere.

      Google Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Now there are some good genes.

      Page was born in East Lansing, Michigan, United States (U.S.).[12] His father, Carl Vincent Page, Sr., earned a PhD in computer science in 1965, when the field was being established, and has been described by BBC reporter Will Smale as a “pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence.”[13] He was a computer science professor at Michigan State University and Page’s mother, Gloria, was an instructor in computer programming at Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University.

      Brin was born in Moscow in the Soviet Union, to Russian Jewish parents, Mikhail and Yevgenia Brin, both graduates of Moscow State University.[10][11] His father is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, and his mother a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

      Intel Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce.

      Moore was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in nearby Pescadero. He attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City. Initially he went to San Jose State University

      Noyce was born on December 12, 1927, in Burlington, Iowa[3][4][5][6][7] as the third of four sons[5] of the Rev. Ralph Brewster Noyce.[8] His father had graduated from Doane College (1915), Oberlin College (1920), and the Chicago Theological Seminary

    35. tyouth Says:

      A couple of thought re. “genius”:

      Newton – he developed Calculus, whole cloth, I believe. Well, I mean, didn’t that take the air out of the room for everybody else? One doesn’t, and is even prohibited, from topping the calculus because Newton already did it. The opportunity for, and the possibility of, “genius” was, at that rarefied level, gone.

      Also, genius these days is more collaborative in nature due to advances in communication. A small breakthrough in knowledge becomes quickly known to dozens or hundreds of colleagues who add on to the first stages of that knowledge pretty quickly. The chance to completely develop a concept and explore all it’s ramifications isn’t there for the individual.

    36. Alauda Says:

      I don’t see paleolithic Europeans domesticating horses or camels either.

    37. newrouter Says:

      “As for Newton and Descartes, the point is being entirely missed. I’m not suggesting that the North American colonies were odd in not producing stellar geniuses in that era. I’m pointing out how odd it is that in the era when the USA was a populous, rich country it hasn’t produced anyone of that calibre either.”

      theoretical math/science vs engineering/practical application? maybe your calibration is wrong?

    38. newrouter Says:

      ” contain disproportionately the sort of energetic, dim zealots who are such a trial to a society.”

      good luck with importing 1000’s of young male muslims limey! import our downfall !!11!!

    39. Jim Says:

      Dearieme – Americans ae very well represented in lists of Nobel Prize winners, Fields medalists etc. Of the four mathematicians who have received both the Fields Medal, Wolf Prize and Abel Prize (Deligne, Serre, Milnor, and Thompson)the last two are both American.

    40. dearieme Says:

      “Americans ae very well represented in lists of Nobel Prize winners, Fields medalists etc.” No doubt, but I’m talking of a far more elevated level than that. I’ve met quite a few Nobel Prize winners, and have known one quite well. None were anywhere near the Newton/Darwin/Gauss etc etc level. I don’t think any were conceited enough to claim they were.

      “theoretical math/science vs engineering/practical application? maybe your calibration is wrong?” Hopeless argument: the USA was miles behind both Britain and Germany in engineering/practical application in the period under discussion.

    41. Jim Says:

      Dearieme – Far more elevated than Deligne, Serre, Milnor and Thompson? That’s pretty damn elevated. My impression of Darwin is that while certainly intelligent he probably was not in the same league as Newton or Gauss.

      The American chess player Paul Morphy completely crushed all the best European chess players of his day.

    42. pouncer Says:

      Unless you use “genius” in a grade-inflated sense, you might reasonably conclude that there was only one, Josiah Willard Gibbs. Be even more demanding: list the American geniuses who have been civilisation-defining – people of the calibre of Newton, Darwin, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, Einstein, and a whole bunch more from Renaissance Italy, or from France, Britain, Germany and the Low Countries. At that very elevated level the number of Americans is nil.

      Well, I’d vote for Ben Franklin, having been among the –if not THE — first to “define” the idea of An American People.

      For that matter a mister G. Washington defined the American political culture in a way that comparable geniuses like Cromwell or Napoleon, (very smart men, without doubt) failed to accomplish.

      There was this guy, Edison, who not only introduced a bunch of nifty gadgets (some of which he stole) to the civilization, but who lived a life that pretty much defined a vision of progress our culture associates with the fictional “Horatio Alger” — and has been emulated by contemporary successors like Bill Gates (“some of which he stole”, right?).

      There’s Norman Borlaug. Sort of an anti-Stalin; a revolution that actually FED people instead of producing famines and genocide. Maybe not a genius, but that the sub-continent of India survives today instead of succumbing to the predictions of the Club of Rome and Paul Erlich and Kerry Emanual is a result of processes and procedures that Borlaug codified and “defined” — acquired from the practical experience of generations of American sod-busters before him.

      Quite of bit of our culture and civilization has been defined by such codifiers — less-than-geniuses who (as Newton referred to his own work) stood upon the shoulders of giants and made useful notes. Brig. Gen. Henry Martyn Robert stood upon the backs of generations of parlimentarians and codified “Robert’s Rules” for conducting a large and civilized argument. Noah Webster climbed up to modernize our civilization’s dictionaries. John Bartlett summarized our civilization’s literature into a handy book of quotations. Charles William Eliot put together the famous five foot shelf of Harvard Classics; defining what it was to be literate, if not civilized; and incidentally cementing, in the American collective mind, the idea that just about any damn idiot could buy the books and educate himself — without the time and fortune investing in actually attending university. This, no doubt, inspired Patrick J. McGovern in the modern version — the “For Dummies” series.

      In *OUR* civilization, nobody HAS to be a genius.

    43. Ymarsakar Says:

      The US assimilated the raw human resource coming in, with the rule of law. Although it cost the current occupants of NA a little bit something more.

      The US also gets the superior byproducts of other cultures, like the Jews, Germanies, Chinese, Japanese, without the political or religious viruses that weakened them.

      In a sense, the United States of America had an ideology, not merely a religion, which improved the native strengths of any culture. In that sense, it was much like Islamic Jihad. Even the slavery was like Islamic Jihad. America took a different path than Islam did however.

    44. Mike K Says:

      “At that very elevated level the number of Americans is nil.”

      Darwin ? Darwin did not understand genetics and was at the “observation” level of discovery. He gets far too much credit because of the flap about evolution vs creation. “Social Darwinism” etc.

      Mendel was the first to make the discovery and do something with it.

      The application of discoveries is more typical of Americans, largely because we have incentives and because we came along later as a nation.

      As far as domestication of horses is concerned, that probably occurred in what we now call Ukraine or what the Greeks called Scythia.

    45. Ymarsakar Says:

      As for geniuses, my take is here.

      https://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/the-status-quo-is-full-of-idiots-not-innovators/

      https://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/science-progresses-when-a-person-breaks-the-limits-of-society/

    46. Grurray Says:

      “Hopeless argument: the USA was miles behind both Britain and Germany in engineering/practical application in the period under discussion.”

      Definitely in the beginning, but by the last two decades of the 19th century, the United States had overtaken Britain in industrial output. Brits were more concerned with financing and leveraging colonial expansion over capital investment in the emerging heavy industries that required large economies of scale to grow and become profitable.

      A great book on the subject is As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution

      Certainly by 1900, and before that, by some relative measures.

    47. Mike K Says:

      The worst area of British science in the 19h century was medicine. Lister discovered antisepsis but British surgeons did not adopt it until as late as 1900. Germany was the great center of scientific discovery in the 1800s. Organic chemistry and bacteriology were both centered in Germany although Pasteur discovered that infection was caused by living things and was, amazingly, able to create a vaccine for rabies, a virus no one could see. Madame Curie was a great scientist although poorly understood and under-appreciated by her own country.

      I have a chapter in my medical history book about the abysmal treatment of Kaiser Frederich’s cancer of the larynx. His wife was a daughter of Victoria and insisted on poorly trained English physicians to care for her husband. Germans were far ahead of the English at the time. Frederich died of a curable cancer and his unstable son, Wilhelm II, took over. That may have changed history catastrophically as I blame much of the 20th centuries problems on Wilhelm and WWI.

      The American were far ahead of the English in surgery until almost the present. The French and Germans have been far ahead of them since 1867. The orthopedic surgeon, John Charnley is the best England has had to offer in a century,

    48. dearieme Says:

      Mike, you are being absurdly thin-skinned. I didn’t write a Britain vs the US thing, I wrote a comment about the notion that people who emigrate are some sort of elite. I remarked that the history and culture of eight temperate countries settled by Europeans suggest that it just ain’t so. I’ve never seen any evidence pointing in the other direction, though I’ve seen plenty of airy assertion.

    49. Jim Says:

      To Mike K. – It is true that America in the latter part of the 19th century was the leading nation in the development of surgery.

      To Dearieme – I agree that Immigrants to America in the 19th and early 20th century were not an elite group. But the average intelligence today of the American white population is not significantly different from the average intelligence of Western Europeans. So probably the immigrants were not that much below average. Lynn gives a 2 point IQ difference between the UK IQ and the US IQ but when one takes into account the racial demographics of the US population Lynn’s figures are consistent with no significant difference between the average UK IQ and the average white American IQ.

    50. Veryretired Says:

      It’s fascinating to watch you folks arguing about the past when it has almost no relevance to the current invasion of millions of people into various western countries who have absolutely no interest or desire to assimilate into their host cultures, but frankly state their disdain for the host, and their determination to remake it into their image.

      This applies to both the Moslem invasion of Europe, and the Latin American invasion of the U.S.

      My family, on both sides, came to the U.S. During the 1800’s in order to be Americans, not remain something else.

      That is clearly not the case in the 21st century movement of millions of people who desire to be supported by the state, while demanding that their native cultural sensitivities and values be respected above the cultural values of the host society.

      If you cannot see the difference, as a recent post at Samizdata was unable to comprehend, then you have very little of relevance to contribute to this discussion.

      All the cute little anecdotes about somebody’s distant forebears are immaterial when addressing this current hostile invasion of either Islam or La Raza.

    51. David Foster Says:

      Related post by Victor Davis Hanson, who believes the West is in a cycle of decline caused basically by prosperity and boredom:’

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/423653/west-dead-yet

    52. David Foster Says:

      Also, read

      Robert Avrech on the current wave of immigration to Europe.

      Rioting over too much lasagna on the menu, lack of free wifi, and not enough free money.

    53. Anonymous Says:

      >Hopeless argument: the USA was miles behind both Britain and Germany in engineering/practical application in the period under discussion.<

      the original post is about 1900. you moved the goal post back to newton when the usa did not exist. the phrase is : "clever but stupid".

    54. newrouter Says:

      “ratification of the us constitution – Jun 21, 1788.”

      On October 20, 1888, Harper’s Weekly featured a cartoon about Andrew Carnegie and business consolidation.

      https://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/1020.html

      oh my the “state” vs andy

    55. newrouter Says:

      ” I’m pointing out how odd it is that in the era when the USA was a populous, rich country it hasn’t produced anyone of that calibre either.”

      no what you are doing is a tribal thing whereby the basics of the modern engineered world, physics, chemistry, et al are a solely a european thing. the anglo american world doesn’t work like that. we take great ideas and expand them such as westinghouse/tesla. get over your provincialism and start block the muslim invaders.

    56. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >>On October 20, 1888, Harper’s Weekly featured a cartoon about Andrew Carnegie and business consolidation.

      I’m not a fan of OVER consolidation of business, but we can take by comparison the Soviet model. People were assigned to factories at fixed wages and given state supplied housing. The ones in the Soviet model had no choices. They did what their political masters, the state planners, dictated. The people in Carnegie’s business could advance through hard work or smart work. They could also leave if they wanted. Which group of workers were more prosperous? Which were freer? Which were happier? Which steel mills do suppose were more productive? Compare the standard of living of the two societies.

      Maximum consolidation of “business” occurs in the most politically controlled societies.

    57. dearieme Says:

      “But the average intelligence today of the American white population is not significantly different from the average intelligence of Western Europeans.” Which is surely what you’d expect if the emigrants were disproportionately mediocre, neither particularly clever nor particularly dim. So that argument is empty.

    58. Jim Says:

      Sorry Dearieme – I had interpreted some of your comments as indicating that you thought immigrants from Europe to the US were significantly below average. I think we agree that European immigration to the US was of about average European quality (whatever that means).

    59. Jim Says:

      To ymarsakar – It may be the case that extraordinary contributions to science etc. are connected with a higher degree of psychopathy(breaking social limits etc.). Lower levels of psychopathy among Northeast Asians may offset their advantage of higher IQ.

    60. Jim Says:

      Dearieme – Although European migration to America in general was not exceptionally high IQ, in the case of the migration of Puritans to New England this may have been an exceptional group. Even today Massachusetts has the highest IQ of any US state. I seen its average IQ estimated as 104.

    61. Jim Says:

      To Sgt. Mom – For the Plains Indians the dependence on whites involved more than just the introduction of horses. The Plains Indians traded extensively with white traders for metal implements, leather goods and other stuff. The Classic Plains Culture could not existed independently of whites. The Southern Plains Indians were also heavily dependent on loot acquired by raiding the Spainish and later the Mexicans.

      In the treaty ending the Mexican-American War the US promised the Mexican government that it would not allow Apache raids into Mexico. When the Americans explained this to the Apache chiefs the chiefs were dumbfounded – “How do you expecdt us to survive if we cannot raid the Mexicans?” they said.

    62. dearieme Says:

      “immigrants from Europe to the US”: it’s not about the US, it’s about all the settler countries. It looks to me as if the population of the other seven temperate settler countries would be intellectually outgunned by the men attending a well-chosen dinner party in Edinburgh in the late 18th century. The disparity is that wide: one bunch of chums at one instant in a remote northern city outguns Canada, Australia, NZ, South Africa, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile throughout their history. So by all means put aside hurt American pride and just focus on the other seven if you like. I dare say that a well-chosen dinner party in London or Paris or several German cities might be used as an example instead. Or maybe even Birmingham, God spare us.

      Anyway, if the settlers were disproportionately bright, how come “the average intelligence today of the American white population is not significantly different from the average intelligence of Western Europeans.” Why do their descendants have much the same average IQ as their original countries of origin?

      I note that nobody on this comment thread has cited any evidence for the proposition that the settlers who left Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands etc were atypically bright.

    63. David Foster Says:

      Jim…the discussion between Comanche leader and US Army officer on this matter is captured in Cremony’s book about life among the Apaches. See Part 14 of the text here:

      http://archive.org/stream/lifeamongapaches00cremrich/lifeamongapaches00cremrich_djvu.txt

      The basic Comanche argument is: we have been your allies against the Mexicans. YOU chose to make peace with them, without our consent. Why should that be binding on us?

    64. newrouter Says:

      “Maximum consolidation of “business” occurs in the most politically controlled societies.”

      snort. andy carnegie lived in the most laissez faire environment in us history. also hi bill gates!!11!!

      if you want to see consolidation of recent vintage see: salem communications.

    65. newrouter Says:

      “I note that nobody on this comment thread has cited any evidence for the proposition that the settlers who left Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands etc were atypically bright.”

      freedom allows for “trial and error” response?

    66. newrouter Says:

      iq is a nice data point. but it doesn’t give information on learning from failure.

      To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

    67. Jim Says:

      To David Foster – Yes, raiding the Mexicans and Coahuiltecans was so central to Camanche culture that asking them to cease was almost like asking them to stop breathing.