16A016 Race, IQ and Liberty by Jim Davies, 5/3/2016    


A recent discussion on Strike the Root raised the subject of race, one seldom seen in libertarian forums; the originator claimed that on average, blacks are less intelligent than whites, less diligent at work and much more prone to commit theft and violence. He quoted some scholarly sources (such as this) in support of his claims, adding that Asians are more intelligent, as follows:

Asians have an average IQ of 106
Whites, of 100
Blacks in the US, of 85
Sub-Saharan blacks in Africa, of 60.

From these data he drew the conclusion that there is a significant racial, biological difference that will hobble blacks' progress for a long time to come; that they will continue to perform poorly on average in material terms, and that there is little hope of their forming a voluntary society - a free one, unsullied by government.

If the data are correct, his case is solid regarding material progress, or prosperity. Nobody wants to pay high fees or wages to those who are, comparatively, lazy or dumb; it would be a poor investment. However, that does not apply to the separate subject of their prospects for liberty.

That's because the key prerequisite for achieving a zero government society is that all come to understand a very simple concept - one well within the ability of someone with a 60 IQ - namely that he, and everyone else, is the rightful owner of his own life. Once that is in place, it's a short and simple step to think through its implications so as to quit working for the employer whose every action violates that right; then government will cease to exist.

Test this quite easily. Take some passers-by at random, and ask "Who owns your life?" and note the answers. There will be a pause, in which the respondent may give you a queer look, but his answer will always be, "I do" - perhaps colored with an oath or two. "Whose life is it, anyway?" is one of the easiest questions to answer; the only problem is the infrequency with which it is asked. It's not only easy, that reply is accurate; for none other is possible. If one were to say anything else, he would be implicitly denying his own words, for in replying to the question he is expressing his own judgment; and of course if he were not his own owner, he'd have no business or right to do any such thing.

That impossibility makes self-ownership an axiom; it cannot be explicitly refuted, without implicitly assuming its truth. And again, it is easy to grasp without the need of a high IQ.

Let's now turn to the accuracy of the data, such as the IQ table above. Is it valid?

Maybe not. Take the Asian figure first; a 106-IQ has been measured of US immigrants from China and India. However to immigrate to this country, one must satisfy the government that one's abilities are exceptional - that in particular, no US Citizen can be found to do the job that someone has offered the applicant. So of course their IQ is above the white average! I'm surprised it's not a good deal higher than 106. These students and engineers are smart because they have been pre-selected to be smart. They are la crème de la crème of their countries of origin, and have strong ambitions as well, for they crossed an ocean to grasp the opportunity.

Then take the US-black figure, of 85, after noting how it's measured. IQ tests (like this one) depend heavily on logic and numbers. But suppose someone is raised without the ability to read, reason and play with numeric sequences? - that his or her elementary education is ruined by poor teachers and disruptive students? That violence mars even a single-parent home life? Then it would seem to me that person is going to rate poorly on an IQ test, as well as suffering other disadvantages. Those conditions apply in spades, of course, to American blacks for the reasons I showed in America's Underclass. I'm surprised the figure isn't lower than 85. There's no proof here of biological deficiency.

Lastly take the 60-IQ measured for blacks in Africa. Recall the nature of the test; it expects a primitive, mainly agricultural people to be familiar with abstract concepts like geometric shapes and the Fibonacci series. They may function perfectly well in their traditional village economy, but to expect them to shine in an IQ test is to expect them to jump over the moon. They may be smart, but that method cannot reveal it.

So I think the stats are suspect. I'm not convinced that the differences result from race. And all this relates in any case only to material achievement, not to liberty, as shown above.

The two are related, nonetheless. Other factors being equal, a free society will prosper dramatically better than one restricted by government and its rules, taxes and distortions - so if a country with a black population threw off its government while its white neighbor did not, very soon the free one will outpace the governed one in living standards - assuming its people wish to advance them, as I expect they will.

That relationship isn't fixed, though. Nothing about liberty requires anyone to use his freedom to improve his material circumstances. Some people may well choose to use it to enhance the quality of life in quite different ways - to "smell the roses" as it were, engaging only in enough work to provide the basic needs. In my opinion that won't be very common, but it will be a part of the rich pattern of lfe in a free society. Somalians, over several centuries, have given us an example of such contentment; they have refused all attempts to thrust a government down their throats, while living simple lives in a fair approximation of freedom. I don't know their average IQ, but they can run like the wind.

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