Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cripple Spectator Blogger Fight!!!!

What's worse Rod Liddle's childish attention seeking or Alex Massie's pompous denunciation of Liddle? I'd say Massie is worse because whereas Liddle presents information in a deliberately provocative manner, Massie seems to actually object to knowledge per se:
the left's inclination to see people as members of a group rather than individuals is tedious and, often, less than productive. Which makes one wonder why you insist on doing likewise, lumping all blacks (and all muslims) together as though skin colour or religion reveal, determine or dictate everything.
The thing is though the prevalence of different behaviours among different groups, in this case crime, is an interesting phenomenon. Massie angriliy denounces Liddle for things Liddle didn't say, "that blackness is somehow the cause of these problems". Cultural differences among different groups doesn't imply that the origins are innate. As the great Thomas Sowell has frequently pointed out:
All explanations of differences between groups can be broken down into heredity and environment. Yet a world view of the history of cultural diversity seems, on the surface at least, to deny both. One reason for this is that we have thought of environment too narrowly-- as the immediate surrounding circumstances or differing institutional policies toward different groups. Environment in that narrow sense may explain some group differences, but the histories of many groups completely contradict that particular version of environment as an explanation. Let us take just two examples out of many which are available.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italian immigrants from southern Italy began arriving in the United States in large numbers at about the same time in the late nineteenth century, and their large-scale immigration also ended at the same time, when restrictive immigration laws were passed in the 1920s. The two groups arrived here in virtually the same economic condition-- namely, destitute. They often lived in the same neighborhoods, and their children attended the same schools, sitting side by side in the same classrooms. Their environments-- in the narrow sense in which the term is commonly used-- were virtually identical. Yet their social histories in the United States have been very different.
Jews are not Italians and Italians are not Jews. Anyone familiar with their very different histories over many centuries should not be surprised. Their fate in America was not determined solely by their surrounding social conditions in America or by how they were treated by American society. They were different before they got on the boats to cross the ocean, and those differences crossed the ocean with them.
In other words cultural traits, both positive and negative, don't have to be innate in order to be powerful and able to express themselves over immediate environmental factors.

Massie seems to believe that we should not allow ourselves to be aware of group differences because he prefers "to see people as individuals." Well great but if certain negative behaviours are particularly widespread among particular groups then it is going to be difficult.

As for Liddle, as I say he is being needlessly childish, but he is writing at the Spectator website, and the Speccy hordes aren't going descend en masse to Hackney to start a race riot.


Blognor Regis said...

Dr Sowell's argument is expanded on greatly by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. (Further to that excerpt, Gladwell posits that Southerners are descendent of sheep rearing hillfolk from northern England and lowland Scotland where honour plays a big part in protecting the flock and family, unlike, say more communal agriculture as found in Nottinghamshire where New Englanders originated. [Also, my theory, imagine the sort of caricatured things a Southerner might say only do it in a Geordie accent. It works. "Critter".])

Matthew said...

It'd perhaps be easier to stomach if Rod Liddle hadn't been cautioned for common assualt of his pregant girlfriend.

Ross said...

"Southerners are descendent of sheep rearing hillfolk from northern England and lowland Scotland "

There are two Southern cultures, the one that dominates through the Appalachians is derived from the Borders.

However the coastal South- Virginia, the Carolinas, and the deep South- were settled by people mostly from South West England. The coastal South is also relatively violent so there is probably some kind of honour culture there too.

Ross said...

Matthew- yes, although he claims that he only accepted the caution in order to get released from the police station.

Matthew said...

"Although he claims that he only accepted the caution in order to get released from the police station."

I suppose people are always calling 999 for no reason at all.

The best bit is for this and leaving his wife on their honeymoon for his rather young girlfriend he blames - yes you've guessed it, 1960s liberals. It's not me darling, its Roy Jenkins.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Even more extreme is the line in the sand (literally) between the USA and Mexico. There are huge cultural, political and economic differences north and south thereof, despite geography and history of the two countries not being all that dissimilar.

Ross said...

"I suppose people are always calling 999 for no reason at all. "

Of all the reasons to doubt Liddle's account of events that has to be the weakest. The emergency services have to deal with a lot of trivial calls. The fact he chose to accept the caution is what makes him appear dubious.

James Higham said...

Er ... did something happen?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Sorry to see that your recent comments widget still seems to be defunct. Does nobody know how to fix them? Mine broke a year ago but a few weeks later it "fixed itself" by the Cosmic Power Of Ineptitude.

Matthew said...

"Of all the reasons to doubt Liddle's account of events that has to be the weakest."

I don't think so. I've never felt inclined to dial 999 when having an argument. It'd be a bit like doing it now. She must have felt physically threatened.

asquith said...

I formed the view that Liddle is a cunt some time ago. Him thinking it's uproarious to call himself "Seacole" was just the icing on the cake (Yes, yes, it's a windup but it still points to what a pathetic piece of shit he is).

I covered similar ground to yours, about culture etc, in a comment I wrote:

Quite satisfied with myself I am.

On about American culture. Did you see that series of posts a bit ago by Andrew Sullivan where he discussed the influence blacks have had over the culture of white southerners & white Americans in general? I found it fascinating. But I cannot be arsed to link to it, at least not until I have digested my tea.

I do find the idea of regional cultures shaping political allegiance etc. fascinating. Ever since I studied the English Civil War & was looking at "Britons" by Linda Colley talking about attitudes to the American colonists.

Perhaps it makes an instinctive kind of sense to me as I hail from an area which is probably quite insular & certainly has a strong stamp of its own to impress them as were born & bred here.

Ross said...

Mark- Blogger are very hard to contact so it's hard to find out anything.

"I've never felt inclined to dial 999 when having an argument. It'd be a bit like doing it now."

Now that you mention it.....

I'm fairly sure that the police often get called out for nothing though.

Ross said...

Asquith- if you are interested in the idea of regional cultures in the UK or USA and the persistance in shaping political allegance etc then the absolute definitive book is probably David Hackett Fischer's "Albion's Seed".

JuliaM said...

"I'm fairly sure that the police often get called out for nothing though."

Indeed. It's a constant gripe on emergency service blogs.

asquith said...

I just looked up Fischer on Wikipedia. He sounds right manly. I will add him to my list of things to get into- though, being as I only get 2 books a week, it will be a while before I get round to reading him.

Good times- I ordered a book of essays called "State By State: A Panoramic View of America" whose subject matter is fairly obvious from its title.

I am quite into reading about ordinary lives, not so much in novels as in books which are personal recollections but backed up with scholarly research, in a sort of marriage of theory & pracice. "The Classic Slum" & "A Ragged Schooling" by Robert Roberts being amongst my favourites.

The books I turn to most of all, when I don't feel like serious concentration & turn to something I've read & re-read so often I don't need to pay attention, are "Akenfield" & "Return To Akenfield" about rural English life.

I never understood people who don't read- well, maybe if you labour in a factory for 60 hours a week (my job is very undemanding physically- I think they just didn't want to add insult to injury) you've got a good reason but not the "it's boring"/"what's the point in that" brigade. Punch them in the face.

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